Rodney The Partisan
by Harry Castlemon
[Frontispiece: RODNEY BIDS HIS MOTHER FAREWELL.]
CASTLEMON'S WAR SERIES,
RODNEY THE PARTISAN
Four Illustrations by Geo. G. White.
RODNEY KEEPS HIS
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER IV. A
CHAPTER V. A
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER IX. ON
RODNEY MAKES A
“HURRAH FOR BULL
CHAPTER XV. A
CHAPTER XVI. THE
RODNEY MEETS A
CHAPTER I. RODNEY KEEPS HIS PROMISE.
So you are going to stick to your uniform, are you? I thought
perhaps you would be glad to see yourself in citizen's clothes once
more, and so I told Jane to put one of your old suits on the bed where
you would be sure to see it.
It was Mrs. Gray who spoke, and her words were addressed to her son
Rodney, who just then stepped out of the hall upon the wide gallery
where his father and mother were sitting. Rodney had been at home about
half an hour just long enough, in fact, to take a good wash and
exchange his fatigue suit for a sergeant's full uniform.
In the first volume of this series of books we told of the
attentions our Union hero, Marcy Gray, received while he was on the way
to his home in North Carolina, and how very distasteful and annoying
they were to him. We said that the passengers on his train took him for
just what he wasn'ta rebel soldier fresh from the seat of war, or a
recruit on his way to join some Southern regimentand praised and
petted him accordingly. Marcy didn't dare tell the excited men around
him that he was strong for the Union, that he had refused to cheer the
Stars and Bars when they were hoisted on the tower of the Barrington
Military Academy, and that if a war came he hoped the secessionists
would be thrashed until they were brought to their sensesMarcy did
not dare give utterance to these sentiments, for fear that some of the
half tipsy passengers in his car might use upon him the revolvers they
flourished about so recklessly. He was obliged to sail under false
colors until he reached Boydtown in his native State, where Morris, his
mother's coachman, was waiting for him. Rodney Gray, the rebel, who you
will remember left the academy a few weeks before Marcy did, received
just as much attention during his homeward journey. Sumter had not yet
been fired upon, but the passengers on the train were pretty certain it
was going to be, and gave it as their opinion that if the Lincolnites
attempted subjugation they would be neatly whipped for their pains.
Being in full sympathy with the passengers Rodney was not afraid to
tell who and what he was.
I am neither a soldier nor a recruit, he said over and over again,
when some enthusiastic rebel shook him by the hand and praised him for
so promptly responding to the President's call for volunteers. I am a
Barrington cadet on my way home, and I am under promise to enlist
inside of twenty-four hours after I get there. Do you see this gray
suit? I shall not wear any other color until the independence of the
Southern States has been acknowledged by the world.
Such sentiments as these never failed to bring down the car, as
Rodney afterward expressed it when describing some of the incidents of
his journey from Barrington, and many of the passengers assured him
that he would be at liberty to put on a citizen's suit in less than six
The fighting won't amount to anything, said one, who talked as if
he thought himself able to whip the whole Yankee nation alone and
unaided. It will be over in a good deal less than six months, but you
gallant fellows will have to wear your uniforms a little longer in
order to escort President Davis to Washington. He will dictate terms of
peace in the enemy's capital.
If our President will only do that, I will stay in the army ten
years if it is necessary, declared Rodney, and he meant every word of
it, for he was carried away by his enthusiasm.
A good many foolish notions of this sort were drummed into Rodney
Gray's head during his two days' journey from Barrington to Mooreville.
He afterward had occasion to recall some of them, and to wonder how he
ever came to accept them as the truth. But he kept his word so far as
his uniform was concerned; that is to say, he returned to the closet
the citizen's suit that had been laid out for him, and rigged himself
up as if he were going on dress parade. His mother looked at him with
fond and admiring eyes as he stepped upon the gallery and seated
himself in the easy chair that one of the attentive darkies placed for
him; for Rodney was an only child, and a very fine looking young
Yes, he said, in reply to his mother's question. I am going to
stick to my uniform. It is the color that has been adopted by our
government, and, as I told some of the passengers on the train, I'll
not wear any other until we have secured our independence.
Nobly said! exclaimed Rodney's mother, who was as strong for
secession as Marcy Gray's mother was for the Union. I was sure you
would not stay at home very long after your State called for your
services. I don't think you will have to wear the gray for a very great
while, but your father thinks he sees trouble in the near future.
I don't think so my dear; I know so, replied Mr. Gray, in answer
to an inquiring look from Rodney. The North can raise more men than we
That was what the colonel said when I asked him to let me come
home, exclaimed Rodney. He said, further, that the Northern people
are not cowardlythey are only patient; and that there will come a
time when their patience will all be gone, and then they will sweep
over us like a cloud of locusts.
And did you believe any such nonsense? inquired Mrs. Gray. What
will our brave people be doing while the hated Yankees are sweeping
over us? Don't you remember our President said the fighting must all be
done on Northern soil?
It takes two to make a bargain, said Mr. Gray, quietly.
That's just what Marcy said, exclaimed Rodney. That boy is going
to get himself into business before he gets through talking. He's Union
to the back-bone, and while I was at the academy he didn't hesitate to
speak his sentiments as often as he felt like it. If he keeps that up
when he gets home his neighbors may take him in hand.
I am sorry to hear that about Marcy, said Mr. Gray, thoughtfully.
He is a traitor and his mother must be another. I wonder where Sailor
Jack stands. By the way, where is Jack?
He was at sea the last I heard, and I suppose Marcy and his mother
are greatly worried about him. And well they may be; for of course
we'll have a big fleet of privateers afloat within a month after war is
declared. But, father, do you think there is going to be a war?
I am sure of it, answered Mr. Gray.
And it will be fought on Southern soil?
Well, how long do you think I shall have to wear this uniform?
If you don't take it off until the South gains her independence,
you will have to wear it as long as you live.
Why, father! exclaimed Mrs. Gray, dropping her sewing into her lap
and looking fixedly at her husband, who leaned back in his big chair
watching the smoke from his cigar. How can you bring yourself to utter
such treasonable language in your son's hearing? You know you do not
believe a word of it.
Never fear for me, mother, said Rodney, with a laugh. I know
where you stand and I am with you.
There was nothing treasonable in what I said, and I do believe
every word of it, replied Mr. Gray. I am as firm a friend to the
South as any man in the state, and will make as many sacrifices as the
next one to secure her independence. Why shouldn't I? Every thing I've
got in the world is right here, and if the South doesn't succeed in her
efforts to free herself, we'll be beggars, the last one of us. I wish
from the bottom of my heart that when our armies get started they might
sweep every abolitionist in the country into Massachusetts Bay; but
they'll not be able to do it. The Union has cost the Northern people so
much blood and treasure that they will not permit it to be destroyed.
I reckon the South had about as much to do with the war of the
Revolution as the North did, declared Rodney.
And another thing, the Northern people will not fight, Mrs. Gray
hastened to add. Wasn't it the South that did the most toward whipping
And wasn't it the North that did the most toward whipping England?
retorted Mr. Gray. Look here, he added, starting up in his chair when
he saw Rodney and his mother look toward each other with a smile of
disbelief on their faces. You must have forgotten your history, you
two. During the Revolutionary War the colonies raised two hundred and
thirty-two thousand men to fight England, and of this number the North
raised one hundred and seventy-five thousand, or more than
three-fourths of the whole. Massachusetts gave sixty-eight thousand;
Connecticut gave thirty-two thousand; Pennsylvania twenty-six thousand,
and New York eighteen thousand; while that miserable little South
Carolina gave only six thousand. And yet she has the impudence to talk
and act as if she owned the country. It would have been money in her
pocket and ours if she had been sunk out of sight in the Atlantic
before she was made into a state.
There were three things that surprised Rodney so much that for a
minute or two he could not speakhis father's sentiments, the earnest
and emphatic manner in which he expressed them, and the items of
history to which he had just listened and which were quite new to him,
as they may be to more than one boy who reads this story. But Mr. Gray
was like a good many other men in the South. He did not believe in
disunion (although he did believe in State Rights), but now that the
South was fully committed to it, he knew that he must do what he could
to make the attempt at separation successful. If it failed, he and
every other slave-holder in the South would be financially ruined.
Then I suppose you don't want me to go into the army? said Rodney,
I didn't say so; I didn't so much as hint at such a thing, replied
his father, hastily.
But what's the use of enlisting if I am going to get whipped? I
don't see any fun in that.
Oh, we've got to fight; we have gone too far to back out. We must
hold out until England and France recognize our independenceand that
will not be long, for England must have cottonand then we can snap
our fingers at the Yankees. You can take your choice of one of two
things: Stay at home and look out for your mother and let me go, or go
You stay and let me go, answered the boy promptly. I gave my word
to some of the fellows that I would enlist within twenty-four hours
after I reached home, if I could get to a recruiting office, and they
promised to do the same.
Very well, said Mr. Gray, I shall not say one word to turn you
from your purpose, and neither will your mother,
Mrs. Gray started when she heard these words. She had talked very
bravely about giving her boy his sword and shield and sending him
forth to battle, and she had thought she could do it without a tremor;
but now that the matter was brought right home to her, she found, as
many another mother did, that it was going to be the hardest task she
had ever set for herself. Rodney was safe at school, hundreds of miles
away from her when she uttered those patriotic words; now he was within
hearing of her voice, and all she had to do was to tell him to mount
his horse and go. She could not do it; but her husband, who believed
that the matter might as well be settled one time as another,
There is an independent company of cavalry camped about a mile the
other side of Mooreville, and I know they would be glad to take you in.
The company is made up of the very best men in the county, many of whom
are your personal friends, and every member has to be balloted for.
They are nearly all wealthy, and some of them are going to take
their body servants to the front with them, added Mrs. Gray, trying to
look cheerful although her eyes were filled with tears. Your father
and I spent an afternoon in their camp, and you don't know how nicely
they are situatedall the luxuries the country affords on their
tables, and then they are so full of martial ardor!
Yes, assented Mr. Gray. We found it a regulation holiday
campnothing to do and plenty of darkies to do it. They were having no
end of fun, lying around in the shade abusing the Yankees. But wait
until they meet those same Yankees in battle, and their blacks run away
from them, and then they have to do their own cooking and forage for
their bacon and hard-tack, and then they will know what soldiering
Now, father, protested Mrs. Gray. Why do you talk so when Rodney
is on the eve of enlisting? You surely do not wish to discourage him?
By no means. I only want to make him see, before he swears away his
liberty for the next twelve months, that he is not going on a Fourth of
July picnic. If he knows what is before him, he will not be surprised
or disheartened when the hard times come.
I know a little something about soldiering, and you need have no
fears that anything father can say will discourage me, Rodney said to
his mother. I have passed my word, and consider myself as good as
enlisted already. Who commands that company of cavalry?
Bob Hubbard is the one who is getting it up, but there isn't any
real commander yet. The boys do just about as they please, and will
keep on doing so until the officers are elected, which will be when
they have eighty men enrolled. Bob says that if they elect him captain,
and I reckon he stands as good a chance as anybody, the boys will have
to come down to Limerick and quit leaving camp and staying in town over
night whenever the notion takes them.
Have they seen any service at all? asked Rodney.
None except what some of them saw while they were members of the
State militia, answered his father. They helped capture the United
States arsenal at Baton Rouge and hoist the Pelican flag over it, and
you would have thought by the way they acted that they had done
something grand. But the work was accomplished without the firing of a
shot, the major in command offering to surrender if a force of six or
eight hundred men was brought against him. By the way, added Mr. Gray
getting upon his feet and tossing aside the stump of his cigar, I
expected you to do just what you have decided upon, and if you feel
like taking a walk around to the stable before dinner, I will show you
the horse I bought for you last week. Every 'Ranger' (that's what
Hubbard calls his men), furnishes his own horse, the government
allowing a small sum for the use of it; and if the horse dies or is
killed in battle, the unlucky Ranger is expected to get another the
best way he can.
Where is this company going to serve? inquired Rodney.
I don't know, and neither does Hubbard. They have offered to join a
regiment that is being raised in New Orleans, but the colonel
commanding says he can't take them unless they will give up their
Oh, I hope they'll not think of doing that.
You needn't worry. More than one Swamp Fox like General Marion will
come to the front before this thing is over, and Bob's company will not
be left out in the cold. I haven't said much to your mother about your
going into the service, Mr. Gray went on, throwing open the door of a
box stall and holding out an ear of corn to a glossy, well-conditioned
steed which came up to take a bite at it. While she is strong for
secession and very patriotic where other folks are concerned, she don't
want any of the members of her own family to go to war. She thinks they
are sure to be killed.
That isn't at all like the women and girls around Barrington,
replied Rodney, stepping into the stall and beginning a critical
inspection of his new horse. They'll not have any thing to do with a
fellow who isn't willing to prove his devotion to the Confederacy.
Where would we get the men to fight our battles if everybody thought as
Of course she hasn't said so, Mr. Gray hastened to explain. She
is too good a Southerner for that, but I know it is the way she feels.
What do you think of your horse? He is part Denmark, and that is what
makes him so gentle; and his Copper-bottom blood shows in his color.
Almost all Copper-bottom colts are roans.
He's a beauty, Rodney declared, with enthusiasm. And as long as I
keep him I'll never fall into the clutches of the Yankees. He ought to
(And the new horse did have speed, too, as Rodney discovered when he
rode him over to the camp of the Rangers that afternoon in company with
his father. He moved as if he were set on springs and showed himself
impatient of restraint; but his motions were so easy that his rider was
scarcely stirred in his seat.)
Good-by, my son, said Mrs. Gray, when Rodney's horse and his
father's were brought to the door after dinner, and the two stood on
the gallery drawing on their gloves. You belong to me now, but I
suppose that when you come back you will belong to your country.
Oh no: I can't rush things through in that style. answered the
boy. I've got to be voted for, you know. But I shall certainly tell
Mr. Hubbard that I am ready to go if he will take me.
During the ride through the village of Mooreville to the camp
beyond, the only indications Rodney saw of the martial spirit that
everywhere animated the people were the Confederate and State flags
that floated over all the business houses, and the red, white and blue
rosettes, which were worn principally by the women and girls. Rodney
was the only one in uniform, the Rangers not having decided how they
would equip themselves when the time came for them to go to the front.
Rodney was kept busy returning the salutes he received as he rode
along, and now and then some young fellow would rush into the street to
shake his hand, and inquire if he was going up to the camp to give in
his name. The camp was not such a one as the Barrington cadets used to
make when they took to the fields every summer to reduce to practice
the military instruction they had received during the year. There were
tents in abundance, but they were put up without any attempt at order,
there were no guards out, and the few recruits there were in camp
seemed to have nothing to do but lounge around under the trees, reading
the papers and talking over the situation. Rodney thought they might as
well have been at home for all the good they were doing there.
This is a pretty way to learn soldiering, said he to Mr. Hubbard,
who promptly showed himself when he heard the sound of horses' hoofs in
front of his tent. How many men have you? Will you take in my name?
You are just the fellow we want and I wish we could get fifty more
like you, replied Mr. Hubbard, returning the cordial grasp of Rodney's
hand. The boys will certainly put you in for something or other. We
haven't got down to business yet, but will next week. I suppose that
all the military knowledge we get will be by hard knocks, because,
being an independent company, we cannot call upon any army officer to
drill us. We are studying the tactics all the time, but are in no hurry
to get our uniforms until we know whether or not our services are going
to be needed.
Say, exclaimed Rodney, recalling to mind something that had been
said to him on the train a few hours before. If I were in your place
I'd lose no time in getting ready to march. President Davis is going to
dictate terms of peace in Washington. Wouldn't you like to have your
company escort him there?
Now, that's an idea, exclaimed Hubbard, while the recruits who
were standing around listening to the conversation declared as one man
that they would do and dare anything if they could only have a chance
to present arms to the Confederate President when he walked into the
White House. The boys will all be here at roll-call to-night and I
will speak to them about it. At the same time I will propose you for
membership. You'll get in, of course, and perhaps you had better report
Although Rodney could not see the use of reporting, seeing that
there was nothing to be done in camp, he promised to be on hand, and
rode away to call upon some of his friends in the village. He found,
somewhat to his relief, that there was not a single one among them who
believed as his father did that the South was sure to fail in her
efforts to dissolve the Union. They all thought as Rodney didthat the
Northern people belonged to an inferior race, that there was no fight
in them, and that the States having made the nation could unmake it
whenever they felt like it. He learned also, to his no small
indignation, that his father did not stand as high in the estimation of
his neighbors as he might have done if he had not expressed his
opinions with so much freedom. As he was about to leave the village for
home just before dark, he encountered an old acquaintance of his, Tom
Randolph by name, who had just returned from the camp.
You're in, Rodney, said he, after he had given the Barrington boy
a very limp hand to shake. To-morrow forenoon we're going to elect
officers and get down to business. Will you be up?
Rodney replied that he would, and at the same time he wondered why
it was that Randolph treated him so coolly. They never had been
friends. They took a dislike to each other the first time they met, and
the oftener they were thrown together, the stronger that dislike seemed
to grow. They had always tried to treat each other with civility, but
now there was something in Randolph's way of talking and acting that
Rodney did not like.
While you were up to camp to-day did any of the boys tell you that
I am a candidate for second lieutenant of the company? continued
You? exclaimed Rodney, in genuine astonishment.
Yes, me, replied Randolph, mimicing Rodney's tone and look of
surprise. And why haven't I as good a right as anybody, I should be
pleased to know?
I suppose there is no law to prevent you from running for office,
but you don't know the first thing about military matters. If the
company was in line this minute, and you were second lieutenant of it,
you couldn't go to your position unless somebody showed you where it
Well, I can learn, can't I? snapped Randolph. You didn't know
trail arms from right-shoulder shift when you first joined the academy,
did you? The company ought to give me that place, for my father has
done a heap for it with money and influence. Some who are now recruits
held back because they were not able to fit themselves out decently,
but father told them that the want of money need not stand in their
way. If they would go ahead and enlist, he would see that they had
horses, weapons, uniforms and everything else they wanted. He did what
he could to promote enlistments instead of preaching up the doctrine
that the South is going to be whipped and the slaves all made free.
Rodney knew well enough that this was a slap at his father, but he
didn't see how he could resent it, for it was nothing but the truth.
That's why I say that the company ought to make me an officer,
continued Randolph, after a short pause. I know you are all right, for
I heard how you stood up for the Confederacy while you were at school,
and I'll tell you what I'll do with you: If you will give me your vote
for second lieutenant, I'll do what I can to have you elected third
sergeant. The other places are spoken for.
I am very much obliged to you, replied Rodney.
Is it a bargain?
Not much. I'll not vote for a man to be placed over me unless he
knows more than I do.
Perhaps you want a commission yourself, said Randolph, with
something like a sneer.
No, I don't. I never thought of such a thing.
Because if you do, I want to tell you that you can't get it,
continued Randolph. Your father hasn't done half as much for the
company as he might have done, and the boy's don't like the way he
Then let's see the boys help themselves, answered Rodney, as he
placed his foot in the stirrup and swung himself into the saddle. Time
will show who is willing to do the most for the success of the
Confederacy, your father or mine.
So saying he put the roan colt into a gallop and set out for home.
CHAPTER II. THE RANGERS ELECT
When Rodney had left the village of Mooreville half a mile or so
behind him, he threw the reins loose upon his horse's neck, thrust his
hands deep into his pockets and thought over the conversation he had
had with Tom Randolph. He had warned his cousin Marcy that the North
Carolina people would be sure to turn the cold shoulder upon him on
account of his Union principles, and now it seemed to Rodney that he
was in pretty near the same predicament because his father believed and
said that the seven seceding States, with two and a half millions of
free persons, could not whip the loyal states and territories with
It serves me just right, was Rodney's mental reflection. I
persecuted Marcy on account of his opinions, and now I am going to have
a little of the same kind of treatment. No one but a red-hot
secessionist has got any business in this part of the country.
When Rodney reached home he found his father there and supper
waiting for him. He did not mention Tom Randolph's name, but he spent a
good deal of time in thinking about him, and wondered how he would fare
if Tom succeeded in winning the coveted commission. There were many
ways in which a lieutenant could torment his subordinates, and Tom
would be just mean enough to use all the power the law allowed him.
I'll not take a thing to-morrow, even if it is offered to me, was
the resolution Rodney made before he went to sleep that night. I'll go
out as a private and come back as a private, unless I can win promotion
in the face of the enemy. Time makes all things right, and we'll see
who will come out at the top of the heapTom Randolph or I.
The next morning about eight o'clock, Rodney seated himself in the
carriage with his father and mother and was driven to the camp of the
Rangers. It presented more of a holiday appearance now than it did the
first time he saw it, for it had been cleaned up and decorated in honor
of the occasion. The little grove in which the tents were pitched was
thronged with visitors, the Rangers were out in full force and there
was a good deal of logrolling going on. All the candidates had
ballots prepared, and Rodney had scarcely set his foot on the ground
before he was surrounded by a little group of recruits, all of whom
were anxious to serve the Confederacy in the capacity of officers.
We've got you down for third sergeant, said one. We've arranged
to push you for that position if you will vote for me for orderly and
for Randolph for second lieutenant.
Find out who the other candidates are before you make any
promises, exclaimed another; and then, when no one was observing his
movements, the speaker gave Rodney a wink and a nod which the latter
could not fail to understand. He drew off on one side and the recruit,
whose hands were full of ballots, went on to say:
Randolph doesn't stand the ghost of a chance for the second
lieutenancy, and he has good cheek to ask the boys to give it to him.
He thinks he is going to run the company because his father has done so
much for it.
And he thinks he and his friends are going to keep me in the
background because my father has done so little for it, added Rodney.
Well, they can't do it, and they will find it out when the thing is
put to the test. You have a military education and Randolph hasn't.
That's one thing against him, and his overwhelming self-conceit is
another. You are rather young to look for a commission in a company of
men, but you will come in for the orderly sergeant's berth sure as
I am obliged to those who suggested me for that place, but I'll not
take it, said Rodney very decidedly. I enlisted for a soldier.
Well, what in the name of sense do you call the orderly?
I call him a clerk, answered Rodney.
Why, I thought he was drill-master.
Of awkward squadsyes,
Then can't you see that that is another reason why we need you in
that berth? We all belong to the awkward squad now. You'll have to take
it. We need a drill-master, and must have some one who knows enough to
keep the company's books; and that's more than that friend of
Randolph's can do. I want nothing for myself, for I am not a military
man. Hubbard will come in for captain without opposition. It's the
place he ought to have, for he has done more for us than anybody else,
and Odell and Percy will be the lieutenants. Put those in the box when
the time comes.
Rodney took the ballots that were placed in his hand, and just then
some one called out:
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! All you Rangers fall in in single rank here
in front of headquarters, and be ready to cast your votes for captain.
Rodney laughed heartily.
That's the deputy sheriff, said the recruit with whom he had been
conversing, as the two hastened toward the captain's tent. There isn't
much military about that order.
It'll do, replied Rodney. The boys seem to understand it, and
what more do you want?
Now answer to your names, continued the deputy; whereupon Rodney
What ought he to have said? inquired his friend.
Listen to roll-call, would be the proper order, said the
Barrington boy. But it's all right. Guerillas are not supposed to be
posted in such things.
But we are not guerillas.
Look in your dictionary and you will find that you can't make us
out to be anything else, replied Rodney.
The two fell in side by side and answered to their names when they
were called. The Barrington boy supposed that nominations would now be
in order, but it seemed that they had already been made from captain
down to fourth corporal. The Rangers were faced to the right and
ordered to march up one at a time and deposit their votes for captain
in the ballot-box (a cigar box with a slot in the cover), beside which
stood the three inspectors of election who were to count the votes
after they were all in, and who had been chosen before Rodney arrived
on the ground. When the balloting was completed the company had
countermarched twice, and stood on the same ground it occupied before
the ceremony began. One of the inspectors emptied the contents of the
cigar box on the table, another opened the first ballot that came to
his hand and called out the name that was written upon it, and the
third kept count. The result was just what Rodney's friend told him it
There were sixty-five votes cast, and they one and all bear the
name of our popular friend Robert Hubbard, said the inspector and the
announcement was received with cheers.
Speech! Speech! shouted the Rangers.
No, no! replied the newly elected captain. There are two
lieutenants, one orderly sergeant, five duty sergeants and four
corporals yet to be elected, and we don't want to waste any time in
Have you got your ballots ready for first lieutenant? inquired the
deputy sheriff, who continued to act as master of ceremonies. Then
face to the right again and march yourselves around here and put 'em in
the box. Laugh away, Rodney, he added, smiling good-naturedly and
shaking his head at the Barrington boy. We'll get the hang of these
things after a while.
The voting was gone through with the same as before, and there was
more cheering and clapping of hands when the inspector announced that
Hiram Odell had been unanimously elected to the office of first
lieutenant; but following the example of his superior he declined to
waste time in speech-making.
And now Rodney Gray began to take a deeper interest in what was
going on. The second lieutenant would be voted for next, and Tom
Randolph, whose father had done so much for the company, had had the
impudence to bring himself forward as a candidate. It couldn't be
possible, Rodney thought, that such an ignorant upstart stood any
chance of election when his opponent was so popular a young man as
Albert Percy. He stood where he could see Tom's face, and there was not
a particle of color in it. If he could have looked into the ballot Tom
held in his hand, he would have found that the name written upon it was
that of Thomas Randolph himself. The candidate intended to vote in his
own favor and he did; but it did not bring him the coveted office. When
the result was announced he had just twelve votes. All the others were
cast for Albert Percy. Then there was more cheering, but Tom didn't
join in; and neither did he shout out a responsive Aye when it was
proposed that the election be declared unanimous. On the contrary he
looked daggers at every man in the ranks whose eye he could reach; and
he could reach more than half of them, for the line was almost as
crooked as a rail fence.
That's a pretty way for them to treat me after all the exertions my
father has made and the money he has promised to spend for the
company, said Tom to the sympathizing friend who stood next on the
right. I believe I'll haul out.
Don't do it, was the reply. Stay in and help beat the rest of
that ticket. It's all cut and dried.
Of course it is and has been for some time. I could see it now if I
had only half an eye; but they have been so sly about it that I never
suspected it before. Slip out of the line and tell everybody who voted
for me to vote against Gray, no matter what they put him up for. We'll
show them that they don't run the company.
Have you got your votes ready for orderly sergeant? inquired the
I'd like to say a word before the vote is taken, said Captain
Hubbard, without giving any one time to answer the sheriff's question,
and that is, that the office of orderly sergeant is one of the most
important in the company.
I wonder how he happens to know so much, whispered Tom Randolph to
the Ranger who touched elbows with him on the right; and in a minute
more he found out.
Ever since I began taking an active part in getting up this
company, continued the captain, I have been in correspondence with a
military friend who has taken pains to post me on some matters that are
not touched upon in the tactics. Among other things he warned me that
if we intend to do business in military form, we must be careful whom
we select for the office of orderly. He ought to be a thorough-going
Gray, Gray! Sergeant Rodney Gray! yelled a score of voices.
Very well, gentlemen, said the captain, who looked both surprised
and pleased. If he is your choice I have nothing to say beyond this: I
shall be more than satisfied with his election.
Randolph, Randolph! shouted Tom's friends, believing that if he
could not get one office he might be willing to take another; but it
turned out that their candidate was not that sort of fellow.
I don't want it, and what's more to the point, I won't accept it,
said he, wrathfully. If any one votes for me he will only be wasting
his ballot, for I am going to leave the company. Do you suppose I am
such a fool as to allow myself to be set up and bowled over by Rodney
Gray? he added in an undertone, in response to a mild protest from his
friend on the right. His supporters are in the majority and no one
else need look for a show.
Everybody was surprised to hear this declaration from the lips of
one who had thus far taken the deepest interest in the organization and
done all in his power to help it along, and several of the Rangers
leaned forward to get a glimpse of the speaker's face to see if he
really meant what he said. Rodney glanced toward the captain to see how
he took it, and learned what it was that induced the defeated candidate
to take this stand. Leaning upon his cane just inside the door of the
captain's tent was Mr. Randolph, whose face was fully as black as
Tom's, and who nodded approvingly at every word the angry young man
I haven't been sworn in yet, and am as free to go and come as I was
a month ago, declared Tom.
For the matter of that, so are we all, answered the captain, who
had known a week beforehand that young Randolph was sure to be
defeated, and that he would take it very much to heart. But I
considered myself bound from the time I put my name to this
muster-roll. We can't be sworn in except by a State officer, for the
minute we consent to that, that minute we give up our freedom and
render ourselves liable to be ordered to the remotest point in the
Confederacy. We are partisans, and never will surrender our right to do
as we please.
Captain Hubbard and his company of Rangers were not the only dupes
there were in the Confederacy at that moment. It was well known that
the new government was in full sympathy with partisan organizations;
and its agents industriously circulated the report that it would not
only aid in the formation of such organizations, but would allow them
full liberty of action after they were sworn into the service of their
State. The government knew the temper of the Southern people, and was
well aware that the desire to emulate the example of such heroes as
Marion would draw into the service many a dashing youngster who might
otherwise stay out of it. What could be more alluring to a hot-head
like Rodney Gray than the wild, free, and glorious life which the
simple word partisan conjured up? The ruse, for that's just what it
was, proved successful. Partisan companies sprung into existence all
over the South, but in less than twelve months after the war began
there was not one of them in the service. Neither were there any such
things as State troops.
When Morgan and Forrest were first heard of they were known and
acknowledged as partisans; and the former carried his partisanship so
far that when General Buckner declined to give him permission to act
upon his own responsibility, he took possession of a deserted house,
went into camp there, and supported his men out of his own pocket; but
before the war closed both he and Forrest were Confederate generals,
and their men were regularly sworn into the Confederate service.
We said that the State troops also had ceased to exist, and the
following incident proves it: When the Governor of Arkansas called upon
his troops, who were serving in the Army of the Center, to come home at
once and save their State from threatened invasion, General Beauregard
ought to have permitted them to obey the summons. He could not do
otherwise and be consistent, for if the eleven rebellious States made
the Confederacy, they surely had the right to unmake it. But did he
live up to the principles for which he was fighting? On the contrary he
surrounded those Arkansas troops with a wall of gleaming bayonets
backed by frowning batteries, and gave them just five minutes to make
up their minds whether or not they would return to duty. The government
at Richmond was a despotism of the worst sort, as more than one poor,
deluded rebel found to his sorrow; and yet Jefferson Davis and the rest
of them stoutly maintained that they were fighting for the right of the
States to do as they pleased.
I don't consider myself bound to stay in the company for no other
reason than because my name is on that muster-roll, said Randolph.
Stick to it and we'll back you up, whispered the recruit on Tom's
If I drop out of the ranks will you come too? whispered Randolph,
I will, and so will all the rest.
Being thus encouraged Randolph stepped out of the line and walked
off toward his father's carriage, to which his indignant mother had
already beat a dignified retreat. When he had gone a little distance he
looked behind him and saw, with no little satisfaction, that he was
followed by eleven others who were displeased by the way the election
They were the ones who had been urged into the company by Mr.
Randolph, who had promised to see them well fitted out with horses and
weapons, and of course they felt bound to follow the example of his
son. There were those who believed that Mr. Randolph would not have
taken so much interest in the company if he had not believed that every
recruit he brought into it would cast a vote for Tom.
Here was a pretty state of affairs, thought Captain Hubbard, who
looked troubled rather than vexed. He did not care so much for the
desertion of young Randolph and his friends (although the unexpected
withdrawal of twelve men from his command was no small matter), but he
did care for the spirit that prompted their action. It was a rule or
ruin policy he did not like to see manifested at that juncture. He was
well enough acquainted with Randolph to know that he would not be
satisfied with simply deserting the company, but would try in all ways
to be revenged upon every member of it who had voted against him. While
the captain was thinking about it, somebody tried to make matters worse
by setting up a loud hiss, and in an instant the sound was carried
along the whole length of the line. It wasn't stopped, either, until
Rodney Gray stepped to the front.
Mr. Commander, said he, raising his hand to his cap with a
military flourish, I don't want this position. The officers already
chosen have been fairly elected, but I'll vote for Randolph for the
next highest office in the gift of the company, if he can be induced to
Haven't you heard him say that he don't want it and won't take it?
replied the captain. I think the Rangers know what they are doing.
Proceed with the election.
But, Captain, I don't want to be a clerk, protested Rodney. I
want to be a soldier. Aside from his writing, the orderly has little to
do but loaf about camp all the while, keeping an eye on the company
property, signing requisitions and drilling awkward squads, and that's
a job I don't want. What's more, without any intention of being
disrespectful, I'll not take it. There must be some here who want it,
and who can do that sort of work as well, if not better than I can. If
you think you must put me in for something, let me be a duty sergeant,
so that I will have a chance to go on a scout now and then.
So saying the Barrington boy made another flourish with his hand and
stepped back to his place in the ranks with military precision.
Now, Rodney, take that back, said Lieutenant Percy, with most
unbecoming familiarity. You are the only military man in the company,
and I don't see how we can get along without you.
I'll tell you what I'll do, Rodney, chimed in Captain Hubbard.
You take the position, and I will promise that you shall go out on a
scout as often as you please.
The Barrington boy's face relaxed into a broad grin.
Captain, said he, what sort of an organization is this any waya
mob or a military company?
Now, what is the use of your asking such a question as that?
demanded the captain, rather sharply.
Well, then, if it is a military company, I suppose you intend to be
governed by military rules, do you not?
Of course we do, if we have brains enough to find out what those
I have no fears on that score; and when you find out what those
rules are, you will see that you have no business to let me go out on a
scout as often as I please.
What's the reason I haven't? exclaimed the captain. I command the
company, don't I?
You certainly do.
And haven't I a right to do as I please?
That depends upon circumstances. Do you intend to remain right here
Not by a jugful. We're going to belong to some part of the army, if
we have to go clear up to Missouri to find a commander who will take
Then you will find that you can't do as you please. The minute that
commander accepts you, he will swear you and all of us into the
After we have been sworn into the service of the State?
I don't believe it, said Captain Hubbard, bluntly. He wouldn't
have any right to do it.
The boy's words raised a chorus of dissent all along the line, and
Lieutenant Odell said, as soon as he could make himself heard:
You are way off the track, Rodney. What did we secede for if it
wasn't to prove the doctrine of State Rights? If we are going to give
our liberty up to a new government, we might as well have stayed under
the old. And all the Rangers uttered a hearty That's so.
You'll see, replied Rodney, who was greatly amused by the look of
astonishment his words had brought to the faces around him. A general
would look pretty accepting the services of a company he couldn't
command, wouldn't he, now?
But he could command us, said everybody in the line; and Captain
Hubbard added: I'd promise that we would obey him as promptly and
readily as any of his regular troops.
But that wouldn't satisfy him. He'd want the power to make us obey
him, or we might take it into our heads to leave him when things didn't
go to suit, just as Randolph and his friends have left us. If we should
try any little game like that in the face of the enemy, he might have
the last one of us shot.
What do you think of the prospect, boys? said the captain, pulling
out his handkerchief and mopping his face with it. He was all in the
dark and wanted somebody to suggest something.
Look here, Rodney, said Lieutenant Percy. If you knew our company
was to go up in smoke what did you join it for?
I don't believe it is going up in smoke, was the reply. I
certainly hope it isn't, for I am under promise to go into the service,
and would rather go with my friends and neighbors than with strangers;
but if we are going to bear arms, we've got to have authority from
somebody to do it.
Why, we'll get that from the State of Louisiana, exclaimed the
Rangers, almost as one man. The State is supreme, no one outside of it
has a right to command our services, and State Rights will be our
battle-cry, if we need one.
All right, exclaimed Rodney. I am here to share the fortunes of
the company, whatever they may be, but I can't take the position you
have so kindly offered me, and I beg you will not urge me further. Give
it to some one who wants it, and I will do all I can to help him.
Well, that's different, said the captain, who seemed to be much
relieved. Fall out and prepare your ballots; and you had better fix
'em all up while you are about it, so that there may be no further
The order to fall out was quite unnecessary, for the ranks were
pretty well broken before the captain gave it. He allowed them half an
hour in which to write out their ballots, and then the line was
reformed, after a fashion, and the voting went on; and although the
results were in the main satisfactory, there were some long faces among
Never mind, said Rodney, who had been elected first duty sergeant.
You outsiders may have a chance yet. I'll bet a picayune that if this
company sees any service at all, it will not be mustered out with the
same officers it has now. Bone your tactics night and day, and then if
there is an examination, you will stand as good a chance as anybody.
Captain, who is going to commission you?
I have been commissioned already; that is to say, I have been
authorized by the governor to raise a company of independent cavalry to
be mustered into the State service. That is all right, isn't it?
I suppose it is, replied the boy; and then he walked off to find
his father, thoughtfully pulling his under lip as he went.
What's the matter? inquired Mr. Gray, as his son approached the
place where he was standing. Wasn't the election satisfactory? I
thought the best men were chosen.
I wasn't thinking about that, was the answer. If we are mustered
into the service of the State, we must of course be sworn in. This
State is a part of the Confederacy; and if the Confederacy calls upon
Louisiana for troops then what?
Why, then you would have to go. I reckon, replied one of the
planters who was talking with his father.
Yes, I reckon we would: and we'd have to take the oath to support
the Confederacy, and that would take us out from under the control of
the State and make us Confederate troops, wouldn't it? It's a sort of
mixed-up mess and I don't see where our independence comes in. But the
boys seem to think it is all right and I suppose it is.
But it wasn't all right, and the sequel proved it.
CHAPTER III. DRILL AND PARADES.
When the Rangers had broken ranks, which they did without orders as
soon as the fourth corporal had been elected, the captain and his
lieutenants suddenly thought of something and posted off to find Rodney
Look here, said the former, somewhat nervously. What's the next
thing on the programme?
Drill, guard-mount and all that sort of thing; but principally
drill, answered Rodney. If I were in your place I would send for a
copy of the army regulations without loss of time.
Where'll I get them?
Write to the commanding officer at New Orleans, and the minute they
get here, turn this camp into a camp of instruction with written
regulations, so that every member of the company may know what is
required of himreveille at five A.M., breakfast at six,
sick-call at seven, inspection of company parade grounds at eight,
squad drill at half past, and
Hold on, exclaimed Lieutenant Percy. You will have to put that in
writing. I never could remember it in the world.
You'll have to, and a good deal more like it, replied the
Barrington boy. It's nothing to what I had to keep constantly in mind
while I was at school. I had to walk a chalk-mark, I tell you, or I'd
have lost my chevrons.
I suppose the hardest part of the work will be training our
horses, observed Lieutenant Odell. Mine is pretty wild.
No matter for that if he is only intelligent. He'll learn the drill
in less time than you will, I'll bet you. But we'll not need our horses
for a month to come.
What's the reason we won't? We're cavalry.
I know it; but how are you going to teach your horses the movements
unless you know them yourselves? Suppose we were in line in two ranks
and the command was given Without doubling, right face. The horses
don't know where to go but their riders must, in order to rein the
animals in their places. See? Oh, there's more work than fun in
Well now, look here, said the captain again. I don't want to take
the boys away from home and shut them up here for nothing, and yet I
don't want to waste any valuable time, for we may be called upon before
we know it. Will you drill a volunteer squad here every forenoon?
I will, and be glad to do it. I hope they will turn out strong, for
you will find that the workers are the men that make the soldiers. I am
glad we've got a drum and fife. You don't know how hard it would be for
me to drill a large squad without some kind of music to help them keep
And so it was settled that Camp Randolph (it had been named after
Tom's father when the Confederate flag was first run up to the
masthead, and sorry enough the Rangers were for it now), was to become
a camp of instruction, and that Sergeant Gray was to drill a volunteer
squad every pleasant forenoon, and spend two hours every afternoon in
teaching the company officers their duties.
The young soldier had undertaken a big contract, but he went about
it as though he meant business, and in less than a week succeeded in
convincing some of the members of his company that he was just a trifle
too particular to be of any use. The strict discipline in vogue at
Barrington was promptly introduced at Camp Randolph, and not the
slightest departure from the tactics was tolerated for an instant. It
made the spectators smile to see full-grown men ordered about by this
imperious youngster who was not yet seventeen years of age, and the
sight aroused the ire of Tom Randolph, who now and then rode out to the
camp to watch the drill and criticise the drill-master. He wanted to
learn something too, for Tom had an idea that he might one day have a
company of his own. His father suggested it to him, and Tom lost no
time in talking it up among his friends. To his great disgust Tom had
learned that some of these friends were getting shaky. As time wore
on and the Rangers began to show proficiency under the severe drilling
to which they were daily subjected, these friends began to think and
say that they were afraid they had been a little too hasty in
withdrawing from the company just because Tom Randolph could not get
the office he wanted, and the first mounted drill that was held
confirmed them in the opinion. Due notice had been given of the drill,
and the whole town and all the planters for miles around, turned out to
see it. Of course the horses were green but their riders understood
their business as well as could be expected, and the spectators, one
and all, declared that it was a very creditable showing.
We do not, of course, mean to say that Randolph and his father and
mother and a few other dissatisfied ones were pleased with the drill.
They were rather disappointed to find that the Rangers could do so well
without the aid of the twelve deserters. They came to witness it
because their neighbors came, one of them, at least, being animated by
the hope that the spirited horses would become so restive when they
heard the rattle of the drum and the shrill scream of the fife, that
their riders could not keep them in line. It was a matter of
difficulty, that's a fact; but the Rangers were all good riders, and if
Randolph hoped to see any of them thrown from his saddle, his amiable
wish was not gratified. Another thing that disgusted Tom was the fact
that Sergeant Gray commanded the drill, the commissioned officers
riding in the ranks like so many privates. The file-closers, of course,
occupied their proper places.
If I could afford to buy a horse I would join the company within an
hour, if they would take me, said one of the eleven who had seen fit
to withdraw from the Rangers when Tom did. I cut off my nose to spite
my face, and so did all of us who got our backs up because we couldn't
have things our own way. But I don't suppose they would take us back
Would you be willing to have such a fellow as Rodney Gray order you
around as he does the rest of them! demanded Tom.
Why, I don't see what's the matter with Rodney Gray. I never heard
the first word said against him until you took it into your head that
he was going to run against you for second lieutenant. Yes; I'd let him
or anybody else boss me around if he would only teach me how to drill.
He's a nobby soldier, aint he?
Nobby nothing, snarled Randolph. I'll bet you our company will
drill just as well as they do.
Yes. You don't imagine that the Rangers are the only ones who will
go into the service from this place, do you? It would not be policy for
the State to send all her best men into the Confederate army, said
Tom, quoting from his father; for although he had been a voter for more
than three years he seldom read the papers, and depended upon others to
keep him posted in the events of the day. Some of us can't go. Father
says the Yankees will fight if they are crowded too hard, and if they
should happen to come down the river from Cairo, or up the river from
New Orleans, wouldn't the capital of our State be in a pretty fix if
there were no troops here to defend it?
Aw! they aint a-going to come up or down, exclaimed the other, who
was too good a rebel to believe that Union troops could by any
possibility gain a foothold in the seceded States. 'The fighting must
all be done on Northern soil.' That's what our President said, and I
reckon he knows what he was talking about.
Perhaps he don't. Fortune of war, you know, said Randolph, who,
ever since his father suggested the idea, had kept telling himself that
nothing would suit him better than to be captain of a company of finely
uniformed and mounted State Guards. At any rate we are going to
prepare for what may happen. We are going to get up a company, and my
father will equip every one who joins it. If he has a family, my father
will support them if we have to leave the neighborhood and go to some
other part of the State. What do you say? Shall I put your name down?
Tom's friend did not give a direct reply to this question. He evaded
it; but when he had drawn away from Tom's side and reached another part
of the grounds (the mounted drill was still going on), he said to
No, you need not put my name down. I'm going to be a regular
soldier and not a Home Guard. There must be some patriotic rich man in
this country who will do for me what Mr. Randolph promised to do, and
I'm going to see if I can find him. By gracious? I believe I'll try Mr.
Gray. They say he hasn't done much of anything for the company, but
perhaps he will if he's asked.
No; Mr. Gray had not been buying votes for his son, for he did not
believe in doing business that way. According to his ideas of right and
wrong the company officers ought to go to those who were best qualified
to fill them; and he didn't want Rodney to have any position unless the
Rangers thought him worthy of it. But he was prompt to respond to all
appeals for aid, and so it came about that in less than a week Tom
Randolph's friends had all been received back into the company, and it
was reported that six of them were to be mounted and armed at Mr.
That's to pay 'em for voting Rodney in for first duty sergeant,
snapped Tom, when he heard the news. I'd go without office before I
would have my father do things in that barefaced way. And as for those
who are willing to accept pay for their votes, they ought to be
heartily ashamed of themselves.
Never mind, said Mr. Randolph, soothingly. There is no need that
a young man in your circumstances should go into the army as private,
and I don't mean that you shall do it. I'll make it my business to call
on the governor and see if he can't find a berth for you.
But remember that it must be a military appointment, said Tom. No
clerkship or anything of that sort for me.
While the Rangers were working hard to get themselves in shape for
the field, Captain Hubbard and his lieutenants had received their
commissions and been duly sworn into the State militia. Nothing was
said, however, about swearing in the company, and when Captain Hubbard
called the governor's attention to the omission the latter replied:
General Lacey is the man to look after such matters as that. He's
in New Orleans and you may be ordered to report to him there.
How about our uniforms? asked the captain.
Do as you please about uniforms so long as you conform to the army
regulations. Of course your arms and equipments will be furnished you,
and the government will allow you sixty cents a day for the use of your
The most of the Rangers thought this was all right, and Captain
Hubbard at once called a business meeting of the company to decide upon
the uniform they would wear when they went to New Orleans to be sworn
in; but there was one among them who did not take much interest in the
proceedings. He did not say a great deal during the meeting, but when
he went home that night he remarked to his father:
This partisan business is a humbug so far as this State is
What makes you say that? inquired Mr. Gray.
Just this, answered Rodney. Why didn't the governor swear us in
himself instead of telling us that we must wait for General Lacey to do
it? The General is a Confederate, not a State officer, and when he
musters us in it will be into the Confederate service.
This was not a pleasing prospect for the restless, ambitious young
fellow, who had confidently looked for something better, but he had
gone too far to back out. He had told his comrades that he intended to
share then fortunes, whatever they might be, and this was the time to
make good his words. If he had worked his men hard before, he worked
them harder now, devoting extra time and attention to the officers in
order to get them in shape to command the grand drill and dress parade
that was to come off as soon as their uniforms arrived.
In the meantime outside events were not overlooked. Everything
pointed to war, and news from all parts of the Confederacy bore
evidence to the fact that the seceded States were preparing for it,
while the people of the North stood with their hands in their pockets
and looked on. Finally the long-delayed explosion came, and the country
was in an uproar from one end to the other. Fort Sumter was fired upon
and compelled to surrenderfifty-one men against five thousandand
the Rangers shook hands and patted one another on the back and declared
that that was the way they would serve the Yankees every time they met
them. Then came President Lincoln's War Proclamation, followed by the
accession of four States to the Confederacy, the blockade of the
Southern sea-ports and President Davis's offer to issue letters of
marque and reprisal. All this while the mails were regularly received,
and Rodney Gray heard from every one of the Barrington boys who had
promised to enlist within twenty-four hours after they reached home.
They had all kept that promise except Dixon, the tall Kentuckian, and
he was getting ready as fast as he could.
I have been between a hoot and a whistle ever since I have been
home, was what he wrote to Rodney Gray. The State was divided against
itself, and I couldn't tell until the 15th, (April) which way she was
going; but now I know. When the Yankee President called for those
seventy-five thousand volunteers our Governor replied: 'I say
emphatically that Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked
purpose of subjugating her sister Southern States. As Dick Graham used
to say, 'That's me.' I go with the government of my State. Now, then,
what have you done? I shall write the rest of the fellows to-day.
Billings, the South Carolina boy, reached home too late to take part
in the bombardment of Fort Sumter. and he told Rodney that he was very
sorry for it. Every one of the gallant five thousand who had fought for
thirty-four hours to compel a handful of tired and hungry men to haul
down their flag was looked upon as a hero, and Billings said he might
have been a hero too, if he had only had sense enough to leave school a
month earlier. But he was all right now. He was a Confederate soldier
and ready to do and dare with the best of them.
Dick Graham, whose home you will remember was in Missouri, wrote in
much the same strain that Dixon did. His State was in such a turmoil
and seemed to be so evenly divided between Union and disunion, that
Dick could not tell which way she was going until he saw Governor
Jackson's answer to Lincoln's call for volunteers. There can be, I
apprehend, no doubt that these men are intended to make war upon the
seceded States, said the Governor. Your requisition, in my judgment,
is illegal, unconstitutional and revolutionary in its objects, inhuman
and diabolical and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State
of Missouri furnish to carry on such an unholy crusade.
When I read those burning words, Dick wrote, with enthusiasm, my
mind was made up and I knew where I stood. I expected some such move on
the Governors part, for when he came into office in January, he
declared that Missouri must stand by the other slave States whatever
course they might pursue. I kept my promise and enlisted in a company
of partisans raised under the terms of the Military Bill, which makes
every able-bodied man in the State subject to military duty. Price is
our immediate commander, but we were required to take the oath to obey
the Governor alone.
There, now, exclaimed Rodney, when he read this. What's the
reason our Governor can't swear the Rangers in as well as the Governor
of Missouri can swear his troops in? I believe he could if there wasn't
something back of it.
What do you think there is back of it? inquired his father.
I can't imagine, unless there is some sort of an arrangement
existing between him and the Confederate authorities at New Orleans,
replied Rodney. The Governor lets on that he is strongly in favor of
independent organizations, but he don't act as if he was.
Rodney showed Dick's letter to Captain Hubbard, who posted off to
Baton Rouge with, it; but he got no satisfaction there. There had been
no such Military Bill passed in Louisiana, the Governor said, and there
was no need of it, the situation there and in Missouri was so
different. The latter State was exposed to invasion (by which he
meant that Captain Lyon's small company of regulars was likely to be
reinforced), but Louisiana was so protected on all sides that Lincoln's
hirelings could not get at her if they tried.
Then he wouldn't assume control of the company? said Rodney.
No, he wouldn't. I had a personal interview with him at his own
house and did some of my best talking; but it was no use. He was
non-committalthat was the worst of it, and ISay, added the
captain, in an undertone, I have sorter suspected that he meant to
turn us over to the Confederacy.
That's what I have thought for a good while, said Rodney.
Yes, continued the captain. So I thought I might as well give him
to understand that we were not going to allow ourselves to be turned
over as long as we remained free men. I showed him your friend's
letter, and hinted pretty strongly that if we could not swear obedience
to the Governor of our own State, the Governor of another State might
be willing to accept us, and you ought to have seen him open his eyes.
What did he say?
He said he hoped that I wouldn't think of doing such a thing as
that, but if I did, he would have to revoke my commission.
Who cares if he does? exclaimed Rodney. Let him revoke it if he
wants to, and you can get another from Governor Jackson.
That's what I thought. Now, I'll tell you what we'll doat least
we'll hold a secret meeting after drill and propose it to the boys.
Suppose you telegraph to your chum's fatheryou know where to find him
and you don't know where to find Dick Graham and ask him if General
Price will accept our services, leaving us our independent
organization, provided we will take the oath to obey the Governor of
I'll do it, answered Rodney. And if you will postpone the drill
for half an hour I will ride into town and attend to it at once. It's
the only thing we can do and keep out of the Confederate army. Dog-gone
the Confederacy. The State is the one I want to serve.
Rodney rode into Mooreville at a gallop, wrote out the dispatch and
stood at the desk while Drummond, the operator, sent it off. Although
the latter looked surprised he did not say anything; but while Rodney
was on his way back to camp, a copy of his dispatch was on its way to
In accordance with Captain Hubbard's programme a secret meeting of
the company was held after the drill was over, but it turned out that
the members were not so strongly in favor of the captain's plan as he
and Rodney thought they were going to be. While the Rangers fully
determined to preserve their independent organization, they were not
willing to give their services to the governor of another State. There
was a dead-lock developed at once; and it was finally decided that the
best thing they could do would be to adjourn until Rodney had received
a reply to his dispatch. Perhaps General Price would not take them, and
that would end the matter. If he would, why then, they could call
another meeting and decide what they would do about it.
The next day their uniforms came up from New Orleans, and on the
afternoon of the day following there was a grand drill and dress parade
commanded by Captain Hubbard in person. The spectators, if we except
the Randolph family, were delighted with it, and Rodney told his father
privately that he had seen many a worse one at the Barrington Academy.
Rodney didn't want to say so out loud, of course, for he was the
drill-master; but it was not long before he discovered that the Rangers
knew whom to thank for their proficiency, and that they fully
appreciated the patient and untiring efforts he had made to bring them
into military form. When the ranks had been broken after dress parade,
and the Rangers and their invited guests thronged into the grove behind
the tents to make an assault upon the well-loaded tables they found
there, the deputy sheriff, the man with the stentorian voice, who was a
private in the company, sprang upon the band-stand, commanded
attention, and afterward shouted for Sergeant Rodney Gray to come
forward. As the boy wonderingly obeyed, the Rangers and their guests
closed about the stand and hemmed it in on all sides. Captain Hubbard
had taken up a position there, and when Rodney halted in front of him
and took off his cap, the latter began a speech, thanking the young
sergeant for what he had done for the company, and begging him to
accept a small token of their respect and esteem.
Take it, friend Rodney, said the captain, in conclusion. Keep it
to remind you of the pure gold of our friendship which shall never know
alloy. And while we sincerely trust that it may never be drawn except
upon peaceful occasions of ceremony, we are sure you will not permit it
to remain idle in its scabbard while the flag of our Young Republic is
in danger, or your good right arm retains the power to wield it.
The captain stepped back, and the thoroughly astonished Rodney stood
holding in his hands an elegant cavalry sabre. He stared hard at it,
and then he looked at the expectant crowd around the band-stand.
Speech, speech! yelled the Rangers.
But the usually self-possessed Barrington boy was past speech-making
now. He managed to mumble a few words of thanks, got to the ground
somehow and mingled with the crowd as quickly as possible.
How very surprised he is, sneered Tom Randolph, who told himself
regretfully that a sword like that might have been presented to him if
he had only remained with the company. I will bet my horse against his
that he knew a week ago that he was going to get it.
Rodney waited four days before he received a reply to the dispatch
he sent to Dick Graham's father, and seeing that the authorities had
assumed control of the wires, and the operator at Mooreville was a
government spy, it was rather singular that he got it at all. It ran as
Price will accept. Company officers and independent organization to
remain the same.
I tell you Missouri is the best State yet, said Rodney, handing
the telegram over to Captain Hubbard. This brings the matter squarely
home to the boys, and they've got to decide upon something this very
And they did, but it was only after a stormy and even heated
discussion. The captain and Rodney carried their point but it was by a
very small majority of votes; and the former, believing it advisable to
strike while the iron was hot, took one of his lieutenants and started
for New Orleans to engage passage for his company to Little Rock. It
was at this juncture that Rodney wrote that letter to his cousin Marcy
Gray, a portion of which we gave to the reader in the first volume of
this series. You will remember that he spoke with enthusiasm of the
high old times he expected to have running the Yankees out of
Missouri. Well, he had all the opportunities he wanted, but they were
not brought about just as he thought they were going to be.
The captain and his lieutenant were gone two days, and came back to
report that the steamers were all so busy with government business that
it would be a week or more before they could get transportation; but
the captain had left instructions with his cotton-factor who would keep
his eyes open, and telegraph him when to expect a boat at Baton Rouge
landing. In the meantime the harder they worked the less they would
have to learn when they reached the Army of the West. That very
afternoon they had a great surprise. The Rangers were going through a
mounted drill, acquitting themselves very creditably they thought, when
some one in the ranks became aware that they had a distinguished
visitor in the person of the Governor of the State, who sat in a
carriage looking on. Beside him was a little, dried-up, cross-looking
man in fatigue cap and soiled linen duster, who kept making loud and
unfavorable comments upon the drill, although he did not look as though
he knew anything about it. As soon as Captain Hubbard learned that the
Governor was among the spectators, he brought the Rangers into line and
rode up to the carriage and saluted.
Well, captain, said the Governor, nodding in response to the
salute. I am glad to see that you are hard at work and that your men
are rapidly improving. Have you a copy of your muster-roll handy?
The captain replied that he had and the Governor continued
Then be good enough to produce it and hand it to this officer who
will muster you in. I am not going to let such a body of men as you are
go out of the State if I can help it.
Shall I dismount the men, sir? asked the captain, addressing the
cross-looking little man, who arose to his feet and shook himself
together as if he were getting ready for business.
No, was the surly reply. We'll drive up in front of the company
and I can call the roll while standing in the carriage. It'll not take
ten minutes and then you can go on with your drill. I see you need it
Captain Hubbard, who was so angry that he forgot to salute, wheeled
his horse and rode back to the company.
Orderly, said he, in an undertone. Get a copy of your muster-roll
and give it to that old curmudgeon in the carriage. He's going to try
to muster us in but I doubt if he knows enough. I am glad to see him,
however, for when he gets through with us, we shall know right where we
CHAPTER IV. A SCHEME THAT DIDN'T
Say, exclaimed Rodney Gray excitedly, as Captain Hubbard took his
place on the right of the company and the orderly galloped off to his
tent. Who is that old party in the Governor's carriage?
You can't prove it by me, answered the captain. I never saw him
before, but I know he's a mighty cross-grained old chap.
May I leave the ranks a minute? continued Rodney.
Of course not. What would the Governor think?
I don't care a picayune what he thinks, replied Rodney, his
excitement increasing as the Governor's carriage began to circle around
toward the front and center of the company. If that man in the fatigue
cap and duster isn't General Lacey, all the descriptions I have heard
of him are very much at fault.
And do you really believe, began the captain, who was profoundly
I don't believe, I know that he means to muster us into the
Confederate service, interrupted Rodney. Hold on a minute before you
do a thing or let a man answer to his name. My father knows him by
Without again asking permission to leave his place, Rodney put his
horse in motion and rode over to the tree under whose friendly shade
Mr. Gray was sitting while he watched the drill.
Father, said he, speaking rapidly and panting as if he had been
running instead of riding, who is that in the carriage with the
Governor? Is it General Lacey?
Mr. Gray nodded and looked up at his son as if to ask him what he
was going to do about it.
Well, he has come here to muster us in, and the orderly has gone
after the roll-book, continued Rodney. The general is a Confederate
officer, and if we let him muster us in, he will make Confederate
soldiers of us, won't he?
That's the way it looks from where I sit, answered Mr. Gray.
It's the way it looks from where I sit too, and I just won't have
any such trick played upon me, said Rodney, hotly. I know what I want
and what I want to do; and as long as I am a free man, nobody shall
make me do anything else.
Are you going to back out?
I am. I'll not answer to my name when it is called. I'll go back
and put the other fellows on their guard, and then I'll fall out.
So saying Rodney wheeled his horse and returned to his company,
which he found in a state of great excitement. The ranks were kept
pretty well aligned (the horses knew enough to look out for that now),
but the men were twisting about in their saddles, each one comparing
notes with every one else whose ears he could reach. When Rodney rode
up they all turned to look at him and listen to his report, regardless
of the fact that the little man in the brown ulster was standing up in
the Governor's carriage shouting Attention! at the top of his wheezy
Mind what you are doing, boys, said Rodney, as he rode slowly
along the line behind the rear rank. That's General Lacey. Don't
answer to your names unless you want to be sworn into the Confederate
But what shall we do? inquired one or two of the timid members,
who thought they might be obliged to answer whether they wanted to or
Keep mum and say nothing, replied Rodney. Watch me and do as I
do. My name is second on the roll.
Are you ever going to come to attention so that I can get through
with my business and go back where I belong? yelled the general, as
soon as he could make himself heard. A pretty lot of soldiers you are;
but I warn you that you will have to mind better than this when you
reach the camp of instruction, to which I shall immediately order you.
Attention to roll-call! George Warren!
Heerhere! replied the orderly, hesitatingly.
The Rangers were amazed, and Captain Hubbard glared at the
frightened sergeant as though he had half a mind to knock him out of
his saddle. The captain had told the man in the most emphatic language
not to answer to his name, and yet he had gone and given away his
liberty for the next twelve months. It served him right for being so
You blockheads don't seem to understand what I want and what I am
trying to do, shouted the general, wrathfully. All you who volunteer
for the Confederate service answer to your names, and speak up so that
I can hear you. I hope that is sufficiently plain. George Warren!
The Rangers, one and all, drew a long breath of relief and felt like
giving a hearty cheer. Their comrade had most unexpectedly been allowed
a chance for escape, and he was sharp enough to take advantage of it.
He kept his eyes straight to the front and said nothing. The general
looked surprised, but as he was in a great hurry he passed on to the
This time there was no mistaking the answer. The sergeant moved from
his place on the left of the line, rode to the center of the company,
came to a front and saluted. The general opened his lips to tell him
that he needn't come to the front and center in order to answer to his
name, but the Barrington boy was too quick for him.
General, said he, while all the Rangers strained their ears to
catch his words. I am ready at any time to be sworn into the service
of my State, but I do not wish to join the Confederate army. I am a
Aawhat? vociferated the general, now thoroughly
aroused. He was a Mexican veteran, a thorough soldier as well as a
martinet, and he had never learned to recognize any organizations
outside of the regular service.
A Partisan Ranger, repeated Rodney, who was neither embarrassed
nor angered by the covert sneer contained in the general's words.
A Ranger! exclaimed the general, raising his hands in the air and
turning his eyes toward the clouds. Shade of the great and good
Washington! what are we coming to? A partisan! And are you all
Yes sir, we are; and until very recently we have been encouraged to
believe that we could preserve our independent organization.
You were, eh? Then you had better organize yourselves into Home
Guards at once and I will go back to New Orleans. Partisan Rangers!
said the general, who seemed unable to get the obnoxious words out of
his mind. There's your roll-book. Drive on, coachman.
The general flung the book on the ground at the feet of Rodney's
horse, threw himself back in his seat and the carriage moved rapidly
away. The Rangers sat motionless in their saddles until it passed
through the gate and disappeared behind the trees in the grove, and
then they turned and looked at one another.
We know where we stand now at all events, said Captain Hubbard,
riding up in front of the line, and throwing his right leg over the
horn of his saddle in a position most unbecoming a commanding officer.
My commission will be taken from me, and you fellows will be reduced
to plain, every-day citizens once more. We might as well quit this
nonsense now, and I say, let's pack up and go home.
I'll go, but I'll not promise to stay there, said Rodney.
Where will you go?
Up to Missouri. I have set my heart on being a partisan, and if my
own State won't take me, I have a perfect right to offer my valuable
services to another. I shall start for Baton Rouge to-morrow, and I and
my horse will take passage on the first St. Louis boat that comes
Hear, hear! shouted some of the. Rangers.
Let's go in a body, said one. We have the assurance that our
services will be accepted, that the officers we have elected will be
retained, that our plan of organization will not be interfered with,
and what more could we ask for?
That won't suit me, another declared. I don't want to leave my
How are you going to help yourself? demanded Rodney. If you join
the Confederate army you are liable to be ordered up to Virginia or
down to Florida. And you know as well as I do what the people around
here will think of you if you make up your mind to stay at home.
Let's take the sense of the company on it, suggested Lieutenant
All right, answered the captain. Put the thing in the form of a
motion and I will.
This was quickly done, and to Rodney's great disappointment, though
not much to his surprise, the proposition was defeated by a large
majority. The Rangers were opposed to deserting their State in a body
and going into another.
I'll not stay at home, and that's all there is about it, said one
of the Rangers who had voted with the minority. Does anybody here know
what course we do want to pursue? I have my doubts; and in order
to test the matter I move you, Mr. Commander, that we offer ourselves
as a company to the Confederate States.
The motion was received with such a howl of dissent that if there
was a second to it the captain did not hear it. Some of the Rangers, to
show what they thought of the proposition, backed their horses out of
the ranks and rode away. Among them was Rodney, who returned to the
tree under which his father was sitting.
Isn't it rather unusual for a cavalry company to hold a business
meeting on horseback? inquired the latter, as the boy swung himself
from his saddle. There seems to be a big difference of opinion among
the members, and you look as though things hadn't gone to suit you.
What have you decided to do?
Nothing as a company, replied Rodney. In fact we are not a
company any longer. It is every one for himself now.
What do you mean by that? Have you disbanded?
Rodney explained the situation in a few words, adding that he
thought he might as well be riding toward home so as to spend all the
time he could with his mother, for he was going away bright and early
on the following morning. Mr. Gray looked very sober and thoughtful
when he heard these words.
I'd rather you would stay at home, said he.
And I would much prefer to stay, but I will not go into the service
of the Confederacy. This State is an independent Commonwealth now, and
is entitled to, and has a right to demand the best service I can give
her; but who cares for the Confederacy? I think less of it than I did
this morning, for one of its officers tried to rope us in without our
That was Rodney's first experience with the duplicity and utter lack
of fair dealing that characterized all the actions of the Confederate
authorities, but it was by no means the last. We shall speak of this
again when we see him coming down the Arkansas River, bound for the
Army of the Center, a Confederate soldier in spite of himself.
Having given his comrades plenty of time to vote upon the last
proposition submitted to them that they should offer themselves as a
company to the Confederate States Rodney got upon his horse again and
rode back to see if they had determined upon any particular course of
action, but from all he could learn the matter was far from being
settled. Some wanted to do one thing and some were in favor of doing
another; but finding at last that they could not agree, they began
drawing away by twos and threes, and finally Rodney Gray was left alone
with the commissioned officers.
I am at my wit's end, declared Captain Hubbard, whose face wore a
most dejected look. We don't want to remain at home, and neither do we
desire to put ourselves under the control of such a man as General
Lacey; but there's nothing else we can do, unless we go up to Missouri.
Were you really in earnest when you said you intended to start oft
tomorrow? he added, addressing himself to Rodney. Your decision was
made on the spur of the moment, wasn't it?
Well, no. I made up my mind some time ago that there was going to
be a hitch of some sort in our arrangements, and laid my plans
How are you going to work it to reach Price's army? inquired
Lieutenant Percy. Don't you know that there have been rioting and
bloodshed in St. Louis, and that the Dutchmen have got control of the
Of course; but that's all over now. I shall telegraph to Dick
Graham's father that I am coming, and trust to luck when I reach St.
Louis. Perhaps he can make it convenient to meet me there; if not, I
have a tongue in my head and a good horse to ride, and I have no fears
but that I shall get through.
Well, I'll tell you what's a fact, said Lieutenant Odell. You can
go alone for all of me. There's altogether too much danger in the step.
You'll never get through the lines without a pass, and how are you
going to get it? The first thing you know you will be arrested and
shoved into jail.
I have thought of that, answered Rodney, calmly, but I'll take my
chances on it. It's go there or stay home, and I have decided to go.
Good-by, if I don't see you again, and if you hear any of the boys say
that they would like to go with me, send them up to the house.
This was said in the most matter of fact way, as if Rodney were
going to ride to Baton Rouge one day and come back the next; but they
all knew that the parting was for a longer time than that, and each
officer thrust his hand into his pocket to find something that would do
for a keepsake. Odell handed over a big jack-knife with the remark that
the sergeant might find it useful in cutting bacon or breaking up his
hard-tack, so that he could crumb it into his coffee. Percy gave him a
ring which he drew from his own finger, and the captain presented him
with a twenty-dollar gold piece. Then they shook hands with him once
more and saw him ride away.
It's like parting from a younger brother, said the captain,
sorrowfully. I don't see how his father can let him go. But he's got
nerve enough to carry him through any scrape he is likely to get into,
and besides he is going among friends.
But he's got the enemy's lines to pass before he can get among
friends, and that's one thing that worries me, observed the first
lieutenant. What a determined fellow he is. He ought to make a good
Didn't I tell you that that company of Rangers would never amount
to a row of pins? exclaimed Tom Randolph, when the members rode
straggling into town that afternoon, and reported that their
organization had been knocked into a cocked hat by General Lacey's
attempt to muster it into the service of the Confederacy. I knew by
the way the election went that it would bust up sooner or later, and I
am heartily glad of it. Now they've got to go into the army, and if I
get the second lieutenant's commission I am working for, perhaps I
shall be placed over some of the fellows who voted against me. So Gray
is going to Missouri, is he? Good riddance. He'll have to go in as
private, and that will bring him down a peg or two.
Yes, Rodney calculated to go in as private if he got in at all, but
the prospect did not in the least dampen his ardor. Contrary to his
expectations his mother did not say one word to turn him from his
purpose; but good Southerner that she was, she heartily condemned the
circumstances which, according to her way of thinking, made the parting
I wish the Mayflower had been sunk fathoms deep in the ocean
before she ever touched Plymouth Rock, she said to her husband. The
spirit of intolerance those Puritans brought over here with them is
what is taking our boy from us now. No punishment that I can think of
would be too severe for them.
Rodney lived in hopes that some of the company would ride out to see
him during the course of the evening, but midnight came without
bringing any of them, and the disappointed Barrington boy, giving his
mother the last good-night kiss he imprinted upon her lips for more
than fifteen long months, went to bed satisfied that he was to be left
to work out his own destiny, with no Mooreville friend to encourage or
advise him. He slept but little, but appeared at the breakfast table as
fresh as a daisy anddressed in citizen's clothing.
This is a pill I don't like to swallow, said he, opening his coat
and looking down at himself. I said I wouldn't take off my gray
uniform until the South had gained her independence; but I didn't know
at the time that I would find it necessary to pass through the enemy's
lines. Don't look so sober, mother. I just know I shall come out all
right. I'll surely write when I reach St. Louis, and again the very day
I find Dick Graham.
That was not a cheerful breakfast table, although every one tried to
make it so. Before the meal was half over the family carriage, with
Rodney's small trunk inside and his horse hitched behind, drew up at
the door, and a crowd of weeping servants gathered about the foot of
the wide stone steps to bid young moster good-by. Rodney saw it all
through the window, and when he got ready to start stood not on the
order of going, but cut short the parting and went at once. He arose
from his chair before he had finished his second cup of coffee, put on
his hat and light overcoat and turned toward his mother.
Good-by, my dear boy, she said, in tones so firm and cheerful that
Rodney was astonished. Whatever fate may have in store for me, I hope
I shall never hear that you failed to do your duty as a soldier.
There were no tears in her eyesshe was past that nowbut didn't
The mother who conceals her grief
While to her breast her son she presses,
Then breathes a few brave words and brief
Kissing the patriot brow she blesses,
With no one but her secret God
To know the pain that weighs upon her
Sheds holy blood as e'er the sod
Received on Freedom's field of honor!
How many such partings there were all over this fair land of ours,
brought about by the ambition of demagogues so few in number that we
can count them on our fingers!
Rodney's heart was so full that he could not reply to his mother's
brave words. Now that the test had come he found that he had less
fortitude than she had. He gave her one kiss, gently disengaged himself
from her clinging arms and bolted for the door.
De good Lawd bless young moster an' bring him safe back, cried the
tearful blacks, when he appeared at the top of the steps. Dem
babolitionists aint got no call to come down here an' take him away
from us. We-uns never done nuffin' to dem.
That's just what I say, answered Rodney. And I am going to help
lick them for bringing on this trouble when we wanted peace. Good-by,
one and all. I'll be back as soon as we have run the Yankees out of
Missouri, and that will not take more than two or three months.
Rodney tried to get into the carriage, but the black hands that were
extended to him from every side barred his way, and much against his
will he was obliged to linger long enough to give each of them a hasty
grasp and shake. The only one who stood aloof was the black boy who had
been Rodney's playmate when the two wore pinafores, and he leaned
against the corner of the house and howled piteously. Rodney felt
relieved when the coachman banged the door of the carriage and mounted
to his seat and drove off. His only traveling companion was his father,
who intended to remain in Baton Rouge until he had seen the boy start
on his way up the river.
It was dark when they reached the city, and after Rodney's horse and
his trappings had been left at a stable (civilian trappings they were
too, for Rodney was afraid that a military saddle and bridle would
attract attention and lead to inquiries that he might not care to
answer), the coachman drove them to the house of a friend where they
were to find entertainment until a St. Louis boat appeared.
I am glad you did not go to a hotel, said their host, when he had
given them a cordial welcome. I heard last night that your entire
company was going up the river, and that the authorities were thinking
strongly of putting the last one of you under arrest.
Rodney and his father were speechless with astonishment.
What business would they have to put us in arrest? exclaimed the
former, as soon as he found his tongue.
How did the authorities learn that the Rangers had any notion of
going up the river? asked Mr. Gray.
I am sure I don't know, answered the host. But it was currently
reported on the street yesterday afternoon that the Mooreville company
had mutinied, and that the Baton Rouge Rifles might have to go out
there and bring them to a sense of their duty.
Well, if that isn't the most outrageous falsehood that was ever
circulated about a lot of honest men I wouldn't say so, exclaimed
Rodney, who had never in his life been more amazed. We didn't mutiny.
We simply refused to be sworn into the service of the Confederate
States, and that was something we had a right to do. I will tell you
how that story got abroad, he added, suddenly. There's some one in
Mooreville who wants to get us into trouble, and I think I know who it
At this moment the door was softly opened and a darkey put his head
into the room to announce:
Da's a gentleman in de back pa'lor wants to see Moster Rodney.
CHAPTER V. A WARNING.
A gentleman to see me? repeated Rodney, his surprise and
indignation giving place to a feeling of uneasiness. Who is he? What's
I dunno, sah, replied the servant. I never seen him round here
Wondering who the visitor could be and how he knew where to find
him, seeing that he and his father had not been in that house more than
half an hour, the Harrington boy arose and followed the servant into
the back parlor. Whom he expected to meet when he got there it is hard
to tell, but it is certain that he felt greatly relieved when he found
that the visitor was a Mooreville boya student in the telegraph
office. His uneasy feelings vanished at once only to return with
redoubled force when Griffinthat was the visitor's namesaid in a
loud, earnest whisper:
Shut the door tight and come up close so that you can hear every
word I say. I am liable to get myself into the worst kind of a scrape
by trying to befriend you.
The door is all right, and besides there are no eavesdroppers in
this house, answered Rodney. What in the world is the matter, and why
are you likely to get yourself into trouble by coming here?
Have you heard anything since you have been in town? asked
Griffin, in reply. I don't suppose any one will bother you, seeing
that you are alone, but if your whole company had tried to go, you
might have been stopped. If you hadn't, it wouldn't have been
There now, thought Rodney. I said there was some one in
Mooreville who wanted to get us into trouble, and Tom Randolph was the
very fellow who came into my mind.
But he said nothing aloud. How did he know that young Randolph was
the only enemy he had in Mooreville? He looked hard at Griffin and
dropped into the nearest chair.
Randolph is down on everybody who voted against him for second
lieutenant, continued Griffin, and he declared when he came home
after the election that he would break up that company of Rangers if he
could find any way to do it.
He laid out a pretty big job for himself, said Rodney, when his
visitor paused. How did he think he would go to work to accomplish
Any way and every way. He didn't care so long as he broke it up.
You can't imagine how tickled he was when he heard that you had
mutinied and refused to be sworn in.
Did Randolph start that ridiculous story about the mutiny?
I don't know whether he set it going or not, but he helped it along
all he could and had a good deal to say about it, answered Griffin.
Yesterday afternoon I was in the office when he came in and wrote a
dispatch to the Governor; and as I have got so that I can read by
sound, I had no trouble in spelling it out when Drummond the operator
sent it off. I always do that for practice. Between you and me that
Drummond is a fellow who ought to be booted out of that position. He's
just too mean to be of any use.
What was in the dispatch? asked Rodney.
It contained the information that the Rangers had mutinied and were
about to leave the State in a body.
That was a lie and Randolph knew it, said Rodney, hotly. But even
if we had decided to leave the State in a body, is there any law to
prevent it? Such a thing was proposed, but it was voted down by a big
majority, and that is why I am obliged to go alone.
And that brings me to what I want to tell you, said the operator.
I didn't pay very much attention to that dispatch, although Drummond
said that if you tried to go up the river you ought to be chucked into
the calaboose, the last one of you; but when Randolph came in again
that evening and sent off another dispatch that was all about you, I began to open my ears and think it was time I was giving you a
What could he have to say about me? It wasn't I who defeated him
for second lieutenant.
No, but you voted against him, and the company gave you the
position you wanted without making any fuss about it, and presented you
with a splendid sword, and all those things made Randolph pretty
middling mad, I can tell you.
Did he tell the Governor in his second dispatch that I was getting
ready to leave the State, and that he had better be on the lookout to
Eh? No. He didn't send the second dispatch to the Governor. He sent
it to his father's cotton-factor in St. Louis, who is a Yank so blue
that the blue will rub off.
Themischiefhedid! exclaimed Rodney, who began to feel blue
himself even if he didn't look so. And what did he have to say to that
Yankee about me?
He told him to watch the steamboats for a Confederate bearer of
dispatchesa young fellow, dark complexioned, slight mustache, dressed
in citizen's clothes and a roan colt for company.
It is his intention to have me arrested the minute I get into St.
Louis, is it? cried Rodney, getting upon his feet and moving about the
room with long, angry strides.
It looked that way to me, and that's why I am here, replied
I appreciate your friendship, and assure you that I shall always
bear it in mind, said Rodney, stopping long enough to give the
operator's hand a cordial gripe and shake.
That's all right, said the latter. I haven't forgotten the winter
when I was down with the chills and couldn't work, and that mortgage of
ours liked to have worried my mother into a sick bed
That's all right too, Rodney interposed. I was at school and had
nothing whatever to do with it.
No, but your father had something to do with it, and it's all in
the family. I know it is Randolph's intention to get you into trouble
with the Yankees if he can, for I heard him tell Drummond so. And he
couldn't have taken a better way or a better time to do it, continued
Griffin. If all reports are true, things are in a bad way in St.
Louis. You know there are a good many Dutchmen there, and they are
mostly strong for the Union. During one of the riots they fired into
their own ranks instead of into the mob, and that made them so wild
with rage that they are ready to hang every Confederate they can get
their hands on, without judge or jury.
A bearer of dispatches, repeated Rodney, once more seating himself
in his chair. And did Drummond send off that telegram when he knew
there wasn't a word of truth in it?
Course. Don't I tell you that he's too mean for any use? He and
Randolph are and always have been cronies, and I heard them talking and
laughing over the dispatches as though they thought they were going to
get a big joke on you.
What other thing has Drummond done that's mean? inquired Rodney.
Let's talk about something else, replied Griffin, evasively.
Just as you please, answered the Barrington boy. But I shouldn't
think you would take the trouble to come to Baton Rouge and run the
risk of losing your position in the telegraph office, unless you are
willing to trust me entirely. I asked for information and not out of
curiosity. If Drummond attempts any foolishness with you, my father may
be able to checkmate him.
Well, then, said the operator, with some hesitation. You musn't
betray me. Drummond has sent the names of all the Union men in and
around Mooreville to the Governor.
Why, I didn't suppose there were any Union men there, exclaimed
Rodney, who was greatly surprised.
Of course you didn't. You wouldn't expect one of them to make
himself known to as hot a Confederate as you are known to be, would
you? There are plenty of people at home who don't suspect such a thing,
but I don't mind telling you of it, for you are not mean enough to
persecute a man who differs from you in opinion.
Rodney thrust both hands deep into his pockets, slid farther down in
his chair, and fastened his eyes on the carpet without saying a word.
What would his visitor think of him if he knew that he had been mean
enough to do just that very thing that in order to punish his cousin
for his Union sentiments and drive him away from the academy, he had
written a letter to Budd Goble which came within an ace of bringing
Marcy Gray a terrible beating? The matter came vividly to Rodney's
recollection now, and he would have given everything he ever hoped to
possess if he could have blotted out that one act.
Yes, there are Union men in Mooreville, continued Griffin, getting
upon his feet and buttoning up his coat, and Randolph and his friend
Drummond are laying their plans to bring sorrow of some sort to them.
There was still another telegram which was sent to this place.
Was there anything in it about me? inquired Rodney.
It was all about you. In it Drummond asked the operator here to
keep an eye on you if he could conveniently, and send word to
Mooreville when you went up the river and what boat you went on. Then
he will send off another dispatch to that St. Louis Yankee, who will
know just when to expect you.
He means to be revenged on me for voting as I did, doesn't he?
mused Rodney. I shall not have any dispatches about me, but I don't
want to be arrested. It would delay me just that much, and might make
it impossible for me to get out of the city.
Really I must be going, exclaimed Griffin, or my cousin, who
thinks I came here on purpose to see him, will have his suspicions
aroused. Can you show me the way out? Remember I musn't be seen by
The Barrington boy, who was as well acquainted in that house as he
was in his father's, led the way to the front door, and after again
thanking his visitor for the trouble he had taken and the friendship he
had shown in warning him of his danger, he ran down the steps to the
sidewalk and looked in both directions. There was no one in sight; and
having made sure of it Rodney motioned to Griffin, who quickly
disappeared in the darkness. Then Rodney went slowly back into the
house and entered the room in which he had left his father. He told him
and their host everything, even at the risk of hearing Mr. Gray declare
that he should not stir one step toward St. Louis. That was just what
the boy thought his father would say, and he was ready for it, having
hit upon a plan which he was sure would throw his enemies off the
Rodney's father was as angry at Randolph and Drummond as he was
grateful to young Griffin for the service he had rendered his son, but
all he had to say about it was that he would remember them all. And we
may anticipate events a little by saying that he kept his word so far
as Griffin was concerned. When the Confederate Congress passed that
famous conscription law robbing the cradle and the grave, that is to
say, making every able-bodied man in the South between the ages of
seventeen and fifty subject to military duty, it did not neglect to
provide for the exemption of those who were able to pay for it, thus
proving the truth of the assertion that the war of the rebellion was a
rich man's war and a poor man's fight. The fact that young Griffin was
the sole support of a widowed mother made not the slightest difference
to the Confederate enrolling officers, who would have forced him into
the army if Rodney's father had not come to his relief. According to
the terms of the law there was one exempt on every plantation employing
more than fifteen slaves. Mr. Gray owned four such plantations and he
gave young Griffin charge of one of them, at the same time handing over
the hundred pounds of bacon and beef that Griffin would have been
obliged to pay as the price of his exemption. Of course this made
Randolph angry, and the burden of his complaint was:
Griffin is Union and I know it; and old Gray has no business to
shield him from the conscription in that fashion. My friend Drummond
had to run when the Yankees came here, and now he is starving in the
Confederate army; and is this Griffin any better than Drummond? My
exemption is all right. My father is free by reason of his age, and I
must look out for the plantation; but Griffin ought to be made to
light. I'd give something handsome to know what made those Grays take
such a shine to him all of a sudden.
The knowledge that he was watched, and that the telegraph was to be
brought into operation against him, did not keep Rodney Gray awake five
minutes after his head touched the pillow. He slept soundly, ate a
hearty breakfast, and in company with his father took his way to the
telegraph office and wrote a dispatch, addressing it to Dick Graham's
father at St. Louis. Mr. Graham did not live in the city. His home was
near Springfield; but Rodney knew from something Dick said in his
letter that his father was sojourning in St. Louis watching the
progress of events. His first telegram had reached Mr. Graham all
right, and it was likely this one would also. He made a great show of
writing it, and even read it to his father in a tone loud enough for
the operator to hear it.
'Will start for St. Louis by first steamer, and shall be glad to
have you meet me at the wharf-boat,' was what he wrote in the
dispatch. Of course Mr. Graham can easily find out what boats are due
in the city, and will know about what time to expect me. How much?
The operator, who seemed to take a deeper interest in this dispatch
and the sender than operators usually take in such things, named the
price and gazed curiously at Rodney as the latter brought out his purse
and looked for the money.
That's the fellow Drummond wants us to watch, said he to his
assistant, when Rodney and his father were out of hearing. I wonder
what's up? Do you suppose he has been stealing anything? He's got a
handful of goldbig pieces, too.
So far so good, said Rodney, as he and his father went out upon
the street. Now let that Yankee cotton-factor watch the St. Louis
wharf-boats if he wants to, and see how much he will make by it. I knew
I could throw them off the scent.
You may not have done it as completely as you think, replied Mr.
Gray, I shall not draw an easy breath until I hear that you are safe
under Mr. Graham's roof. When you get aboard the steamer be careful
what acquaintances you make. Take warning by what Griffin told you last
night and take nobody into your confidence.
That afternoon their host learned, through business channels, that
the steamer Mollie Able was in New Orleans loading for St.
Louis, and might be expected to arrive at Baton Rouge bright and early
on the following morning, provided she was not impressed by the
Confederate quarter-master. She came on time, and Rodney afterward
learned that he was fortunate in securing passage on her, far she was
one of the last boats that went up the river. Navigation was closed
soon after she reached St. Louis, and all communication between the
North and South was cut off by the Confederate batteries that were
erected along the Mississippi. The telegraph lines, which up to this
time had been used by both Union men and rebels alike, were seized by
the Government; and if Rodney had been a week later, he would not have
been able to get that dispatch through to St. Louis. But that would not
have interfered with his arrangements, for he did not now expect to
meet Dick's father in St. Louis. He had used the telegram simply to
deceive Tom Randolph and the Baton Rouge operators.
Rodney Gray and his father, as well as the roan colt and a goodly
supply of hay and grain that had been provided for him, were on the
levee waiting for the Mollie Able when she turned in for the
landing, and Rodney did not fail to notice that in the crowd of
lookers-on there was one young fellow who made it a point to keep
pretty close to him, although he did not appear to do so intentionally.
It's one of the operators Randolph set to watch me, he whispered
to his father. I hope he will follow us up to the clerk's office and
stand around within earshot while I buy my ticket.
His wish was gratified, for that was just what the young operator
had been sent there forto find out whether or not Rodney secured
passage to St. Louis. When the latter had seen his horse and forage
disposed of on the main deck he ascended to the office, and there was
the spy, standing with his hands behind his back and his gaze directed
across the river. He stood close to the rail, but still he could hear
every word that passed between Rodney and the clerk; and when the
latter turned away with his ticket in his hand, the spy ran down the
stairs and started for his office to tell Drummond the Moorville
operator that he had seen Rodney Gray pay his passage to St. Louis.
Good-by, my boy, said Mr. Gray, when the steamer's bell rang out
the warning that the gang-plank was about to be hauled in.
Write to us as often as you can, and remember your mother's parting
words. As often as I hear from you I shall expect to hear that you did
your duty. Remember too, that you are fighting in a just cause. The
North has forced this thing upon us, and we would be the veriest
cowards in the world if we did not defend ourselves. Good-by.
A moment later Rodney Gray was standing alone on the boiler deck,
waving his handkerchief to his father, and the Mollie Able's bow
was swinging rapidly away from the landing. Young as he was the boy had
traveled a good deal and was accustomed to being among strangers; but
now he was homesick, and when it was too late he began to wonder at the
step he had so hastily taken, and ask himself how he could possibly
endure a whole year's separation from his father and mother.
I've played a fool's part, thought he, bitterly, and now I am
going to reap a fool's reward. Why didn't I stay with the company and
share its fortunes, as I said I was going to do, or why didn't father
put his foot down and tell me I couldn't go to Missouri? Heigh-ho! This
is what comes of being patriotic.
Then Rodney tilted his chair back on its hind legs, placed his feet
on the top of the railing and fell to wondering what had become of the
rest of the boys in his class, and whether or not all the Union fellows
had been as true to their colors as his cousin Marcy Gray had tried to
be. Some of the Barrington students who were strong for the Union were
from Missouri, and they did not believe in neutrality as Dick Graham
did. They believed in keeping the rebellious States in the Union by
force of arms if they would not stay in peaceably. Had they joined
Lyon's army, and would he and Dick have to meet them on the field of
battle? He hoped not, but if he did, he would be careful to follow the
advice Ed Billings gave his cousin Marcy and shoot high.
The journey up the river was an uneventful one. The tables were
pretty well filled at meal time, but Rodney could not have been more
alone if he had been stranded on some sandbar in the middle of the
stream. His horse was the only companion he had, and the animal seemed
to be as lonely and homesick as his master was. Rodney visited him a
dozen times a day to make sure that he did not want for anything, and
the colt always rubbed his head against the boy's shoulder and told him
by other signs, as plainly as a horse could tell it, that he was glad
to see him. There was an utter lack of that sociability and
unrestrained intercourse among the passengers that Rodney had always
noticed during his trips up and down the river. Some of them were
solitary and alone like himself, while others, having formed themselves
into little groups, had nothing to do with the rest of the passengers,
but kept entirely on their own side of the boiler deck. Rodney thought
they acted as though they were afraid of one another. This state of
affairs continued until the Mollie Able reached Memphis, where
the Confederates were building a fleet of gunboats, and then a remark
made by one of the passengers broke down all reserve, and showed some
of them, Rodney Gray among the rest, that they had been keeping aloof
from their friends.
When these boats are completed, Rodney heard the passenger say to
one of his companions, you will see fun on this river. The first point
of assault will be Cairo, and then we'll go on up and take St. Louis
away from Lyon's Dutchmen. Those Missourians are a pretty set of
cowards to let a lot of ignorant foreigners take their city out of
Well, they couldn't help it, and besides, the loyal Germans were by
no means as ignorant as some of the men who fought against them. They
were good soldiers and hard to whip; and it was owing to their
patriotism and courage that such fellows as Rodney Gray and Dick Graham
did not succeed in their efforts to run the Yankees out of Missouri.
And as for the Confederate gunboats of which such great things were
expected, they were, with a single exception, destroyed in a fight of
less than an hour's duration by the Union fleet under the command of
Flag Officer Davis. The Van Dorn alone escaped, and she was
never heard of afterward.
When the Mollie Able resumed her journey Rodney waited and
watched for an opportunity to question the outspoken Confederate, for
he believed he could trust him. As he had often told himself, he was
going it blind, and a little information from some one who knew how
things were going on up the river, might be of the greatest use to him.
The opportunity he sought was presented the very next day. While he was
feeding his horse the Confederate sauntered along and stopped and
looked at the colt with the air of a man who knew a good thing when he
There ought to be some 'go' in that fellow, said he.
I think there is, replied Rodney. But I have never tried him at
his best, and don't expect to unless the Yankees get after me.
Well, if you keep on up the river you will go right where the
Yankees are, said the gentleman, who looked a little surprised. If
you are on our side what are you doing here?
Pardon me, but I might ask you the same question, answered the boy
My business is no secret, was the smiling reply. I am going up
into Ohio after my family. I want to get them home while I can. All our
highways will be shut up after a while.
Do you think there will be any fighting?
Lots of it, and I have promised to help; and as the man said this
he put his hand into his pocket and drew out an official envelope. He
looked around the deck to make sure that there was no one within
earshot, and then produced a printed document which he unfolded and
handed over for Rodney's inspection. I knew you were a Southerner the
minute I saw you, and have several times been on the point of speaking
to you, for you seemed lonesome and downhearted, he continued But
when one is about to beard the lion in his den as I am, it behooves him
to be careful whom he addresses.
That was the reason I kept to myself, answered Rodney, handing
back the paper which proved that his new acquaintance was a captain in
the Confederate army. I should think you would be afraid to have that
commission about you. I left all my soldier things at home.
I reckon I am safe now, but I might not be a week hence, said the
captain. Who are you any way, if it is a fair question, and where are
Rodney explained in a few hasty words, and was sorry to hear the
captain declare, as he shook his finger at him:
You are making a great mistake. The place for a young man with a
military education is in the regular army; not the volunteers,
understand, but the regulars, who will be continued in the service
after our independence has been acknowledged. I am surprised that your
friends didn't point that out to you.
I have gone too far along this road to back out now, replied
Rodney. We'll get by Cairo all right, won't we?
I think so. There have been no restrictions placed upon travel yet
that I have heard of.
How about Cape Girardeau?
That place is garrisoned. You mustn't think of getting off there.
How would you get through the lines without a pass?
Well, I must get off somewhere along the Missouri shore, for it
wouldn't be safe for me to go on to St. Louis.
Of course it wouldn't. That Union cotton-factor would have you
arrested the minute you put your foot on the levee. I'll tell you what
I'll do, said the captain, after thinking a moment. The first clerk,
with whom I have a slight acquaintance, is solid, and I'll make it my
business to ask him if we are going to land anywhere on the Missouri
side between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis. If we are, I'll tip you the
wink, and you can be ready to go ashore.
Thank you, sir, said Rodney, gratefully.
That young chap has no idea what he is going into, said the
captain, after he had told Rodney's story to some of his friends on the
boiler deck. It's neighbor against neighbor all through the southern
and western parts of Missouri, and for a week or two past there has
been the worst kind of a partisan warfare going on. How he is going to
get through I don't know, for if he meets an armed man on the way how
is he going to tell whether he is Union or Confederate?
There was but one opinion expressed when the captain finished his
story, and that was that Rodney Gray was a foolhardy young fellow.
CHAPTER VI. UNDER SUSPICION.
From that time forward Rodney Gray had no reason to complain of
being lonely. Captain Howardthat was the name of his new
acquaintance introduced him to more than a dozen gentleman, all of
whom were enthusiastic rebels and firm in their belief that if the
South did not have a walk over she would have the next thing to it,
for there was no fight to speak of in the Northern people. They told
Rodney that while they gloried in his pluck, they were afraid he had
undertaken more than he could accomplish.
It may seem strange to some of our readers that these enemies of the
government should have the audacity to show their faces among loyal
men, and that the authorities should permit them to go and come
whenever they felt like it, but stranger things than this were being
done in the East, and right under the noses of the President and his
cabinet. Rebel agents in Washington kept their friends in the South
posted in all that was said and done at the capital, and Commander
(afterward Admiral) Semmes had made a business trip through the
Northern States, purchasing large quantities of percussion caps which
were sent by express without any disguise to Montgomery, making
contracts for artillery, powder and other munitions of war, as well as
for a complete set of machinery for rifling cannon, and had searched
the harbor of New York in the hope of finding a steamer or two that
might be armed and used for coast defense. None of these people were
molested, and that was one thing that led the Southerners to believe
that the North would not fight.
Cairo was reached in due time, but there was little in or around the
place to indicate that there was a war at hand except the outlines of a
small fort which was being thrown up to command the river and Bird's
Point on the Missouri shore. There were a few soldiers strolling about
on the levee, and at that time the garrison numbered six hundred and
fifty men. A few months later there was a much larger force in Cairo,
and among the blue coats there was one who was often seen walking along
the levee with his hands behind him and his eyes fastened thoughtfully
upon the ground. He generally wore an old linen duster, a black slouch
hat, and a pair of light blue pants thrust into the tops of heavy boots
which were seldom blacked, but often splashed with Cairo mud. But
everybody stepped respectfully aside to let him pass, and the spruce
young staff officers never failed to salute. It was General Grant.
Once more the Mollie Able swung out into the stream, and at
the end of half an hour rounded the point below the fort and resumed
her journey up the Mississippi. Now Rodney Gray began to show signs of
excitement. Every turn of the paddle wheels brought him nearer to the
place where he must leave the boat, and the new-made friends who had
done so much to cheer him up since they found out who and what he was,
and set out alone on a journey of nearly two hundred and fifty miles.
Being a born Southerner you are accustomed to the saddle, and the
ride itself would be nothing but a pleasure trip; but there are the
people you are likely to meet on the way, said Captain Howard, seating
himself by Rodney's side as the Mollie Able rounded the point.
Are you armed?
The boy replied that he had a revolver.
You may need it, continued the captain. You see the pro-slavery
men and abolitionists are scattered all over the State, and I don't
believe you can find a town or village in it that is not divided into
two hostile camps. That's where I am afraid you are going to have
trouble, and you must be all things to all men until you find out who
you are talking to. Now here are two letters of introduction that one
of my friends gave me for you this morning, and they are addressed to
parties living near Springfield, one of whom is a Union man and the
other a Confederate. You must use them
Must I ask favors of a Union man and then turn about and fight
him? exclaimed Rodney.
The captain shrugged his shoulders.
You want to get through, don't you? said he. All's fair in war
times, and if I were in your place, and a reference to this Springfield
Union man would take me in safety through a community of Yankee
sympathizers, I should not hesitate to use his name. If you fall in
with some of our own people and they suspect your loyalty, why then you
can use the name of the Confederate. It's all right.
The captain was called away at that moment, and Rodney, glancing at
the envelopes he held in his hand, was somewhat startled to find that
one of them was addressed to Erastus Percival.
I wonder if that can be Tom Percival's father, said he. If I
thought it was, I wouldn't present this letter to him for all the money
there is in Missouri. He would turn me over to the Yankees at once.
We have had occasion to speak of Tom Percival just once, and that
was during the sham fight which was started in the lower hall of the
Barrington Academy to give Dick Graham a chance to steal the Union flag
from the colonel's room. We then referred to the fact that Tom's father
had cast his vote against secession with one hand while holding a
cocked revolver in the other. Rodney, of course, was not sure that this
letter of introduction was addressed to this particular Percival, but
still he had no desire to make the gentleman's acquaintance if he could
help it. While he was turning the matter over in his mind, the captain
of the Mollie Able stepped out of the clerk's office and tapped
him on the shoulder.
The very best thing I can do for you, said he, is to set you
ashore at Cedar Bluff landing.
Rodney was surprised, but it was clear to him that the captain knew
who he was and where he wanted to go.
There are only a few people who live there, and they are
principally wood-cutters, continued the skipper. But they are true as
steel, and you can trust them with your life. I have bought wood of
them for years and know them like a book. I will go ashore with you and
give you a good send-off. We shall get there about ten o'clock
Rodney opened his lips to thank the captain for his kindness, but he
was gone. The old steamboat-man sympathized with the South, and Captain
Howard and his friends had found it out, and induced him to do what he
could to help Rodney escape the expectant Yankee cotton-factor at St.
Louis. The boy laughed aloud when he thought how astonished and angry
Tom Randolph would be to learn that he had wasted time and telegrams to
no purpose. He passed the rest of the day in company with Captain
Howard and his friends, nearly all of whom held some position of trust
under the new government, and at nine o'clock, in obedience to a
significant wink and nod from the skipper, he went below and put the
saddle and bridle on his horse. Just then the whistle sounded for Cedar
Bluff landing, and some of the passengers came down to bid him good-by
and see him safely ashore.
A boy with your ability and pluck ought to make his mark in the
service, and I wish I could keep track of you, said Captain Howard,
giving Rodney's hand a cordial shake. But I shall most likely be
ordered East, hundreds of miles away from here, and possibly I may
never hear of you again; but I shall often think of you. Good-by, and
This was the way in which all his new friends took leave of him, and
if good wishes were all that were needed to bring him safely through,
Rodney would have had no fears of the future. When the Mollie Able's
bow touched the bank and a line had been thrown out, a gang-plank was
shoved ashore, and the skipper came down from the hurricane deck to
give his passenger a send-off. The blazing torch, which one of the
deck-hands had placed in the steamer's bow, threw a flickering light
upon half a dozen long-haired, roughly dressed men who had been brought
to the bank by the sound of the whistle, and who gazed in surprise when
they saw a stout negro coming off with Rodney's trunk on his shoulder,
followed by Rodney himself, who was leading the roan colt. It wasn't
often that a passenger was landed in that out-of-the-way place.
Set the trunk down anywhere, Sam, and go aboard. A word with you,
Jeff, said the Mollie Able's captain, beckoning to the tallest
and roughest looking man in the party. Where's Price?
Dunno. Jeff Thompson has just been round behind the Cape pulling up
the railroad, but some of the Yankee critter-fellers went out there and
run him off, replied the long-haired Missourian. Last I heared of
Price he was down about the Arkansas line.
(The Cape referred to was the town of Cape Girardeau, and the
critter-fellers were the Union cavalry which at that time garrisoned
the place. The Arkansas line was the southwestern part of Missouri
where Price raised his army, which grew in numbers the nearer he
marched with it to the Missouri River).
That's bad news for my young friend here, said the captain of the
Mollie Able. Springfield is off in that direction, and that's
right where he wants to go. He is one of Price's men, and is anxious to
find his commander. Say, Jeff, you take care of him and see him safely
on his way, and I'll make it all right with you when I stop for my next
load of wood.
It's all right now, cap'n, answered Jeff. He'll be safe as long
as he stays here, seeing that he's a friend of your'n, but when he gets
back in the countryI dunno; I dunno.
The steamboat captain didn't know either, but he couldn't stop to
talk about it. He had done the best he could to keep Rodney out of the
clutches of that Yankee cotton-factor in St. Louis, and now the boy
must look out for himself. He gave the latter's hand a hasty shake,
told him to keep a stiff upper lip and give a good account of himself
when he met the Lincoln invaders in battle, and shouted to the
deck-hands to let go and haul in. The steamer gave him a parting
salute from her whistle as she backed out into the river, Captain
Howard and his friends on the boiler deck waved their hands to him, and
Rodney was left alone with the wood-choppers. A Northern boy would not
have been at all pleased with the situation, for they were a rough
looking set, and probably there was not one among them who did not
plume himself upon his skill as a fighter; but Rodney was not afraid of
them, for he had seen such men before.
One of you fellers put that hoss under kiver, and stranger, you
come with me, said Jeff, raising Rodney's trunk from the ground and
placing it upon his shoulder. It's little we've got to offer you, and
you look as though you might be used to good living; but you're welcome
to such as we've got, and we're glad to see you. Now we'd like to have
you tell us, if you can, what all this here furse is about, he went
on, when he had conducted his guest into a log cabin that stood at the
top of the bank, and deposited the trunk beside the open fire-place.
What made them abolitionists come down here all of a sudden to take
our niggers away from us?
Because they are enviousjealous of our prosperity, replied
Rodney, drawing up a nail keg and seating himself upon it. They have
to work every day and we don't; and that's what's the matter with them.
They don't care a cent for the negroes. They used to own slaves
All the wood-choppers, with the exception of the one who had taken
it upon himself to put the hoss under kiver, had followed Jeff and
Rodney into the cabin, and they were profoundly astonished by the last
words that fell from the boy's lips. It was a matter of history that
was quite new to them.
Where be them slaves now? asked Jeff.
They were given their freedom.
Well, I always knowed them Yankees was fules, but I don't for the
life of me see what they done that fur.
Oh, it wasn't because they were sorry for the negro, exclaimed
Rodney. It was because they couldn't use him. They would have slaves
to-day if they could make a dollar by it. You let the Yanks alone for
that. Why, when these troubles began, we didn't have percussion caps
enough to fight a battle with, and Captain Semmes went up North and
bought a big supply; and the men of whom he bought them knew what he
was going to do with them, and offered to make contracts with him to
send him all he wanted and could pay for.
What's the reason they couldn't use the niggers up there? asked
one of the woodchoppers.
Because their land is mostly mountains and rocks, and they can't
work it on as a big a scale as we do, replied Rodney, trying to use
language that his ignorant auditors could readily understand. They
gain their living by catching codfish and herring, and by making
things, such as shoes for the niggers, and cloth and axes and machinery
andOh, everything. And the blacks couldn't do that sort of work so
that their owners could make anything out of them, and that's the
reason they let them go free.
And because they can't use the niggers do they say that we-uns
musn't use 'em nuther? demanded Jeff, angrily.
That's it exactly, said Rodney. They are dogs in the manger. They
can't eat the hay themselves and they won't let the critters eat it.
Although the wood-choppers didn't quite understand this, it was
plain enough to the Barrington boy that they were impressed by his
And what are we-uns going to do about it? inquired Jeff, after a
We're going to dissolve partnership with thembreak up the firm
and go into business for ourselves, replied Rodney, throwing so much
enthusiasm into his words that he succeeded in creating some excitement
among the wood-choppers. One, in particular, was so deeply interested
that he pulled his nail keg close in front of the speaker; but whether
he was listening to his words, or making a mental calculation of the
value of his gold watch chain, Rodney did not think to inquire.
And do they say that we-uns mustn't do it? Jeff demanded.
You've hit it again, was Rodney's reply. That is just what they
do say; and they say, further, that they won't give us our share of the
goods. See how they hung on to that fort in Charleston Harbor until our
gallant fellows made them give it up? That fort belonged to South
Carolina; but when she broke up the firm, by which I mean the Union,
the Yanks wouldn't give it up. Who ever heard of such impudence?
I never, answered Jeff. We did lick 'em sure enough, didn't we?
Of course we did, and that isn't the worst of it. We're going to
whip them as often as we get a chance at them. But what am I talking
about. The Yankees won't fight.
Didn't they have a sorter rucus up in St. Louis?
Those were not Yankees. They were Dutchmenold country soldiers,
who don't know enough about war to keep them from shooting into their
own men. Who's afraid of such soldiers?
We're mighty glad you stopped off here, stranger, said Jeff, at
length. We didn't rightly know what all the furse was about, and there
wasn't nobody who could tell us, because the steamboat cap'ns who come
here for wood couldn't wait to talk about it. But we know now, and I do
think that some on us had oughter have a hand in making them Yankees
stay where they b'long. I'd go in a minute if it wasn't fur the ole
woman and the young ones.
I aint got none of them things to hold me back, and I'll go in your
place, Jeff, said one of the wood-cutters. It was the man who had
drawn his seat close in front of Rodney, and seemed to be so much
interested in the boy's watch chain.
Will you go with me and join Price? asked the latter, eagerly.
I reckon I might as well, replied the man.
Do you know the country?
Well, no; I can't say that I do. But I know where to look to find
the road that runs from Jackson to Hartsville, forty miles this side of
Springfield, and when you get there, mebbe you'll know where you are.
No, I won't, answered Rodney. I have never been in this part of
Missouri before. I have been in St. Louis two or three times, but when
I got out of sight of the Planters' House I was lost completely.
Why, didn't the cap'n of the Mollie Able tell Jeff that you
was one of Price's men? How could you have jined him if you haven't
been where he was?
Rodney did not at all like the tone in which this question was
asked, and it was right on the end of his tongue to tell the
wood-cutter that it was none of his business; but on second thought he
decided that that wouldn't do. The man talked and acted as if he
suspected him of something; and if the others suspected him too, they
might make trouble for him. The steamboat captain did say that he was
one of Price's men, and Rodney wished now that he hadn't done it.
I suppose I could arrange all that by letter or telegraph, couldn't
I? was the answer he made, as he produced his note book and took from
it the dispatch he had received from Dick Graham's father, and one of
the letters of introduction that had been given to him by Captain
Howard. These he passed over to the suspicious wood-cutter, rightly
believing that the latter could not read a word of them. You will see
that that telegram reads, 'Price will accept,' continued Rodney. I
belong to a company of Rangers that was raised down the river, and at
my captain's request I telegraphed to Price inquiring if he would take
us and let us operate on our own hook, and he said he would. Read it
for yourself. What are you afraid of?
You see, explained Jeff, who during this conversation had sat with
his elbows resting on his knees and his eyes fastened upon the floor,
things is getting sorter ticklish down here in this neck of the woods
already. Nobody don't know who he can trust.
Don't you believe what the Able's captain said about me?
inquired Rodney, who had little dreamed that he would become an object
of suspicion almost as soon as he set his foot on Missouri soil. He
told me you were true blue.
And so we are, when we know the feller we're talking to. said the
man who was sitting in front of him, and whom he afterward heard
addressed as Nels. Now I want you to answer me a few questions: where
did you board the Mollie Able?
Rodney, who was not at all used to this sort of thing, began to grow
red in the face, but fortunately he did not hesitate an instant.
I got on at Baton Rouge, he said.
Is that place this side of Cairo?
No; it is the other side.
Did you stop at Cairo on your way up?
The Able was there perhaps half an hour.
Then I can see through some of it as plain as daylight, exclaimed
Nels, straightening up on his nail keg and shaking his hand at Jeff.
He was at Cairo long enough to change his clothes, swap hosses and
have his whiskers shaved off; but why he should have the cap'n of the
Able set him ashore here at this landing, beats my time. Don't it
your'n? There were signs of excitement in the cabin, and Rodney felt
the cold chills creeping over him. The wood-cutters were wofully
ignorant, quite as open to reason as so many wooden men would have
been, and if they suspected him of trying to play some trick upon them,
Rodney could not imagine how he should go to work to set them right. He
glanced at their scowling faces and told himself that he would not have
been in greater danger if he had been a prisoner in the hands of the
I should like to know what you mean by this foolishness? exclaimed
Rodney, growing excited in his turn.
Mebbe you'll find that there aint no great foolishness about it
before we've got through with you, answered Nels; and Rodney noticed
that one of the wood-cutters moved his seat so as to get between him
and the door.
I shall know more about that after you have told me who and what
you take me for, continued Rodney. Do you think you ever saw me
Well, as to your face and clothes we might be mistook, replied
Nels, slowly. But you had oughter hid that watch chain before you come
back amongst we-uns.
He reached out to lay hold of the article in question, but the angry
boy pushed his hand away.
This watch and chain were a birthday present from my mother four
years ago, said he, taking the watch from his pocket and unhooking the
chain, and the fact is recorded on the inside of the case, if you have
sense enough to read it, which I begin to doubt. You are at liberty to
look at them, but you mustn't try to get out of the door with them.
Nels took the articles in question and looked fixedly at Rodney, as
if he did not know whether to smile at him or get angry. He decided on
the former course when one of his companions said, in an audible
You sartingly be mistook, Nels. That abolition hoss-thief was a
mighty palavering sort of chap, but he didn't have no such grit.
Is that what you take me for, exclaimed Rodney,a horse-thief
and an abolitionist besides? You certainly are mistaken, for I haven't
got that low down in the world yet. Jeff, you are the only man in the
party who seems to have a level head on his shoulders, and I wish you
would explain this thing to me. Begin at the beginning so that I may
know just how the case stands.
Before Jeff could reply to the request one of the small army of
hunting dogs which found shelter in the wood-cutters' camp set up a
yelp, the rest of the pack joined in, and for a minute or two there was
a terrific hubbub. When it lulled a little the hail rang out sharp and
clear from some place in the surrounding woods:
Hallo the house! Don't let your dogs bite!
The words brought all the wood-choppers to their feet and sent all
except two of themNels and the man who had taken his seat near the
doorout into the darkness. These remained behind in obedience to a
sign from Jeff, and Rodney knew that they meant to keep an eye on him.
Who's out there? he inquired.
Don't you recognize his voice? asked Nels in reply. There's
more'n one of 'em, and they are the men who have been hunting for you
for a week past.
I am glad to hear it, said Rodney. Perhaps they will be able to
clear away some of the ridiculous suspicions you seem to have got into
your heads concerning me.
Get out, ye whelps, shouted Jeff, when he stepped out of the door;
whereupon the dogs ceased their clamor and slunk away behind the cabin
to escape the clubs he threw among them to enforce obedience to his
order. Come on, strangers. They won't pester you.
Then came a tramping of hoofs, as if a small body of cavalry was
making its way through the bushes, and a minute afterward Rodney could
look through the open door and see half a dozen men dismounting from
their horses. He saw Jeff exchange a few hasty words with the tall,
black-whiskered man who was the first to touch the ground, and heard
the exclamations of surprise which the latter uttered as he listened to
them. He could not understand what the man said, but the woodcutter
near the door did, for he called out:
He's come back sure's you live, and Nels has got his watch to prove
it. He knowed him the minute he seed the chain that's fast to it.
Well, if that is the case, whom have we got here? said the
black-whiskered man; and this time Rodney heard the words very plainly.
Where is he? Let me have a look at him.
Jeff waved his hand toward the door and the man stepped in and faced
Rodney, who arose to his feet and met his gaze without flinching. One
glance brought from him a sigh of relief. He had an intelligent man to
talk to nowone who could be reasoned with.
There's the watch that has brought suspicion upon me in a way I
cannot understand, said Rodney, nodding toward Nels, who promptly
handed it over. Will you be kind enough to open it and read the
inscription you will find on the inside of the case.
The man took the watch, and while he was opening it kept his eyes
fastened upon Rodney's face. He seemed both amused and angry.
Jeff, he exclaimed at length. I never knew before that you were
such a blockhead. There is about as much resemblance between this young
gentleman and that horse-thief outside as there is between you and me.
But Mr. Westall, just look at the chain, protested Jeff.
But, Mr. West-all, just look at the chain, protested Jeff.
Well, look at the chain. You're a Jackson man, I suppose? he
added, nodding at Rodney.
Every day in the week, replied the boy. And that's what brought
me up here from Louisiana. I belong to a company of partisans; but our
Governor wouldn't take us the way we wanted to go, and here I am. I
want to find Price as soon as I can. Run your eye over that telegram,
if you please, and then read this letter.
While the man, who had been addressed as Mr. Westall, was reading
the documents Rodney passed over to him, his four companions came into
the cabin bringing with them a fifth, at the sight of whom Rodney Gray
started as if he had been shot.
CHAPTER VII. THE EMERGENCY MEN.
Great Scott! was Rodney Gray's mental ejaculation. That is Tom
Percival if I ever saw him.
If his own father had suddenly been brought into the cabin a
prisoner in the hands of armed men, the Barrington boy could not have
been more amazed. He winked hard and looked again, but his eyes had not
deceived him; and even if there had been the slightest doubt in his
mind regarding the identity of the prisoner who had been denounced as
an abolition horse-thief, it would have vanished when he saw the
expression that came upon Tom's face the moment their eyes met. Tom was
one of Dick Graham's firm friends, but while a student at the
Barrington Academy he had often declared that if Dick ever so far
forgot himself as to enlist in the rebel army, he (Tom) would go into
the Union service on purpose to whip him back into a proper frame of
mind; and his being there a prisoner led Rodney to believe that he had
kept his promise, so far as enlisting was concerned. But there was one
thing about it: Tom might be a Union soldier, but he was neither an
abolitionist nor a horse-thief.
It is Percival, sure enough, but what in the name of sense and Tom
Walker is he doing here? was the next question that came into Rodney's
His first impulse was to seize his old schoolmate by the hand,
proclaim his friendship for him and assure Mr. Westall and the rest
that they had committed the worst kind of a blunderthat they had made
as great a mistake in arresting this boy for a horse-thief, as Nels and
his fellow wood-cutters had made in suspecting him of being Tom
Percival, simply because he happened to have in his possession a watch
chain that somewhat resembled Tom's. But two things restrained him; the
first was the reflection that by following this course he would put it
entirely out of his power to help Tom if the opportunity was offered,
and the second was the way in which Tom himself looked and acted. He
didn't appear to know Rodney at all. The expression of joy and surprise
that first overspread his countenance vanished as if by magic, and from
that time forward he gave as little attention to his old friend as he
might have given to an utter stranger. Rodney was quick to take the
hint and governed himself accordingly.
Percival always did have a level head on his shoulders, said the
latter, resuming his seat upon the nail keg and placing himself as far
as possible out of reach of Tom's gaze, and he's got more pluck than
any other fellow I ever saw. He needs it, poor fellow, if Captain
Howard told the truth when he said that every little community in the
State is divided into two hostile camps. But his father owns slaves,
and Tom never stole a horse.
It so happened that all the inmates of the cabin were too much
interested in what Mr. Westall was doing to notice the swift glance of
recognition that passed between the two boys when Tom Percival was
brought in. They were waiting to hear what he had to say regarding the
papers Rodney had given him to read.
I suppose you are acting is a sort of advance agent for your
company to see what arrangements you can make with General Price? said
Mr. Westall at length.
No, sir. I am acting on my own hook, and without any regard to the
course the company may see fit to take, replied Rodney. The members
don't want to be sworn into the service of the Confederate States, and
the proposition to leave Louisiana in a body and offer ourselves to
Price, was voted down. I do not know what the rest of the boys will do,
but I am going to join the Missouri State militia if they will take
Oh, they'll take you fast enough, said Mr. Westall, with a laugh.
They have already taken everybody they can get their hands on without
stopping to inquire what State he is from. We five are some of Jeff
Thompson's Emergency men.
I don't think I ever heard of such men, said Rodney doubtfully.
Probably not. You don't need them down in Louisiana, and we may not
have much use for them here; though, to judge from the exploits of this
young man Percival, we may be called out oftener than we expected to
Rodney hoped that Mr. Westall would go on to tell what his friend
Tom had been guilty of to get himself into such a scrape, and what they
intended doing with him now that they had got him into their power; but
in this he was disappointed. The man handed back Mr. Graham's telegram
with the remark that he had never heard of a person of that name, and
then proceeded to read the letter of introduction, which was addressed
to a well-known Confederate of the name of Perkins, who lived somewhere
in the neighborhood of Springfield.
I am acquainted with this man Perkins in a business way, said Mr.
Westall, after he had run his eye over the letter, and know him to be
strong for Jeff Davis and the cause of Southern independence. He will
treat you as though you were one of the royal blood if you can only get
to him; but there's the trouble. He lives in the southwestern part of
the State, and that's a right smart piece from here.
I know it; but I have a good horse somewhere outside, answered
So I supposed; but you can't depend upon your horse to tell you
whether you are talking to a Yankee sympathizer or an honest
Confederate, can you? The ride won't amount to anything, but you have a
tough bit of country to go through. Your short experience right here
among friends will serve to show you how very suspicious everybody is.
We don't trust our nearest neighbors any more, and so you can imagine
what we think of a stranger, especially if he happens to own a watch
chain that looks something like one that is worn by a horse-thief,
said Mr. Westall, smiling at the boy as he handed his property back to
him. Now, Jeff, how could you have made such a mistake? Can't you see
that they don't at all resemble each other?
Now that I see them together I can, was Jeff's answer. But don't
he look a trifle as that thief might look if his duds was changed and
his whiskers took off?
Rodney thought from the first that his old schoolmate did not look
just as he did the last time he saw him, and now he knew the reason. To
a very slight mustache Tom Percival, since leaving the Barrington
Academy, had added a pair of what the students would have called
side-boards; but they were so very scant that they could not by any
possibility be looked upon as a disguise. Mr. Westall laughed at the
Jeff, you and your friends are too anxious to do something for the
cause, said he. Of course that is better than being lukewarm, but you
don't want to be too brash or you may get yourselves into trouble. Can
you give us some supper? But first we want to put this prisoner where
he will be safe.
Couldn't you postpone that part of the programme until I
have had a bite to eat, or do you think there's nobody hungry but
yourselves? asked the prisoner, in the most unconcerned manner
possible; and there was no mistaking his voice. It was Tom Percival's
I didn't think about you, answered Mr. Westall. And perhaps if
you had your dues, you would be left to go hungry. But we are not
savages, even if we are down on your way of thinking and acting.
Better give him a sup of coffee to keep the cold out and then chuck
him in the old corncrib, suggested Jeff. He can lay down on the
shucks, and I will give him a blanket to keep himself warm.
Will he be quite safe there? asked the Emergency man. No chance
to get out, is there? Or will we have to put a guard over him?
There aint no call for nobody to lose sleep guarding on him, was
Jeff's confident reply. There aint no winder to the corncrib, and the
door fastens with a bar outside. Some of the chinking has fell out
atween the logs, but he can't crawl through the cracks less'n he can
flatten himself out like a flying squirrel. Furthermore, there's the
dogs that will be on to him if he gives a loud wink.
Rodney listened to every word of this conversation, and told himself
that his friend's chances for escape were very slim indeed.
Take a keg and sit down over there, said Mr. Westall, pointing to
the farthest chimney corner and addressing himself to the prisoner,
while Nels and one of the other wood-cutters began making preparations
for supper. Now, if you have no objections, Mr. Gray, we should like
to hear the rest of your story. You must be set in your ways, or else
you never would have come up here simply to carry out your idea of
becoming a partisan. You will find plenty of them in these parts.
Indeed, you will find more of them than anything else.
It did not take Rodney long to make Mr. Westall and his four
companions understand just how matters stood with him, for there was
really little to tell. He was careful not to let his auditors know that
he had acted as drill-sergeant, for Captain Hubbard's company of
Rangers, for if he touched upon that subject, Mr. Westall might ask him
where he received his military education; and if he answered that he
got it at the Barrington Academy, and Mr. Westall happened to know that
his prisoner had been a student at that very school, then what would
happen? The fat would all be in the fire at once, for the Emergency man
would very naturally want to know why the two boys had not given each
other some sign of recognition when they first met. That would never
do; so Rodney steered clear of these dangerous points, and Tom Percival
sat in the chimney corner with his elbows on his knees and listened to
the story. When it was finished and Mr. Westall and his companions had
asked him a few leading questions, Rodney ventured to inquire what an
Emergency man was.
He is a partisan in the truest sense of the word, was Mr.
Westall's answer. He is a soldier who is liable to be called into the
ranks in an emergency, and at no other time; but that does not prevent
him from getting a few friends together and going off on an expedition
of his own as often as he feels like it.
An expedition of his own?
Yes. If the Union men in one county get to make themselves too
promiscuous, and their immediate neighbors haven't the strength or the
inclination to deal with them themselves, the Emergency men in the next
county can slip in some dark night and run the obnoxious characters
And what does the Emergency man do when his services are not
needed? inquired Rodney, who was profoundly astonished.
Why, he can stay quietly at home, if he wants to, and cultivate his
little crops while he watches the Union men in the settlement or acts
as spy for the troops, if there are any in the vicinity.
But suppose the Union men find it out and pop him over from the
nearest canebrake? said Rodney.
He must look out for that, and so conduct himself while he is at
home that no one will suspect anything wrong of him, answered Mr.
Westall indifferently. His fate is in his own hands, and if he doesn't
know how to take care of himself, he has no business to be an Emergency
man. You might call us a reserve to the State Guard, and that is what
we really are.
I think you are really freebooters. That is just the way the
European brigands act, were the words that sprang to the boy's lips.
Although he was as wild a rebel as he ever had been, Rodney had a
higher sense of honor than when he wrote that mischievous letter to Bud
Goble for the purpose of getting his cousin Marcy Gray into trouble,
and his whole soul revolted at the idea of being such a soldier as Mr.
Westall described. If that was the way a partisan was expected to act,
Rodney wished he had not been so determined to become a partisan. Why
didn't he stay in his own State and follow the fortunes of the
Mooreville Rangers, as he had promised to do? Finally he said:
Are the State Guards the same as the Home Guards?
Not much; any more than a good Confederate is the same as a
sneaking Yankee, replied Mr. Westall. The Home Guards are known to
all honest men as Lyon's Dutchmen. There is hardly a native born
citizen among them, and yet they have the impudence to tell us
Americans what kind of a government we shall have over us.
Have you Emergency men had much to do yet?
We haven't done any fighting, if that's what you mean, for there
hasn't been any to speak of outside of St. Louis; but we have been
tolerable busy making it hot for the Union men in and around the
settlements where we live. However
Here Mr. Westall stopped and nodded in Tom Percival's direction, as
if to intimate that he did not care to say more on that subject while
the prisoner was within hearing.
The conversation ran on in this channel during the half hour or more
that Nels and his helper spent in getting ready the corn-bread and
bacon, but Rodney, although he appeared to be listening closely, did
not hear much of it, or gain any great store of information regarding
the course he ought to pursue during his prospective ride from Cedar
Bluff landing to the city of Springfield. The thoughts that filled his
mind to the exclusion of everything else were: What had Tom Percival
done to bring upon him the wrath of the Emergency men, and how was he
going to help him out of the scrape? For of course he was bound to help
him if he could; that was a settled thing. Tom Percival was Union all
through, and Rodney had seen the day when he would have been glad to
thrash him soundly for the treasonable sentiments he had so often and
fearlessly uttered while they were at Barrington together; but that was
all past now. Tom was his schoolmate and he was in trouble. That was
enough for Rodney Gray, who would have fought until he dropped before
he would have seen a hair of Tom's head injured.
Now then, gentlemen, retch out and help yourselves, exclaimed
Nels, breaking in upon the boy's meditations. We aint got much, but
you're as welcome as the flowers in May.
The invitation was promptly accepted, the single room the cabin
contained being so small that the most of the hungry guests could reach
the viands that had been placed upon the table without moving their
nail kegs an inch. Rodney had eaten one good supper aboard the
Mollie Able, but that did not prevent him from falling to with the
rest. Tom Percival kept his seat in the chimney corner and a
well-filled plate was passed over to him, and his cup was replenished
as often as he drained it. Whatever else his captors intended to do to
him they were not going to starve him. Of course the talk was all about
the war, which Mr. West-all declared wasn't coming, and the high-handed
action taken by the Washington authorities in sending Captain Stokes
across the river from Illinois to seize ten thousand stand of arms that
were stored in the St. Louis Arsenal. Of course this was done to keep
the weapons from falling into the hands of the Confederates, who were
already laying their plans to capture them, but Mr. Westall looked upon
it as an insult to his State, and grew red in the face when he spoke of
That was what made the trouble here in Missouri, said he, with
great indignation. Up to that time we were strong for the Union, and
took pains to say that the State had no call to sever her connection
with it; but at the same time we recommended, as a sure means of
avoiding civil war, that the Federal troops should be withdrawn from
all points where they were likely to come into collision with the
citizens. How was that recommendation received? With silent contempt,
sir; with silent contempt, and that is something we will not stand.
Supper being over Mr. Westall, Nels and Jeff left the cabin, to shut
Tom Percival up in the corn-crib, the latter carrying upon his arm a
tattered blanket which the prisoner was to use to keep himself warm.
It was with a heavy heart that Rodney saw him go, and as Tom did not
once look his way, the latter could not even give him a glance of
encouragement. When the three men returned at the end of ten minutes
Mr. Westall was saying:
It's a slimpsy place to shut a prisoner up in and I should be
afraid to trust it, if it were not for the dogs. He can't crawl out
between the logs, that much is certain; but the door is almost ready to
drop from its hinges, and has a good deal of play back and forth behind
the bar. If he had a thin, stout stick he could slip it through the
crack, lift the bar and take himself off.
But I tell you again that there aint the first thing in the crib
that he can stick through that there crack, exclaimed Jeff, earnestly.
There aint nothing but corn ever been in there.
I reckon he's safe enough, said Mr, Westall. At any rate we will
take our chances on it and try to get a good night's sleep. It might be
well for whoever gets up during the night to mend the fire, to step out
arid take a look at him. Now, Jeff, what about sleeping arrangements?
There are not bunks enough for all of us, and I reckon we'll have to
tote this table of yours out doors to make room for us to lie down on
the floor, won't we?
Now that your prisoner is out of hearing, would you have any
objection to telling me what he has been doing? inquired Rodney, as
Jeff and Nels pushed back their nail kegs and got up to act upon Mr.
No objection whatever, and it will not take me long to do it,
replied the latter. He's Union.
But he doesn't look like a horse-thief, added Rodney.
Yes, he's Union the worst kind, repeated the Emergency man. We've
been hearing about his father's doings ever since the election. We
don't know him personally for he doesn't live in our county; but we
know of him, and we've been told that he is a dangerous man. He owns a
lot of niggers, but last election he walked up to the polls, as brave
as you please, and voted for Abe Lincoln; and there wasn't a man who
dared say a word to him or lift a hand to stop him. What do you think
I admire his courage, replied Rodney, who had heard the story
So would I, if it had been shown in a good cause, said the
Emergency man. But that's altogether too much cheek for a traitor, and
I don't see anything in it to admire. This son of his is more to be
feared than the old man, for he has been off somewhere and got a
military education; and the very first thing he did when he came home
from school was to get up a company of Home Guards, and send word to
Captain Lyon that if he wanted help all he had to do was to say so.
Mr. Westall proceeded to light his pipe, which he had previously
filled, and during the operation he winked at Rodney and nodded as if
to ask him what he thought of that. The latter felt a thrill ran
through every nerve in him. He was glad to know that his old schoolmate
was not wanting in courage, even if he did sympathize with the Yankee
invaders, and we may add that this feeling was characteristic of the
Barrington boys all through the war. If they heard, as they
occasionally did, that some schoolfellow in the opposing ranks had done
something that was thought to be worthy of praise, they felt an honest
pride in it.
I said that young Percival sent word to Captain Lyon that he
was ready to help him, but that was not strictly correct, continued
Mr. Westall, taking a few puffs at his pipe to make sure that it was
well lighted. He took word to him personally to be certain he
got it, riding alone on horseback all the way from Springfield to St.
Louis. What passed between him and Lyon we don't know yet, for he won't
open his mouth; but we may find means to make him tell all we care to
hear. When he got through with his business at St. Louis he didn't go
directly home, and that is what got him into this difficulty. He came
back by the way of Pilot Knob, where he has a Union uncle living; but
that's where I and my friends live, too.
And was it there he stole the horse? asked Rodney.
Well, between you and me and the gatepost, he never stole a horse,
replied Mr. Westall slowly, as if he were reluctant to make the
Rodney Gray crossed his legs, clasped his hands around one knee and
settled back on his nail keg with an air that said, almost as plainly
I knew it all the time.
No, he never stole a horse or anything else that we know of,
repeated Mr. Westall. But he rides a critter that is so near like one
that was stolen from a Confederate by a Union man of the name of
Morehouse a few days ago, that you could hardly tell them apart.
And I don't much blame Morehouse for stealing that horse, either,
said one of the Emergency men, who had not spoken before. He had to
get out of the country, he couldn't do it without a horse to carry him,
and so he took the one that came first to his hand.
I don't know as I blame him, either, assented Mr. Westall. But I
do blame him for holding the opinions he does.
Well, if another man stole the horse why do you lay it on to
Percival? inquired Rodney, who could hardly keep from showing how
angry he was.
You see the matter is just this way, replied the Emergency man, as
if he scarcely knew how to explain the situation! If young Percival
had called upon his uncle for a visit, and gone away again without
taking so much interest in the affairs of the settlement, we wouldn't
have done any more than to give him warning that he wasn't wanted
there; but when we saw him and his uncle with their heads together, and
learned from some of our spies that Union men had been caught going to
and from old Percival's house at all hours of the day and night, we
made up our minds that there was something wrong about this young
fellow; so we telegraphed to Springfield, and found out that he was an
officer in a company of Home Guards who had offered their services to
Lyon. Well, you bet we were surprised to find that he was the son of
the only man in his county who dared to vote for Abe Lincoln, and it
made us afraid of him. too.
A whole settlement afraid of one boy? exclaimed Rodney.
Exactly. We didn't know which way to turn for the Union men are in
the majority in our county, as they are all through the northern and
eastern parts of Missouri, and we didn't dare do anything openly for
fear of being bushwhacked. As good luck would have it we succeeded in
scaring Morehouse out of the country about that time, and when he went,
he took one of the best horses in the settlement with him. That gave us
something to work on, and we made it up among ourselves that we would
lay the theft on to young Percival, take him out of his bed that night
and serve him as the law directs.
Does that mean that you would have hung him? asked Rodney, with a
That's generally the way we do with horse-thieves up here, replied
Mr. Westall. How do you serve them in your part of the country?
We put them in jail when they have been proved guilty, answered
Rodney. But you have said, in so many words, that this boy didn't
steal the horsethat he was stolen by a man who ran away with him.
Before replying the Emergency man paused to relight his pipe which
he had allowed to go out.
CHAPTER VIII. RODNEY PROVES HIS
It seemed to take Mr. Westall a long time to get his pipe going to
his satisfaction, and when at last he spoke, it was easy to see that he
was angry at Rodney for inquiring so particularly into matters that did
not in any way concern him.
It is very strange that you fail to understand me after I have
taken such pains to go into details, said he, impatiently. The fact
that young Percival didn't steal the horse doesn't matter. We were
bound to get rid of him before he could have time to raise and drill a
company of Home Guards in our settlement, and the only way we could do
it was to charge him with some crime that would make everybody, Union
and Confederate, mad at him. See? But somehow he got wind of our plans
(that shows how impossible it is to trust anybody these times), and dug
On his own horse? asked Rodney.
Of course. We put after him, taking care to cut him off from the
old post-road which he would have to follow to reach Springfield, and
making him stay in the river counties among people who would do all in
their power to help us catch him. He's a sharp one, and there aint no
better critter than the one that has kept him ahead of us for nearly
ten days. He has ridden that one horse all the time, while we have had
to change now and then. He spent one night with Jeff in this cabin
And the way he did pull the wool over our eyes was a caution, Nels
interposed. Why, if you could a heard him talk you would a thought, as
we did, that he had been gunning for Union men and living on 'em ever
since the furse began. He let on that he was in a great hurry to get
over the river to see about getting some guns for Price's men, and we
swallered every word he said.
Tom always could tell a slick story, was Rodney's mental comment.
He had a watch chain that was adzactly like your'n, and the minute
I seen it I said to myself that you was him, said Nels in conclusion.
We were close upon his heels, continued Mr. Westall. We arrived
here the next morning, about four hours after he left, and when we told
Jeff and his friends what a neat trick had been played upon them, they
became not only angry but very suspicious.
Unreasonably suspicious, added Rodney, in a tone of disgust. Does
Jeff or anybody else suppose for a moment that I would have come back
to this camp if I had been in Percival's place?
That was what beat my time and I said so, answered Nels. I never
would have suspicioned you if it hadn't been for that watch chain of
your'n, and the story you told about not knowing the country around
Springfield. The captain of the Mollie Able said you was one of
Price's men, and we took it for granted that you had been riding with
him. But I am satisfied now.
I am glad to hear it, answered Rodney But, Mr. Westall, it can't
be possible that you will stand by and see this young fellow punished,
when you know him to be innocent of the crime with which you have
No; I don't reckon I'll stand by and see it because I have sorter
taken a shine to him, even if he is a traitor, answered the Emergency
man. There'll be enough to attend to the business without any of my
And he will be hung, I suppose?
He'll never stick his meddlesome Union nose into our settlement
again, I'll bet you on that, replied Mr. Westall, knocking the ashes
from his pipe and showing quite plainly by his manner that he did not
care to answer any more questions. I can't understand why the folks
living down Springfield way didn't attend to his case long ago, and
save us the trouble.
So saying the Emergency man arose to his feet and went after his
blanket, which had been left outside the door with his saddle, and the
movement was taken by the others as a signal that it was time to go to
bed. Rodney's blankets were in his trunk, but he was not ready to take
them out just then. He followed Mr. Westall out of the door, believing
that the latter would be sure to visit Tom's prison before retiring for
I must find out where that corn-crib is, for I shall want to go to
it before morning, said Rodney to himself. And then there are the
dogs, which I should like to have see and scent me before I go prowling
around among them. Tom's got to have help this very night or he is just
as good as a dead cadet.
Mr. Westall undid the blanket which was strapped behind his saddle,
tossed it into the cabin and then stretched his arms and yawned as if
he were very tired and sleepy.
I am used to the saddle, said he, as Rodney came out of the cabin
and approached the place where he was standing, but I must say that
that young fellow has given me a hard pull. He must be made of iron,
for he doesn't seem to mind it at all. Let's go and see how he is
getting on. I want to make sure that he is safe before I go to sleep.
Don't you think this is a cold-blooded, heartless way to treat a
boy who has never done you any harm? inquired Rodney, stooping down to
caress first one and then another of the large pack of dogs which came
trooping up the minute the cabin door was opened. Have you a son about
the same age?
That's neither here nor there, replied Mr. Westall; and Rodney
thought from the nervous, jerky manner in which he faced about and
started for the corn-crib, that the words had touched him in a tender
spot. Suppose I have; what then? If he so far forgets the training he
has received ever since he was old enough to know anything, let him
take the consequences.
You say that young Percival's father is strong for the Union,
continued Rodney. If that is the case, didn't he train up his son in
the way he wanted him to go? No doubt he is just as honest in his
opinions as we are.
Honest! repeated Mr. Westall, in a tone of contempt. Can a man
honestly hold opinions that make him a traitor to his State? Percival
is on the wrong side, but that is no fault of ours. We can't and won't
have traitors in our midst preaching up their doctrines and organizing
military companies. Why, do you know that they have bushwhacked scores
of our men all over the Statecalled them to the door of their homes
and shot them down like dogs, or popped them over while they were
riding quietly along the road? You are a partisan, are you? You don't
know the meaning of the word; but if you will go home with me I will
teach it to you in less than a week.
If Rodney had given utterance to his honest sentiments he would have
told Mr. Westall, in pretty plain language, that he would face about
and go to his own home again before he would be that kind of a
partisan. Shaking his fist under a Union boy's nose and fighting him on
the parade ground was one thing, and shooting him down in cold blood
was another. But he did not have time to make any reply, for just as
Mr. Westall ceased speaking they reached the corn-crib.
All right in there? said the Emergency man, laying hold of the
door and giving it a shake; and as he did so, Rodney took note of the
fact that it opened as much as an inch and a half, so that if the
prisoner on the inside had anything with which he could reach through
the crack and throw the bar out of its place, he need not stay there a
moment longer than he wanted to. Will one blanket be enough to keep
I don't call this fish-net a blanket, replied Tom's voice. I
suppose it will have to do, if you are so poor you can't give me
anything better. But this is a cold, cheerless place to shove a fellow
into without any fire or light.
It's plenty good enough for a traitor, answered Mr. Westall, with
a coarse laugh; and then he turned about and led the way back to the
Two of the Emergency men and all the wood-cutters had come out to
take a look at the weather, and make up their minds whether or not
the steamer they heard coming up the river below the bend was going to
stop at the landing for fuel, and while Rodney listened to their
conversation he walked about with his hands in his pockets, and kicked
listlessly at the chips and sticks that were scattered around the log
on which Jeff and his men cut their fire-wood. Finally he picked up one
of the sticks and began cutting it with his knife; and a little later,
when he thought no one was observing his movements, he shoved the stick
into the sleeve of his coat. This much being done he was ready to make
a demonstration in Tom Percival's favor.
By the way, Jeff, said he, suddenly. While you are waiting for
that steamer to make up her mind if she wants any wood or not, will you
tell me where I can find my horse? I always make it a point to say
goodnight to him before I go to bed.
Resting one hand on the boy's shoulder Jeff pointed with the other,
and showed him the building in which the roan colt had been placed
The dogs won't bother me, will they? asked Rodney.
Oh, no. You've been round amongst 'em and they know you.
Rodney posted off, and Jeff saw him disappear through the door of
the cabin that had been pointed out to him; but he was not looking,
that way when Rodney came out a moment later, and with noiseless steps
and form half bent directed his course toward Tom Percival's prison.
His face wore a determined look, and his right hand, which was thrust
into the pocket of his sack coat, firmly clutched his revolver. He knew
that he must succeed in what he was about to attempt or die in his
tracks, for if he were detected, he would stand as good a chance of
being hanged as Tom himself. But there were no signs of wavering or
hesitation about him. He drew a bee-line for the back of the corn-crib,
and began looking for the places where the chinking had fallen out. It
did not take him many minutes to find one, and then he set about
attracting Tom's attention by pulling the stick from his sleeve, and
rubbing it back and forth through one of the cracks. The movement was
successful. There was a slight rustling among the corn-husks inside the
cabin, and a second later the prisoner laid hold of the stick.
All right, whispered Tom. I was looking for you, and I know what
this stick is for, Shake.
The boys tried to bring their hands together, but the opening
between the logs was so narrow that the best they could do was to
interlock some of their fingers.
Here, whispered Rodney, pushing his revolver through the crack
butt first. '; Take this, you Yankee, and remember that you will surely
be hung if you don't get out of here before daylight.
I hope you are not disarming yourself, said Tom.
That's all right. This is for Dick Graham's sake and Barrington's;
but look out for me if I catch you outside, for I am one of Price's
Tom said something in reply, but Rodney did not hear what it was,
nor did he think it safe to stop long enough to ask the prisoner to
repeat the words. He hastened away from the corn-crib, and when Jeff
and Mr. Westall next saw him, he was standing in the stable door
pushing back his horse which was trying to follow him out. He was doing
more. He was striving with all his will-power to subdue the feelings of
excitement and exultation that surged upon him when he thought of what
he had done, and what the consequences to him would be if anything
happened to excite the suspicions of the hot-headed Confederates who
had him completely in their power.
If they do anything to me and Tom finds it out, he will make some
of them suffer if he ever gets the chance, thought the Barrington boy,
as he closed the door of the stable and walked back to the wood pile.
But what good will that do me when I am dead and gone? I declare I
begin to feel as Dick Graham did: Dog-gone State Rights anyhow.
It was with no slight feelings of anxiety that Rodney Gray joined
the group of men around the wood yard; but fortunately there was no
light in the cabin other than that given out by the blaze in the
fire-place, and if his face bore any trace of excitement, as he was
certain it did, nobody noticed it. The steamer did not stop at the
landing, and when she passed on up the river, the wood-cutters and
their guests went into the cabin and closed the door. Then Rodney
opened his trunk and brought out his blankets, taking care to spread
them as far from the door as he could, so that when Tom's escape was
discovered, no one could reasonably suspect him of having slipped out
during the night and set him free.
Good-night, everybody, said he cheerfully, as he laid himself upon
his hard couch. I have made two mistakestwo big mistakes, he added,
as he drew his head under the blankets. I forgot to warn Tom to look
out for the dogs (but being a Southerner he ought to know enough for
that without being told), and I ought not to have said so much in his
favor to Mr. Westall. Now that I think of it, that was a fearful
blunder, and it may be the means of bringing trouble to me. Well, I
can't help it. I detest Tom's principles and would be glad to see them
thrashed out of him; but when it comes to hanging him for something he
didn't dothat's carrying things just a little too far. There's not a
wink of sleep for me this night.
But, contrary to his expectations, Rodney fell asleep in less than
half an hour and slumbered soundly until he was awakened by one of the
Emergency men, who made considerable noise in punching up the fire. Mr.
Westall was also aroused. Raising himself on his elbow he said,
That you, Harvey? Have you been out to look at that friend of ours
in the corn-crib?
I have, and found him all right.
Did you simply speak to him, or did you go in where he was?
I took a piece of fat wood from this fire and went in where he
was, replied Harvey. He was covered up head and ears, but I saw his
boots sticking out from under the blanket.
What time is it?
Two o'clock of a clear, starlight morning, and all's well,
answered Harvey; and this made it plain that if he was not a soldier he
was learning to be one, for he knew how to pass the sentry's call.
Well; of all the dunderheads I ever heard of that Tom
Percival is the biggest, thought Rodney, who had never in his life
been more astounded. Two o'clock in the morning and he lying fast
asleep there in the corn-crib when he ought to be miles away! If I had
known he was going to act like that, I would have seen him happy before
I would have risked my neck trying to save his.
Rodney turned over on the other side with an angry flop and tried to
go to sleep again; but that was quite out of the question. He could do
nothing but rail at Tom for his stupidity, and wonder if the latter
would have sense enough to hide the revolver before Mr. Westall or some
other Emergency man went into his prison in the morning to bring him
out. Two other men got up and left the cabin before day-light, and the
Barrington boy knew they visited the corn-crib, for he heard their
footsteps as they were going and returning; but as they both brought a
few sticks of wood with them and mended the fire without saying a word,
Rodney was forced to the conclusion that Tom was still safe in his
Jeff, who was an early riser, was stirring long before the first
signs of coming dawn could be seen through the numerous cracks in the
walls of the cabin, and when he got out of his bunk it was a signal to
all his men, who were prompt to follow his example. The Emergency men
and Rodney arose also, for of course it was useless to think of
sleeping longer with so many pairs of heavy boots pounding the dirt
floor on which their blankets were spread. One of the wood-cutters set
off for the river with a bucket in each hand to bring water for cooking
and washing purposes, others went to feed the stock, and Nels, at Mr.
Westall's request, went to arouse Tom Percival.
No doubt he will enjoy the fire after passing the night in that
cold corn-crib, said the Emergency man, spreading his hands over the
cheerful blaze upon the wide hearth. But whether or not he will enjoy
the society into which he will be thrown before he has another chance
to sleep, is a different matter altogether.
And I think I should enjoy a little exercise, chimed in Rodney. I
am not much of a chopper, but perhaps I can get up an appetite for
So saying he went out into the wood yard and caught up an axe. His
object was not to get up an appetite (being in the best of health he
always had that), but to place himself where he could see his old
schoolmate when he was brought out of his prison. He would have given
something handsome if he could have had a chance to ask Tom what his
object was in staying in that corn-crib after he had been provided with
the means of getting out, and a revolver with which to defend himself,
but was obliged to content himself with the reflection that he had done
all he could, and that if Tom wanted help he would have to look for it
I wonder if he thinks the Union men at Pilot Knob will rescue him
when he is brought there? thought Rodney, as he swung the axe in the
air. If he is depending upon them, why did he run away from the
settlement in the first place? What was the reason he
Rodney, who had kept one eye on Nels, paused with his axe suspended
in the air and looked at the corn-crib. He saw the man throw down the
bar and open the door, and heard him when he shouted:
Come out of that and pay your lodging. We can't afford to keep a
free hotel when bacon is getting so scarce that we can't even steal it.
Out you come.
[Illustration: AN ASTONISHING DISCOVERY.]
Rodney listened but did not hear any answer. Neither did Nels. The
latter bent forward, stretched out his neck and seemed to be intently
regarding something on the inside of the cabin. Then he straightened up
and marched in with a vicious air, as if he was resolved that he would
not stand any more fooling. He was gone not more than a minute, and
then he came back with a jump and a whoop, holding Jeff's tattered
blanket in one hand and a pair of well-worn boots in the other.
Wake snakes! yelled Nels, striking up a war-dance and frantically
flourishing the captured articles over his head. He's skipped, that
hoss-thief has! He's lit out, I tell ye!
Almost at the same moment the wood-cutter who had gone out to attend
to the stock appeared at the door of the stable and called out to
Say, you Louisanner fellar, where's your critter? And then he
stopped and looked at Nels. Do you say the prisoner has lit out? he
shouted. Then he's done took another hoss to holp him on his way.
If he has taken mine he has got the best horse in the State,
exclaimed Rodney, dropping his axe and starting posthaste for the
stable. You might as well give up now, Mr. Westall, for the colt is
Copper-bottom stock and can travel for twenty-four hours at a stretch.
Again Rodney told himself that he had never been more astonished. He
was delighted, too, to find that his friend had not forgotten the
tricks he had learned at the Barrington Military Academy. He had not
only arranged a dummy in the darkmaking so good a job of it, too,
that the man Harvey, with the light of a pine knot to aid him, had not
been able to discover the cheat but he had left his boots sticking out
from under the blanket and gone off in his stocking feet. But why had
he taken Rodney's horse instead of his own? It was all right, of
course, for a fair exchange was no robbery, but Rodney would have liked
to have had that question answered.
It seems that Jeff's dogs are not worth the powder it would take to
blow them up, said he to Mr. Westall, who had followed close at his
heels. Your man has gone off with my horse, and I don't believe you
have a nag in your party that can catch him. Now what's to be done?
I was a plumb dunce for placing any dependence on those dogs,
replied the Emergency man, as soon as his surprise and anger would
permit him to speak. I might have known that they would not pay the
slightest attention to Percival after they had seen him with us about
the camp. Nels, was there anything in or around the corn-crib to show
how he got out?
Not the first that I could see, answered the wood-cutter. The bar
was in its place, and when I opened the door I was as certain as I
could be that I saw him laying there on the shucks with his feet
sticking out. When I called and he didn't say nothing, I thought I
would go in and snatch him up off'n them shucks in a way that would
learn him not to play 'possum on me ary 'nother time; but when I
snatched I didn't get nothing but the blanket and empty boots.
Harvey, he must have been gone when you went in there with your
light, said Mr. Westall, reproachfully. No doubt he threw the bar up
with his hand, and his object in closing the door after him was to hide
his escape as long as possible. If he went about midnight he has nearly
six hours the start of us, on a swift horse and along a road he knows
like a book. Let's go home, boys. We've done the best we could, but
next time we'll try and be a little sharper.
While this conversation was going on Rodney had leisure to recover
his composure, and was not a little relieved to see that there were no
side-long glances cast toward himself. Mr. Westall seemed to think that
he alone was to blame for the prisoner's escape, his four companions
were quite willing that he should shoulder the responsibility, and no
one thought of suspecting Rodney Gray.
I am short a good horse by last night's work, and suppose I shall
have to take Percival's to replace him, won't I? said the latter.
It's that or go afoot, isn't it?
I suppose it is, replied the Emergency man.
What sort of an animal is he and where is he? continued Rodney. I
should like to have a look at him.
He's out in the yard with the rest of the critters, said Nels. I
thought it best to keep yours in the shed because, being a stranger,
the others might have fell to kicking him if they had all been turned
You did perfectly right, answered Rodney, who thought the man was
trying to excuse himself for having put the roan colt where he could be
so easily stolen. And that's the reason Tom took him, he added,
mentally. If he had gone into the yard after his own nag, the others
would have snorted and raised a fuss, and that would have started the
dogs and prevented his escape. It's all right, but I would rather have
my horse than that one.
The steed that was pointed out to him as the property of the escaped
prisoner was a fine looking animal, and the fact that he had led his
pursuers so long a chase, proved that he was not only a goer but a
stayer as well; but for all that Rodney wished his friend Tom had
thought it safe to take him and leave the roan colt.
I have very serious objections to riding that horse through the
counties back of here, said he at length. He is too well known; and
how do I know but that somebody will bounce me for a horse-thief?
That's a most disagreeable fact, said Mr. Westall, reflectively.
We gave a description of him to every man and boy we met along the
That is just what I was afraid of. Can't you give me a trade for
I don't see how we can, for if we should take the horse back to the
settlement with us, the folks there would be sure to ask how we came to
get him without getting the thief, too; see?
Well, could you give me a bill of sale of him? asked the boy,
after thinking a moment.
When I don't own a dollar's worth of interest in him? exclaimed
the Emergency man, opening his eyes. Not much I couldn't. I tell you,
young fellow, a horse is a mighty ticklish piece of property to have in
these parts unless you can prove a clear claim to him.
I want some sort of a paper to show to our friends along the road,
don't I? exclaimed Rodney, who began to think that his chances for
seeing Price's army were getting smaller all the time.
Oh, that's what you want, is it? said Mr. Westall. Well, I'll
tell you what we'll do: You ride with us as far as the road where we
turn off to go to Pilot Knob, and then I will give you a letter that
will help you if you happen to fall in with any of our side; but you
must be careful to know the men before you show the letter to them, for
if you should pull it on a Union man, you would get yourself into
trouble. Now let's get a bite to eat and start for home.
This made it evident that the Emergency man had become discouraged
with his ill-luck, and did not intend to follow Tom Percival any
CHAPTER IX. ON THE ROAD.
The breakfast which Nels and his assistant placed upon the table in
due time was eaten almost in silence, for those who sat down to it had
so much thinking to do that they had no time for conversation. When
Rodney Gray had satisfied his appetite he opened his trunk and took
from it a pair of saddle-bags, which he proceeded to fill with a
variety of useful articles. His thoughtful mother had packed the trunk
as full as it could hold, and Rodney could not take a quarter of the
things with him. He knew he couldn't when he started; but the trunk was
necessary to aid him in the game of deception he played upon the Baton
Rouge telegraph operators. By taking it aboard the Mollie Able,
together with a liberal supply of hay and grain for his horse, he led
them to believe that he was really going on to St. Louis. After filling
the saddle-bags, he rolled his blankets into a compact bundle so that
he could strap them behind him on his horse.
I have left a good many things in there that I can't take with me,
said he, as he locked the trunk and handed the key to Jeff. And if I
don't come back and claim them within a reasonable time, you are at
liberty to take them for your own. How much damage have I done your
commissary department since I have been here?
How much damage have you done which? exclaimed Jeff.
How much do you want for the fodder I and my horse and that
Yankee's horse have eaten? repeated Rodney.
Oh; why didn't you say so? You and your horse are as welcome as the
flowers in May; and as for that thief's critter, I wouldn't let you pay
a cent for him any way. But I'm sorry you aint got your own boss to
ride to Springfield.
So am I. Mine is the better horse, and besides I don't at all like
the idea of having every man I meet take me for a thief. Have you a
revolver you would be willing to sell at your own price?
What kind of a fellow are you, anyhow? exclaimed Mr. Westall, who
stood by listening. Do you mean to say that you have come up here,
intending to ride through these turbulent settlements, without bringing
along something to defend yourself with?
That is the most dangerous article I have about me, answered
Rodney, putting his hand into his pocket and drawing out the big
jack-knife Lieutenant Odell had given him the day before he left home.
At the same time he wondered what the Emergency man would have said and
done if he had been aware that the boy to whom he was talking had
brought a revolver with him, and that he had given it to Tom Percival
to defend himself in case he was attacked.
I never heard of a more foolish piece of business, exclaimed Mr.
Westall, with an air which said very plainly that he had no patience
with such a fellow as Rodney Gray was. What sort of people did you
think you were going to meet, I should like to know. I suppose you have
heard that there are Northern sympathizers in this State, and that they
are about the meanest folks you will find on top of the earth?
I have heard all about it; but I supposed that I should find our
own people in the majority. This is a Southern State, isn't it?
In some places they are in the majority and in some they are not,
replied Mr. Westall. Of course this is a Southern State; but don't you
know that those Dutchmen in St. Louis have gone back on Governor
Jackson, and that he and the members of the legislature have had to run
for their lives? Why, boy, you may be called upon to defend yourself in
less than an hour after we leave you. Got a revolver to spare, Jeff?
Aint got none of that sort, replied the wood-cutter. There aint
nothing but rifles in the shanty.
Then I shall be obliged to let you have one of mine, said the
Emergency man, taking a belt down from a peg beside the door, and
drawing an ancient Colt from one of the holsters. I may be able to
replace it some time or other; but whether I am or not, you mustn't
think of starting for Springfield without a weapon where you can put
your hand on it. It is rather large and heavy for your pocket and you
have no belt; so you will have to shove it into your boot leg. That's
as handy a place to carry it as any I know of.
When both parties are willing to trade it does not take them long to
come to an understanding, and in a very short time some of Rodney's
gold went into Mr. Westall's pocket, and the revolver into the leg of
the boy's boot. In ten minutes more the horses had been brought out of
the yard and prepared for the journey, Rodney placing his own saddle
and bridle on his new steed, and leaving Tom's for Jeff to dispose of
in any way he saw proper.
I reckon I'm just that much ahead of the hounds, said the
wood-cutter, with a grin. That hoss-thief won't never dare to come
after his saddle, and mebbe it'll bring me in a few dollars for
tobacker. Farewell, and be sure and drop in as often as you come this
way. Look out for yourself, you Louisanner feller.
The path that ran through the woods to the big road leading from
Cape Girardeau to Lesterville, the place where Rodney's companions
would take leave of him and turn toward Ironton, was all of three miles
long, and so narrow that they were obliged to ride in a single file.
Mr. Westall remarked, with a careless laugh, that it was a good thing
for them that the people living in the vicinity were mostly
Confederates, for the woods on each side of the path were thick, and
would afford the nicest kind of cover for a bushwhacking party.
I suppose there are plenty of Union people between here and your
settlement? observed Rodney.
Lots of 'em; and they are not only dead shots, but they know every
hog path in the woods and are as sneaking and sly as so many Indians.
They'll fight, too. We know that to be a fact, for we've got some of
them for near neighbors.
Then perhaps it is just as well that you have me instead of
Percival with you, said Rodney. If you had taken him a prisoner to
Pilot Knob, what assurance have you that you would not have been
bushwhacked on the way?
None whatever; but we would have been willing to take our chances
The Emergency man spoke carelessly enough, but Rodney noticed that
he had not neglected to make preparations for a fight. The single
revolver his belt contained had been transferred to the night holster,
and the strap that usually passed over the hammer to keep the weapon in
place, had been unbuttoned so that the heavy Colt could be drawn in an
instant. This made Rodney feel rather uneasy. Perhaps he would not have
been so very frightened at the prospect of a fair stand-up fight, but
the fear that somebody might cut loose on him or some member of his
party with a double-barrel shotgun before any of them knew there was
danger near, was more than his nerves could stand. He was glad when
they left the woods behind and rode out into the highway; but it wasn't
half an hour before he had occasion to tell himself that when the
Emergency men took leave of him and turned off toward their own
settlement, the woods would be the safest place for him. They were
riding along two abreast, Mr. Westall and Rodney leading the way, when,
as they came suddenly to a narrow cross-road, they found themselves
face to face with a long-haired, unkempt native mounted on the leanest,
hungriest mule Rodney had ever seen. He rode bare-back, his spine bent
almost in the form of a half circle, his body swaying back and forth,
and with every step his beast took he pounded its sides with the heels
of his bootsnot with the object of inducing the mule to quicken its
pace, but because the motion had become a habit with him. He was
surprised and startled when he found himself so close to the Emergency
men, and partly raised the muzzle of the heavy double-barrel shotgun he
carried in front of him; but a second glance seemed to relieve his
fears, for he grinned broadly, and waited for the horsemen to come up.
Wal, ye got him, didn't ye? said he; and the words went far to
confirm the fear that had haunted Rodney Gray ever since he found that
Tom Percival had gone off with the roan colt, leaving his own
well-advertised horse behind him. This ignorant backwoodsman, who
didn't look as though he knew enough to go in when it rained, had
recognized the horse the moment he put his eyes on him.
Oh, this isn't the man at all, MisteraI declare I have
disremembered your name, exclaimed Mr. Westall.
I don't reckon ye ever knowed it, kase I never seed hide nor hair
of none of ye afore this day, replied the native, with another grin.
But it's Swanson, if it will do ye any good to hear it. I live back
here in the bresh about a couple of milds.
How does it come that you are so prompt to recognize us if you
never saw us before? inquired Rodney.
Oh, I hearn tell that there was some of Jeff Thompson's men riding
through the kentry looking for a hoss-thief, and I knowed the hoss when
I seen him. But ye say this aint the thief, answered the native, with
an inquiring glance at Mr. Westall.
That was what I said, replied the Emergency man. He is a friend
of ours, belongs to Price, and you want to take a good look at him and
the horse too, so that you will know them again if you happen to meet
them anywhere on the road.
And then Mr. Westall went on to tell who Tom Percival was and where
he lived, not forgetting to lay a good deal of stress on the statement
that he was not only a strong Union man, but a horse-thief as well.
This made Rodney angry, but of course he couldn't help himself.
You want to keep a bright lookout for a young fellow in his
stocking feet, riding a bareback roan colt, said the Emergency man, in
conclusion. If you fall in with such a chap, you will make something
by bringing him to Pilot Knob settlement and asking for Mr. Westall.
I'll keep them words in mind, replied the native, urging the mule
forward by digging him in the ribs with his boot heels.
You'll have to look in the woods for him, observed the man Harvey.
It isn't at all likely that he will keep the road in daylight when he
hasn't a thing to defend himself with.
I aint thinking about that any more'n I am about him having no
boots on, said the Missourian, looking back over his shoulder.
There's plenty of mean folks in this kentry that'll give him we'pons
and clothes for the asking. If I can't get the drop on to him, I won't
say a word to him.
This is just what I was afraid of, Rodney remarked, when the man
had passed out of hearing. Every one who meets me on the road will
look upon me with suspicion, and perhaps I had better take to the woods
Don't think of it, answered Mr. Westall, hastily. You would be
sure to lose your way and stand a fine chance of being bushwhacked
besides. You will find that the boldest course is the best; and that's
dangerous enough, goodness knows, he added, in an undertone.
When the party halted for dinner the scene we have just described
was re-enacted. Before any of them had a chance to say a word the
planter at whose gate they stopped began abusing Rodney in the
strongest language he could command; and he was such a rapid talker
that he succeeded in saying a good many harsh things before Mr. Westall
and his companions could stop him. When he was made to understand that
he had committed a blunder, and that the boy was as good a Confederate
as he was himself, the planter was profuse in his apologies.
Alight, said he, giving Rodney his hand and almost pulling him out
of his saddle. I'm sorry for what I said, but that horse made me
suspicion you. I wouldn't ride him through the country for all the
money there is in Missoury. You'd best give up trying to find Price and
jine in with Thompson's men. You won't have to go so far to find 'em.
Rodney had thought of that, but there was Dick Graham! He could not
give up the hope of finding his old schoolmate and serving out his year
After the planter had given the Emergency men a good dinner he
brought out writing materials, and Mr. Westall proceeded to write the
letter he had promised to give Rodney, and which he hoped would be the
means of taking him safely through to Springfield. He and all his
friends, the planter included, signed it, and the boy tucked it into
his boot leg.
You may be sure that I shall not show it to any Union man, said
the latter, with a smile. It would hang me.
When they passed through the little settlement of Lesterville about
three o'clock that afternoon, Rodney and the horse he rode attracted
attention on every hand. All the farmers in the country for miles
around seemed to have flocked into town to discuss the latest news, and
the streets were full of loungers, every one of whom stared at the
party and had something to say regarding the boy, who was supposed to
be a prisoner. On two or three occasions Mr. Westall thought it prudent
to stop and explain the situation; and every time he did so, the
loungers came running from all directions to hear about it. Some of
them thought that Tom Percival had played a regular Yankee trick on
Rodney in running off with the roan colt and leaving him a stolen horse
to ride, and advised him to look out for himself. The story that Mr.
Westall and his friends had circulated about Tom seemed to have made
every one his enemy.
I suppose you think every man we have been talking to is a Jackson
man, don't you? said Mr. Westall, when they had left the settlement
behind and reached the open country once more. Well, they aint. I saw
some Union men listening to what we said, and if they see a roan colt
and a boy without any boots on, they'll halt them and give them aid and
I am very glad to hear that, said Rodney to himself. Tom needs
help, if any one ever did, and I hope he will get it. It's going to be
ticklish business steering clear of Union men, is it not! he said,
Mr. Westall thought it was, but still he did not have very much to
say about it, for since Rodney was resolved to go on, he did not want
to discourage him. As his journey progressed he would learn all about
the obstacles and dangers that lay in his course, and when they came,
he would have to surmount or get around them the best way he could. A
mile or so farther on they came to another crossroad, and there Mr.
Westall drew rein and held out his hand to Rodney.
Our course lies off that way, said he, and we must bid you
good-by. You've got money and letters, and know as much about the road
ahead of you and the people who live on it as we know ourselves. Is
there anything we can do for you that you think of?
Not a thing, thank you, replied the boy, as he shook hands with
each of the Emergency men. You have been very kind, and I believe the
advice and information you have given me will take me safely through.
Good-by; and whenever you hear that Price has whipped the Yankees, you
may know that I was there to help him do it.
That's the right spirit, anyway. I like your pluck, and if we see
you again, we shall expect to see you wearing an officer's uniform.
The Emergency men lifted their hats and galloped off down the
cross-road, and Rodney Gray was left alone in a strange country, and
with letters on his person that would compromise him with any party of
men into whose company he chanced to fall. There was Tom's horse, too.
The animal was bound to bring his rider into trouble of some sort, for
of course a description of him had been carried through the country for
miles in advance. He felt savage toward the innocent beast which was
carrying him along in an easy foxtrot, and bitterly hostile toward Tom
Percival who had blundered into his way when he was least expecting to
Why didn't he stay in his own part of the State where he belonged?
thought Rodney, spitefully. I hope to goodness the Yankeesbut after
all it was my own fault, for didn't I hand him that stick and give him
the only revolver I had? And he couldn't have got his own horse out of
that yard without arousing the dogs. It's all right, and I won't
quarrel with Tom Percival.
To Rodney's great relief he did not meet a man that afternoon (no
doubt the farmers had all gone into town to talk politics with their
neighbors), but there were plenty of womenfolks in the houses along the
road, and they had their full share of curiosity. They flocked to the
doors and windows and looked closely at him as he passed, and Rodney
knew well enough that the men would hear all about him when they came
home at night.
When darkness came on Rodney Gray began to realize the helplessness
of his position. It was time he was looking for a place to stay all
night, but what should he say to the farmer to whom he applied for
supper and lodging? If he told the truth and declared himself to be a
Confederate, and the farmer chanced to belong to the opposite side, or
if he tried to pass himself off for a Unionist and the farmer proved to
be a red-hot Jackson man:
Ay, there's the rub, thought Rodney, looking down at the ground in
deep perplexity. There's where the difficulty comes in, and I don't
know how to decide it.
He was not called upon to decide the matter that night, for while
these thoughts were passing through his mind, a voice a short distance
in advance of him began shouting:
Pig-g-e-e! pig-g-i-i! pig-g-o-o! And a chorus of squeals and
grunts, followed by a rush in the bushes at the side of the road, told
him that the call had been heard, and that the farmer's hogs were
making haste to get their supper of corn. Before Rodney could make up
his mind whether to stop or keep on, his horse brought him from behind
the bushes which had covered his approach, and the boy found himself
within less than twenty feet of a man in his shirt-sleeves, who stopped
his shouting and stood with an ear of corn uplifted in his hand.
Evening, said Rodney, who saw that it was useless to retreat.
I'll be dog-gone! said the man, throwing the ear of corn with
unerring aim at the head of the nearest porker and beckoning to Rodney
with both hands. Come out of the road. Come up behind the bresh and be
quick about it.
Rodney obeyed, lost in wonder; but as he rode across the shallow
ditch that ran between the road and the fence behind which the farmer
stood, he did not neglect to give his right leg a shake to loosen his
revolver, which during his long ride had worked its way down into his
boot. Of course the farmer had made a mistake of some kind, and Rodney
was rather anxious to learn what he would do when he found it out.
I have been a-hoping that you would come along and sorter looking
for it, continued the man, as Rodney drew up beside the fence. But I
didn't dast to look for such a streak of luck as this. He's waiting for
He? Who? asked Rodney; and then he caught his breath and wondered
if he had done wrong in speaking before the man had opportunity to
explain his meaning.
Tain't worth while for you to play off on me, replied the farmer,
leading the way along the fence and motioning to Rodney to follow. I
know the whole story from beginning to end, but I can't take you where
he is tonight. You'll have to stop with me till morning, but you and
the critter'll have to be hid in the bresh, kase Thompson's men aint
gone away yet.
Here was one point settled, and it wasn't settled to the boy's
satisfaction, either. The man on the other side of the fence, who now
stopped and let down a pair of bars so that he could ride through into
the barnyard, was a Union man; and, to make matters worse he took
Rodney for the same. But what was that story he had heard from
beginning to end, and who was it that was waiting for him? Rodney dared
not speak for fear of saying something he ought not to say, and so he
held his peace. When he had followed his guide through the yard and
into a small building that looked as though it might have been fitted
up for a cow-stable, the latter continued, speaking now in his natural
tone of voice as if he were no longer in fear of being overheard:
He was looking for me all the time, and I knowed it the minute I
set eyes on to him.
Friend of yours? said the boy, at a venture.
In a sartin way he are a friend, but I never see him till this
afternoon. I know his uncle up to Pilot Knob, and when I see him riding
by the house and looking at it as though he'd like to say something if
he wasn't afraid, I told him to 'light, and asked him wasn't he looking
for Merrick. That's me, you know. He said he was, and you might have
knocked me down with a straw when he told me he was kin to old Justus
Percival. Why don't you 'light?
The farmer might have knocked Rodney down with a straw too, if he
had had one handy, for the boy was very much surprised. He got off his
horse somehow and managed to inquire:
What did he tell you about me that made you know me as quick as you
He told me everything about youhow you had run away from
Louisianner kase your folks was all dead set agin the Union, and come
up to Missoury thinking to get amongst people of your own way of
thinking, and run plum into a nest of traitors before you knowed it.
That was at Cedar Bluff landing, was it? said Rodney.
That's the place. And then he told me how you played off on them
wood-cutters till you made 'em think you was hot agin the Union, same
as they was, and so they give you a chance to holp him outen that
corn-crib and shove him a revolver to take care of himself with.
And how did he repay my kindness? said Rodney. By taking my colt
and leaving me a stolen horse to ride.
This critter wasn't stolen no more'n your'n was, replied the
farmer, in tones so earnest that Rodney began to fear he had stepped
upon dangerous ground. That was a lie that man Westall and amongst 'em
got up to drive him outen his uncle's settlement. This is his hoss and
he's got your'n.
Where is he now?
Instead of answering the farmer gave Rodney's arm a severe gripe and
shake, and then seized the horse by the nose. A second later they heard
a body of men riding along the road in front of the cow-stable.
Don't give a loud wink, said the farmer, in a thrilling whisper.
Them's some of Thompson's critter-fellers.
CHAPTER X. COMPARING NOTES.
Rodney Gray held his breath and listened, and then he stepped close
to the side of the stable and looked through a crack between the logs.
It was almost dark by this time, but still there was light enough for
him to count the men who were riding by, and he made out that there
were an even dozen of them. They knew enough to move two abreast but
not enough to carry their guns, which were held over their shoulders at
all angles, and pointed in almost every direction.
Are they guerrillas? he asked, at length.
Gerwhich? whispered the farmer. Them's Thompson's men, and I
don't like to see 'em pointing t'wards the swamp the way they be.
What's down there? inquired Rodney.
Why, he's down there, replied Merrick, in a surprised tone. Tom
Percival, I mean.
Anybody with, him? continued Rodney.
Half a dozen or so Union men, who had to clear out or be hung by
Thompson's men, replied the farmer. If you knowed just how things
stand here in Missoury, and how sot every man is agin his nearest
neighbor, I don't reckon you'd ever tried to ride to Springfield.
I am quite sure I wouldn't, answered Rodney. How do Thompson's
men happen to know that Percival is hiding down there in the swamp?
I reckon Swanson must a told 'em; and he's the meanest man that was
ever let live, as you would say if you could have one look at his
I met him to-day while I was riding in company with Mr. Westall and
his friends, replied Rodney. They made him believe I was a good
rebel, and told him to look out for a boy in his stocking feet who was
mounted on a roan colt.
And that's just what he done. I reckon he must a ketched a glimpse
of Percival just before I fetched him into the house, for I had barely
time to hide the roan colt and get the boy into the kitchen before I
seen Swanson riding by. He didn't once look toward the house but that
didn't fool me, and I lost no time in taking Percival into the swamp
where them Union friends of mine is hid. Swanson went right on past,
leaving word at all the houses of the 'Mergency men that there was a
Yankee horse-thief loose in the kentry, and they've went out to ketch
him. They know where he is, and think to surround him and the rest of
the Union fellers and take 'em in in a lump; but they'll get fooled.
There's some sharp men in that party, and they won't allow themselves
to be surrounded.
The farmer did not tell this story in a connected way as he would if
there had been no danger near. He kept moving from one side of the
stable to another, listening and peeping at all the cracks, and talked
only when he stopped to take the horse by the nose to prevent him from
calling to those that were passing along the road; but he said enough
to make Rodney very uneasy. Tom Percival had done him a great favor by
telling Merrick who he was, describing him and his horse so minutely
that the man knew them the instant he saw them, and Rodney was very
grateful to him for it; but that sort of thing must not on any account
be repeated. It must be stopped then and there if there was any way in
which it could be done. It would never do to let Tom keep ahead of him,
spreading a description of himself and his horse among the farmers who
lived along the old post-road, for he might, without knowing it, take a
Confederate into his confidence; and suppose Rodney should afterward
fall in with that same Confederate and show him the letter addressed to
Mr. Percival, and which was intended for the eyes of Union men only?
The Confederate would at once accuse him of sailing under false colors,
and trying to pass himself off for one of Price's soldiers when he was
in reality a Lincolnite. The boy shivered when he thought of the
consequences of such a mistake.
I'll tell you what's a fact, he said, to himself, stamping about
the stable with rather more noise than he ought to have made, seeing
that the guerrillas had barely had time to get out of hearing. The
farther I go toward Springfield, the deeper I seem to get into trouble.
I must either find Tom and ride the rest of the way with him, or else I
must get ahead of him. If I don't do one or the other he will put me
into a scrape that I can't work out of.
Now you stay here and I will go out and snoop around a bit, said
Merrick, when the sound of the hoof-beats could be no longer heard.
What I am afraid of is that they will leave some of their men to watch
Do your neighbors know that you are a Union man? asked Rodney, as
he stepped up and took the horse by the bits.
They know I'm neutral, and that's just about as bad as though they
knew I was Union, was the reply. They aint done nothing to me yet but
I know I'm watched, and so I have to mind what I am about. If the men
who just went by knew how I feel, I wouldn't dast to lift a hand to
help you. They'd have me hung to one of my shade trees before morning.
As Merrick spoke he glided out into the darkness, and Rodney was
left alone to think over the situation; but Merrick had not been gone
more than five minutes when the horse indicated by his actions that
there was some one approaching the stable. Presently a twig snapped, a
hand was passed along the wall outside and a figure appeared in the
doorway. It wasn't tall enough for Merrick, and besides it had a coat
on. Believing that it was one of Thompson's men who had been left
behind to watch the house, Rodney drew his revolver from his boot leg
and cocked it as he raised it to a level with his eyes and covered the
Don't shoot, Merrick, said the intruder, who had probably heard
the click of the hammer. What's the good of helping a fellow one hour
if you are going to shoot him the next?
Tom Percival! exclaimed Rodney, in guarded tones.
In an instant the figure sprang into the stable and seized Rodney in
Did anybody ever hear of such luck? said Tom, who was the first to
recover his power of speech. Where are you going and what business
have you got up here in my State, you red-hot rebel?
I never expected to be on such terms with a Yankee horse-thief,
answered Rodney, letting down the hammer of his revolver and putting
the weapon back in its place.
I knew just how much faith you would put in that outrageous story,
said Tom. It was got up against me on purpose to induce the planters
in my uncle's settlement to run me out.
To hang you, you mean, corrected Rodney. That's what they would
have done with you before to-morrow morning.
If it hadn't been for you, added Tom; and he did not talk like a
boy who had so narrowly escaped with his life. I heard your story down
there in Jeff's cabin, and knew that you kept your promise and enlisted
within twenty-four hours after you reached home. And I know, too, that
your company didn't want to join the Confederate army or leave the
State. What did they want to do then? They're a pretty lot of soldiers.
Well, it's a good thing for them that they stayed at home, for you
rebels are going to get such a licking
Have you licked Dick Graham back into a proper frame of mind yet?
No. Haven't had the chance. He helped raise the first company of
partisans that left the southwestern part of the Slate to join Price,
and I have scarcely heard of him since. I had a lively time dodging
Price's men when I went up to St. Louis to offer the services of my
company to Lyon, and when I heard you tell Westall that you were going
to undertake the same kind of a journey, I felt sorry for you. I am
overjoyed to see and have a chance to speak to you, Rodney, but I don't
know whether we ought to stick together or not. Of course Merrick took
you for a Union man, added Tom, in a suppressed whisper.
Certainly. I didn't have much to say to him until I found out who
he thought I was. Did you go it blind when you addressed him as a Union
Oh, no. I know the name of every man it will do to trust for twenty
miles ahead, replied Tom. But I've got his name in my head. I haven't
a scrap of writing about me, and I am sorry to know that you have. Take
my advice and stick everything in the shape of a letter you have in
your pockets into the tire the first good chance you get.
I have been thinking about that all the afternoon. What if I should
fall in with a party strong enough to search me? I've got a letter
addressed to Erastus Percival.
Where in the world did you get it? demanded Tom, who was greatly
astonished. Man alive, he's my father.
So I supposed. It was given to me by Captain Howard whose
acquaintance I made aboard the Mollie Able, and he got it from a
friend of his.
My limited knowledge of the English language will not permit me to
do this subject justice, declared Tom. He looked around for something
to sit down on, and then leaned against the wall for support. My
father has heard of you and would have helped you at the risk of his
life. He wouldn't go back on a Barrington boy any more than I would;
but if you should be searched by rebels anywhere between here and
Springfield, that letter would hang you. Burn it before you take the
If your father is so well known, I don't see why his neighbors
haven't hung him before this time, said Rodney.
It's safer to try the bushwhacking game, and he has been shot at
three times already. He doesn't expect to live to see the end of these
troubles, but he is like your cousin Marcy Grayhe doesn't haul in his
shingle one inch. Burn that letter, I tell you.
I didn't intend to present it unless I had to, replied Rodney.
Now, then, what brought you here? I thought you were hidden in the
swamp along with some other refugees.
So I was; but I came back on purpose to see if Merrick had heard
anything from you. I was on my way to the house when I thought I would
stop and look in here. I was hidden in the bushes when those Emergency
men rode down the road. Of course they are going to the swamp, and I
don't know whether I can get back there to-night or not. I wonder how
they got on to my track so quick.
Rodney said that Merrick thought it was through old man Swanson. Tom
replied that he had never heard of such a man, and Rodney went on to
tell of his accidental meeting with him at the cross-roads, adding:
Mr. Westall told him that I and my horse were all right, and not to
be interfered with, and that he would make something by keeping a
bright lookout for a boy without any boots on, and a roan colt. One of
the party also told him that you were unarmed, but Swanson didn't take
much stock in that. He declared that there were plenty of people in the
country who would be mean enough to give you clothes and weapons for
the asking, and I reckon he was about right. I gave you a revolver and
I see some one else has furnished you with a pair of boots. Now, didn't
you know, when you ran off with my horse, leaving yours for me to ride,
that every man I met would take me for you?
That's a fact, replied Tom, but I never thought of it before. But
I couldn't get my horse out of the yard without scaring the others, and
so I had to do the best I could. Now that I think of it, perhaps we had
better let the trade stand a little while longer.
Oh, do you? exclaimed Rodney. You have good cheek I must say.
It isn't cheek at all, but a desire to keep you out of trouble as
long as I can, answered Tom.
Making me ride a horse that has been advertised all through the
country as stolen property is a good way to keep me out of trouble,
isn't it now? said Rodney. I never should have thought of it if you
hadn't mentioned it.
Hold on a bit, replied Tom. No one in this section is looking for
you now. You can take the road and keep it, and the horse you ride will
not bring you into trouble; but if that roan colt shows his nose where
anybody can see it, he'll be nabbed quicker'n a flash, and his rider
too. See? As I am a little more experienced in dodging about in the
bushes than you are, you had better let me take the risk.
I never could look a white man in the face again if I should do
that, answered Rodney. Don't you know what will be done with you if
you are caught?
I shan't run anymore risk than you did when you helped me get out
of that corncrib, said Tom, reaching for his schoolmate's hand in the
dark and giving it a hearty squeeze. Don't you know what would be done
to you if you were caught with that roan colt in your
possession? You would be taken back to Mr. Westall's settlement, and
when he saw that you were riding the same horse you rode when you came
to Cedar Bluff landing, wouldn't he want to know where you got him? Can
you think of any answers you could give that would satisfy him? I'll
trade revolvers, if you want yours back (I know you've got one, for I
heard you cock it when I came to the door), but I really think you had
better let me keep your horse a little while longer. I hear somebody
coming, he added, stepping to the nearest crack and looking out. It's
Merrick. I can see his white shirt.
A moment later the owner of the stable came in, and was not a little
surprised when he heard himself addressed by the boy whom he supposed
to be snugly hidden in the deepest and darkest nook of the swamp. Tom
told him why he had come back instead of keeping out of sight, and
asked what had become of the squad of men he saw riding along the road
a while before.
They kept on as far as I could hear 'em, replied the farmer, and
if they left any one behind to watch the house, they were so sly about
it that I never seen it.
Of course it was broad daylight when Tom came to your house, said
Rodney. Well, how do you know but that man Swanson saw him when he
I don't know it, replied Merrick. But even if he did see Percival
go in, these 'Mergency men won't never say a word to me about it, kase
they know well enough that if they should hurt a hair of my head, some
of my friends would bushwhack 'em to pay for it. They would send word
over into the next county, and some fellers from there would ride over
some dark night and set my buildings a-going, or pop me over as quick
as they would a squirrel, if they could get a chance at me. That's the
way we do business nowadays, and that's the reason we don't never go to
the door when somebody rides up and hails the house after dark.
Why, I wouldn't live in such a country, said Rodney.
What would you do, if everything you had in the world was right
here and you couldn't sell it and get out? replied the farmer. You'd
stay and look out for it, I reckon, and make it as hot as you could for
any one who tried to drive you away. But driving is a game two can play
at, added Merrick, with a low chuckle; and Rodney noticed that he
ceased speaking once in a while and turned his head on one side as if
he were listening for suspicious sounds. I don't say I have rode
around of nights myself and I don't say I aint; but I do say for a fact
that if you go over into the next county, you won't find so many men
there who make a business of shooting Union folks as there used to be.
Some parts of the kentry t'other side the ridge looks as though they
had been struck by a harrycane that had blew away all the men and big
This was what Captain Howard must have meant when he warned Rodney
that every little community in the Southern part of the State was
divided into two hostile camps. This was partisan warfare, and Rodney
wanted to be a partisan.
Is that the sort of partisan you are, Tom? he inquired, when
Merrick went out again to see if it would be safe for them to go into
the kitchen and get supper. I wish I had had sense enough to stay at
I wish to goodness you had, said Tom honestly. Not but that
you've got as much sense as most boys of your age, but you know as well
as I do that the Barrington fellows used to say you didn't always know
what you were about. Why, when I heard you telling your story to Mr.
Westall down there in Jeff's shanty, it was all I could do to keep from
saying, right out loud, that such a piece of foolishness had never come
under my notice before.
Where would you be at this moment if I hadn't been in Jeff's cabin
last night? retorted Rodney.
Well, that's a fact, said Tom thoughtfully. About the time I felt
that stick and revolver in my hands, I was mighty glad you were around;
but as soon as I had used them, I wished from the bottom of my heart
that you were safe back in your own State. But since you are here, I am
going to do my level best for you; and that's the reason I am going to
keep your horse a little longer. If I don't give him back to you some
day, you can keep mine to remember me by.
And every time I look at him, I shall be reminded that I have been
taken for a horse-thief, added Rodney.
You are no more of a horse-thief than I am. Let that thought
comfort you. How is it, Merrick? he went on, addressing himself to the
farmer who at that moment glided into the stable with noiseless
footstep. Can we go in and get supper, or will it be safer for you to
bring it out to us?
You are to come right in, was the farmer's welcome reply. It'll
be safe, for I have cleared the kitchen of everybody except the old
woman. She's Secesh the very worst kind, but that needn't bother you
none. She knows how to get up a good supper.
That is a matter that has a deeper interest for us just now than
her politics, said Tom. But what shall we do with the horse?
As soon as I have showed you the way to the table I'll come back
and stay with him so't he won't whinny, answered Merrick. If them
'Mergency men heard him calling they might think it was one of my own
critters and then agin they mightn't; so it's best to be on the safe
That the farmer was very much afraid that the horse might betray his
presence to the guerrillas was evident from the way he acted. He took
long, quick steps when he started for the house, gave the two boys a
hurried introduction to his wife, saw them seated at the table and then
ran out again. Mrs. Merrick remained in the room to wait upon them, and
that was an arrangement that Tom Percival did not like; for although
she proved to be a pleasant and agreeable hostess and never said a word
about politics, Tom did not think it safe to talk too freely in her
presence, and took the first opportunity that was offered to give
Rodney a friendly warning.
After you have been in this country a while, you will find that the
women are worse rebels than the men, said he, in an undertone. I
don't suppose she would lead the Emergency men on to us, for that would
get Merrick into trouble; but such things have been done in the
settlement where I live. We can't do any more talking at present. Have
another piece of the toast?
If I had passed through as many dangers as you have and had as
narrow an escape, I don't think I could eat as you do, said Rodney,
who took note of the fact that his friend had not lost any of his
appetite since he left Barrington.
I've had three good meals to-day, and a hearty lunch in the swamp;
but I don't know when I have been so hungry, replied Tom; and then
seeing that Rodney cast occasional glances toward the kitchen stove in
which a bright fire was burning, he continued, in an earnest whisper,
This is as good a chance as you will have. Chuck 'em in, and you'll
not regret it; but if you have no objections, I should like to read
them before you do it. I'll keep mum.
Rodney knew that, and forthwith produced the letters, which had been
a source of anxiety to him ever since they came into his possession,
and also Mr. Graham's last telegram. Tom said he did not know either of
the men whose names were signed to the letters that came through
Captain Howard, but he was better acquainted with Mr. Westall and his
four companions than he cared to be.
The man who wrote this letter to Erastus Percival, my father, must
be some one down the river who has had business dealings with him; but
I don't know the gentleman, said he, after he had run his eye over the
various documents. Put the whole business right into the stove. You
don't want any such papers about you, for you don't know whom you are
going to meet on the road. Trust to luck; stare Fate in the face, and
your heart will be aisy if it's in the right place.
If Mrs. Merrick was surprised or suspected anything when Rodney put
the letters into her stove and stood over them long enough to see them
reduced to ashes, she made no remark. As he was about to return to his
seat at the table there came a sound that arrested his steps, and
brought Tom Percival out of his chair in a twinkling. The doors and
windows were all closed (the curtains were pulled down as well, so that
no one on the outside could see into the room), but the words, which
were uttered in a muffled voice, came distinctly to their ears:
Hallo, the house!
There they are, whispered Tom, thrusting his hand into his breast
pocket and glancing toward Rodney as if to assure himself that the
latter could be depended on in an emergency.
Sit down and keep perfectly quiet, said Mrs. Merrick, in a calm
tone. They are ready to shoot, and you mustn't move about for fear of
throwing your shadow upon one of the window curtains.
[Illustration: MRS. MERRICK STANDS GUARD.]
Are they looking for your husband? Rodney managed to ask.
I suppose they are, answered the woman, who did not even change
color. I will go to the door and find out.
You mustn't, protested Rodney. Mr. Merrick said he didn't take
any notice of hails after dark.
He doesn't, but I do, replied the wife. Somebody must answer, or
we couldn't live in this country a day longer.
Do you recognize the voice?
Of course not, said Tom Percival. They are strangers from some
Why can't we go with her and return their fire, exclaimed Rodney,
as Mrs. Merrick left the room and moved along the wide hall toward the
front door. I'll not stay here like a bump on a log and let her be
shot at, now I
Come back here. Sit down and behave yourself or you'll play smash,
said Tom, earnestly. They'll not harm her. It's her husband they are
after. Now listen.
Rodney sat down in the nearest chair, rested the hand that held his
revolver on the table, and waited and listened with as much patience as
he could command.
CHAPTER XI. RODNEY MAKES A TRADE.
You are a pretty partisan, you are, whispered Tom Percival, while
they were waiting for Mrs. Merrick to open the front-door. Those men
outside are friends of yours, and yet you stand ready to fight them.
I don't claim friendship with any cowardly bushwhacker, answered
Rodney hotly. I don't collogue [associate] with any such.
Then you'll have to do one of two things, said Tom. Go home and
stay there, or else join the Confederate army. Nearly every man in
Missouri is a bushwhacker. Now listen.
Tom did not follow his own suggestion, for when he heard the front
door creak on its hinges, he laid down his revolver and covered his
ears with his hands. This made Rodney turn as white as a sheet and get
upon his feet again, fully expecting to hear the roar of a shotgun,
followed by the clatter of buckshot in the hall; but instead of that,
there came the calm, even tones of Mrs. Merrick's voice inquiring:
What is it?
If I had that woman's pluck I'd be a general before this thing is
over, said Rodney, I've always heard that a woman had more courage
than a man and now I know it.
Listen, repeated Tom, who had by this time taken his hands down
from his ears.
There was no immediate response, for the party at the gate had
looked for somebody else to answer their hail. Presently the same
muffled voice inquired:
Is Mr. Merrick to home?
He was a few minutes ago, but he is not in now, said his wife.
Have you any word to leave for him?
No, I don't reckon we have. We'll ketchwe'll see him some other
Who shall I say called?
It don't matter. We're friends of his'n who wanted to see him on
Good-night, replied Mrs. Merrick, as if her suspicions had not
been roused in the slightest degree; and then she shut the door and
came back into the kitchen. She was pale now and trembling; and Rodney
made haste to offer her a chair while Tom poured out a glass of water.
I told you they wouldn't hurt her, he found opportunity to say to
Rodney. But if Merrick had gone to the door he would have been full of
They might as well shoot her as to scare her to death, replied
Rodney. This is a terrible state of affairs.
I believe you. And we haven't seen the beginning of it yet. What
have they got against your husband any way, Mrs. Merrick?
The woman kept her eyes fastened upon Tom's face while she drank a
portion of the water he had poured out for her, and then she handed
back the glass with the remark:
Mr. Merrick is Union and so are you.
How do you know that? demanded Tom. Has he told you my story?
He hasn't said a word; but I have been over to a neighbor's this
afternoon, and while I was there, I saw you and a roan horse go into
our cow-lot. A little while afterward old Swanson rode up and told us
about a Yankee horse-thief who was going through the country, trying to
reach Springfield. That shows how fast news travels these times. And
that isn't all I know, she added, nodding at Rodney. You are as good
a Confederate as I am.
Then how does it come that I am colloguing with a Yankee
horse-thief? exclaimed Rodney, who wanted to learn how much the woman
really knew about him and his friend.
That is something I do not pretend to understand, was the answer.
But there must be some sort of an arrangement between you, for one is
riding the other's horse. Now perhaps you had better go. I will put up
a bite for you to eat during the night, and will try to get a breakfast
to you in the morning. I shall have to let you out of a side door, for
you would be seen if you went out of this well-lighted room; and if I
were to put out the lamp, it would arouse the suspicious of any one who
may happen to be on the watch.
This reminds me of the days I have read of, when the women fought
side by side with their husbands and sons in the block-houses, thought
Rodney, as he shoved his revolver into his boot leg and waited for the
lunch to be put up. What a scout she would make.
Mrs. Merrick probably knew that the boys would not devote much time
to sleeping that night, for the bite she put up for them was equal in
quantity to the hearty supper they had just eaten. She was aware, too,
that they would have to lie out, and anxious to know if they had any
blankets to keep them warm. It might not be quite safe for them to
build a camp fire, and consequently they would need plenty of covering.
There was the lunch, and Tom needn't be so profuse in his thanks, for
while she believed in fighting the Lincoln government, since it was
bound to force a war upon the South, she did not believe in starving
Union boys on account of their principles. She hoped Tom would reach
home in safety, and advised him when he got there to turn over a new
leaf and go with his State.
Do you remember what that British colonel said to his commanding
officer, after he had visited General Marion in his camp and dined with
him on sweet potatoes? inquired Rodney, after the two had been let out
at the side door and were stealing along the fence toward the
cow-stable where Mr. Merrick was patiently waiting for them. The
colonel said, 'You can't conquer such people;' and he was so impressed
with the fact that he threw up his commission and went home to England.
That is what I say to you, Tom Percival. The North can't conquer the
South while we have such women as Mrs. Merrick in it.
Now listen at you, replied Tom. The North doesn't want to conquer
the South, and you don't show your usual common sense in hinting at
such a thing. The peopleand when I say that, I mean the Union men
both North and Southsay that you secessionists shall not break up
this government; and if you persist in your efforts, you are going to
get whipped, as you ought to be. Hallo, Mr. Merrick, he added,
stopping in the door of the stable and trying to peer through the
darkness. Did you hear those gentlemen asking for you a while ago?
I was listening, replied the farmer, with a chuckle. But I
disremembered the voice. The feller talked as though he was holding a
handkercher or something over his mouth. How many of them was there? I
We didn't see any, for Mrs. Merrick wouldn't let us go to the
door, replied Rodney. She was the coolest one in the kitchen.
She's got tol'able grit, Nance has, replied the farmer, and there
was just a tinge of pride in his tones when he said it. I may happen
over t'other side the ridge some night, and then the tables will be
turned t'other way. Now, if you are ready, we'll make tracks for the
swamp. The way is clear. Thompson's men have give it up as a bad job
and gone home.
Did they pass along the road? exclaimed Rodney. We never heard
I did, and seen 'em too. There was a right smart passel of
'emmore'n enough to have made pris'ners of all the Union fellers in
the swamp, if they hadn't been afraid to face the rifles that them same
Union men know how to shoot with tol'able sure aim.
Why is it necessary for them to hide out? asked Rodney. What have
I don't rightly know as I can tell you, replied the farmer, in a
tone which led the boy to believe that he could tell all about it if he
felt so disposed. But it seems that some high-up Secesh has
disappeared and nobody don't know what's went with 'em; and some folks
do say that them fellers in the swamp had a hand in their taking off. I
dunno, kase I wasn't thar.
So saying, Merrick led the horse from the stable and the boys
followed without saying a word, for they were by no means sure that
Thompson's men had all gone away. They went through a wide field that
had once been planted to corn, and when they had passed a gap in the
fence by which it was surrounded, they found themselves in the edge of
a thick wood.
I don't see how you ever found your way through here alone, said
Rodney to his friend. It is as dark as pitch.
Oh, I wasn't alone. One of those Union men came with me as far as
this gap, and then I came on well enough, replied Tom. It's a wonder
those horsemen didn't discover me. I threw myself flat on the ground
between the old corn-rows, and saw them quite distinctly. Mr. Hobson
said he would wait here for me.
And he has kept his word, although he began to think you were never
coming back, replied a voice from the darkness. Is this the friend
who helped you last night? I can just make out that there are three of
If it had been daylight there is no telling how Rodney Gray would
have passed through the ordeal of shaking hands with a Union man who
was suspected of being concerned in the taking off of some prominent
secessionists in his settlement. It was a large, muscular hand that
grasped his own, and Rodney knew that there was a big man behind it. He
knew, too, that Mr. Hobson (that was the name by which the stranger was
introduced) had no reason for supposing that he was anything but what
Tom Percival represented him to bea Union boy who had run away from
home and come up North because his relatives were all secessionists and
opposed to his Union principles. That was about the story Tom Percival
had told Merrick, and it was reasonable to suppose that he had told Mr.
Hobson and his fellow fugitives the same. Indeed he became sure of it a
moment later, for Mr. Hobson said, while he continued to hold fast to
Rodney's hand and shake it:
So it seems that we Missourians are not the only ones who have to
stand persecution because we believe in upholding the Stars and
Stripes. I have heard something of your history from our young friend
Percival, and assure you that I sympathize with you deeply. I want to
compliment you on the courage and skill you showed in helping him
escape from those guerrillas last night.
It is hardly worth speaking of, answered Rodney, as soon as he
could collect his wits. Tom would have done the same for me.
I am sure he would, but it was none the less a brave act on your
part. Now let us go to camp. If I don't get back pretty soon my friends
will wonder what has become of me. By the way, didn't I hear a body of
men riding along the road going west, a short time since?
Merrick replied that they were some of Thompson's men, who probably
thought it safer to keep to the big road than it would be to attempt to
capture half a dozen well-armed Union men in a dark swamp. Hobson and
his party were not likely to be molested, but still Merrick thought it
would be best for them to remain concealed a while longer, and depend
upon him for their provisions and news. Merrick did not forget to tell
of the three men who had stopped at his gate and asked to see him on
I reckon I might as well leave you boys here, he added, placing
the bridle in Rodney's hand.
And what shall Tom and I do in the morning? inquired the latter.
We ought to make an early start, and do you think it would be safe for
us to keep together?
Not by no means it wouldn't, replied Merrick, quickly. Unless you
can induce somebody in Mr. Hobson's party to give you a trade for that
roan colt. You mustn't try to ride him to Springfield. You ought to get
rid of him as soon as you can.
Let's go to camp, repeated Mr. Hobson. We can talk the matter
over after we get there. And in the meantime, you boys had better make
up your minds to stay with us until after Merrick brings us a
breakfast. Perhaps he will know by that time whether or not it will be
safe for you to continue your journey.
Going to camp and spending the night with half a dozen strangers who
held opinions that were so very different from his own, and who might
catch him up when he wasn't looking for it, was what Rodney Gray
dreaded. He didn't like the idea of passing himself off for a Union boy
when he wasn't, and was afraid he might let fall some expression that
would betray him. That would be most unfortunate, for it would get Tom
Percival into trouble as well as himself. But there was no help for it,
and so he brought up the rear leading the horse, while Mr. Hobson and
Tom led the way along a blind path toward the camp. Presently the
former began whistling at intervals, and when at length an answer came
from the depths of the forest, Rodney knew that the camp was close at
hand. Ten minutes later he had been introduced to Mr. Hobson's
companions, and was listening in a dazed sort of way to their words of
greeting and sympathy. They knew just how he felt, they said, for they
had been obliged to leave home themselves on account of their opinions,
and an indorsement from Tom Percival, with whose uncle Justus they were
well acquainted, they assured him would bring all the aid and comfort
they could give him.
Tom always could tell a slick storyhe was noted for that at
school, thought Rodney, as he motioned to his friend to set out the
lunch that Mrs. Merrick had put up for them. And if he hasn't shut up
the eyes of these Union men I don't want a cent. If I hear this story
many more times I shall begin to believe I am Union without knowing it,
and that I left home because I had to.
As the refugees never once suspected that Rodney was acting a part,
and that Tom Percival had deliberately deceived them, they asked no
leading questions, and the visitor was very thankful for that. Of
course they were anxious to know how matters stood in Louisiana, and
Rodney could truthfully say that the Union men were so very careful to
keep their opinions to themselves that they were known only to their
most trusted friends. He had heard that there were a good many of them
in and around Mooreville, but had never had the luck to meet any. If a
man in his part of the State had dared to hint that he was opposed to
secession, he would have stood a fine chance of being mobbed. Rodney
was glad when the lunch had been eaten, the last pipe smoked and the
refugees stretched themselves on their beds of boughs with their
saddles for pillows, and drew their blankets over them. Then he was at
liberty to think over the situation but denied the privilege of talking
to Tom; and that was what he most desired. While he was wondering what
his next adventure was going to be he fell asleep.
That's Merrick's signal, were the next words he heard.
It didn't seem to Rodney that he had been asleep five minutes, but
when he opened his eyes he found that it was just getting daylight, and
that all the refugees were sitting up on their blankets stretching
their arms and yawning; while, faint and far off but quite distinct, he
heard a familiar voice shouting:
Pig-gee! Pig-gii! Pig-goo!
That's breakfast, said Mr. Hobson. Now, while we are waiting for
it, I suggest that we take a look at that roan colt and make up our
minds what we are going to do with him.
That's business, said Rodney. I don't like to let him go, for he
was the last thing my father gave me.
Then your father must be for the Union, remarked one of the
He thinks just as I do, answered Rodney; and then he recollected
that he had never expressed an opinion. He had not been asked, for Tom
Percival had done it for him. He followed the men to the place where
the horses had been picketed, and listened while they talked and tried
to make up their minds whether it would be prudent to give him a trade.
There was not the slightest difference of opinion regarding the good
qualities of the roan colt, for they could be seen at a glance; but
here was where the trouble came in: They hoped to return to their homes
at no distant day, and what would their neighbors say to them when a
horse that was said to have been stolen was seen in their possession?
It was Mr. Westall's argument over again.
I would just as soon take Percival's horse to the settlement as to
go back there with this roan, said Mr. Hobson. One is as dangerous to
us as the other. You see, everybody, Union as well as Secesh, is down
on a horse-thief, and the politics of the man who is caught with this
horse in his keeping will not save him. After all I don't know that I
can be in a much worse mess than I am now, and if you like, I will give
you my horse for him. It's a one-sided trade I admit, the roan is worth
two of mine, but see the risk I shall run?
I'll do it, said Rodney quickly. I shall be glad to see the last
of that colt, and hope he will not be the means of getting you into
difficulty. Now do you think Tom and I can ride together?
I don't see why you can't, and I think it would be a good thing for
you, because Percival has a general knowledge of the roads ahead, and
knows a few people who can be trusted.
This matter having been settled to the satisfaction of both the
boys, one of the refugees set up a peculiar whistle to let Merrick know
that the road to their camp was clear, and twenty minutes later he came
into sight, followed by a darkey. The latter was mounted on a mule and
carried a heavy basket on each arm. The first question that was asked,
Have you seen or heard anything more of Thompson's men? was answered
in the negative on both sides, and then the refugees and their guests
were ready for breakfast. Merrick seemed relieved to know that the boys
had succeeded in getting the roan colt off their hands, and told them
that he had brought the darkey along to act as their guide until they
were beyond the limits of his settlement.
After you went away last night, Nance said that there are some
folks about here who know I am harboring two chaps that I have took
some pains to keep out of sight, and so I thought you had best keep to
the bresh till you had got past them peoples' houses, said he; but
there was one thing his wife did not tell him, and that was that one of
the two boys he was harboring was as good a Confederate as any of the
men who had ridden along the road. That was a matter she kept to
Breakfast being over the only thing there was to detain the boys was
to saddle their horses. That did not take many minutes, and then they
were ready for the new dangers that lay along the road ahead of them.
After thanking Mr. Merrick for his kindness, not forgetting to send
their best regards to his wife, they shook hands with the refugees and
told their sable guide to go on.
I never saw things quite so badly mixed up as they are in this
country, said Rodney, when the camp and its occupants had been left
out of sight. And neither did I dream that you were such an expert
story-teller. Suppose I had said or done something to arouse the
suspicions of the men we have just left; where would we be now?
What else could I do? demanded Tom. You didn't expect me to say
out loud that you are a Confederate on your way to join a man who is
getting ready to fight against the government of the United States. You
knew I wouldn't do that, and so I had to put you in a false position.
It isn't my fault. You ought to have had sense enough to stay at home.
I can see it now, replied Rodney. But what are we to do from this
I am sure I don't know. We'll be Union all over for the next twenty
miles or so, and then perhaps you can show yourself in your true colors
while I do the deceiving; but you must be careful and not speak my
name. I declare I had no idea that the Percivals were so well known
through this neck of the woods. But I'll tell you what I honestly
believe: Price's cavalry is scouting all through the central and
southern parts of the State, shooting Union men and picking up
recruits, and as soon as we begin to hear of them, I think you had
better desert me and join them; that is, unless you have come to your
senses, and made up your mind that you had better cast your lot with
the loyal people of the nation.
Don't you know any better than to talk to me in that style?
exclaimed Rodney. Do you imagine that I have come up here just to have
the fun of going back on my principles?
No; I don't suppose you have, but I think you ought to before it is
too late. However, let politics go. Have you heard from any of the
Harrington boys since we left school? Where is your cousin Marcy?
This was a more agreeable topic than the one they had been
discussing, but Rodney had little information to impart. He had written
to Marcy but had received no reply, and the reader knows the reason
why. It was because Marcy dare not write and tell Rodney how matters
stood with him, for fear that the letter might be stopped by some of
his Secession neighbors,Captain Beardsley, for instance,who would
use it against him. He told of the letters he had received from Dixon,
Billings and Dick Graham, and they were all in the army, or going as
soon as they could get there. He hadn't heard from any other Barrington
fellow, but he believed that Tom Percival was the one black sheep in
the flockthat the others had gone with their States.
I don't believe it, said Tom, with decided emphasis. I am not the
only Union fellow there was in the academy, by a long shot, and I know
that those who opposed secession didn't do it to hear themselves talk.
Your cousin Marcy didn't go with his State, and there are others like
him scattered all over the country.
Say, exclaimed Rodney, bending forward in his saddle and speaking
just loud enough for Tom, who was riding in advance, to catch his
words. Do you believe Merrick's darkey can be depended on?
Of course, answered Tom. Why not? What makes you ask the
I don't like the way he has of looking over his shoulder and
listening to our conversation. You are all right, of course, but I am
afraid I have said too much. I was so glad to get a chance to talk to
you that I never thought of him.
Didn't you once assure your cousin Marcy that all the blacks in the
South would go with their masters against the abolitionists? inquired
Yes, I believe I did, and I think so yet. I don't think we have a
darkey on our place who would accept his freedom to-day if it were
offered to him.
There may not be one who would dare say so, because they know
better; but give the best of them the chance and see how quickly he
would skip over the border into abolition territory. If you think the
darkies are loyal to their masters, what are you afraid of? According
to your idea, if that darkey ahead betrays anybody, he ought to betray
me, for I am Union and he heard me tell his master so yesterday. But if
you think he can't be trusted to keep his mouth shut, we'll turn him to
the right-about in short order.
And lose the benefit of his knowledge? said Rodney. I wouldn't do
that. Let him stay as long as Merrick told him to, and in the mean time
I will talk as though I knew he would repeat every word I say.
This thing of being obliged to place a curb upon their tongues when
they wanted to speak freely was annoying in the extreme; but it might
have saved them some trouble and anxiety if they had done it from the
CHAPTER XII. TWICE SURPRISED.
During the whole of their journey through the woods, which did not
come to an end until long after four o'clock that afternoon, the negro
guide never once spoke to the boys unless he was first spoken to, nor
did they see any living' thing except a drove of half-wild hogs, which
fled precipitately at their approach. The plantation darkies, as a
general thing, were talkative and full of life, and this unwonted
silence on the part of their conductor finally produced an effect upon
Tom Percival who, when the noon halt was called, took occasion to give
the man a good looking over. He was not very well satisfied with the
result of his examination.
How much farther do you go with us, boy? said he.
Not furder'n Mr. Truman's house, an' dat aint above ten mile from
hyar, was the answer.
Truman, repeated Tom. He's all right. I was told to stop on the
way and call upon him for anything I might need. Hurry up and take us
there; and when you do, he added in a whisper, to Rodney, we'll say
good-by to you. You were right; he's treacherous. He's a red-eyed
nigger, and when you see a nigger of that sort you want to look out for
There was no need that they should look out for their guide now,
because there was no way in which he could betray them secretly. The
danger would arise when they stopped for the night or after they parted
from him the next morning. Then he would be at liberty to go where he
pleased, and as he was acquainted with every Union man for miles
around, it would not take him long to spread among them the report that
there was a Confederate stopping at Mr. Truman's house in company with
a young Missourian who did not want his name spoken where other folks
could hear it. If such a story as that should get wind, it would make
trouble all aroundfor Mr. Truman as well as for themselves; for
Truman's neighbors would want to know why he gave food and lodging to a
Confederate when he claimed to be a Union man himself. The longer
Rodney thought of these things, the more he wished himself safe back in
At half-past four by Tom Percival's watch the negro stopped his mule
beside a rail fence running between the woods and an old field, on
whose farther side was a snug plantation house, nestled among the
trees. That was where Mr. Truman lived, and where Merrick had told them
to stop for the night.
And I suppose you will stay also, won't you? said Tom, speaking to
the darkey who bent down from his mule and threw a few of the top rails
off the fence so that the boys could jump their horses over into the
Who? Me? Oh no, sar, answered the guide, with rather more
earnestness than the occasion seemed to demand. Marse Merrick done
tol' me to be sure an' come home dis very night, an' I 'bleeged to mind
I'll bet you don't mind him, thought Tom, as he and Rodney rode
into the field and waited for the negro to build up the fence again.
There's a bug under that chip and I know it.
The appearance of three horsemen riding up to the back door in this
unexpected way created something of a flutter among the female portion
of Mr. Truman's family, and even the farmer himself, who presently came
to the door of one of the outbuildings, seemed to be a little startled;
but when a second look showed him that one of Mr. Merrick's negroes was
of the number, he came up to the pump near which the boys had
This is Mr. Truman, I believe, said Tom.
Well, yes; that's my name, but I don't reckon I ever saw you
before, replied the man cautiously.
Do you know this boy who has been acting as our guide?
Oh, yes. I know all of Merrick's boys, so it must be all right. But
you see in times like these
I understand, Tom interposed, for Mr. Truman talked so slowly that
the boy was afraid he might never get through with what he had to say.
In times like these you don't know whom to trust. That's our fix,
exactly; and we shouldn't have thought of stopping here if Merrick and
Hobson had not told us who and what you are. Go on, boy, and tell Mr.
Truman who and what we are, where we came from, where we want to go,
and all about it.
The negro was talkative enough now, and the boys had no fault to
find with the way in which he complied with Tom's request except in one
particularhe had too much to say regarding Rodney Gray's loyalty to
the Union, and his undying hostility toward everybody who was in favor
of secession. He dwelt so long upon this subject that Tom Percival,
fearing Mr. Truman's eyes would be opened to the real facts of the
case, thought it best to interrupt him.
Yes; we passed the night in company with Mr. Hobson and five of his
friends who have been compelled to go into hiding, said he, and while
we were eating supper in Mr. Merrick's kitchen, some of Thompson's men
came to the gate and asked for him.
I reckon it's all right, said Mr. Truman, who did not believe that
his friend Merrick would have taken these two young fellows into his
house if he had not had the best of reasons for thinking that they
could be trusted. What did you say your names might be? he added,
beckoning to one of his darkies and indicating by a wave of his hand
that the horses were to be housed and fed.
While the guide was telling his story he had not mentioned any
names. He had simply referred to the boys as dese yer gentlemen.
designating the one of whom he happened to be speaking by a nod or a
jerk of his thumb. Tom waited until the horses were led away and then
said, in a low tone:
My friend's name is Gray, and as you have already heard he is from
Louisiana. The Secesh were too thick there to suit him and so he came
up here, hoping to find everybody Union.
Humph! said Mr. Truman.
He has found out his mistake, continued Tom. Ever since he has
been in the State he has been dodging rebels, and has traveled more
miles in the woods than he has on the highway. Do you know Justus
Do you? asked Truman in reply.
I ought to. He's my uncle, and Percival is my name; but I wish you
wouldn't address me by it unless you know who is listening.
But when you left Cedar Bluff landing you were riding a roan colt
and had no boots on, said Mr. Truman, first looking all around to make
sure that there was no one near to catch his words. I was sorter on
the watch for such a fellow, for I thought maybe he'd need help.
Great Scott! said Rodney, who was very much surprised. Has that
man Swanson been through here? It can't be possible. His crowbait of a
mule couldn't carry him so far.
I don't know anybody of that name, but I know about the roan colt
that wasn't stolen from Pilot Knob, replied the farmer. Let's go in
and see if the women folks can't scare up a bite to eat.
One moment, please, Tom interposed. Do you know anything about
Merrick's boy? Is he Union or Secesh?
Union and nothing else. The niggers all are, but of course they are
afraid to say so.
That boy has got red eyes, said Tom. And you know as well as I
can tell you that a darkey of that sort is always treacherous. We don't
like the way he has been listening to our talk ever since we left
Hobson's camp. Couldn't you make some excuse to keep him here till
Job! yelled the farmer; and when he had succeeded in calling the
attention of the darkey who was attending to the horses, he went on to
say: Tell Merrick's boy that he mustn't go off the place to-night. The
patrols are picking up everybody who shows his nose on the road after
dark, white as well as black, and Price's men burned two houses last
night not more'n five miles from here.
Is that a fact? inquired Tom, who for the first time since Rodney
met him began to show signs of uneasiness.
It's the gospel truth, more's the pity, and we in this settlement
don't know how soon we may be called upon to defend our lives and
property. There are not many of us and we are not organized; but we're
tolerable active and know how to shoot. Now let's go in.
As Rodney Gray afterward remarked, Mrs. Truman seemed to know
without any telling just how the thing stood, for the welcome she gave
them was very cordial and friendly.
We can give you plenty to eat, she said, extending a hand to each,
but I am not sure that you would be safe in accepting lodging if we
were to offer it to you. Mr. Truman has no doubt told you that Price's
men were quite close to us last night. We saw the fires they lighted
shining upon the clouds, and wondered how long it would be before some
of our friends would stand and watch our burning houses.
Mrs. Truman continued to talk in this strain while the supper was
being made ready, and Tom Percival now and then glanced at his
companion as if to ask him if he thought Mr. Merrick's Secession wife
was the only brave woman there was in Missouri. The calmness with which
she spoke of the troublous times she saw coming upon the people of the
nation, was in direct contrast to the behavior of her excitable
husband, who more than once flew into a rage and paced up and down the
floor shaking his fists in the air. Rodney had often seen Confederates
lash themselves into a fury while denouncing the Northern mudsills,
but he had never before seen a Union man act so while proclaiming
against the demagogues who were bent on destroying the government. It
showed that one could be as savage and vindictive as the other, and
gave him a deeper insight into the nature of the coming struggle than
he had ever had before. Good Confederate that he was, he began asking
himself if it wouldn't be money in the pockets of the Southern people
if they would rise in a body and hang Jefferson Davis and his advisers
before they had time to do any more mischief. In the days that
followed, Rodney Gray was not the only one who wished it had been done.
When darkness came on there were no lamps lighted to point out the
position of the house to any roving band of marauders who might happen
to be in the vicinity. The front door was thrown open, and Mrs. Truman
sat just inside the room to which it gave entrance, so that she could
see the road in both directions. She explained to the boys that there
had once been shade trees in the yard and flowering shrubs growing
along the fence, but they had been cut away for fear that they would
afford concealment to some sneaking Secesh who might take it into his
head to creep up and shoot through the window. Mr. Truman had gone out
to see that everything was right about the place, and to shut up the
boys' horses, which had been turned loose in the stable-yard. He wanted
the animals where they could be easily caught when needed, for he did
not think it prudent for Tom and his companion to remain under his roof
during the night. They would have a better chance to take care of
themselves if they were camped in the woods. This was the way he
explained the situation when he came back to the house, and then he
went on to say:
There's something in the wind, and I wish I knew what it is. I
don't like the way Merrick's boy has acted. I told him positively not
to leave the place before morning, and now he's gone, mule and all.
By gracious! thought Rodney. That means harm to me. I was
afraid I said too much in his hearing, and when I found that he had red
eyes I was sure of it. He is going to put some Union men on my trail
before daylight, and I must get out of here. He knew that if he spoke
to Truman he would have to face me, and that was something he was
afraid to do.
How long has he been gone? inquired Tom, who was as impatient to
leave the house and take to the woods as Rodney was.
Mr. Truman couldn't say as to that; probably two hours at least.
That was long enough for him to tell a good many Union men that there
was a Confederate in Truman's house, and the boys began to be really
This shows that there is no dependence whatever to be placed upon
the darkies, declared Tom. They are divided in sentiment the same as
the whites. Some side with their masters and some don't. Of course I am
not sure that this boy's absence means anything, but still I think we
had better get out while we can.
But they had already delayed their departure too long, as they
discovered a moment later. When Tom ceased speaking he got upon his
feet, and just then there was a slight commotion outside the house, and
Mrs. Truman uttered an ejaculation of surprise and alarm as a couple of
dark figures bounded up the steps and stood upon the gallery. At the
same instant a back door opened and heavy boots pounded the kitchen
floor. The house had been quietly surrounded, but by whom? It was too
dark to see.
Don't be frightened, Mrs. Truman, said one of the men at the door.
You know us, and you know that we wouldn't harm you. We want a word or
two with those young fellows who have come here trying to impose upon
you and all of us.
Then why couldn't you come to the door and say so like a man,
instead of sneaking up like a cowardly Secession bushwhacker? demanded
Mr. Truman, angrily. Get out of the house and come in in the proper
Softly, softly, said one of the three men who had entered by the
kitchen door. Harsh words butter no parsnips, and in times like these
one can't stand upon too much ceremony. We don't mean to intrude, but
we do mean to get hold of that Secesh and the other chap, who for some
reason of his own, is befriending him. Strike a light, please.
You have certainly made a mistake, said Mrs. Truman, going across
the room to a table to find a match. Our guests are both Union.
Then there's no harm done, replied the man at the door. We
understand that one of them claims to be some relation to old Justus
Percival. If he is, he can't have any objections to riding over to
Pilot Knob with some of us and proving his claim.
The boys trembled when they heard these ominous works. A ride to
Pilot Knob meant death to Tom Percival at any rate, and perhaps to his
friend Rodney also. This was the darkest prospect yet, and it looked
still darker when the lamp had, been lighted, and its rays fell upon
the set, determined faces of the armed men who, with heavy shot-guns,
covered all the avenues of escape. Rodney thought they must be men who
had suffered at the hands of their secession neighbors, for they looked
as savage as Mr. Truman had acted a while before.
Which is the traitor? demanded the largest man in the party, who
seemed to be the leader.
Neither one, replied Tom, settling back in the chair from which he
had arisen when the men first appeared.
Which one is Union then, if that suits you better? was the next
I say we both are, answered Tom. I am Captain Percival, and I am
now on my way home after having offered the services of myself and
company to General Lyon. Justus Percival, of whom you spoke a moment
since, is my uncle.
And who is this friend of yours?
He is a schoolmate who left his own State because things didn't go
to suit him, and who intends to enlist the first chance he gets.
On which side? inquired the leader, squinting up both his eyes and
nodding at Tom as if to say that he had him there.
Do you imagine that he would make a journey of almost a thousand
miles for the sake of enlisting in the Confederate army when he might
have done that at home? asked Tom, in reply. You must be crazy.
Not so crazy as you may think, said the leader, who seemed to be
sure of his ground. We have the best of evidence that he is secesh.
What sort of evidence?
His own word.
Is the man who heard me say that outside? asked Rodney, who
thought by the way Mr. Truman and his wife looked at him that it was
high time he was saying something for himself. If he is, bring him in
and let me face him. You have no right to condemn me until you let me
see who my accuser is.
That's the idea, said Tom. Fetch him in.
The boys played their parts so well, in spite of the alarm they felt
and the danger they knew they were in, and looked so honest and
truthful that the leader was nonplussed, and Mr. Truman and his wife
were firmly convinced that their visitors had made a mistake. There
were reasons why the latter could not produce Rodney's accuser, and for
a minute or two some of them acted as though they might be willing to
let the matter drop right where it was. But there is always some smart
man in every party who thinks he knows a little more than anybody
else, and it was so in this case; and when he spoke, he put his foot
Didn't you say to-day in the presence ofof
Merrick's red-eyed nigger, Tom exclaimed, when the man paused and
looked about as if afraid that he might have said more than he ought.
Why don't you speak it right out? What did I tell you, Mr. Truman?
Didn't I say that boy would bear watching? Now, what I want to know of
you is, are you going to take that darkey's word in preference to
This was bringing the matter right home to the visitors, every one
of whom was a slaveholder, and would have taken it as an insult if any
one had so much as hinted that their evidence was not as good as a
Don't get huffy, said the smart man before alluded to. We haven't
played our best card yet. One of you two was riding a roan colt when
you came to Merrick's, and there aint no such horse in Truman's
Did Merrick's nigger tell you that? asked Tom.
His self-control was surprising. He sat up in his chair and boldly
faced his questioner, while Rodney, wishing that the floor might open
and let him down into the cellar, told himself more than once that he
never would hear the last of that roan colt the longest day he lived.
No matter who told us, was the reply. We know it to be a fact.
The roan was taken into Merrick's woods, and he wasn't brought out this
morning. Did you make a trade with Merrick, or with some of Hobson's
If you want to know you had better ask them, answered Tom.
That's what we intend to do; and we intend, further, that you shall
stay with us till we get to the bottom of this thing. There is
something about you that isn't just right and we mean to find out what
I can tell you all about that horse, Rodney interposed.
It isn't worth while for you to waste your breath, and besides this
is a dangerous place to stay, with Price's men scouting around through
the neighborhood, said the leader, who now showed a disposition to
resume the management of affairs. It won't take more than two or three
days to ride back to Merrick's and from there to Pilot Knob, and
straighten everything out in good shape.
But we are in a hurry. We don't want to go back, exclaimed Tom;
and it was plain to every one in the room that the bare proposition
I don't suppose you do want to go back, said the leader, in a
significant tone, but we can't help that. It's time you Secesh were
taught that you can't go prowling about through the country imposing
upon Union men whenever you feel like it. We have stood enough from
such as you, and more than we ever will again, and I believe we should
be justified in dealing with you here and now. As for you, he added,
shaking his fist in Tom's face and fairly hissing out the words, you
are no more the man you claim to be than I am. You're traitors, the
pair of you.
The man was working himself into a passion, and it behooved the boys
to be careful what they said. He was in the right mood to do something
desperate, for when he ceased speaking and stepped back, breathing hard
from the excess of his fury, he worked the hammer of his gun back and
forth in a way that was enough to chill one's blood.
You'll be sorry for this and quite willing to acknowledge it, was
what Tom said in reply. We don't want to go back for we have had
trouble enough getting here; but since we must, I hope
Tom did not have time to say what, for while everybody's gaze was
directed toward him, and no one thought of giving a look outside to see
that all was right there, a couple of new actors appeared upon the
scene, glided into the room off the porch as quickly and almost as
silently as spirits. They were Confederate officers in full uniform,
and each one carried a drawn sword in his hand. At the same moment two
windows on opposite sides of the room were shivered into fragments, the
curtains were jerked down and the black muzzles of a dozen carbines
were thrust in. It was like a thunder-bolt from a clear sky, and it was
all done so quickly that no one had a chance to move. The five Union
men were as powerless for resistance as though they had held straws
instead of loaded guns in their hands.
Don't move an eye-lash, said the older of the two officers,
lifting his cap and bowing to Mrs. Truman. No explanation is
necessary, for we understand the situation perfectly. And to the
infinite amazement of the two boys, though not much to the surprise of
the other occupants of the room, the speaker, when he put his cap on
his head again, turned toward Rodney and Tom and gave them a military
What do you think of that, Mr. Truman? said the leader of the
Union men, whose courage did not desert him even if his face did change
color. Are you satisfied now that these are not the Union boys they
pretended to be?
I am, answered Mr. Truman, while his wife looked daggers at them.
If they are not Secesh, how does it come that their friends recognize
them so quickly? I suppose you are Price's men? he added, turning to
Lieutenant, send in two or three fellows to take these guns and
sound the prisoners. Yes, sir, we belong to Price.
And you came here expecting to find these two boys?
Right again, answered the officer. If we hadn't known they were
here we shouldn't have come.
Of all the occupants of the room there were none so thoroughly
bewildered and dazed as Tom and Rodney were. Was the officer telling
the truth or cooking up a story for reasons of his own? If he really
expected to find them in that house, he was certainly mistaken in
supposing, as he evidently did, that they were both Confederates. Tom
had never set eyes on him before, and hoped from the bottom of his
heart that the officer did not know anybody in or around Springfield.
He hoped, too, and trembled while the thought flitted through his mind,
that no one in the room would speak his name, for it was his turn to
sail under false colors now.
Having sent his subordinate after some soldiers to disarm the men of
whom he had spoken as prisoners, the officer dropped the point of his
sword to the floor, came to parade rest, and looked about the room
With such a face of Christian satisfaction
As good men wear, who have done a virtuous action.
CHAPTER XIII. WITH PRICE'S MEN.
In obedience to the order of his superior the lieutenant stepped
upon the porch and beckoned to some of his men, who at once came in and
began the work of disarming the citizens. Although the latter gave up
their weapons without a show of resistance, they scowled when they did
it in a way that impelled Tom to whisper to his friend:
Their looks prove how desperate and savage they are, and we are
lucky in getting out of their hands; but I don't know but I have jumped
out of the frying-pan into the fire. Bear in mind that from this minute
I go by my middle nameBarton. As you value my safety, don't say
Percival once. I am not sure that these Confederates ever heard the
name, but I mustn't run the slightest risk.
Of course not, replied Rodney. But how in the world do you
suppose they found out that we were here?
It will be your place to ask them about that. You must do the
talking now. Do you want our guns, lieutenant?
The latter stood by his men while they were disarming the citizens,
and in moving about the room came within reach of the two boys, who
produced their revolvers and held them so that he could see them; but
when he smiled and waved his hand as if to say I don't want them,
they put the weapons back in their places.
If it hadn't been for two things, Rodney Gray would have been as
happy as a boy ever gets to be. He was among friends, the very ones,
too, he wanted to find, and from that time on he could appear in his
true character; but he trembled for his friend and for the safety of
Mr. Truman's property. The latter, remembering the lights he had seen
on the clouds the night before, and knowing how deadly was the enmity
that existed between Union men and Confederates in his State, could
hope for nothing but the worst, and Rodney thought from the expression
on his face and his wife's, that they were endeavoring to nerve
themselves for a most trying ordeal. Would he have to stand by and see
their buildings go up in smoke? He hoped not, and when the officer
commanding the squad came up and shook hands with him and Tom, Rodney
was ready to say something in Mr. Truman's favor.
You have been insulted, boys, said the officer, in a tone which
implied that now was the time for them to take any revenge they wanted.
When I was surrounding the house I heard one of these Yankee
sympathizers using rather strong language, and denouncing you as
Secessionists trying to impose upon Union men.
I don't hold that against him, for to tell you the truth, that's
just the way the thing stands, answered Rodney. I have been playing
Union man ever since I left Mr. Westall and his squad of Emergency men
near Cedar Bluff landing. I had to, for somehow I didn't fall in with
any but people of that stamp.
That was all right, answered the officer. You couldn't have got
through any other way.
So you see that Merrick's darkey told you nothing more than the
plain truth, he added, addressing the citizen who had shaken a fist
under his nose.
I was sure of it, and I am not sorry for what I did or said,
replied the Union man, boldly. I am sorry that the thing happened in
Truman's house, and I wish to assure you that he is in no way to blame
for our being here. You've got the power on your side now, and I
suppose you will use it; but whatever you do to us, I hope you will not
I say that a man who can talk like that when he is in danger
himself, has pluck, Rodney remarked, turning his back to the citizen
and speaking so that no one but the officer and Tom could catch his
Oh, they've all got pluck, replied the officer. And they hang
together like a lot of brothers.
And I say further, that brave men ought not to be harmed when they
are perfectly helpless, as these men are now, continued Rodney. You
haven't anything against them, have you, colonel?
Captain, corrected the latter, pointing to the insignia on his
collar. You'll soon learn how to tell one rank from another. N-o; I
don't know that I have anything against them, except their principles;
but some of their neighbors I saw to-night while I was coming here,
declare that they are villains of the very worst sort.
What else could you expect in a community like this where every man
has turned against his best friend? exclaimed Tom. You are a
Missourian and understand the situation as well as I do.
I have been urged to burn their houses; and as I was sent out to
harass the enemy as well as to pick up recruits, I don't know but I had
better do it, replied the captain; and the boys saw plainly enough
that having made up his mind to carry out his orders, he did not want
to permit himself to be turned from his purpose.
But Rodney and I have been well enough drilled in military law to
know that an officer on detached service is allowed considerable
latitude, chimed in Tom. If you see any reason why you should not
obey orders to the very letter, you are not expected to do it.
And in this case I hope you won't do it, pleaded Rodney. If those
cowardly neighbors, who tried to set out against these Union men, want
their property destroyed, let them do the dirty work themselves. I
don't believe in making war on people who don't think as I do.
I don't reckon there are any half-wild Unionists in your
settlement, said the captain, with a smile.
I know it. I am from Louisiana where Union men have to keep their
tongues to themselves, replied Rodney; and then seeing that the
captain looked surprised he hastened to add: I came to Missouri to
enlist under Price because I couldn't join a partisan company where I
lived; and I was encouraged to come by a telegram I received from Dick
Graham's father. Dick is one of Price's men and perhaps you know him.
Do you? inquired the lieutenant, who stood by listening.
I ought to, and so had Tom, for we went to school with him, and
belonged to his class and company.
Where was that?
At the Barrington Military Academy. I am Rodney Gray and my friend
is Tom Barton.
Rodney said all this at a venture and was overjoyed to hear the
lieutenant say, as he thrust out his hand:
Shake. I ought to know Rodney Gray, for I have often heard the
sergeant speak of him as the hottest rebel in school; but I don't
remember that I ever heard him mention Barton's name.
He wasn't as intimate with Tom as he was with me, Rodney
explained. There was a difference in their politics.
That accounts for it. Graham was neutral until his State moved, and
Barton here was an ardent Secessionist from the start. That's just the
way my captain and I stand now. I began shouting for Southern rights as
soon as Carolina went out, and he didn't.
No, Dick held back, said Tom, but Rodney did not. He was the
first academy boy to hoist the Stars and Bars. But now, captain, say
that you will not harm these folks. They haven't done anything, and as
for the strong language they used toward us a while agowe don't mind
Who's your authority for saying that they haven't done anything?
demanded the captain. You seem to think that they are the most
innocent, inoffensive people in the world; but I know that is not
characteristic of Unionists in this part of the country. How do you
know but that they have ambushed scores of Confederates?
We don't know it; and seeing that you don't know it either, why not
give them the benefit of the doubt and let their neighbors see that
they get their deserts? Why not be satisfied with what you have already
done? You burned two houses last night.
I am aware of it. The men to whom they belonged are noted
bushwhackers, and I went miles out of my way to teach them that they
had better let our people alonethat burning and shooting are games
that two can play at. But I have no heart for more work of that sort,
and so I'll not trouble these men since you seem to be so
tender-hearted toward them.
Thank you, sir; thank you, replied Rodney, heartily. Now will you
pass us out, and send some men to the stable with us to get our
I'll go with you myself, said the lieutenant; but as he was about
to lead the way out of the house he stopped to hear what his captain
had to say to Mr. and Mrs. Truman.
We shall not touch your property, and you may thank these two
'traitors' for it, said the officer; and when he said traitor, he
waved his hand toward Rodney and Tom and paused to note the effect of
The men, after the first shock of surprise had passed, seemed ready
to drop, Mr. Truman leaned heavily against the nearest wall, and his
wife, who had borne up as bravely as the best of them, behaved as women
usually do under such circumstances. She buried her face in her
handkerchief and sobbed violently.
I hope you gentlemen will remember my forbearance and be equally
lenient toward any Confederate who may chance to fall into your power,
continued the captain, whose calm, steady voice had grown husky all on
a sudden. We are not a bad lot, but we are going to govern this State
as we please, and you will save yourselves trouble if you will stop
fighting against us. You'll have to do it sooner or later. Of course I
shall be obliged to deprive you of your guns, for you might be tempted
to shoot them at some loyal Jackson man when we are not here to protect
him. I have saved these young gentlemen from your clutches, and as that
was what I came for, I will bid you good-evening.
Rodney Gray did not hear much of this polite address for a new fear
had taken possession of him, and he took the opportunity to say to his
You go with the lieutenant after the horses, and I will stay with
the captain to say a word in your defense in case any of these Union
people happen to speak your name, or let out anything else you would
rather keep hidden.
Tom thought this a good suggestion. It would certainly be
disagreeable, and perhaps dangerous, to have the captain tell him when
he returned with the horses that he wasn't Tom Barton at allthat his
real name was Percival, that he was the commander of a company of Union
men who had offered to help Lyon at St. Louis, and all that. While Tom
did not think the captain would believe such a story if it were told
him, it might suggest to him some leading questions that the boys would
find it hard to answer. So he left Rodney to act as a sort of rear
guard, and went off to the stable with the lieutenant.
Did you really know that we were in the house? Tom asked, when he
was alone with the officer. If you did, it can't be that Merrick's boy
Of course he didn't. He would have kept it from us if he could, but
all the same the information came from him in the first place. The
blacks in these parts are all Unionno one need waste his breath
telling me differentand that scamp of a boy lost no time in spreading
it among the Union men in the neighborhood that there were a couple of
'disguised rebels,' as he called you and Gray, putting up at Truman's
house. That was the way those five fellows came to get on your trail;
but, as good luck would have it, the darkey told the story to too many.
Not being as well acquainted in this settlement as he probably is in
his own, he told it to a Jackson man, who rode to our camp and told us
of it. If it hadn't been for that we should be miles away now; but of
course we couldn't think of going off and leaving some of our own
people in the hands of the enemy.
You rendered us a most important service, replied Tom; and he told
nothing but the truth when he said it. It is necessary that I should
go home on business, but Rodney Gray wants to enlist in an independent
command as soon as he can get the chance. Didn't you speak of Dick
Graham as a sergeant?
May be so. That's what he is.
Does he belong to your company?
No; but he belongs to our regiment, and that's how I came to get
acquainted with him. He's got more friends than any other fellow I know
of, and he will be glad to see an old schoolmate once more. I have
heard him tell of Rodney Gray and the scrapes he got into by speaking
his mind so freely, and I am not the only one in the regiment who
thinks that the Barrington Military Academy is a disgrace to the town
and State in which it is located. The citizens ought to have turned out
some night and torn it up root and branch.
They would have had a good time trying it, said Tom. The boys
punched one another's head on the parade ground now and then, but it
wasn't safe for an outsider to interfere with our private affairs.
Why, the Confederates wouldn't fight for the Union boys, would
they? exclaimed the lieutenant. That's a little the strangest thing I
ever heard of. We don't do business that way in Missouri, and I could
see that our boys didn't like it when you and Gray stuck up for those
Yankee sympathizers back there in the house.
Perhaps they wouldn't have liked it either, if they had known how
Tom and Rodney had stuck up for each other ever since they met at
Cedar Bluff landing. But that was a piece of news that Tom did not
touch upon. He intended to reserve it for Dick Graham's private ear.
And in the meantime I mustn't neglect to ascertain just when and
where the lieutenant expects to rejoin his regiment, so that I can take
the first chance that offers to get away and strike out for home,
thought Tom. Dick wouldn't expect to see me in Rodney Gray's company,
and might betray me before he knew what he was doing.
Having saddled and bridled the horses Tom and the lieutenant
returned to the house, the former somewhat anxious to know if anything
had been said during his absence that could be brought up against him.
But a glance and a reassuring smile from Rodney were enough to show him
that he had nothing to fear on that score. The guards stood at the
windows watching the party inside, the horses had been brought into the
yard in readiness for the squad to mount, and Rodney and the captain
were sitting on the front steps. The prisoners, if such they could be
called, were too sullen to exchange a word with the Confederates, and
the captain thought it beneath his dignity to talk to Union men; and
Rodney was glad to have it so.
Bring in the guards and get a-going, was the order the captain
gave when his lieutenant came up; and this made it evident to the
well-drilled Barrington boys that Captain Hubbard's company of Rangers
were not the only Confederates who had a good deal to learn before they
could call themselves soldiers. But his men understood the order, and
it was the work of but a few minutes for them to get into their saddles
and set off down the road, and they did it without paying any more
attention to the men in the house. Rodney rode beside the captain at
the head of the column, Tom and the lieutenant coming next in line. The
former thought it was a good evening's work all around, and that
Merrick's red-eyed darkey could not have done him a greater service if
he had been a friend to him instead of an enemy. He had had a narrow
escape from being taken into the presence of men he hoped he might
never see again, but he was all right now. So was Tom, for if he wasn't
already beyond the danger of betrayal, he certainly would be by the
time daylight came.
No; we shall not march all night, said the captain, in response to
an inquiry from Rodney. We have been in the saddle pretty steadily for
the last week, and both men and horses are in need of rest. But I shall
take good care to get out of this settlement before going into camp. I
don't want to be ambushed.
I don't think those men back there would do such a thing, replied
Rodney. They seemed very grateful to you for letting them off so
Ha! exclaimed the captain. They would do it in a minute if they
thought they could escape the consequences. You don't know how bitter
everybody is against everybody else who doesn't train with his crowd,
and you'll have to live among us a while before you can understand it.
When shall I have the pleasure of shaking Dick Graham by the hand?
inquired Rodney. Does he stand up for State Rights as strongly as he
Yes; and I am with him. You see, when the election was held in '60,
our people, by a vote of one hundred and thirty-five thousand to thirty
thousand, decided against the extreme rule-or-ruin party of the South,
and declared that Missouri ought to stay in the Union; but at the same
time they didn't deny that she had a perfect right to go out if she
wanted to. If she decided to go with South Carolina and the other
cotton States, the government at Washington had no business to send
soldiers here to stop her; neither had those troops from Illinois any
business to come across the Mississippi and steal our guns out of the
St. Louis arsenal. That was an act of invasion, and we had a right to
get mad about it. We decided to remain neutral, and our General Price
made an agreement with the Federal General Harney to that effect; but
that did not suit the abolitionists who want war and nothing else. They
took Harney's command away from him and gave it to Lyon, who at once
proceeded to do everything he could to drive us to desperation. He
drove us out of Jefferson City and Booneville, and now he has sent that
Dutchman Siegel to Springfield to see what damage he can do there.
But what was the reason Siegel was sent to Springfield? inquired
Tom, who, riding close behind the captain, heard every word he said.
Wasn't it to repel the invasion of McCulloch, who was coming
from Arkansas with eight hundred bandits he called Texan Rangers? Has
he any right to ride rough-shod through our State, when some of our own
citizens are not permitted to stick their heads out of doors?
Hallo! exclaimed the captain, turning about in his saddle to face
Tom, while Rodney began to fear that his friend's tongue would get them
both into trouble. You are about the same kind of a Confederate I am,
only I don't blurt out my opinions in that style, and you hadn't better
do it, either. To be consistent I am obliged to say that those Texans
had no business to come over the Missouri line, but circumstances alter
cases. We are in trouble, we can't stand against the power of the
abolition government, and I shall be glad to see that man McCulloch.
I understand that there had been no fighting to speak of, and yet
you say we have been driven out of two places, said Rodney.
Oh, we were not ready and the Yankees were, answered the captain.
We had just lighting enough to give us a chance to learn how gunpowder
smells. We are waiting for McCulloch now, and when he comes, we'll
assume the offensive and drive Lyon out of the State.
That's the very thing I came here for, and I am glad to know that I
shall be in time to help, said Rodney gleefully. But are you a
partisan and is Dick Graham one, also?
Yes, to both your questions; but of course we are sworn into the
service of the State.
You couldn't be ordered out of the State, could you?
Not by a long shot, and we wouldn't go if we were ordered out. If
other States desire independence, let them win it without calling upon
their neighbors for help. That's what we intend to do.
And that was another thing I wanted to know, said Rodney, with a
sigh of relief. I am satisfied now, and wish my company was here with
me. Some of the members seemed willing and even anxious to come, but
when the thing was brought before them in the form of a resolution,
they voted against it.
And then he went on to tell the captain how it happened that he came
to Missouri alone, not forgetting to mention how he had fooled the
telegraph operators at Baton Rouge and Mooreville.
Those operators told that St. Louis cotton-factor I was a
Confederate bearer of dispatches, said he, in winding up his story.
But I haven't a scrap of writing about me.
You are a great deal safer without any, replied the officer.
Suppose those Union men at Truman's house had searched you and found a
letter of introduction to some well-known Confederate living in these
parts! They might have strung you up before we had time to go to your
relief. But how did you fall in with your old schoolmate, Barton? You
couldn't have expected to meet him at the landing?
This was a question that Rodney Gray had been dreading, for you will
remember that he had had no opportunity to hold a private consultation
with Tom and ask him what sort of a reply he should make when this
inquiry was propounded, as it was sure to be sooner or later. He turned
about in his saddle and rode sideway so that Tom could hear every word
He was the last person in the world I expected to see when I left
the steamer at Cedar Bluff landing to get ahead of the Yankee
cotton-factor in St. Louis, said Rodney. Tom had been over Cape
Girardeau way on business, and got a trifle out of his reckoning when
Mr. Westall and his party of Emergency men picked him up and brought
him to the wood-cutters' camp. We slept there that night and came out
together in the morning.
This was a desperate story to tell, seeing that they were not yet
out of reach of men who could easily prove that there was quite as much
falsehood as truth in it, but Rodney did not know what else to say. He
rested his hopes of safety upon the supposition that the Confederate
captain had done all his scouting on interior lines, and that he had
not been into the river counties until he came to Truman's house to
rescue him and Tom from the power of the Union men; and there was where
his good luck stood him in hand. More than that, Dick Graham was one of
the best known members of his regiment, and it would have taken a
pretty good talker to make the captain believe that there could be
anything wrong with one of Dick's friends.
While this conversation was going on Rodney noticed that the captain
was constantly on his guard, and that as often as they reached a place
where the woods came down close to the road on each side, his men
closed up the ranks without waiting for orders. Every house they passed
was as dark as a dungeon, and no sounds of music and dancing came from
the negro quarters. The people, white and black, had gone into their
houses and barred their doors to wait until these unwelcome visitors in
gray had taken themselves out of the neighborhood.
Before the captain went into camp, which he did about midnight, Tom
Percival, as we shall continue to call him, had ample time to question
the lieutenant and find out where his regiment was stationed and when
he expected to join it. The last question, however, was one that the
young officer could not answer with any degree of accuracy.
You see we have some men with us who are not in uniform, do you
not? said he. Well, they are the recruits we have picked up since we
have been out on this scout. They have been terribly persecuted by the
Union men in their settlement, and want us to stop on our way back long
enough to burn those Union men out. If we do, it will delay us a day or
two; if we don't, and keep lumbering right along, we shall be with the
rest of the boys in less than forty-eight hours.
This was what Tom wanted to know; and he decided that when the squad
reached the old post-rode and turned up toward the place at which the
regiment was stationed, he would go south toward Springfield, and so
avoid the risk of meeting Dick Graham.
I suppose you know your own business best, said the lieutenant,
when Tom announced his decision. But I'll never go piking off through
the country alone so long as I know what I am doing. There's too much
danger in it. When you get ready to go into the service, remember that
our regiment is one of the very best, and that we are ready to welcome
all volunteers with open arms.
The two boys slept under the same blankets that night, but the
talking they did was intended for the benefit for those who were lying
near them, rather than for each other. Tom sent numberless messages to
Dick Graham, and wanted Rodney to be sure and tell him that he (Tom)
would be a member of his company before its next battle with the
Yankees; all of which Rodney promised to bear in mind. The squad broke
their fast next morning on provisions which they had foraged from the
Union men whose buildings they had destroyed two nights before, and at
eight o'clock arrived at the old post-road where the Barrington boys
were to take leave of each other, to meet again perhaps under hostile
flags and with deadly weapons in their hands. But there was one thing
about it: They might be enemies in name, but they never would in
There goes one of the bravest and best fellows that ever lived,
said Rodney, facing about in his saddle to take a last look at his
friend who rode away with a heavy heart.
Don't be so solemn over it, said the captain. Didn't he say he
would come back as soon as he could?
Yes, that was what Tom said; but the trouble was, that when he came
again he might come in such a way that Rodney could not shake hands
CHAPTER XIV. HURRAH FOR BULL RUN!
Having decided that he would waste too much time if he turned from
his course to punish the Union men who had persecuted his recruits, the
captain kept lumbering right along, and on the afternoon of the next
day came within sight of the town in which his regiment had been
encamped when he left it to start on his scout; but there was not a
tent, a wagon or a soldier to be seen about the place now, and a
citizen who came out to meet him, brought the information that the
regiment had moved South to join Rains and Jackson, who were marching
toward Neosho, a short distance from Springfield: and at the same time
he gave the captain a written order from his colonel to join his
command with all haste.
If we had known this before, we might have kept company with your
friend Tom, said the captain, as he faced the squad about after a
fashion of his own and started them on the back track. Both sides
seemed to be concentrating in the southwestern part of the State, and
there's where the battle-ground is going to be.
Not all the time, I hope, said Rodney.
Of course not. We'll drive the enemy back on St. Louis, and wind up
by taking that city. General Pillow will march up from New Madrid to
co-operate with us, and perhaps he will stop on the way to take Cairo.
I hope he will, to pay those Illinois chaps for robbing the St. Louis
This was a very pretty programme but the captain thought it could be
easily carried out, and the very next day he heard a piece of news
which caused him to make several additions to it. As the squad was
moving past a plantation house an excited man, who was in too great a
hurry to get his hat, rushed down to the gate flourishing a paper over
his head and shouted, at the top of his voice:
Hurrah for Jeff Davis! Hurrah for Johnston! Hurrah for Bull Run and
all the rest of 'em!
What's up? inquired the captain, reining in his horse.
Here's something that one of Price's men slung at me yesterday
while he was riding along, replied the planter, opening the gate and
placing the paper in the officer's eager palm. Aint we walking over
'em roughshod though, and didn't I say all the while that we were bound
to do it? A Northern mechanic has got no business alongside a Southern
Have we had a fight? asked the captain. I wonder if my regiment
was in it.
No, I don't reckon it was, answered the man, with a laugh. You
see it happened out in Virginny, a few miles from Washington. I wish I
might get a later paper'n that, for I calculate to read in it that our
boys are in Washington dictating
Heyyoup! yelled the captain, who began to understand the matter
Price's men whooped and yelled worse'n that when they went by
yesterday, said the man, jumping up and knocking his heels together
like a boy who had just been turned loose from school. That's Davis's
dispatch right there. He went out from Richmond to watch the fight, and
got there just in time to see the Yankees running.
The officer, who was worked up to such a pitch of excitement that
the paper rustled in his trembling hands, glanced over the black
headlines to which the planter directed his attention, and then read
the dispatch aloud so that his men could hear it. It ran as follows:
Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces were
victorious. The battle was fought mainly on our left. Our forces were
fifteen thousand; that of the enemy estimated at thirty-five thousand.
And when the Yankees got a-going, chimed in the planter, clapping
his hands and swaying his body back and forth after the manner of a
negro who had been carried away by some sudden enthusiasm, they never
stopped. It was such a stampede that their officers couldn't do nothing
with 'em. The soldiers who were running away from the battle met the
civilians who were riding out from Washington to see it, and the two
living streams of humanity, one going one way and t'other going t'other
way, got all mixed up together; and all the while there were our
batteries playing onto 'em and our cavalry riding through 'em and
sabering first one and then another, tillHeyyoup! I'll be doggone
if I can seem to get it through my head, although I have read it more'n
a hundred times.
This astounding intelligence almost took away the breath of the men
who listened to it. Of course they had known all the while that
whipping the North was going to be as easy as falling off a log, but to
have their opinions confirmed in this unexpected way almost overwhelmed
them. They knew it was bound to come, but they hadn't looked for it so
soon. They gazed at one another in silence for a moment or two, and
then the shout they set up would have done credit to a larger squad
than theirs. The planter, who really acted as though he had taken leave
of his senses, joined in, laughing and shaking his head and slapping
his knees in a way that set Rodney Gray in a roar. It was a long time
before the captain could bring his squad to attention.
There's a good deal more in this paper, said he, and if you will
let me have it, I should like to read it to the boys when we go into
camp. We belong to Price, and want to catch up with the men who went by
Then you'll have to skip along right peart, replied the man.
That's the way they were going stopped long enough to drink my well
'most dry, and then went off in a lope. As for the paper, take it
along. You don't reckon there's any chance for a mistake, do you?
Not the slightest. President Davis knew what he was doing when he
sent that telegram to Richmond.
But fifteen thousand against thirty-five thousand, said the
planter, whose excitement had not driven all his common sense out of
his head. That's big odds, and it kinder sticks in my crop. Well,
good-by, if you must be going, and good luck to you.
It doesn't stick in my crop, replied the captain. I knew we could
do it, and we'll whip bigger odds than that, if they keep forcing war
upon us. Don't you know that the man who looks for a fight generally
gets more than he wants? Forward! Trot!
Never before had Rodney Gray been thrown into the company of so wild
a set of men. If such a thing were possible, they were wilder than
those his Cousin Marcy found on his train when he boarded it at
Barrington on his way home. The first rational thought that came into
his mind was: What a lucky thing that Tom Percival was well out of the
way when this news came! Tom would have betrayed himself sure, for he
never could have pulled off his hat and shouted and whooped with any
enthusiasm when he heard that the cause in which he believed, and for
which he was willing to risk his life, had met with disaster. At length
the captain, who appeared to have been awed into silence, said slowly:
I, too, would like to see a later paper than this. If it is true
that the Federals were utterly routed and thrown into such confusion
that their officers could do nothing with them, our victorious troops
must have followed them into Washington, and I shouldn't wonder if they
were there at this moment, dictating terms of peace to the Lincoln
The paper that had been given him, proved to be a copy of the
Mobile Register. As the captain talked he ran his eye rapidly over
its columns, and finally found an editorial containing a piece of news
that caused him to halt his squad and face his horse about.
Here's something I want to read to you, said he. Come up close on
all sides so that you can hear every word of it. You know that our
governor proposed that Missouri should remain neutral, and that a
conference was held at the Planter's House in St. Louis to talk the
matter over. This is what General Lyon said in reply to the governor's
proposition, Now listen, so that you may know who is to blame for the
troubles that have come upon us:
'Rather than concede to the State of Missouri the right to demand
that government shall not enlist troops within her limits, or bring
troops into the State whenever it please, or move its troops at its own
will, I would see every man, woman and child in the State dead and
buried. This means war.'
What do you boys say to that? continued the captain.
I say that if the Yankees want war we'll give them more than
they'll care to have, answered one of the squad; and all his comrades
yelled their approval. Now while you're reading, captain, suppose you
read about that big battle. Let's hear just how bad our fifteen
thousand whipped the Yankee thirty-five thousand.
The officer complied and read an account of the battle of Bull Run,
which was so highly sensational and so utterly unreasonable, that
Rodney Gray's common sense would not let him believe, more than half of
it. He hoped and believed that the Southern soldiers had gained a
glorious victory over the Lincoln hirelings; but that there could have
been so great a difference in the size of the contending armies, did
not look reasonable. But the captain put implicit faith in the story.
It seems that the Federal success in the beginning of the fight was
owing to their overwhelming numbers, said he. But the men on our side
were gentlemen who could not be driven by a rabble, and of course they
were bound to win in the end. But here is an article that may be of
more interest to us. It is entitled. 'The Situation in Missouri.' You
know that Governor Jackson went to Jefferson City and issued a
proclamation calling the people to arms, and that Lyon came up the
river on steamboats and routed him from there and from Booneville, too.
You know all about it, because you were there and so was I. Well, the
Northern papers think that that was a blow that secured Missouri to the
Union, and that thousands, who have been hesitating which side to take,
will now enlist to put down the rebellion. Rebellion! Remember
the word. That's what the Lincoln hirelings call the efforts of a free
people to maintain their freedom. But listen to what the Register
has to say on this point:
The Northern soldiers prefer enlisting to starvation. But they are
not soldiers, least of all to meet the hot-blooded, thorough-bred,
impetuous men of the South. They are trencher-soldiers who enlisted to
make war upon rations, not upon men. They are such as marched through
Baltimore, squalid, wretched, ragged, half-naked, as the newspapers of
that city report them; fellows who do not know the breech of a musket
from its muzzle; white slaves, peddling watches; small-change knaves
and vagrants. These are the levied forces which Lincoln arrays as
candidates for the honor of being slaughtered by gentlemen such as
Mobile sends to battle. Let them come South and we will put our negroes
to the dirty work of killing them. But they will not come South. Not a
wretch of them will live on this side of the border longer than it will
take us to reach the ground and drive them off.'
Can we at the front be whipped while our friends at home keep up
such heart as that? cried the excited captain, pulling off his cap and
flourishing it over his head with one hand, while he shook the paper at
his men with the other. Three cheers for brave old Missouri, and
confusion to everybody who wants to keep her down.
Everybody except Tom Percival, thought Rodney, as he threw up his
cap and joined in to help increase the almost deafening noise that
arose when the officer ceased speaking. Whatever happens to anybody
else I want Tom to come out all right.
After this short delay the squad rode on again, and along every mile
of the road they traversed they found people to cheer them and hurrah
for the great victory at Bull Run. There were no signs of Union men
anywhere along the route, but the blackened ruins they passed now and
then pointed out the sites of the dwellings in which some of them had
formerly lived. Those ruins had been left there by some of Price's men
scouting parties like the one with which he was now riding. Rodney had
always thought he should like to be a scout, but if that was the sort
of work scouts were expected to do, he decided that he would rather be
a regular soldier. He wouldn't mind facing men who had weapons in their
hands, because that was what soldiers enlisted for; but the idea of
turning women and children out into the weather, by burning their
houses over their heads, was repugnant to him. There was one piece of
news he and the captain did not get, although they asked everybody for
it. No one could tell them for certain that the victorious Confederates
had gone into Washington and dictated terms of peace to the Lincoln
government. There were plenty who were sure it had been done, but they
had received no positive information of it. The only news they heard on
which they could place reliance was that Price had withdrawn from
Neosho, and effected a junction with Jackson and Rains at Carthage.
That was a point in the captain's favor, for instead of being obliged
to make a wide detour to the east and south of Springfield, he turned
squarely to the west toward Carthage, and saved more than a hundred
miles of travel, as well as the risk of being captured by a scouting
party of Yankee cavalry.
The squad reached Carthage without seeing any signs of Siegel's
troopers, who were supposed to be raiding through the country in all
directions, and when Rodney rode into the camp, which was pitched upon
a little rise of ground a short distance from the town, he remarked
that he had never seen a stranger sight. The camp itself was all right.
The tents were properly pitched, the wagons and artillery parked after
the most approved military rules, and all this was to be expected,
since the commanding general was a veteran of the Mexican war; but the
men looked more like a mob than they did like soldiers. There were
eight thousand of them, and not one in ten was provided with a uniform
of any sort. The guard who challenged them carried a double-barrel
shotgun, and the only thing military there was about him, was a
rooster's feather stuck in the band of his hat.
They're a good deal better than they look, said the captain, when
Rodney called his attention to the fact that the sentry slouched
rather than walked over his beat, and that he didn't know how to hold
his gun. They are not very well drilled yet, but they'll fight, and
that is the main thing. Think of Washington and his ragamuffins at
Valley Forge the next time you feel disposed to criticise the boys.
Where is the enemy? inquired Rodney.
He is supposed to be concentrating twenty thousand men at
Springfield, thirty-five miles east of here. replied the captain.
When McCulloch gets up from Arkansas we'll have a little more than
fifteen thousand. But that's enough. We'll be in St. Louis in less than
a month. That victory at Bull Run will nerve our boys to do good work
when they get at it. Now where shall I go to find my regiment? The
colonel is the man I want to report to.
While the captain was looking around to find an officer of whom he
could make inquiries, there was a loud clatter of hoofs behind, and a
moment afterward a spruce young fellow, handsomely mounted and wearing
a uniform that Rodney Gray would have recognized anywhere, dashed by
and held on his way without once looking in their direction.
There he is now, exclaimed the captain, before Rodney had time to
speak. Oh, sergeant!
The horseman drew up and turned about just as Rodney's hand was
placed upon his shoulder. The greeting was just such a one as any two
boys would extend to each other under similar circumstances, and so we
need not say any more about it. Rodney and Dick Graham were shaking
hands at last, and two brothers could not have been more delighted.
How in the world did you get through St. Louis without being put in
jail, and where did you pick him up, captain? were the questions Dick
asked when he recovered from his surprise. Lyon is between us and St.
Louis, but we manage to get our mail pretty regularlyHeard about Bull
Run? Wasn't that a victory though? Fifteen thousand against thirty-five
thousand! When we were at school, captain
Where's the regiment? interrupted the latter. I am ordered to
report to the colonel at once.
Over there, replied Dick, sweeping his right arm around the
horizon so as to include the whole camp on that side of the street.
Come on, and I will show you the way. When we were at school the Union
boys made sport of us rebels because we shouted ourselves hoarse over
the victory in Charleston Harbor, and declared that we ought to be
ashamed of ourselves for it. Five thousand men against fifty-one was
not a thing to be proud of. But they couldn't say that now if they were
here. We won a fair fight on the field of Bull Run, although the enemy
outnumbered us more than two to one. I say we are going to repeat the
good work right here in Missouri.
Are you Confederate? inquired Rodney.
Not much. I'm State Rights. That's me.
And you'll not be ordered out of your State?
I may be ordered but I won't go. That's me. Seen Jeff Thompson's
last proclamation? In it he calls Lyon's Dutchmen Hessians and Tories,
and says our first hard work must be to drive them from the State.
After that has been done, then we'll decide whether or not we want to
join the Confederacy.
If the Governor of Louisiana had talked that way I would not be
here now, said Rodney. He tried to swear us into the Confederate
service against our will, and that broke up the company. I have as much
to tell you as you have to tell me, and I propose that we postpone our
talking until we can sit down somewhere and have it out with no fear of
interruption. Do you suppose I can get into your company?
I suppose you can, replied Dick, with a laugh. When the captain
sees your writing he will make you orderly so quick you will never know
Then he'll never see any of my writing, said Rodney, earnestly.
If you so much as hint to him that I know a pen-point from a
pen-holder, I'll never forgive you. Captain Hubbard's men wanted to
make me company clerk, but I couldn't see the beauty of it, and so they
elected me sergeant. But I don't want any office now. I want to remain
a private so that I will have a chance to go with you if you are sent
out on a scout. But bear one thing in mind, he added, in a lower tone,
you needn't order me to burn any houses, for I'll not do it.
I am down on all such lighting myself, replied Dick, with
emphasis. If we ever go out together I will show you as many as
half-a-dozen houses that would be ashes now if it hadn't been for me,
and one of them covers the head of one Thomas Percivalwhen he is at
Dick thought Rodney would be much surprised at this, but he wasn't.
All he said was:
Does Tom know it?
I don't suppose he does, or his father, either; but I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I have done something to strengthen the
friendship that existed between Tom and myself while we were at
Barrington. You will know how hard a time I had in doing any thing for
the Percivals when I tell you that Tom is suspected of belonging to a
company of Home Guards.
Suspected, is he? said Rodney, with a knowing wink. Is that all
you know about him? He's captain of a company he raised himself, and
rode all the way alone to St. Louis to ask Lyon if he could join him.
He was afraid to trust the mails. He told me that the Vigilance
Committees had a way of opening letters from suspected persons, and he
didn't want to run any risks.
Well now, I am beat, said Dick, who had listened to this
revelation with a look of the profoundest astonishment on his face.
But how does it come that you know so much more about him than I do?
Have you been corresponding with him?
I never heard a word from him from the time I left Barrington until
I met him at Cedar Bluff landing in a nest of Confederates. Tom was a
prisoner, was known to be Union, accused of being a horse-thief and in
a fair way of being hung; but he got out of the scrape somehow, and I
hope is safe at home by this time.
Well, well, repeated Dick, growing more and more amazed. So do I
hope he is safe at home, and if he got within a hundred miles of
Springfield I reckon he is. The country is full of Federal cavalry, and
how your squad came through without being molested is more than I can
understand. You will find the colonel in this tent, captain, said he,
dismounting and drawing some papers from his pocket. I must report
too, for I have been on an errand for him. I'll be out in a minute,
Dick followed, the captain into the colonel's tent, and Rodney sat
on his horse and looked around while he awaited his return. He thought
of what the captain had said regarding the Continentals at Valley
Forge, but did not see that there could be any comparison drawn between
the two armies. Price's men seemed to be well clothed, provisions were
plenty, and as for their arms, they had an abundance of them such as
they were, and a charging enemy would find their double-barrel shotguns
bad things to face at close quarters. But a few months later the
comparison was a good one. During the little Moscow retreat, after
the battle of Pea Ridge (which Van Dorn's ambition led him to fight
contrary to orders), along a route where there were neither roads nor
bridges, through a region from which the inhabitants had all fled,
leaving the country so poor that a turkey buzzard would not fly over
it, with no train of wagons, or provisions to put in them if there had
been, and no tents to shelter them from the cold, biting winds and
sleet and snowwhen Rodney Gray found himself and companions in this
situation he thought of the Continentals, and wondered at the
patriotism that kept them in the ranks. But it wasn't patriotism that
kept Price's men together. It was fear and nothing else.
But this dark picture was hidden from Rodney's view as he sat there
on his horse waiting for his friend Dick Graham to come out of the
colonel's tent. The martial scenes around him, the military order that
everywhere prevailed, the companies and regiments drilling in the
fields close by, the inspiriting music that came to his earsthese
sights and sounds filled him with enthusiasm; and if any one had told
him that the time would come when he would think seriously of deserting
the army and turning his back upon the cause he had espoused, Rodney
Gray would have been thunder struck. But the time came.
CHAPTER XV. A FULL-FLEDGED PARTISAN.
Having transacted his business with the colonel, Dick Graham came
out of the tent and mounted his horse.
Of course I had to wait until the captain had made his report,
said he, in a suppressed whisper, and in that way I happened to hear a
little about yourself and Tom Barton. I knew enough to keep still in
the presence of my superiors, but I did want to ask the captain to say
more about Tom Barton. Was it Percival?
Rodney winked first one eye and then the other and Dick was
It's the strangest thing I ever heard of, and I am in a hurry to
know all about it, Come on; our company is up at the end of the street.
We occupy the post of honor on the right of the line, because we are
the only company in the regiment that is fully uniformed. We'll leave
our horses at the stable line, and Captain Jones will make a State
Guard of you before you know it.
Not to dwell too long upon matters that have little bearing upon our
story, it will be enough to say that Rodney was duly presented to
Captain Jones, who was informed that he had come all the way from
Louisiana to join a partisan company. He was a Barrington boy, well up
in military matters, and desired to be sworn into the State service
without the loss of time. Dick was careful not to say too much for fear
that he should let out some secrets that Rodney had not yet had
opportunity to tell him. Of course the captain was delighted to see the
recruit from Louisiana, shook him by the hand as if he had been a
younger brother, and sent for an officer to take his descriptive list.
He was not required to pass the surgeon, and the oath he took was to
the effect that he would obey Governor Jackson and nobody else. This
being done Dick took him off to introduce him to the members of his
But before I do that, said Dick, halting just outside the
captain's tent and drawing Rodney off on one side, I want to know just
where you stand, and whether or not you have had any reason to change
your politics since I last saw you. Are you as good a rebel as you used
I never was a rebel, exclaimed Rodney, with some heat. I am ready
to fight for my State at any time; but I deny the right of my Governor
to compel me to obey such a man as General Lacey. I didn't want to be
sworn into the Confederate army, and that was what sent me up here.
That's all right, replied Dick. I'm glad things turned out that
way; otherwise you wouldn't be in my company now. But you don't seem to
be as red-hot as you used to be. You say you don't believe in burning
out Union men.
I certainly do not. I believe in fighting the men, but not in
abusing the women and children.
The Union women are like our ownworse than the men, answered
Dick. That is what I was trying to get at, and I must warn you to be
careful how you talk to anybody but me; and I, being an officer of the
State Guard, can't stand too much treasonable nonsense, he added,
drawing himself up to his full height and scowling fiercely at his
I suppose not; but I don't see that there is anything treasonable
in my saying that I don't believe in making war upon those who cannot
If some of those defenseless persons had been the means of getting
you bushwhacked and your buildings destroyed, you might think
differently. But come on, and I will make you acquainted with some of
the best among the boys.
There were only two boys in the tent into which he was conducted,
and they were almost old enough to be gray-headed; and as they were
getting ready to go on post, Rodney had little more than time to say he
was glad to know them. Then Dick said he had some writing to do for the
captain that would keep him busy for half an hour, and in the meantime
Rodney would have to look out for himself.
Here's a late copy of the Richmond Whig, if you would like
to see it, said one of his new messmates, who having thrown a powder
horn and bullet pouch over his shoulder, stood holding a long squirrel
rifle in one hand while he extended the paper with the other. There's
an editorial on the inside that may interest you. If the man who wrote
it had been trying to express the sentiments of this mess he could not
have come nearer to them. Good-by for a couple of hours.
When he was left alone in the tent Rodney hunted up the editorial in
question and read as follows:
We are not enough in the secrets of our authorities to specify the
day on which Jeff Davis will dine at the White House, and Ben McCulloch
take his siesta in General Siegel's gilded tent. We should dislike to
produce any disappointment by naming too soon or too early a day; but
it will save trouble if the gentlemen will keep themselves in readiness
to dislodge at a moment's notice. If they are not smitten, however,
with more than judicial blindness, they do not need this warning at our
hands. They must know that the measure of their iniquities is fall, and
the patience of outraged freedom is exhausted. Among all the brave men
from the Rio Grande to the Potomac, and stretching over into insulted,
indignant and infuriated Maryland, there is but one word on every lip
'Washington'; and one sentiment in every heart vengeance on the tyrants
who pollute the capital of the Republic!
The paper was full of such idle vaporings as these, but they fired
Rodney Gray's Southern heart to such an extent that he was almost ready
to quarrel with Dick Graham when the latter came into the tent an hour
later, and began discussing the situation in his cool, level-headed
Yes; I have seen the article, said he, when Rodney asked him what
he thought of it, and it is nothing but the veriest bosh.
Dick Graham, how dare you? exclaimed Rodney.
Oh, I have heard such talk as that before, and right here in this
tent from boys who have known me ever since I was knee-high to a duck,
replied Dick. 'The tyrants who pollute the capital of the Republic!'
The men who are there, are there because they got the most votes; and
in this country the majority rules. That's me. Now mark what I tell
you: The majority of the people will say that this Union shall not be
Then you believe that might makes right, do you?
I don't know whether I do or not. If we have the power, we have the
right to rise up and shake off the existing form of government and form
one that will suit us better. Abe Lincoln said so in one of his
speeches, and that's his language almost word for word. But whether the
Northern people, having the power, have the right to make us stay in
the Union when we don't want to, is a question that is a little too
deep for me.
They have neither the power nor the right, said Rodney angrily.
But you always were as obstinate as a mule, and we can't agree if we
talk till doomsday. Now listen while I tell you what I have been
through since I said good-by to you in the Barrington depot.
To repeat what he said would be to write a good portion of this book
over again. He told the story pretty nearly as we have tried to tell
it, with this difference: He touched very lightly upon the courage he
had displayed and the risk he had run in helping Tom Percival out of
the corn-crib in the wood-cutters' camp, although he was loud in his
praises of Tom's coolness and bravery. Dick Graham found it hard to
believe some parts of the narrative.
So Tom wasn't satisfied with risking his neck by going to St. Louis
to see Lyon, but had to come back through Iron and St. Francois
counties and try to raise another company of Home Guards there. He's
either all pluck or else plum crazy.
He's got a straight head on his shoulders; I'll bear witness to
that, replied Rodney. What do you suppose he will do at home? Where's
When the hunter blows his horn his puppies will howl, answered
Dick. His men are scattered here and there and everywhere; but he
knows where to find them, and if we ever meet those troops that are
concentrating at Springfield, we'll meet Tom Percival. You did a
neighborly act when you shoved him your revolver. I wouldn't have given
much for you if thatman what's his name?Westall had found it out.
Those Emergency men are nothing but robbers and murderers.
That was about the idea I formed of them, and I say they ought to
be put down if this war is going to be conducted on civilized
principles. Where were you when Lyon captured that camp at St. Louis?
I was getting ready to go to Booneville. I was in that scrimmage
and have smelled powder on half-a-dozen occasions.
Was that a Secession camp or not?
Not as anybody knows of, replied Dick. It was composed of the
State militia which the Governor had ordered out for drill. Under the
law he had a right to call them out.
Now what's the use of your trying any of your jokes on me?
demanded Rodney. You don't believe a word you have said, and I know
it. Be honest now, and have done with your nonsense.
Well, General Frost, who commanded the camp, assured Captain Lyon
that he was not hostile to the government, answered Dick. But when
Lyon got hold of it, he found that the two main streets were named
Davis and Beauregard; that a good portion of the men were in rebel
uniform; and that they were mostly armed with government muskets which
you Louisiana fellows stole out of the Baton Rouge arsenal. Lyon's
action in that matter was what caused the riots. I'll say one thing in
your private ear: The old flag floats over St. Louis and it's going to
I'm not going to get into any argument with you, but you will see
that you are wrong. We must have that city in order to command the
Mississippi to the Gulf. Wasn't Jackson's proposition and Price's, that
the State should remain neutral, a fair one?
That's a question that will be settled when this war is over, and
How do you make that out?
If there is such a thing as State Rights, it was a fair
proposition; if there isn't, it wasn't. It implies the right of a State
to make terms with the government; and that is the very point we are
wrangling over. There's but one way to decide it, and that is by force
Do you still think we are going to be whipped?
I am sure of it.
And if we are, will you give up the doctrine of State Rights?
I'll have to. I can't do anything else. But such talk will lead us
into argument, and you say you don't want to argue. I have been in a
fever of suspense ever since you sent that second telegram to my father
in St. Louis. In it you said, in effect, that you would start up the
river on the first boat; and father wrote me that when he got it, he
was ready to dance.
With delight? asked Rodney.
Not much. With apprehension. He supposed you were coming up with
your whole company. You asked him, for the company, if Price would
accept you, and he met Price on the street and showed him the dispatch.
Price said he would be glad to do it; and when you sent word that you
were coming, father thought, of course, that you were all coming, and
he knew that if you did, Lyon would make prisoners of the last one of
you the moment you touched the levee.
Your father didn't give us credit for much sense, did he? said
Rodney, with some disgust in his tones. The boys wouldn't come and so
I had to come alone. I hope that second dispatch did not put your
father to any trouble, but I was obliged to send it to throw those
telegraph operators off my track and blind them to my real intentions.
I suppose that St. Louis cotton-factor was on the watch?
Of course; and the minute he put his eyes on that roan colt, he
would have pointed you and him out to the soldiers. Your second
dispatch frightened father, but it did not put him to any trouble.
About that time he received a hint that he was being watched, that he
was believed to be hanging about the city for the purpose of picking up
information that would do us rebels some good, and so he dug out. He's
at home now; and if we get a chance, we'll ride down there some dark
night. I should like to have you acquainted.
Thank you. I'll go any time you say the word; but why do you
persist in speaking of our side as 'rebels'? I say we are not. We
simply desire to resume the powers which our forefathers were foolish
enough to delegate to the general government. Why, the great State of
New York, in adopting the Federal Constitution, reserved the right to
withdraw from the Union in case things were not run to suit her.
Yes; but the great State of New York isn't foolish enough to try
any such game as that. She'd be whipped so quick that it would make her
head swim; and that's just what is going to happen to South Carolina.
But you always was as obstinate as a mule, and. I don't care to get
into any argument with you.
Rodney Gray was now a full-fledged partisan; but the company to
which he was attached was more like mounted infantry than cavalry, for
with the exception of the commissioned officers, there was scarcely one
among the men who was provided with a saber. The most of Price's men
were armed with shotguns and hunting rifles, and in some respects were
superior to cavalry. They could move rapidly, fight as infantry, and if
worsted in the engagement, jump on their horses and make a quick
retreat. Their uniform was cadet gray with light blue slashings, and so
nearly like the one that had been worn by the Barrington students, that
all Dick Graham had to do to pass muster on dress parade was to add a
sergeant's chevrons to the old uniform he had worn at school.
Rodney Gray was an odd sheep in the flock, but Dick had two suits of
clothes, one of which his friend Rodney always wore when he was on
duty, for Captain Jones was somewhat particular, and wanted his men to
appear well on post and when they were ordered out for drill. The
mail-carrier who took Rodney's first letter to his father from the
camp, took also an order for a full outfit which was addressed to a
merchant tailor in Little Rock. Being shut off from St. Louis by Lyon's
advancing troops, all the mail, with the exception of some secret
correspondence which was kept up during the whole of the war, was sent
by courier to Little Rock and New Madrid, and from these places
forwarded to its destination in the South.
Rodney Gray arrived at Price's camp during the latter part of June;
and almost immediately became aware that preparations were being made
for an event of some importance. There was much scouting going on,
although he and Dick took no part in it, much to their regret, and now
and then there was a skirmish reported. The junction of Price's forces
with those of Jackson and Rains, which Siegel hoped to prevent by a
rapid march upon Neosho, took place at Carthage, as we have said; but
in spite of this Siegel resolved to attack. He left Neosho on the 4th
of July, and on the 6th, fought the battle of Carthage against a
greatly superior force. Rodney's regiment was in the thickest of it. It
tried to outflank Siegel in order to seize his wagon train, but could
not stand against the terrible cross-fire of the Union artillery, which
mowed them down like blades of grass. The first man killed in Rodney's
company was the one who had given him that copy of the Richmond Whig. While charging at Rodney's side he was struck in the breast by a piece
of shell, and in falling almost knocked the Barrington boy out of his
saddle. There was no time to be frightened or to think of lending a
helping hand to his injured comrade, for the line in the rear was
coming on, yelling like mad, and anything that opposed its progress
would have been run down; anything, perhaps, except that well-managed
battery on their right, whose steady, merciless fire was more than
living men could endure. They broke and fled, and were not called into
action again that day; for when Siegel, finding that he could not take
the town, withdrew from the field for the purpose of effecting a
junction with another Union force stationed at Mount Vernon, midway
between Carthage and Springfield, the road he followed led through
thick woods in which mounted troops could not operate. Here the Union
commander, aided by his superior artillery and long range rifles, held
his own until darkness came on and the Confederates retreated. It was a
drawn battle. The Confederates did not dare renew the attack, and
Siegel was afraid to hold the field long enough to give his weary
troops a chance to rest. He marched all night and reached his
destination the next day.
[Illustration: THE CHARGE OF THE RANGERS.]
When the orderly sergeant of Rodney's company came to make out his
report, he found that there were six men missing out of seventy-three.
One out of twelve was not a severe loss for an hour's fight (when
Picket's five thousand made their useless charge at Gettysburg they
lost seven men out of every nine), but it was enough to show Rodney
that there was a dread reality in war. He told Dick Graham that as long
as he lived he would never forget the expression that came upon the
face of the comrade who fell at his side, the first man he had ever
seen killed. He did not want to go to sleep that night, for fear that
he would see that face again in his dreams.
They say a fellow gets over feeling so after a while, was the way
in which Dick sought to comfort and encourage him. But I'll tell you
what's a fact: I don't believe that a man in full possession of his
senses can ever go into action without being afraid.
General Lyon's advance troops having been forced to retreat, the
boys began to wonder what was to be the next thing on the programme,
and it was not long before they found out. Notwithstanding the
confident prediction of the captain who commanded the scouting party
that had rescued him from the power of the Union men at Truman's house
(that fifteen thousand Confederates would be enough to meet and whip
the twenty thousand Federals that Lyon was supposed to be concentrating
at Springfield), Price began falling back toward Cassville, striving as
he went to increase his force by fair means or foul. His mounted
troopers carried things with a high hand. If a citizen, listening to
their patriotic appeals, shouldered his gun, mounted his horse and went
with them, he was a good fellow, a brave man, and his property was
safe; but if he showed the least reluctance about falling in, he was
at once accused of being a Union man and treated accordingly. Price
wanted fifty thousand men; but, as he afterward told the people of
Missouri, less than five thousand, out of a male population of more
than two hundred thousand, responded to his calls for help. It may or
may not be a fact that that small number comprised all the men that
were sworn into the State service; but it is a fact that he commanded
more than eight thousand men at the battle of Carthage, and more than
twenty thousand at the siege of Lexington. Price's object in falling
back toward Cassville was to meet McCulloch with his seven thousand
four hundred men who were coming up from Arkansas to reinforce him, and
to draw Lyon as far as possible from his base of supplies. These forces
met at Crane Creek, and almost immediately there began a conflict of
authority between Price and McCulloch, the former urging and the latter
opposing an attack upon the Union troops at Springfield. The dispute
was finally settled by General Polk, who sent an order all the way from
Columbus, Kentucky, commanding McCulloch to advance at once. Observe
that he did not include Price in the order, for at this period of the
war the Confederate authorities respected State Rights after a fashion
of their own (they did not even remove their capital from Montgomery to
Richmond until Virginia had given them her gracious permission to do
so), and gave no signs of a leaning toward the despotism which they
established in less than twelve months.
Meanwhile General Lyon, whose position was one of the greatest
danger, could not wait to be attacked. He had weakened his army by
garrisoning all the places he seized during his advance and now he had
only seven thousand troops left. Even this small force was rapidly
growing less, for as fast as their terms of enlistment expired, they
were permitted to return to their homes; provisions were getting
scarce; and General Fremont, who had lately assumed command of the
Western Department, could not send him any reinforcements from St.
Louis. So the only thing the Union commander could do to stop the
Confederate advance and extricate himself from the dangers with which
he was surrounded, was to assume the offensive.
The historian tells us that there was something sublime in that bold
march of Lyon on the night of the 9th of August, with a force of five
thousand men, to Wilson's Creek, to meet in the morning an army
numbering anywhere between fifteen and twenty thousand. His only hope
of success lay in a surprise; but there was where he was disappointed,
for it so happened that at the time he made his advance, the enemy was
making preparations to attack him on four sides at once; but while they
were thinking about it, they were assailed by two columns, one in front
and the other on the flank. This brought about the battle of Wilson's
Creek, which, next to Bull Run, was the severest engagement of the
year. General Lyon was killed while leading a bayonet charge at the
head of an Iowa regiment. Major Sturgis, on whom the command devolved,
ordered a retreat after six hours of useless fighting, and the
Confederates were too badly cut up to prevent his leisurely withdrawal.
But, after all, that battle was a Union victory, for it interposed a
check against the combined armies of the Confederacy from which they
could not readily recover. This one fight taught the dashing Texan
Ranger McCulloch that there was a bit of difference between meeting a
sterling Union soldier like Lyon, and a traitor like Twiggs who would
surrender on demand, and a short time afterward he withdrew into
Arkansas, leaving Price to continue the campaign, or disband his State
troops and go home, just as he pleased. At least that is what history
says about it; but when Rodney and Dick asked their captain why it was
that the two armies separated after going to so much trouble to get
together, the reason given was:
We're waiting for orders from the War Department at Richmond. It
will take a good while for them to get here, and in the meantime we
don't want to impoverish the country. Price will stay here to watch the
enemy, who have retreated toward Rolla, which is a hundred miles from
here, and McCulloch will go into Arkansas to recruit his army. When the
orders arrive we shall know what we are going to do next.
Of course it goes without saying that Rodney and Dick did soldiers'
duty during the light at Wilson's Creek and in the subsequent movements
of Price's troops, which resulted in the siege and capture of
Lexington; but they did not see Tom Percival or hear of him, nor did
they find opportunity to visit Dick Graham's home.
While General Fremont was fortifying St. Louis so that he could hold
it with a small force, and use the greater portion of his army in the
movements he was planning against Price, the latter heard a piece of
news that sent him Northward by rapid marches.
CHAPTER XVI. THE CONSCRIPTION ACT.
Price's men had not been long on the march before Dick Graham, who
seemed to have a way of finding out things that were hidden from almost
everybody else, told Rodney, confidentially, that their objective point
was Warrensburg, and that Price's motive in going there was to capture
money to the amount of a hundred thousand dollars, which was being
conveyed by a detachment of Federal troops to Lexington. The prospect
of securing so valuable a prize was an incentive, and men who were so
weary that the near approach of an enemy would not have kept them from
falling out of the ranks, marched night and day without a murmur of
complaint. Some of the way they moved at double-quick; but they might
as well have spared themselves the pains, for when they reached
Warrensburg they found the place deserted.
This shows how impossible it is to trust anybody these times, said
Rodney, in deep disgust.
Their regiment having gone into camp, the two friends were strolling
about the town to see what they could find, and the first thing they
discovered was not at all calculated to allay the indignation they felt
at being outwitted by the vigilant Federals. It was a rough charcoal
sketch on the wall of a building they passed during their walk. It
represented a lean, long-haired, ragged rebel dancing in an ecstacy of
rage over an empty money-box. The soldier who drew the sketch was an
artist of no mean order, and the picture told its story as plainly as
It proves that the Yankees knew we were coming and what we were
coming for, continued Rodney. It's an insult, and I hope we will not
go back until we have thrashed them for it most soundly.
The army rested for two days at Warrensburg, and then moved upon
Lexington, whither the money had been conveyed; but Rodney and Dick had
no hopes of wearing the new uniforms and wrapping themselves in the
warm blankets that their share of the hundred thousand would purchase
for them, if they had it. They were afraid they wouldn't get any of it,
and this fear was confirmed when their advance guard was severely
repulsed by less than half a regiment of Home Guards who were found
strongly entrenched at Lexington. The attack, which was renewed on the
12th of September, after Colonel Mulligan arrived with his Irish
brigade, bringing the strength of the garrison up to twenty-five
hundred men, was even more disastrous than the first, and Price retired
to wait until his supplies of ammunition could be brought up. He waited
six days, and during that time not a soldier was thrown into the
garrison, while Price saw his own army growing daily. Every man in the
country for miles around, and every boy, too, who was strong enough to
handle a gun, rushed to Lexington to take part in the victory to which
Price invited them. The few Union men there were left in that part of
the State came with the rest, because it was the only thing they could
do to save themselves and their property from the vengeance of the
rebels. The real battle began on the 18th, and on the afternoon of the
20th, after fifty-two hours of constant fighting, when his ammunition
and provisions were almost exhausted and his supply of water entirely
cut off, the brave colonel, who afterward died on the field of
And dying'Lay me down
And save the flag!' he cried,
gave up the struggle, and surrendered a worn-out garrison of two
thousand five hundred men to an army of more than twenty thousand. It
was a grand victoryalmost as grand as the one Beauregard won over
Anderson at Fort Sumter. By it Price secured a great number of stands
of arms, a considerable quantity of ammunition, a vast amount of
commissary stores, and nine hundred thousand dollars in hard cash. He
did not abuse his power but paid tribute to the courage of the men who
had so long resisted him by releasing the soldiers on parole, and
keeping the officers only as prisoners.
Having accomplished his object and rallied to his standard all the
scattered bands of partisans in Northern Missouri, and hearing that
Fremont was advancing upon him, while Hardee, who was to support him by
moving up the river from New Madrid, had been driven back, Price turned
and ran, sending his mounted troopers to threaten several points at
once, misleading the Federals who had hastily assembled to harass his
rear, and thus securing an almost unobstructed road for his retreat.
These advance troopers had a few engagements, and Rodney and Dick took
part in the most of them, but Price could neither be overtaken nor
stopped. The two friends were among the first to ride into Neosho, a
little town in the southwestern part of the State, toward which the
march had been directed, and the first man they met gave them some
information that struck them dumb with surprise and indignation. He was
a farmer who had just sold a load of provisions to the soldiers, and he
drove his empty wagon out of the road to let the regiment pass.
We're into the mud now as deep as the rest of 'em, said he, as
Rodney's company rode by. If Caroliny gets stretched up by the neck,
we-uns will have to be stretched, too.
What do you mean by that? inquired Captain Jones.
The Legislator is over there in that house, replied the farmer,
and they've just give out some kind of a paper saying that this State
of Missoury don't belong to the old Union no more, but is one of the
Confedrit States of Ameriky.
Do you mean that the State has seceded? cried the captain, while
his men looked at him and at one another as if they could not
understand what the farmer was trying to tell them. There's cheek for
you. Why, the whole of the State, except this part of it right around
here, is over-run with Yankees.
I don't know nothing about that, replied the farmer; and he was
obliged to turn around on his seat and shout the words, for Rodney's
company had been riding straight ahead all the time. It's only what I
heard. Mebbe you'll find somebody up the street that can tell you all
The story was so improbable that the boys could not make up their
minds to believe it. The Legislature, which had run almost as far as it
could get without going over the line into Arkansas, had no authority
over the State, three-fourths of whose territory was under the control
of the Union forces, and level-headed Dick Graham did not hesitate to
say, in the presence and hearing of his captain, that if the
Legislature had passed an Act of Secession, they were idiots, the last
one of them. But the Confederate authorities Were given to doing
foolish things. Read the proclamation Jefferson Davis issued from
Danville while he was running for his life!
If that is true we are in a pretty fix, said Rodney, as soon as he
could speak. I came up here to keep out of the Confederate army, and
now I am made a Confederate in spite of myself. And so are you. You are
under control of the government at Richmond now, and next week you may
be ordered to Virginia.
But I'll not go, exclaimed Dick. I'll serve right where I am
until my time is out, and then I'll go home. But look here. The
Richmond government can't order me out of Missouri without violating
the very principle we are fighting forState Rights. They can ask
me to go, but just see how utterly inconsistent they will be if they
try to compel me to go.
I hope you are right, but I wouldn't be afraid to bet anything I've
got that you are wrong, answered Rodney; and his friend's words did
not in the least encourage him. That would be the right way to do
things, but you ought to see that it wouldn't be sensible. What's the
use of having Confederate soldiers if they are not to obey the orders
of the Confederate government? If it suits them to do it, those fellows
in Richmond will ride rough-shod over State Rights.
Oh, they won't do that, exclaimed Dick, waving his hands up and
down in the air. They can't do it. Their government will fall to
pieces like a rope of sand if they try it.
The boys wondered what their general would think of the situation,
and when the artillery came into town they found out. A few sections of
it wheeled into line at a gallop, and celebrated the secession of the
State by firing one hundred guns. Rodney and Dick were intensely
disgusted. They listened in a half mutinous way when the adjutant read
the act the next day on dress parade, and tossed up their caps and
shouted with the rest; but they did these things for the same reasons
that impelled hundreds of others in camp to do thembecause they knew
it would not be safe to show any lack of enthusiasm.
The fact that they were no longer State troops but full-fledged
Confederates was not fully impressed upon Rodney and his fellow
soldiers until some months later, when the Richmond government was all
ready to put its despotic plans into execution. Probably the general
commanding saw that there was much dissatisfaction among his men, and
did not think it prudent to draw the reins too tight. He drilled his
troops a little oftener and a little harder, and was rather more
particular about granting furloughs, and this gave the boys no ground
for complaint; but they were constantly harassed by the fear that the
future had something ominous in store for them.
Price retreated as Fremont advanced, and a second battle was fought
at Wilson's Creek, during which the commander of the Union forces made
a cavalry charge that is still spoken of as one of the most brilliant
episodes of the war. But when Fremont was displaced by Hunter, the
latter fell back toward Rolla, thus allowing Price to recover the
ground from which he had just been driven. He was prompt to take
advantage of the opportunity, this time directing his columns toward
Kansas, with the intention of getting supplies for his troops, and
cutting the State off from all communication with St. Louis. But
Halleck succeeded Hunter on the 18th of November, and before a month
had passed away Price in turn was compelled to retreat, his men being
captured by the thousand, together with large quantities of arms and
supplies of ammunition and provisions. It began to look now, to quote
from Dick Graham, as though the boot was on the other foot. Instead of
running the Yankees out of Missouri, the Yankees had run them out,
fairly and squarely, for when Price went into camp it was over the line
in the State of Arkansas. Every one of the plans that the Confederates
had made for keeping the State in their possession and capturing St.
Louis, had been broken up by the strategy of the Union generals. The
battle of Belmont, which took place in the month of November, has been
called a Confederate victory, but it was not so in reality. General
Grant didn't fight that engagement because he cared a cent for Belmont,
for he knew he could not hold it if he got it. All he wanted was to
keep the Confederates from sending troops from Columbus, Kentucky, to
co-operate with Price in Missouri. He accomplished his object by
keeping Polk busy at home, and Price was driven into Arkansas.
And we are here with him, said Dick to his friend Rodney, as the
two lay beside their camp-fire at Cove Creek, talking over the
situation. We said we never would go out of Missouri.
That is what you said, replied Rodney. After the farce those old
women went through up there at Neosho, taking the State out of the
Union when they had no authority over it, I knew we were going to see
trouble. And mark my words: we have only seen the beginning of it.
Either General Halleck's army was not as strong as he would like to
have had it, or else he over-estimated the strength of the enemy, for
he fell back and the Confederates went into winter quarters, Price at
Springfield and McCulloch just over the line into Arkansas. Now the two
friends had time and opportunity for visiting, but there was no one for
them to visit. Dick showed Rodney where his father's house and Mr.
Percival's had once stood, but there was nothing left of them but
blackened ruins. The rebels had done the business for one, and Union
men had cleaned out the other. Dick fully expected to find it so, for
he had often seen such evidence of vandalism and hatred during his long
marches through the State. The boys afterward learned that Dick's
father and mother had taken refuge with friends in Little Rock, while
Mr. Percival's family had, in some mysterious way, succeeded in
reaching St. Louis. Rodney was depressed by the sight of the ruins, and
thanked his lucky stars that his father and mother lived in a State in
which such things never could be done. The few Union men there were in
and around Mooreville would never dare trouble his folks, and the
Yankees would not be able to penetrate so far into the Confederacy.
Garrison duty, as the boys called their life in winter quarters, was
most distasteful to them, and it was with great delight that they
listened to the rumors which early in February came up from McCulloch's
camp, to the effect that the two armies were to take the field again at
once, but that their campaign was to be in a different direction. These
rumors did not say that the Richmond government had decided to give up
the struggle in Missouri and turn its attention to more important
points, but the men, who talked freely in the presence of their
officers, declared that that was what the new move would amount to.
They were to proceed to New Madrid to operate with the Army of the
Center in checking the advance of the Federals, who were threatening
Island No. 10.
For once rumor told the truth and the move was made, though not in
the way Rodney and Dick thought it would be. One Sunday morning there
was a terrible uproar made by a scouting party which came tearing into
camp with the information that General Curtis's army, forty thousand
strong, was close upon Springfield and more coming. This rumor was also
true; and Old Pap Price, as his men had learned to call him, who was
not much of a fighter but a master hand at running, made haste to get
his wagon-train out of the way. To quote once more from Dick Graham, it
was hardly worth the trouble, for the oxen were so lean and weak that
they could scarcely walk, and the wagons, which were fit for nothing
but fire-wood, were loaded with a lot of rubbish that was of little
value. But Old Pap was bent on saving everything he had, and could
not have worked harder to take this train to a place of security if it
had been freighted with the money he captured at Lexington. The retreat
soon became a rout. The whole country was thrown into a state of alarm,
and people came flocking from all directions, bringing with them the
few household effects that the different raiding parties had left them.
Price kept up a running fight until some of McCulloch's troops came up,
and then the Federal advance was checked.
If General Curtis intended this sudden movement for a surprise he
could not have selected a better time for it, and if he had kept his
two columns together, instead of sending Siegel off with thirteen
thousand men to operate in another quarter, Price's army would have
been eliminated from the problem of war, and the battle of Pea Ridge
would not have been fought. McCulloch's army was divided, and McCulloch
himself was away in another direction surveying a route for the march
to New Madrid; and Price, relying upon the inhabitants to keep him
posted in regard to the movements of our forces, as well as upon the
supposed impassable condition of the roads in his front, was whipped
before he knew there was an enemy anywhere within reach of him. Then
followed a disastrous retreat of an army without provisions or tents,
along a muddy road, through a snow storm so blinding that one could
scarcely see ten feet ahead of him, and it went on until it was stopped
by a telegram from General Van Dorn, who had been appointed to command
the Confederate Army of the West because Price and McCulloch could not
agree. The new general, who declared that all retrograde movements
must be stopped at once, and that henceforth the army must press on
to victory, arrived on the 2d of March, drove Siegel out of
Bentonville on the 5th, and on Friday and Saturday fought the battle of
Pea Ridgea thing that he might as well have let alone, for he did not
do what he set out to do. He retreated one way, while General Curtis
went another and settled down to await reinforcements. Van Dorn gave
his men to understand that he was not beaten, but he couldn't stop to
pursue Curtis, because his orders compelled him to at once proceed with
all his available force to join the Army of the Center on the
Then came that dreary march to Van Buren of which we have spoken,
and which was a little ahead of anything Rodney had ever dreamed of.
The weary and hungry soldiers had long since ceased to expect anything
from the commissary department, which had disappeared as completely as
though it had never existed, and provisions of every sort were so
scarce that the different regiments and companies were obliged to break
into little squads and forage on their own account, the only
instructions they received being to the effect that they were to get to
Van Buren as soon as they could. As Dick and Rodney had the reputation
of being excellent foragers, and were known to be well supplied with
gold, they had no difficulty in keeping the members of their mess
together. The gold brought them corn bread, chickens and milk when
Confederate scrip would have failed, and when they came to compare
notes with the rest of the regiment at Van Buren, they found that they
had fared very well. The bulk of Price's army had passed on ahead of
them, going down into cellars and up into garrets, and poking about in
hay-mows and stacks in search of provender that had been hastily
concealed by the anxious citizens, and Rodney often wondered how
McCulloch's men, who brought up the rear, managed to keep body and soul
It was a dreary time taken all around, but their troubles did not
end when they arrived at Van Buren, as they hoped they would. It is
true they again came within sight of a commissary department with an
abundance of provisions, a quartermaster's department with a lot of
mixed-up baggage and camp equipage, blankets and overcoats that had
been thrown off and left at different places along the route, and here
they were allowed to rest until the stragglers came up and reported;
but their march was not ended. Their destination was Pocahontas, which
was nearly two hundred miles farther on.
It was while they were enjoying a much needed rest in camp at Van
Buren that they heard one piece of news that raised them to the highest
pitch of excitement, and two others that brought their spirits down to
zero. The first was brought to camp by a member of Dick's mess who had
somehow managed to get hold of a paper containing a greatly exaggerated
account of the first day's fight at Pittsburg Landing.
Listen to this, boys, he shouted, as the mess gathered around him
and the soldiers came running from all directions to see what the
excitement was about. 'If we've been worsted here in the West, our
friends in the East have made up for it by sweeping everything before
them. Grant, the Yankee general, has been surprised at Shiloh, his army
driven pell-mell through their camp and down under the bank of the
river, where their gunboats saved them. Johnston lived long enough to
see the Yankees in full flight and then he was killed; but Beauregard,
who took his place, telegraphs that certain destruction awaits the
enemy on the morrow.' That would belet me see. Why, this paper is
two weeks old, he added, in a disappointed tone, glancing at the date.
No matter; we whipped them, exclaimed Rodney; and when some one
proposed three cheers for the Army of the Center, he pulled off his cap
and joined in with a will.
Captain Jones, who brought with him a longer face than any of his
company had ever seen him wear before, sauntered up while the cheering
was going on, and asked what it was all about. When he learned that
they were happy over the glorious news from Shiloh, he said, as he drew
a couple of papers from his pocket:
You fellows are away behind the times. That news is old, and
Beauregard hollered before he was out of the woods. Read this later
account, he continued, handing one of the papers to Dick, and placing
a finger upon the column to which he wished to draw attention. And
after you have read that, take the other paper and see what it says
The captain turned on his heel and walked away, but looked back with
an expression of astonishment on his face when he heard one of his men
Has the Richmond government really passed a Conscription Act? Then
I say bully for the Richmond government. There are lots of sneaks in
our town who shouted 'sick 'em,' to us, but who were too cowardly to
put on a uniform themselves. If they have got to come in whether they
want to or not, I am a Confederate from this minute. Read about the
battle first, sergeant, and then we'll hear about the conscription
Dick complied, and before he got through there were some angry and
astonished men standing around him.
CHAPTER XVII. RODNEY MEETS A FRIEND.
Sergeant Graham first read aloud the account of the second day's
fighting at Pittsburg Landing; but of course the fact that Beauregard
had sustained a crushing defeat and been forced to retire from Corinth,
was carefully concealed. It was to be expected, the paper said, that
twenty-five thousand fresh men would turn the tide of battle in favor
of the enemy, but even against these overwhelming odds the Confederates
had held their own until noon, and then left the field in good order.
I don't see anything to feel bad over in that account, said
Rodney, whose war-like spirit arose every time he heard a glowing story
of a fight. We knew when we went into this thing that the Yankees
could raise more men than we could, and we expected to fight against
big odds. Now for the conscripts, and when Rodney said this, he
thought of Tom Randolph, and hoped that he would be the first
Mooreville citizen to draw a prize.
He thought he could imagine how Tom would look and feel after he had
made a campaign with a foot or more of mud under his feet, dripping
storm-clouds over his head and not so much as a crumb of corn bread in
his haversack, and laughed silently as he pictured him at a smoking
camp-fire with a lot of veterans poking fun at him. His own term of
service would soon expire, and he hoped he should reach home in time to
see Tom march out with the first squad of conscripts that left
Mooreville; but as Dick proceeded to read the abstract of the Act as it
appeared in the paper, all the while pushing the sheet farther and
farther from him as his amazement and anger increased, Rodney found
that the situation was not quite so amusing as he thought, and that he,
Rodney Gray, was in a worse box than his friend, Tom Randolph. It was
the first general conscription law of the Confederacy, and it withdrew
every non-exempt citizen, between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five,
from State control, and placed him absolutely at the disposal of the
President during the war. When Dick had read this far he looked at his
comrades to see what they thought of it.
Why, it'sit'sthe Czar of Russia couldn't do worse, exclaimed
the first one who recovered control of his tongue. It's a frauda
despotic act. Where are our State Rights now, I should like to know?
Go on, said Captain Jones, who stood on the outskirts of the group
but within hearing distance. There's worse to come.
Dick Graham, who did not see how anything could be worse, went on
with his reading and found that the Act annulled all contracts made
with volunteers for short terms, holding them to service for two years
additional, should the war continue so long; and all twelve months'
recruits, below eighteen and over thirty-five years, who would
otherwise have been exempted by this law, were to be retained in
service for ninety days after their term expired.
Heyyoup! yelled Dick, dancing about like one demented. Our own
government is ten times worse than the one we are fighting against, and
every one of us was a fool for ever putting on a gray jacket. Why
didn't they tell us all this in the first place, so that we might know
what there was before us? It's a fraud and a cheat and a swindle and
aand awhat are you about? he added, turning almost fiercely upon
his captain, who elbowed his way through the excited group and tried to
take the paper from his hand. I'll not obey the orders of the Richmond
government, and that's all there is about it.
I was going to direct your attention to something else, replied
the captain, paying no heed to the sergeant's rudeness. But since you
are so nearly beside yourself I don't suppose you can read it, and so I
had better tell you what it is. You say you will not obey the orders of
the Richmond government?
That is what I said, and I will stick to it, exclaimed Dick. They
have no right
Hold on a bit, the captain interposed.
They may not have the right but they have the power, and you will
have to give in. They offer you inducements to re-enlist for two years.
You will be regarded as volunteers, and be allowed the privilege of
changing your officers and electing new ones.
This was a big inducement indeed. The men laughed derisively when
they heard it.
If you don't volunteer, but insist on leaving the army when your
term of service expires, you will never get out of the camp, continued
the captain. You will be conscripted.
I don't care if I am, answered Dick, indignantly. I'll not do
Then you will be treated as a mutineer and run the risk of being
shot without the benefit of a drum-head court-martial, said the
captain; whereupon the men backed off, thrust their hands into their
pockets and looked at him and at one another. I tell you, boys, this
is no time for foolishness, the captain went on, earnestly. Ever
since Bull Run the Northern people have been showing the mettle that's
in them. That defeat got their blood up and they mean business. They
have more volunteers than they want. Their armies are growing stronger
every day, while ours are growing weaker every hour. To be honest,
there isn't half the patriotism now there was among us when these
troubles first begun. Desertions are alarmingly frequent, and voluntary
enlistments are almost entirely suspended. We must have men to fight
our battles, or else surrender our cherished liberties to such Hessians
and Tories as Curtis brought against us at Pea Ridge.
And whipped us with, added one of the men; and the captain
couldn't contradict him, for it was the truth. He could only look at
'Is Sparta dead in your veins?' exclaimed the captain, quoting
from the speech of Spartacus to his fellow gladiators. Are you willing
to give up whipped and permit a lot of Regicides and Roundheads to put
their feet on your necks?
Taking this for his text the officer spoke earnestly for ten
minutes, drawing largely from the fiery editorials of the Southern
papers, which he had read so often that he had them by heart, and
trying his best to infuse a little of his own spirit into the angry,
scowling men who had crowded around him, but without any very
flattering success. There was but one thought in their mindsthey had
been duped by the Richmond government, which had so suddenly developed
into a despotism that it was plain the machinery for it had been
prepared long before. They could not go home even for a short time to
visit their friends after their term of service had expired, and it is
no wonder that they felt sore over it. Seeing that he could not arouse
their patriotism, the captain next tried to arouse their combativeness.
On the same day that the battle of Shiloh was decided against us,
there was another struggle settled a hundred miles nearer to us, said
he. That too went against us. Island No. 10, the stronghold that was
to have kept the enemy from going down the Mississippi, has fallen, and
the way is open to Memphis.
But the Yankees will never get there, exclaimed Rodney. When I
came up the river on the Mollie Able, I heard a man say we had a
fleet building there that would eventually take Cairo and St. Louis
I certainly hope he was right, but things don't seem to point that
way now, replied the captain.
That is good news for us in one respect, Dick Graham remarked.
New Madrid must have fallen too, and if that is the case, we'll not be
ordered there. It's too late. We'll stay in our own State.
The captain shook his head, and his men knew by the expression on
his face that he had something yet to tell them.
There's where you are wrong, said he. We are going to Memphis as
quick as we can get there, and from Memphis we shall go to Corinth to
join the army under Beauregard. I am sorry you boys feel so about it,
but I really don't see how you are going to help yourselves. Now brace
up and do your duty like men, as you always have done it. I don't want
to see any of you get into trouble, but you certainly will if you kick
over the traces.
This last announcement was altogether too much for the men, who
turned away in a body, muttering the heaviest kind of adjectives, not
loud but deep. When the two boys were left alone with the captain the
How old are you?
Seventeen, growled Rodney.
Well, you will have to stay in ninety days after your term expires.
Will that make you eighteen?
No, it wouldn't; and if it did they would be careful not to say
Then I don't see what reason you have to get huffy over a thing
that can't be helped, continued the officer. We must have men, and if
they will not come in willingly, they must be dragged in. We can't be
subdued; we never will consent to be slaves. But you two will get out
We knew it all the while; at least I thought of it, replied Dick,
but I didn't want to mention it while the rest of the boys were
around. They are mad already, and it might make them worse to know that
we two are better off than they are.
But I want to tell you that you will make a big mistake if you
accept your discharges, the captain went on to say. You ought by all
means to stay in until this thing is settled and the invaders driven
from our soil. You'll wish you had when you see the boys come home
covered with glory. And then think of the possibilities before you! You
are bound to be promoted, and that rapidly. If I had your military
education I would not be satisfied with anything short of a colonelcy.
Well, you may have it, and since you want it, I hope you will get
it; but I wouldn't accept it if it were offered to me, answered Dick,
turning on his heel. I'll not serve under such a fraud of a government
as this has turned out to be a day longer than I can help. I'll take my
discharge as soon as they will condescend to give it to me, and then
they can hunt somebody to fill my place. I'll never volunteer again,
and sooner than be conscripted I'll take to the woods.
Now, sergeant, you know you wouldn't do any such thing, said the
Yes, I would, Dick insisted. There is a principle at the bottom
of this whole thing that is most contemptible; but what more could you
expect of men who induced us to enlist by holding out the promise of an
easy victory? 'The North won't fight!' This looks like it. We're
These were the sentiments of thousands of men who wore gray jackets
in the beginning of 1862, but it wasn't every one who dared express
them as boldly as Dick Graham did, nor was it every officer who would
have listened as quietly as did Captain Jones. Everything went to show
that the officers had been drilled in the parts they were expected to
perform long before the men dreamed that such a thing as a Conscription
Act was thought of; for, as a rule, all discussion regarding the policy
of the Richmond government was choked off with a strong hand. In some
armies, Bragg's especially, the men were treated worse than their
niggers ever were. They dared not speak above a whisper for fear of
being shoved into the guard-house; and when some regiments hesitated
to avail themselves of this permission (to volunteer) they were treated
as seditious, and the most refractory soldiers, on the point of being
shot, only saved their lives by the prompt signature of their comrades
to the compact of a new enlistment. Things were not quite as bad as
this in Price's army, but still Captain Jones thought it best to tell
his men, especially the out-spoken Dick Graham, that they had better be
a little more guarded in their language, unless they were well
acquainted with those to whom they were talking. They went to Memphis,
as the captain said they would, marching over a horrible road and
leaving some of their artillery stuck in the mud at Desarc on White
River, and from Memphis they went to Corinth forty miles farther on,
packed in box cars like sheep, and on top like so much useless rubbish.
Their train was rushed through at such a rate of speed that the men on
top shouted to the engineer:
Go it. Let out two or three more sections of that throttle. Run us
off into the ditch and kill us if you want to. There are plenty more
men where we came from.
Rodney Gray afterward declared that he had never seen a grander
sight than Beauregard's camp presented when the troops from the West
marched through it, greeted everywhere by the most vociferous cheering,
to take their positions on the right. Their arrival brought the
strength of the army up to more than a hundred thousand men, and,
somewhat to their surprise, they were introduced to their new comrades
as Invincibles. At any rate that was what General Bragg called them
in an address which he issued to his soldiers a few days afterward:
The slight reverses we have met on the sea-board have worked us
good as well as evil, was what he said in the vain hope of blinding
his troops to the real magnitude of the disaster that had recently
befallen the Confederacy. The brave troops so long retained there have
hastened to swell your numbers, while the gallant Van Dorn and
invincible Price, with the ever-successful Army of the West, are now in
your midst, with numbers almost equaling the Army of Shiloh.
The slight reverses to which the general so gingerly referred were
the passage of Forts Jackson and St. Philip by Farragut's fleet, the
annihilation of the Confederate gunboats and the capture of New
Orleans; and these slight reverses were almost immediately followed
by the defeat of the gunboats that had been building at Memphis, and of
which the Confederates expected such great things. But the rank and
file of the army were not so easily deceived. They knew well enough
that the accounts that came to them through the papers were doctored
on purpose for them, and were fully sensible of the fact that the loss
of these important points, Memphis and New Orleans, were disasters most
discouraging. When they were in the presence of those to whom they knew
they could speak freely, they sneered at the efforts made by their
superiors to belittle the Union victories, and laughed to scorn Mayor
Monroe and the city fathers for the attitude they had seen fit to
assume while Farragut's powerful fleet held the Crescent city under its
guns. If the pompous little mayor, by folding his arms and standing in
front of that loaded howitzer when the marines came ashore to hoist the
Stars and Stripes over the Custom House, desired to show the people of
New Orleans and the country at large what a brave man he was, he failed
of his object, for the men who had faced cannon on the field of battle
had nothing but contempt for him and his antics.
He has made himself a laughing-stock for all time to come, was
what Rodney Gray thought about it. That was all done for effect, for
there was not the slightest danger that the Yankees would fire that
howitzer at him while he was going through his monkey-shines. If he is
such an awful brave man, why didn't he follow that naval officer to the
roof of the Custom House and jerk the Union flag down the minute it was
Or why doesn't he shoulder a musket and fall in with us? chimed in
Dick. One short campaign through Missouri mud would take some of that
nonsense out of him.
There were a good many in the army who thought that the constant
maneuvering and skirmishing that followed during the next few weeks
were not kept up because a great battle was expected, but for the
purpose of giving the men so much to do that they could not get
together and talk over the discouraging news they had recently heard.
There was one engagement fought, that of Farmington, which resulted in
a victory for the Confederates, and taught them at the same time that
they were mistaken in supposing that our troops would not venture so
far into the country that they would be out of the reach of help from
the gunboats, which had rendered them such important service at the
battle of Pittsburg Landing. Of course Rodney and Dick marched and
skirmished and fought with the rest, but they didn't care much whether
they whipped or got whipped, for the feelings that took them away from
home and friends and into the army, had long since given place to
others of an entirely different character. They didn't care as much for
State Rights and Southern independence as they did once, and if they
ever got home again the Richmond government might go to smash for all
they could do to save it. Two questions engrossed their minds, and
formed the principal subjects of their conversation: Would they be
permitted to leave the service when the year for which they enlisted
expired; and if so, how was Dick Graham going to get across the river
into Missouri now that Memphis had fallen, and the Mississippi as far
down as Vicksburg was in possession of the Federals?
In regard to the first questionthere was one thing which the boys
were afraid would work against them. While nearly all the line officers
of the regiment remained with them, the field officers who had come
with them from the West had disappeared, some being promoted, some
discharged and others being sent to the hospital, new ones had taken
their places and a new staff had been appointed.
And a lovely staff it is, said Dick, expressing the sentiments of
every man in his company. I can see now why that Conscription Act was
passed. It was to make room for a lot of government pets, who are too
fine to go into the ranks, but who are allowed to come here and shove
out veterans when they cannot tell the difference between 'countermarch
by file right' and 'right by twos.' Our new colonel doesn't know who we
are or what we have done, and cares less; and when we go to him for our
discharges, he will throw so much red-tape in our way that we can't get
out. That's what I am afraid of.
As to the other questionhow Dick Graham was to get over the
riverthat was something that could be settled when they had their
discharges in their pockets. First and foremost Dick would go home with
Rodney; and after he had taken a good long rest, and learned all about
the means of communication between the two shores (they were positive
there must be some regular means of communication, because Dick had
received two letters from home since he had joined the Army of the
Center), Rodney would take his chances of seeing him safely across the
river. But their discharges must be their first care, and they came
much easier than they dared hope for. One day Rodney was detailed to
act as guard at brigade headquarters, and the first officer to whom he
presented arms was one whose face was strangely familiar to him. It was
his new brigade commander, and a wild hope sprung up in Rodney's
breast. The energetic, soldier-like manner in which he handled his
piece attracted the notice of the general, who seemed to be in good
humor, and who unbent from his dignity long enough to remark:
You have been well drilled, sentry.
Yes, sir; at Barrington Military Academy, replied Rodney, with a
good deal of emphasis on the last words.
This had just the effect the boy meant it should have. The general
stopped and looked curiously at him, and Rodney, instead of keeping his
eyes straight to the front and striking the ground at the distance of
fifteen paces, returned his superior's gaze with interest.
Haven't I seen you before? the latter asked at length.
Yes, sir; aboard the steamer Mollie Able, going up the river
a year ago, answered Rodney. You were Captain Howard then.
The boy had no business to say all this, and no one in the army knew
it better than he did. It was his place to wait and be questioned; but
he couldn't do it. There was too much at stakehis discharge and
Dick's. The general did riot appear to notice this breach of military
etiquette. On the contrary he smiled and said, pleasantly:
I remember you perfectly. You were on your way to join Price, and
your presence here proves that you found him. When you are relieved I
want to see you.
Very good, sir, replied Rodney, bringing his piece to a shoulder
and resuming his walk. If that man's word is worth anything, he
added, mentally, when the general disappeared in his tent, Dick Graham
and I will be free men when our year and three months are up, and you
just say that much to your folks and tell 'em it's confidential. He as
good as said that he would do something for me if he could, and now I
will try him on; but there's one thing I'll not promise to do: I won't
re-enlist until I get a good ready, and if I can help myself, that time
will never come.
Rodney walked his beat as if he were treading on air, and wished his
friend Dick would happen along about the time he was relieved, so that
he might tell him that he believed he had found a powerful friend in
their new brigade commander. At the end of two hours, having been
relieved from post and obtained the necessary permission from the
officer of the guard, Rodney presented himself at the door of General
Howard's tent, and sent his name in by the orderly.
CHAPTER XVIII. CONCLUSION.
General Howard did not look or act like a man who was very badly
overworked, nor did he seem to be at all anxious over the result of the
heavy firing that was going on on the left of the line. He had pulled
off his coat and riding boots, and when the orderly entered to tell him
that Private Rodney Gray of the th Missouri Cavalry had come there to
see him by his orders, he was tilling his pipe preparatory to indulging
in a smoke. He greeted Rodney pleasantly, and pointed with the stem of
his pipe to an empty cracker box.
Turn that up and sit down, said he; whereupon the orderly opened
his eyes in wonder. There was a much wider gulf between the officers
and privates in the rebel army than there was in our own, especially
after the war had been going on for about a year. The sons of rich men,
who had shouldered a musket at the beginning, began working their way
out of the ranks, leaving behind them only those who were too poor or
too low in the social scale to command the influence that was necessary
to bring them a commission. As a rule rich people in the South did not
think much of poor white trash. The latter were good enough to fight
and obey orders, but scarcely good enough to be treated with civility;
so when General Howard told his visitor to turn up the cracker box and
sit down on it, the orderly straightway made up his mind that Rodney
Gray was a little better than the common run of folks, even if he was a
I don't suppose you have thought of me once since I bid you good-by
at that woodcutters' camp, said the general, throwing himself upon a
rude couch and propping his head up with his hand. But I have often
thought of you, and a few months ago I was down Mooreville way on a
scout. I passed right by your father's plantation, and finding out who
he was, and being a trifle hungry besides, I dropped in and invited
myself to dinner with him and your mother.
Rodney was delighted to hear this, but all he said was that he hoped
the general had enjoyed his visit.
I assure you I did, and the dinner too, was the smiling reply.
And during the hour I passed there I learned a good deal concerning
your life in Missouri, and heard some portions of your letters read.
Your parents were much surprised to know that I met you on your way up
the river, and I renewed to them the promise I believe I made you on
the steamer that if I could ever do you a fatherly kindness I would. I
am glad to see you in my brigade, but I don't quite understand how it
comes that you are still a private. Haven't you done your duty, or
wouldn't your officers push you?
The fault is my own, sir, answered Rodney. I might have gone
higher but I didn't care to.
Then he went on to tell the general about Dick Graham. The latter
was a Barrington boy too, he said, and they had made it up between them
that it wouldn't be worth while for them to accept promotion, for they
had only a year to serve, and besides they did not want to run the risk
of being separated.
Oh, as to that, you mustn't expect to stick together all the time,
replied the general. The exigencies of the service will not admit of
it; you know that yourself. Still I will try to do something for your
friend too, if I find upon inquiry of your regimental and company
officers that he is worthy. I lost four of my staff at the battle of
Farmington, and, if you like, will order you and Sergeant Graham to
present yourselves for examination.
Rodney fairly gasped for breath, and wished that the general had not
taken quite so deep an interest in him. The crisis was coming now, and
he nerved himself for it.
I am very much obliged, general, he faltered. But my time will be
up in about two weeks, and I should like to go home and see my folks.'
Rodney expected that his superior would be surprised to hear this,
and his actions showed that he certainly was, and a little angry, as
well. He arose to a sitting posture on the couch, and jammed the
tobacco down in his pipe with a spiteful motion as he said, rather
You must give up all such nonsense. I am not going to deplete my
brigade, at this most critical time, by letting everybody go home who
takes a fool's notion into his head that he wants to. According to law
I am obliged to discharge all one year's men when their term of service
expires; but they shall never get out of my lines. I'll conscript them
as fast as a provost guard can catch them.
The general settled back on his elbow again and looked at his
visitor as if to inquire what he thought of the situation. Rodney
thought it was dark enough, and showed what he thought by the gloomy
expression that came upon his face. He gazed down at the cap he was
twirling in his hands and said nothing. The general relented.
I don't want to be hard on you, Rodney, said he, speaking in much
the same tone that a kind and indulgent father might use in reproving
an erring son, but can't you see for yourself what would happen to us
and our government if we should weaken our armies by discharging troops
at this juncture? The enemy has a hundred and forty thousand men in our
front at this minute, and more coming. Memphis is taken, New Orleans
has fallen, the railroads, except those that run south of us, are in
Halleck's possession, and if the enemy along the river moves quickly,
the troops we have sent to fortify Vicksburg will not have time to lift
a shovel full of dirt before the Mississippi clear to the Gulf will be
lost to us. I tell you the situation is critical in the extreme, and if
we don't look out, and fight as men never fought before, the Lincoln
government will have us in the dust in less than two months. I'll not
let a man of you go, and that's all there is about it.
The general puffed vigorously at his pipe and looked as though he
meant every word he said. Was this the man who had promised on two
different occasions that he would lend Rodney a helping hand if the
opportunity was ever presented? Discouraged and perplexed as he was,
the boy could still think clearly enough to draw a contrast between
this arbitrary action of a so-called government, which claimed to be
fighting for the rights of its people, to do as they pleased and the
course pursued by the Union General Lyon at the battle of Wilson's
Creek. Rodney learned through some prisoners his regiment captured (and
history to-day confirms the story) that Lyon had seven thousand men
when he reached Springfield; two thousand short-term men demanded their
release and got it; and the Union commander went on and fought the
battle with five thousand. Perhaps the old government was not quite so
bad after all.
But you see, sir, said Rodney, after a moment's reflection, my
comrade and I do not come under the terms of the Conscription Act. We
are not yet eighteen years of age.
The surprised look that came over the general's face showed very
plainly that that was a point that had slipped his mind entirely. The
boy had him there, and he hardly knew whether to laugh or get angry
And do you intend to take advantage of that provision of the Act?
We'd like to, sir, was all Rodney thought it prudent to say in
reply. His superior was nettled, and the boy wanted to leave him in
good humor and get out of his presence as soon as possible.
That settles it, said the general, getting upon his feet and
knocking the ashes from his pipe in a manner which seemed to say that
the interview was at an end. I'll take pains to see your colonel, but
I do hope there are not many in my command whose ages are under
eighteen or over thirty-five. However, I may be able to infuse a little
patriotism into them, and shall have something to say about it in a
I thank you, sir, for the assurance, replied Rodney.
He made his best salute and retired, but during the rest of the day
he was not as jubilant as he had been when he came off post; and when
he went back that night to do duty at the general's tent, he took note
of the fact that his commander paid no more attention to him than he
would have paid to an entire stranger. Rodney felt hurt at that, and as
soon as he could do so, after guard-mount the next morning, he hunted
up his friend Dick and told him the whole story. He wanted sympathy and
encouragement and got both.
You did perfectly right, said Dick, emphatically. We could have
passed the examination easy enough, and in a week or two might have
been galloping around camp covered with gold lace, and looking as sweet
as two government pets; but we don't care half as much for staff office
as we do for our discharges. You made the general mad and I am sorry
for that; but after all it's natural, for the commander who discharges
the smallest number of men will stand highest in the good graces of his
superiors. See? So long as he keeps his troops in the service, it
doesn't make a particle of difference whether he keeps them in by
promises or threats. He's a bully fellow, and the despots at Richmond
will reward him.
Some of the sergeant's words were confirmed that very afternoon, and
in a most startling manner. For days it had been whispered about among
the men that there was trouble brewing in General Bragg's corps, and on
this particular day it was brought to a head by the mutiny of a
Tennessee regiment, who stacked arms and refused to do duty. The twelve
months for which they volunteered had expired and they wanted to go
home. Before entering the service they made provision for their
families for just one year, and since that time their State had been
over-ran with raiding parties from both armies, their crops had been
destroyed, their stock killed, their buildings given to the flames, and
their wives and children turned out into the weather. They wanted to
see these helpless ones taken to places of security, and then they
would return to a man, and stand by their comrades until the last
Yankee invader had been driven into the Ohio river. But Bragg said they
shouldn't go, and fixed things so they couldn't. He did just what
Beauregard did when Hindman's Arkansas troops prepared to return to
their State to repel the invasion of General Curtis. He told them
that if they didn't pick up those guns in less than five minutes he
would have the last one of them shot, and they picked them up; but in
an hour's time it was whispered through the ramp that all the service
old Daddy Bragg would get out of those Tennesseans wouldn't amount to
much. We shall presently see how much truth there was in the report.
A few days after this the order of which General Howard had spoken
was issued, and read to those regiments in the brigade whose term of
service was about to expire. They were informed that they would now
come under the Conscript Act, and that every man of them who was
subject to service under that Act would be summarily conscripted unless
he chose to re-enlist. The regiments to whom the order was addressed
had all performed gallant service and gained imperishable honors, and
the general hoped they would preserve both their name and organization
by volunteering in a body to serve for two years, or until the end of
the war. If they did, they would have the privilege of electing their
own officers, and would be placed on the same footing as the other
volunteer regiments; and those of their number who, by reason of age,
were not subject to conscription, would serve until the 15th of July,
when they would be discharged.
The order concluded with a fierce denunciation of General Butler's
rule in New Orleans and a glowing appeal to their patriotism, all of
which the men cheered lustily; but when the ranks were broken and the
different cliques got together, they did not try to keep up any show
of spirit. So far as Rodney Gray could learn, there was not a man in
his regiment who would have volunteered if he had seen a fair chance to
desert and get across the river. Desertion was a thing that had never
been talked of before among Price's men. As volunteers, they would have
died rather than think of such a cowardly way of getting out of the
army, but it was different now. Even, if they re-enlisted under the
provisions of the Conscript Act, how much better would they be than
conscripts while bearing the name of volunteers? They would be forced
into the army against their will, wouldn't they and wouldn't that make
them conscripts? They appeared to submit because they could not help
themselves; but desertions took place every day. Some got safely off,
but those who were caught in the act were shot without any trial at
all. The men were sullen, talked mutiny among themselves, and Rodney
Gray looked for nothing else but to see them rise in a body, kill their
tyrannical officers, and disperse to their homes. It was a terrible
state of affairs, the nearest approach to anarchy there ever was or
ever will be in this country, and during those troublous days and the
subsequent retreat to Tupelo, General Halleck received into his lines
no less than fifteen thousand deserters.
The farce of electing new officers and reorganizing the various
companies and regiments in the brigade took place in due time, and once
more Dick Graham found himself in the ranks. He was not a candidate for
any office and neither was Rodney, although they might have had
commissions if they had chosen to accept them. They did not so much as
hint that they had been offered something better than the company or
regiment could give thema position on the general's stafffor they
did not think it would be policy to do it. There were plenty of mean
men in their regiment, as there were in every one in the service, and
since they could not get discharges themselves, they would have been
glad if they could have kept Rodney and Dick from getting them; and if
they had suspected that Rodney had a friend in the general of the
brigade, they would have reported him every chance they got, no matter
whether he had done anything wrong or not. After this the two friends
waited with as much patience as they could for the time to come around
when they would be free once more.
During this time almost constant fighting had been going on
somewhere along the line, and although Rodney and Dick could not see
the use of it, those in authority could, for they were quietly making
preparations to withdraw from a place which was no longer of use to
them. On the 26th, 27th, and 28th of the month, the fighting was very
severe, and Rodney's regiment, which was at the front, was badly cut
up. Although Dick Graham was now a private he was called upon at times
to do duty as a sergeant, and on the afternoon of the 28th, he was sent
with a small squad, one of whom was Rodney Gray, to take charge of an
advanced post. It was much nearer our lines than were the trenches in
which the regiment was fighting, but it was also much safer, for the
shells from both sides went high over their heads. Here they remained
in perfect security, talking, laughing and telling stories while the
roar of battle was going on all around them, and waiting for their
relief, which was to come at six o'clock. It did not come, however,
until after nine, and by that time it had grown so dark that it was
only after infinite trouble and bother that they succeeded in finding
their way back to the main line, only to learn after they arrived
there, that their regiment had been withdrawn three hours before, and
nobody could tell where it was now. Dick Graham didn't care much where
it was, for he had no intention of going to it that night. It was more
than three miles to camp, and Dick saw, when he passed that way three
days before, that the road was blocked with wagons, artillery trains
and stable-lines, and to these obstructions were now added sleeping
men, who would not be over civil to any one who chanced to stumble
against them in the dark. So Dick drew his squad off into the woods out
of the way and went into camp; that is to say, he ate the little piece
of hard tack he found in his haversack, washed it down with a drink of
warm water from his canteen, rolled himself up in his blanket and went
There goes reveille, exclaimed Rodney, hitting him a poke in the
ribs the next morning about daylight. But it's in the enemy's camp,
and I don't think we'll pay much attention to it. I am going to sleep
Say, said one of the men, I reckon we'd best be toddling along,
for if I didn't hear wagons and troops moving all night, I dreamed it.
Let's get up and go as far as the diggings any way, and get a bite to
The diggings referred to was a pile of hard-tack which, when
Rodney first saw it, was almost as long and high as the railroad depot.
There were several thousand boxes in the pile, and there they had been
beside the road, exposed to all sorts of weather, ever since they
arrived in Corinth. Why they were not served out to the men instead of
lying there to waste no one knew or cared to ask; but every squad that
passed that way made it a point to stop long enough to break open a few
boxes and fill their haversacks. Toward these diggings Dick and his
men bent their steps, and before they were fairly out of the woods in
which they had slept, they became aware that they had been deserted.
There was not a man in sight, and the guns which looked threateningly
at them over the top of the nearest redoubt, they found on inspection
to be logs of wood.
Beauregard's whole army has fallen back, and done it so silently
that they never awoke us, said Dick. Let us hurry on and get into our
lines before some of the enemy's cavalry come along and gobble us up.
What do you see, Rodney?
I am afraid we are gobbled already, was the answer, I saw some
men dodging about in the woods over there. If they are not the enemy's
pickets they must be our rear guard, and as we can't get away we had
better go over and make ourselves square with them.
This proposition met with the approval of his comrades, but it did
not seem to suit the men in the woods, for Dick's squad had not gone
many steps in their direction when some one called out:
By the right flank, march! and the command was emphasized by the
sudden appearance of half a dozen muskets which were pointed straight
Who are you, and what are you doing there? demanded Dick.
Who are you, and what do you want of us? asked one of the men in
reply. Are you from Tennessee?
By the right flank, then, and toddle right along. You want no truck
with us; but if you meet old Daddy Bragg tell him to come and see us.
We've got something for him.
All right, answered Dick, as he and his squad faced to the right
and marched away. Good-by, and good luck to you. I don't think old
Bragg will come out, he added, when the men had been left out of
hearing. They'd shoot him as quick as they would any other varmint.
There must be two or three hundred in that party, and they straggled
out of the ranks last night in the dark. They'll stay there until the
enemy's advance passes, and then they'll come out and give themselves
up. Slick scheme, but I'd die before I would do it myself.
The squad halted at the diggings long enough to fill their
haversacks, and then kept on after the army, marching with a quick step
and keeping a good look-out for the Federal cavalry, which they knew
would be sent out to pick up stragglers as soon as Beauregard's retreat
became known to Halleck. They were in no hurry to overtake their
comrades, for they were doing very well by themselves, and neither did
they want to be picked up and treated as deserters by their own rear
guard. But if there was any rear guard they never saw it,
although they ran into another body of Tennesseans, more than a
thousand of them this time, who told them that the army gone on toward
Tupelo, thirty-five miles from Corinth. No one seemed to know why
Corinth had been abandoned, and it turned out afterward that the
Richmond government disapproved of it, for the command was taken from
Beauregard and given to Bragg, the man whom all his soldiers feared and
hated, and who, a few months later, said to the people of Kentucky, I
am here with an army which numbers not less than sixty thousand men. I
bring you the olive-branch which you refuse at your peril. But
proclamations and threats did not take Kentucky out of the Union.
It took the boys five days to cover the thirty-five miles that lay
between Corinth and Tupelo, and they were by no means the last of the
stragglers to come in. The men who had been left behind, and who had no
intention of deserting, were nevertheless bound to enjoy their liberty
while they had the chance, and some of them did not arrive for two
In process of time the descriptive list and discharges of those who
came under the exemption clause of the Conscription Act were made out,
but there was so much red tape to be gone through with before all the
provisions of the Act could be carried out, that the two friends were
in a fever of suspense for fear that something might happen at the last
minute to blast their hopes. Their officers did not want to let them
go, and the slightest hitch in the proceedings would have made
conscripts of them. But in their case everything worked smoothly, and
finally all they had to do was to go to the paymaster and get their
Confederate scrip. Being provided with passes which would take them as
far as the lines of the Confederacy extended, they took leave of their
friends, not without a feeling of regret it must be confessed, and
boarded the cars for Camp Pinckney, which was located a hundred miles
from New Orleans. After they left the camp their passes would be of no
use to them, for it was said that the country between there and
Mooreville, forty miles east of Baton Rouge, was over-run with Federal
cavalry. They reached the camp without any mishap, ran the guard in
order to get out of it (but that was not a difficult thing to do, for
nearly all the soldiers in camp were conscripts who had not had time to
learn their business), and before they had gone ten miles on their way
toward Mooreville, came plump upon a small squad of Union cavalry, who
covered them with their carbines and told them to come in out of the
rain. It was hard to be gobbled up within two days' walk of home,
but the boys put a bold face on the matter. The corporal and his three
men seemed to be a jolly, good-natured lot, and the ex-Confederates
knew they would be sure of kind treatment as long as they remained in
You've got us easy enough, said Dick. Now what are you going to
do with us?
Take you down to Baton Rouge and put you where you'll not have a
chance to shoot any more Yanks, replied the corporal. Where's your
We don't know; and not wishing to give you a short answer, we don't
care. We never shot any Yanks, and neither do we mean to go where they
are again if we can help it. We've got our discharges in our pockets.
Seeing is believing. Hand 'em out.
The boys complied, and as they did so Rodney remarked that if they
had known that the corporal was as white a man as they had found him,
they wouldn't have come in out of the rain so readily. They would
have taken to their heels and trusted to his forbearance.
I am glad you didn't try it, replied the corporal, reading the
discharges one after the other and passing them over to his men. A
gray-back streaking it through the bushes would be a mighty tempting
target, even to fellows like ourselves who don't shoot only when we
have to. Have you got enough of the service?
More than we want, answered Dick.
Well, you can't be forced into the army until you are of the right
age, and in the meantime I don't suppose you will do us any great
damage. What do you say, boys?
I say let 'em go home and see their mammies, replied one of the
squad; and the others nodding assent, the corporal jerked his thumb
over his shoulder and told them to git.
It is no more than we expected of you, but we thank you all the
same, said Rodney, gratefully. I live down this way, three miles from
Mooreville, and if you ever come along our road, drop in and we'll
treat you right. The mouse did the lion a favor once, and who knows but
that a boy who is not old enough to be conscripted, may be able to do
something for one of Uncle Sam's men?
Good for you, Johnny. You're no reb. Any up this way?
None nearer than Camp Pinckney. If there are we did not see them.
With hearts full of thankfulness the boys resumed their journey, and
on the afternoon of the second day following, came within sight of
Rodney's home. It set his eyes to streaming, and gave such elasticity
to his step that Dick could scarcely keep pace with him. As he led his
friend up the wide front steps he recalled to mind the parting that had
taken place there more than fifteen months before, and the confident
words he had uttered about driving the Yankees out of Missouri. He
and his friends had been driven out instead, and there was no hope that
Missouri would ever belong to the Confederacy.
Alabamahere we rest, exclaimed Rodney, pushing Dick into an easy
chair in the parlor, which they found to be unoccupied. Stay there
till I find somebody.
I don't look fit, began Dick, glancing down at his dusty uniform;
but just then a door opened, a lady came in, and the words Mother!
and Oh, my son, my son! told Dick that somebody had found Rodney.
If ever a boy appreciated home and its comforts it was Rodney Gray,
no longer a wild, unreasoning partisan, but sober and thoughtful beyond
his years. Here we will leave him until the time comes for us to tell
how Dick Graham got across the river, and take up the history of the
adventures and exploits of our Union hero, Marcy Gray, whom we left in
his home in North Carolina. Marcy's Secret Enemies and his
determination to be True to his Colors brought him into
difficulty more than once; and what those difficulties were, and how he
came through them, shall be told in the third volume of this series,
which will be entitled MARCY, THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER.