Monthly Archives: May 2009

SCENES IN THE WAR.–

Dick Boughton, of the Second Kansas regiment, in a letter to his sister, gives the following incidents:

“It would be singular if, in a four or five months’ arduous campaign, I should not be occasionally in a tight place, as well as the witness of some painful scenes. While the Kansas Second were stopping at St. Joseph, on their way home, in September, two persons were arrested, and placed under guard in one of the hotels in that city. On the evening of their arrest, and the following day, it chanced to be my turn at guard duty; and I was one of the two placed at the door to guard the prisoners. Our instructions were to keep a sharp lookout, as one of them was a desperate character, arrested under the grave charge of shooting a Union man, and would probably attempt to get away. On the following morning the mother of one of the prisoners, hearing of the arrest of her son, came up to the room in great distress. She told her story amid tears and sobs, persisting in saying that her son was a good Union man; that he never carried any weapons, and had none when arrested, &c. &c. Poor woman! she was under the impression that her son was about to be strung up to the nearest tree, without ceremony, by the Second Kansas boys, whose ferocity she had heard tell so much about. After her first burst of grief had subsided into comparative silence, I told her that, if what she said were true, she need have no fears for the safety of her son; and added that, when relieved from my post, I would see our Major, who would inquire into the matter; and I could assure her that he would ask only to know the circumstances of her son’s arrest, without stopping to query upon opinions and settlements. That evening he was honorably released, and I had the satisfaction of taking mother and son by the hand, and receiving their gratulation.

“The case of the other prisoner was more serious and painful to me; and I give it, not as one worthy of being singled out as especially sad, but only as one of many circumstances of an equally painful nature, with which the soldier in active service in this terrible war has become reluctantly familiar. While still dwelling pleasantly upon the consolation my words had given the old lady in the morning, a light footstep was heard on the stairs, and presently a young lady made her appearance in the hall leading to our room. Her countenance was so pale and sad, with traces of tears, that it would have drawn pity from a heart of stone. Her step was so feeble and uncertain that I involuntarily took her by the arm as she approached, and supported her into the presence of her husband. They embraced each other for some moments, the silence only broken by convulsive sobs. Presently the wife, making a strong effort to be calm, spoke:

“‘Our child–our little Willie!’

“The husband knew too well the terrible purport of her words. At the time of the arrest, their only child lay ill in its mother’s arms, its little spirit hovering upon the verge of another world. When she could sufficiently command her emotions, she added:

“‘Before he died, he rose in my arms, and called for you, Charles–yes, he called for pa! O Charles, Charles! you could not come to us then.’ She again sank upon her husband’s bosom in uncontrollable anguish. Their tears mingled freely; and I found the moisture collecting in my own eyes in inconvenient quantities as the ‘second relief’ stationed themselves at our post, thus relieving us for a time. When we left the city, the prisoner pleaded very hard to be allowed to go with us; and I shall not soon forget his look of despair when it became necessary for our Major, despite his pleadings, to deliver him over to the command then stationed at that place.

“At the hazard of being tedious, dear sister, I will relate a little circumstance which happened while guarding these same prisoners. We had just got fairly settled at our posts after the arrest, when the officer of the guard came around, full of importance, and talking loudly, as if he wished to be considered Lord Mogul, Gen. Jackson, or some other distinguished individual.

“‘See here, guards; keep an eye on that tall fellow there, he’s a d—d secesh. If he undertakes to get away, run your bayonet through him. We’ll attend to his case directly; and he took especial care that the prisoner should hear his remarks. I did not wish to conceal my resentment at such language upon such an occasion; for I felt that he who used it disgraced the badge of distinction which rested upon his shoulders. It so chanced that a young lady, whose husband, a young lawyer, was off to the secession army, often passed by our door in going to and from her room, which was near. She often paused in her vibrations to express her sentiments on the secession question, which she did with great freedom, and with more unction at times than was compatible with her ladyship. I suppose somebody of sensitive nerves must have informed our officer of the guard that the lady was growing troublesome with her much talking. So when he came round again, he addressed himself to me in a voice full of authority, with:

“‘If that woman comes around here with any more of her gab, just put her in that room there, and lock her in.’ Sister, you know I am the coolest boy out, and can retain my linen with a grace under almost any circumstances; but just at that moment I felt more savage than my words would indicate, as I very coolly returned in substance that I hoped I never should so far disgrace my manhood as to offer violence to a woman for any sentiments she might utter.

“‘Obey my orders, sir,’ was sung out with a pomp and emphasis intended to carry terror along with them, but which aroused in me feelings wickedly opposed to anything like fear. ‘You’ll please excuse me, sir,’ I immediately responded, with just enough of tartness and accent to add impudence to disobedience. He then advanced towards me in a rage, saying something about putting me under guard, and reaching out his hand as if to take me by the collar.

“‘Hands off, if you please,’ said I, as I brushed his hand aside with a spiteful movement. He passionately seized his pistol hanging at his side. I saw his thumb upon the hammer as he drew it forth, thundering out as he did so:

“‘I’ll shoot you down like—‘

“I finished the sentence for him, as, springing forward with an activity that astonished myself, I planted a blow just over his left eye, which sent him reeling backwards towards the stairway; and he seized the baluster to save himself. His pistol fell from his hand, and rattled down the stairs behind. This ended the interesting scene, for he flung up his arms, and crying like a child, begged me not to strike again.

“I was now left to the pleasant contemplation of my situation, and the penalty attached to striking an officer; but my fellow-guard, when questioned, placed the matter in so favorable a light for me that I was not even arrested.”

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KENTUCKY! O KENTUCKY!

JOHN MORGAN’S foot is on thy shore,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
His hand is on thy stable door,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
You’ll see your good gray mare no more;
He’ll ride her till her back is sore,
And leave her at some stranger’s door,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!

For feeding John you’re paying dear,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
His very name now makes you fear,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
In every valley, far and near,
He’s gobbled every horse and steer;
You’ll rue his raids for many a year.
Kentucky! O Kentucky!

Yet you have many a traitorous fool,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
Who still will be the rebel’s tool,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
They’ll learn to yield to Abra’m’s rule
In none but Johnny’s costly school,
At cost of every animule,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!

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ADVENTURE OF CAPTAIN STRONG.–

The following account of the adventure of Captain W. E. Strong, of the Second regiment of Wisconsin volunteers, was given by that officer in an official report to Maj. Larrabee, dated at Camp Advance, September 7, 1861:

“In pursuance of your order of yesterday, I proceeded to examine the woods to the right of our exterior line, for the purpose of satisfying yourself whether the line should be extended. The last picket was stationed about four hundred yards from the river–being our outpost on our right exterior line–leaving a dense thicket of pine undergrowth between it and the river. From my means of observation up to that time, I had concluded that our pickets were not sufficiently advanced in that direction, as this space was wholly unoccupied. At least I thought the ground should be examined; and in this you were pleased to fully concur.

“You desired me to make a minute examination of the ground, and be ready to report when you should return, at three o’clock P. M. of that day. Accordingly, after dinner I passed along the line until I reached the extreme outpost on the right, which consisted of Lieut. Dodge, Corp. Manderson, and three privates, and then proceeded along over very rough and densely wooded ground to the river. I soon ascertained that these physical obstacles were so great that no body of troops could, in this direction, turn our right flank, and there was no necessity of extending our pickets. I then concluded to return; and for the purpose of avoiding the dense undergrowth, I turned back on a line about a hundred rods in advance of the direction of our line of pickets. As I was passing through a thicket, I was surrounded by six rebel soldiers–four infantry and two cavalry. The footmen were poorly dressed and badly armed. Seeing I was caught, I thought it best to surrender at once. So I said, ‘Gentlemen, you have me.’ I was asked various questions as to who I was, where I was going, what regiment I belonged to, &c., all of which I refused to answer. One of the footmen said, ‘Let’s hang the d—d Yankee scoundrel,’ and pointed to a convenient limb. Another man said, ‘No; let’s take him to the camp, and then hang him.’ One of the cavalrymen, who seemed to be the leader, said, ‘We’ll take him to camp.’ They then marched me through an open place–two in front, two in the rear, and a cavalryman on each side of me. I was armed with two revolvers and my sword.

“After going some twenty rods, the Sergeant on my right, noticing my pistols, ordered me to give them up, together with my sword. I said, ‘Certainly, gentlemen,’ and immediately halted. As I stopped, they all filed past me, and of course were in front. We were at this time in an open part of the woods, but about sixty yards to the rear was a thicket of undergrowth. Thus everything was in my favor; I was quick of foot, and a passable shot; yet the design of escape was not formed until I brought my pistol pouches round to the front part of my body, and my hands touched the stocks. The grasping of the pistols suggested the thought of cocking them as I drew them out. This I did; and the moment I got command of them, I shot down two footmen nearest me–about sixty feet off–one with each hand. I immediately turned and ran towards the thicket in the rear. The confusion of my captors was apparently so great, that I had nearly reached cover before shots were fired at me. One ball passed through my left cheek, passing out of my mouth. Another one, a musket-ball, passed through my canteen. Immediately upon this volley the two cavalrymen separated–one on my left and the other on my right–to cut off my retreat. The remaining two footmen charged directly towards me; I turned, when the horsemen got up, and fired three or four shots, but the balls flew wild. I ran on, got over a small knell, and nearly regained one of our pickets, when I was headed off by both the mounted men. The Sergeant called out to me to halt and surrender; I gave no reply, but fired and ran in the opposite direction. He pursued and overtook me; I turned, took good aim, pulled the trigger, but the cap snapped. At this time his carbine was unslung, and he was holding it with both hands on the left side of his horse. He fired at my breast without raising the piece to his shoulder, and the shot passed from the right side of my coat, through it and my shirt, to the left, just grazing the skin: the piece was so near as to burn the cloth out the size of one’s hand. I was, however, uninjured at this time, save the shot through my cheek. I then fired at him again, and brought him to the ground, hanging by his foot in the left stirrup, and the horse galloping towards the camp. I saw no more of the other horseman, nor of the footmen, but running on soon came to our own pickets uninjured, save the shot through my cheek, but otherwise most exhausted from my exertions.”

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THE POWER OF SLAVE LABOR.–

The following curious passage appears in a sermon preached by Rev. William O. Prentiss, at three different times, twice by request repeated, in South Carolina, in 1860:

“Three hundred and fifty thousand white men directing the labor of less than four millions of African slaves, have furnished the material, out of which has been reared this colossal fabric, and it begins to topple to its fall at the first bright promise that their sustaining aid shall be withdrawn. If further proof be required that the labor to which I have alluded, has built up these vast, these important interests, consult the statistics of our country; study figures which no human ingenuity can torture into the indorsement of a lie. History shows that the country makes no palpable improvement until the grand staple of the earth’s necessities begins to be reared here, and that its advances are exactly proportioned to the amount and value of the African slave labor employed by us. The whole commerce of the civilized world is based upon this labor; it feeds the hungry, it clothes the naked, it employs the idler, it supports tottering thrones and starving paupers; kings of their diadems, and beggars in their rags, all cry aloud to the god who feeds them, ‘Give us this day our daily cotton.'”

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