Monthly Archives: April 2018

THE LOYAL VIRGINIA GIRL, AND HOW SHE SAVED THE WAR MAPS FOR THE UNION SCOUTS.–

During the winter of 1861-2, when McClellan’s grand army lay along the Potomac, and before it had been decided to try an advance by the Peninsula, it became a matter of the utmost importance to the Union Generals to obtain accurate and thorough maps of all North-eastern Virginia, the region destined to be the theatre of movements so important.

With that view, a number of intelligent and scientific scouts, armed with minute pocket compasses and small boxes of drawing materials, fearlessly pushed their way through the lines, and as they were apparently rambling about among the hills and through the woods as non-belligerents and in the dress of citizens, were collecting and tracing down on maps a very complete topographical history of all they saw.

Southern surveyors and draughtsmen were engaged in the same work, and as they had every facility in their operations, and were directed by an engineer no less skilful than Beauregard, their maps were of inestimable value to the Federal officers, and for the service of preserving and delivering them to the Union scouts, we are indebted to the coolness, presence of mind, and loyalty of Miss —–, a Virginia girl of fourteen.

The topographical corps sent out by Beauregard had established their headquarters at her father’s house, and were there busy in plotting down their surveys, when this girl, who was watching at the window, gave the alarm, “The blue-coats are coming down the road.” Without stopping to save a paper, they all rushed the other way, out at the back door, and hid in the woods adjacent. The little squad of Union scouts rode quickly down the road, but mistrusting some mischief, soon turned back, and rode away.

Meantime this young girl had gathered up all the maps into one great roll, and taken it into the attic, and hid it in a hole in the chimney.

In time the alarm subsided, and the topographers came cautiously back from the bushes, but, to their great astonishment and chagrim, found not a vestige of their work.

They inquired of the girl what had become of their maps.

“O,” said she, “do you think I was stupid enough to let them Yanks get hold of them? No, indeed. When I saw them riding down the road, those maps were going up the chimney!”

“Good for you!” was the reply. “We’ll have them all to draw over again, but that’s better than for those confounded blue-coats to get them.”

Considering the situation somewhat perilous, they withdrew; and a day or two after, a Union scout came in, and found a prompt welcome.

He requested her to watch at the window for him, while he pulled out a secret roll of paper, and commenced to map out the country through which he had been wandering.

“So it’s maps that you are making too. I think I can give you some that I reckon you never saw before.” So saying, she ran up stairs, and brought down the roll from the hole in the chimney, and told him how she saved them, and how entirely satisfied the other party had been that their maps had gone up the chimney in a very different sense.

Originally posted 2009-08-10 02:44:19.

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PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S TRIBUTE TO THE LOYAL WOMEN OF AMERICA.–

At the close of the Patent Office Fair in Washington, Mr. Lincoln, in answer to loud and continuous calls, made the following remarks:

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I appear, to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, ‘All that a man hath will he give for his life;’ and while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier.

“In this extraordinary war extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these Fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in these Fairs are the women of America.

“I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy; I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say, that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of woman were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America.”

Originally posted 2009-08-09 01:41:48.

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THE OLD SERGEANT.

BY FORCEYTHE WILLSON.

THE carrier cannot sing to-day the ballads
With which he used to go
Rhyming the grand rounds of the Happy New Years
That are now beneath the snow;–

For the same awful and portentous shadow
That overcast the earth,
And smote the land last year with desolation,
Still darkens every hearth.

And the carrier hears Beethoven’s mighty dead-march
Come up from every mart,
And he hears and feels it breathing in his bosom,
And beating in his heart.

And to-day, like a scarred and weather-beaten veteran,
Again he comes along,
To tell the story of the Old Year’s struggles,
In another New Year’s song.

And the song is his, but not so with the story;
For the story, you must know
Was told in prose to Assistant-Surgeon Austin,
By a soldier of Shiloh;–

By Robert Burton, who was brought up on thae Adams
With his death-wound in his side,
And who told the story to the Assistant Surgeon
On the same night that he died.

But the singer feels it will better suit the ballad,
If all should deem it right,
To sing the story as if what it speaks of
Had happened but last night.

“Come a little nearer, Doctor–Thank you! let me take the cup!
Draw your chair up!–draw it closer–just another little sup!
May be you may think I’m better, but I’m pretty well used up–
Doctor, you’ve done all you could do, but I’m just a going up.

“Feel my pulse, sir, if you want to, but it is no use to try.”
“Never say that,” said the Surgeon, as he smothered down a sigh;
“It will never do, old comrade, for a soldier to say die!”
“What you say will make no difference, Doctor, when you come to die.

“Doctor, what has been the matter?” “You were very faint, they say;
You must try to get to sleep now.” “Doctor, have I been away?”
“No, my venerable comrade.” “Doctor, will you please to stay?
There is something I must tell you, and you won’t have long to stay!

“I have got my marching orders, and am ready now to go;
Doctor, did you say I fainted? –but it couldn’t have been so–
For as sure as I’m a Sergeant and was wounded at Shiloh,
I’ve this very night been back there–on the old field of Shiloh!

“You may think it all delusion–all the sickness of the brain:
If you do, you are mistaken, and mistaken to my pain;
For upon my dying honor, as I hope to live again,
I have just been back to Shiloh and all over it again!

“This is all that I remember; the last time the Lighter came,
And the lights had all been lowered, and the noises much the same,
He had not been gone five minutes before something called my name–
‘ORDERLY-SERGEANT-ROBERT-BURTON!’–just that way it called my name.

“Then I thought, who could have called me so distinctly and so slow–
It can’t be the Lighter, surely; he could not have spoken so;
And I tried to answer, ‘Here, sir!’ but I couldn’t make it go!
For I couldn’t move a muscle, and I couldn’t make it go!

“Then I thought it all a nightmare–all a humbug and a bore!
It is just another grapevine, and it won’t come any more;
But it came, sir, notwithstanding, just the same words as before,
‘ORDERLY-SEARGEANT-ROBERT- BURTON!; more distinctly than before!

“That is all that I remember, till a sudden burst of light,
And I stood beside the river, where we stood that Sunday night,
Waiting to be ferried over to the dark bluffs opposite,
When the river seemed perdition, and all hell seemed oopposite!

“And the same old palpitation came again with all its power,
And I heard a bugle sounding, as from heaven or a tower;
And the same mysterious voice said: “IT IS–THE ELEVENTH HOUR!
ORDERLY-SERGEANT–ROBERT BURTON–IT IS THE ELEVENTH HOUR!”

“Dr. Austin!–what day is this?”–“It is Wednesday night, you know.”
“Yes! To-morrow will be New Year’s, and a right good time below!
What time is it, Dr. Austin?”–“Nearly twelve.”–“Then don’t you go!
Can it be that all this happened–all this–not an hour ago!

“There was where the gunboats opened on the dark, rebellious host,
And where Webster semicircled his last guns upon the coast–
There were still the two log-houses, just the same, or else their ghost–
And the same old transport came and took me over –or its ghost!

“And the whole field lay before me, all deserted far and wide–
There was where they fell on Prentiss–there McClernand met the tide;
There was where stern Sherman rallied, and where Hurlbut’s heroes died–
Lower down, where Wallace charged them, and kept charging till he died!

“There was where Lew Wallace shoved them he was of the cannie kin–
There was where old Nelson thundered, and where Rouseau waded in–
There McCook ‘sent them to breakfast,’ and we all began to win–
There was where the grape-shot took me just as we began to win.

“Now a shroud of snow and silence over everything was spread;
And but for this old, blue mantle, and the old hat on my head,
I should not have even doubted, to this moment, I was dead;
For my footsteps were as silent as the snow upon the dead!

“Death and silence! Death and silence! starry silence overhead!
And behold a mighty tower, as if builded to the dead,
To the heaven of the heavens lifted up its mighty head!
Till the Stars and Stripes of heaven all seemed waving from its head!

“Round and mighty-based, it towered–up into the infinite!
And I knew no mortal mason could have built a shaft so bright;
For it shone like solid sunshine; and a winding stair of light
Wound around it and around it till it wound clear out of sight!

“And, behold, as I approached it with a rapt and dazzled stare–
Thinking that I saw old comrades just ascending the great stair–
Suddenly the solemn challenge broke, of, ‘Halt!’ and ‘Who goes there?’
‘I’m a friend,’ I said, ‘if you are.’–‘Then advance, sir, to the stair!’

“I advanced–that sentry, Doctor, was Elijah Ballantyne–
First of all to fall on Monday, after we had formed the line!
‘Welcome! my old Sergeant, welcome! Welcome by that countersign!’
And he pointed to the scar there under this old cloak of mine!

“As he grasped my hand, I shuddered–thinking only of the grave–
But he smiled, and pointed upward, with a bright and bloodless glaive–
‘That’s the way, sir, to headquarters.’==’What headquarters?’–‘Of the brave!’
‘But the great tower?’–‘That was builded of the great deeds of the brave!’

“Then a sudden shame came o’er me at his uniform of light–
At my own so old and tattered, and at his so new and bright:
‘Ah!’ said he, ‘you have forgotten the new uniform to-night!
Hurry back, for you must be here at just twelve o’clock to-night!’

“And the next thing I remember, you were sitting there, and I–
Doctor! it is hard to leave you–Hark! God bless you all! Good by!
Doctor! please to give my musket and my knapsack, when I die,
To my son–my son that’s coming–he won’t get here till I die!

“Tell him his old father blessed him as he never did before–
And to carry that old musket–” Hark! a knock is at the door!–
“Till the Union”–see! it opens!–“Father! father! speak once more!”–
“Bless you!” gasped the old, gray Sergeant, and he lay and said no more!

When the Surgeon gave the heir-son the old Sergeant’s last advice–
And his musket and his knapsack–how the fire flashed in his eyes!–
He is on the march this morning, and will march on till he dies–
He will save this bleeding country, or will fight until he dies! *

* This very remarkable poem was distributed on the first day of the year, 1863, by the carriers of the Louisville Journal.

Originally posted 2009-08-07 22:09:00.

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