The Project Gutenberg eBook of Si Klegg, Complete, Books 1-6

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Title: Si Klegg, Complete, Books 1-6

Author: John McElroy

Release date: June 15, 2018 [eBook #57334]
Most recently updated: March 19, 2024

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Widger from page images generously
provided by the Internet Archive

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SI KLEGG, COMPLETE, BOOKS 1-6 ***





SI KLEGG

His Transformation From a Raw Recruit To A Veteran.



By John McElroy.



Frontispiece

Title Page


PUBLISHED BY

THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE CO.,

WASHINGTON, D. C

SECOND EDITION


COPYRIGHT 1910






THE SIX VOLUMES

  SI KLEGG, Book I, Transformation From a Raw Recruit  
  SI KLEGG, Book II, Through the Stone River Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book III, Meets Mr. Rosenbaum, the Spy  
  SI KLEGG, Book IV, On The Great Tullahoma Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book V, Deacon's Adventures At Chattanooga  
  SI KLEGG, Book VI, Enter On The Atlanta Campaign  







PREFACE.

"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born more than 25 years ago in the brain of John McElroy, editor of The National Tribune, who invented the names and characters, outlined the general plan, and wrote a number of the chapters. Subsequently, the editor, having many other important things pressing upon his attention, called in an assistant to help on the work, and this assistant, under the direction and guidance of the editor, wrote some of these chapters. Subsequently, without the editor's knowledge or consent, the assistant adopted all the material as his own, and expanded it into a book which had a limited sale and then passed into the usual oblivion of shortlived subscription books.

The sketches in this first number are the original ones published in The National Tribune in 1885-6, revised and enlarged somewhat by the editor.

Those in the second and all following numbers appeared in The National Tribune when the editor, John McElroy, resumed the story in 1897, 12 years after the first publication, and continued it for the unprecedented period of seven years, with constantly growing interest and popularity. They gave "Si Klegg" a nation-wide and enduring celebrity. Gen. Lew Wallace, the foremost literary man of his day, pronounced "Si Klegg" the "great idyll of the war."

How true they are to nature every veteran can abundantly testify from his own service. Really, only the name of the regiment was invented. There is no doubt that there were several men of the name of Josiah Klegg in the Union Army, and who did valiant service for the Government. They had experiences akin to, if not identical with, those narrated here, and substantially every man who faithfully and bravely carried a musket in defense of the best Government on earth had sometimes, if not often, experiences of with those of Si Klegg, Shorty and the boys are strong reminders.

Many of the illustrations in this first number are by the late Geo. Y. Coffin, deceased, a talented artist, whose work embellished The National Tribune for many years. He was the artist of The National Tribune until his lamented and premature death, and all his military work was done by daily consultation, instruction and direction of the editor of The National Tribune.

THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE.




CONTENTS


PREFACE.

SI KLEGG


CHAPTER I. GOING TO WAR—SI KLEGG'S COMPLETE EQUIPMENT

CHAPTER II. THE DEADLY BAYONET

CHAPTER III. THE OLD CANTEEN

CHAPTER IV. THE AWFUL HARDTACK

CHAPTER V. FAT PORK—INDISPENSABLE BODY TIMBER FOR PATRIOTISM

CHAPTER VI. DETAILED AS COOK—SI FINDS RICE ANOTHER INNOCENT

CHAPTER VII. IN THE AWKWARD SQUAD

CHAPTER VIII. ON COMPANY DRILL

CHAPTER IX. SI GETS A LETTER

CHAPTER X. SI AND THE DOCTORS

CHAPTER XI. THE PLAGUE OF THE SOLDIER

CHAPTER XII. A WET NIGHT

CHAPTER XIII. SI "STRAGGLED"

CHAPTER XIV. SI AND THE MULES

CHAPTER XV. UNDER FIRE—SI HAS A FIGHT, CAPTURES A PRISONER

CHAPTER XVI. ONE OF THE "NON-COMMISH"

CHAPTER XVII. FORAGING ON THE WAY

CHAPTER XVIII.   A SUNDAY OFF

CHAPTER XIX. A CLOSE CALL

CHAPTER XX. "THE SWEET SABBATH"

CHAPTER XXI. SI AND SHORTY WERE RAPIDLY LEARNING

CHAPTER XXII. A NIGHT OF SONG






ILLUSTRATIONS


Title Page

Frontispiece

Si Decides to Enlist

Off to the War

As Si Looked when he Landed at Louisville

Si's Load Begins to Get Heavy

Si's Chum, "shorty" Elliott

The Diverse Uses of the Good Old Canteen

What the Bayonet Was Good for

As Maria Pictured Si Using his Bayonet

He Tries the Butt of his Gun on It

The Best Way After All

The Veteran Talks to Si

Drawing Rations

"All Right, Boss; Dats a Go"

Si Falls out With his Food

Si Thinks It over

The Trouble Begins

The Rice Gets the Bulge

Si Makes the Acquaintance of The Guard House

"Right Shoulder Shift—Arms!"

"Fix—bayonets!"

Brought his Gun Down on the Man's Foot

Don't Care a Continental

"Right—face!"

"Forward—march!"

"Company—right Wheel!"

It's from Annabel

Si Carries a Rail

Si Writes to "deer Annie."

An Army Writing-desk

Laying the Foundation

A Rude Awakening

Visits the Doctor

"Let Yer Nails Grow; Ye'll Need 'em"

"Say, Cap, What Kind O' Bug is This?"

"Skirmishing"

"Naw! Lemme Show Ye How!"

Struck by a Cyclone

Supper Under Difficulties

A Field Shanty

It's the Morning

Taking the Top Rail

"Don't Stab Me."

Hydropathic Treatment

Si Defies a Regiment

He Let Both Heels Fly

Si Went Sprawling

Stuck in the Mud

It Burst With a Loud "bang."

Si Takes a Crack at A Reb

Si Captures a Johnny

Corporal si Klegg

One of the "Non-Com Mish."

"Not 'less Ye Say 'Bunker Hill.'"

They Had Shot a Mule

The 200th Ind. Was Not Without Talent in Foraging

Si Beat a Retreat

Si Being Worked for a "good Thing."

Si Was Disposed to Grumble

Showing the Old Man a Trick

Waiting for Their Clothes to Dry

An Assault on the Well-filled Corn Crib

Shorty Held the Calf

Si Sprang Upon Him

"Shorty if We—only Git—out O' This—"

So Straight he Leaned Backward

Si Almost Fainted when the Colonel Stopped

Shorty Was There—with a Guard






THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

TO THE RANK AND FILE

OF THE GRANDEST ARMY EVER MUSTERED FOR WAR.






SI KLEGG





CHAPTER I. GOING TO WAR—SI KLEGG'S COMPLETE EQUIPMENT

AND WHAT BECAME OF IT.

AFTER Si Klegg had finally yielded to his cumulative patriotic impulses and enlisted in the 200th Ind. for three years or until the rebellion was put down, with greater earnestness and solemnity to equip himself for his new career.

He was thrifty and provident, and believed in being ready for any emergency. His friends and family coincided with him. The Quartermaster provided him with a wardrobe that was serviceable, if not stylish, but there were many things that he felt he would need in addition.

"You must certainly have a few pairs of homeknit socks and some changes of underclothes," said his tearfully-solicitous mother. "They won't weigh much, and they'll in all likelihood save you a spell of sickness."

"Certainly," responded Josiah, "I wouldn't think of going away without 'em."

Into the capacious knapsack went several pounds of substantial knit woolen goods.

"You can't get along without a couple of towels and a piece of soap," said his oldest sister, Maria, as she stowed those things alongside the socks and underclothes.

"Si," said Ellen, his second sister, "I got this pocket album for my gift to you. It contains all our pictures, and there is a place for another's picture, whose name I suppose I needn't mention," she added archly.

Si got a little red in the face, but said:

"Nothing could be nicer, Nell. It'll be the greatest comfort in the world to have all your pictures to look at when I'm down in Dixie."

"Here's a 'housewife' I've made for you with my own hands," added Annabel, who was some other fellow's sister. She handed him a neatly-stitched little cloth affair. "You see, it has needles, thread, buttons, scissors, a fine-tooth comb, and several other things that you'll need very badly after you've been in camp awhile. And" (she got so near Si that she could whisper the rest) "you'll find in a little secret pocket a lock of my hair, which I cut off this morning."

"I suppose I'll have a good deal of leisure time while we're in camp," said Si to himself and the others; "I believe I'll just put this Ray's Arithmetic and Greene's Grammar in."

"Yes, my young friend," added the Rev. Boanarg, who had just entered the house, "and as you will be exposed to new and unusual temptations, I thought it would be judicious to put this volume of 'Baxter's Call to the Unconverted' in your knapsack, for it may give you good counsel when you need it sorely."

"Thankee," said Si, stowing away the book. Of course, Si had to have a hair-brush, blackingbrush, a shaving kit, and some other toilet appliances.

Si Decides to Enlist 017

Then it occurred to his thoughtful sister Maria that he ought to have a good supply of stationery, including pens, a bottle of ink, and a portfolio on which to write when he was far away from tables and desks.

These went in, accompanied by a half-pint bottle of "No. 6," which was Si's mother's specific for all the ills that flesh is heir to. Then, the blanket which the Quartermaster had issued seemed very light and insufficient to be all the bed-clothes a man would have when sleeping on the bare ground, and Si rolled up one of the warm counterpanes that had helped make the Indiana Winter nights so comfortable for him.

"Seems rather heavy," said Si as he put his knapsack on; "but I guess I'll get used to it in a little while. They say that soldiers learn to carry surprising loads on their backs. It'll help cure me of being round-shouldered; it'll be better 'n shoulder-braces for holding me up straight."

Of course, his father couldn't let him go away without giving him something that would contribute to his health and comfort, and at last the old gentleman had a happy thought—he would get the village shoemaker to make Si a pair of his best stout boots. They would be ever so much better than the shoes the Quartermaster furnished for tramping over the muddy roads and swamps of the South. Si fastened these on top of his knapsack until he should need them worse than at present.

His old uncle contributed an immense bowie knife, which he thought would be of great use in the sanguinary hand-to-hand conflicts Si would have to wage.

On the way to the depot Si found some of his comrades gathered around an enterprising retail dealer in hardware, who was convincing them that they could serve their country much better, besides adding to their comfort, by buying from him a light hatchet and a small frying-pan, which he offered, in consideration of their being soldiers, to sell them at remarkable low rates.

Off to the War 019

Si saw at once the great convenience a hatchet and a frying-pan would be, and added them to his kit. An energetic dealer in tinware succeeded in selling him, before he reached the depot, a cunning little coffee-pot and an ingenious combination of knife, fork and spoon which did not weigh more than a pound.

When he got in the cars he was chagrined to find that several of his comrades had provided themselves with convenient articles that he had not thought of. He consoled himself that the regiment would stop some time in Louisville, when he would have an opportunity of making up his deficiencies.

But when the 200th reached Louisville there was no leisure for anything. Bragg was then running his celebrated foot-race with Buell for the Kentucky metropolis, and the 200th Ind. was trotted as rapidly as unused legs could carry it to the works several miles from the center of the city.

Everybody who was in that campaign remembers how terribly hot and dry everything was.

Si Klegg managed to keep up tolerably near the head of the column until camp was reached, but his shoulders were strained and blisters began to appear on his feet.

"That was a mighty tough pull, wasn't it?" he said to his chum as they spread their blankets on the dog-kennel and made some sort of a bed; "but I guess after a day or two we'll get so used to it that we won't mind it."

For a few days the 200th Ind. lay in camp, but one day there came an order for the regiment to march to Bardstown as rapidly as possible. A battle was imminent. The roads were dusty as ash-heaps, and though the pace was not three miles an hour, the boys' tongues were hanging out before they were out of sight of camp.

"I say, Captain, don't they never have resting spells in the army?" said Si.

"Not on a forced march," answered the Captain, who, having been in the first three months' service, was regarded as a veteran. "Push on, boys; they say that they'll want us before night." Another hour passed.

As si Looked when he Landed at Louisville 021

"Captain, I don't believe you can put a pin-point anywhere on my feet that ain't covered with a blister as big as a hen's egg," groaned Si.

"It's too bad, I know," answered the officer; "but you must go on. They say Morgan's cavalry are in our rear shooting down every straggler they can find."

Si saw the boys around him lightening their knapsacks. He abominated waste above all things, but there seemed no help for it, and, reaching into that receptacle that bore, down upon his aching shoulders like a glacier on a groundhog, he pulled out and tossed into the fence corner the educational works he had anticipated so much benefit from. The bottle of "No. 6" followed, and it seemed as if the knapsack was a ton lighter, but it yet weighed more than any stack of hay on the home farm.

A cloud of dust whirled up, and out of it appeared a galloping Aid.

"The General says that the 200th Ind. must push on much faster. The enemy is trying to get to the bridge ahead of them," he shouted as he dashed off in another cloud of dust.

A few shots were heard in the rear.

"Morgan's cavalry are shooting some more stragglers," shouted some one.

Si was getting desperate. He unrolled the counterpane and slashed it into strips with his bowie. "My mother made that with her own hands," he explained to a comrade, "and if I can't have the good of it no infernal rebel shall. He next slashed the boots up and threw them after the quilt, and then hobbled on to overtake the rest of his company.

"There's enough dry-goods and clothing lying along in the fence corners to supply a good-sized town," the Lieutenant-Colonel reported as he rode over the line of march in rear of the regiment.

The next day Si's feet felt as if there was a separate and individual jumping toothache in every sinew, muscle, tendon and toe-nail; but that didn't matter. With Bragg's infantry ahead and John Morgan's cavalry in the rear, the 200th Ind. had to go forward so long as the boys could put one foot before the other.

Si's Load Begins to Get Heavy 023

The unloading went on even more rapidly than the day before.

"My knapsack looks like an elephant had stept on it," Si said, as he ruefully regarded it in the evening.

"Show me one in the regiment that don't," answered his comrade.

Thenceforward everything seemed to conspire to teach Si how vain and superfluous were the things of this world. The first rain-storm soaked his cherished album until it fell to pieces, and his sister's portfolio did the same. He put the photographs in his blouse pocket and got along just as well. When he wanted to write he got paper from the sutler. A mule tramped on his fancy coffee-pot, and he found he could make quite as good coffee in a quart-cup. A wagon-wheel lan over his cherished frying-pan, and he melted an old canteen in two and made a lighter and handier pan out of one-half of it. He broke his bowie-knife prying the lid off a cracker-box. He piled his knapsack with the others one day when the regiment was ordered to strip them off for a charge, and neither he nor his comrades ever saw one of them again. He never attempted to replace it. He learned to roll up an extra pair of socks and a change of underclothing in his blanket, tie the ends of this together and throw it over his shoulder sash fashion. Then, with his socks drawn up over the bottoms of his pantaloons, three days' rations in his haversack and 40 rounds in his cartridgebox, he was ready to make his 30 miles a day in any direction he might be sent, and whip anything that he encountered on the road.





CHAPTER II. THE DEADLY BAYONET

IT IS USED FOR NEARLY EVERYTHING ELSE THAN FOR PRODDING MEN.

IN COMMON with every other young man who enlisted to defend the glorious Stars and Stripes, Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., had a profound superstition concerning the bayonet. All the war literature he had ever read abounded in bloodcurdling descriptions of bayonet charges and hand-to-hand conflicts, in which bayonets were repeatedly thrust up to the shanks in the combatants' bodies just as he had put a pitch-fork into a bundle of hay. He had seen pictures of English regiments bristling with bayonets like a porcupine with quills, rushing toward French regiments which looked as prickly as a chestnut-bur, and in his ignorance he supposed that was the way fighting was done. Occasionally he would have qualms at the thought of how little his system was suited to have cold steel thrust through it promiscuous-like, but he comforted himself with the supposition that he would probably get used to it in time—"soldiers get used to almost anything, you know."

When the 200th Ind. drew its guns at Indianapolis he examined all the strange accouterments with interest, but gave most to the triangular bit of steel which writers who have never seen a battle make so important a weapon in deciding contests.

It had milk, molasses, or even applejack, for Si then was not a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars, of which society he is now an honored officer. Nothing could be nicer, when he was on picket, to bring buttermilk in from the neighboring farm-house to his chum Shorty, who stood post while he was gone.

Si's Chum, 'shorty' Elliott 026

Later in the service Si learned the inestimable value of coffee to the soldier on the march. Then he stript the cloth from his canteen, fastened the strand with bits of wire and made a fine coffee-pot of it. In the morning he would half fill it with the splendid coffee ihe Government furnished, fill it up with water and hang it from a bush or a stake over the fire, while he went ahead with his other culinary preparations. By the time these were finished he would have at least a quart of magnificent coffee that the cook of the Fifth Avenue could not surpass, and which would last him until the regiment halted in the afternoon.

The bully of the 200th took it into his thick head one day to try to "run over" Si. The latter had just filled his canteen, and the bully found that the momentum of three pints of water swung at arm's length by an angry boy was about equal to a mule's kick.

Just as he was beginning to properly appreciate his canteen, he learned a sharp lesson, that comes to all of us, as to how much "cussedness" there can be in the simplest things when they happen to go wrong. He went out one day and got a canteen of nice sweet milk, which he and "Shorty" Elliott heartily enjoyed. He hung the canteen upon the ridge-pole of the tent, and thought no more about it until the next day, when he came in from drill, and found the tent filled with an odor so vile that it made him cough.

"Why in thunder don't the Colonel send out a detail to find and bury that dead mule? It'll pizen the hull camp."

He had been in service just long enough to believe that the Colonel ought to look out for and attend to everything.

"'Taint no dead mule," said Shorty, whose nose had come close to the source of the odor. "It's this blamed canteen. What on earth have you been putting in it. Si?"

"Ha'int had nothin' in but that sweet milk yesterday."

"That's just what's the matter," said the Orderly, who, having been in the three-months' service, knew all about war. He had come in to detail Si and Shorty to help unload Quartermaster's stores. "You must always scald out your canteens when you've had milk in 'em. Don't you remember how careful your mother is to scald her milk pans?"

After the company wagon had run over and hopelessly ruined the neat little frying-pan which Si had brought from Posey County, he was in despair as to how he should fry his meat and cook his "lobscouse." Necessity is the mother of invention. He melted in two a canteen he picked up, and found its halves made two deep tin pans, very light and very handy. A split stick made a handle, and he had as good a frying-pan as the one he had lost, and much more convenient, for when done using the handle was thrown away, and the pan slipt into the haversack, where it lay snug and close, instead of clattering about as the frying-pan did when the regiment moved at the double-quick.

The other half of the canteen was useful to brown coffee, bake hoe-cake, and serve for toilet purposes.

One day on the Atlanta campaign the regiment moved up in line to the top of a bald hill. As it rose above the crest it was saluted with a terrific volley, and saw that another crest across the narrow valley was occupied by at least a brigade of rebels.

"We'll stay right here, boys," said the plucky little Colonel, who had only worn Sergeant's stripes when the regiment crossed the Ohio River. "We've preempted this bit of real estate, and we'll hold it against the whole Southern Confederacy. Break for that fence there, boys, and every fellow come back with a couple of rails."

It seemed as if he hardly ceased speaking when the boys came running back with the rails which they laid down along the crest, and dropped flat behind them, began throwing the gravelly soil over them with their useful half-canteens. In vain the shower of rebel bullets struck and sang about them. Not one could penetrate that little ridge of earth and rails, which in an hour grew into a strong rifle-pit against which the whole rebel brigade charged, only to sustain a bloody repulse.

The war would have lasted a good deal longer had it not been for the daily help of the ever-useful half-canteen.





CHAPTER III. THE OLD CANTEEN

THE MANY AND QUEER USES TO WHICH IT WAS AT LAST PUT.

The Diverse Uses of the Good Old Canteen 029

WHEN Josiah (called "Si" for short) Klegg, of the 200th Ind., drew his canteen from the Quartermaster at Louisville, he did not have a very high idea of its present or prospective importance. In the 22 hot Summers that he had lived through he had never found himself very far from a well or spring when his thirst cried out to be slacked, and he did not suppose that it was much farther between wells down South.

"I don't see the use of carrying two or three pints o' water along all day right past springs and over cricks," he remarked to his chum, as the two were examining the queer, cloth-covered cans.

"We've got to take 'em, any way," answered his chum, resignedly, "It's regulations."

On his entry into service a boy accepted everything without question when assured that it was "regulations." He would have charged bayonets on a buzz-saw if authoritatively informed that it was required by the mysterious "regulations."

The long march the 200th Ind. made after Bragg over the dusty turnpikes the first week in October, 1862, taught Si the value of a canteen. After that it was rarely allowed to get empty.

"What are these grooves along each side for?" he asked, pointing out the little hollows which give the "prod" lightness and strength.

"Why," answered the Orderly, who, having been in the three-months' service, assumed to know more about war than the Duke of Wellington, "the intention of those is to make a wound the lips of which will close up when the bayonet is pulled out, so that the man'll be certain to die."

Naturally so diabolical an intention sent cold shivers down Si's back.

The night before Si left for "the front" he had taken his musket and couterments home to show them to his mother and sisters—and the other fellow's sister, whose picture and lock of hair he had safely stowed away. They looked upon the bayonet with a dreadful awe. Tears came into Maria's eyes as she thought of Si roaming about through the South like a bandit plunging that cruel steel into people's bowels.

"This is the way it's done," said Si, as he charged about the room in an imaginary duel with a rebel, winding up with a terrifying lunge. "Die, Tur-r-rraitor, gaul durn ye," he exclaimed, for he was really getting excited over the matter, while the girls screamed and jumped upon the chairs, and his good mother almost fainted.

The attention that the 200th Ind. had to give to the bayonet drill confirmed Si's deep respect for the weapon, and he practiced assiduously all the "lunges," "parries," and "guards" in the Manual, in the hope that proficiency so gained would save his own dearly-beloved hide from puncture, and enable him to punch any luckless rebel that he might encounter as full of holes as a fishing net.

What the Bayonet Was Good for 033

The 200th Ind.'s first fight was at Perryville, but though it routed the rebel force in front of it, it would have taken a bayonet half-a-mile long to touch the nearest "Johnny." Si thought it odd that the rebels didn't let him get close enough to them to try his new bayonet, and pitch a dozen or two of them over into the next field.

If the truth must be told, the first blood that stained Si's bayonet was not that of a fellow-man.

Si Klegg's company was on picket one day, while Gen. Buell was trying to make up his mind what to do with Bragg. Rations had been a little short for a week or so. In fact, they had been scarcely sufficient to meet the demands of Si's appetite, and his haversack had nothing in it to speak of. Strict orders against foraging had been, issued. It was the day of "guarding rebel onion patches." Si couldn't quite get it straight in his head why the General should be so mighty particular about a few pigs and chickens and sweet potatoes, for he was really getting hungry, and when a man is in this condition he is not in a fit mood to grapple with fine-spun theories of governmental policy.

So when a fat pig came wabbling and grunting toward his post, it was to Si like a vision of manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness. A wild, uncontrollable desire to taste a fresh spare-rib took possession of him. Naturally, his first idea was to send a bullet through the animal, but on second thought he saw that wouldn't do at all. It would "give him away" at once, and, besides, he had found that a single shot on the picket-line would keep Buell's entire army in line-of-battle for a whole day.

Si wrote to his mother that his bright new bayonet was stained with Southern blood, and the old lady shuddered at the awful thought. "But," added Si, "it was only a pig, and not a man, that I killed!"

"I'm so glad!" she exclaimed.

As Maria Pictured si Using his Bayonet 035

By the time Si had been in the service a year there was less zeal in the enforcement of orders of this kind, and Si had become a very skillful and successful forager. He had still been unable to reach with his bayonet the body of a single one of his misguided fellow citizens, but he had stabbed a great many pigs and sheep. In fact, Si found his bayonet a most useful auxiliary in his predatory operations. He could not well have gotten along without it.

Uncle Sam generally furnished Si with plenty of coffee—roasted and unground—but did not supply him with a coffee mill. Si thought at first that the Government had forgotten something. He saw that several of the old veterans of '61 had coffee mills, but he found on inquiry that they had been obtained by confiscation only. He determined to supply himself at the first opportunity, but in the meantime he was obliged to 'use his bayonet as a substitute, just as all the rest of the soldiers did.

We regret to say that Si, having thrown away his "Baxter's Call to the Unconverted" in his first march, and having allowed himself to forget the lessons he had learned but a few years before in Sunday-school, soon learned to play poker and other sinful games. These, at night, developed another use for the bayonet. In its capacity as a "handy" candlestick it was "equaled by few and excelled by none." The "shank" was always ready to receive the candle, while the point could be thrust into the ground in an instant, and nothing more was necessary. This was perhaps the most general sphere of usefulness found by the bayonet during the war. Barrels of candle-grease flowed down the furrowed sides of this weapon for every drop of human blood that dimmed its luster.





CHAPTER IV. THE AWFUL HARDTACK

THE HARD AND SOLID STAFF OF MILITARY LIFE.

"APPETITE'S a queer thing," said Si to Shorty one day, when both were in a philosophical mood. "It's an awful bother when you haven't it, and it's a great deal worse when you have it, and can't get anything for it." "Same as money," returned sage Shorty. During the first few months of Si Klegg's service in the army the one thing that bothered him more than anything else was his appetite. It was a very robust, healthy one that Si had, for he had grown up on his father's farm in Indiana, and had never known what it was to be hungry without abundant means at hand for appeasing his desires in that direction. His mother's cupboard was never known to be in the condition of Old Mother Hubbard's, described in the nursery rhyme. The Kleggs might not have much tapestry and bric-a-brac in their home, but their smoke-house was always full, and Mrs. Klegg's kitchen could have fed a camp-meeting any time without warning. So it was that when Si enlisted his full, rosy face and his roundness of limb showed that he had been well fed, and that nature had made good use of the ample daily supplies that were provided. His digestive organs were kept in perfect condition by constant exercise.

After Si had put down his name on the roll of Co. Q of the 200th Ind. he had but a few days to remain at home before his regiment was to start for Louisville. During this time his mother and sisters kept him filled up with "goodies" of every sort. In fact, it was the biggest thing in the way of a protracted picnic that Si had ever struck.

"You must enjoy these things while you can, Si," said his mother, "for goodness knows what you'll do when you really git into the army. I've heerd 'em tell awful things about how the poor sogers don't have half enough to eat, and what they do git goes agin' any Christian stomach. Here, take another piece of this pie. A little while, and it'll be a long time, I reckon, till ye git any more."

"Don't keer if I do!" said Si, for there was scarcely any limit to his capacity.

And so during those days and nights the old lady and the girls cooked and cooked, and Si ate and ate, until it seemed as if he wouldn't want any more till the war was over.

Si was full, and as soon as Co. Q was, it was ordered to camp, and Si had to go. They loaded him down with good things enough to last him a week. The pretty Annabel—the neighbor's daughter who had solemnly promised Si that she wouldn't go with any other fellow while he was away—came around to see Si off and brought him a rich fruit cake.

"I made that for you," she said.

"Bully for you!" said Si, for he felt that he must begin to talk like a soldier.

The first day or two after reaching Louisville the 200th received rations of "soft bread." But that didn't last long. It was only a way they had of letting the fresh soldier down easy. Orders came to get ready to pull out after Bragg, and then Si'a regiment had its first issue of army rations. As the Orderly pried open a box of hardtack and began to distribute them to the boys, exclaimed:

"Them's nice-looking soda crackers. I don't believe the grub is going to be so bad, after all."

Si had never seen a hardtack before.

"Better taste one and see how you like it!" said one of Buell's ragged Indiana veterans, who had come over to see the boys of the 200th and hear the latest news from "God's country."

It happened that this lot was one of extra quality as to hardness. The baker's watch had stopped, or he had gone to sleep, and they had been left in the oven or dry-kiln too long. Si took one of them and carried it to his mouth. He first tried on it the bite which made such havoc with a quarter section of custard pie, but his incisors made no more impression upon it than if it had been a shingle.

"You have to bear on hard," said the veteran, with a grim smile.

"Je-ru-sa-lem!" exclaimed Si after he had made two or three attempts equally barren of results.

Then he tried his "back teeth." His molars were in prime order, and his jaw power was sufficient to crack a hickory nut every time. Si crowded one corner of the hardtack as far as he could between his "grinders," where he could get a good "purchase" on it, shut his eyes and turned on a full head of steam. His teeth and jaws fairly cracked under the strain, but he couldn't even "phase" it.

"If that ain't old pizen!" said Si. "It beats anything I ever seen up in the Wabash country."

But his blood was up, and laying the cracker upon a log, he brought the butt of his gun down upon it like a pile-driver.

He Tries the Butt of his Gun on It 041

"I thought I'd fix ye," he said, as he picked up the fragments, and tried his teeth upon the smaller ones. "Have I got to eat such stuff as that?" with a despairing look at his veteran friend. "I'd just as soon be a billy-goat and live on circus-posters, fruit-cans and old hoop-skirts."

"You'll get used to it after a while, same's we did. You'll see the time when you'll be mighty glad to get even as hard a tack as that!"

Si's heart sank almost into his shoes at the prospect, for the taste of his mother's pie and Annabel's fruit cake were yet fresh in his mouth. But Si was fully bent on being a loyal, obedient soldier, determined to make the best of everything without any more "kicking" than was the inalienable right of every man who wore a uniform.

For the first time in his life Si went to bed hungry that night. Impelled by the gnawings of his appetite he made repeated assaults upon the hardtack, but the result was wholly insufficient to satisfy the longings of his stomach. His supper wasn't anything to speak of. Before going to bed he began to exercise his ingenuity on various schemes to reduce the hardtack to a condition in which it would be more gratifying to his taste and better suited to the means with which nature had provided him for disposing of his rations. Naturally Si thought that soaking in water would have a beneficial effect. So he laid five or six of them in the bottom of a camp-kettle, anchored them down with a stone, and covered them with water. He thought that with the aid of a frying-pan he would get up a breakfast that he could eat, anyway.

Si felt a little blue as he lay curled up under his blanket with his head pillowed on his knapsack. He thought some about his mother, and sister Maria, and pretty Annabel, but he thought a good deal more about the beef and potatoes, the pies and the puddings, that were so plentifully spread upon the table at home.

It was a long time before he got to sleep. As he lay there, thinking and thinking, there came to his mind some ether uses to which it seemed to him the hardtack might be put, which would be much more consistent with its nature than to palm it off on the soldiers as alleged food. He thought he could now understand why, when he enlisted, they examined his teeth so carefully, as if they were going to buy him for a mule. They said it was necessary to have good teeth in order to bite "cartridges" successfully, but now he knew it was with reference to his ability to eat hardtack.

Si didn't want to be killed if he could help it.

While he was lying there he determined to line one of his shirts with hardtacks, and he would put that on whenever there was going to be a fight. He didn't believe the bullets would go through them. He wanted to do all he could toward paralyzing the rebels, and with such a protection he could be very brave, while his comrades were being mowed down around him. The idea of having such' a shirt struck Si as being a brilliant one.

Then, he thought hardtack would be excellent for half-soling his shoes. He didn't think they would ever wear out.

If he ran short of ammunition he could ram pieces of hardtack into his gun and he had no doubt they would do terrible execution in the ranks of the enemy.

All these things and many more Si thought of until finally he was lost in sleep. Then he dreamed that somebody was trying to cram stones down his throat.

The company was called out at daylight, and immediately after roll-call Si went to look after the hardtacks he had put to soak the night before. He thought he had never felt so hungry in his life. He fished out the hardtack and carefully inspected them, to note the result of the submerging and to figure out the chances on his much-needed breakfast.

To any old soldier it would be unnecessary to describe the condition in which Si found those hardtacks, and the effect of the soaking. For the information of any who never soaked a hardtack it may be said that Si found them transformed, to all appearances, into sole-leather. They were flexible, but as tough as the hide that was "found in the vat when the tanner died."

Si tried to bite a piece off one of them to see what it was like, but he couldn't get his teeth through it. In sheer desperation he laid it on a log, seized a hatchet, and chopped off a corner. He put it in his mouth and chewed on it a while, but found it as tasteless as cold codfish.

Si thought he would try the frying-pan. He chopped the hardtacks into bits, put in equal parts of water and grease, sifted over the mixture a little salt and pepper, and then gave it a thorough frying. Si's spirits rose during the gradual development of this scheme, as it seemed to offer a good prospect for his morning meal. And when it came to the eating. Si found it really good, comparatively speaking, even though it was very much like a dish compounded of the sweepings from around a shoemaker's bench. A good appetite was indispensable to a real enjoyment of this—which the soldiers called by a name that cannot be given here—but Si had the appetite, and he ate and was thankful.

"I thought I'd get the bulge on them things some way or other," said Si, as he drank the last of his coffee and arose from his meal, feeling like a giant refreshed with new wine.

For the next two or three months Si largely devoted his surplus energies to further experimenting with the hardtack. He applied every conceivable process of cookery he could think of that was possible with the meager outfit at his command in the way of utensils and materials. Nearly all of his patient and persevering efforts resulted only in vexation of spirit.

He continued to eat hardtack from day to day, in these various forms, but it was only because he had to do it. He didn't hanker after it, but it was a military necessity—hardtack or starvation. It was a hard choice, but Si's love of life—and Annabel—induced him to choose the hardtack.

The Best Way After All 045

But for a long-time Si's stomach was in a state of chronic rebellion, and on the whole he had a hard time of it getting used to this staple article of army diet. He did not become reconciled to it until after his regiment had rations of flour for a week, when the "cracker-line" had been cut by the guerillas and the supply of that substantial edible was exhausted. Si's experience with the flour swept away all his objections to the hardtack. Those slapjacks, so fearfully and wonderfully made, and those lumps of dough, mixed with cold water and dried on flat stones before the fire, as hard as cannon balls, played sad havoc with his internal arrangements. For the first time he was obliged to fall into the cadaverous squad at sick-call and wabble up to the doctor's shop, where he was dosed with castor-oil and blue-mass. Si was glad enough to see hardtack again. Most of the grumbling he did thereafter concerning the hardtack was because he often couldn't get enough.

About six months taught Si what all the soldiers learned by experience, that the best way to eat the average hardtack was to take it "straight"—just as it came out of the box, without any soaking or frying or stewing. At meal-time he would make a quart or so of coffee, stab the end of a ramrod through three or four slices of sowbelly, and cook them over the coals, allowing some of the drippings to fall upon the hardtack for lubricating purposes, and these constituted his frugal repast.





CHAPTER V. FAT PORK—INDISPENSABLE BODY TIMBER FOR PATRIOTISM.

IT WAS told in the last chapter how the patriotic impulses of Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., reached his stomach and digestive apparatus, and brought them under obedient subjection to hardtack. He didn't have quite so rough an experience with that other staple of army diet, which was in fact the very counterpart of the hardtack, and which took its most popular name from that part of the body of the female swine which is usually nearest the ground. Much of Si's muscle and brawn was due to the fact that meat was always plenty on his father's farm. When Si enlisted he was not entirely free from anxiety on the question of meat, for to his appetite it was not even second in importance to bread. If bread was the "staff of life" meat was life itself to Si. It didn't make much difference to him what kind it was, only so it was meat. He didn't suppose Uncle Sam would keep him supplied with quail on toast and porterhouse steaks all the time, but he did hope he would give him as much as he wanted of something in that line.

"You won't get much pork, unless you're a good forager," said one of Si's friends he met at Louisville, and who had been a year in the service.

Si thought he might, with practice and a little encouragement, be fairly successful in foraging on his' own hook, but at the same time he said he wouldn't grumble if he could only get plenty of pork. Fortunately for him he had not been imbued with the teachings of the Hebraic dispensation which declared "unclean" the beast that furnished the great bulk of the animal food for the American defenders of the Union.

Co. Q of the 200th Ind. received with the first issue of army rations at Louisville a bountiful supply of bacon of prime quality, and Si was happy at the prospect. He thought it would always be that way.

"I don't see anything the matter with such grub as that!" said Si. "Looks to me as though we were goin' to live like fighting-cocks."

"You're just a little bit brash," said his veteran friend, who had just been through the long, hungry march from Huntsville, Ala., to Louisville. "Better eat all you can lay yer hands on now, while ye've got a chance. One o' these days ye'll git into a tight place and ye won't see enough hog's meat in a week to grease a griddle. I've bin there, myself! Jest look at me and see what short rations 'll bring you to?"

But Si thought he wouldn't try to cross a bridge till he got to it, nor lie awake nights worrying over troubles that were yet in the future. Si had a philosophical streak in his mental make-up and this, by the way, was a good thing for a soldier to have. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," was an excellent rule for him to go by.

So Si assimilated all the pork that fell to his share, with an extra bit now and then from a comrade whose appetite was less vigorous. He thrived under its fructifying influence, and gave good promise of military activity and usefulness. No scientific processes of cookery were necessary to prepare it for immediate use. A simple boiling or frying or toasting was all that was required.

The Veteran Talks to si 049

During the few days at Louisville fresh beef was issued occasionally. It is true that the animals slain for the soldiers were not always fat and tender, nor did each of them have four hind-quarters. This last fact was the direct cause of a good deal of inflammation in the 200th Ind., as in every other regiment. The boys who got sections of the forward part of the "critter," usually about three-quarters bone, invariably kicked, and fired peppery remarks at those who got the juicy steaks from the rear portion of the animal. Then when their turn came for a piece of hind-quarter the other fellows would growl. Four-fifths of the boys generally had to content themselves with a skinny rib or a soupshank. Si shared the common lot, and did his full quota of grumbling because his "turn" for a slice of steak didn't come every time beef was issued.

The pickled pork was comparatively free from this cause of irritation. It was all alike, and was simply "Hobson's choice." Si remembered the fragrant and delicious fried ham that so often garnished his mother's breakfast table and wondered why there was not the same proportion of hams and sides in the Commissary that he remembered in the meathouse on the Wabash. He remarked to Shorty one day:

"I wonder where all this pork comes from?"

"It comes from Illinoy, I suppose," said Shorty. "I notice the barrels are all marked 'Chicago'."

"Must grow funny kind o' hogs out there—a mile long each, I should say. What do you mean?"

"Why, we've drawn a full mile o' sides from the Commissary, and haint struck a ham yit. I'm wonderin' jest how long that hog is!"

"Well, you are green. You oughter know by this time that there are only enough hams for the officers."

Now and then a few pigs' shoulders were handed round among the boys, but the large proportion of bone they contained was exasperating, and was the cause of much profanity.

Sometimes bacon was issued that had really outlived its usefulness, except, perhaps, for the manufacture of soap. Improperly "cured," it was strong and rancid, or, occasionally, so near a condition of putrefaction that the stench from it offended the nostrils of the whole camp. Some times it was full of "skippers," that tunneled their way through and through it, and grew fat with riotous living.

Drawing Rations 051

Si drew the line at this point. He had an ironplated stomach, but putrid and maggoty meat was too much for it. Whenever he got any of this he would trade it off to the darkies for chickens. There is nothing like pork for a Southern negro. He wants something that will "stick to his ribs."

By a gradual process of development his appetite reached the point when he could eat his fat pork perfectly raw. During a brief halt when on the march he would squat in a fence corner, go down into his haversack for supplies, cut a slice of bacon, lay it on a hardtack, and munch them with a keen relish.

'all Right, Boss; Dats a Go' 052

At one of the meetings of the Army of the Cumberland Gen. Garfield told a story which may appropriately close this chapter.

One day, while the Army of the Cumberland was beleaguered in Chattanooga and the men were almost starving on quarter rations, Gen. Rosecrans and his staff rode out to inspect the lines. As the brilliant cavalcade dashed by a lank, grizzled soldier growled to a comrade:

"It'd be a darned sight better for this army if we had a little more sowbelly and not quite so many brass buttons!"





CHAPTER VI. DETAILED AS COOK—SI FINDS RICE ANOTHER INNOCENT

WITH A GREAT DEAL OF CUSSEDNESS IN IT.

IT WOULD have been very strange, indeed, if Si Klegg had not grumbled loudly and frequently about the food that was dished up to him by the company cooks. In the first place, it was as natural for a boy to grumble at the "grub" as it was for him to try to shirk battalion drill or "run the guard." In the next place, the cooking done by the company bean-boiler deserved all the abuse it received, for as a rule the boys who sought places in the hash foundry did so because they were too lazy to drill or do guard duty, and their knowledge of cooking was about like that of the Irishman's of music:

"Can you play the fiddle, Pat?" he was asked. "Oi don't know, sor-r-r—Oi niver tried."

Si's mother, like most of the well-to-do farmers' wives in Indiana, was undoubtedly a good cook, and she trained up her daughters to do honor to her teachings, so that Si undoubtedly knew what properly-prepared food was. From the time he was big enough to spank he had fared sumptuously every day. In the gush of patriotic emotions that prompted him to enlist he scarcely thought of this feature of the case. If it entered his mind at all, he felt that he could safely trust all to the goodness of so beneficent a Government as that for the preservation of which he had offered himself as a target for the rebels to shoot at. He thought it no more than fair to the brave soldiers that Uncle Sam should furnish professional cooks for each company, who would serve everything up in the style of a first-class city restaurant. So, after Si got down among the boys and found how it really was, it was not long till his inside was a volcano of rebellion that threatened serious results.

Si Falls out With his Food 055

When, therefore, Si lifted up his voice and cried aloud, and spared not—when he said that he could get as good coffee as that furnished him by dipping his cup into a tan-vat; when he said that the meat was not good soap-grease, and that the potatoes and beans had not so much taste and nutrition in them as so much pine-shavings, he was probably nearer right than grumblers usually are.

"Give it to 'em, Si," his comrades would Say, when he turned up his loud bazoo on the rations question. "They ought to get it ten times worse. When we come out we expected that some of us would get shot by the rebels, but we didn't calculate that we were going to be poisoned in camp by a lot of dirty, lazy potwrastlers."

One morning after roll-call the Orderly-Sergeant came up to Si and said:

"There's been so much chin-music about this cooking-business that the Captain's ordered the cooks to go back to duty, and after this everybody'll have to take his regular turn at cooking. It'll be your turn to-day, and you'll stay in camp and get dinner."

When Co. Q marched out for the forenoon drill. Si pulled off his blouse and set down on a convenient log to think out how he should go to work. Up to this time he had been quite certain that he knew all about cooking that it was worth while to know. Just now none of his knowledge seemed to be in usable shape, and the more he thought about it the less able he seemed to be to decide upon any way of beginning. It had always appeared very easy for his mother and sisters to get dinner, and on more than one occasion he had reminded them how much better times they had staying in the house cooking dinner than he had out in the harvest field keeping up with the reaper. At this moment he would rather have kept up with the fastest reaper in Posey County, on the hottest of July days, than to have cooked the coarse dinner which his 75 comrades expected to be ready for them when they returned, tired, hot and hungry, from the morning drill.

Si Thinks It over 057

He went back to the barracks and inspected the company larder. He found there the same old, coarse, greasy, strong, fat pork, a bushel or so of beans, a few withered potatoes, sugar, coffee, bread, and a box of rice which had been collected from the daily rations because none of the cooks knew how to manage it. The sight of the South Carolina staple recalled the delightful rice puddings his mother used to make. His heart grew buoyant.

"Here's just the thing," he said. "I always was fond of rice, and I know the boys will be delighted with it for a change. I know I can cook it; for all that you've got to do is to put it in a pot with water and boil it till it is done. I've seen mother do that lots o' times.

"Let's see," he said, pursuing his ruminations.

"I think each boy can eat about a cupful, so I'll put one for each of 'em in the kettle."

"There's one for Abner," he continued, pouring a cupful in for the first name on the company-roll; "one for Acklin, one for Adams, one for Barber, one for Brooks," and so on down through the whole well-known list.

"It fills the old kettle tol'bly full," he remarked, as he scanned the utensil after depositing the contribution for Williams, the last name on the roll; "but I guess she'll stand it. I've heard mother tell the girls that they must always keep the rice covered with water, and stir it well, so that it wouldn't burn; so here goes. Won't the boys be astonished when they have a nice mess of rice, as a change from that rusty old side-meat!"

He hung the kettle on the fire and stepped out to the edge of the parade-ground to watch the boys drilling. It was the first time he had had the sensation of pleasure of seeing them at this without taking part in it himself, and he began to think that he would not mind if he had to cook most of the time. He suddenly remembered about his rice and hurried back to find it boiling, bulging over the top like a small snowdrift.

The Trouble Begins 059

"I was afraid that kettle was a little too full," he said to himself, hurrying off for another campkettle, in which he put about a third of the contents of the first. "Now they're all right. And it'll cook better and quicker in two than one. Great Scott! what's the matter? They're both boiling over. There must be something wrong with that rice."

Pretty soon he had all the company kettles employed, and then all that he could borrow from the other companies. But dip out as much as he would there seemed no abatement in the upheaving of the snowy cereal, and the kettles continued to foam over like so many huge glasses of soda water. He rushed to his bunk and got his gum blanket and heaped upon it a pile as big as a small haycock, but the mass in the kettle seemed larger than it was before this was subtracted.

He sweat and dipped, and dipped and sweat; burned his hands into blisters with the hot rice and hotter kettles, kicked over one of the largest kettles in one of his spasmodic rushes to save a portion of the food that was boiling over, and sent its white contents streaming over the ground. His misery came to a climax as he heard the quick step of his hungry comrades returning from drill.

"Right face; Arms a-port; Break ranks—March!" commanded the Orderly-Sergeant, and there was a clatter of tin cups and plates as they came rushing toward him to get their dinner—something to stay their ravenous stomachs. There was a clamor of rage, ridicule, wrath and disappointment as they took in the scene.

The Rice Gets the Bulge 061

"What's the matter here?" demanded the Captain, striding back to the company fire. "You young rascal, is this the way you get dinner for your comrades? Is this the way you attend to the duty for which you're detailed? Waste rations in some fool experiment and scatter good food all over the ground? Biler, put on your arms and take Klegg to the guard-houae. I'll make you pay for this nonsense, sir, in a way that you won't forget in a hurry, I'll be bound."

So poor Si marched to the guard-house, where he had to stay for 24 hours, as a punishment for not knowing, until he found out by this experience, that rice would "s-well." The Captain wouldn't let him have anything to eat except that scorched and half-cooked stuff cut of the kettles, and Si thought he never wanted to see any more rice as long as he lived.

Si Makes the Acquaintance of The Guard House 062

In the evening one of the boys took Si's blanket to him, thinking he would want it to sleep in.

"I tell ye, pard, this is purty derned tough!" said Si as he wiped a tear out of the southwest corner of his left eye with the sleeve of his blouse. "I think the Cap'n's hard on a feller who didn't mean to do nothin' wrong!" And Si looked as if he had lost all his interest in the old flag, and didn't care a pinch of his burnt rice what became of the Union.

His comrade "allowed" that it was hard, but supposed they, had got to get used to such things. He said he heard the Captain say he would let Si out the next day.





CHAPTER VII. IN THE AWKWARD SQUAD

SI HAS MANY TRIBULATIONS LEARNING THE MANUAL OP ARMS.

WHEN Si Klegg went into active service with Co. Q of the 200th Ind. his ideas of drill and tactics were exceedingly vague. He knew that a "drill" was something to make holes with, and as he understood that he had been sent down South to make holes through people, he supposed drilling had something to do with it. He handled his musket very much as he would a hoe. A "platoon" might be something to eat, for all he knew. He had a notion that a "wheel" was something that went around, and he thought a "file" was a screeching thing that his father used once a year to sharpen up the old buck saw.

The fact was that Si and his companions hardly had a fair shake in this respect, and entered the field at a decided disadvantage. It had been customary for a regiment to be constantly drilled for a month or two in camp in its own State before being sent to the front; but the 200th was rushed off to Kentucky the very day it was mustered in. This was while the cold chills were running up and down the backs of the people in the North on account of the threatened invasion by Bragg's army. The regiment pushed after the fleeing rebels, but whenever Suell's army halted to take breath, "Fall in for drill!" was shouted through its camp three or four times a day. It was liable to be called into action at any moment, and it was deemed indispensable to begin at once the process of making soldiers out of those tender-footed Hoosiers, whose zeal and patriotism as yet far exceeded their knowledge of military things. Most of the officers of the 200th were as green as the men, though some of them had seen service in other regiments; so, at first, officers and non-commissioned officers who had been in the field a few months and were considered veterans, and who knew, or thought they knew, all about tactics that was worth knowing, were detailed from the old regiments to put the boys through a course of sprouts in company and squad drill.

One morning three or four days after leaving Louisville, word was passed around that the regiment would not move that day, and the boys were so glad at the prospect of a day of rest that they wanted to get right up and yell. Si was sitting on a log, with his shoes off, rubbing his aching limbs and nursing his blisters, when the Orderly came along.

"Co. Q, be ready in 10 minutes to fall in for drill. Stir around, you men, and get your traps on. Klegg, put on them gunboats, and be lively about it."

"Orderly," said Si, looking as if he hadn't a friend on earth, "just look at them blisters; I can't drill to-day!"

"You'll have to or go to the guard-house," was the reply. "You'd better hustle yourself, too!"

Si couldn't think of anything to say that would do justice to his feelings; and so, with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a few muttered words that he didn't learn in Sunday school, he got ready to take his place in the company.

As a general combustion of powder by the armies of Buell and Bragg was hourly expected, it was thought best for the 200th to learn first something about shooting. If called suddenly into action it was believed the boys could "git thar," though they had not yet mastered the science of company and battalion evolutions. Co. Q was divided into squads of eight for exercise in the manual of arms. The man who took Si's squad was a grizzled Sergeant, who had been "lugging knapsack, box and gun" for a year. He fully realized his important and responsible functions as instructor of these innocent youths, having at the same time a supreme contempt for their ignorance. "Attention, Squad!" and they all looked at him in a way that meant business.

'right Shoulder Shift--arms!' 067

"Load in nine times—Load!"

Si couldn't quite understand what the "in" meant, but he had always been handy with a shotgun, to the terror of the squirrels and coons up in Posey County, and he thought he would show the Sergeant how spry he was. So he rammed in a cartridge, put on a cap, held up his musket, and blazed away, and then went to loading again as if his life depended upon his activity. For an instant the Sergeant was speechless with amazement. At length his tongue was loosened, and he roared out:

"What in the name of General Jackson are you doing, you measly idiot! Who ordered you to load and fire your piece?"

"I—I th—thought you did!" said Si, trembling as if he had the Wabash ague. "You said for us to load nine times. I thought nine loads would fill 'er chuck full and bust 'er and I didn't see any way but to shute 'em oft as fast as I got 'em in."

"No, sir! I gave the command according to Hardee, 'Load—in—nine—times!' and ef yer hadn't bin in such a hurry you'd 'a' found out what that means. Yer'll git along a good deal faster ef you'll go slower. Yer ought ter be made ter carry a rail, and a big one, for two hours."

Si protested that he was sorry, and didn't mean to, and wouldn't do so again, and the drill went on. The master went through all the nine "times" of "Handle—Cartridge!" "Draw—Rammer!" etc., each with its two or three "motions." It seemed like nonsense to Si.

"Boss," said he, "I kin get 'er loaded in just half the time ef yer'll let me do it my own way!"

"Silence!"' thundered the Sergeant. "If you speak another word I'll have ye gagged 'n' tied up by the thumbs!"

Si had always been used to speaking right out when he had anything to say, and had not yet got his "unruly member" under thorough subjection. He saw that it wouldn't do to fool with the Drill Sergeant, however, and he held his peace. But Si kept thinking that if he got into a fight he would ram in the cartridge and fire them out as fast as he could, without bothering his head about the "one time and three motions."

'fix--bayonets!' 069

"Order—Arms!" commanded the Sergeant, after he had explained how it was to be done. Si brought his gun down along with the rest like a pile-driver, and it landed squarely on the foot of the man next to him.

Brought his Gun Down on the Man's Foot 065

"Ou-ou-ouch!" remarked the victim of Si's inexperience.

"Didn't do it a'purpose, pard," said Si compassionately; "'pon my word I didn't. I'll be more keerful after this."

His suffering comrade, in very pointed language, urged upon Si the propriety of exercising a little more care. He determined that he would manage to get some other fellow to stand next to Si after that.

"Shoulder—Arms!" ordered the Sergeant, and the guns came straggling up into position. Then, after a few words of instruction, "Right shoulder shift—Arms!"

"Don't you know your right shoulder?" said the Sergeant, with a good deal of vinegar in his tone, to Si, who had his gun on the "larboard" side, as a sailor would say.

"Beg yer pardon," said Si; "I always was lefthanded. I'll learn if yer only gimme a show!"

"Silence!" again roared the Sergeant. "One more word, sir, and I will tie ye up, fer a fact!"

The Sergeant got his squad down to an "order arms" again, and then, after showing them how, he gave the order, "Fix—Bayonets!"

There was the usual clicking and clattering, during which Si dexterously managed to stick his bayonet into the eye of his comrade, whose toes were still aching from the blow of the butt of Si's musket. Si assured him he was sorry, and that it was all a mistake, but his comrade thought the limit of patience had been passed. So he confidently informed Si that as soon as drill was over he was going to "pound the stuffin'" out of him, and there wouldn't be any mistake about it, either.

When the hour was up the Captain of the company came around to see how the boys were getting along. The upshot of it was that poor Si was immediately organized into an "awkward squad" all by himself, and drilled an extra hour.

"We'll see, Mr. Klegg," said the Captain, "if you can't learn to handle your arms without mashing the toes and stabbing the eyes out of the rest of the company."





CHAPTER VIII. ON COMPANY DRILL

SI GETS TANGLED IN THE MAZES OF THE EVOLUTIONS.

"ALL in for company drill!"

These words struck the unwilling ears of Co. Q, 200th Ind., the next time Buell halted his army to draw a long breath.

"Wish somebody would shoot that durned Orderly," muttered Si Klegg. "For two cents I'd do it myself."

"Don't do it, Si," admonished Shorty, "They'd git another one that'd be just as bad. All orderlies are cusses."

Si believed it would be a case of justifiable homicide, and, if the truth must be told, this feeling was largely shared by the other members of the company. For more than a week the boys had been tramping over a "macadamized" Kentucky pike. Feet were plentifully decorated with blisters, legs were stiff and sore, and joints almost refused to perform their functions.

It had rained nearly all the previous day, and the disgusted Hoosiers of the 200th went sloshing along, wet to the skin, for 20 dreary miles. With that diabolical care and method that were generally practiced at such times, the Generals selected the worst possible locations for the camps. The 200th was turned into a cornfield, where the men sank over their shoetops in mud, and were ordered to bivouac for the night. The wagons didn't get up at all. How they passed the slowly-dragging hours of that dismal night will not be told at this time. Indeed, bare mention is enough to recall the scene to those who have "been there."

Don't Care a Continental 073

In the morning, when the company was ordered out for drill, Si Klegg was standing before the sputtering fire trying to dry his steaming clothes, every now and then turning around to give the other side a chance. The mercury in his individual thermometer had fallen to a very low point—in fact, it was a cold day for Si's patriotism. He had reached that stage, not by any means infrequent among the soldiers, when he "didn't care whether school kept or not."

"Well, Si, I s'pose you love your country this mornin'!" said Shorty. He was endeavoring to be cheerful under adverse circumstances.

"I ain't quite as certain about it," said Si, reflectively, "as I was when I left home, up in Posey County. I'm afeared I haven't got enough of it to last me through three years of this sort of thing!"

Si felt at that moment as though he was of no account for anything, unless it was to be decked with paint and feathers and stood for a sign in front of a cigar store.

The rain had ceased, and the Colonel of the 200th felt that he must, like the busy bee, "improve each shining hour" in putting his command into condition for effective service. So he told the Adjutant to have the companies marched over to an adjacent pasture for drill.

"Attention, Co. Q!" shouted the Captain, after the Orderly had got the boys limbered up enough to get into ranks. The Captain didn't know very much about drilling himself, but he had been reading up "Hardee," and thought he could handle the company; but it was a good deal like the blind trying to lead the blind.

"Right—Face!"

Not quite half the men faced the wrong way, turning to the left instead of the right, which was doing pretty well for a starter.

"Get around there, Klegg, and the rest of you fellows! Can't ye ever learn anything."

'right--face!' 075

Si was so particularly awkward that the Captain put him at the tail-end of the company. Then he tried the right face again, and as the boys seemed to get around in fair shape he commanded:

"Right shoulder shift arms! Forward—March!"

The company started off; but the Captain was not a little surprised, on looking back, to see Si marching: off in the opposite direction. He had faced the wrong way again, and, as he didn't see the others, he thought he was all right, and away he went on his own hook, till a shout from the Captain told him of his mistake.

'forward--march!' 076

When the Captain reached the field which was the drill-ground for the day, he thought he would try a wheel. After a brief lecture to the company on the subject he gave the command for the movement.

'company--right Wheel!' 077

It is scarcely necessary to say that the first trial was a sad failure. The line bulged out in the center, and the outer flank, unable to keep up, fell behind, the company assuming nearly the shape of a big letter C. Then the boys on the outer end took the double-quick, cutting across the arc of the proper circle, which soon resulted in a hopeless wreck of the whole company. The Captain halted the chaotic mass of struggling men, and with the help of the Orderly finally succeeded in getting them straightened out and into line again. The men had often seen practiced soldiers going through this most difficult of all tactical movements, and it seemed easy enough; they didn't see why they couldn't do it just as well as the other fellows. They kept at it, and in the course of half an hour had improved so much that they could swing around in some kind of shape without the line breaking to pieces.





CHAPTER IX. SI GETS A LETTER

AND WRITES ONE TO PRETTY ANNABEL, UNDER DIFFICULTIES.

"COMPANY Q, tumble up here and git yer mail!" shouted the Orderly one afternoon, soon after the 200th Ind. turned into a tobacco patch to bivouac for the night. It had been two weeks since the regiment left Louisville, and this was the first mail that had caught up with it.

It seemed to the boys as if they had been away from home a year. For a whole fortnight they hadn't heard a word from their mothers, or sisters, or their "girls." Si Klegg couldn't have felt more lonesome and forsaken if he had been Robinson Crusoe.

In the excitement of distributing the mail everything else was forgotten.. The boys were all getting their suppers, but at the thought of letters from home even hunger had to take a back seat.

Si left his coffee-pot to tip over into the fire, and his bacon sizzling in the frying-pan, as he elbowed his way into the crowd that huddled around the Orderly.

"If there ain't more'n one letter for me," said Si softly to himself, "I hope it'll be from Annabel; but, of course, I'd like to hear from Ma and sister Marier, too!"

The Orderly, with a big package of letters in his hand, was calling out the names, and as the boys received their letters they distributed themselves through the camp, squatting about on rails or on the ground, devouring with the greatest avidity the welcome messages from home. The camp looked as if there had been a snowstorm.

Si waited anxiously to hear his name called as the pile letters rapidly grew smaller, and he began to think he was going to get left.

"Josiah Klegg!" at length shouted the Orderly, as he held out two letters. Si snatched them from his hand, went off by himself, and sat down on a log.

Si looked at his letters and saw that one of them was addressed in a pretty hand. He had never received a letter from Annabel before, but he "felt it in his bones" that this one was from her. He glanced around to be certain nobody was looking at him, and gently broke the seal, while a ruddy glow overspread his beardless cheeks. But he was secure from observation, as everybody else was similarly intent.

"Dear Si," the letter began. He didn't have to turn over to the bottom of the last page to know what name he would find there. He read those words over and over a dozen times, and they set his nerves tingling clear down to his toe-nails. Si forgot his aches and blisters as he read on through those delicious lines.

It's from Annabel 081

She wrote how anxious she was to hear from him and how cruel it was of him not to write to her real often; how she lay awake nights thinking about him down among those awful rebels; how she supposed that by this time he must be full of bullet-holes; and didn't he ge' hungry sometimes, and wasn't it about time for him to get a furlough? how it was just too mean for anything that those men down South had to get up a war; how proud she was of Si because he had 'listed, and how she watched the newspapers every day to find some thing about him; how she wondered how many rebels he had killed, and if he had captured any batteries yet—she said she didn't quite know what batteries were, but she read a good deal about capturing 'em, and she supposed it was something all the soldiers did; how she hoped he wouldn't forget her, and she'd like to see how he looked, now that he was a real soldier, and her father had sold the old "mooley" cow, and Sally Perkins was engage to Jim Johnson, who had stayed at home, and as for herself she wouldn't have anybody but a soldier about the size of Si, and 'Squire Jones's son had been trying to shine up to her and cut Si out, but she sent him off with a flea in his ear.

"Yours till deth, Annabel."

The fact that there was a word misspelt now and then did not detract in the least from the letter, so pleasing to Si. In fact, he was a little lame in orthography himself, so that he had neither the ability nor the disposition to scan Annabel's pages with a critic's eye. Si was happy, and as he began to cast about for his supper he even viewed with complacence his bacon burned to a crisp and his capsized coffee-pot helplessly melting away in the fire.

"Well, Si, what does she say?" said his friend Shorty.

"What does who say?" replied Si, getting red in the face, and bristling up and trying to assume an air of indifference.

"Just look here now. Si," said Shorty, "you can't play that on me. How about that rosy-cheeked girl up in Posey County?"

It was Si's tender spot. He hadn't got used to that sort of thing yet, and he felt that the emotions that made his heart throb like a sawmill were too sacred to be fooled with. Impelled by a sudden impulse he smote Shorty fairly between the eyes, felling him to the ground.

The Orderly, who happened to be near, took Si by the ear and marched him up to the Captain's quarters.

"Have him carry a rail in front of my tent for an hour!" thundered the Captain. "Don't let it be a splinter, either; pick out a good, heavy one. And, Orderly, detail a guard to keep Mr. Klegg moving."

Si Carries a Rail 083

Of course, it was very mortifying to Si, and he would have been almost heartbroken had he not been comforted by the thought that it was all for her! At first he felt as if he would like to take that rail and charge around and destroy the whole regiment; but, on thinking it over, he made up his mind that discretion was the better part of valor.

As soon as Si's hour was up, and he had eaten supper and "made up" with Shorty, he set about answering his letter. When, on his first march, Si cleaned out all the surplusage from his knapsack, he had hung on to a pretty portfolio that his sister gave him. This was stocked with postage stamps and writing materials, including an assortment of the envelopes of the period, bearing in gaudy colors National emblems, stirring legends, and harrowing scenes of slaughter, all intended to stimulate the patriotic impulses and make the breast of the soldier a very volcano of martial ardor.

When Si got out his nice portfolio he found it to be an utter wreck. It had been jammed into a shapeless mass, and, besides this, it had been soaked with rain; paper and envelopes were a pulpy ruin, and the postage stamps were stuck around here and there in the chaos. It was plain that this memento of home had fallen an early victim to the hardships of campaign life, and that its days of usefulness were over.

"It's no use; 'tain't any good," said Si sorrowfully, as he tossed the debris into the fire, after vainly endeavoring to save from the wreck enough to carry, out his epistolary scheme.

Then he went to the sutler—or "skinner," as he was better known—and paid 10 cents for a sheet of paper and an envelope, on which were the cheerful words, "It is sweet to die for one's country!" and 10 cents more for a 3-cent postage stamp. He borrowed a leadpencil, hunted up a piece of crackerbox, and sat down to his work by the flickering light of the fire. Si wrote:

"Deer Annie."

There he stopped, and while he was scratching his head and thinking what he would say next the Orderly came around detailing guards for the night, and directed Klegg to get his traps and report at once for duty.

Si Writes to 'deer Annie.' 085

"It hain't my turn," said Si. "There's Bill Brown, and Jake Schneider, and Pat Dooley, and a dozen more—I've been since they have!"

But the Orderly did not even deign to reply. Si remembered the guard-house, and his shoulder still ached from the rail he had carried that evening; so he quietly folded up his paper and took his place with the detail.

The next morning the army moved early, and Si had no chance to resume his letter. As soon as the regiment halted, after an 18-mile march, he tackled it again. This time nothing better offered in the way of a writing-desk than a tin plate, which he placed face downward upon his knee. Thus provided, Si plunged briskly into the job before him, with the following result:

"I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well, except the doggoned blisters on my feet, and I hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings."

Si thought this was neat and a good start for his letter. Just as he had caught an idea for the next sentence a few scattering shots were heard on the picket-line, and in an instance the camp was in commotion. "Tall in!" "Be lively, men!" were heard on every hand.

Si sprang as if he had received a galvanic shock, cramming the letter into his pocket. Of course, there wasn't any fight. It was only one of the scares that formed so large a part of that campaign. But it spoiled Si's letter-writing for the time.

It was nearly a week before he got his letter done. He wrote part of it using for a desk the back of a comrade who was sitting asleep by the fire. He worked at it whenever he could catch a few minutes between the marches and the numerous details for guard, picket, fatigue and other duty. He said to Annie:

An Army Writing-desk 087
     "Bein' a soljer aint quite what they crack it up to be when
     they're gittin' a fellow to enlist. It's mity rough, and
     you'd better believe it. You ought to be glad you're a gurl
     and don't haf to go. I wish't I was a gurl sometimes. I
     haven't kild enny rebbles yet. I hain't even seen one except
     a fiew raskils that was tuk in by the critter soljers, they
     calls em cavilry. Me and all the rest of the boys wants to
     hav a fite, but it looks like Ginral Buil was afeared, and
     we don't git no chance. I axed the Ordly couldn't he get me
     a furlow. The Ordly jest laft and says to me, Si, says he,
     yer don't know as much as a mule. The Capt'n made me walk up
     and down for an hour with a big rail on my sholder.

     "You tell Squire Joneses boy that he haint got sand enuff to
     jine the army, and if he don't keep away from you I'll bust
     his eer when I git home, if I ever do. Whattle you do if I
     shouldn't ever see you agin? But you no this glorus Govyment
     must be pertected, and the bully Stars and Strips must
     flote, and your Si is goin to help do it.

          "My pen is poor, my ink is pale,
          My luv for you shall never fale.

     "Yours, aflfeckshnitly, Si Klegg."





CHAPTER X. SI AND THE DOCTORS

HE JOINS THE PALE PROCESSION AT SICK-CALL.

SI KLEGG was a good specimen of a healthy, robust Hoosier lad—for he could scarcely be called' a man yet. Since he lay in his cradle and was dosed with paregoric and catnip tea like other babies, he had never seen a sick day, except when he had the mumps on "both sides" at once. He had done all he could to starve the doctors.

When the 200th Ind. took the field it had the usual outfit of men who wrote their names sandwiched between a military title in front and "M. D." behind, a big hospital tent, and an apothecary shop on wheels, loaded to the guards with quinine, blue-mass, castor oil, epsom salts, and all other devices to assuage the sufferings of humanity.

The boys all started out in good shape, and there had been hardly time for them to get sick much yet. So up to this stage of the regiment's history the doctors had found little to do but issue arnica and salve for lame legs and blistered feet, and strut around in their shiny uniforms.

But there came a day when they had all they could attend to. On going into camp one afternoon, the regiment, well in advance, struck a big field of green corn and an orchard of half-ripe apples. Of course, the boys sailed in, and natural consequences followed.

"Now this is something like!" said Si, as he squatted on the ground along with Shorty and half a dozen messmates. They surrounded a camp-kettle full of steaming ears and half a bushel or so of apples heaped on a poncho.

"Wish we had some o' mother's butter to grease this corn with," observed Si, as he flung a cob into the fire and seized a fresh ear.

All agreed that Si's head was level on the butter question, but under all the circumstances of the case they were glad enough to have the com without butter.

The ears went off with amazing rapidity. Every man seemed to be afraid he wouldn't get his share. When the kettle was empty the boys turned themselves loose on the apples, utterly reckless of results. So, they were filled full, and were thankful.

When Si got up he burst off half the buttons on his clothes. He looked as if he was carrying a bass-drum in front of him. After he began to shrink he had to tie up his clothes with a string until he had a chance to repair damages. But during the next 24 hours he had something else to think of.

In fact, it wasn't long till Si began to wish he had eaten an ear of corn and an apple or two less. He didn't feel very well. He turned in early, thinking he would go to sleep and be all right in the morning.

Along in the night he uttered a yell that came near stampeding the company. An enormous colic was raging around in his interior, and Si fairly howled with pain. He thought he was going: to die right away.

Laying the Foundation 091

"Shorty," said he, between the gripes, to his comrade, "I'm afeared I'm goin' to peter out. After I'm gone you write to—to—Annie and tell her I died for my country like a man. I'd ruther been shot than die with the colic, but I 'spose 'twont make much difference after it's all over!" 9 "I'll do it," replied Shorty. "We'll plant you in good shape; and Si, we'll gather up the corn-cobs and build a monument over you!"

But Si wasn't cut off in the bloom of youth by that colic. His eruptive condition frightened Shorty, however, and though he was in nearly as bad shape himself, he went up and routed out one of the doctors, who growled a good deal about being disturbed.

The debris of the supper scattered about the camp told him what was the matter, and he had no need to make a critical diagnosis of Si's case. He gave him a dose of something or other that made the pain let up a little, and Si managed to rub along through the night.

Fortunately for Si, and for more than half the members of the regiment, the army did not move next day, and the doctors had a good opportunity to get in their work.

At the usual hour in the morning the bugle blew the "sick-call." A regiment of tanned and grizzled veterans from Ohio lay next to the 200th Ind., and as Si lay there he heard them take up the music:

     "Git yer qui-nine! Git yer qui-nine!
     Tumble up you sick and lame and blind;
     Git a-long right smart, you'll be left be-hind."

"Fall in fer yer ipecac!" shouted the Orderly of Co. Q. Si joined the procession and went wabbling up to the "doctor's" shop. He was better than he had been during the night, but still looked a good deal discouraged.

It was a regular matinee that day. The Surgeon and his assistants were all on hand, as the various squads, colicky and cadaverous, came to a focus in front of the tent.

A Rude Awakening 093

The doctors worked off the patients at a rapid rate, generally prescribing the same medicine for all, no matter what ailed them. This was the way the army doctors always did, but it happened in this case that they were not far wrong, as the ailments, arising from a common cause, were much the same.

Si waited till his turn came, and received his rations from the Hospital Steward. Of course, he was excused from duty for the day, and as he speedily recovered his normal condition he really had a good time.

Visits the Doctor 094

A few days after this the whole regiment was ordered on fatigue duty to repair an old corduroy road. Si didn't want to go, and "played off." He told the Orderly he wasn't able to work, but the Orderly said he would have to shoulder an ax or a shovel, unless he was excused by the doctor. He went up at sick-call and made a wry face, with his hands clasped over his body in the latitude of his waistband.

The doctor gave him a lot of blue-mass pills, which Si threw into the fire as soon as he got back to his quarters. Then he played seven-up all day with Shorty, who had learned before Si did how to get a day off when he wanted it.

Si thought it was a great scheme, but he tried it once too often. The doctor "caught on," and said, the next time Si went up, that castor oil was what he needed to fetch him around. So he poured out a large dose and made Si take it right then and there.

The next time fatigue duty was ordered Si thought he felt well enough to go along with the boys.





CHAPTER XI. THE PLAGUE OF THE SOLDIER

INTRODUCTION TO "ONE WHO STICKETH CLOSER THAN A BROTHER."

"HELLO Si; goin' for a soljer, ain't ye?"

"You bet!"

"Wall, you'd better b'lieve its great fun; it's jest a picnic all the time! But, say, Si, let's see yer finger-nails!"

"I'd like ter know what finger-nails 's got to do with soljerin'!" said Si. "The 'cruitin' ossifer 'n' the man 't keeps the doctor shop made me shuck myself, 'n' then they 'xamined my teeth, 'n' thumped me in the ribs, 'n' rubbed down my legs, 'n' looked at my hoofs, same 's if 'I'd bin a hoss they wuz buyin', but they didn't say nothin' 'bout my finger-nails."

"You jest do 's I tell ye; let 'em grow, 'n' keep 'em right sharp. Ye'll find plenty o' use fer 'em arter a while, 'n' 'twont be long, nuther. I know what I'm talkin' 'bout; I've been thar!"

This conversation took place a day or two before Si bade farewell to his mother and sister Marier and pretty Annabel and left the peaceful precincts of Posey County to march away with the 200th Ind. for that awful place vaguely designated as "the front!" He had promptly responded to the call, and his name was near the top of the list of Company Q.

'let Yer Nails Grow; Ye'll Need 'em' 097

Si already had his blue clothes on. By enlisting early he had a good pick of the various garments, and so got a suit that fitted his form—which was plump as an apple-dumpling tolerably well. It was left for the tail-enders of the company to draw trousers that were six inches too long or too short, and blouses that either wouldn't reach around, and left yawning chasms in front, or were so large that they looked as if they were hung on bean-poles.

Of course, Si couldn't be expected to do any more plodding farm work, now that he had "jined" the army. While the company was filling up he spent most of his time on dress parade in the village near by, eliciting admiring smiles from all the girls, and an object of the profoundest awe and wonder to tha small boys.

One day Si was sitting on the sugar-barrel in the corner grocery, gnawing a "blind robin," and telling how he thought the war wouldn't last long after the 200th Ind. got down there and took a hand and got fairly interested in the game; they would wind it up in short meter. Such ardent emotions always seethed and bubbled in the swelling breasts of the new troops when they came down to show the veterans just how to do it.

One of the town boys who had been a year in the service, had got a bullet through his arm in a skirmish, and was at home on furlough, came into the store, and then took place the dialog between him and Si that opens this chapter.

Si wondered a good deal what the veteran meant about the finger-nails. He did not even know that there existed in any nature a certain active and industrious insect which, before he had been in the army a great while, would cause his heart to overflow with gratitude to a beneficent Providence for providing him with nails on his fingers.

When the 200th left Indiana all the boys had, of course, brand-new outfits right from Uncle Sam's great one-price clothing house. Their garments were nice and clean, their faces well washed, and their hair yet showed marks of the comb. At Louisville they stuck up their noses, with a lofty consciousness of superiority, at the sight of Buell's tanned and ragged tramps, who had just come up on the gallop from Tennessee and northern Alabama.

'say, Cap, What Kind O' Bug is This?' 099

If the new Hoosier regiment had been quartered for a while in long-used barracks, or had pitched its tents in an old camp, Si would very soon have learned, in the school of experience, the delightful uses of finger-nails. But the 200th stayed only a single night in Louisville and then joined the procession that started on the chase after the rebel army. It generally camped on new ground, and under these circumstances the insect to which allusion has been made did not begin its work of devastation with that suddenness that usually marked its attack upon soldiers entering the field. But he never failed to "git there" sooner or later, and it was more frequently sooner than later.

One afternoon, when a few days out on this march, a regiment of Wisconsin veterans bivouacked next to the 200th Ind. The strange antics as they threw off their accouterments attracted Si's attention.

"Look a' thar," he said to Shorty. "What 'n name of all the prophets 's them fellers up to?"

"Seems like they was scratchin' theirselves!"

"I s'pose that's on account of the dust 'n' sweat," said Si.

"It's a mighty sight worse 'n that!" replied Shorty, who knew more about these things than Si did. "I reckon we'll all be doin' like they are 'fore long."

Si whistled softly to himself as he watched the Wisconsin boys. They were hitching and twisting their shoulders about, evidently enjoying the friction of the clothing upon their skins. There was a general employment of fingers, and often one would be seen getting come other fellow to scratch his back around where he couldn't reach himself. If everybody was too busy to do this for him he would back up to a tree and rub up and down against the bark.

Life has few pleasures that can equal the sensations of delightful enjoyment produced in those days, when graybacks were plenty, by rubbing against a tree that nicely fitted the hollow of the back, after throwing off one's "traps" at the end of a day's march.

Directly the Wisconsin chaps began to scatter into the woods. Si watched them as they got behind the trees and threw off their blouses and shirts. He thought at first that perhaps they were going in swimming, but there was no stream of water at hand large enough to justify this theory in explanation of their nudity. As each man set down, spread his nether garment over his knees and appeared to be intently engaged, with eyes and fingers. Si's curiosity was very much excited.

"Looks 's if they wuz all mendin' up their shirts and sewin' on buttons," said Si, "Guess it's part o' their regular drill, ain't it, Shorty?"

Shorty laughed at Si's ignorant simplicity. He knew what those veterans were doing, and he knew that Si would have to come to it, but he didn't want to shock his tender sensibilities by telling him of it.

"Them fellers ain't sewin' on no buttons. Si," he replied; "they're skirmishin'."

"Skirmishin'!" exclaimed Si, opening his eyes very wide. "I haint seen any signs o' rebs 'round here, 'n' there aint any shootin' goin' on, 'nless I've lost my hearin'. Durned if 't aint the funniest skirmishin' I ever hearn tell of!"

"Now, don't ax me nuthin' more 'bout it, Si," said Shorty. "All I'm goin' to tell ye is that the longer ye live the more ye'll find things out. Let's flax 'round 'n' git supper!"

A little while after, as Si was squatting on the ground holding the frying-pan over the fire, he saw a strange insect vaguely wandering about on the sleeve of his blouse. It seemed to be looking for something, and Si became interested as he watched it traveling up and down his arm. He had never seen one like it before, and he thought he would like to know what it was. He would have asked Shorty, but his comrade had gone to the spring for water. Casting his eye around he saw the Captain, who chanced to be sauntering through the camp.

The Captain of Co. Q had been the Principal of a seminary in Posey County, and was looked upon with awe by the simple folk as a man who knew about all that was worth knowing. Si thought he might be able to tell him all about the harmless's-looking little stranger.

So he put down his frying-pan and stepped up to the Captain, holding out his arm and keeping his eye on the insect so that he shouldn't get away.

"Good evenin', Cap.," said Si, touching his hat, and addressing him with that familiar disregard of official dignity that characterised the average volunteer, who generally felt that he was just as good as anybody who wore shoulder straps.

"Good evening, Klegg," said the Captain, returning the salute.

"Say, Cap, you've been ter collidge 'n' got filled up with book-larnin'; p'raps ye kin tell me what kind o' bug this is. I'm jest a little bit curious to know."

And Si pointed to the object of his inquiry that was leisurely creeping toward a hole in the elbow of his outer garment.

"Well, Josiah," said the Captain, after a brief inspection, "I presume I don't know quite as much as some people think I do; but I guess I can tell you something about that insect. I never had any of them myself, but I've read of them."

"Never had 'em himself," thought Si. "What 'n the world does ha mean?" And Si's big eyes opened with wonder and fear at the thought that whatever it was he had "got 'em."

"I suppose," continued the Captain, "you would like to know the scientific name?"

"I reck'n that'll do 's well 's any."

"Well, sir, that is a Pediculus. That's a Latin word, but it's his name."

"Purty big name fer such a leetle bug, ain't it, Perfessor?" observed Si. "Name's big enough for an el'fant er a 'potamus."

'skirmishing' 103

"It may seem so, Klegg; but when you get intimately acquainted with him I think you will find that his name isn't any too large for him. There is a good deal more of him than you think."

The young soldier's eyes opened still wider.

"I was going on to tell you," continued the Captain, "that there are several kinds of Pediculi—we don't say Pediculuses. There is the Pediculus Capitis—Latin again—but it means the kind that lives on the head. I presume when you were a little shaver your mother now and then harrowed your head with a fine-tooth comb?"

"Ya-as" said Si; "she almost took the hide off sometimes, an' made me yell like an Injun."

"Now, Klegg, I don't wish to cause you unnecessary alarm, but I will say that the head insect isn't a circumstance to this one on your arm. As you would express it, perhaps, he can't hold a candle to him. This fellow is the Pediculus Corporis!"

"I s'pose that means they eats up Corporals!" said Si.

"I do not think the Pediculus Corporis confines himself exclusively to Corporals, as his name might indicate," said the Captain, laughing at Si's literal translation and his personal application of the word. "He no doubt likes a juicy and succulent Corporal, but I don't believe he is any respecter of persons. That's my opinion, from what I've heard about him. It is likely that I 'will be able to speak more definitely, from experience, after a while. Corporis means that he is the kind that pastures on the human body. But there's one thing more about this fellow, some call him Pediculus Vestimenti; that is because he lives around in the clothing."

"But we don't wear no vests," said Si, taking a practical view of this new word; "nothin' but blouses, 'n' pants, 'n' shirts."

"You are too literal, Klegg. That word means any kind of clothes. But I guess I've told you as much about him as you care to know at present. If you want any more information, after two or three weeks, come and see me again. I think by that time you will not find it necessary to ask any more questions."

Si went back to his cooking, with the Pediculus still on his arm. He wanted to show it to Shorty. The Captain's profound explanation, with its large words, was a little too much for Si. He did not yet clearly comprehend the matter, and as he walked thoughtfully to where Shorty was "bilin'" the coffee he was trying to get through his head what it all meant.

"Hello, Si," said Shorty; "whar ye bin? What d'ye mean, goin' off 'n' leavin' yer sowbelly half done?"

"Sh-h!" replied Si. "Ye needn't git yer back up about it. Bin talkin' to the Cap'n. Shorty, look at that 'ere bug!"

And Si pointed to the object of the Captain's lecture on natural history that was still creeping on his arm. Shorty slapped his thigh and burst into a loud laugh.

"Was that what ye went to see the Cap'n 'bout?" he asked as soon as he could speak.

"Why—ya-as," replied Si, somewhat surprised at Shorty's unseemly levity. "I saw that thing crawlin' round, 'n' I was a-wonderin' what it was, fer I never seen one afore. I knowed Cap was a scolard, 'n' a perfesser, 'n' all that 'n' I 'lowed he c'd tell me all about it. So I went 'n' axed him."

"What'd he tell ye?"

"He told me lots o' big, heathenish words, 'n' said this bug was a ridiculous, or suthin' like that."

"'Diculus be blowed!" said Shorty, "The ole man was a'stuffin' ye. I'll tell ye what that is, Si," he added solemnly, "that's a grayback!"

"A grayback!" said Si. "I've hearn 'em call the Johnnies graybacks, but I didn't know 's there was any other kind."

"I reck'n 'twont be long, now, till yer catches on ter the meanin' ol what a grayback is. Ye'll know all 'bout it purty sudden. This ain't the first one I ever seen."

Si was impressed, as he had often been before, by Shorty's superior wisdom and experience.

"See here. Si," Shorty continued, as his eye suddenly lighted up with a brilliant thought, "I guess I kin make ye understand what a grayback is. What d'ye call that coat ye've got on?"

"Why, that's a fool question; it's a blouse, of course!"

"Jesso!" said Shorty. "Now, knock off the fust letter o' that word, 'n' see what ye got left!"

Si looked at Shorty as if he thought his conundrums were an indication of approaching idiocy. Then he said, half to himself:

"Let's see! Blouse—blouse—take off the 'b' 'n' she spells l-o-u-s-e, louse! Great Scott, Shorty, is that a louse?"

"That's jest the size of it. Si. Ye'll have millions of 'em 'fore the war's over 'f they don't hurry up the cakes."

Si looked as if he would like to dig a hole in the ground, get into it, and have Shorty cover him up.

"Why didn't the Cap'n tell me it was that? He said suthin' about ridiculus corporalis, and I thought he was makin' fun o' me. He said these bugs liked to eat fat Corporals.'

"I reck'n that's so," replied Shorty; "but they likes other people jest as well—even a skinny feller like me. They lunches off'n privits, 'n' Corp'rils, 'n' Kurnals, 'n' Gin'rals, all the same. They ain't satisfied with three square meals a day, nuther; they jest eats right along all the time 'tween regular meals. They allus gits hungry in the night, too, and chaws a feller up while he sleeps. They don't give ye no show at all. I rayther think the graybacks likes the ossifers best if they could have their ch'ice, 'cause they's fatter 'n the privits; they gits better grub."

Si fairly turned pale as he contemplated the picture so graphically portrayed by Shorty. The latter's explanation was far more effectual in letting the light in upon Si's mind than the scientific disquisition of the "Perfesser." He had now a pretty clear idea of what a "grayback" was. Whatever he lacked to make his knowledge complete was soon supplied in the regular way. But Si was deeply grieved and shocked at what Shorty had told him. It was some minutes before he said anything more.

"Shorty," he said, with a sadness in his tone that would almost have moved a mule to tears, "who'd a-thought rd ever git as low down 's this, to have them all-fired graybacks, 's ye call 'em, crawlin' over me. How'd mother feel if she knew about 'em. She wouldn't sleep a wink fer a month!"

"Ye'll have to come to it. Si. All the soljers does, from the Major-Gin'rals down to the tail-end of the mule-whackers. Ye mind them 'Sconsin chaps we was lookin' at a little bit ago?"

"Yes," said Si.

"Well, graybacks was what ailed 'em. The fellers with their shirts on their knees was killin' 'em off. That's what they calls 'skirmishin'. There's other kinds o' skirmishing besides fitin' rebels! Ye'd better git rid of that one on yer arm, if he hasn't got inside already; then there'll be one less of 'em."

Si found him after a short search, and proposed to get a chip, carry him to the fire and throw him in.

"Naw!" said Shorty in disgust, "that's no way. Lemme show yer how!"

'naw! Lemme Show Ye How!' 107

Shorty placed one thumb-nail on each side of the insect. There was a quick pressure, a snap like the crack of a percussion cap, and all was over.

Si shuddered, and wondered if he could ever engage in such a work of slaughter.

"D'ye s'pose," he said to Shorty, "that there's any more of 'em on me?" And he began to hitch his shoulders about, and to feel a desire to put his fingers to active use.

"Shouldn't wonder," replied Shorty. "Mebbe I've got 'em, to. Let's go out'n do a little skirmishin' ourselves."

"We'd better go off a good ways," said Si, "so's the boys won't see us."

"You're too nice and pertickler for a soljer. Si. They'll all be doin' it, even the Cap'n himself, by termorrer or nex' day."

They went out back of the camp, where Si insisted on getting behind the largest tree he could find. Then they sat down and engaged in that exciting chase of the Pediculus up and down the seams of their garments, so familiar to all who wore either the blue or the gray. Thousands of nice young men who are now preachers and doctors and lawyers and statesmen, felt just as bad about it at first as Si did.

"Shorty," said Si, as they slowly walked back to eat their supper, which had been neglected in the excitement of the hour, "before Co. Q left Posey County to jine the rigiment a feller 't was home on furlow told me ter let my finger-nails grow long 'n' sharp. He said I'd need 'em. I didn't know what he meant then, but I b'lieve I do now."





CHAPTER XII. A WET NIGHT

THE DEPRAVITY OF AN ARMY TENT REVEALS ITSELF.

NIGHT threw her dark mantle over the camp of the 200th Ind. The details of guard and picket had been made. Videts, with sleepless eye and listening ear, kept watch and ward on the outposts, while faithful sentries trod their beats around the great bivouac. All day the army had marched, and was to take the road again at an early hour in the morning. Supper had been eaten, and the tired soldiers were gathered around the campfires that gleamed far and near through the darkness.

"Si," said Shorty to his chum as they sat on a log beside the dying embers, "how d'ye like soldierin', as fur as ye've got?"

"It's purty hard business," said Si, reflectively, "an' I s'pose we haint seen the worst on it yet, either, from what I've hearn tell. Pity the men that got up this war can't be made to do all the trampin' 'n' fitin'. An' them fellers up in old Injjeanny that come 'round makin' such red-hot speeches to git us boys to 'list, wouldn't it be fun to see 'em humpin' 'long with gun 'n' knapsack, 'n' chawin' hardtack, 'n' stan'in' guard nights, 'n' pourin' water on their blisters, 'n' pickin' graybacks off their shirts, 'n' p'leecin' camp, 'n' washin' their own clothes?"

"I think we'd enj'y seein' 'em do all that," said Shorty, laughing at the picture Si had drawn. "I reckon most of 'em 'd peter out purty quick, and I'd like to hear what sort o' speeches they'd, make then. I tell ye, Si, there's a big diff'rence 'tween goin' yerself an' tellin' some other feller to go."

"Mebbe they'll git to draftin' after a while," observed Si, "'n' if they do I hope that'll ketch em!"

"Wall, we're in fur it, anyway," said Shorty. "Let's take down the bed 'n' turn in!"

It didn't take long to complete the arrangements for the night. They spread their "gum" blankets, or ponchos, on the ground, within the tent, and on these their wool blankets, placed their knapsacks at the head for pillows, and that was all. It was warmer than usual that evening, and they stripped down to their nether garments.

"Feels good once in a while," said Si, "to peel a feller's clothes oft, 'n' sleep in a Christian-like way. But, Great Scott! Shorty, ain't this ground lumpy? It's like lying on a big washboard. I scooted all over the country huntin' fer straw to-night. There wasn't but one little stack within a mile of camp. Them derned Ohio chaps gobbled every smidgin of it. They didn't leave enuff to make a hummin'-bird's nest. The 200th Ind. 'll git even with 'em some day."

So Si and Shorty crept in between the blankets, drew the top one up to their chins, and adjusted their bodily protuberances as best they could to fit the ridges and hollows beneath them.

"Now, Si," said Shorty, "don't ye git to fitin' rebels in yer sleep and kick the kiver off, as ye did last night."

As they lay there their ears caught the music of the bugles sounding the "tattoo." Far and near floated through the clear night air the familiar melody that warned every soldier not on duty to go to bed. Next to the 200th Ind. lay a regiment of wild Michigan veterans, who struck up, following the strains of the bugles:

     Say, oh Dutch'y, will ye fight mit Si-gel?
     Zwei glass o' la-ger, Yaw! Yaw! Yaw!!!
     Will yet fight to help de bul-ly ea-gle?

     Schweitzer-ksse und pret-zels,
     Hur-raw! raw! raw!

During the night there came one of those sudden storms that seemed to be sent by an inscrutable Providence especially to give variety to the soldier's life.

Struck by a Cyclone 111

A well-developed cyclone struck the camp, and Si and Shorty were soon awakened by the racket. The wind was blowing and whirling in fierce gusts, wrenching out the tent-pins or snapping the ropes as if they were threads. Everywhere was heard the flapping of canvas, and the yells and shouts of the men as they dashed about in the darkness and wild confusion. Many of the tents were already prostrate, and their demoralized inmates were crawling out from under the ruin. To crown all the rain began to fall in torrents. The camp was a vast pandemonium. The blackest darkness prevailed, save when the scene was illuminated by flashes of lightning. These were followed by peals of thunder that made the stoutest quake.

Si sprang up at the first alarm. "Git up, here, you fellers!" he shouted. "We'd better go outside and grab the ropes, or the hull shebang 'll go over."

There was not a moment to spare. Si dashed out into the storm and darkness, followed by his comrades. Seizing the ropes, some of which were already loosened, they braced themselves and hung on for dear life, in the drenching rain, their hair and garments streaming in the wind.

Si's prompt action saved the tent from the general wreck. The fury of the storm was soon past. Si and his comrades, after driving the pins and securing the ropes, re-entered the tent, wet and shivering for the mercury had gone down with a tumble, or rather it would have done so had they been supplied with thermometers. But the scanty costume in which Si found himself afforded a weather indicator sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes.

Supper Under Difficulties 115

The ground was flooded, and their blankets and garments were fast absorbing the water that flowed around in such an exasperating way. Sleep under such conditions was out of the question. Si and Shorty put on their clothes and tried to make the best of their sorry plight.

By this time the rain had nearly ceased. Fortunately they had laid in a good stock of fuel the night before, and after a little patient effort they succeeded in getting a fire started. Around this the boys hovered, alternately warming their calves and shins.

"This is a leetle more'n I bargained fer," said Si. Then, taking a philosophical view of the case, he added, "but there's one good thing about it, Shorty, we'll be all fixed for mornin', an' we won't have to get up when they sound the revel-lee. The buglers kin jest bust theirselves a-blowin' fer all I keer!"

In this way the soldiers spent the remainder of the night. Before daybreak the blast of a hundred bugles rang out, but there was little need for the reveille.

Breakfast was soon over, and in the gray dawn of that murky morning the long column went trailing on its way. The weather gave promise of a sloppy day, and the indications were fully verified. A drizzling rain set in, and continued without cessation. The boys put their heads through the holes in their ponchos, from the corners of which the water streamed. With their muskets at a "secure" they sloshed along through the mud, hour after hour. In spite of their "gums" the water found its way in at the back of the neck and trickled down their bodies. Their clothes became saturated, and they were altogether about as miserable as it is possible for mortals to be.

A Field Shanty 117

It seemed to Si that the maximum of discomfort had been reached. He had experienced one thing after another during the few weeks since he left home, and he thought each in turn was worse than the last, and about as bad as it could be. But Si learned a good deal more before he graduated. All through the long, dreary day the soldiers plodded on. There was little comfort to be derived from the "rest," for the ground was soaked with water.

"Why didn't we think of it, Shorty," said Si, "'n' make it part o' the bargain' when we 'listed that we were to have umbrellers. These gum things don't amount to shucks, nohow, to keep the rain off. I sh'd think Uncle Sam might do that much for us!"

"I reckon our clothes 'll be purty well washed by the time we git out o' this mess," said Shorty.

"Feels that way," said Si; "but how about the bilin'? A cold bath jest refreshes them pesky little varmints, 'n' makes 'em livelier 'n ever. Say, Shorty, ye didn't write home anything 'bout our havin' graybacks, did ye?"

"No, not yet; but I was thinkin' I'd tell 'em 'bout it one o' these days."

"Well, Shorty, I ain't going to tell my folks; it 'd jest make my mother feel awful to know I was that way. And sister Maria, and—"

Si was thinking aloud, and was going to say "Annabel," but he checked himself. That name was not to be mentioned in other ears. But he was afraid she would go back on him if she knew, all about it.

It was nearly night when the 200th Ind., dripping and discouraged, filed off into a field of standing corn to pass the night. The men sank to their shoetops in the soft earth. Si remarked to Shorty that he didn't see why the officers should turn 'em loose in such a place as that. But the longer he lived the more he found out about those things. That was the way they always did.

It's the Morning 119

In five minutes after arms were stacked not a cornstalk remained standing in the field. During the afterfnoon the troops had gone over a long stretch of swamp road that was almost impassable for teams. Fears were entertained that the wagons of the regiment would not be up that night, and they would not have their tents to shelter them from the storm. In anticipation of such a calamity the boys, gathered in the cornstalks, having a vague idea that they would help out in case of emergency.

Taking the Top Rail 113

Then there was a scramble for the fences. Recognizing the need of good fuel, an order from the General was filtered through the various headquarters that the men might take the top rails, only, from the fence inclosing tha field. This order was literally interpreted and carried out, each man, successively, taking the "top rail" as he found it. The very speedy result was that the bottom rails became the "top," and then there weren't any. Almost in the twinkling of an eye the entire fence disappeared.

The drizzle continued through the evening, and by the sputtering fires the soldiers prepared and ate their frugal suppers. Word came that, as was feared, the wagons were hopelessly bemired three or four miles back, and the men would have to make such shift as they could.

The prospect was dreary and cheerless enough. It was little wonder that many of the young Hoosiers felt as if they wanted to quit and go home. But with that wonderful facility for adapting themselves to circumstances that marked the volunteer soldiers, they set about the work of preparing for the night. No one who has not "been there" can imagine how good a degree of comfort—comparatively speaking, of course—it was possible to reach, with such surroundings, by the exercise of a little patience, ingenuity and industry.

Si and Shorty and the others of the "mess" bestirred themselves, and it did not take them more than 20 minutes to build, out of rails and cornstalks, a shelter that was really inviting. They kindled a big fire in front of it, laid some rails within, covered with stalks, and on these spread their blankets. Si, who had "bossed" the job, viewed the work with great satisfaction.

"I tell ye, that's no slouch of a shanty!" said he.





CHAPTER XIII. SI "STRAGGLED"

AND THE OTHER BOYS MADE IT MIGHTY LOVELY FOR HIM.

ONE day while Buell was chasing Bragg, two or three weeks after leaving Louisville, the army was pushing forward at a gait that made the cavalry ahead trot half the time to keep out of the way of the infantry. The extraordinary speed that day was due to the fact that there were no rebels in sight. Half a dozen ragged troopers with shotguns, a mile away, would have caused the whole army to halt, form line-of-battle, and stay thera the rest of the day.

The tanned veterans didn't mind the marching. They stretched their legs and went swinging along with a happy-go-lucky air, always ready for anything that might turn up. But it was rough on the new troops, just from home. It taxed their locomotive powers to the utmost limit.

The boys of the 200th Ind. started out bravely. Their fresh, clean faces, new uniforms, and shiny accouterments contrasted strongly with those of the weather-beaten soldiers of '61. You could tell a "tenderfoot" as far as you could see him.

They trudged along in fair shape for an hour or two. Before starting in the morning strict orders had been read to the regiment forbidding straggling, for any reason, under the most terrifying pains and penalties.

"Them fellers that's been in the service longer 'n we have think they're smart," said Si Klegg, as he and Shorty plodded on, both already a little blown. "Well show 'em that we can hoof it jest as fast as they can, and jest as fur in a day!"

"Seems to me we're git'n over the ground party lively to-day," replied Shorty, who was in a grumbling mood. "Wonder if the Gin'ral thinks we're bosses! I'm a little short o' wind, and these pesky gunboats are scrapin' the bark off'n my feet; but I'll keep up or bust."

Though e spirit of these young patriots was willing, the flesh was weak. It wasn't long till Si began to limp. Now and then a groan escaped his lips as a fresh blister "broke." But Si clinched his teeth, humped his back to ease his shoulders from the weight of his knapsack, screwed up his courage, and tramped on over the stony pike. He thought the breathing spells were very short and a long way apart.

Si's knapsack had experienced the universal shrinkage, as told in a previous chapter of our hero's martial career. He still had, however, a good many things that he thought he couldn't spare, but which he found later he could very well get along without.

By noon the 200th began to show signs of going to pieces. The column stretched out longer and longer, like a piece of India-rubber. The ranks looked thin and ragged. Lame and foot-sore, with wo-begone faces, their bodies aching in every bone and tendon, and overcome with a weariness that no one can realize unless he has "been there," the men dropped out one by one and threw themselves into the fence-corners to rest. The officers stormed and drew their swords in vain. Nature—that is, the nature of a new soldier—could endure no more. The ambulances were filled to their utmost, but these would not hold a twentieth part of the crippled and suffering men.

"How're ye gittin' on, Shorty?" said Si, as he and his comrade still struggled along.

"Fair to middlin'," replied Shorty. "I'm goin' to try and pull through!"

"I thought I could," said Si, "but I'm 'bout played out! I am, fer a fact! I guess ef I rest a bit I'll be able to ketch up after a while."

Si didn't know till he found out by experience how hard it was to "ketch up" when a soldier once got behind on the march. Si was too fat for a good roadster, but it didn't take a great while to work off his surplus flesh. Shorty was tall and slim, mostly bone—one of the sort that always stood the marching best, crept up to the Orderly and told him that he would have to stop and puff a while and give his blisters a rest. He'd pull up with Co. Q in an hour or so.

"Better not, Si" said the Orderly; "ye know it's agin orders, and the rear-guard 'll punch ye with their bay'net's if they catch ye stragglin'."

But Si concluded that if he must die for his country it would be sweeter to do so by having a bayonet inserted in his vitals, and then it would be all over with at once, than to walk himself to death.

So he gradually fell back till he reached the tail of the company. Watching his opportunity, he left the ranks, crept into a clump of bushes, and lay down, feeling as if he had been run through a grist-mill. Soon the rear-guard of the 200th came along, with fixed bayonets, driving before them like a flock of frightened sheep a motley crowd of limping, groaning men, gathered up by the roadside.

Si lay very still, hoping to escaoe discovery; but the keen eye of the officer detected the blue heap among the bushes.

"Bring that man out!" said he sternly to one of the guards.

Poor Si scarcely dare to breathe. He hoped the man would think he was dead, and therefore no longer of any account. But the soldier began to prod him with his bayonet, ordering him to get up and move on.

'don't Stab Me.' 123

"Look-a-here, pard," said Si, "don't stab me with that thing! I jest can't git along any furder till I blow a little. You please lemme be, an' I'll do as much for you. P'rhaps some time you'll get played out and I'll be on the rear-guard. The Cap'n 'll tell me ter fotch ye 'long, an' I'll jest let ye rest, so I will!"

This view of the case struck the guard with some force. Moved with compassion, he turned away, leaving Si to enjoy his rest.

Hydropathic Treatment 125

Si threw aside his traps, took off his shoes and stockings, and bathed his feet with water from his canteen. He ate a couple of hardtack, and in the course of half an hour began to feel more like Si Klegg. He geared himself up, shouldered his gun, and started to "ketch up."

All this time the stream of troops—regiments, brigades and divisions—had flowed on. Of course, soldiers who were with their colors had the right of way, and the stragglers were obliged to stumble along as best they could, over the logs and through the bushes at the sides of the roads or skirt along the edges of the fields and woods adjoining. It was this fact added to their exhausted and crippled condition, that made it almost impossible for stragglers to overtake their regiments until they halted for the night. Even then it was often midnight before the last of the wayfarers, weary and worn, dragged their aching limbs into camp.

Si started forward briskly, but soon found it was no easy matter to gain the mile or so that the 200th Ind. was now ahead of him. It was about all he could do to keep up with the fast-moving column and avoid failing still further to the rear. Presently the bugles sounded a halt for one of the hourly rests.

"Now," said Si to himself, "I'll have a good chance to git along tor'd the front. The soljers 'll all lie down in the fence corners an' leave the road clear. I'll jest git up an' dust!"

The sound of the bugles had scarcely died away when the pike was deserted, and on either side, as far as the eye could reach, the prostrate men that covered the ground mingled in a long fringe of blue.

Si got up into the road and started along the lane between these lines of recumbent soldiers. His gait was a little shaky, for the blisters on his feet began to give evidence of renewed activity. He trudged pluckily along, limping some in spite of himself, but on the whole making very good headway.

Pretty soon he struck a veteran regiment from Illinois, the members of which were sitting and lying around in all the picturesque and indescribable postures which the old soldiers found gave them the greatest comfort during a "rest." Then they commenced—that is, it was great sport for the Sucker boys, though Si did not readily appreciate the humorous features of the scene.

"What rigiment is this?" asked Si, timidly.

"Same old rijiment!" was the answer from half a dozen at once. A single glance told the swarthy veterans that the fresh-looking youth who asked this conundrum belonged to one of the new regiments, and they immediately opened their batteries upon him:

"Left—left-=left!"

"Hayfoot—strawfoot! Hayfoot—strawfoot!" keeping time with Si's somewhat irregular steps.

"Hello, there, you! Change step and you'll march easier!"

"Look at that 'ere poor feller; the only man left alive of his regiment! Great Cesar, how they must have suffered! Say, what rijiment did you b'long to?"

"Paymaster's comin', boys, here's a chap with a pay-roll round his neck!" Si had put on that morning the last of the paper collars he had brought from home.

"You'd better shed that knapsack, or it'll be the death of ye!"

"I say, there, how's all the folks to home?"

"How d'ye like it as far as you've got, any way?"

"Git some commissary and pour into them gunboats!"

"Second relief's come, boys; we can all go home now."

"Grab a root!"

"Hep—hep—hep!"

"How'd ye leave Mary Ann?"

Si had never been under such a fire before. He stood it as long as he could, and 'then he stopped.

"Halt!" shouted a chorus of voices. "Shoulder—Arms!" "Order—Arms!"

By this time Si's wrath was at the boiling point. Casting around him a look of defiance, he exclaimed:

"You cowardly blaggards; I can jest lick any two of ye, an' I'll dare ye to come on. If the 200th Ind. was here we'd clean out the hull pack of ye quicker'n ye can say scat!"

This is where Si made a mistake. He ought to have kept right on and said nothing. But Si had to find out all these things by experience, as the rest of the boys did.

Si Defies a Regiment 129

All the members took a hand in the game. They just got right up and yelled, discharging at Si a volley of expletives and pointed remarks that drove him to desperation. Instinctively he brought up his gun.

"Load in nine times—Load!" shouted a dozen of the Illinois tramps.

If Si's gun had been loaded he would have shot somebody, regardless of consequences. Thinking of his bayonet, he jerked it quickly from its scabbard.

"Fix—Bay'net!" yelled the ragged veterans.

And he did, though it was more from the promptings of his own hostile feelings than in obedience to the orders.

"Charge—Bay'net!"

Si had completely lost control of himself in his overpowering rage. With blood in his eye, he came to, a charge, glancing fiercely from one side of the road to the other, uncertain where to begin the assault.

Instantly there was a loud clicking all along the line. The Illinois soldiers, almost to a man, fixed their bayonets. Half of them sprang to their feet, and all aimed their shining points at the poor young Hoosier patriot, filling the air with shouts of derision.

It was plain, even to Si in his inflamed state of mind, that the odds against him were too heavy.

"Unfix—Bay'net!" came from half the regiment.

Si concluded he had better get out of a bad scrape the best way he could. So he took off his bayonet and put it back in its place. He shouted words of defiance to his tormentors, but they could not be heard in the din.

"Shoulder—Arms!" "Right—Face!" "Right shoulder shift—Arms!" "Forward—March!" These commands came in quick succession from the ranks amidst roars of laughter.

Si obeyed the orders and started off.

"Left—left—left!"

"Hayfoot—strawfoot!"

Forgetting his blisters. Si took the double-quick while the mob swung their caps and howled with delight.

Si didn't "ketch up" with the 200 Ind. until after it had gone into camp. Shorty had a quart of hot coffee waiting for him.

"Shorty," said Si as they sat by the fire,—"I'm goin' to drop dead in my tracks before I'll fall out again."

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Oh, nothin'; only you jest try it," said Si.

Had it not been for the "fun" the soldiers had in the army to brighten their otherwise dark and cheerless lives, they would all have died. Si was a true type of those who had to suffer for the good of others until they learned wisdom in the school of experience.





CHAPTER XIV. SI AND THE MULES

ONE DAY'S RICH EXPERIENCE AS COMPANY TEAMSTER.

"I'VE GOT to have a man to drive team for a few days," said the Orderly of Co. Q of the 200th Ind. one morning at roll-call. "The teamster's sick and I'm goin' to send him to the hospital to-day."

The Orderly-Sergeant of Co. Q was a wily fellow. All Orderly-Sergeants have to be. If they are not naturally, they learn it very quickly, or lose the little diamond on their sleeves, if not all their stripes. The man who undertakes to manage 60 or 75 stalwart, high-spirited young Americans through all their moods and tenses, and every kind of weather, has to be as wise as a serpent, though not necessarily as harmless as a dove. Therefore, the Orderly-Sergeant didn't tell the boys what ailed the teamster. The fact was that the heels of the "off=wheeler" caught the teamster in the pit of the stomach and doubled him up so badly that he wouldn't be fit for duty for a week. It was worse than the green-corn colic.

"'Tisn't every man," continued the Orderly, "that's gifted with fust-class talent fur drivin' team. I'd like to find the best man to steer them animals, an' if there's a real sientifick mule-whacker in this comp'ny let him speak up an' I'll detail him right off. It'll be a soft thing fur somebody; them mules are daises."

Somehow they didn't all speak at once. The company had only had the team two or three weeks, but the boys were not dull of hearing, and ominous sounds had come to them from the rear of the camp at all hours of the night—the maddening "Yeehaw-w-w!" of the long-eared brutes, and the frantic ejaculations of the teamster, spiced with oaths that would have sent a shudder through "our army in Flanders."

He Let Both Heels Fly 133

So they did not apply for the vacant saddle with that alacrity which might have been expected, when so good a chance was offered for a soldier to ride and get his traps carried on a wagon. Whenever an infantryman threw away such an opportunity it is safe to assume that there was some good reason for it.

But the idea of riding for a few days and letting his blisters get well was too much for Si Klegg. Besides, he thought if there was any one thing he could do better than another it was driving a team. He had been doing it on his father's farm all his life. It is true, he didn't know much about mules, but he imagined they were a good deal like horses.

"I'm your man!" spoke up Si cheerfully.

"All right," said the Orderly. "Company, Right—Face! Break ranks—March!"

"There ain't any trouble about it!" Si said to Shorty as they walked back to the tent. "I reckon it's easy enough to manage mules if you go at 'em right. It'll be just fun for me to drive team. And say. Shorty, I'll carry all your traps on my wagon. That'll be a heap better'n totin' 'em!"

Si gathered up his outfit and started to enter upon his new sphere of usefulness.

"Shall I take my gun and bay'net along?" he asked the Orderly.

"Guess you'd better; they might come handy!" replied the Orderly, as he thought of the teamster's disastrous encounter with the "off-wheeler."

After Shorty had eaten his breakfast he thought he would go back to the tent and see how Si was getting on. With thoughtful care Si had fed his mules before appeasing his own appetite, and Shorty found him just waiting for his coffee to cool a bit.

"Why, them 'ere mules is jist as gentle'n' peaceful-like ez so many kittens. Look at 'em, Shorty!" and Si pointed with a proud and gratified air to where the six "daisies" were standing, three on each side of the wagon-pole, with their noses in the feed-box, quietly munching their matutinal rations, and whisking their paint-brush tails about in evident enjoyment.

Indeed, to look at those mules one who was ignorant of the peculiar characteristics of the species would not have thought that beneath those meek exteriors there were hearts filled with the raging fires of total depravity. Shorty thought how it would be, but he didn't say anything. He was sure that Si would find out about it soon enough.

The brigade to which the 200th Ind. belonged was to march in the rear of the long procession that day. This was lucky for Si, as it gave him an hour or two more than he would otherwise have had to get hitched up. But all the same he thought he would begin early, so as to be on hand with his team in good time.

"Want any help?" asked Shorty.

"No," said Si; "I can hitch 'em up slick's a whistle. I can't see why so many makes sich a fuss 'bout handlin' mules."

Shorty lighted his cob pipe and sat down on a stump to watch Si. "Kinder think there'll be a circus!" he said to himself.

Si got up from his coffee and hardtack, and addressed himself to the business of the hour. It proved to be just as much as he could attend to. When Si poured half a bushel of corn into the feed box it was all very nice, and the animals rubbed their heads against him to give expression to their grateful emotions. But when it came to putting on the harness, that was quite a different thing. The mere touch of a strap was enough to stimulate into baleful activity all the evil passions of mule-nature.

"Now, Pete and Jim and Susan, we must git ready to pull out!" said Si to his charge, in a familiar, soothing tone, preliminary to getting down to business. It was his evident desire to maintain the friendly relations that he thought he had already established. At the first rattle of the harness Pete and Susan and the rest, moved by a common impulse, laid back their ears and began to bray, their heels at the same time showing symptoms of impatience.

"Whoa, there—whoa!" exclaimed Si, in a conciliatory way, as he advanced with a bridle in his hand toward one of the big wheelers, whose ears were flapping about like the fans of a windmill.

Si imprudently crept up from the rear. A flank movement would have been better. As soon as he had got fairly within range the mule winked viciously, lowered his head, and let fly both heels. Si was a spry boy, and a quick dodge saved him from the fate of his predecessor. One of the heels whizzed past his ear with the speed of a cannon ball, caught his hat, and sent it spinning through the air.

Shorty, who was whittling up a piece of Kentucky twist to recharge his pipe, laughed till he rolled off the stump all in a heap. A few of the other boys had stayed out to see the fun, and were lounging around the outskirts of the corral. "Go for 'em, Si!" they shouted.

Si was plucky, and again advanced with more caution. This time he was successful, after a spirited engagement, in getting the bridle on. He thought he would ride him down to the creek for water, and this would give him a chance to get acquainted with him, as it were. He patted the animal's neck, called him pet names, and gently stroked his stubby mane. Alas, Si didn't know then what an utter waste of material it was to give taffy to an army mule.

With a quick spring Si vaulted upon the back of the mule. He started off in good shape, waving his hand exultingly to the boys with the air of a General who has just won a great battle.

All at once the animal stopped as suddenly as if he had run against a stone wall. He planted his fore feet, throwing his ears back and his head down. There was a simultaneous rear elevation, with the heels at an upward angle of about 45 degrees. Si went sprawling among the bushes. This performance was greeted with great enthusiasm by the fast increasing crowd of spectators.

Si Went Sprawling 137

"I oughter have told you that saddle-mule's the worst bucker in the Army o' the Ohio," said the Quartermaster-Sergeant, who was among the onlookers. "Why, he'd buck off the stripe that runs down his back, if he took it into his measly head. He bucked off a chattel mortgage, and that's the way he come into the army. You can't ride him without using one of Aunt Jemima's sticking plasters."

"Much obliged for your information. But I will ride him all the same," said Si, whose temper had risen to the exploding point. "I kin ride him if he ties himself in a double bow-knot."

Si was too much of a farmer boy to give in to anything that walked on four legs.

He had hung on to the bridle rein, and after addressing a few impressive words to the obstreperous mule he again leaped upon his back. The mule took a docile turn, his motive having apparently been merely to show Si what he could do when he took a notion.

The space at command will not permit us to follow Si through all the details of "hitching up" that team. He did finally "git thar, Eli," after much strategic effort. The mules brayed and kicked a good deal, and Si's wrath was fully aroused before he got through. He became convinced that soft words were of no account in such a contest, and he enforced discipline by the judicious use of a big club, together with such appropriate language as he could think of. Si hadn't yet learned to swear with that wonderful and appalling proficiency that was so soon acquired by the army teamsters. In the management of mules profanity was considered an invaluable accessory in times of great emergency.

At last Si climbed into the saddle, as proud as a King. Seizing the long, single line running to the "leaders"—by which contrivance the army team was always guided—he shouted "Git up, thar, Pete! G'lang Susan!" and the caravan started. But the unregenerated brutes didn't go far. Si was gaily cracking his whip, trying to hit a big blue-bottle fly that was perched on the ear of one of the "swing" mules.

As if by a preconcerted plan, the establishment came to a sudden halt and the mules began to rear and kick and plunge around in utter disregard of consequences. It didn't take more than a minute for them to get into a hopeless tangle. They were in all conceivable shapes—heads and tails together, crosswise and "every which way," tied up with the straps of the harness. The air in all directions was full of heels. There was a maddening chorus of discordant braying.

In the course of the scrimmage Si found himself on the ground. Gathering himself up, he gazed in utter amazement at the twisted, writhing mass. At this moment a messenger came from the Captain to "hurry up that team," and poor Si didn't know what to do. He wished he could only swear like the old mule drivers. He thought it would make him feel better. There was no one to help him out of his dilemma, as the members of the company were all getting ready for the march.

A veteran teamster happened along that way, and took in the situation at a glance. He saw that Si had bit off more than he could chew, and volunteered his assistance.

"Here, young feller," said he, "lemme show ye how to take the stiffenin' out o' them ere dod-gasted mules!"

Seizing the whip at the small end of the stock he began laying on right and left with the butt, taking care to keep out of range of the heels. During these persuasive efforts he was shouting at the top of his voice words that fairly hissed through the air. Si thought he could smell the brimstone and see the smoke issuing from the old teamster's mouth and nostrils. This is a section of what that experienced mule driver said, as nearly as we can express it:

"_________;;_____________!!!***???!!!! ____???________???!!!!"

Si thanked the veteran for these timely suggestions in the way of language, and said he would remember them. He had no doubt they would help him out the next time.

They finally got the team untied, and Si drove over to the company ground. The regiment had been gone some time, a detail having been left to load the wagon. After getting out upon the road the mules plodded along without objection, and Si got on famously. But having lost his place in the column in consequence of the delay, he was obliged to fall in rear of the division train, and it was noon before he got well started.

Along towards evening Si struck a section of old corduroy road through a piece of swamp. The passage of the artillery and wagons had left the road in a wretched condition. The logs were lying at all points of the compass, or drifting vaguely about in the mire, while here and there were seas of water and pits of abysmal depth.

Stuck in the Mud 141

To make the story short, Si's mules stumbled and floundered and kicked,—while Si laid on with the whip and used some of the words he had learned from the old teamster before starting.

At length the wagon became hopelessly stalled. The wheels sank to the hubs, and Si yelled and cracked his whip in vain. Perhaps if he had had the old teamster there to swear for him he could have pulled through, but as it was he gave it up, dismounted, hunted a dry spot, and sat down to think and wait for something to turn up.

Just before dark a large detail from Co. Q, which had been sent back on an exploring expedition for Si and his team, reached the spot. After hours of prying and pushing and tugging and yelling they at length got the wagon over the slough, reaching camp about midnight.

"Orderly," said Si, "I believe I'd like to resign my place as mule-driver. It's a nice, soft thing, but I'd jest as lief let s'mother feller have it, so I'll take my gun an' go to hoofin' it agin!"





CHAPTER XV. UNDER FIRE—SI HAS A FIGHT, CAPTURES A PRISONER

AND GETS PROMOTED.

"SEEMS to me it's 'bout time ter be gitt' into a fite!" said Si Klegg to Shorty one night as they sat around the fire after supper, with their shoes and stockings off, comparing the size and number of their respective blisters. Neither of them had much of the skin they started out with left on their feet. "I always s'posed," he continued, "that bein' a sojer meant fitin' somebody; and here we are roaming over the country like a lot of tramps. I can't see no good in it, nohow."

"Don't be in a hurry. Si," replied Shorty; "I reckon we'll ketch it soon 'nuff. From what I've hearn the old soldiers tell a battle ain't such a funny thing as a feller thinks who don't know anything about it, like you'n me. The boys is always hungry at first for shootin' and bein' shot at, but I've an idee that it sorter takes away their appetite when they gits one square meal of it. They don't hanker after it no more. It's likely we'll git filled full one o' these days. I'm willin' to wait!"

"Wall," said Si, "I sh'd think we might have a little skirmish, anyway. I'd like to have a chance to try my gun and to hear what kind of a noise bullets make. Of course, I'd ruther they'd hit some other feller besides me, but I'm ready to take the chances on that. I don't b'lieve I'd be afeard."

Si was ambitious, and full of the martial ardor that blazed in the breast of every young volunteer. He was really glad when the Orderly came around presently and told them that the 200th Ind. would have the advance next day, and Co. Q would be on the skirmish-line. He told the boys to see that their cartridge-boxes were all full and their guns in good order, as they would be very like to run foul of the rebels.

This was just before the battle of Perryville. The rebels were very saucy, and there seemed to be a fair prospect that the curiosity of the members of the 200th Ind. to "see the elephant" would be at least measurably gratified.

Before Si went to bed he cleaned up his gun and made sure that it would "go off" whenever he wanted it to. Then he and Shorty crawled under the blankets, and as they lay "spoon fashion," thinking about what might happen the next day. Si said he hoped they would both have "lots of sand."

All night Si dreamed about awful scenes of slaughter. Before morning he had destroyed a large part of the Confederate army.

It was yet dark when the reveille sounded through the camp. Si and Shorty kicked off the blankets at first blast of bugle, and were promptly in their places for roll-call. Then, almost in a moment, a hundred fires were gleaming, and the soldiers gathered around them to prepare their hasty breakfast.

Before the sun was up the bugles rang out again upon the morning air. In quick succession came the "general," the "assembly," and "to the colors." The 200th marched out upon the pike, but soon filed off into a cornfield to take its assigned place in the line, for the advance division was to move in order of battle, brigade front, that day.

In obedience to orders, Co. Q moved briskly out and deployed as skirmishers, covering the regimental front. As the line advanced through field and thicket Si Klegg's heart was not the only one that thumped against the blouse that covered it.

It was not long till a squad of cavalrymen came galloping back, yelling that the rebels were just ahead. The line was halted for a few minutes; while the Generals swept the surrounding country with their field glasses and took in the situation.

The skirmishers, for fear of accidents, took advantage of such cover as they could find. Si and Shorty found themselves to leeward of a large stump.

"D'ye reckon a bullet 'd go through this 'ere stump?" said Si.

Before Shorty could answer something else happened that absorbed their entire attention. For the time they didn't think of anything else.

'Boom-m-m-m!'

"Great Scott! d'ye hear that?" said Si through his chattering teeth.

"Yes, and there's somethin' comin' over this way," replied Shorty.

A shell came screaming and swishing through the air. The young Hoosiers curled around the roots of that stump and flattened themselves out like a pair of griddle-cakes. If it was Si that the rebel gunners were after, they timed the shell to a second, for it burst with a loud bang just over them. The fragments flew all around, one striking the stump and others tearing up the dirt on every side.

It Burst With a Loud 'bang.' 145

To say that for the moment those two soldiers were demoralized would be drawing it very mildly. They showed symptoms of a panic. It seemed as though they would be hopelessly stampeded. Their tongues were paralyzed, and they could only look silently into each other's white faces.

Si was the first to recover himself, although it could hardly be expected that he could get over his scare all at once.

"D-d-did it hit ye, Sh-Shorty?" he said.

"N-no, I guess not; b-b-but ain't it aw-awful. Si? You look so bad I th-thought you was k-k-killed!"

"Who's afeard?" said Si. "I was only skeered of you. Shorty. Brace up, now same's I do!"

"Skirmishers—Forward!" was heard along the line. "Come on, Shorty!" said Si, and they plunged bravely ahead.

Emerging suddenly from a thick wood, they came upon the rebel skirmishers in full view, posted on the opposite side of the field.

Crack! Crack!—Zip! Zip!

"Guess there's a bee-tree somewhere around here, from the way the bees are buzzin'," said Si.

"'Taint no bees," replied Shorty; "it's a mighty sight worse'n that. Them's bullets, Si Don't ye see the dumed galoots over yonder a-shootin' at us?"

Si was no coward, and he was determined to show that he wasn't. The shell a little while before had taken the starch out of him for a few minutes, but that was nothing to his discredit. Many a seasoned veteran found himself exceedingly limber under such circumstances.

"Let's give the rascals a dose," said he; "the best we've got in stock!"

Suiting the action to the word, Si crept up to a fence, thrust his gun between the rails, took good aim and fired.

Si Takes a Crack at A Reb 147

A bullet from one of the other fellows made the splinters fly from a rail a foot or two from Si's head; but he was getting excited now, and he didn't mind it any more than if it had been a paper wad from a pea-shooter.

It makes a great difference with a soldier under fire whether he can take a hand in the game himself, or whether he must lie idle and let the enemy "play it alone."

"Did ye hear him squeal?" said Si, as he dropped upon the ground and began to reload with all his might. "I hit that son-of-a-gun, sure. Give 'em H—Hail Columbia, Shorty. We'll show 'em that the 200th Ind. is in front to-day!"

"Forward, men!" shouted the officers. "Go right for 'em!"

The skirmishers sprang over the fence and swept across the field at a "double-quick" in the face of a sputtering fire that did little damage. None of them reached the other side any sooner than Si did. The rebels seemed to have found out that the 200th boys were coming, for they were already on the run, and some of them had started early. Pell-mell through the brush they went, and the blue-blouses after them.

"Halt, there, or I'll blow ye into the middle o' next week!" yelled Si, as he closed up on a ragged specimen of the Southern Confederacy whose wind had given out. Si thought it would be a tall feather in his hat if he could take a prisoner and march him back.

Si Captures a Johnny 149

The "Johnny" gave one glance at his pursuer, hesitated, and was lost. He saw that Si meant business, and surrendered at discretion.

"Come 'long with me!" said Si, his eyes glistening with pleasure and pride. Si marched him back and delivered him to the Colonel.

"Well done, my brave fellow!" said the Colonel.

"This is a glorious day for the 200th Ind., and you've taken its first prisoner. What's your name my boy?"

"Josiah Klegg, sir!" said Si, blushing to the very roots of his hair.

"What company do you belong to?"

"Company Q, sir!" and Si saluted the officer as nicely as he knew how.

"I'll see your Captain to-night, Mr. Klegg, and you shall be rewarded for your good conduct. You may now return to your company."

It was the proudest moment of Si's life up to date. He stammered out his thanks to the Colonel, and then, throwing his gun up to a right shoulder-shift, he started off on a canter to rejoin the skirmishers.

That night Si Klegg was the subject of a short conversation between his Captain and the Colonel. They agreed that Si had behaved very handsomely, and deserved to be promoted.

"Are there any vacancies in your non-commissioned officers?" asked the Colonel.

"No," was the reply, "but there ought to be. One of my Corporals skulked back to the rear this morning and crawled into a wagon. I think we had better reduce him to the ranks and appoint Mr. Klegg."

"Do so at once," said the Colonel.

Next morning when the 200th was drawn up in line an order was read by the Adjutant reducing the skulker and promoting Si to the full rank of Corporal, with a few words commending the gallantry of the latter. These orders announcing rewards and punishments were supposed to have a salutary effect in stimulating the men to deeds of glory, and as a warning to those who were a little short of "sand."

Corporal si Klegg 151

The boys of Co. Q showered their congratulations upon Si in the usual way. They made it very lively for him that day. In the evening: Si hunted up some white cloth, borrowed a needle and thread, went off back of the tent, rammed his bayonet into the ground, stuck a candle in the socket, and sewed chevrons on the sleeves of his blouse. Then he wrote a short letter:

     "Deer Annie: I once more take my pen in hand to tell you
     there's grate news. I'm an ossifer. We had an awful fite
     yisterdy. I don't know how menny rebbles I kild, but I guess
     thare was enuff to start a good sized graveyard. I tuk a
     prizner, too, and the Kurnal says to me bully fer you,
     Mister Klegg, or sumthin to that effeck. This mornin they
     made me a Corporil, and red it out before the hull rijiment
     I guess youd been prowd if you could have seen me. To-night
     the boys is hollerin hurraw fer Corporal Klegg all over
     camp. I ain't as big is the Ginrals and gum of the other
     ossifers, but thars no tellin how hi I'll get in three
     years.

          "Rownd is the ring that haint no end,
          So is my luv to you my friend.

     "Yours, same as before,

     "Corporal Si Klegg."





CHAPTER XVI. ONE OF THE "NON-COMMISH"

A NIGHT'S ADVENTURES AS "CORPORAL OF THE GUARD."

"CORPORAL Klegg, you will go on duty to-night with the camp guard!" said the Orderly of Co. Q one evening, as the 200th Ind. filed off into a piece of woods to bivouac for the night, two or three days after Si had been promoted.

The chevrons on his arms had raised Si several degrees in the estimation not only of himself, but of the other members of the company. His conduct in the skirmish had shown that he had in him the material for a good soldier, and even the Orderly began to treat him with that respect due to his new rank as one of the "non-commish."

Like every other man who put on the army blue and marched away so bold, "With gay and gallant tread," Si could not tell whether he was going to amount to anything as a soldier until he had gone through the test of being under fire. There were many men who walked very erect, talked bravely, drilled well, and made a fine appearance on dress parade, before they reached "the front," but who wilted at the "zip" of bullets like tender corn blades nipped by untimely frost. And a good many of them continued in that wilted condition. Perhaps they really couldn't help it. An inscrutable Providence had seen fit to omit putting any "sand in their gizzards," as the boys expressed it.

It must be confessed that Si was somewhat unduly elated and puffed up over, his own achievements as a skirmisher and his success in climbing the ladder of military rank and fame. It is true, it wasn't much of a fight they had that day, but Si thought it was pretty fair for a starter, and enough to prove to both himself and his comrades that he wouldn't be one of the "coffee coolers" when there was business on hand.

Si was sorry that his regiment did not get into the fight at Perryville. The 200th Ind. belonged to one of the two corps of Buell's army that lay under the trees two or three miles away all through that October afternoon, while McCook's gallant men were in a life-and-death struggle against overwhelming odds. It bothered Si as much to understand it all as it did 30,000 other soldiers that day.

Si responded with alacrity when he was detailed for guard duty. He had walked a beat once or twice as a common tramp, and had not found it particularly pleasant, especially in stormy weather; but now he was a peg higher, and he thought as Corporal he would have a better time. He had already observed that the rude winds of army life were tempered, if not to the shorn lambs, at least to the officers, in a degree proportionate to their rank. The latter had the first pick of everything, and the men took what was left. The officers always got the softest rails to sleep on, the hardtack that was least tunneled through by the worms, the bacon that had the fewest maggots, and the biggest trees in a fight.

"Forward—March!" shouted the officer in command, when the detachment was ready. Si stepped off very proudly, thinking how glad his good old mother and sister Marier and pretty Annabel would be if they could see him at that moment. He was determined to discharge his official duties "right up to the handle," and make the boys stand around in lively style.

When the guard reached the place selected for headquarters the officer drily lectured them in regard to their duties, impressing upon them the necessity of being alert and vigilant. There was only a thin picket-line between them and the enemy. The safety of the army depended upon the faithfulness of those appointed to watch while others slept. He gave them the countersign, "Bunker Hill," and ordered them under no circumstances to allow any person to pass without giving it, not even the Commanding General himself.

Then the guards were posted, the "beats" laid off and numbered, and as the fast-gathering shadows deepened among the trees the sentinels paced to and fro around the tired army.

For an hour or two after the guards were stationed all was quiet along the line. The noise of the great camp was hushed for the night, and no sound broke the stillness of the gloomy forest. The moon rose and peeped timidly through the branches.

"Corporal of the Guard; Post No. 6."

Si's quick ear, as he lay curled up at the foot of a tree, caught these words, rapidly repeated by one sentinel after another. It was his first summons. He sprang to his feet, gun in hand, his heart beating at the thought of adventure, and started on the run for "Post No. 6."

"What's up?" he said to the guard, with a perceptible tremor in his voice.

"There's one o' the boys tryin' to run the guards!" was the answer. "He's been out foragin', I reckon. He's got a lot o' plunder he wants to git into camp with. See him, out there in the bush?"

The forager, for such he proved to be, was nimbly dodging from tree to tree, watching for a chance to cross the line, but the alertness of the' guards had thus far kept him outside. He had tried to bribe one or two of the boys by offering to "whack up" if they would let him pass or give him the countersign, so that he could get in at some other point in the cordon. But the guards were incorruptible. They were "fresh" yet, and had not caught on to the plan of accepting an offered chicken, a section of succulent pig, or a few sweet potatoes, and then walking off to the remote limit of the beat, with eyes to the front, while the forager shot across the line in safety. They learned all about this after a while.

The raider tried to parley with Si, but Si wouldn't have it. Raising his gun to a "ready" he ordered the man to come in or he would put a hole through him.

The best thing to do under the circumstances was to obey. The forager, who belonged to Si's company, crept up to Corporal Klegg and in a conciliatory tone opened negotiations.

"You jest let me pass, and you may have your pick of this stuff," said he, holding up a fowl in one hand and a ham in the other. "It'll be all right, and nobody 'll ever know nothin' 'bout it!"

Si hesitated; it was human nature. The offer was a tempting one, but he remembered his responsibility to his country, and his stomach appealed in vain. Duty came before stewed chicken or roasted sparerib.

"Can't do it!" said Si. "You've got hold of the wrong man this time. I ain't goin' to have nobody monkeyin' 'round while I'm Corporal of this 'ere guard. Come along with me, and step out lively, too!"

Si marched the culprit back to headquarters and delivered him up to the officer, who commended Si for his fidelity.

Next day the ground back of the Colonel's tent was strewn with feathers, chicken bones, ham rinds, and potato skins, while the unlucky forager who had provided the field officers' mess with such a royal meal was humped around for two hours on "knapsack drill," and condemned to spend 24 hours in the guard-house.

An hour later Si had another experience. The Captain of Co. Q felt a kindly interest, and not a little pride in him, since the skirmish, and he thought he would take a turn that night and see whether his newly-made Corporal was "up to snuff."

"Post No. 3," was Si's second call. He responded promptly, and as he approached the guard the latter said:

"Corporal, here's the Cap'n, and he wants to get in! He hain't got the countersign; shall I pass him?"

"Good evening. Corporal!" said the Captain, as Si came up, at the same time extending his hand.

Si was thrown completely off his guard. Dropping the butt of his gun carelessly to the ground he replied cheerily, "Good evening, Cap'n," touching his hat by way of salute. Then he took the proffered hand, pleased at the Captain's mark of kindly recognition. He didn't understand the scheme then. "How are you getting on, Mr. Klegg?" "First rate!" said Si, with the air of one conscious that he had done his duty well. "I capchered a forager a little bit ago and took him to headquarters!"

One of the 'non-com Mish.' 159

"Well done, Corporal I have no doubt you will honor the good name of the 200th Ind. in general and Company Q in particular, I got caught outside to night, and I want to get back into camp. Of course, you know me and it's all right!"

"Certainly, sir!" said Si, as he stood leaning on his gun and allowed the officer to pass the magic line. "Good night, Cap'n!"

"Good night, Corporal! By the way," said the Captain, retracing his steps, "I notice that you do not carry your gun just right. Let me show you how to handle it!"

Si didn't know what a flagrant offense it was for a soldier on guard to let his gun go out of his hands; nor had he the faintest suspicion that the Captain was playing it on him. So he promptly handed his picee to the Captain, who immediately brought it down to a "charge," with the bayonet at Si's breast.

"Suppose, now, I was a rebel in disguise," said the Captain, "what kind of a fix would you be in?"

Light began to dawn upon Si, and he started back in terror at the thought of the mistake he had made.

"Of course, I wouldn't let anybody else have it," he stammered; "but I knew you, Cap'n!"

"That makes no difference to a man on duty. Corporal. You hang on to your gun the rest of the night, and if anybody—I don't care if it's Gen. Buell himself—insists on your giving it to him, let him have two or three inches of the point of your bayonet. Don't let anybody pass without the countersign, either! Come to my quarters when you are relieved tomorrow."

All this illustrates the way the officers had of testing new soldiers and teaching them a thing or two, when, as was frequently the case, they were not yet up to the mark. A trick of extra duty for the hapless novitiate was generally the penance for his simplicity.

The cold chills ran up and down Si's back as he took his gun and slowly returned to the guard fire. He felt that he had utterly spoiled his good record.

"Lieutenant," he said to the officer, "I wish you'd please detail a man to kick me for about an hour."

The Lieutenant wanted to know what the matter was, and Si told him all about it, ending with:

"So now I s'pose the Cap'n 'll yank the stripes off'n my blouse!"

The officer quieted his fears by assuring him that there was no cause for alarm. The Captain knew that he was trying to do his duty, and what he had done was for Si's own good.

Si sat down by the fire and was thinking it over when there was another call, "Corporal of the guard!" He was soon at the point indicated and found two officers on horseback, whom he recognized as the Colonel and Adjutant of the 200th Ind. Si's friend Shorty was the guard who had halted them.

"Now, Corporal Klegg," said Si to himself, laying his finger alongside his nose, "you jist watch out this time. Here's big game! Shouldn't wonder if them ossifers had bin out skylarkin', and they're tryin' to git in. Don't ye let 'em fool ye as the Cap'n did!"

Si was right in his surmise. The Colonel and Adjutant had been enjoying a good supper at a house half a mile away, and had not the slightest idea what the countersign was.

Si was determined not to "get left" this time. As he approached, the Colonel saw that it was soldier he had commended for his gallantry at the time of the skirmish.

"Ah, Corporal Klegg, I'm glad to see you so prompt in your duty. I was sure we had made no mistake when we promoted you. Of course, you can see who I am. I'm your Colonel, and this is the Adjutant. We are, unfortunately, outside without the countersign; but you can just let us through."

The Colonel's taffy had no effect on Si. He just brought himself into a hostile attitude, with his bayonet in fair range of the Colonel, as he replied:

"Colonel, my orders is to pass no livin' man unless he says 'Bunker Hill.' I'd be glad to do ye a good turn, but there's no use talkin'. I'm goin' to obey orders, and ye can't pass here."

'not 'less Ye Say 'bunker Hill.'' 155

The Colonel chuckled softly as he dismounted and came up to Si.

"It's all right," he said, "of course I know what the countersign is. I was only trying you."

"Hold on there," said Si, "don't come too close. If you've got the countersign, advance and give it. If ye ain't got it, I'll jest call the Officer of the Guard!"

Leaning over the point of Si's bayonet the Colonel gently whispered "Bunker Hill".

"Correct!" said Si, and bringing his gun to a shoulder, he respectfully saluted the Colonel. The latter started to remount, but turned back as he said:

"Just let me show you how to hold your gun. You don't—"

"Not if the court knows herself," said Si, again menacing the Colonel with his bayonet. "That's bin played on me once to-night, and if anybody does it again my name ain't Si Klegg!"

"That's right, Corporal," said the Colonel as he sprang into the saddle; "but don't tell anybody what the countersign is again! Good night!"

"Good night. Colonel," said Si, touching his hat. As the officers rode away Si began to think he had put his foot in it again. He was confirmed in this opinion by seeing Shorty sit down on a log in a paroxysm of laughter.

"You give yerself away bad this time!" said Shorty, as soon as he could speak. "What did ye tell him the countersign for?"

"Whew-w-w-w!" observed Si, with a prolonged whistle. "Shorty," said he, "I wish you'd take a club and see if you can't pound a little sense into me; I don't believe I've got any!" Without another word he shouldered his gun and returned to the guard headquarters. "Now I'm a goner, sure!" he said to himself.

On his way he found a guard sitting by a tree, sound asleep. Carefully taking away his gun Si awoke him, and frightened him half to death by telling him that he would report him and he would be shot for sleeping on post. Si finally said he wouldn't tell on him this time, but he must never do so again, or he would be a dead man.

"Corporal of the guard!" was heard again, sometime after midnight. "If they try any more measly tricks on me to-night somebody 'll git hurt!" thought Si as he walked briskly along the line in response to the call.

This time it was a "contraband"—an old negro, who stood shivering with terror as the guard held him at the point of the bayonet. Recalling the unlucky adventures of the night. Si imagined that it was one of the officers, who had blackened himself like a minstrel, and had come there purposely to "catch him."

"Ye can't get through unless ye've got the counter sign," said he, decisively; "and I shan't give it to ye, nuther! And ye needn't try to show me how to hold my gun! I can handle it well enough to shoot and punch the Bayonet!"

"Don't know what dat all means, boss," said the frightened negro; "but fer de good Lawd's sake don't shove dat t'ing frew me. I've only bin ober to de nex' place to a 'possum roast and I'se jist gwine home. I didn't know dese yer ge-yards was heah!"

Si didn't propose to take any chances, and so he marched the old contraband back and delivered him to the officer, who kept him till morning and then suffered him to go on his way.

Once more that night Si was called, in addition to his tramps with the "reliefs" and the "grand rounds." It was, perhaps, an hour before daylight, and Shorty was the guard who called him. He told Si there was something walking around in the woods, and he believed it was a rebel trying to creep up on them. He had challenged two or three times, but got no answer. The moon had gone down, and in the dark woods objects at any distance could not be distinguished.

"There, d'ye hear that?" said Shorty, as there came a sound of crackling sticks and rustling leaves.

"Halt!" exclaimed Si. "Who comes there?"

There was no response, and Si challenged again with like result.

"Shorty," said Si, "let's fire both together," and crack went their muskets.

For a moment there was a great floundering, and then all was still. As soon as it was light, and Shorty was relieved, he and Si went out to see the result of their fire. To their astonishment they found the prowler cold and stiff in death—they had shot a big gray mule.

They Had Shot a Mule 163

On the whole, it was a busy and interesting night for Si. He did not lose his chevrons on account of his mistakes. But he learned something, and the lesson was impressed upon his mind by a few kindly words of caution and advice from the Captain of Co. Q.





CHAPTER XVII. FORAGING ON THE WAY

SI HAS SOME VARIED EXPERIENCES WITH SOUTHERN PRODUCTS.

THE long chase after Bragg from Louisville to the mountains of southeastern Kentucky was rough on the new troops. It weeded them out very fast, and in every town through which Buell's army passed the buildings were turned into hospitals and filled with sick and crippled soldiers, who had found out early that they were not physically able to endure the hardships of an active campaign. At the end of two or three weeks some of the new regiments were as much reduced in numbers as most of those that went out in '61 were during their first six months.

The 200th Ind. jogged along bravely, but its ranks had suffered the common skage. Not less than 400 of its men had fallen by the wayside, and were taking quinine and blue-mass and rubbing arnica on their legs all along the tortuous route.

Corporal Si Klegg and his friend Shorty proved to be "stayers." Full of life and ambition, they were always prompt for duty and ready for a fight or a frolic. No one was more quick than Si to offer a suffering comrade the last drop of fresh water in his canteen or give him a lift by carrying his gun a piece.

One day the regiment started out for an easy, comfortable day's march. The coast was clear of rebels, and there being no excuse for crowding on the steam, the boys were allowed to take their own gait, while the horses of the officers and cavalry had a chance to recover their wind.

It was a warm day late in October. The nights at this time were keen and frosty, but the sun at mid-day still showed much of his Summer vigor. Perspiration flowed freely down the faces of those wandering Hoosiers—faces that were fast assuming the color of half-tanned leather under the influence of sunshine and storm.

Once an hour there was the customary halt, when the boys would stretch their legs by the roadside, hitching their knapsacks up under their heads. When the allotted time had expired the bugler blew "Fall in," the notes of which during the next two years became so familiar to the ears of the 200th. Later in '64, the Indiana boys mingled their voices with the rest of Sherman's hundred thousand veterans as they sang:

     "I know you are tired, but still you must go
     Down to Atlanta to see the big show."

The soldiers were in good spirits. As they marched they fired jests at one another, and laughter rippled along the line.

The only thing that troubled them was the emaciated condition of their haversacks, with a corresponding state of affairs in their several stomachs. The Commissary Department was thoroughly demoralized. The supply train had failed to connect, and rations were almost exhausted. There was no prospect that the aching void would be filled, at least, in the regular way, until they reached a certain place, which would not be until the following day.

Strict orders against foraging were issued almost daily under the Buell dispensation. These were often read impressively to the new troops, who, in their simplicity, "took it all in" as military gospel.

The 200th Ind. Was Not Without Talent in Foraging 169

The effect was somewhat depressing upon the ardor with which otherwise they would have pursued the panting pig and the fluttering fowl, and reveled in the orchards and potato-fields. A few irrepressible fellows managed to get a choice meal now and then—just enough to show that the 200th Ind. was not without latent talent in this direction, which only needed a little encouragement to become fruitful of results.

But these orders against foraging didn't hold the soldiers of the crop of 1861. It was like trying to carry water in a sieve. When rations were short, or if they wanted to vary the rather monotonous bill of fare, they always found a way to make up any existing deficiency.

On the day in question a few hints were thrown out which resulted in a tacit understanding that, in view of the actual need of the soldiers, if they got a good chance to pick up something the eyes of the officers would be closed. In fact, the officers were as hungry as the men, and hoped to come in for a "divide."

Soon after starting in the morning a persimmon tree, well laden with fruit, was seen in a field not far from the road. About fifty men started for it on a run, and in five minutes it was as bare as the barren fig tree.

The persimmon has some very marked peculiarities. It is a toothsome fruit when well ripened by frost, but if eaten before it has reached the point of full maturity, the effect upon one's interior is unique and startling. The pungent juices take hold of the mouth and pucker it up in such manner as to make even speech for a time impossible. The tongue seems as if it were tied in a knot. If the juice be swallowed, similar results follow all along its course. But the novice does not often get far enough for that.

The boys soon found that the 'simmons, although they looked very tempting, were too green to be eaten with any degree of enjoyment. So they filled their pockets with them to pucker up the regiment.

Shorty had joined in the scramble, telling Si he would bring him a good supply.

"Ain't them nice?" he said to Si, holding out three or four of the greenest ones he could find. "Eat 'em; they're jest gorjus! You can't help likin' 'em."

Si had never seen any persimmons before. They were certainly tempting to the eye, and he thought they were sent as manna was supplied to the children of Israel in the wilderness.

Eagerly seizing them, Si tossed one into his mouth and began to chew it with great vigor. The persimmon got in its work at once. It took hold with a mighty grip, wrinkling him up like the skins on scalded milk.

After sputtering vigorously a few minutes, while Shorty laughed at him. Si managed to get his tongue untwisted.

"Yes," said he, "them things is nice—in a horn! 'Twouldn't take many of 'em to make a meal!"

A little farther on Si's quick eye noticed a row of beehives standing on a bench in the yard of one of the natives. Si had a weakness for honey.

"Shorty," said he, "see them hives over there? How'd ye like to have some honey for supper?"

Shorty "allowed" that it would be a good thing. Si stopped and waited a few minutes until his own regiment got past, thinking his plan would be less liable to interruption. Then he leaped over the fence, went up to the hives, and boldly tipped one of them over, hoping he could get out a comb or two, fill up his coffee-kettle, and effect his retreat before the bees really found out what he was up to.

But the bees instantly rallied their forces and made a vigorous assault upon the invader. Si saw that it would be too hot for him, and without standing upon the order of his going he went at once, in a decidedly panicky state of mind. The bees made the most of their opportunity, using their "business ends" on him with great activity and zeal. They seemed to fully' share the common feeling in the South toward the "Yanks."

Si Beat a Retreat 171

A pretty woman, standing on the porch, had watched Si's raid from the doorway. As he fell back in utter rout she screamed "Sarves ye right!" and then sat down on the doorstep and laughed till she cried. She enjoyed it as much as the bees did.

The latter took hold of Si in various places, and by the time he had caught up with the regiment one eye was closed, and there was a big lump on his nose, besides several more stings which the bees had judiciously distributed about his person. It was very evident that he had been overmatched and had come out second best in the encounter.

Corporal Klegg presented a picturesque appearance as he reached Co. Q. The boys fairly yelled with delight.

"Whar's yer honey?" said Shorty. "Pears like ye waked up the wrong passenger that time!"

Si laughed with the rest, rubbed salt on his stings, and plodded on, consoling himself with the thought that his was not the only case in which the merit of earnest effort had gone unrewarded.

Soon after noon the 200th came to a large patch of sweet potatoes. Si and Shorty, as well as a good many of the rest, thought it would be a good place to lay in a supply for supper, as they might not have another So good a chance. From all parts of the column the men, by dozens dashed into the field. In a moment there was a man at every hill, digging away with his bayonet, and chucking the tempting tubers into his haversack.


173 (74K)

THERE WAS A MAN AT EVERY HILL

Two hours before going into camp the regiment passed a small spring, around which a crowd of soldiers were struggling to fill their canteens. There had been a long stretch without fresh water, and Si thought he would supply himself.

"Gimme your canteen, too, Shorty, and I'll fill it!" he said.

"Here, Si, you're a bully boy, take mine!" "Mine, too!" "And mine!" said one after another of his comrades. Si good naturedly complied and they loaded him down with about 20 canteens.

Si Being Worked for a 'good Thing.' 175

"All right," said Si, "I'll be along with 'em full d'reckly!"

He had to wait for his turn at the spring, and by the time he had filled all the canteens he was half an hour behind. Slinging them around his neck he started on, with just about as big a load as he could carry.

Si forged ahead, gradually gaining a little, through the tardy movement of the column that generally preceded going into camp. The canteen straps chafed his shoulders, his back ached, and perspiration streamed from every pore. The smoke of the campfires ahead told that the end of the day's march was near. He kept on and finally came up with Co. Q just as the 200th was stacking arms on the bank of a clear stream.

Si threw down his burdens of canteens, himself thoroughly blown and well-nigh exhausted.

"Purty good load, wasn't it, Si?" said Shorty. "But what made ye lug all that water in here? When ye saw they was goin' into camp ahead ye might ha' knowed there was plenty o' water. Why in blazes didn't ye turn the water out o' them 'ere canteens?"

"I'll be hanged if I thought o' that!" said Si, while the boys joined in a hearty laugh.

At the command "Break ranks" there was a general scamper to engage in the work of getting supper and preparing to spend the night with as much comfort as possible. The members of each mess scattered in all directions for water, rails, straw, etc., while some went out to scour the adjacent region for edibles.

These exercises the soldiers always entered into with the heartiest gusto, and the scene will be well remembered by all those who marched.

Si threw off his traps and dropped on the ground to rest a few minutes. He got up presently to scratch around with the rest. As he took hold of his haversack he was surprised at its lightness. When he laid it down it was bulging out with sweet potatoes, and a glance showed him that these were all gone.

"Dern my buttons!" exclaimed Si, as he forgot his weariness, and his eyes flashed fire. "If I am a Corporal, I kin jest mash the feller that stole my 'taters, I don't keer if he's ten foot high. Won't somebody show 'im to me? There won't be 'nuff of 'im left to hold a fun'ral over?"

Si pranced around in a high state of inflammation, and it is probable that if he had found the purloiner of his provender there would have been a harder fight than any that occurred between Buell and Bragg.

The boys winked slyly at one another, and all said it was too bad. It was a startling case of turpitude, and Si determined to have revenge by getting even with some other fellow, without pausing to consider the questions of moral philosophy involved.

"Come 'long with me. Shorty!" he said to his friend, and they strode away. Just outside the camp they came upon two members of some other new regiment coming into camp with a fine pig slung over a pole and two or three chickens in their hands. Shorty suggested to Si that this was a good chance for him to even up.

"Halt, there!" shouted Si to the foragers. "We're sent out to pick up such fellows as you!"

The effect was like a discharge from a masked battery. The men dropped their plunder and fled in wild confusion.

"Take hold 'o that pole, Shorty!" said Si, and laying it upon their shoulders they made a triumphant entry into camp.

There seemed to be no danger of immediate starvation in the ranks of the 200th. Each man appeared to have supplied himself during the day. On every hand fires gleamed brightly in the gathering twilight, and around them crowded the hungry soldiers, intent upon the simple culinary processes incident to the evening meal.





CHAPTER XVIII. A SUNDAY OFF

SI AND SHORTY GET A MUCH-NEEDED WASH-UP.

"YOU can take it easy to-day, boys, for we ain't goin' to move!" said the Orderly of Co. Q one morning at roll-call. "The orders is for to put the camp in nice shape, and for the men to wash up. We're goin' to have an extra ration of soap this mornin', and you fellows want to stir around lively and fix yerselves as if it was Sunday and ye was goin' to meetin'. The fust thing after breakfast all hands 'll turn out and p'leece ther camp."

"What in the world does he mean by p'leecin' the camp?" Corporal Klegg asked Shorty, as they stood by the fire making coffee and warming up the fragments of chicken that had been left over from supper the night before. "I didn't c'pose," said Si, "that we 'listed to be p'leecemen!"

Shorty replied that he didn't know, but he reckoned they'd find out soon enough. The 200th Ind. had been on the jump every day since leaving Louisville, and this was the first time it had been called on to "police" a camp.

As soon as breakfast was over the Orderly directed each man to provide himself with a small bundle of sticks, made by putting together a dozen bits of brush or "switches" three or four feet long, such as are used to rural pedagogs to enforce discipline. These, he said, were the implements used in policing camp, which meant brushing the leaves and loose debris outside the grounds.

"Does Corprils have to do that sort o' thing?" asked Si. He thought army regulations and camp usage ought to show some consideration for his rank. "What's the use of bein' a Corporil," he said to himself, "if it don't give a feller a chance to play off once in a while?"

"Corporals ain't no better'n anybody else," replied the Orderly, "'n' you can jist git some brush and go to work, 'long with the rest!"

Si was disposed to grumble a little, but he obeyed orders and was soon scratching up the leaves and dust with great zeal. He did not find it a particularly pleasant occupation, but the camp looked so much better when the job was done, that he thought it was not a bad thing, after all.

"Now, Shorty," said Si, "let's go down to the creek and do our washin'. My clothes has got to be biled, and I shouldn't wonder if yourn had, too."

"Yes, that's a fact!" said Shorty.

They got a big camp-kettle that had been used, and would be again, for making bean-soup, and started for the stream back of the camp. They had no change of clothing with them. Some days before, in order to lighten their knapsacks, they had taken out their extra shirts and drawers, tied them in a bundle, and put them on the company wagon, and this was somewhere back in the rear, owing to the confusion of the campaign.

"Seems to me," observed Si, "it ain't hardly a fair shake for Uncle Sam to make us do our washin'. They ought to confiscate the niggers 'n' set them at it; or I don't see why the Guvyment can't furnish a washin' masheen for each comp'ny! 'Twouldn't be no more'n the square thing!"

Si Was Disposed to Grumble 181

"The wimmen does the washin', ye know, Si, up where we live," said Shorty, "'n' I don't quite like the notion o' doin' that kind o' workt, but I can't jest see how we're goin' to git out of it. It's got to be done, that's sure!"

On the bank of the stream they quickly threw off their clothes for a bath. Si cast rueful glances at his nether garments as he laid them on the ground.

"Hadn't we better pile some rocks on 'em, Shorty?" said he. I'm affeared if we don't they'll crawl off into the bush.

"Guess we had," replied Shorty. "I b'lieve mine's started already!"

Having made sure of them, they plunged into the water. Far up and down the stream were hundreds of men, swimming and splashing about.

The soldiers availed themselves of every opportunity to enjoy this luxury.

Having thoroughly performed their ablutions. Si and Shorty turned their energies toward the clothes, which were in such sore need of soap and hot water. Putting their garments into the kettle and filling it with water, they built a fire under it. After half an hour of vigorous boiling they concluded they were "done." Plenty of soap, rubbing and rinsing finished the work, and the clothes sure presented a remarkable appearance, particularly the blue trousers.

"How're we going to git 'em dry?" asked Si, as he wrung out the last of his "wash."

"Hang 'em on the fence in the sun!" replied Shorty.

"But what'll we wear while they're dryin'?"

"Nothin', I reckon!"

So they spread out their garments, and then dashed again into the water. After splashing awhile they came out and drew on their half-dried trousers. Shorty lighted his pipe as they sat down to wait for the sunshine to do its perfect work. All along the stream were soldiers in similar stages of dishabille. It seemed like the Garden of Eden.

Showing the Old Man a Trick 183

"Say, Shorty," said Si, "'taint very wicked to smoke, is it?"

"Guess not!" was the reply.

"That's the way it 'pears to me, 'n' I've been kinder thinkin' lately that I'd learn how. The soljers all seem to enjoy their smokin' so much. You know. Shorty, that I was always a reel good boy—never smoked, nor chawed terbacker, nor cussed, nor done nothin' that was out o' the straight an' narrer way. When I jined the regiment my good old mother says to me: 'Now, Si,' says she, 'I do hope ye'll 'member what I've always taught ye. I've beam 'em tell that they does dretful things in the army, and I want ye to see if ye can't be as good a boy as ye've been at home.' Of course, I told her I would, 'n' I mean, ter stick to it; but I don't b'lieve there's any harm in smokin'. Is it hard to learn?"

"Wall, I dunno; I reck'n ye can't most always tell till ye try. Take a whiff, 'nd see how she goes!" And Shorty handed him his pipe, which he had just refilled with whittlings of black "navy plug."

"Derned if I don't try it!" said Si, as he took the pipe and began to puff with great energy. He made a few wry faces at first, but Shorty told him to stick to it, and he bravely pulled away while the clouds of smoke curled above him.

It was not long till the color left his face, his head was in a whirl, and his stomach began to manifest eruptive symptoms.

"Shorty," he gasped, "I'm awful sick. If smokin' makes a feller feel like this I don't want any more of it in mine."

"Where's all yer sand ye brag so much about?" said Shorty, laughing. "You're mighty poor timber for a soljer if ye can't stand a little pipe o' terbacker like that. You'll get over it purty soon, and it won't bother ye any next time ye try it."

Si found that he had on hand about as much as he could manage with his dizzy head and the rebellion that was so actively going on at a point a little lower in his physical system. The feeling wore gradually off, however, and by the time he was able to walk their clothes were well dried. They proceeded to "dress up," and then returned to camp.

During the afternoon the camp was visited by natives, black and white, from the region round about, with corn "pones," alleged pies, boiled eggs, and truck of various kinds, which they sought to dispose of for a valuable consideration. They struck a bad crowd, however, in a financial sense. The members of the 200th Ind. were not at this time in a condition of opulence. Most of them had spent what money they brought from home, and they had not been out long enough yet to receive a visit from the Paymaster. The lank men and scrawny women cried their wares vociferously, but with indifferent results. The boys wanted the stuff, but they were "busted," and trade was dull.

Si looked wistfully at the "pies," and suggested to Shorty a joint investment. Their purses were nearly empty, but the temptation was too strong to be resisted.

"Them looks nice," said Si. They were the first pies he had seen since leaving home, and his judgment was a little "off." As a matter of fact, it was only by the greatest stretch of courtesy that they could be called pies at all. But the word touched Si in a tender spot, and he only thought of such as his mother used to make.

Si and Shorty "pooled in" and bought a pie. Impatiently whipping out his pocket knife Si tried to cut it in two. It was hard work, for the "crust"—so called—was as tough as the hide of a mule. By their united efforts they at length succeeded in sawing it asunder. It was a fearful and wonderful specimen of culinary effort. It was made of two slabs of sodden, leathery dough, with a very feeble layer of dried apples sandwiched between them.

Si tried his teeth on the pie, but it was like trying to chew an old boot-leg.

"I say, old lady," said he, turning to the female of whom he had bought it, "is these pies pegged or sewed?"

"Look a hyar, young feller," said the woman, with considerable vinegar in her tone, "p'raps you-uns-all thinks it's right smart to insult we-uns; it shows how yer wuz broughten up. I don't 'low yer ever seed any nicer dog-g-goned pies 'n them is. Ye needn't try ter argify 'long 'th me, fur I kin jest knock the spots off'n any woman there is 'round here in cookin'."

Si saw that it would be profitless to discuss the matter, and concluded to make the best of a bad bargain. But he wouldn't eat the pie.

On the whole, the hucksters fared rather badly. The boys confiscated most of the stuff that was brought in, promising to pay next time they came that way. There was a good deal of grumbling, but the trouble always ended in the soldiers getting the plunder.

The climax was reached when a putty-faced citizen drove into camp a bony mule tied with straps and ropes and strings to a crazy cart, on which was a barrel of cider, which he "allowed" to sell out to the boys at 10 cents a drink, or a quarter a canteen full. He had a spigot rigged up in one end and an old tin cup, with which he dealt out the seductive beverage to such as would pay.

A thirsty crowd gathered around him, but sales were slow, on account of the scarcity of money. Si and Shorty mingled with the boys, and then drew aside and engaged in a whispered consultation.

"That'll be jest bully!" said Shorty. "If you can raise an auger somewhere we'll git the bulge on that old chap."

Waiting for Their Clothes to Dry 187

Si returned after a brief absence, with an auger which he had borrowed from the driver of an ammunition wagon.

"Now, Shorty," said Si, "you git the boys to stand around and keep up a racket, and I'll crawl under the cart and bore a hole into that 'ere barrel. Then pass in yer canteens and army kettles 'n' we'll show the old man a trick!"

Shorty quietly broached the scheme to a few of his comrades, who fell in with it at once. Gathering around the cart, they cheered and chattered so as to drown any noise Si might make while carrying out his plan, and which would "give it away."

It was not more than a minute till a gurgling sound was heard, and Si began to pass out to the boys the buckets and canteens which they so freely furnished him, filled with the fast-flowing contents of the barrel. It didn't take long to empty it entirely, nor did the citizen discover the state of affairs until the cider no longer ran from the spigot.

He had not sold more than a gallon or two, and he was amazed when the liquid ceased to respond. Then he resolved himself into an investigating committee, and after a protracted search he discovered the trick that had been played on him.

"Wall, I'll be gosh-durned!" he exclaimed. "I've hearn tell 'bout Yankee tricks, but dog my cats if this 'ere don't beat 'em all! I'd like to cut the gizzard outen the rascal that bored the hole in that bar'l!"

"I declare, old pard; that was mean!" said Si, who stood looking on, with his hands in his trousers pockets, the very picture of innocence. "I'm jist goin' to flax 'round 'n' help ye find that feller. If I was you I'd pound the stuffin' out of him—when ye cotch him!"





CHAPTER XIX. A CLOSE CALL

CORPORAL KLEGG HAS AN EXCITING ADVENTURE GUARDING A FORAGE TRAIN.

"COMPANY Q's bin detailed to go out 'n' help guard a forage train to-morrow," said the Orderly one evening at roll-call. "You fellers wants to all be up 'n' dressed bright 'n' early, with yer cartridge-boxes full 'n' a day's rations in yer haversacks. Be sure yer guns is in good order, fer likely's not we'll have a squirmish afore we git back."

The 200th Ind. had been lying in camp for two or three days, and the ambitious heroes who composed that regiment were getting tired of loafing about. Nothing chafed the raging patriotism of the new troops like a condition, however brief, of masterly inactivity. They refused to be comforted unless they were on the warpath all the time. Their ideal of a soldier's life was to take a rebel battery every morning before breakfast, storm a line of works to give them an appetite for dinner, and spend the afternoon charging with cold steel the serried columns of the foe and wading around through seas of gore.

So Corporal Klegg and Shorty and the rest of the boys betook themselves with alacrity to the work of preparation for the duties of the morrow. Members of the other companies watched the proceedings with jealous eye. They almost turned green with envy because they were not detailed for the expedition instead of Co. Q.

"Say, Si," remarked Shorty, thoughtfully, "hadn't we better write a letter home? Who knows but we'll be as dead as mackerels to-morrer night!"

"Fiddlesticks!" said Si. "What's the use o' havin' a funeral afore there's any corpse! We've bin through one fight 'n' didn't git hurt, 'n' I've made up my mind there's no use gittin' into a stew over a thing that may hap'n 'n' may not. Time 'nuff to fret 'bout it when it comes. I recolleck one thing I learned in Sunday-school—let's see, it was 'S'ficient unto the day is the evil thereof,' or suthin' like that. Strikes me that's a good passidge o' Scripter fer a soldier to keep pasted in his hat. I ain't goin' ter hang back fer fear a billit 'll hit me, nuther. If we're going to be killed we can't help it, so let's not fret our gizzards out!" And Si crammed a handful of hardtack into his haversack.

Si's cheery view of the case was not without its effect upon Shorty. Indeed, it cannot be denied that there was a great deal of common sense in his homely, good-natured philosophy. Sooner or later every soldier who did not "peter out" came gradually to adopt Si's idea as the governing principle of his military career.

"Shouldn't wonder if you was 'bout right, after all," said Shorty, as he sliced up some bacon to have it ready for an early breakfast. "You're better'n medicine, Si, to a feller w'at gits the blues sometimes!"

The preparations were soon made, and Co. Q went to bed early. In the morning the Orderly came around and stirred the boys up an hour before reveille, as they were ordered to be ready to start at daylight. The primary object of the expedition was forage for the animals, the supply of which had run short. Besides this, each man had a secondary purpose, and that was to gather in something on his own hook that would satisfy his longing for a change from the regulation diet. This was always the unwritten part of the order to "go out foraging." Daylight was just streaking over the camp when Co. Q, equipped in light marching order, leaving knapsacks behind, moved out to where the half dozen wagons detailed from the regimental transportation were ready for the start. Each regiment in the brigade furnished a company and the same number of wagons. The impatient mules were braying and flapping their ears, as if they understood that they were to be the chief beneficiaries of the raid.

"Pile in, boys!" said the Orderly, and they clambered into the wagons. The guards were permitted to ride until there were symptoms of danger.

Then the muleteers, bestriding the big "wheelers," cracked their long whips like pistol-snots, addressed to the mules the usual words of exhortation, and the long procession drew out upon the stony pike and took a brisk trot. Considerable foraging had already been done in the vicinity, and it was expected the train would have to go out several miles in order to fully accomplish its object. The boys were in fine spirits and enjoyed their morning ride, albeit the jolting of the wagons gave them a thorough shaking up.

"I guess they forgot to put any springs in when they built these wagons!" said Shorty, as he shifted his position so that he might catch the bumps in a new place for a while.

"Jest thinkin' that way myself," replied Si; "but all the same, it beats travelin' on the hoof all holler!"

Three or four miles out from camp the train was halted while the officers in command made inquiries of a cadaverous native who was sunning himself on the fence and whose principal occupation seemed to be chewing tobacco and distributing the resultant liquid around in a promiscuous way.

"Good morning, stranger," said the officer, "have you any corn on your place?"

"Haint got a dog-goned ear left!" was the surly answer. "Some o' you-unses men wuz out here yisterdy 'n' tuk every bit I hed."

This may or may not have been true. Inquiries of this nature always developed the fact that it was a man's neighbors who had plenty of corn; he never had any himself.

"There's ole man Scroggs," he continued; "he lives a matter of two miles from hyar. I 'low ye'll git sum if ye go thar. He growed a power o' cawn this yeah; he sold a heap, but I reckon he's got a right smart left."

During this time a couple of men had been making a hasty examination of the outbuildings on the place. They reported that they could find nothing in the way of forage. If the man had any corn he had carefully concealed it. The train started on to pay a visit to old man Scroggs.

"Say, old pard," asked Si as his wagon drove past, "is there any rebs 'round here?"

"There wuz a few Confedrit critter-men ridin' 'bout hyar this mawnin';—mebby ye'll run agin 'em 'afore night."

"How many o' your boys is among em?"

"We'uns is all Union."

"Jest as long as we're 'round, I s'pose!" said Si.

A mile further on those who were in the lead, rising to the crest of a hill, saw—or thought they saw a few vagrant cavalrymen far ahead. The train was halted and dispositions were made to meet any emergency likely to arise. The men were ordered to "tumble out" of the wagons. The main body was formed in advance. A line of skirmishers was deployed in front and flankers were thrown out on either side. Thus protected, the mule drivers again cracked their whips and the procession moved cautiously forward.

"Now keep yer eyes skinned," said Si to Shorty as they trailed along through the woods and fields and over fences, on one of the flanks. "If any of them raskils comes dodgin' 'round here let's try 'n' have the first crack at 'em 'n' git the bulge on the rest o' the boys!"

Keenly alert, with muskets loaded and capped, they crept carefully along, poking their noses into every thicket and peering around every building. It was clear that there would not be anything in the nature of a surprise if the whole line was as well taken care of as the particular point guarded by Corporal Klegg and his faithful friend Shorty.

"It's some like huntin' squirrels up in the woods of Posey County," said Si, as they forced their way through a patch of brambles.

"'Pears to be rayther more excitin' than huntin' squirrels," said Shorty. "Ye know squirrels doesn't shute back at a feller as them pesky rebbles does, an' the fun 's all on one side. I reckon ef squirrels c'd shute there wouldn't be so much huntin' of 'em!"

It was really a disappointment to Si that he found no opportunity to squint along the barrel of his musket in range of a foe. If any of his misguided fellow-citizens were in the neighborhood they considered discretion the better part of valor and kept out of harm's way.

In due time the Scroggs plantation was reached. A hasty examination showed that there was an abundance of corn on the place to load the wagons, and arrangements for a sudden transfer of the property were quickly made. A third of the force established a cordon of picket-posts around the marauding party, covering all the avenues of approach, with re serves at convenient points. The remainder of the troops stacked arms and entered briskly upon the work of confiscation.

An Assault on the Well-filled Corn Crib 191

Part of the harvest had already been gathered, and the first assault

was made on a well-filled cornhouse—one of a group of dilapidated out-buildings a little way from the dwelling. "Old man" Scroggs protested with profane vehemence, reinforced by the "old woman" and the entire family of children. We say "entire family," because there could not well have been a more numerous progeny in one household anywhere outside of Utah.

The head of the family cursed and swore, and his wife and the big girls looked as if they wanted to do the same thing, as they stood wringing their hands, their eyes flashing fire while the small-fry stood around and sobbed with a vague idea that some dire calamity had befallen them.

The old Kentuckian declared that he was a "Union man," and that he would demand of the Government full revenge for this outrage. It was noticed that there were no young men around as there should be according to the economy of nature, to preserve the balance of sex in so large a family. The officer in command asked him where all his sons were.

"Wall, I kaint tell yer 'zactly whar they is," was the reply. "They ain't to hum jest now. I 'low they've got a right to g'way ef they want ter."

The officer had been informed that there were several representatives of the Scroggs family in the rebel army. The old man's avowal of loyalty was taken for what it was worth. That it was not rated at a high figure was well attested by the appearance of the plantation a few hours later.

Meanwhile the soldiers kept right along in the duty assigned them. The corn-house was surrounded by wagons, the roof was gently lifted off, and in scarcely more time than it takes to tell the story six or eight of the wagons were heaped with the contents. The mules wagged their tails and brayed in anticipation of the picnic they would have when they got back to camp.

Then the force moved some distance and attacked a large field of standing corn. The stalks had been "topped," but the ears were yet ungathered. The men started in between the rows and swept through that field like a cyclone, plucking the ears right and left. Bags, baskets and boxes were pressed into the service, and as there were not enough of these to go' round many bore the corn to the wagons by armfuls. It did not take more than two or three hours to strip every ear from the field. A visitation of overgrown Kansas grasshoppers could not have done a more thorough job.

"Fo' de Lawd, boss," said an old darky who had been roosting on the fence watching the spoilers, "I nebber seed de crap gaddered so quick since I'se bawn. You'uns all is powerful smart, da't shuah!"

But where were Corporal Klegg and his comrade. Shorty, while all this was going on?

They had been stationed as sentinels near a house, half a mile beyond, on the pike. They were cautioned to keep a sharp lookout, and for a time they obeyed their instructions to the letter. Their vigilant eyes swept the surrounding country, and no rebel could have crept up on them without getting a pair of bullets from their ready muskets. They saw no signs of an enemy, and after a while it began to grow monotonous.

"Shorty," said Si, "I don't b'lieve there's any seceshers in these parts, an' there ain't any use'n us both keepin' this thing up. You jest watch out awhile 'n' I'll skin around 'n' see what I kin find."

Shorty agreed to this, taking it as an order from his superior officer. Si threw his gun up to a "right shoulder shift" and started off, after again urging upon his companion the importance of attending strictly to business.

Si had not gone far till he saw, penned in a corner of the barnyard, a cow with a full udder, from which a frisky young calf was busily engaged in pumping nourishment. A violent feeling of envy toward that calf began immediately to rage in the 'breast of Si. He had not had a draft of fresh milk since he had left home, and he felt that a little refreshment of that kind would be particularly gratifying to his interior organism. It would strengthen him and give him new courage to stand up to the rack if they should happen to get into a fight.

"I say. Shorty," he called, "cum 'ere a minnit, quick!"

Si's conscience smote him for calling Shorty from his duty and leaving the post unguarded, but the temptation was too strong for him to resist, and he yielded to the impulse to take the chances. Shorty came on the run, with eyes wide open, thinking his comrade had discovered some rebels hanging around.

"Look there!" said Si, pointing to the maternal scene that has been alluded to. "Let's have some o' that. We'll git over the fence 'n' you jest hold the calf while I milk our canteens full. 'Twont take more'n a jiffy!"

"We ort n't to leave the post, ort we?" suggested Shorty.

"Oh, there ain't no danger," Si replied; "an' besides, you can keep lookin' out while you're hangin' on to the calf. I was alters a good milker 'n' I'll fill up these canteens in a couple o' minnits." So they climbed over and leaned their muskets against the fence. Shorty seized the calf and held it with a firm grip, in spite of its struggling and bleating. The cow seemed disposed at first to resent the interference, but Si's persuasive "So, bossy" proved effectual in calming her fears, and she stood placidly chewing her cud while Si, spurred on by a guilty conscience, milked with all his might.

Shorty Held the Calf 195

The canteens were soon filled, and, with out stopping to drink. Si and Shorty hurried back to their post of duty. All was quiet, and no harm had resulted from their brief absence.

"I told ye 'twould be all right," said Si. "Now, we'll jest empty one o' these canteens—here, take a swig—'n' we'll carry the other to camp. It'll be jest bully to have milk in our coffee agin!"

Then they betook themselves to duty with redoubled vigilance, to atone for their derelictions. After watching for an hour without seeing anything, Si said he would take another little turn around the place.

Boldly advancing to the house, which was some distance in front of their post, he was met by a girl of about 18. She was rather pretty, but to Si's ardent imagination she was like a vision of surpassing loveliness. She greeted him pleasantly—for Si was a comely youth—and, if the truth must be told, he actually forgot for the moment all about his duty. When she said she would get him a good dinner, and invited him into the house to sit while she prepared it, he just went right along.

But his conscience began to thump so loudly that after a few minutes he told her he guessed he'd have to go, but would be delighted to return in an hour and partake of her hospitality.

"May I bring Shorty—he's my pard—'long with me?" he timidly asked.

"Certainly!" she replied, with a sweet smile; and Si went away, his nerves tingling with pleasant emotions to the very tips of his fingers.

"Shorty," he said, as he came up to "I've struck it this time. Over to that house there's the purtiest gal I ever see."

"Wha-a-a-a-t!" interjected Shorty, with a look of astonishment; for he knew something about Si and Annabel—the girl he left behind him—and he was both surprised and pained at Si's treasonable enthusiasm.

Si easily divined his thoughts, for something of the same nature had already caused his own heart to palpitate in a reproving way.

"Of—c-c-course—I d-d-don't—mean th-th-that. Shorty," he stammered "but she's a nice girl, anyhow, 'n' she's gittin' up a dinner fer me 'n' you. Bet ye it'll be a nice lay-out, too!"

Shorty did not feel quite at ease in his mind about leaving the post again, but Si assured him it would be all right. The peculiar circumstances of the case had sadly warped Si's judgment.

So they went to the house and were cordially greeted by their fair young hostess, who was flying around, putting the finishing touches to the meal she had prepared for them.

"Jiminy, don't that smell good?" said Si to Shorty in an undertone, as his sensitive nostrils caught the savory odors that arose from the nicely-spread board.

The young soldiers stood their guns on the floor in a corner of the room, preliminary to an assault on the edibles.

"Ugh!" exclaimed the young woman, with a coquettish shiver, "be them awful things loaded?"

"N—no!" said Si; "they won't hurt ye if ye don't touch 'em!"

Si was learning to fib a little, and he wanted to quiet the girl's fears.

The boys were soon seated at the table, bountifully supplied with ham, chicken, eggs, bread and butter, honey, and all the accessories of a well-ordered repast. They fell to with an eagerness that was, perhaps, justified by the long time that had elapsed since they had had a "square meal." Si thought that never in his life had anything tasted so good.

While they were thus engaged, without a thought of impending danger, the girl suddenly opened the door, leading to the dining room. A wild-eyed man—who proved to be her brother—in the uniform of a rebel soldier, dashed in, and, presenting a cocked revolver, demanded their unconditional and immediate surrender.

They were in a tight place. But Si proved equal to the sudden and appalling emergency. It flashed through his mind in an instant how the girl had "played it" on him. He made up his mind that he would rather be shot than be captured under such circumstances.

Si Sprang Upon Him 199

Si sprang up, and the rebel, true to his word, fired. Si dodged, and the ball only chipped a piece from his left ear. There was not time to get and use his gun. With the quickness of a cat Si sprang upon him, and with a blow of his fist laid him sprawling upon the floor. Disarming him, he placed the revolver at his head and triumphantly exclaimed:

"Now, gol durn ye, you're my prisoner. I'd like to blow the top o' yer head off fer spilin' my dinner, but I won't do it this time. But you jist git up 'n' come 'long with me!"

With his complete mastery of the situation, Si's confidence returned, and Shorty, who had been dazed and helpless at first, recovered himself and came to his assistance.

But at this instant their ears caught the sound of horses' hoofs galloping down the pike. Si's quick perception told him that is was a dash of rebel cavalrymen, and that a few moments later escape would be impossible.

"Grab yer gun an' git!" he said to Shorty, at the same time casting one ferocious glance at the terrified girl, who stood, white and speechless, contemplating the scene.

Si and Shorty dashed out of the house and started for the reserve, at the highest speed of which their legs were capable. On clattered the horses, and a few shots from the carbines of the swift-riding horsemen whistled through the air.

Six feet at a jump, with thumping hearts and bulging eyes, the fugitives almost flew over the ground, throwing quick glances at their pursuers, and then ahead, in the hope of catching a glimpse of succor.

'shorty if We--only Git--out O' This--' 203

"Shorty, if we only git out o' this—" but Si found he hadn't any wind to spare to finish the sentence. We must leave to the reader's imagination the good resolutions as to his future conduct that were forming in Si's mind at this critical juncture. He saw the awful consequences of yielding to the influence of that alluring young woman and her seductive dinner. What he had read about Adam and the trouble Eve got him into, in pretty much the same way, flashed before him. It was a good time to resolve that he wouldn't do so any more.

Shorty, long and lank, was swifter on his feet than Si. Hardtack and bacon had not yet reduced the latter's surplus flesh to a degree that enabled him to run well. Shorty kept ahead, but would not desert his comrade, slowing up for an instant now and then to give Si, who was straining to the utmost every nerve, and puffing like a locomotive on an upgrade, a chance to keep within supporting distance.

The soldiers of the reserve taking the alarm, came out at a double-quick and were fortunately able to cover the retreat of Si and Shorty. The half dozen cavalrymen, upon the appearance of so large a force, turned their horses and galloped away.

"Hello, Si," said the Orderly of Co. Q, "yer ear's bleedin'. What hurt ye?"

"Fell down and scratched it on a brier!" said Si, as soon as he was able to speak.

That night Si and Shorty sat on a log by the campfire talking over the events of the day.

"Don't ye never blow on this thing," said Si. "It'll be a cold day for us if they'd find it out."

"There ain't no danger o' my tellin'," replied Shorty. "But, say, ain't that a nice girl out there?"

"She's a mean rebel, that's what she is! But that was a smart trick o' her'n, wasn't it?"

"Come mighty near bein' too smart fer us!" replied Shorty. "I don't want no more such close shaves in mine. You 'member the story of the spider and the fly, don't ye? Well, she was the spider 'n' we was two poor little fool flies!"

"Shorty," said Si, "I'd a mighty sight ruther be an angel an' have the daisies a-bloomin' over my grave, than to have been tuk a prisoner in that house. But that dinner was good, anyhow—what we got of it!"





CHAPTER XX. "THE SWEET SABBATH"

HOW THE BLESSED DAY OF REST WAS SPENT IN THE ARMY.

"TOMORROW'S Sunday, ye know," said the Orderly of Company Q one Saturday night at roll-call.

This was in the nature of news to the boys. But for the announcement very few of them would have known it. The Orderly was not distinguished for his piety, and it is not likely that the approach of Sunday would have occurred to him if the Sergeant-Major had not come around with orders from the Colonel for a proper observance of the day. The Colonel himself would not have thought of it either, if the Chaplain had not reminded him of it. Everybody wondered how even the Chaplain could keep track of the days well enough to know when Sunday came—but that was chiefly what he wore shoulder-straps and drew his salary for. It was the general impression that he either carried an almanac in his pocket, or else a stick in which he cut a notch every day with his jack-knife, and in that way managed to know when a new week began.

"There'll be guard-mountin' at 9 o'clock," continued the Orderly, "regimental inspection at 10, preachin' at 11, an' dress-parade at 5 in the evenin'. All of ye wants to tumble out right promptly at revellee an' git yer breakfast, an' then clean up yer guns an' put all yer traps in apple-pie order, 'cause the Colonel's goin' to look at 'em. He's got sharp eyes, an' I reck'n he'll be mighty pertickler. If there's anything that ain't jest right he'll see it quicker'n litenin'. Ye know we hain't had any inspections yet, an' the Cap'n wants us to be the boss company. So ye've got to scratch around lively in the mornin'."

"Say," said Corporal Klegg, after the company had broken ranks, "seems to me there wa'n't no use in the Orderly tellin' us to 'scratch around,' fer we're doin' that purty much all the time, now that the graybacks is gittin' in their work on us."

Shorty smiled faintly at what he seemed to consider a rather feeble joke, even for Si.

The 200th Ind. had now been in the field for many weeks, but it had been continually cantering about the country, and the Generals had kept it particularly active on Sundays. Probably this regiment did not manifest any more than the average degree of enthusiasm and fervor in religious matters, but there were many in its ranks who, at home, had always sat under Gospel ministrations, and to tramp on Sundays, the same as other days, was, at first, a rude shock to their moral sensibilities. These were yet keen, the edges had not been worn off and blunted and battered by the hard knocks of army life. True, they could scarcely tell when Sunday came, but they knew that they kept right along every day.

"Shorty," said Si, after they had curled up under the blanket for the night, "'pears to me it'll seem sort o' nice to keep Sunday agin. At the rate we've bin goin' on we'll all be heathens by the time we git home—if we ever do. Our Chaplain haint had no chance to preachify yet. The boys of Comp'ny X, w'at knows him, says he's a staver, 'n' I b'lieve it'll make us all feel better to have him talk to us once. 'Twont do us no harm, nohow, I'd like to be home to-morrer 'n' go to church with mother, 'n' sister Marier, 'n'—er—I mean the rest of the folks. Then I'd jest eat all the afternoon. I ain't goin' ter git homesick, Shorty; but a feller can't help feelin' a little streaked once 'n' a while. Mebbe it's a good idee fer 'em to keep us on the jump, fer then we don't git no chance to think 'bout it. I don't suppose I'm the only boy 'n the regiment that 'd be glad to git a jest fer to-morrer. I sh'd want ter be back bright 'n' arly to fall in Monday mornin', fer I'm goin' to stick to the 200th through thick 'n' thin, if I don't git knocked out. Say, Shorty, how d'ye feel, any way?"

But Shorty was already fast asleep. Si spooned up to him and was soon, in his dreams, away up in Posey County.

The sound of the bugle and drum, at daylight, fell upon unwilling ears, for the soldiers felt the same indisposition to get up early Sunday morning that is everywhere One of the characteristics of modern civilization. Their beds were hard, but to their weary limbs no couch of down ever gave more welcome rest than did the rough ground on which they lay. But the wild yell of the Orderly, "Turn out for roll-call!" with the thought of the penalties for non-obedience—which some of them had abundant reason to remember—quickly brought out the laggards.

Si and Shorty were, as usual, among the first to take their places in line. They were pleasantly greeted by the Captain, who had come out on the run at the last moment, and wriggled himself into his coat as he strode along the company street. The Captain did not very often appear at morning rollcall. But one officer of the company was required to be present, and the Captain generally loaded this duty upon the Lieutenants "turn about." If he did show up, he would go back to bed and snooze for an hour while the cook was getting breakfast. If one of the men did that he would soon be promenading with a rail on his shoulder or standing on a barrel with a stick or a bayonet tied in his mouth.

"I think that's a fust rate notion to mount the guards," said Si to Shorty as they sat on a rail by the fire making coffee and frying bacon. "It'll be so much better 'n walkin' back 'n' forrard on the beats. Wonder 'f they'll give us bosses or mules to ride."

"I'd like to know what put that idee into yer head," said Shorty.

"Whydn't the Ord'ly say last night there 'd be guard-mountin' at 9 o'clock this mornin'? I s'posed that fer a man to be mounted meant straddlin' a boss or s'mother kind of an animal."

"Ain't ye never goin' to larn nuthin'," said Shorty, with a laugh. "Guard-mountin' don't mean fer the men to git on hosses. It's only the name they gives it in the Army Reggelations. Dunno why they calls it that, 'nless it's 'cause the guards has to 'mount' anybody that tries to pass 'thout the countersign. But don't ye fool yerself with thinkin' yer goin' to get to ride. We'll keep pluggin' along afoot, on guard or anywhere else, same's we have all the time."

Thus rudely was shattered another of Si Klegg's bright illusions.

The whole regiment turned out to witness the ceremony of guard-mounting. It was the first time the exigencies of the campaign had permitted the 200th Ind. to do this in regular style. The Adjutant was the most important personage, and stood so straight that he narrowly escaped falling over backward. In order to guard against making a mess of it, he had spent half the night rehearsing the various commands in his tent. Thus prepared, he managed to get through it in very fair shape.

So Straight he Leaned Backward 211

The next thing on the program for the day was the inspection. The boys had been industriously engaged in cleaning up their muskets and accouterments, and putting their scanty wardrobes in presentable condition. In arranging his knapsack for the Colonel's eye, each man carefully laid a clean shirt, if he had one, on the top. The garments that were not clean he either stowed away in the tent or put at the bottom of the knapsack. In this he was actuated by the same principle that prompts the thrifty farmer to put the biggest apples and strawberries at the top of his measure.

The clothing of the regiment was already in an advanced stage of demoralization. It was of the "shoddy" sort that a good hard wind would almost blow to pieces.

Corporal Klegg was anxious that not only his person, but all his belongings, should make as good an appearance as possible. He put on the best and cleanest garments he had, and then betook himself to fixing his knapsack so it would pass muster.

"Them duds is a bad lot," he said to Shorty, casting rueful glances at the little heap of soiled and ragged clothes. "Purty hard to make a decent show with them things."

"Wait a minute," said Shorty, "an' I'll show ye a little trick."

Taking his poncho under His arm. Shorty went to the rear of the camp, where the mules were feeding, and presently returned with a bunch of hay.

"What ye goin' to do with that?" asked Si.

"You jest do 's I tell ye, and don't ask no questions. Cram some o' this hay into yer knapsack 'n' fill 'er up 'n' then put a shirt or suthin', the best ye kin find, on top, 'n' the Colonel 'll think she's full o' clothes right from the laundry. I'm goin' to fix mine that way."

"Shorty, you're a trump!" said Si, approvingly. "That 'll be a bully scheme."

It required but a few minutes to carry out the plan. The hay was stuffed into the knapsack, and all vagrant spears were carefully tucked in.

Then a garment, folded so as to conceal its worst features, was nicely spread over the hay, the flaps were closed and buckled, and the young Hoosiers were ready for inspection.

"S'posen the Colonel sh'd take a notion to go pokin' down into them knapsacks," said Si; "don't ye think it'd be purty cold weather for us?"

"P'r'aps it mout," answered Shorty; "but we've got ter take the chances. He's got seven or eight hundred knapsacks to 'nspect, 'n' I don't b'lieve he'll stick his nose down into very many on 'em!"

At the appointed time the battalion was formed and the inspection was gone through with in good style. The Colonel and the field and staff officers, escorted by the Captain of each successive company, moved gradually between the ranks, their swords dangling around and getting mixed up with their legs. The soldiers stood facing inward like so many wooden men, with their open knapsacks lying upon the ground at their feet. The Colonel looked sharply right and left, stopped now and then to commend a soldier whose "straps" were in particularly good condition, or to "go for" another whose slouchy appearance betokened untidy habits. If a button was missing, or a shoe untied, his eye was keen to detect it, and a word of reproof was administered to the delinquent.

As the Colonel started down the line of Company Q Si watched him out of the corners of his eyes with no little anxiety. His heart thumped as he saw him occasionally stoop and fumble over the contents of a knapsack, evidently to test the truth of Longfellow's declaration that "things are not what they seem." What if the Colonel should go down into the bowels of Si's knapsack! Si fairly shuddered at the thought.

Si, being the shortest of the Corporals, was at the foot of the company, while Shorty, on account of his hight, was well up toward the head. Si almost fainted when he saw the Colonel stop in front of his "pard" and make an examination of his fatlooking knapsack. Military official dignity gave way when the removal of the single garment exposed the stuffing of hay. The officers burst into a laugh at the unexpected revelation, while the boys on either side almost exploded in their enjoyment of Shorty's discomfiture.

Si Almost Fainted when the Colonel Stopped 215

"Captain," said the Colonel, with as much sternness as he could command, "as soon as your company is dismissed detail a guard to take charge of this man. Have him take the hay out of his knapsack and fill it with stones—and see that it is filled full. Have this man put it on and march him up and down the company street till church-call, and then take him to hear the Chaplain. He needs to be preached to. Perhaps, between the knapsack-drill and the Chaplain, we can straight him out."

Corporal Klegg heard all this, and he wished the ground might open and swallow him. "These stripes is gone this time, sure!" he said to himself, as he looked at the chevrons on his arm. "But there's no use givin' yourself away, Si. Brace up, 'n' mebbe the Colonel 'll skip ye."

Si had been badly shaken up by the Colonel's episode with Shorty, but by a great effort he gathered himself together and was at his best, externally, when the Colonel reached him, though his thoughts were in a raging condition. His face was clean and rosy, and his general make-up was as good as could be expected under the circumstances.

The Colonel had always remembered Si as the soldier he had promoted to be a Corporal for his gallantry in the little skirmish a few days before. As he came up he greeted the Corporal with a smile and a nod of recognition. He was evidently pleased at his tidy appearance. He cast a glance at the voluptuous knapsack, and Si's heart seemed to sink away down into his shoes.

But the fates smiled on Si that day. The Colonel turned to the Captain and told him that Corporal Klegg was the model soldier of Company Q. Si was the happiest man in the universe at that precise moment. It was not on account of the compliment the Colonel had paid him, but because his knapsack had escaped a critical inspection of its contents.

The inspection over, Company Q marched back to its quarters and was dismissed. Poor Shorty was soon tramping to and fro, under guard, humping his back to ease the load that had been put upon it. Si was very sorry for him, and at the same time felt a glow of pleasure at the thought that it was not his own knapsack instead of Shorty's that the Colonel had examined. He could not help feeling, too, that it was a great joke on Shorty to be caught in his own trap.

Shorty Was There--with a Guard 217

Shorty took his medicine like a man, marching up and down the row of tents bravely and patiently, unheeding the gibes and jeers of his hard-hearted comrades.

The bugle sounded the call for religious services. Shorty was not in a frame of mind that fitted him for devout worship. In fact, few in the regiment had greater need of the regenerating influence. He had never been inside of a church but two or three times in his life, and he really felt that to be compelled to go and listen to the Chaplain's sermon was the hardest part of the double punishment the Colonel had inflicted upon him.

The companies were all marched to a wooded knoll just outside the camp. Shorty went by himself, save the companionship of the guard, with fixed bayonet. He had been permitted to leave his knapsack behind. He was taken to a point near the Chaplain, that he might get the full benefit of the preacher's words.

Under the spreading trees, whose foliage was brilliant with the hues of Autumn, in the mellow sunshine of that October day the men seated themselves upon the ground to hear the Gospel preached. The Chaplain, in his best uniform, stood and prayed fervently for Divine guidance and protection and blessing, while the soldiers listened, with heads reverently bowed. Then he gave out the familiar Methodist hymn,

     "Am I a soldier of the cross,"

and all joined in the old tune "Balerma," their voices swelling in mighty chorus. As they sang,

     "Are there no foes for me to face?"

there came to the minds of many a practical application of the words, in view of the long and fruitless chase after the rebels in which they had been engaged for nearly a month.

The Chaplain had formerly been an old-fashioned Methodist circuit-rider in Indiana. He was full of fiery zeal, and portrayed the terrors of eternal punishment so vividly that His hearers could almost feel the heat of the flame and smell the fumes of brimstone that are popularly believed to roll out unceasingly from the mouth of the bottomless pit. It ought to have had a salutary effect upon Shorty, but it is greatly to be feared that he steeled his stubborn heart against all that the Chaplain said.

It was always difficult not to feel that there was something contradictory and anomalous about religious services in the army. Grim-visaged, hideous war, and all its attendant circumstances, seemed so utterly at variance with the principles of the Bible and the teachings of Him who was meek and lowly, that few soldiers had philosophy enough to reconcile them.

The soldiers spent the afternoon in reading what few stray books and fugitive, well-worn newspapers there were in camp, mending their clothes, sleeping, and some of them, we are pained to add, in playing eucher, old sledge, and other sinful games. Dress parade closed the day that had brought welcome rest to the way-worn soldiers of the 200th Ind..

"Shorty," said Si, after they had gone to bed that night, "I sh'd be mighty sorry if I'd ha' got up that knapsack trick this mornin', 'cause you got left on it so bad."

"There's a good many things," replied Shorty, "that's all right when ye don't git ketched. It worked tip top with you, Si, 'n' I'm glad of it. But I put ye up to it, 'n' I shouldn't never got over it if the Colonel had caught ye, on account of them stripes on yer arm. He'd ha' snatched 'em baldheaded, sure's yer born. You're my pard, 'n' I'm jest as proud of 'em as you be yerself. I'm only a privit,' 'n' they can't rejuce me any lower! Besides, I 'low it sarved me right 'n' I don't keer fer the knapsack drill, so I didn't git you into a scrape."





CHAPTER XXI. SI AND SHORTY WERE RAPIDLY LEARNING

THE GREAT MILITARY TRUTH

THAT IN THE ARMY THE MOST LIKELY THING TO HAPPEN IS SOMETHING ENTIRELY UNLIKELY.

COL. TERRENCE P. McTARNAGHAN, as his name would indicate, had first opened his eyes where the blue heavens bend over the evergreen sod of Ireland. Naturally, therefore, he thought himself a born soldier, and this conviction had been confirmed by a year's service as Second Lieutenant of Volunteers in the Mexican War, and subsequent connection with the Indiana Militia. Being an Irishman, when he went in for anything, and especially soldiering, he went in with all his might. He had associated with Regular Army officers whenever there was an opportunity, and he looked up to them with the reverence and emulation that an amateur gives to a professional. Naturally he shared their idea that an inspection and parade was the summit of military art. Consequently, the main thing to make the 200th Ind. the regiment it should be were frequent and rigid inspections.

Fine weather, two days of idleness, and the prospect that the regiment would remain there some time watching the crossing of the Cumberland were enough and more than enough to set the Colonel going. The Adjutant published the following order:

     Headquarters 200th Indiana,
     In the Field, on the Cumberland,

     Nov. 25, 1862.

     I. The Regiment will be paraded for inspection tomorrow
     afternoon at 4 o'clock.

     II. Captains will be expected to parade the full strength of
     their companies.

     III. A half hour before the parade. Captains will form their
     companies in the company streets and inspect every man.

     IV. The men will be required to have their clothes neatly
     brushed, blouses buttoned up, clean underclothes, shoes
     blacked, letters and numbers polished, and arms and
     accouterments in best condition. They will wear white
     gloves.

     V. The man who has his clothes, arms and accouterments in
     the best order will be selected for the Colonel's Orderly.

     By command of

     Attest: COL. TERRENCE P. McTARNAGHAN, Colonel.

     B. B. LAUGHLIN, Adjutant.

When Capt. McGillicuddy marched Co. Q back to its street, he called attention to the order with a few terse admonitions as to what it meant to every one.

"Get at this as soon as you break ranks, boys," urged the Captain. "You can do a whole lot between now and tattoo. The others will, and you must not let them get ahead of you. No straw in knapsacks this time."

Company spirit was high, and it would be little short of a calamity to have Co. Q beaten in anything.

There was a rush to the Sutler for white gloves, blacking, needles, thread, paper collars, sweet oil and rotten stone for the guns.

That genial bird of prey added 50 per cent to his prices, because it was the first business he had done for some weeks; 50 per cent more for keeping open in the evening, another 50 per cent for giving credit till pay day, and still another for good will.

The Government had just offered some very tempting gold-interest bonds, of which he wanted a swad.

"'Tain't right to let them green boys have their hull $13 a month to waste in foolishness," he said. "Some good man should gather it up and make a right use of it."

Like Indiana farmer boys of his class. Si Klegg was cleanly but not neat. Thanks to his mother and sisters, his Sunday clothes were always "respectable," and he put on a few extra touches when he expected to meet Annabel. He took his first bath for the year in the Wabash a week or two after the suckers began to run, and his last just before the water got so cold as to make the fish bite freely.

Such a thing as a "dandy" was particularly distasteful to him.

"Shorty," said Si, as he watched some of the boys laboring with sandpaper, rotten stone and oil to make the gunbarrels shine like silver, "what's the cense o' bein' so partickler about the outside of a gun? The business part's inside. Making them screw heads look like beads don't make it no surer of gitting Mr. Butternut."

"Trouble about you folks on the Wabash," answered Shorty, as he twisted a screw head against some emery paper, "is that you don't pay enough attention to style. Style goes a long ways in this vain and wicked world," (and his eyes became as if meditating on worlds he had known which were not so vain and wicked), "and when I see them Kokomo persimmon knockers of Co. B hustling to put on frills, I'm going to beat 'em if I don't lay up a cent."

"Same here," said Si, falling to work on his gunbarrel. "Just as' nice people moved into Posey County as squatted in Kokomo. Gang o' hoss thieves first settled Howard County."

"Recollect that big two fister from Kokomo who said he'd knock your head off if you ever throwed that up to him again?" grinned Shorty. "You invited him to try it on, an' he said your stripes stopped him. You pulled off your blouse, and you said you had no stripes on your shirt sleeves. But I wouldn't say it again until those Co. B fellers try again to buck us out of our place in the ration line. It's too good a slam to waste."

Tattoo sounded before they had finished their guns and accouterments. These were laid aside to be completed in the full light of day.

The next morning work was resumed with industry stimulated by reports of the unusual things being done by the other companies.

"This Tennessee mud sticks closer'n a $500 mortgage to a 40-acre tract," sighed Si, as he stopped beating and brushing his blouse and pantaloons.

     "Or,
     "'Aunt Jemima's plaster,
     "The more you try to pull it off the more it sticks
                     the faster."

hummed Shorty, with what breath he had left from his violent exercise.

So well did they work that by dinner time they felt ready for inspection, careful reconnoissances of the other companies showing them to have no advantages.

Next to the Sutler's for the prescribed white gloves.

Si' had never worn anything on his hands but warm, woolen mittens knit for him by his mother, but the order said white gloves, and gloves they must have. The accommodating sutler made another stoppage in their month's pay of $1 for a pair of cheap, white cotton gloves. By this time the sutler had accumulated enough from the 200th Ind. to secure quite a handful of gold interest-bearing bonds.

"Well, what do you think of them. Si?" said Shorty, as he worked his generous hands into a pair of the largest sized gloves and held them up to view.

"If they were only painted yaller and had a label on them," said Si, "they could be issued for Cincinnati canvas covered hams."

Shorty's retort was checked by hearing the bugle sound the officers' call. The Colonel announced to them that owing to the threatening look of the skies the parade and inspection would take place in an hour.

There was feverish haste to finish undone things, but when Capt. McGillicuddy looked over his men in the company street, he declared himself proud to stack up Co. Q against any other in the regiment. Gun barrels and bayonets shone like silver, rammers rang clear, and came out without a stain to the Captain's white gloves.

The band on the parade ground struck up the rollicking

     "O, ain't I glad to git out of the wilderness,
     Out of the wilderness-Out of the wilderness,"

and Capt. McGillicuddy marched proudly out at the head of 75 broad-shouldered, well-thewed young Indianians, fit and fine as any south of the Ohio.

The guides, holding their muskets butts up, indicated where the line was to form, the trim little Adjutant, glorious as the day in a new uniform and full breasted as a pouter-pigeon, was strutting over toward the band, and the towering red-headed Colonel, martial from his waving plume to his jangling spurs, stood before his tent in massive dignity, waiting for the color company to come up and receive the precious regimental standard.

This scene of orderly pomp and pageantry was rudely disturbed by an Aid dashing in on a sweating horse, and calling out to the statuesque commander:

"Colonel, a train is stalled in the creek about three miles from here, and is threatened with capture by Morgan's cavalry. The General presents his compliments, and directs that you take your regiment on the double-quick to the assistance of the train. You v'e not a moment lose."

"Tare and 'ounds!" swore the Colonel in the classic he used when excited, "am I niver to have a dacint inspection? Orderly, bring me me harse. Stop that band's ijiotic blatting. Get into line there, quick as love will let you, you unblessed Indiana spalpeans. Without doubling; right face! Forward, M-a-r-c-h!"

Col. McTarnaghan, still wearing his parade grandeur, was soon at the head of the column, on that long-striding horse which always set such a hot pace for the regiment; especially over such a rough, gullied road as they were now traveling.

Still, the progress was not fast enough to suit the impatient Colonel, who had an eye to the report he would have to make to the Brigadier General, who was a Regular.

"Capt. McGillicuddy," commanded he, turning in his saddle, "send forward a Corporal and five men for an advance guard."

"Corporal Klegg, take five men and go to the front," commanded the Captain.

"Now you b'yes, get ahead as fast as you can. Get a move on them durty spalpanes of tamesters. We must get back to camp before this storm strikes us. Shove out, now, as if the divil or Jahn Morgan was after yez."

It was awful double-quicking over that rocky, rutty road, but taking Shorty and four others. Si went on the keen jump to arrive hot and breathless on the banks of the creek. There he found a large bearded man wearing an officer's slouched hat sitting on a log, smoking a black pipe, and gazing calmly on the ruck of wagons piled up behind one stalled in the creek, which all the mules they could hitch to it had failed to pull out.

It was the Wagon Master, and his calmness was that of exhaustion. He had yelled and sworn himself dry, and was collecting another fund of abuse to spout at men and animals.

"Here, why don't you git a move on them wagons?" said Si hotly, for he was angered at the man's apparent indifference.

"'Tend to your own business and I'll tend to mine," said the Wagon Master, sullenly, without removing his pipe or looking at Si.

"Look here, I'm a Corporal, commanding the advance guard," said Si. "I order you!"

This seemed to open the fountains of the man's soul.

"You order me?" he yelled, "you splay-footed, knock-kneed, chuckled-headed paper-collared, whitegloved sprat from a milk-sick prairie. Corporal! I outrank all the Corporals from here to Christmas of next year."

"The gentleman seems to have something on his mind," grinned Shorty. "Mebbe his dinner didn't set well."

"Shorty?" inquired Si, "how does a Wagon Master rank? Seems to me nobody lower'n a Brigadier-General should dare talk to me that way."

"Dunno," answered Shorty, doubtfully. "Seems as if I'd heard some of them Wagon Masters rank as Kurnels. He swears like one."

"Corporal!" shouted the Wagon Master with infinite scorn. "Measly $2-a-month water toter for the camp-guard, order me!" and he went off into a rolling stream of choice "army language."

"He must certainly be a Kurnel," said Shorty.

"Here," continued the Wagon Master, "if you don't want them two shoat-brands jerked offen you, jump in and get them wagons acrost. That's what you were sent to do. Hump yourself, if you know what's good for you. I've done all I can. Now it's your turn."

Dazed and awed by the man's authoritativeness the boys ran down to the water to see what was the trouble.

They found the usual difficulty in Southern crossings. The stupid tinkerers with the road had sought to prevent it running down into the stream by laying a log at the edge of the water. This was an enormous one two feet in diameter, with a chuckhole before it, formed by the efforts of the teams to mount the log. The heavily laden ammunition wagon had its hub below the top of the log, whence no amount of mule-power could extricate it.

Si, with Indiana commonsense, saw that the only help was to push the wagon back and lay a pile of poles to make a gradual ascent. He and the rest laid their carefully polished muskets on dry leaves at the side, pulled off their white gloves, and sending two men to hunt thru the wagons for axes to cut the poles. Si and Shorty roused up the stupid teamsters to unhitch the mules and get them behind the wagon to pull it back. Alas for their carefully brushed pantaloons and well-blackened shoes, which did not last a minute in the splashing mud.

The Wagon Master had in the meanwhile laid in a fresh supply of epithets and had a fresh batch to swear at. He stood up on the bank and yelled profane injunctions at the soldiers like a Mississippi River Mate at a boat landing. They would not work fast enough for him, nor do the right thing.

The storm at last burst. November storms in Tennessee are like the charge of a pack of wolves upon a herd of buffalo. There are wild, furious rushes, alternating with calmer intervals. The rain came down for a few minutes as if it would beat the face off the earth, and the stream swelled into a muddy torrent. Si's paper collar and cuffs at once became pulpy paste, and his boiled shirt a clammy rag. In spite of this his temper rose to the boiling point as he struggled thru the sweeping rush of muddy water to get the other wagons out of the road and the ammunition wagon pulled back a little ways to allow the poles to be piled in front of it.

The dashing downpour did not check the Wagon Master's flow of profanity. He only yelled the louder to make himself heard above the roar. The rain stopped for a few minutes as suddenly as it had begun and Col. McTarnaghan came up with all his parade finery drenched and dripping like the feathers of a prize rooster in a rainy barnyard. His Irish temper was at the steaming point, and he was in search of something to vent it on.

"You blab-mouthed son of a thief," he shouted at the Wagon Master, "what are you ordering my men around for? They are sent here to order you, not you to order them. Shut that ugly potato trap of yours and get down to work, or I'll wear my saber out on you. Get down there and put your own shoulders to the wheels, you misbegotten villain. Get down there into the water, I tell you. Corporal, see that he does his juty!"

The Wagon Master slunk down the hill, where Shorty grabbed him by the collar and yanked him over to help push one of the wagons back. The other boys had meanwhile found axes, cut down and trimmed up some pine poles and were piling them into the chuckhole under Si's practical guidance. A double team was put on the ammunition wagon, and the rest of Co. Q came up wet, mad and panting. A rope was found and stretched ahead of the mules, on which the company lined itself, the Colonel took his place on the bank and gave the word, and with a mighty effort the wagon was dragged up the hill. Some other heavily loaded ammunition wagons followed. The whole regiment was now up, and the bigger part of it lined on the rope so that these wagons came up more easily, even tho the rain resumed its wicked pounding upon the clay soil.

Wading around thru the whirling water. Si had discovered, to his discomfiture, that there was a narrow, crooked reef that had to be kept to. There were deep overturning holes on either side. Into one of these Si had gone, to come again floundering and spurting muddy water from his mouth.

Shorty noted the place and took the first opportunity to crowd the Wagon Master into it.

A wagon loaded with crackers and pork missed the reef and went over hopelessly on its side, to the rage of Col. McTamaghan.

"Lave it there; lave it there, ye blithering numbskulls," he yelled, "Unhitch those mules and get 'em out. The pork and wagon we can get when the water goes down. If another wagon goes over Oi'll rejuce it every mother's son of yez, and tie yez up by the thumbs besides."

Si and Shorty waded around to unhitch the struggling mules, and then, taking poles in hand to steady themselves, took their stations in the stream where they could head the mules right.

Thru the beating storm and the growing darkness, the wagons were, one by one, laboriously worked over until, as midnight approached, only three or four remained on the other side. Chilled to the bone, and almost dropping with fatigue from hours of standing in the deep water running like a mill race. Si called Al Klapp, Sib Ball and Jesse Langley to take their poles and act as guides.

Al Klapp had it in for the sutlers. He was a worm that was ready to turn. He had seen some previous service, and had never gone to the Paymaster's table but to see the most of his $13 a month swept away by the sutler's remorseless hand. He and Jesse got the remaining army wagons over all right. The last wagon was a four-horse team belonging to a sutler.

The fire of long-watched-for vengeance gleamed in Al's eye as he made out its character in the dim light. It reached the center of the stream, when over it went in the rushing current of muddy water.

Al and Jesse busied themselves unhooking the struggling mules.

The Colonel raged. "Lave it there! Lave it there!" he yelled after exhausting his plentiful stock of Irish expletives. "But we must lave a guard with it. Capt. Sidney Hyde, your company has been doing less than any other. Detail a Sergeant and 10 men to stand guard here until tomorrow, and put them two thick-headed oudmahouns in the creek on guard with them. Make them stand double tricks.

"All right. It was worth it," said Al Klapp, as the Sergeant put him on post, with the water running in rivulets from his clothes. "It'll take a whole lot of skinning for the sutlers to get even for the dose I've given one of them."

"B'yes, yoi've done just splendid," said the Colonel, coming over to where Si and Shorty were sitting wringing the water and mud from their pantaloons and blouses. "You're hayroes, both of yez. Take a wee drap from my canteen. It'll kape yez from catching cold."

"No, thankee, Kurnel," said Si, blushing with delight, and forgetting his fatigue and discomfort, in this condescension and praise from his commanding officer. "I'm a Good Templar."

"Sinsible b'y," said the Colonel approvingly, and handing his canteen to Shorty.

"I'm mightily afraid of catching cold," said Shorty, reaching eagerly for the canteen, and modestly turning his back on the Colonel that he might not see how deep his draft.

"Should think you were," mused the Colonel, hefting the lightened vessel. "Bugler, sound the assembly and let's get back to camp."

The next day the number of rusty muskets, dilapidated accouterments and quantity of soiled clothes in the camp of the 200th Ind. was only equaled by the number of unutterably weary and disgusted boys.





CHAPTER XXII. A NIGHT OF SONG

HOME-SICKNESS AND ITS OUTPOURING IN MUSIC.

IT WAS Sunday again, and the 200th Ind. still lingered near Nashville. For some inscrutible reason known only to the commanding officers the brigade had been for nearly a week in camp on the banks of the swift running Cumberland. They had been bright, sunshiny days, the last two of them. Much rain in the hill country had swollen the swift waters of the Cumberland and they fiercely clamored their devious way to the broad Ohio. The gentle roar as the rippling wavelets dashed against the rock bound shores sounded almost surf-life, but to Si, who had never heard the salt waves play hide-and-go-seek on the pebbly beach, the Cumberland's angry flood sang only songs of home on the Wabash. He had seen the Wabash raging in flood time and had helped to yank many a head of stock from its engulfing fury. He had seen the Ohio, too, when she ran bank full with her arched center carrying the Spring floods and hundreds of acres of good soil down to the continent-dividing Mississippi, and on out to sea. His strong arms and stout muscles had piloted many a boat-load of boys and girls through the Wabash eddies and rapids during the Spring rise, and as he stood now, looking over the vast width of this dreary waste of waters, a great wave of home-sickness swept over him.

After all, Si was only a kid of a boy, like thousands of his comrades.' True, he was past his majority a few months, but his environment from youth to his enlistment had so sheltered him that he was a boy at heart.

"The like precurse of fierce events and prologue to the omen coming on" had as yet made small impression upon him. Grim visaged war had not frightened him much up to that time. He was to get his regenerating baptism of blood at Murfreesboro a few weeks later. Just now Si Klegg was simply a boy grown big, a little over fat, fond of mother's cooking, mother's nice clean feather beds, mother's mothering, if the truth must be told. He had never in his life before been three nights from under the roof of the comfortable old house in which he was born. He had now been wearing the blue uniform of the Union a little more than three months, and had not felt mother's work-hardened hands smoothing his rebellious hair or seen her face or heard a prayer like she could make in all that three months.

"Shucks!" he said fretfully to himself as he looked back at the droning, half asleep brigade camp, and then off to the north, across the boiling yellow flood of waters that tumbled past the rocks far below him.

"A feller sure does git tired of doin' nothin'."

Lusty, young, and bred to an active life, Si, while he did not really crave hustle and bustle, was yet wedded to "keeping things moving." He had already forgotten the fierce suffering of his early marching—it seemed three years to him instead of three months back; he had forgotten the graybacks, the wet nights, the foraging expeditions, the extra guard duty and all that. There had been two days of soft Autumn sunshine in a camp that was almost ideal. Everything was cleaned up, mended up, and the men had washed and barbered themselves into almost dude-like neatness. Their heaviest duties had been lazy camp guard duty, which Shorty, growing indolent, had declared to be "dumned foolishness," and the only excitement offered came from returning foraging parties. There was no lurking enemy to fear, for the country had been cleared of guerrillas, and in very truth the ease and quietness of the days of inactivity was almost demoralizing the men.

There had been no Sunday services. The 200th Ind. was sprawled out on the ground in its several hundred attitudes of ease, and those with whom they were brigaded were just as carelessly disposed.

As Si sauntered aimlessly back to look for Shorty, the early twilight began to close in as the sun slid down behind the distant hills. Campfires began to glow as belated foragers prepared their suppers, and the gentle hum of voices came pleasantly to the ear, punctuated by laughter, often boisterous, but quite as often just the babbling, cheery laugh of carefree boys.

Si felt—well, Si was just plain homesick for mother and the girls, and one particular girl, whose front name was Annabel, and he almost felt as though he didn't care who knew it.

The air was redolent with the odor of frying meat. Mingled with this were vagrant whiffs of cooking potatoes, onions, chickens, and the fragrance of coffee steaming to blackest strength, all telling tales of skillful and successful foraging, and it all reminded Si of home and the odors in his mother's kitchen.

Si couldn't find Shorty, so he hunched down, silent and alone, beside his tent, a prey to the blue devils. It would soon be Christmas at home. He could see the great apple bins in the cellar; the pumpkins in the hay in the barn; the turkeys roosting above the woodshed; the yards of encased sausages in the attic; he could even smell the mince meat seasoning in the great stone jar; the honey in the bee cellar; the huge fruit cake in the milk pan in the pantry; since he could remember he seen and smelled all these, with 57 varieties of preserves, "jells," marmalades, and fruit-butters thrown in for good measure at Christmas time. He had even contemplated with equanimity all these 21 Christmases, the dose of "blue pills" that inevitably followed over-feeding at Mother Klegg's, and now on his 22d Christmas he might be providing a target for a rebel bullet.

Suddenly Si noticed that the dark had come; the fragrance of tobacco from hundreds of pipes was filling the air, and from away off in the distance the almost Indian Summer zephyrs were bringing soft rythmic sounds like—surely—yes, he caught it now, it was that mighty soother of tired hearts—

     "Jesus, lover of my soul,
     Let me to Thy bosom fly.
     While the billows near me roll.
     While the tempest still is high."

Si shut his eyes lest the tear drops welling suddenly up fall on his uniform, not stopping to think that in the gloom they could not be seen.

Miles away the singers seemed to be when Si caught the first sounds, but as the long, swinging notes reached out in the darkness, squad after squad, company after company, regiment after regiment took up the grand old hymn until Si himself lifted up his not untuneful voice and with the thousands of others was pleading—

     "Hide me, oh, my Savior hide,
     'Till the storm of life is past;
     Safe into the haven guide.
     Oh, receive my soul at last."

and the song rose and swelled out and up toward heaven, and stole away off to the horizon till the whole vast universe seemed filled with the sacred melody. As the last words and their music faded out in space. Shorty lunged down beside Si.

"Say, Pard," he began banteringly, "you've missed yer callin'. Op'ry oughter have been yer trade."

"Oh, chop off yer chin music for a minute. Shorty," broke in Si. "In the dark here it seemed most as though I was at home in the little old church with Maria and Annabel and Pap and Mother, and us all singing together, and you've busted it—ah! listen!"

From not far away a bugler had tuned up and through the fragrant night came piercingly sweet—

     "I will sing you a song of that beautiful land—"

Then near at hand a strong, clear, musical tenor voice took up the second line,

     "The far away home of the soul,"

and almost instantly a deep, resonant bass voice boomed in—

     "Where no storms ever beat on that glittering strand
     While the years of eternity roll,"

and soon a hundred voices were making melody of the spheres as they sang Philip Phillips's beautiful song.

"That was Wilse Hornbeck singin' tenor," said Si, as the song ended.

"And it was Hen Withers doin' the bass stunt," returned Shorty.

"You just oughter hear him do the ornamental on a mule whacker. Why, Si, he's an artist at cussing. Hen Withers is. Sodom and Gomorrah would git jealous of him if he planted himself near 'em, he's that wicked."

"Well, he can sing all right," grunted Si.

Just then Hen Withers, in the squad some 50 feet away broke into song again—

    "Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light"

It welled up from his throat like the pipe from a church organ, and as mellow as the strains from a French horn. When the refrain rolled out fully 3,000 men were singing, yelling and shouting in frenzied fervor—

    "And the Star Spangled banner.
    In triumph shall wave,
    O'er the land of the free,
    And the home of the brave."

While Hen Withers rested on his well-earned laurels, a strong, clear voice, whose owner was probably thinking of home and the shady gloom of the walk through the grove to singing school with his sweetheart, trilled an apostrophe to the queen of light.

    "Roll on, silvery moon,
    Guide the traveler on his way,"

but he had it pretty much to himself, for not many knew the words, and he trailed off into

    "I loved a little beauty, Bell Brandon,"

then his music died out in the night.

It was now the "tenore robusto" who chimed in bells, on a new battle song that held a mile square of camp spellbound:

     "Oh, wrap the flag around me, boys,

     To die were far more sweet
     With freedom's starry emblem, boys.

     To be my winding sheet.
     In life I loved to see it wave

     And follow where it led,
     And now my eyes grow dim, my hands

     Would clasp its last bright shred.
     Oh, I had thought to meet you, boys,

     On many a well-worn field
     When to our starry emblem, boys,

     The trait'rous foe should yield.
     But now, alas, I am denied

     My dearest earthly prayer,
     You'll follow and you'll meet the foe,

     But I shall not be there."

Wilse Hornback knew by the hush of the camp as the sound of his wonderful voice died on the far horizon that he had his laurels, too, and so he sang on while the mile square of camp went music-mad again as it sang with him—

     "We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom.
     And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more.
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom."

Chorus:

     "The Union forever! Hurrah, boys. Hurrah;
     Down with the traitor and up with the Star,
     While we rally 'round the Flag, boys,
     We'll rally once again,
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

     We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true and brave.
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
     And although they may be poor, not a man shall
     be a slave.
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

     So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
     And we'll hurl the rebel crew from the land we love the best,
     Shouting the battle cry of freedom."

In the almighty hush that followed the billows of sound, some sweet-voiced fellow started Annie Laurie, and then sang—

     "In the prison cell I sit"

with grand chorus accompaniment. Then Wilse Hornback started and Hen Withers joined in singing the Battle Hymn—

     "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,"

and oh, God of Battles! how that army of voices took up the refrain—

     "Glory, glory, hallelujah,"

and tossed and flung it back and forth from hill to hill and shore to shore till it seemed as though Lee and his cohorts must have heard and quailed before the fearful prophecy and arraignment.

Then the "tenore robusto" and the "basso profundo" opened a regular concert program, more or less sprinkled with magnificent chorus: singing, as it was easy or difficult for the men to recall the words. You must rummage in the closets of memory for most of them! The Old Oaken Bucket; Nellie Gray; Anna Lisle; No, Ne'er Can Thy Home be Mine; Tramp, Tramp, Tramp; We are Coming, Father Abraham; Just as I Am; By Cold Siloam's Shady Rill—how those home-loving Sunday school young boys did sing that! It seemed incongruous, but every now and then they dropped into these old hymn tunes, which many a mother had sung her baby to sleep with in those elder and better days.

The war songs are all frazzled and torn fragments of memory now, covered with dust and oblivion, but they were great songs in and for their day. No other country ever had so many.

Laughter and badinage had long since ceased. Flat on their backs, gazing up at the stars through the pine and hemlock boughs, the boys lay quietly smoking while the "tenore robusto" assisted by the "basso profundo" and hundreds of others sang "Willie, We Have Missed You," "Just Before the Battle, Mother," "Brave Boys Are They," and the "Vacant Chair."

In a little break in the singing. Hen Withers sang a wonderful song, now almost forgotten. It was new to the boys then, but the bugler had heard it, and as Hen's magnificent voice rolled forth its fervid words the bugle caught up the high note theme, and never did the stars sing together more entrancingly than did the "wicked mule whacker" and that bugle—

     "Lift up your eyes, desponding freemen.
     Fling to the winds your needless fears.
     He who unfurled our beauteous banner
     Says it shall wave a thousand years."

On the glorious chorus a thousand voices took up the refrain in droning fashion that made one think of "The Sound of the Great Amen."

     "A thousand years, my own Columbia!
     Tis the glad day so long foretold!
     'Tis the glad mom whose early twilight
     Washington saw in times of old."

By the time Hen had sung all of the seven verses the whole brigade knew the refrain and roared it forth as a defiance to the Southern Confederacy, which took on physical vigor in the days that came after, when the 200th Ind. went into battle to come off victorious on many a fiercely contested field.

Then the tenor sang that doleful, woe begone, hope effacing, heart-string-cracking "Lorena." Some writer has said that it sung the heart right out of the Southern Confederacy.

     "The sun's low down the sky, Lorena,
     The snow is on the grass again."

As Wilse Hornbeck let his splendid voice out on the mournful cadences, Si felt his very heart strings snap, and even Shorty drew his breath hard, while some of the men simply rolled over, and burying their faces in their arms, sobbed audibly.

Wilse had not counted on losing his own nerve, but found his voice breaking on the melancholy last lines, and bounding to his feet with a petulant,

     "Oh, hang it!"

     "Say, darkies, hab you seen de Massa"

came dancing up from the jubilating chords of that wonderful human music box, and soon the camp was reeling giddily with the jolly, rollicking,

     "Or Massa ran, ha! ha!!
     The darkies stay, ho! ho!!"

Then, far in the distance a bugle sounded "lights out," and the songfest was at an end; as bugler after bugler took it up, one by one the campfires bAlinked out, and squad after squad sank into quiet.

"I feel a heap better somehow," remarked Si, as he crawled under his blanket.

"Dogged if I hain't had a sort of uplift, too," muttered Shorty, as he wrapped his blanket round his head. In the distance a tenor voice was singing as he kicked out his fire and got ready for bed—

     "Glory, glory, hallelujah."











SI KLEGG

THRU THE STONE RIVER CAMPAIGN AND IN WINTER QUARTERS AT MURFREESBORO.



By John McElroy



Book Two



Published By The National Tribune Co., Washington, D. C. Second Edition Copyright 1910




THE SIX VOLUMES

  SI KLEGG, Book I, Transformation From a Raw Recruit  
  SI KLEGG, Book II, Through the Stone River Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book III, Meets Mr. Rosenbaum, the Spy  
  SI KLEGG, Book IV, On The Great Tullahoma Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book V, Deacon's Adventures At Chattanooga  
  SI KLEGG, Book VI, Enter On The Atlanta Campaign  








Si Sat Down Hard 20
frontispiecee (114K)



titlepage (70K)


CONTENTS


PREFACE

SI KLEGG


CHAPTER I. THROUGH MUD AND MIRE

CHAPTER II. SECOND DAY'S MARCH

CHAPTER III. STILL ON THE MARCH

CHAPTER IV. THE SUNSHINE OF LIFE

CHAPTER V. LINING UP FOR BATTLE

CHAPTER VI. BATTLE OF STONE RIVER

CHAPTER VII. AFTER THE FIRST DAY

CHAPTER VIII. A GLOOMY NEW YEAR'S DAY

CHAPTER IX. VICTORY AT LAST

CHAPTER X. THE VICTORIOUS ARMY

CHAPTER XI. WINTER QUARTERS

CHAPTER XII. ADDING TO THEIR COMFORT

CHAPTER XIII. "HOOSIER'S REST"

CHAPTER XIV. DEACON KLEGG'S SURPRISE

CHAPTER XV. DEACON KLEGG'S ARRIVAL IS MISTAKEN

CHAPTER XVI. IN A NEW WORLD

CHAPTER XVII. THE DEACON'S INITIATION

CHAPTER XVIII.   THE DEACON IS SHOCKED

CHAPTER XIX. THE DEACON IS TROUBLED

CHAPTER XX. THE DEACON BUTTS IN

CHAPTER XXI. THE PERPLEXED DEACON

CHAPTER XXII. TRYING TO EDUCATE ABRAHAM LINCOLN






ILLUSTRATIONS


The Aid Spatters Mud on si 18

Si Sat Down Hard 20

Stop Beatin' Them Mules' 22

Frozen in the Mud 29

What Do You See, Shorty?' 33

Si Reports to the Colonel 38

Preparing Supper 40

After the Mules Stampeded 44

The Adjutant Smiled on si and Shorty 49

The Prisoners 50

A Close Shave 62

Groundhog Fled 64

Earning Thirteen Dollars a Month 57

A Frightened Teamster 70

A Lucky Fall 81

Finding a Good Thing 85

Si's Challenge 90

A Disagreeable Awakening for Shorty and Si. 94

Si Klegg Fell Without a Groan 113

Shorty Thinks si Does Not Look Like a Ghost. 118

Shorty Retaliates. 126

The House Beautiful. 133

Solid Comfort. 135

"Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" 139

Shorty Confiscates the Caboose Door. 143

Si Defended the Plunder. 148

Si Floors the Wagonmaster. 154

A Stoutly-built, Farmer-looking Man Entered the Train 164

The Free Fight. 169

Mr. Klegg Ready for Action. 172

Deacon Klegg and the Knight of The Golden Circle.

The General Interrupts the Game 184

Meeting Between si and his Father. 189

His Honor and the 'attorney' Bucked And Gagged.

Shorty Admonishes the Orderly 198

The Deacon is Shocked. 210

Trying to Conquer the Deacon's Scruples. 212

'How Much'd You Give for This?' 216

Deacon Klegg Looks over the Larder. 220

Hit My Jug a Welt With his Sword 231

'Pulled out a Fat Roll of Greenbacks. 235

I'm Gwine Ter Kill Ye, Right Here 246

Do You Hear? Git on Your Mule at Onct.'

"I'll Invite Your Attention to the Emancipation Proclamation 264 "

The Deacon Gives Abe a Lesson in Wood Chopping 269










PREFACE

"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born years ago in the brain of John McElroy, Editor of THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE.

These sketches are the original ones published in THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE, revised and enlarged some what by the author. How true they are to nature every veteran can abundantly testify from his own service. Really, only the name of the regiment was invented. There is no doubt that there were several men of the name of Josiah Klegg in the Union Army, and who did valiant service for the Government. They had experiences akin to, if not identical with, those narrated here, and substantially every man who faithfully and bravely carried a musket in defense of the best Government on earth had some times, if not often, experiences of which those of Si Klegg are a strong reminder.

THE PUBLISHERS. THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED TO THE RANK AND FILE OF THE GRANDEST ARMY EVER MUSTERED FOR WAR.








SI KLEOG





CHAPTER I. THROUGH MUD AND MIRE

DUTY'S PATH LEADS THE 200TH IND. SOUTHWARD FROM NASHVILLE.

"SHORTY" said Si Klegg, the morning after Christmas, 1862, as the 200th Ind. sullenly plunged along through the mud and rain, over the roads leading southward from Nashville, "they say that this is to be a sure-enough battle and end the war."

"Your granny's night-cap they do," answered Shorty crossly, as he turned his cap around back ward to stop the icy current from chasing down his backbone. "How many thousand times 's that bin stuffed into your ears? This is the forty-thousandth mile we've marched to find that battle that was goin' to end the war. And I'll bet we'll march 40,000 more. This war ain't goin' to end till we've scuffed the top off all the roads in Kentucky and Tennessee, and wore out God's patience and all the sole-leather in the North. I believe it's the shoe-makers that's runnin' this war in the interest o' their business."

The cold, soaking rain had reduced the most of the 200th Ind. to a mood when they would have 16disputed the Ten Commandments and quarreled with their mothers.

"There's no use bein' crosser'n a saw-buck, if you are wet, Shorty," said Si, walking to the side of the road and scraping off his generous-sized brogans several pounds of stiff, red mud. "They say this new General with a Dutch name is a fighter from Wayback, an' he always licks the rebels right out of their boots. I'm sure, I hope it's so. I like huntin' ez well ez anybody, an' I'll walk ez fur ez the next man to find something to shoot. But I think walkin' over two States, backward and forward, is altogether too much huntin' for so little shootin'. Don't you?"

"Don't worry," snapped Shorty. "You'll git all the shootin' you want before your three years are up. It'll keep."

"But why keep it so long?" persisted Si. "If it can be done up in three months, an' we kin git back home, why dribble it out over three years? That ain't the way we do work back home on the Wabash."

"Confound back home on the Wabash," roared Shorty. "I don't hear nothin' else, day and night, but 'back home on the Wabash.' I've bin on the Wabash, an' I don't want to never see the measly, muddy, agery ditch agin'. Why, they have the ager so bad out there that it shakes the buttons off a man's clothes, the teeth out of his head, the horns off the cows. An' as for milk-sickness."

"Shorty!" thundered Si, "stop right there. If you wasn't my pardner I'd fight you this minute. I kin join in jawin' about the officers an' the 17Government. A great deal of your slack that I can't agree with I kin put up with, but you mustn't say nothin' against my home in the Wabash Valley. That I won't stand from no man. For fear that I may lose my temper I'm goin' away from you till you're in better humor."

With that Si strode on ahead, feeling as cross and uncomfortable internally as he was ill-at-ease externally. He hated above all things to quarrel with Shorty, but the Wabash Valley, that gardenspot of earth, that place where lived his parents, and sister, and Annabel but the subject was too sore to think about.

Presently an Aid came galloping along the middle of the road, calling upon the men to make way for him. His horse's hoofs threw the mud in every direction, and Si caught a heavy spatter directly in his face.

"Confound them snips of Aids," said he angrily, as he wiped the mud off. "Put on more airs than if they was old Gen. Scott himself. Always pretend to be in such a powerful hurry. Everybody must hustle out of their way. I think that fool jest did that on purpose."

The rain kept pouring down with tormenting persistence. Wherever Si looked were drenched, de pressed-looking men; melancholy, steaming horses; sodden, gloomy fields; yellow, rushing streams, and boundless mud that thousands of passing feet were churning into the consistency of building-mortar.

Si had seen many rainy days since he had been in the army, but this was the first real Winter rain 18he had been out in.

Jabe Belcher, the most disagreeable man in Co. Q, was just ahead of him. He stepped into a mudpuddle, slipped, threw the mud and water over Si, and his gun, which he flung in the effort to save himself, struck Si on the shoulder.

The Aid Spatters Mud on si 18

"Clumsy lunkhead!" roared Si, as ill-tempered now as anybody. "Couldn't you see that puddle and keep out of it? You'd walk right into the Cumberland River if it was in front of you. Never saw such a bat-eyed looney in my life."

"If the Captain wasn't lookin'," retorted Belcher, "I'd shut up both of them dead-mackerel eyes o' your'n, you backwoods yearlin'. I'll settle with you after we git into camp. Your stripes won't save you."

"Never mind about my stripes, old Stringhalt. I kin take them off long enough to wallop you."

Si was in such a frame of mind that his usual open-eyedness was gone. The company was wading across a creek, and Si plunged in without a thought. He stepped on a smooth stone, his feet went from under him and he sat 'down hard and waist-deep in much the coldest water that he ever remembered.

"O, Greenland's icy mountains," was all that he could think to say.

The other boys yelled:

"Come on to camp, Si. That's no place to sit down."

"Feet hurt, Si, and goin' to rest a little?"

"This your day for taking a bath, Si?"

"Thinks this is a political meetin', and he's to take the chair."

"Place Rest!"

"When I sit down, I prefer a log or a rail; but some men's different."

"See a big bass there, Si, an' try to ketch him by settin' down on him?"

"Git up, Si; git up, an' give your seat to some lady."

Si Sat Down Hard 20

Si was too angry to notice their jibes. He felt around in the icy water for his gun, and clambered out on the bank. He first poured the water out of his gun-barrel and wiped the mud off. His next thought was the three days' rations he had drawn 20 that morning. He opened his haversack, and poured out the water it had caught. With it went his sugar, coffee and salt. His hardtack was a pasty mess; his meat covered with sand and dirt. He turned the haversack inside out, and swashed it out in the stream.

Back came Capt. McGillicuddy, with water streaming from the down-turned rim of his hat, and his humor bad. He was ignorant of Si's mishap.

"Corporal Klegg, what are you doing back here? Why aren't you in your place? I've been looking all around for you. The company wagon's stalled back somewhere. That spavin-brained teamster's at his old tricks. I want you to take five men off the rear of the company, go back and find that wagon, and bring it up. Be smart about it."

"Captain," remonstrated Si, "I'm wetter'n a drowned rat!"

"Well, who in thunder ain't?" exploded the Captain. "Do I look as dry as a basket of chips? Am I walking around in a Panama and linen clothes? Did you expect to keep from getting your feet wet when you came into the army? I want none of your belly-aching or sore-toeing. You take five men and bring up that wagon in a hurry. Do you hear me?"

And the Captain splashed off through the red mud to make somebody else still more miserable.

Si picked up his wet gun from the rain-soaked sod, put it under his streaming overcoat, ordered the five drenched, dripping, dejected boys near him to follow, and plunged back into the creek, which had by this time risen above his knees. He was past the stage of anger now. He simply wished that he was dead and out of the whole business. A nice, dry grave on a sunny hillock in Posey County, with a good roof over it to keep out the rain, would be a welcome retreat.

In gloomy silence he and his squad plodded back through the eternal mud and the steady downpour, through the miry fields, through the swirling yellow floods in the brooks and branches, in search of the laggard company wagon.22

Two or three miles back they came upon it, stuck fast in a deep mud-hole. The enraged teamster was pounding the mules over the head with the butt of his blacksnake whip, not in the expectation of getting any further effort out of them he knew better than that but as a relief to his overcharged heart.

"Stop beatin' them mules over the head," shouted Si, as they came up. Not that he cared a fig about the mules, but that he wanted to "jump" somebody.

Stop Beatin' Them Mules' 22

"Go to brimstone blazes, you freckle-faced Posey County refugee," responded Groundhog, the teamster, in the same fraternal spirit. "I'm drivin' this here team." He gave the nigh-swing mule a "welt" that would have knocked down anything else than a swing mule.

"If you don't stop beatin' them mules, by thunder, I'll make you."

"Make's a good word," responded Groundhog, giving the off-swing mule a wicked "biff." "I never see anything come out of Posey County that could make me do what I didn't want to."

Si struck at him awkwardly. He was so hampered by his weight of soggy clothes that there was little force or direction to his blow. The soaked teamster returned the blow with equal clumsiness.

The other boys came up and pulled them apart.

"We ain't no time for sich blamed nonsense," they growled. "We've got to git this here wagon up to the company, an' we'll have the devil's own time doin' it. Quit skylarkin' an' git to work."

They looked around for something with which to make pries. Every rail and stick within a quarter of a mile of the road was gone. They had been used up the previous Summer, when both armies had passed over the road.

There was nothing to do but plod off through mud and rain to the top of a hill in the distance, where there was a fence still standing. A half an hour later each of the six came back with a heavy rail on his shoulder. They pried the wagon out and got it started, only to sink again in another quagmire a few hundred yards further on.

Si and the boys went back to get their rails, but found that they had been carried off by another squad that had a wagon in trouble. There was nothing to do but to make another toilsome journey to the fence for more rails.

After helping the wagon out they concluded it24 would be wiser to carry their rails with them a little way to see if they would be needed again.

They were many times that afternoon. As dark ness came on Si, who had the crowning virtue of hopefulness when he fully recognized the unutterable badness of things, tried to cheer the other boys up with assertions that they would soon get into camp, where they would find bright, warm fires with which to dry their clothes, and plenty of hot coffee to thaw them out inside.

The quick-coming darkness added enormously to the misery of their work. For hours they struggled along the bottomless road, in the midst of a ruck of played-out mules and unutterably tired, disgusted men, laboring as they were to get wagons ahead.

Finally they came up to their brigade, which had turned off the road and gone into line-of-battle in an old cotton-field, where the mud was deeper, if possible, than in the road.

"Where's the 200th Ind.?" called out Si.

"Here, Si," Shorty's voice answered.

"Where's the fires, Shorty," asked Si, with sinking heart.

"Ain't allowed none," answered his partner gloomily. "There's a rebel battery on that hill there, and they shoot every time a match is lighted. What've you got there, a rail? By George, that's lucky! We'll have something to keep us out of the mud."

They laid down the rail and sat upon it.

"Shorty," said Si, as he tried to arrange his aching bones to some comfort on the rail, "I got mad at you for cussin' the Wabash this morning. I ain't a fluid talker such as you are, an' I can't find words to say25 what I think. But I jest wisht you would begin right here and cuss everybody from Abe Lincoln down to Corporal Si Klegg, and everything from the Wabash in Injianny down to the Cumberland in Tennessee. I'd like to listen to you."





CHAPTER II. SECOND DAY'S MARCH

THE LONG COLUMN CRAWLS THROUGH RAIN AND COLD TO MURFREESBORO.

SI KLEGG was generous with his rail, as he was with all things among his comrades. He selected the softest part, in the center, for him self and Shorty, and then invited the other boys to share its hospitalities. They crowded up close to him and Shorty on either side, and there seemed to come a little warmth and dryness from the close contact of their bodies.

Si was so mortally tired that it seemed a great relief just to sit still and rest, though the rain continued to pour down.

Shorty fished some hardtack and fried pork out of his haversack, and also gave him a handful of ground coffee. Si munched the crackers and meat, with an occasional nip at the coffee. His spirits began to rise just a trifle. He was too healthy in body and mind to be totally downcast for long.

"'Tis n't much of a supper," he said to himself, "but it beats nothin' at all miles and miles. Besides, I was mighty lucky in gettin' the biggest rail. Some that the other boys has are no good at all. They'll let 'em right down in the mud. And most o' the boys has no rails at all. I'm awfully sorry for 'em."

Then he began to wonder if they were not 27overcautious about the nearness of the enemy. He had been in the army just long enough to have contempt for the stories that were always current with a certain class about the proximity and strength of the enemy. Shorty was not of that kind; but, then, Shorty was as liable to be imposed upon as anybody.

"How do you know there's a rebel battery on the hill out there?" he finally asked Shorty.

"They belted into the Oshkosh Terrors, out there to our right, killed a mule, scared two teamsters to death, and knocked over three or four kittles of coffee. It was awful unlucky about the coffee," an swered Shorty.

"How long ago was that?"

"O, several hours ago. Just after we turned into the field, and long before you come up."

"Mebbe they've gone off now. Mebbe, if they're there yet, their ammynition's so soaked that they can't shoot. What do you say to startin' a little fire? It'd be an immense comfort. Unless we can dry out a little we'll be soaked into such mush before morning that we can't keep our shape, and they'll have to ladle us up with dippers."

"It's strictly against orders."

"You mean it was against orders several hours ago. I can't see nothin' on that hill over there. I've been watchin' for half an hour. There's nothin' movin'. Mebbe the orders has been changed, an' you haint heard about it," persisted Si. "Mebbe the Orderly that was bringing 'em 's stuck in the mud. Mebbe the rain's soaked 'em so's they can't be read. If anybody's got any dry matches I'm goin' to chance28 it."

Word was passed along the rail, and at length one of the boys was found to have some matches in a tin box which was proof against the rain.

Si got out his knife and whittled down a corner of the rail until he came to the dry part, and got off some shavings. Splinters were contributed by the others, and after several failures a small flame was started.

"Here, what in the world are you men doing there?" came in the stentorian tones of the Colonel, who it startled Si to discover was sitting a short distance behind him. "Put that light out this instant."

Even before the command could be obeyed, four great flashes burned out like lightning in the murky darkness on the hill-top. Four cannon roared, and four shells screeched toward Si and his companions, who instinctively toppled over backward into the mud. One of the shells struck in the mud a few yards in front, burst with a deafening report, and sent over them a deluge of very wet Tennessee real estate.

"The battery's out there yit, Si," said Shorty, as they gathered themselves up and carefully stamped out every spark of fire.

"It's 'tendin' strictly to business," remarked Wes Williams.

"Its ammynition don't seem to be a mite wet," added Jim Hutchinson.

"There, you see, now," said the Colonel sternly. "I'll tie up by the thumbs the next man that dares scratch a match."

"You jest kin if I do," muttered Si, scraping off some of the superabundant mud, and resuming his29 seat on the rail. "This dog's cured of suckin' eggs." He set the butt of his gun down in front of him, clasped his hands around the barrel, leaned his head on them, and went to sleep.

He was so tired that he could have slept anywhere and in any position. He was dimly conscious during the night that the rain ceased and that it turned bitter cold. He was not going to wake up for trifles like that, though. When Si went to sleep he devoted himself entirely to that and nothing else. It 30 was one thing that he never allowed any interference with.

But with the first gray streaks of dawn in the east some uneasy, meddlesome spirit in the 200th Ind. happened to be awake, and he awakened the Adjutant, who cuffed and shook the headquarters drummer until he awakened and beat the reveille. This aroused the weary Orderly-Sergeants, who started upon the task of getting up the bone-wracked, aching-muscled men. In 10 minutes there was enough discontent and bitter grumbling in the 200th Ind. to have furnished forth a new political party.

The awakening process finally reached those of Co. Q who had roosted on Si's rail all night.

Si vigorously insisted on being let alone; that he hadn't been asleep five minutes, and that, anyhow, it was not his turn to go on guard. But the Orderly-Sergeant of Co. Q was a persistent fellow, and would not be denied.

When Si finally tried to rise he found that, in addition to the protests of his stiff legs, he was pinned firmly down. Feeling around to ascertain the cause, he discovered that the tail of his overcoat and his shoes had become deeply imbedded in the mud, and frozen solidly there. Shorty was in the same fix.

Frozen in the Mud 29

"Got to shuck yourself out o' your overcoat, and leave them gunboats anchored where they are," remarked Shorty, doing as he said, and falling in for roll-call in his stocking feet.

After roll-call Si got a hatchet from one of the boys and chopped his and Shorty's shoes out. The overcoats were left for subsequent effort, for the first thing was to get some wood and water and cook breakfast.31

The morning was bitter cold and the sky overcast, but Si felt that this was a thousand times better than the cheerless rain, which seemed to soak his very life out of him.

He pounded most of the frozen mud off his shoes, picked up the camp-kettle, and started off for wood and water, broke the ice on the creek, took a good wash, and presently came back with a load of dry pine and a kettle full of water.

"My joints feel like I think an old wagon does after it's gone about a year without greasing," he remarked to Shorty, who had a good fire going; "but I think that after I get about a quart o' hot coffee, inside of me, with a few pounds o' pork and crackers, I'll be nearly as good as new again. My, how good that grub does smell! An' did you ever see such a nice fire?"

He chopped his and Shorty's overcoats out while Shorty was cooking breakfast, and when at last he sat down on one end of his rail and ate enough toasted hard bread and crisp fried side-meat to feed a small family for a week, washing it down with something near a quart of black coffee sweetened with coarse brown sugar, life began again to have some charms for him.

"You're sure that dumbed battery's gone that shot at us last night, are you, Shorty?" he said, as he drained his cup, fastened it again to the strap of his haversack, and studied the top of the hill with a critical eye.

"They say it is," said Shorty, between bites. "While you was down at the crick a man come over from the camp o' the Oshkosh Terrors, and said two o' their32 companies 'd been onto the hill, and the rebels had gone."

"I wish them Oshkosh fellers'd mind their own business," said Si, irritably, as he picked up his gun and began rubbing the mud and rust off. "They're entirely too fresh for a new regiment. That battery was none of theirs. It was ours, right in our front, an' if they'd let it alone till after breakfast we'd gone up and taken it. It was just the right size for the 200th Ind., and we wanted a chance at it. But now they've had to stick in and run it off."

"Don't worry," said Shorty, fishing out another cracker; "it hasn't gone too far. 'Taint lost. You'll have a chance at it some other time. Mebbe to-day yet."

The army began to move out very promptly, and soon the 200th Ind. was called to take its place in the long column that crawled over the hills and across the valleys toward Murfreesboro, like some gigantic blue serpent moving toward his prey.

Miles ahead of the 200th Ind.'s place in the column the rebels were offering annoying disputation of farther progress. Lines as brown as the dried leaves on the oak trees would form on the hilltops, batteries would gallop into position, and there would be sharp bangs by the cannon and a sputter of musketry-fire.

Then the long, blue serpent would wriggle out of the road into the fields, as if coiling to strike. Union batteries would rush on to hilltops and fire across valleys at the rebel cannon, and a sputter of musketry would answer that from the leaf-brown ranks on the hilltops, which would dissolve and march back33 to the next hilltop, where the thing would be gone over again. The 200th Ind. would occasionally see one of these performances as it marched over and down one of the hills.

As the afternoon was wearing away the 200th34 Ind. kept nearing the front, where this was going on. Finally, when the dull day was shading into dusk, and the brigade ahead of it was forming in the field at the foot of a hill to open a bickering fire against the dun line at the top, the 200th Ind. was taken off the road and marched away over to the left, where it was put into line in front of a dense grove of cedars.

"Capt. McGillicuddy," commanded the Colonel to the Captain of Co. Q, "advance your company as skirmishers to the edge of the cedars, and send a Corporal and five men into the thicket to see if there is anything there."

"Corporal Klegg," said the Captain, "take five men off the left of the company and go in and see what's in there."

Si was instantly fired with the importance of the duty assigned him. He sent two of his men to the left, two to the right, while he and Shorty, a little distance apart, struck for the heart of the thicket. They made their way with difficulty through the dense chaparral for some minute's, and then stopped, as they heard voices and the crashing of branches in front.

Si's heart thumped against his ribs. He looked over to his left, and saw Shorty standing there peering earnestly into the brush, with his gun cocked and ready to fire. He ran over to him and whispered:

"What do you see, Shorty?"

What Do You See, Shorty?' 33

"Nothin' yit, but I expect to every minute," replied Shorty, without turning his intent eyes. Si's gun was already cocked, and he bent his head 35forward eagerly, to get a better view. But he could see nothing, except that the tops of the bushes were shaking.

"Shall we skip back an' report?" asked Si.

"I ain't goin' till I see something," said Shorty, stoutly.

"Nor me," echoed Si, rather ashamed that he had suggested it.

"Steady, there; steady, on the right! Come for ward with that left company," called out a stern voice in front.

"Must be a full regiment in there," whispered Si, craning his neck still farther. The tramping and crashing increased.

"Steady, men, I tell you! Steady! Press on the center," commanded the unseen Colonel. "Forward! Forward!"

In spite of his perturbation, Si noticed that the sounds did not seem to be coming any nearer.

"We must get a squint at 'em," he said, desperately, to Shorty. "Let's git down an' crawl forward. There must be an openin' somewhere."

They got down on their hands and knees, so as to avoid as many as possible of the thickly-interlaced branches. Soon they came to a rift which led to an opening of some rods in circumference. Raising their heads cautiously above a moss-covered log, they saw in the opening a stalwart Sergeant with five or six men. The Sergeant was standing there with his eyes fixed on the tops of the trees, apparently thinking of the next series of commands he was to give, while the men were busy breaking limbs off the cedars.

Si and Shorty immediately grasped the situation.36

"Forward, Co. Q!" yelled Si at the top of his lungs. "Surrender, you consarned rebels, or we'll blow your heads off," he added, as he and Shorty jumped forward into the opening and leveled their guns on the squad.

"What'n thunder was you fellers makin' all that racket fur," Si asked the Sergeant as he was marching him back to the skirmish-line.

"Ouah Cunnel," explained the Sergeant, "wuz afeared you'ns 'd try to flank us through the thicket, and sent me down to make a rumpus and hold you back while he fit you in front. But whar's your company?"

"We'll come to it soon," said Si.





CHAPTER III. STILL ON THE MARCH

SI AND SHORTY STOP ON THE WAY LONG ENOUGH TO BAG SIX REBS.

SI CALLED out to the other boys by name to come up and join him.

The rebel Sergeant mentally tallied off each name as it was called. A flush of shame and anger mounted to his face as Si concluded.

"Gol darn hit," he said, "you'uns hain't got ez many ez we'uns; they hain't nigh ez good men ez we'uns, an' they'uns ain't heah. We'uns air Tennesseans, an' you'uns hain't."

"We've got enough, an' they're good enough," said Si sententiously. "Injianny turns out better men than Tennessee ever dreamed o' doing."

"I don't believe hit a mite," said the Sergeant, stooping down and picking up a piece of cedar, which made a formidable club. "We'uns is not a-gwine back with yo'uns nary a step. By rights, we'uns orter take yo'uns back with we'uns. But I'm willin' to call hit off, and let yo'uns go ef yo'uns 'll let we'uns go. Is hit a bargain?"

"Not by 40 rows o' apple trees it ain't," said Si, stepping back a little to get a better range, and fixing his bayonet. "I've set my heart on takin' you back to Co. Q, an' back to Co. Q you'll go, if Si Klegg knows himself."38

"And you'll go in a hurry, too," said Shorty. "It's gettin' late, and I'm always afraid to be out after dark. Mosey, now!"

The other rebels were picking up clubs similar to the Sergeant's and casting their eyes on him for the signal to attack.

"See here," said Si desperately, cocking his gun. "Don't waste no more time in words. This hain't a debatin' society. You're goin' back to Co. Q or going somewhere else thunderin' quick. Sergeant, if you make a move agin me I'll surely blow your head off en you, an' jab my bayonet through the next man. My partner, Shorty, is a worse man than I am, an' I can't tell how many of you he'll kill. He's awful quick-tempered, too, towards evening, an' liable to begin shooting any minute without warnin'. It'll save several lives if you start right off on the jump, straight toward the rear, an' keep it up, with out looking to the right or left, until you reach Co. Q. You'll find the trail we made comin' in. Take it this minute."

The rebel Sergeant's eyes looked directly into the dark muzzle of Si's gun. They glanced along the barrel, and met one eye looking directly through the sights, while the other was closed, in the act of taking deliberate aim. He decided with great promptness that there were many reasons why he should prefer to be a live rebel in a Yankee prison, rather than a badly-disfigured dead one in a lonely cedar thicket. He dropped his club, turned around, and made his way along the path over which Si had come. The rest followed, with Si and Shorty a few paces in the rear.

Palpitating with pride, Si marched his prisoners up to the company, who gave him three cheers. The Captain ordered him to report with his prisoners to the Colonel.

Si Reports to the Colonel 38

The Colonel praised him with words that made his blood tingle.40

The skirmishing off to the right had now ceased. The rebels had fallen back to the next hilltop, and the 200th Ind. was ordered to go into camp where it stood.

Preparing Supper 40

It was a fine place for a camp. The mud of the day before was frozen into stony hardness. The wagons had no difficulty in coming up. There was wood and water in abundance, and it seemed that the command "Break ranks March!" had hardly been uttered when great, bright, comfort-giving fires of fragrant cedar rails flashed up all along the line.

Si and Shorty found several cedar stumps and logs, which they rolled together, and made a splendid fire. They cooked themselves an ample supper of fried pork, toasted hardtack, and strong, fragrant coffee, which they devoured with an appetite and a keen enjoyment only possible to healthy young men who have had a day of active manuvering and marching in the crisp, chill air of December.

Then they gathered a lot of cedar branches, and made a thick mattress of them near the fire, upon which to spread their blankets for the night.

This was a new suggestion by Shorty, and an amazing success.

"I declare, Shorty," said Si, as he lay down on the bed to try it, "I often wonder where you get all your ideas. For a man who wasn't raised on the Wabash you know an awful sight. Mebbe, if you'd actually been born in Posey County you'd a-knowed enough to be a Jigadier-Brindle. Then I'd a lost you for a pard. This's a great invention. Why, it's softer and comfortabler than one of mother's feather beds. When I get out of the army, I'm going to sleep on nothin' but cedar boughs."

"There, you're at it again the Wabash forever," returned Shorty, good-humoredly. "They raise the finest corn and cattle in the world on the Wabash, I'll admit, and some fairly good soldiers. But where'll you get any cedars there to make beds with? You'll have to go back to sleepin' on wheat straw and corn husks, with chicken-feather pillers. But after42 the way you stood up to that rebel Sergeant to-day I'll never say another word about ager and milk-sick en the Wabash, and I'll lick any other feller that does. There wasn't a speck of ager in your gizzard when you ordered him forward, or you'd blow his Southern Confederacy head off."

"There was more ager there than you thought, Shorty," Si admitted softly. "I was awfully scared, for there was six to us two, and if that feller 'd had the right kind of sand he'd a-jumped me at once, before I could get my gun up. The moment he began to palaver I knowed I had him. But I'd 'a' died in my tracks before I'd let him go, and I knowed you would, too. You're the best pard a feller ever had."

And he reached over and took Shorty's rough hand and squeezed it affectionately.

"I can bet on you every time, even when I don't think it's quite safe to bet on myself. And, Shorty," he continued, with his eyes kindling, "it was worth all that we've gone through since we've been in the army, even all that time in the rain, to have the Colonel speak as he did to us before the rest of the boys. I'd be willing to enlist three years more if father and mother and sisters, and and Annabel could have heard him. I tell you, war has some glorious things in it, after all."

He sat there on his bed before the fire, with his feet curled up under him in the comfortable way that it takes months of field service to acquire, and gazed steadily into the bank of glowing coals. They suffused his face and body with their generous warmth, and helped lift his soul toward the skies.43

He was much happier than he had ever been before in his life. The trials of the day before were hardly more than a far-away dream. The fears and anxieties of the coming battle were forgotten. The ruddy embers became a radiant vista, which Pride and Hope and Joy filled with all that he wanted to see. He saw there the dear old home on the Wabash, his father seated by the evening lamp reading the paper, while his mother knit on the other side of the table. His sisters were busy with some feminine trifles, and Annabel had come in to learn the news. They would hear what he had done, and of the Colonel's words of praise before the regiment, and his father's heart would glow with pride and his mother's eyes suffuse with tears. And Annabel but it passed words, passed thought, almost, what she would say and think.

Just then tattoo rang out clear and musical on the chill night air. The rattling military "good night" had never before had any special charms for Si. But now he thought it an unusually sweet composition.

"I declare," he said to Shorty, "that sheepskin band of our'n is improving. They're getting to play real well. But I ought to write a few lines home before taps. Got any paper. Shorty?"

"Much paper you'll find in this regiment after that rain," said Shorty contemptuously, as he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and started to fall in for roll-call. "Every mite of paper anybody has was soaked to spitwads. But mebbe the Orderly might have a sheet."

After roll-call Si went to the Orderly-Sergeant.44

Nothing in reason could then be refused Si, and the Orderly tore a couple of leaves out of the back of his treasured diary, which had escaped the rain, and handed them to him. Si fished his stub of a pencil out of his blouse-pocket, laid the paper on the back of a tin plate, and began:

     "Somewhere in Tennessee,
     December the 27th, 1862.

     "Dere Annabel: We're movin' on Murphysboro,
     where we expect a big fite. There's bin fitin' goin'
     on ever since we left Nashville, but the 200th Ind.
     hain't had no hand in it so far, except this after
     noon me and Shorty"

He stopped, stuck his pencil in his mouth, and began to study just what words he should use to describe the occurrence. He wanted to tell her all that was bubbling in his heart, and yet he was afraid she would think him an intolerable boaster, if he told it in just the words that came to him. He was more afraid of that little country girl's disapproval than of all the rebels in Murfreesboro.

There were yells, the rattling of chains, and the sound of galloping hoofs coming toward him.

"Hi, there; stop them condemned mules!" shouted the voice of a teamster.

Si jumped to his feet, for the mules were charging directly for his fire, and were almost upon him. He dropped paper, pan and pencil, and jumped to one side, just in time to avoid a rush which scattered his fire, his carefully-prepared bed, and all his be longings under 24 flying, hard-pounding hoofs.

After the Mules Stampeded 44

"Blast mules, anyhow," said the driver, coming up with his whip in his hand. "I didn't hev nothin' for them to eat but a cottonwood pole that I cut down in the bottom. But they must have smelt fodder over there somewhere, and they broke for it like the devil beatin' tanbark. Hope you weren't hurt, pard."

Si and Shorty fixed up their fire again, rearranged46 their scattered cedar boughs, and did the best they could with their torn blankets.

Si found that a mule's hoof had landed squarely on his tin plate, mashed all future usefulness out of it, and stamped his letter to Annabel into unrecognizability.

He threw the rent fragments into the fire, sighed deeply, and crawled under the blankets with Shorty, just as three sounding taps on the bass-drum commanded silence and lights out in the camp.

48





CHAPTER IV. THE SUNSHINE OF LIFE

SI FEELS ONCE MORE THAT LIFE IS REALLY WORTH LIVING.

THERE come times in every man's life when he feels himself part of the sunshine that illumines and warms the earth:

The lover, after he has won his best girl's consent.

The candidate, after he has been elected by a big majority.

The valedictorian, after his address has been received with bursts of ringing applause.

The clerk, after he has been admitted into partnership.

The next morning the camp of the 200th Ind. seemed to Si Klegg one of the most delightful places on earth.

The sun shone brightly and cheerily through the crisp December air. The fires of cedar rails sent up a pungent, grateful fragrance. Hardtack, pork and coffee tasted better than he had ever known them.

Everybody noticed him and spoke pleasantly to him. The other boys of Co. Q called out cheerily to him from their fires. Those from other companies would stroll over to take a look at him and Shorty, and his comrades would point them out proudly as fair specimens of Co. Q, and what it was capable of doing when called upon in an emergency.

The Adjutant Smiled on si and Shorty 48

The Captain spoke very cordially to him and Shorty, the busy Adjutant stopped and greeted them smilingly, and even the grave Colonel singled them out for a pleasant "Good morning" and an inquiry as to whether they had everything they wanted. It did not seem to Si that there was anything more on earth just then for which he could ask.

The 200th Ind. having been at the head of the 49column when it halted, was to take the rear for that day's march, and so remained in camp for a while to let the rest pass on.

After getting things ready for the march Si and Shorty took a stroll through the camp to see what was to be seen. They came across their prisoners seated around a fire, under guard.

How different they looked from what they did the evening before, when the two partners encountered them in the depths of the cedar brake. Then they seemed like fierce giants, capable of terrible things, such as would make the heart quail. Now, powerless of harm, and awed by the presence of multitudes of armed men in blue filling the country in every direction that they looked, they appeared very commonplace, ignorant, rough men, long-haired, staring-eyed, and poorly-clad in coarse, butternut-dyed homespun, frayed and tattered.

"Father gits better men than them to work on the farm for $8 a month," Si remarked to Shorty, after a lengthened survey of them.

"Eight dollars a month is Congressman's wages to what they git for fightin' for the Southern Confederacy," answered Shorty. "I don't s'pose any one of 'em ever had eight real dollars in his pocket in his life. They say they're fightin' to keep us from takin' their niggers away from 'em, and yit if niggers wuz sellin' for $1 a-piece not one of 'em could buy a six-months'-old baby. Let's go up and talk to 'em."

"I don't know 'bout that," said Si, doubtfully. "Seems to me I wouldn't be particularly anxious to see men who'd taken me prisoner and talked very cross about blowin' my blamed head off."50

"O, that's all right," answered Shorty confidently. "Words spoken in the heat of debate, and so on. They won't lay them up agin us. If they do, and want any satisfaction, we can give it to 'em. I kin lick any man in that crowd with my fists, and so kin you. We'll jest invite 'em to a little argyment with nature's weepons, without no interference by the guard. Come on."

The Prisoners 50

The prisoners returned their greetings rather pleasantly. They were so dazed by the host of strange faces that Si and Shorty seemed, in a measure, like old acquaintances.

"Had plenty to eat, boys," asked Shorty, familiarly, seating himself on a log beside them and passing his pipe and tobacco to the Sergeant.

"Plenty, thankee," said the Sergeant, taking the pipe and filling it. "More'n we'uns 've had sence we left home, an' mouty good vittles, too. You Yanks sartinly live well, ef yo'uns don't do nothin' else."

"Yes," said Shorty, with a glance at his mud-stained garments, "we're bound to live high and dress well, even if we don't lay up a cent."

"You sartinly do have good cloze, too," said the Sergeant, surveying the stout blue uniforms with admiration. "Yo'uns' common soldiers 've better cloze than our officers. We'uns got hold o' some o' yo'uns' overcoats, and they wear like leather."

"There's leather in 'em," said Shorty unblushingly. "I tell you, old Abe Lincoln's a very smart man. He saw that this war was costin' a heap of money, especially for clothes. He got a bright idee that by soaking the clothes when they were new and green in the tan-vats, jest after the leather wuz taken out, they'd take up the strength o' the leather out o' the juice, and wear always. The idee worked bully, and now old Abe goes every morning to where they're makin' clothes and sees that every stitch is put to soak."

"Nobody but a Yankee'd thought o' that," said the rebel reflectively.52

"You bet," assented Shorty. "Jeff Davis'd never think of it if he lived to be as old as Methuselah. But that's only the beginnin' of Abe Lincoln's smartness."

"He's a durned sight smarter man than we'uns thought he wuz when we begun the war," admitted the Sergeant. "But we'uns 'll wollop him yit, in spite of his smartness."

"We kin tell more about that a few months later," returned Shorty. "It's never safe to count the game until the last hand's played. We hain't fairly begun to lead trumps yit. But what are you fellers fighting for, anyhow?"

"We'uns foutin' for our liberty, and t' keep yo'uns from takin' our niggers away."

The reply that came to Shorty's lips was that they seemed to be losing a great deal of liberty rather than gaining it, but he checked this by the fear that it would be construed as an ungentlemanly boast of their capture. He said, instead:

"I never knowed as any of us wanted your niggers—me particularly. I wouldn't take a wagon load of 'em, even if the freight was prepaid. But, let me ask you, Sergeant, how many niggers do you own?"

"I don't own nary one."

"Does your father own any?"

"No, he don't."

"Does your mother, or brothers, uncles, aunts, or cousins own any?" persisted Shorty.

"No, thar ain't nary one owned in the hull family."

"Seems to me," said Shorty, "you're doin' a great deal of fightin' to keep us from takin' away from53 you something that we don't want and you hain't got. That's the way it looks to a man from north o' the Ohio River. Mebbe there's something in the Tennessee air that makes him see differently. I'll admit that I've changed my mind about a good many things since we crossed the river."

"I've alluz said," spoke another of the prisoners, "that this wuz a rich man's wah and a pore man's fout."

"Well," said Shorty, philosophically, "for folks that like that sort o' fightin,' that's the sort o' fightin' they like. I'm different. I don't. When I fight it's for something that I've got an interest in."

While the discussion was going on Si had been studying the appearance of the prisoners. In spite of their being enemies his heart was touched by their comfortless condition. Not one of them had an overcoat or blanket. The Sergeant and a couple of others had over their shoulders pieces of the State House carpet, which had been cut up into lengths and sewed together for blankets. Another had what had once been a gaudy calico counterpane, with the pat tern "Rose of Sharon" wrought out in flaming colors. It was now a sadly-bedraggled substitute for a blanket. The others had webs of jeans sewed to gether.

The buttons were gone from their garments in many essential places, and replaced by strings, nails, skewers and thorns. Worst of all, almost every one of them was nearly shoeless. A sudden impulse seized Si.

"Shorty," said he, "these men are going up where the weather is very cold. I wish I was able to54 give each of them a warm suit of clothes and a blanket. I ain't though. But I tell you what I will do; I'll go down to the Quartermaster and see if he'll issue me a pair of shoes for each of 'em, and charge it to my clothin' account."

"Bully idee," ejaculated Shorty. "I'll go you halves. Mebbe if they git their understandin' into Yankee leather it'll help git some Yankee idees into their understandin'. See?"

And Shorty was so delighted with his little joke that he laughed over it all the way to the Quarter master's wagon, and then rehearsed it for that officer's entertainment.

Fortunately, the Quartermaster had a box of shoes that he could get at without much trouble, and he was in sufficiently good humor to grant Si's request.

They added a warm pair of socks to each pair of shoes, and so wrought up the A. Q. M.'s sympathies that he threw in some damaged overcoats, and other articles, which he said he could report "lost in action."

They came back loaded with stuff, which they dumped down on the ground before the prisoners, with the brief remark:

"Them's, all yours. Put 'em on."

The prisoners were overwhelmed by this generosity on the part of their foes and captors.

"I alluz thought," said the Sergeant, "that you Yankees wuz not half so bad ez I believed that yo'uns wuz. Yo'uns is white men, if yo'uns do want to take away our niggers."

"Gosh," said the man who had uttered the opinion that it was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight,55 "I'd give all my interest in every nigger in Tennessee for that ere one pa'r o' shoes. They're beauties, I tell you. I never had so good a pa'r afore in all my life."

57





CHAPTER V. LINING UP FOR BATTLE

THE 200TH IND. GUARDS THE WAGON TRAIN, AND DEFEATS AN ATTACK.

"RAIN agin to-day," said Shorty, disgustedly, as, on the morning of Dec. 30, 1862, he crawled out of the shelter which he and Si had constructed by laying a pole in the crotches of two young cedars, and stretching their ponchos and pup-tents over it. "Doggoned if I don't believe Tennessee was left out in the flood, and they've been tryin' to make up for it ever since. I'd rather have the flood at once, and be done with it, for then I'd join the navy instead of paddlin' 'round in this dirty glue that they call mud." "Never saw such a grumbler, Shorty," said Si cheerily, as he punched the soaked embers together to start a blaze to boil their coffee by. "Last Summer the dust and dry weather didn't suit you. Do you want to do your soldierin' in heaven?"

"Hurry up with your grub, boys," said the Orderly-Sergeant, who came spattering through the muck of leaves and mud into which the camping-ground had been trampled. "The regiment's to move in 15 minutes. The 200th Ind. guards wagon-trains to-day. Yesterday Wheeler's cavalry got in among our wagons and raised thunder—burnt about a mile of 'em."

Shorty grumbled: "That means a tough day's work pryin' wagons out of the mud, and restin' ourselves between times runnin' after a lot o' skippin', cavortin' cavalry that's about as easy to ketch as a half-bushel o' fleas. Anything I hate it's rebel cavalry58 all tear-around and yell, and when you git ready to shoot they're on the other side o' the hill."

"Well," said Si, removing a slab of sizzling fat pork from the end of his rammer, laying it on his hardtack, and taking a generous bite, "we mustn't allow them to take no wagons away from the 200th Ind., slosh around as they may. We want all that grub ourselves."

"Well, hump yourselves," said the Orderly-Sergeant, as he spattered on; "fall in promptly when assembly blows. Got plenty o' cartridges?"

Two or three hours later every man in the 200th Ind., wet to the skin, and with enough mud on him to be assessable as real estate, was in a temper to have sassed his gentle old grandmother and whipped his best friend. He believed that if there was any thing under heavens meaner than Tennessee weather it was an army mule; the teamsters had even less sense and more contrariness than the mules; the army wagon was a disheartening device of the devil, and Tennessee roads had been especially contrived by Jeff Davis to break the hearts of Union soldiers.

The rain came down with a steady pelt that drove right through to the body. The wagon wheels sank into every mud-hole and made it deeper. Prying out the leading ones seemed only to make it worse for the next. The discouraged mules would settle back in the breech ings, and not pull an ounce at the most critical moments. The drivers would become blundering idiots, driveling futile profanity. In spite of all the mud the striving, pushing, pulling, prying, lifting, shouting 200th Ind. gathered up on their hands and clothes, it increased momentarily in the road.59

The train had strung out over a mile or more of rocky ledges and abysses of mire. Around each wagon was a squad who felt deeply injured by the certainty that their infernal luck had given them the heaviest wagon, the worst mules, and the most exasperating driver in the whole division.

"I couldn't 've made a doggoneder fool than Groundhog, that teamster," said Shorty, laying down his rail for a minute's rest, "if I'd 'a' had Thompson's colt before my eyes for a pattern. That feller was born addled, on Friday, in the dark of the moon."

"Them mules," dolefully corroborated Si, scraping an acre, more or less, of red Tennessee soil from his overcoat with a stick, "need to be broke again with a saw-log. Luck for old Job that the devil didn't think o' settin' him to drive mules. He'd 'a-bin a-goner in less'n an hour."

"Doggone it, here they come," said Shorty, snatching up his gun.

Si looked in the direction of Shorty's glance. Out of the cedars, a mile or more away, burst a regiment of rebel cavalry, riding straight for the front of the train.

With his tribe's keen apprehension of danger, Groundhog had jumped from his saddle, nervously unhitched his mule, and sprung into the saddle again, ready for instant fight.

"Get off and hook that mule up agin," commanded Si sternly. "Now get on your mule and go to the head of your team, take the leaders by the bridles, and stay there."

"If you ain't standing there holding your mules when we come back I'll break your worthless neck."60

The bugle sounded "Rally on the right flank," and Si and Shorty joined the others in a lumbering rush over the miry fields toward the right. Their soaked clothes hung about them like lead. They had not a spoonful of breath left when they got to where, half-a-mile away, Co. A had taken a position in the briers behind a rail fence, and had opened a long-ranged fire on the cavalry, which was manuvering as if trying to discover a way to take the company in flank. Another fence ran at right angles away to the right of Co. A's position. The cavalry started for that.

"Capt. McGillicuddy," shouted the Colonel, "take your company back to that fence as quick as you can, run along back of it, and try to keep those fellows on the other side."

Away the panting company rushed for the fence. The field was overgrown with those pests of the Southern plowman, called locally "devil's shoe strings," which stretch from furrow-ridge to furrow-ridge, and are snares to any careless walker. The excited Indianians were constantly tripped on these, and fell headlong in the mud. Down Si and Shorty went several times, to the great damage of their tempers. But in spite of all rain, mud, lack of breath and devil's shoe-strings the company got to the fence in advance of the cavalry, and opened a scattering fire as each man could get his damp gun to go off. Si and Shorty ran back a little to a hillock, from which they could get long-distance shots on where the cavalry would probably try to tear down the fence.

"It's all of 600 yards, Si," said Shorty, as he leaned against a young oak, got his breath back in long gulps, and studied the ground. "We kin make it, though, with our Springfields, if they'll give us time to cool down and git our breaths. I declare I want a whole Township of fresh air every second. That last time I fell knocked enough breath out o' me to fill a balloon."

"There, they're sendin' out a squad now to go for the fence," said Si, putting his sight up to 600 yards. "I'll line on that little persimmon tree and shoot as they pass it. I'll take the fellow on the clay bank horse, who seems to be an officer. You take the next one on the spotted bay."

"Better shoot at the hoss," said Shorty, fixing his sight. "Bigger mark; and if you git the hoss you git the man."

The squad made a rush for the fence, but as the leader crossed the line Si had drawn on the persimmon tree through his sights, his musket cracked, and the horse reared and fell over in the mud. Shorty broke the shoulder of the next horse, and the rider had to jump off.

"Bully shots, boys. Do it again," shouted the Captain of Co. Q, hurrying some men farther to the right, to concentrate a fire upon the exposed point.

Si and Shorty hastily reloaded, and fired again at the rebels, who had pressed on toward the fence, in spite of the fall of their leader. But not having an object in line to sight on, Si and Shorty did not succeed in bringing anybody down. But as they looked to see the effect, they also saw a cannon-flash from a hill away off behind the cavalry, and the same instant its rifled shot took the top off the young oak about six feet above Si's head.62

A Close Shave 62

Shorty was the first to recover his wits and tongue. "Doggoned if somebody else hain't been drawin' a bead on trees," he said, looking into Si's startled face. "Knows how to shoot, too."

"I didn't notice that measly gun come up there. Did you, Shorty?" said Si, trying to get his heart back out of his mouth, so that he could speak plainly.

"No. I didn't. But it's there all the same, and the fellers with it have blood in their eyes. Le's run over to where the other boys are. I'm a private citizen. I don't like so much public notice."

They joined the squad which was driving back the rebels who had started out to break the fence.

Presently the cavalry wheeled about and disappeared in the woods. The rear was scarcely out of sight, and the 200th Ind. was just beginning to feel a sense of relief, when there was a sputter of shots and a chorus of yells away off to the extreme left.

"Just as I expected," grumbled Shorty. "They are jumping the rear of the train now."

Leaving Co. A to watch the head of the train, the rest of the regiment bolted off on the double-quick for the rear. They did not get there a moment too soon. Not soon enough, in fact. As they came over the crest of the hill they saw Co. B, which had been with the rear, having more than it could attend to with a horde of yelling, galloping rebels, who filled the little valley. Co. B's boys were standing up manfully to their work, and popping away at the rebels from behind fences and rocks, but the latter had already gotten away from them a wagon which had been far to the rear, had cut loose the mules and run them off, and were plundering the wagon, and trying to start a fire under it.

The fusillade which the regiment opened as the men grained the crest of the hill, put a different64 complexion on the affair. The rebels recognized the force of circumstances, and speedily rode back out of range, and then out of sight. As the last of them disappeared over the hill the wearied regiment dropped down all around to rest.

Groundhog Fled 64

"We can't rest long, boys," said the sympathetic Colonel; "we've got to start these wagons along."

Presently he gave the order:

"Go back to your wagons, now, and get them out as quickly as you can."

Si and Shorty took a circuit to the left to get on some sod which had not been trampled into mortar. They heard a volley of profanity coming from a cedar brake still farther to the left, and recognized the voice of their teamster. They went thither, and found Groundhog, who had fled from the scene, after the manner of his race, at the first sound of firing, but had been too scared to fasten up his traces when he unhitched his saddle mule. These had flapped around, as he urged his steed forward, and the hooks had caught so firmly into the cedars when he plunged into the thicket that he was having a desperate time getting them loose.

"You dumbed, measly coward," said Si. "I told you I'd blow your head offen you if you didn't stay by them mules. I ought to do it."

"Don't, Si," said Shorty. "He deserves it, and we kin do it some other time. But we need him now in our business. He hain't much of a head, but it's all that he's got and he can't drive without it. Le's git the mule loose first."

They got the mule out and turned him around toward the wagons.

"Now," said Shorty, addressing Groundhog, "you white-livered son-in-law of a jackass, git back to that wagon as fast as you kin, if you don't want me to run this bayonet through you."

There was more straining and prying in the dreary rain and fathomless mud to get the wagons started.66

"Shorty," said Si, as they plodded alongside the road, with a rail on one shoulder and a gun on the other, "I really believe that this is the toughest day we've had yet. What d'you s'pose father and mother'd say if they could see us?"

Earning Thirteen Dollars a Month 57

"They'd probably say we wuz earning our $13 a month, with $100 bounty at the end o' three years.," snapped Shorty, who was in no mood for irrelevant conversation.

So the long, arduous day went. When they were not pulling, pushing, prying, and yelling, to get the wagons out of mudholes, they were rushing over the clogging, plowed fields to stand off the nagging rebel cavalry, which seemed to fill the country as full as the rain, the mud, the rocks and the sweeping cedars did. As night drew on they came up to lines of fires where the different divisions were going into line-of-battle along the banks of Stone River. The mud became deeper than ever, from the trampling of tens of thousands of men and animals, but they at least did not have the aggravating rebel cavalry to bother them. They found their division at last in an old cottonfield, and were instantly surrounded by a crowd of hungry, angry men.

"Where in blazes have you fellers bin all day?" they shouted. "You ought to've got up here hours ago. We're about starved."

"Go to thunder, you ungrateful whelps," said Si. "You kin git your own wagons up after this. I'll never help guard another wagon-train as long as I'm in the army."





CHAPTER VI. BATTLE OF STONE RIVER

THE 200TH IND. IS PRAISED FOR BRAVERY.

THE fagged-out 200th Ind. was put in reserve to the brigade, which lay in the line-of-battle. After having got the train safely into camp, the regiment felt that it was incapable of moving another foot.

While their coffee was boiling Si and Shorty broke off a few cedar branches to lay under them, and keep out the mud. The rain still drizzled, cold, searching and depressing, but they were too utterly tired to do anything more than spread their over coats on the branches, lay their blankets and ponchos over, and crawl in between.

In the few minutes which they allowed to elapse between getting into camp and going to sleep they saw and heard something of the preparations going on around them for the mighty battle, but body and brain were too weary to properly "sense" these. They hardly cared what might happen to-morrow. Rest for to-day was everything. They were too weary to worry about anything in the future.

"It certainly looks, Shorty," said Si, as he crawled in, "like as if the circus was in town, and the big show'd come off to-morrow, without regard to the68 weather."

"Let it come and be blamed to it," snorted Shorty. "They can't git up nothin' wuss'n we've bin havin' to-day, let them try their durndest. But I tell you, Mr. Si Klegg, I want you to lay mighty still to-night. If you git to rollin' around in your usual animated style and tanglin' up the bedclothes, I'll kick you out into the rain, and make you stay there. Do you hear me?"

"You bet I'll lay quiet," said Si, as together they gave the skillful little kick only known to veteran campaigners by which they brought the blankets snugly up around their feet. "You could sooner wake up a fence-rail than me. I want to tell you, too, not to git to dreamin' of pryin' wagons out of the mud, and chasin' rebel cavalry. I won't have it."

The reveille the next morning would have promptly awakened even more tired sleepers than Si and Shorty. Even before the dull, damp drums began rolling and the fifes shrieking the air of enforced gaiety along the sinuous line of blue which stretched for miles through red, muddy cottonfields and cedar tangles wet as bath-room sponges, there came from far away on the extreme right a deepening roll of musketry, punctuated with angry cannon-shots and the faint echo of yells and answering cheers.

"That's McCook opening the battle," said the officers, answering the anxious looks of the men. "He's to hold the rebels out there, while Crittenden sweeps around on the left, captures Murfreesboro, and takes them in the rear."

Miles away to the left came the sound of musketry and cannons, as if to confirm this. But the firing there died down, while that to the right increased69 with regular, crashing volleys from muskets and artillery.

The 200th Ind. was in that exceedingly trying position for soldiers, where they can hear everything but see nothing. The cedar thicket in which they stood shut off the view in every direction. The Colonel kept officers and men standing strictly in place, ready for any contingency. Si and Shorty leaned on their muskets and anxiously watched the regimental commander as he sat rigidly in his saddle, with his fixed gaze bent in the direction of the awful tumult. The Adjutant had ridden forward a little ways to where he could get a better view. The other officers stood stiffly in their places, with the points of their drawn swords resting on the ground, and their hands clasped on the hilts, and watched the Colonel intently. Sometimes they would whisper a few words to those standing near them. The Captain of Co. Q drew geometric figures in the mud with the point of his sword.

Constantly the deafening crash came nearer, and crept around farther to the right.

Si gave a swift glance at Shorty. His partner's teeth were set, his face drawn and bloodless, his eyes fixed immovably on the Colonel.

"Awful fightin' goin' on out there, Shorty," said Si, in hushed voice. "I'm afraid they're lickin' our fellers."

"Confound it!" snorted Shorty, "why in thunder don't they move us out, and give us something to do? This is hell standin' here listenin'."

A teamster, hatless and coatless, with his hair70 standing up, came tearing through the brush, mounted on his saddle-mule.

A chorus of yells and curses greeted his appearance. It was immense relief for the men to have something to swear at.

A Frightened Teamster 70
     "Run, you egg-sucking hound.
     "Run, you scald-headed dominie.71

"Somebody busted a cap in your neighborhood, old white-liver."

"Seen the ghost of a dead rebel, Pilgarlic?"

"Pull back your eyes, you infernal mulewhacker. A limb'll brush 'em off."

"Look at his hair standin' up stiffer'n bristles on a boar's back."

"Your mules got more sand 'n you. They're standing where you left 'em."

"Of course, you're whipped and all cut to pieces. You was that when you heard the first gun crack."

"Get out of the way, and let him run himself to death. That's all he's fit for."

"You've no business in men's clothes. Put on petticoats."

"Go it, rabbit; go it, cotton-tail you've heard a dog bark."

"Chickee chickee skip for the barn. Hawk's in the air."

"Let him alone. He's in a hurry to get back and pay his sutler's bill."

The teamster gasped out:

"You'd better all git out o' here as fast as the Lord'll let you. Johnson's Division's cut all to pieces and runnin'. There'll be a million rebels on top o' you in another minnit."

"Capt. McGillicuddy," said the Colonel sternly, but without turning his head, "either bayonet that cowardly rascal or gag him and tie him to a tree."

The Captain turned to give the order to Corp'l Klegg, but the teamster struck his mule with his whip, and went tearing on through the brush before the order could be given.72

Some severely-wounded men came slowly pushing their way through the chaparral.

"It's awful hot out there," they said. "The rebels got the start of us, and caught our battery horses off to water. They outflanked us bad, but the boys are standin' up to 'em and they're gettin' help, an 'll lick the stuffin' out of 'em yet."

The regiment gave the plucky fellows a cheer.

A riderless horse, frantic from his wounds and the terrific noise, tore through the brush, and threatened to dash over Co. Q. Si and Shorty saw the danger, and before the Captain could give an order they sprang forward, and, at considerable risk, succeeded in getting hold of the reins and partially calming the poor brute. The eagles on the saddle cloth showed that he belonged to a Colonel. He was led to the rear, and securely haltered to a young cedar. The incident served a purpose in distracting for awhile the attention of the regiment.

The noise in front and to the right swept farther away for a little while, and the men's hearts rose with a cheer.

"Now the reinforcements are getting in. Why in the world don't they send us forward?" they said.

The Colonel still sat rigidly, with his face straight to the front.

Then the noise began to roll nearer again, and the men's hearts to sink.

The wounded men coming back became a continuous procession. They spoke less confidently, and were anxious to know what was taking place on other parts of the line.

"The whole infernal Southern Confederacy's out73 there," said one boy, who was holding his shattered right hand in his left, with his thumb pressed hard on the artery, to stanch the blood, "in three lines-of-battle, stretching from daybreak to sunset. The boys have been standing them off bully, though, but I don't know how long they can keep it up. Thomas and Crittenden ought to be walking right over every thing, for there can't be anybody in front of them. They're all out there."

Two musicians came laboring through, carrying a stretcher on which was an officer with part of his face shot away. Si felt himself growing white around the mouth and sick at the stomach, but he looked the other way, and drew in a long, full breath.

The storm now seemed to be rolling toward them at railroad speed. Suddenly the woods became alive with men running back, some with their guns in their hands, many without. Some were white with fear, and silent; some were in a delirium of rage, and yelling curses. Officers, bareheaded, and wildly excited, were waving their swords, and calling regiments and companies by name to halt and rally.

The Adjutant came galloping back, his horse knocking the fugitives right and left. He shouted, to make himself heard in the din:

"The whole division is broken and going back. Our brigade is trying to hold the rebels. They need us at once."

The Colonel turned calmly in his saddle, and his voice rang out clear, distinct, and measured, as if on parade:

"Attention, 200th Indiana!"

"Load at will LOAD!"

A windrow of bright ramrods flashed and weaved in the air. A wave of sharp, metallic clicks ran from one end of the line to the other.

"Shoulder ARMS!"

"Right FACE!"

"Forward MARCH!"

What happened immediately after emerging from the cedars Si could never afterward distinctly recall. He could only vaguely remember as one does the impression of a delirium seeing, as the regiment swung from column into line, a surging sea of brown men dashing forward against a bank of blue running along a rail fence, and from which rose incessant flashes of fire and clouds of white smoke. The 200th Ind. rushed down to the fence, to the right of the others; the fierce flashes flared along its front; the white smoke curled upward from it. He did not remember any order to begin firing; did not remember when he began. He only remembered presently feeling his gun-barrel so hot that it burned his hand, but this made him go on firing more rapidly than before. He was dimly conscious of his comrades dropping around him, but this did not affect him. He also remembered catching sight of Shorty's face, and noticing that it was as black as that of a negro, but this did not seem strange.

He felt nothing, except a consuming rage to shoot into and destroy those billows of brown fiends surging incessantly toward him. Consciousness only came back to him after the billows had surged back ward into the woods, leaving the red mud of the field splotched with brown lumps which had lately been men.75

As his mind cleared his hand flinched from the hot gun-barrel, and he looked down curiously to see the rain-drops turn into steam as they struck it. His throat was afire from the terrible powder thirst. He lifted his canteen to his lips and almost drained it. He drew a long breath, and looked around to see what had happened since they left the cedars. Shorty was by his side, and unhurt. He now under stood why his face was so black. He could feel the thick incrustation of powder and sweat on his own. Several of Co. Q were groaning on the ground, and the Captain was detailing men to carry them back to where the Surgeon had established himself. Two were past all surgery, staring with soulless eyes into the lowering clouds.

"Poor Bill and Ebe," said Si, gazing sorrowfully at the bodies. "Co. Q will miss them. What good boys they—"

"Were" stuck in his throat. That those strong, active, ever-ready comrades of a few minutes before now merely "were" was unspeakable.

His thoughts were distracted by a rebel battery on the hill sending a volley of shells at the fence. Some went over, and tore gaps in the cedars beyond. One struck the corner of the fence near him, and set the rails to flying.

"I like fence-rails in their place as well as any man," said Shorty, as they dodged around; "but a fence-rail's got no business sailin' 'round in the air like a bird."

An Aid rode up to the Colonel.

"The General's compliments, Colonel. He directs me to express to you his highest compliments on the76 splendid manner in which you have defended your position. You and your men have done nobly. But we are outflanked, and it will be necessary to retire to a new position about a half-mile to the rear. You will withdraw your regiment by companies, so as to attract as little attention from the enemy as possible. As soon as they are under cover of the cedars you will move rapidly to the new position."

"Very well," said the Colonel, saluting. "You will be good enough to say to the General that my men and myself appreciate highly his praise. We are proud to receive it, and shall try to deserve it in the future. His orders shall be immediately obeyed."

"They call this a civil war," said Shorty, as an other volley of shells tore around. "Seems to me sometimes that it's too durned civil. If we're goin' to git out of here, we might save compliments for a quieter time."

One by one the companies filed back into the cedars, Co. Q being last. Just as they started the rebels on the opposite hill discovered the movement, raised a yell, and started across the field.

"Halt Front!" commanded the Captain. "Those fellows are too tumultuous and premature. We must check them up a little. Wait till they come to that little branch, then everybody pick his man and let him have it. Aim below the belt."

The frenzy of the first struggle was now gone from Si's mind; instead had come a deadly determination to make every shot tell.

"I'm goin' to fetch that mounted officer on their right," he said to Shorty and those around him.

"Very well," said Shorty. "I'll take that Captain77 near him who's wavin' his sword and yellin'. The rest o' you fellers pick out different men."

The rebel line was in the weeds which bordered the branch when the Captain gave the order to fire.

When the smoke arose the mounted officer and the yelling Captain were down.

"If somebody else didn't get them, we did," said Shorty, as they turned and rushed back into the cedars.

The rebels were only checked momentarily. They soon came swarming on, and as Co. Q crashed through the cedars the rebels were yelling close be hind. Fortunately, they could not do any effective firing, on account of the brush. But when they came to the edge of the thicket there was a long run across a furrowed, muddy cottonfield, to reach the knoll on which the brigade was re-forming. The battery was already in action there, throwing shells over the heads of Co. Q at the rebels swarming out of the cedars in pursuit.

Si and Shorty threw away overcoats, blankets, haversacks and canteens everything which would impede their running, except their guns and cartridge-boxes. Their caps were gone, and Si had lost one shoe in the mud. They all sat down on the ground for a minute and panted to get their breath.

The rebels were checked, but only temporarily. They were thronging out in countless multitudes, lining up into regiments and brigades, preparatory to a rush across the field upon the brigade. Away to the right of the brigade rebel batteries had been concentrated, which were shelling it and the ground to the rear, to prevent any assistance being sent it.78

"Captain," said the Colonel, riding up to Co. Q, "the General says that we have got to stay here and hold those fellows back until the new line can be formed along the pike. We haven't ammunition enough for another fight. You'll have to send a Corporal and a squad back to the pike to bring up some more. Pick out men that'll be sure to come back, and in a hurry."

"Corp'l Klegg," said the Captain, without an instant's hesitation, "you hear what's to be done. Take five men and go."

Si looked around to see if there was someone he could borrow a shoe from. But that was hardly a time when men were likely to lend shoes. He picked Shorty and four others. They flung down their guns and started on a run for the pike.

The batteries were sweeping the fields with shells, but they were so intent on their errand that they paid no attention to the demoniac shrieks of the hurtling pieces of iron.

They gained the other side of the field, but as they entered the welcome shelter of the woods they encountered an officer with a drawn sword, commanding a line of men.

"Stop there, you infernal, cowardly rascals," he yelled. "Pick up those guns there, and get into line, or I'll shoot you. You, Corporal, ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"We're after ammunition for the 200th Ind.," gasped Si. "We must have it right away. Where's the division ammunition train?"

"That ammunition story's played. Can't work it on me. Where's your regiment? Where's your79 caps? Where's your shoes? Where's your guns? You're rattled out of your senses. Stop here and cool off. Pick up guns there and fall into line."

"Name o' God, Lieutenant," said Shorty excitedly. "This's no time for any foolishness. Our regiment's out there on the hill without any ammunition. The rebels are gittin' ready to jump it, four or five to one. Don't fool, for heaven's sake. There's not a minute to waste. Come with us and help us git the ammunition. That's a blame sight more important than stoppin' these here runaways, who're no good when they are stopped. Come along, for God's sake."

His earnestness impressed the Lieutenant.

"Lieut. Evans," he called out, "take command of the line while I go back with these men to the ammunition-train. I can get it quicker for them than they can. Your Colonel should have sent a commissioned officer with you."

"The Colonel needs all the officers he has left with him," panted Shorty, running ahead of the rest. "Everybody back there's got all he can attend to, and we couldn't really be spared."

There was a crowd of similar men surging around the ammunition wagons, each eager to get his load and rush back. The covers of the wagons had been torn off, and a man stood in each, pitching the boxes to the clamoring details. All were excited and reckless. The pitching would be wild, or the catching bad, and occasionally a box would strike a man on the head or body and knock him down. He would scarcely stop to swear, but snatch up his precious box and rush off toward his regiment.80

"Open out here, let us in," commanded the Lieutenant, striking right and left with the flat of his sword. It was not a moment for gentle courtesies. The crowd opened up, and Si and Shorty pushed in near the wheels.

"Now give us six boxes in a hurry," commanded the Lieutenant.

Si caught the first box, Shorty the second, and before the Lieutenant was hardly done speaking the rest had theirs, and started back on the run, accompanied by the Lieutenant. The boxes were very heavy and the mud was deep, but they went faster than they had ever done, even when running from the rebels.

"I'm awfully afraid you'll have a time getting across the field there," said the Lieutenant, as they came to the edge, and he surveyed the ground in front doubtfully. "Lieut. Evans says they've moved a battery up closer, and are sweeping the field with canister."

"We don't care what they're shootn'," said Si resolutely. "We're goin' back to the regiment with these boxes, or die a-tryin'."

"Go on, then, and God help you," said the Lieutenant. "I'd go with you if I could do any good."

Si arranged his box for a desperate rush. A blast of canister swept through, cutting down shrubs, splattering the mud, and shrieking viciously.

"Let's get as far as we can before they fire again," he shouted, and plunged forward. Half-way across the field his foot caught in a devil's shoe-string, and down he went in the mud, with the heavy box driving him deeper.81

Just then another blast of canister hurtled across the field.

A Lucky Fall 81

"Golly, it was lucky, after all, that I was tripped," said Si, rising, stunned and dripping. "That load of canister was meant for me personally."

Two minutes later he flung the box down before the company, and sank panting on the ground. The others came up after. Some had teen grazed by canister, but none seriously wounded. They arrived just in the nick of time, for the regiment had expended its last cartridge in repulsing the last assault, and was now desperately fixing bayonets to meet the next with cold steel. The lids of the boxes were pried off with bayonets, and the Sergeants ran along the companies distributing the packages. The assault was met with a stream of fire, given with steady deadliness, which sent the rebels back to their covert.

An Aid dashed across the field to the brigade commander.

"The line is now formed," he said. "Retire your command to it."

That night, after the battle had ceased, Si and Shorty were seated on a rail by the Nashville pike munching rations which they had luckily found in a thrown-away haversack. They were allowed no fires, they had no blankets nor overcoats, and it was bitter cold.

"Shorty, you said last night you was sure that they couldn't git up nothin' to-day that'd be as bad as what we had yesterday," said Si. "I bel'eve that I'd rather guard wagon-trains and fight cavalry than have such another day as this."

"I think the lake of brimstone'd be a pleasant change from this," snorted Shorty.

84





CHAPTER VII. AFTER THE FIRST DAY

THE DISCOMFORTS OF THAT LAST NIGHT OF 1862.

IT WAS so desperately cold and comfortless that Si and Shorty felt that they must do something or perish.

There were some fragments of cracker-boxes near. With these they dug a hole several inches deep, put some splinters in, and started a stealthy blaze. They were careful to sit on the side toward the rebels, the better to hide from them any sight of it. It was a very small fire, but there was more relief in it than Si had before gotten from those a thousand times larger. It kept his unshod foot from freezing, and brought the blood back to his numb hands.

"Just think, Shorty," said Si; "night before last we had a whole panel of fence on the fire, and all our blankets and overcoats, and yet you kicked. I believe this is a judgment on you for not being thankful for what you receive."

"Judgment be blowed," ejaculated Shorty. "This ain't no judgment; it's just durned luck that is, what isn't foolishness in sendin' a boy to mill. If we'd had only half as many men out there in the cedars as the rebels had we'd licked thunder out of 'em. We simply couldn't whip four or five to one. McCook didn't size up his job right."

"Well, we have something to be thankful for," said Si, determined to see the bright side of things. "Neither of us got hurt, which is a blessing."

"Don't know whether it is or not. If we are goin' to freeze to death before mornin' I'd rather've bin shot the first volley."

The misty darkness around them was filled with noise and motion. Men who had become separated from their regiments were wandering around trying to find them, in the bewildering maze of men, wagons and animals. Officers were calling aloud the names of regiments to bring together stragglers. Aids were rushing around to find Generals and Colonels to give and receive orders and instructions. Regiments and batteries were marching hither and yon to get into position and complete the formation of the line for the morrow's battle. The 200th Ind., which had fallen back in good order with its brigade, was well together, and made an island around which a restless sea of humanity flowed and eddied. Cheer less as was its bivouac in the cold mud, yet it was infinitely preferable to being lost in the inextricable confusion that reigned over those cottonfields on that sorrowful night of Dec. 31, 1862.

"I'm not goin' to freeze to death," said Si, starting up, at last. "I'm going to look around and see if I can't find something to make us more comfortable. Shorty, hold on to that hole in the ground. It's all that we've got left in the world, and if we lose that I don't know what'll become of us."

"Better stay here, and not go wanderin' off into that mob," remonstrated Shorty. "You'll git lost entirely, and never find your way back."85

"I'll not get lost," responded Si. "I've got the lay o' the ground in my mind. If I did," he continued proudly, "it'd be easy to find you agin. Everybody knows where the 200th Ind. is."

He went only a little ways, and carefully, at first.

He was rewarded by kicking against an object which upon examination proved to be a well-filled haver sack, which someone had flung away in his hurry. He carried it back, rejoicing, to Shorty.

Finding a Good Thing 85

"Finders is keepers," said Shorty, unbuckling the knapsack. "We'll just call this fair exchange for what we've throwed away in to-day's hustle. Let's open her up."

"Some new recruit's," said Si, as they examined the inside. "Looks like the one I packed from Injianny. What's this? I declare if it ain't a pair o' new shoes, and about my size; and some socks. I tell you, Shorty, I'm in luck."

He pulled the muddy socks off his shoeless foot, and drew on one of the warm, homemade affairs, and then the shoe. Both fitted well. He put on the other sock and shoe, and life at once seemed brighter.

"Shorty," said he, "I shouldn't wonder if I could find a blanket and an overcoat. You keep on holding that hole down, and I'll go out agin. I won't be gone long, for I'm dead tired. Just as soon as I find an overcoat or a blanket to put between us and the mud, I'll come back and we'll lay down. Every joint in me aches."

He started off less carefully this time. His new shoes made him feel more like walking. He was some distance from the regiment before he knew it. He found an overcoat. It had been trampled into the mud by thousands of passing feet, but still it was an overcoat, and it was not a time to be too nice about the condition of a garment. Presently he found a blanket in similar condition. He pulled on the overcoat, and threw the blanket over his 87shoulders. He felt warmer, but they were very heavy. Still, he thought he would go on a little ways farther, and perhaps he would find another overcoat and blanket, which would fix out both him and his partner.

All this time men were sweeping by him in companies, regiments and squads; batteries were moving in all directions, and mounted officers were making their way to and fro. Filling up the spaces between these were hundreds of men, single and in small groups, wandering about in search of their regiments, and inquiring of everyone who would stop to listen to them as to the whereabouts of regiments, brigades and divisions. No one could give any satisfactory information. Organizations which had formed a line two miles long in the morning had been driven back, frequently in tumult and disorder, for miles through the thickets and woods. Fragmentary organizations had been rallied from time to time. A fragment of a regiment would rally at one point with fragments of other regiments and make a stand, while other regiments would rally at widely-separated places and renew the fight, only to be pushed back again toward the Nashville Pike. Regiments and brigades that had remained nearly intact had been rapidly shifted from one point to another, as they were needed, until the mind could not follow their changes, or where nightfall had found them, or whither they had been shifted to form the new line.

At last Si succeeded in picking up another over coat and blanket out of the mud, and started to go back to the regiment.88

But where was the regiment? He had long since lost all track of its direction. He had been so intent upon studying the ground for thrown-away clothing that he had not noticed the course he had taken.

It suddenly dawned on him that he was but one drop in that great ocean of 35,000 men, surging around on the square miles lying between the Nashville Pike and Stone River. He looked about, but could see nothing to guide him. His eyes rested everywhere on dark masses of moving men. Those immediately around him were inquiring weariedly for their own regiments; they had no patience to answer inquiries as to his own. Discouraged, he determined to walk as straight ahead as possible in the direction which he had come, and see where that would bring him. He was so tired that he could scarcely drag one foot after another, but he plodded on. At length he drew out of the throng a little, and saw that he was approaching the banks of a large stream. This disheartened him, for they had not been within miles of Stone River during the day. He saw a group of men huddled around a larger fire than had been permitted near the front. This, too, was discouraging, for it showed that he had been forging toward the rear. But he went up to the group and inquired:

"Do any o' you know where the 200th Ind. is?"

The men had become wearied out answering similar questions, and were as cross as soldiers get to be under similar circumstances.

"The 200th Ind.," snapped one; "better go back to the rear-guard and inquire. The straggler-ketchers 've got 'em."89

"No," said another; "they skipped out before the rear-guard was formed, and were all drowned trying to swim the Cumberland."

"They say the Colonel went on foot," said a third, "and was the first man in the regiment to reach Nashville. Made the best long-distance run on record."

"You infernal liars," roared Si; "if I wasn't so tired I'd lick the whole caboodle of you. But I'll say this: Any man who says that the 200th Ind. run, or that our brave Colonel run, or that any man in it run, is a low-down, measly liar, and hain't a grain a' truth in him, and he daresn't take it up."

It was a comprehensive challenge, that would have met with instantaneous response at any other time, but now the men were too exhausted for such vanities as fisticuffs.

"O, go off and find your rattled, lousy Hoosiers," they shouted in chorus. "Go talk to the Provost-Marshal about 'em. He's got the most of 'em. The rest are breaking for the Wabash as fast as their legs can carry them. Don't be bothering us about that corn-cracking, agery crowd."

"Where'd you leave your regiment, you chuckle-headed straggler?"

"You were so rattled you couldn't tell which way they went."

"Where's your gun?"

"Where's your cartridge-box and haversack?"

"Where's your cap?"

"You were so scared you'd 'a' throwed away your head if it'd been loose!"

"Clear out from here, you dead-beat."90

Si's Challenge 90

Si was too sick at heart to more than resolve that he would remember each one of them, and pay them off at some more convenient time. He turned and walked back as nearly as possible in the direction in which he had come. He knew that his regiment was at the front, and he had been forging toward the rear. He knew vaguely that the front was some where near the Nashville Pike, and as he wearily wound around and through the bewildering masses, he inquired only for the Nashville Pike.

He reached the Pike, at last, just as he was sinking with fatigue. The dreary rain had set in again, and he had determined to give the thing up, and sit down, and wait for morning. He saw a feeble glimmer of light at a distance, and decided to make one more effort to reach it, and inquire for his regiment.

"Partner, have you any idee where the 200th Ind. is?" he said meekly to the man who was crouching over the fire in the hole.

"Hello, Si," said Shorty. "I had given you up long ago. Of course, you went off and got lost in that mob, as I told you you would. Next time you'll have sense enough to mind what I say."

"O, Shorty," groaned Si, "don't say nothing. I've nigh walked my legs offen me. I think I've tramped over every foot of ground betwixt here and Overall's Crick. But I've brought back two overcoats and two blankets."

"That's bully," answered Shorty, much mollified. "Say, I've got an idee. D'you see that white thing over there? That's a wagon. The mules 've been taken away, and it's been standing there for an hour. I've seen the Lieutenants and the Orderly-Sergeant sneak back there, and I know what they're up to. They're goin' to sleep in the wagon. Of course, they're officers, and got the first pick. But we kin92 lay down under it, and get out of the rain. Be sides, it looks as if the ground was drier up there than it is down here."

They slipped quietly back to the wagon, and were lucky enough to find a little hay in the feed-box, which they could lay down to spread their blankets upon. They pulled the tail-gate off and set it up on the side from which the rain was coming.

"There," said Shorty, as they crawled in. "Si, what'd you do without me? Ain't I a comfort to you every minute of your life?"

"You certainly are, Shorty," said Si, as he fell asleep.





CHAPTER VIII. A GLOOMY NEW YEAR'S DAY

THE TWO ARMIES LIE FROWNING AT EACH OTHER.

SI WAS awakened the next morning by the rain dashing down squarely on his upturned face. He was lying on the flat of his back, sleeping the sleep of the utterly outworn, and he got the full force of the shower.

"Plague take it, Shorty," said he, kicking his snoring partner, "you're at your old tricks again scrougin' me out o' the tent while I'm asleep. Why can't you lay still, like a white man?"

"It's you, dod rot you," grumbled Shorty, half-awakening. "You're at your old tricks o' kickin' the tent down. You need a 10-acre lot to sleep in, and then you'd damage the fence-corners."

They were both awake by this time, and looked around in amazement.

"We went to sleep nice and comfortable, under a wagon last night," said Shorty, slowly recalling the circumstances. "The two Lieutenants and the Orderly had the upper berth, and we slept on the ground-floor."

"Yes," assented Si; "and someone's come along, hitched mules to our bedroom and snaked it off."

"Just the way in the condemned army," grumbled Shorty, his ill-humor asserting itself as he sat up and looked out over the rain-soaked fields. "Never kin git hold of a good thing but somebody yanks it94 away. S'pose they thought that it was too good for a private soldier, and they took it away for some Major-General to sleep under."

A Disagreeable Awakening for Shorty and Si. 94

"Well, I wonder what we're goin' to do for grub?" said Si, as his athletic appetite began to assert itself.

"Our own wagons, that we had such a time guarding, are over there in the cedars, and the rebels are filling themselves up with the stuff that we were so good to bring up for them."

"It makes me jest sizzle," said Shorty, "to think of all we went through to git them condemned wagons up where they'd be handiest for them."

Si walked down the line toward where the Regimental Headquarters were established under a persimmon tree, and presently came back, saying:

"They say there's mighty small chance of gettin' any grub to-day. Wheeler burnt three or four miles of our wagons yesterday, and's got possession of the road to Nashville. We've got to fight the battle out on empty stomachs, and drive these whelps away before we kin get a square meal."

Jan. 1, 1863, was an exceedingly solemn, unhappy New Year's Day for the Union soldiers on the banks of Stone River. Of the 44,000 who had gone into the line on the evening of Dec. 30, nearly 9,000 had been killed or wounded and about 2,000 were prisoners. The whole right wing of the army had been driven back several miles, to the Nashville Pike. Cannon, wagon-trains, tents and supplies had been captured by the rebel cavalry, which had burned miles of wagons, and the faint-hearted ones murmured that the army would have to surrender or starve.

There was not ammunition enough to fight an other battle. The rebel army had suffered as heavily in killed and wounded, but it was standing on its own ground, near its own supplies, and had in addition captured great quantities of ours.96

The mutual slaughter of the two armies had been inconceivably awful inexpressibly ghastly, shuddering, sickening. They had pounded one another to absolute exhaustion, and all that sullen, lowering, sky-weeping Winter's day they lay and glared at one another like two huge lions which had fanged and torn each other until their strength had been entirely expended, and breath and strength were gone. Each was too spent to strike another blow, but each too savagely resolute to think of retreating.

All the dogged stubbornness of his race was now at fever point in Si's veins. Those old pioneers and farmers of the Wabash from whom he sprang were not particularly handsome to look at, they were not glib talkers, nor well educated. But they had a way of thinking out rather slowly and awkwardly it might be just what they ought to do, and then doing it or dying in the effort which made it very disastrous for whoever stood in their way. Those who knew them best much preferred to be along with them rather than against them when they set their square-cornered heads upon accomplishing some object.

Si might be wet, hungry, and the morass of mud in which the army was wallowing uncomfortable and discouraging to the last degree, but there was not the slightest thought in his mind of giving up the fight as long as there was a rebel in sight. He and Shorty were not hurt yet, and until they were, the army was still in good fighting trim.

The line of the 200th Ind. was mournfully shorter than it was two days before, but there were still several hundred boys of Si's stamp gathered resolutely97 around its flag, the game little Colonel's voice rang out as sharply as ever, and the way the boys picked up their guns and got into line whenever a sputter of firing broke out anywhere must have been very discouraging to Gen. Bragg and his officers, who were anxiously watching the Union lines through their glasses for signs of demoralization and retreat.

"We licked 'em yesterday, every time they come up squarely in front o' the 200th Ind.," Si said to Shorty and those who stood around gazing anxiously on the masses of brown men on the other side of the field. "We can do it again, every time. The only way they got away with us was by sneakin' around through the cedars and takin' us in the rear. We're out in the open ground now, an' they can't get around our flanks." And he looked to the extreme right, where every knoll was crowned with a battery of frowning guns.

"They got their bellies full o' fightin' yesterday," added Shorty, studying the array judicially. "They hain't none o' the brashness they showed yesterday mornin', when they were jumpin' us in front, right, left and rear at the same minute. They're very backward about comin' forward acrost them fields for us to-day. I only wish they'd try it on."

But the forenoon wore away without the rebels showing any disposition to make an assault across the muddy fields. Si's vigilant appetite took advantage of the quiet to assert its claims imperiously.

"Shorty," said he, "there must be something to eat somewhere around here. I'm goin' to look for it."

"You'll have just about as much chance of findin' it," said Shorty dolefully, "among that mob o' 98famished Suckers as you would o' findin' a straw-stack in the infernal regions. But I'll go 'long with you. We can't lose the regiment in the day time."

"By the way, Shorty," said Si, happening to glance at the sleeves of the overcoats which he had picked up, "we both seem to be Sergeants."

"That's so," assented Shorty. "Both these are Sergeant's overcoats. We'll take our guns along, and play that we are on duty. It may help us out somewhere."

Things looked so quiet in front that the Captain gave them permission, and off they started. It seemed a hopeless quest. Everywhere men were ravenous for food. They found one squad toasting on their rammers the pieces of a luckless rabbit they had cornered in a patch of briars. Another was digging away at a hole that they alleged contained a woodchuck. A third was parching some corn found in a thrown-away feed box, and congratulating themselves upon the lucky find.

Finally they came out upon the banks of Stone River at the place to which Si had wandered during the night. Si recognized it at once, and also the voices that came from behind a little thicket of paw paws as those of the men with whom he had had the squabble.

Si motioned to Shorty to stop and keep silent, while he stepped up closer, parted the bushes a little, looked through, and listened.

Two men were standing by a fire, which was concealed from the army by the paw-paws. Four others had just come up, carrying rolled in a blanket what seemed to be a dead body. They flung it down99 by the fire, with exclamations of relief, and unrolled it. It was the carcass of a pig so recently killed that it was still bleeding.

"Hello," exclaimed the others joyfully; "where did you get that?"

"Why," exclaimed one of the others, "we were poking around down there under the bank, and we happened to spy a nigger cabin on the other side of the river, hid in among the willers, where nobody could see it. We thought there might be something over there, so we waded across. There wasn't any thing to speak of in the cabin, but we found this pig in the pen. Jim bayoneted it, and then we wrapped it up in our blanket, as if we wuz taking a boy back to the Surgeon's, and fetched it along. We couldn't 've got a hundred yards through that crowd if they'd dreamed what we had. Jerusalem, but it was heavy, though. We thought that pig weighed a thousand pounds before we got here."

"Bully boys," said the others gleefully. "We'll have enough to eat, no matter how many wagons the rebels burn. I always enjoyed a dinner of fresh pork more on New Year's Day than any other time."

Si turned and gave Shorty a wink that conveyed more to that observant individual than a long telegram would have done. He winked back approvingly, brought up his gun to a severely regulation "carry arms," and he and Si stepped briskly through the brush to the startled squad.

"Here," said Si, with official severity; "you infernal stragglers, what regiments do you belong to? Sneaking out here, are you, and stealin' hogs instead of being with your companies. Wrap that pig up100 again, pick it up, and come along with us to Headquarters."

For a minute it looked as if the men would fight. But Si had guessed rightly; they were stragglers, and had the cowardice of guilty consciences. They saw the chevrons on Si's arms, and his positive, commanding air finished them. They groaned, wrapped up the pig again, and Si mercifully made the two who had waited by the fire carry the heaviest part.

Si started them back toward the 200th Ind., and he and Shorty walked along close to them, maintaining a proper provost-guard-like severity of countenance and carriage.

The men began to try to beg off, and make advances on the basis of sharing the pork. But Si and Shorty's official integrity was incorruptible.

"Shut up and go on," they would reply to every proposition. "We ain't that kind of soldiers. Our duty's to take you to Headquarters, and to Headquarters you are going."

They threaded through the crowds for some time, and as they were at last nearing the regiment a battery of artillery went by at as near a trot as it could get out of the weary horses in that deep mire. The squad took advantage of the confusion to drop their burden and scurry out of sight in the throng.

"All right; let 'em go," grinned Si. "I wuz jest wonderin' how we'd get rid o' 'em. I'd thought o' takin' them into the regiment and then givin' them a chunk o' their pork, but then I'd get mad at the way they talked about the 200th Ind. last night, and want to stop and lick 'em. It's better as it is. We need all that pig for the boys."101

Si and Shorty picked up the bundle and carried it up to the regiment. When they unrolled it the boys gave such lusty cheers that the rebels beyond the field rushed to arms, expecting a charge, and one of our impulsive cannoneers let fly a shell at them.

Si and Shorty cut off one ham for themselves and their particular cronies, carried the other ham, with their compliments, to the Colonel, and let the rest be divided up among the regiment.

One of their chums was lucky enough to have saved a tin box of salt, and after they had toasted and devoured large slices of the fresh ham they began to feel like new men, and be anxious for some thing farther to happen.

But the gloomy, anxious day dragged its slow length along with nothing more momentous than fitful bursts of bickering, spiteful firing, breaking out from time to time on different parts of the long line, where the men's nerves got wrought up to the point where they had to do something to get the relief of action.

Away out in front of the regiment ran a little creek, skirting the hill on which the rebels were massed. In the field between the hill and the creek was one of our wagons, which had mired there and been abandoned by the driver in the stampede of the day before. It seemed out of easy rifle-shot of the rebels on the hill.

Si had been watching it for some time. At length he said:

"Shorty, I believe that wagon's loaded with hard tack."

"It's certainly a Commissary wagon," said Shorty, after studying it a little.102

"Yes, I'm sure that it's one o' them wagons we was guardin', and I recollect it was loaded with hard tack."

The mere mention of the much-abused crackers made both their mouths water.

"Seems to me I recognize the wagon, too," said Shorty.

"Shorty, it'd be a great thing if we could sneak along up the creek, behind them bushes, until we come opposite the wagon, then make, a rush acrost the field, snatch up a box o' hardtack apiece, and then run back. We'd get enough to give each o' the boys a cracker apiece. The wagon'd shelter us comin' and goin', and we wouldn't get a shot."

"It might be," said Shorty, with visions of distributing hardtack to the hungry boys warping his judgment. "The fellers right back o' the wagon couldn't shoot to any advantage, and them to the right and left are too fur off. If you say so, it's a go."

"If the boys could only have one hardtack apiece," said Si, as his last hesitation vanished, "they'd feel ever so much better, and be in so much better shape for a fight. Come on, let's try it."

The rest overheard their plan, and began to watch them with eager interest. They made a circle to the right, got into the cover of the brush of the creek, and began making their way slowly and carefully up to a point opposite the wagon. They reached this without attracting notice, parted the bushes in front of them carefully, and took a good survey of the wagon and the hill beyond.

The wagon was a great deal nearer the hill than had appeared to be the case from where the103 regiment lay, and even where they stood they were in easy range of the rebels on the hill. But the latter were utterly unsuspicious of them. They were crouching down around fires, with their guns stacked, and the cannoneers of a couple of guns were at some distance from their pieces, under a brush shelter, before which a fire smoldered in the rain.

"It's awful short range," said Si dubiously. "If they were lookin' they'd tear us and the wagon all to pieces. But our boys is a-watchin' us, and I don't want to go back without a shy at it. Them fellers seem so busy tryin' to keep warm that we may get there without their noticin' us."

"I never wanted hardtack so much in my life as I do this minute," said Shorty. "I don't care to live forever, anyway. Let's chance it."

They pulled off their overcoats, carefully tied up their shoes, shifted around so as to be completely behind the wagon, and then started on a rush through the mud.

For several hundred steps nothing happened, and they began to believe that they would reach the wagon unnoticed. Then a few shots rang out over their heads, followed a minute later by a storm of bullets that struck in the mud and against the wagon. But they reached the wagon, and sat down, exhausted, on the tongue, sidling up close to the bed to protect them from the bullets.

Si recovered his breath first, caught hold of the front board and raised himself up, saw the boxes of coveted hardtack, and was just putting his hand on one of them when a shell struck the rear end and tore the canvas cover off. Si sank back again104 beside Shorty, when another shell burst under the wagon, and filled the air with pieces of wheels, bed, cracker-boxes and hardtack.

"I don't want no hardtack; I want to find the bank o' that crick," yelled Shorty, starting back on the jump, with Si just six inches behind.

The bullets spattered in the mud all around them as they ran, but they reached the creek bank with out being struck. They were in such a hurry that they did not stop to jump, but fell headlong into the water.

"Them hardtack wuz spiled, anyway," said Shorty, as they fished themselves out, found their overcoats, and made their way back to the regiment.

They received the congratulations of their comrades on their escape, and someone fished out all the consolation that the regiment could offer a couple of brierwood pipes filled with fragrant kinnikinnick. They sat down, smoked these, and tried to forget their troubles.

The cheerless night drew on. No fires were allowed, and the men huddled together on the wet ground, to get what comfort they could from the warmth of each other's bodies.

The temper of the rebels became nastier as the day wore away, and under the cover of the dark ness they pushed out here and there and opened worrying fires on the Union line. Suddenly a battery opened up on the 200th Ind. from a bare knoll in front. The rebels had evidently calculated the range during daylight, and the shells struck around them in the most annoying way. They threw up showers of mud, scattered the groups, and kept105 everybody nervous and alarmed. The regiment stood this for some time, when an idea occurred to Si and Shorty. They went up to the Colonel and explained:

"Colonel, we've studied the ground out there purty carefully, and we know that the knoll where that battery is is in close range o' that crick where we went up this afternoon. If you'll let a few of us go out there we kin stop them cannoneers mighty soon."

"Sure of that?" said the Colonel alertly.

"Dead sure."

"Very well, then," said the Colonel promptly. "I've been thinking of the same thing. I'll take the whole regiment out. Put yourselves at the head, and lead the way."

The regiment was only too eager for the movement. It marched rapidly after Si and Shorty up the creek bed, and in a very few minutes found itself on the flank of the obnoxious battery, which was still banging away into the line which the 200th Ind. had occupied. It was scarcely 200 yards away, and the men's hearts burned with a fierce joy at the prospect of vengeance. With whispered orders the Colonel lined up the regiment carefully on the bank, and waited until the battery should fire again, to make sure of the aim. Every man cocked his gun, took good aim, and waited for the order. They could distinctly hear the orders of the battery officers directing the shelling. Three cannon were fired at once, and as their fierce lights flashed out the Colonel gave the order to fire. A terrible simoon of death from the rifles of the 200th Ind. struck down everything in and around the battery.

"That dog's cured o' suckin' aigs," said Shorty, as the Colonel ordered the regiment to about face and march back.

The 200th Ind. heard no more from that battery that night.





CHAPTER IX. VICTORY AT LAST

SI REAPPEARS AS FROM THE GRAVE, WITH AN APPETITE LIKE PRAIRIE FIRE.

ON THEIR way back from "settling the battery," Si and Shorty each broke off a big armful of cedar branches. These they spread down on the ground when the regiment resumed its place in the line-of-battle, and lay down on them to spend the rest of the night as comfortably as possible. The fire with which they had roasted the pig, and from which they had drawn much comfort during the day, had had to be extinguished when darkness came on. But it had dried out and warmed the ground for a considerable space around, and on this they made their bed.

"We seem to play in fair luck right along, Shorty," said the hopeful Si, as they curled up on the boughs. "Most of the boys 've got to lay down in a foot of mud."

"Don't get to crowin' too loud," grumbled Shorty. "If they find out what a good thing we have, some Jigadier-Brindle'll snatch it away for himself." But Si was fast asleep before Shorty finished speaking.

Sometime before midnight the Orderly-Sergeant came around, and after vigorous kicking and shaking, succeeded in waking them.

"Get up," he said, "and draw some rations. The wagons've got in from Nashville."108

"My gracious!" said Si, as soon as he was wide enough awake to understand the Orderly-Sergeant's words, "is it possible that we're going to have plenty of hardtack and pork and coffee again? Seems to me a hundred years since we drew a full ration."

He and Shorty jumped up and ran over to where the Quartermaster-Sergeant and his assistants were dealing out a handful of crackers and a piece of pork to each man as he came up.

"Mebbe I oughtn't to say it," said Si, as he munched away, taking a bite first off the crackers in his right and then off the meat in his left, "but nothing that ever mother baked tasted quite as good as this."

"This does seem to be a specially good lot," assented Shorty. "Probably a wagon load that they intended for the officers and give us by mistake. Better eat it all up before they find it out."

The morning of Jan. 2, 1863, dawned bleak and chill, but this at least brought the great comfort that the dreary rain was at last over. The sharp air was bracing, and put new life and hope into the hearts of the Union soldiers. Many wagons had been gotten up during the night, bringing food and ammunition for all. Soon after daylight cheerful fires were blazing everywhere, and the morning air was laden with the appetizing fragrance of boiling coffee and broiling meat. The sun began to rise over Murfreesboro' and the rebel camps, giving promise of a bright, invigorating day.

"I hope this thing'll be brought to a focus to-day, and the question settled as to who shall occupy this piece of real estate," said Shorty, as he and Si109 finished a generous breakfast, filled their boxes and pockets with cartridges, and began knocking the dried mud off their clothes and rubbing the rust from their guns. "I want them gents in brown clothes to clear out and leave. It frets me to see them hangin' 'round. They're bad neighbors."

"I hope," said Si, carefully picking out the tube of his gun with a pin, "we won't put in to-day as we did yesterday layin' 'round making faces an' shakin' our fists at one another. Let's have the thing out at once."

Evidently the rebels were of the same frame of mind. They saluted the dawn with a noisy fusillade that ran along the miles of winding line. It was spiteful, crashing and persistent, but as the Union lines lay beyond good musket range and the rebels showed no disposition to advance across the fields and come to close quarters, the noise was quite out of proportion to the harm done.

The two rebel batteries on the opposite side of the river opened up a terrific fire upon one of our batteries, and the air seemed torn to shreds by the storm of howling missiles.

The 200th Ind. was too far away to have more than a spectacular interest in this tempestuous episode. They stood around their gun-stacks and watched and listened while the hours passed in ineffective noise, and wondered when the crisis of action was going to arrive.

"They seem to have lost their appetite for close acquaintance with the 200th Ind.," remarked Shorty. "They found that Jordan was a hard road to travel whenever they came across the fields at us, and are110 tryin' to scare us by makin' a racket. I think we kin stand it as long as their powder kin. But I'm gittin' hungry agin. Let's have somethin' to eat."

"Good gracious, it is noon," answered Si, looking up at the sun. "I believe I do want some dinner."

They had scarcely finished dinner-eating when the 200th Ind. was ordered to move over toward Stone River. It halted on a little rise of ground on the bank, which commanded an extensive view on both sides of the river. There was a portentous flow in the great, dark-blue sea of men. The billows, crested with shining steel, were rolling eastward toward the river.

"Something's goin' to happen; meetin's about to break up; school's goin' to let out," said Shorty eagerly. "Isn't it a grand sight."

"Gracious me!" said Si, devouring the spectacle with his eyes. "How I wish that father and mother and sister could see all this. It's worth going through a great deal to see this."

It was by far the most imposing spectacle they had yet seen. The whole Army of the Cumberland was crowded into the narrow space between the Nashville Pike and Stone River. Its compact regiments, brigades, and divisions showed none of the tearing and mangling they had endured, but stood or moved in well-dressed ranks that seemed the embodiment of mighty purpose and resistless force.

Around its grand array, a half mile away, lay the somber, portentous line of brown-clad men. Beyond them rose the steeples and roofs of the sleepy old town of Murfreesboro', with crowds of men and women occupying every point of vantage, to witness the renewal of the awful battle.111

It was now long past noon. The bright sun had long ago scattered the chill mists of the morning, and radiated warmth and light over the dun landscape. Even the somber cedars lost some of the funereal gloom they wore when the skies were lowering.

"There go two brigades across the river," said Si. "We're goin' to try to turn their right."

They saw a long line of men file down the river bank, cross, and go into line on the high ground beyond. Their appearance seemed to stir the brown mass lying on the hights a mile in front of them to action. The rebels began swarming out of their works and moving forward into the woods.

Presently a thin line of men in butternut-colored clothes ran forward to a fence in front, and began throwing it down. Behind them came three long, brown lines, extending from near the river to the woods far away to the left. Batteries galloped in the intervals to knolls, on which they unlimbered and opened fire.

It was an overpowering mass of men for the two little brigades to resist. Si's heart almost stood still as he saw the inequality of the contest.

"Why don't they send us over there to help those men?" he anxiously asked. "They can't stand up against that awful crowd."

"Just wait," said Shorty hopefully. "Old Rosy knows what he's doin'. He's got enough here for the business."

The artillery all along the line burst out in torrents of shells, but Si's eyes were glued on the two little brigades. He saw the white spurts from the skirmishers' rifles, and men drop among the rebels,112 who yet moved slowly forward, like some all-engulfing torrent. The skirmishers ran back to the main line, and along its front sped a burst of smoke as each regiment fired by volley. The foremost rebel line quivered a little, but moved steadily on.

Then a cloud of white smoke hid both Union and rebel lines, and from it came the sound as of thousands of carpenters hammering away industriously at nails.

Presently Si was agonized to see a fringe of blue break back from the bank of smoke, and run rapidly to the rear. They were followed by regiments falling back slowly, in order, and turning at the word of command to deliver volleys in the faces of their yell ing pursuers.

Si looked at his Colonel, and saw him anxiously watching the brigade commander for orders to rush across the river to the assistance of the two brigades.

Suddenly there was a whirl in front. A battery galloped up, the drivers lashing the horses, the cannoneers sitting stolidly on the limbers with their arms folded. It swept by to a knoll in front and to the right, which commanded the other side of the river. Instantly the gunners sprang to the ground, the cannon were tossed about as if they were play things, and before Si could fairly wink he saw the guns lined up on the bank, the drivers standing by the horses' heads, and the cannons belching savagely into the flanks of the horde of rebels.

Then another battery swept up alongside the first, and another, until 58 guns crowned the high banks and thundered until the earth shook as with the ague. A deluge of iron swept the fields where the mighty113 host of rebels were advancing. Tops were torn out of trees and fell with a crash, fence-rails and limbs of oak went madly flying through the air, regiments and brigades disappeared before the awful blast.

For a few minutes Si and Shorty stood appalled at the deafening crash and the shocking destruction. Then they saw the rebels reel and fly before the tornado of death.114

A great shout arose from thousands of excited men standing near. Regiments and brigades started as with one impulse to rush across the river and pursue the flying enemy. The 200th Ind. was one of these. No one heard any orders from the officers. The men caught the contagion of victory and rushed forward, sweeping with them the lately-defeated brigades, hurrying over the wreckage of the cannon-fire, over the thickly-strewn dead and wounded, and gathering in prisoners, flags and cannon.

They went on so, nearly to the breastworks behind which the rebels were seeking shelter.

Si and Shorty were among the foremost. A few hundred yards from the rebel works Si fell to the ground without a groan. Shorty saw him, and ran to him. The side of his head was covered with blood, and he was motionless.

Si Klegg Fell Without a Groan 113

"Stone dead—bullet plum through his head," said the agonized Shorty. But there was no time for mourning the fallen. The pursuit was still hot, and Shorty's duty was in front. He ran ahead until the Colonel halted the regiment. Fresh rebels were lining up in the breastworks and threatening a return charge which would be disastrous. The Colonel hastily re-formed the regiment to meet this, and slowly withdrew it in good order to resist any counter-attack. After marching a mile or more the regiment halted and went into bivouac. The rejoicing men started great fires and set about getting supper. But the saddened Shorty had no heart for rejoicing over the victory, or for supper. He drew off from the rest, sat down at the roots of an oak, wrapped the cape of his overcoat about his face, and115 abandoned himself to his bitter grief. Earth had no more joy for him. He wished he had been shot at the same time his partner was. He could think of nothing but that poor boy lying there dead and motionless on the cold ground. He felt that he could never think of anything else, and the sooner he was shot the better it would be.

The other boys respected his grief At first they tried to tempt him to eat something and drink some coffee, but Shorty would not listen to them, and they drew away, that he might be alone.

He sat thus for some hours. The loss of their sturdy Corporal saddened the whole company, and as they sat around their fires after supper they ex tolled his good traits, recounted his exploits, and easily made him out the best soldier in the regiment.

Presently the fifes and rums played tattoo, and the boys began preparations for turning in.

Shorty had become nearly frozen sitting there motionless, and he got up and went to the fire to thaw out. He had just picked up a rail to lay it on the fire in better shape, when he heard a weak voice in quiring:

"Does anybody know where the 200th Ind. is?"

Shorty dropped the rail as if he had been shot, and rushed in the direction of the voice. In an instant he came back almost carrying Si Klegg.

There was a hubbub around the fire that kept everybody from paying the least attention to "taps."

"Yes, it's really me," said Si, responding as well as he was able to the hearty handshakings. "And I ain't no ghost, neither. I've got an appetite on me like a prairie fire, and if you fellers are really glad116 to see me you'll hustle up here all the grub in the Commissary Department. I can eat every mite of it. I was hit by a spent ball and knocked senseless. But I ain't going to tell you any more till I get something to eat."

118





CHAPTER X. THE VICTORIOUS ARMY

SI AND SHORTY FINALLY SUCCEED IN GETTING OUT OF THE WET.

THE BOYS were so glad to see Si back again alive that they robbed themselves of any choice morsel of food they might have saved for to-morrow's delectation.

"Here, Si," said one, "is a nice knuckle-bone o' ham, that I pulled back there at the General's when his cook returned to the tent for something. You ought t've heard the nigger cussing as I walked away, but he couldn't recognize the back o' my head, nor see under my overcoat. Me and my chum 've had supper off it, and we wuz saving the rest for breakfast, but I'll brile it for you."

"Some of them Kentucky fellers," said another, "found a sheep in the briars and killed it. I traded 'em my silk handkerchief for a hunk o' the meat. I'm going to cook a slice for you, Si."

"Si, I'll bile some coffee for you," said a third.

"I'll toast some crackers for you," added a fourth.

Shorty roused. He felt so much gladder than any of them, that he was jealous of their attentions.

"See here, you fellers," said he, "this is my partner, an' I'm able to take care of him. I'll bile all the coffee an' toast all the crackers he kin eat; though I'm much obliged to you, Jim, for your ham, and to you, Billy, for your mutton, though I'm afraid it'll taste too much of the wool for a wounded man."

"Don't mind about that," said Si; "I'm hungry enough to eat the wool on the sheep's back, even. Hand over your mutton, Billy, and thankee for it. My appetite's not delicate, I can tell you. Woolly mutton won't faze it more'n bark would a buzz-saw." Si didn't over-state the case. He ate everything119 that was cooked and offered him, until he declared that he was so full he "could touch it with his finger."

Shorty Thinks si Does Not Look Like a Ghost. 118

"I'm sure you're not a ghost, from the way you eat," said Shorty, who was beginning to recover his propensity for sarcasm. "If ghosts et like you there'd have to be a steam bakery an' a pork packery run in connection with every graveyard."

"And I'd never take no ghost to board," said Billy.

"Come, Si," said Jimmy Barlow, filling his briarwood pipe with kinnikinnick, lighting it from the fire, taking a few puffs to start it, and handing it to Si, "tell us just what happened to you. We're dyin' to hear."

"Well," said Si, settling down with the pipe into a comfortable position, "I don't know what happened. Last thing I knowed I wuz runnin' ahead on Shorty's left, loadin' my gun, an' tryin' to keep up with the Colonel's hoss. Next thing I knowed I wuz wakin' up at the foot of a black-oak. Everything was quiet around me, except the yellin' of two or three wounded men a little ways off. At first I thought a cannonball' d knocked my whole head off. Then it occurred to me that if my head was knocked off I couldn't hear nor see."

"Nor think, even," injected Shorty.

"No, nor think, even. For what'd you think with?"

"I know some fellers that seem to think with their feet, and that blamed awkwardly," mused Shorty.

"I kept on wakin' up," continued Si. "At first I thought I had no head at all, an' then it seemed to me I was all head, it hurt so awfully. I couldn't move hand nor foot. Then I thought mebbe only half my head was shot away, an' the rest was aching for all.120

"I tried shuttin' one eye an' then the other, an' found I'd at least both eyes left. I moved my head a little, an' found that the back part was still there, for a bump on the roots of the oak hurt it.

"By-and-by the numbness began to go out of my head an' arm, but I was afraid to put my hand up to my head, for I was afraid to find out how much was gone. Nearly the whole of the left side must be gone, an' all my schoolin' scattered over the ground. I lay there thinkin' it all over how awful I'd look when you fellers came to find me and bury me, an' how you wouldn't dare tell the folks at home about it.

"Finally, I got plum desperate. I didn't seem to be dyin', but to be gettin' better every minute. I determined to find out just however much of my head was really gone. I put up my hand, timid-like, an' felt my forehead. It was all there. I passed my hand back over my hair an' the whole back of my head was there. I felt around carefully, an' there was the whole side of my head, only a little wet where I'd got a spent ball. Then I got mad an' I jumped up. Think of my makin' all that fuss over a little peck that might have been made by a brick-bat. I started out to hunt you fellers, an' here I am."

"Yes, but you wouldn't 've bin here," philosophized Shorty, examining the wound, "if the feller that fired that shot'd given his gun a little hunch. If that bullet'd went a half-inch deeper, you'd be up among the stars a bow-legged Wabash angel."

"Well, we've licked the stuffin' out of 'em at last, haven't we?" asked Si.

"Well, I should say we had," replied Shorty with an impressive whistle. "I thought the artillery would121 tear the foundations out of the whole State of Tennessee, the way it let into them. There won't ba more crashin' an' bangin' when the world breaks up. I'd a-bin willin' to serve 100 years just to see that sight. Lord, what a chance the cannoneers had. First time I ever wanted to be in the artillery. The way they slung whole blacksmith shops over into them woods, an' smashed down trees, and wiped out whole brigades at a clip, filled my soul with joy."

"We must go over there in the mornin' an' take a look at the place," said Si drowsily. "It will be good to remember alongside o' the way they slapped it to us the first day."

Si and Shorty woke up the next morning to find the chill rain pouring down as if the country had been suffering from a year's drouth, and the rain was going to make up for it in one forenoon.

"Lord have mercy," said the disgusted Shorty, as he fell into line for roll-call. "Another seepin', soppin', sloshin', spatterin' day. Only had 14 of 'em this week so far. Should think the geese 'd carry umbrellas, an' the cows wear overshoes in this, land of eternal drizzle. If I ever get home they'll have to run me through a brick-kiln to dry me out."

In spite of the down-pour the army was forming up rapidly to resume the advance upon Murfreesboro', and over the ground on the left, that had proved so disastrous to the rebels the day before.

While the 200th Ind. was getting ready to fall in, the sick-call sounded, and the Orderly-Sergeant remarked to Si:

"Fall into this squad, Corporal Klegg."

"What for?" asked Si, looking askance at the squad.122

"To go to the Surgeon's tent," answered the Orderly-Sergeant. "This is the sick squad."

"That's what I thought," answered Si; "an' that's the reason I ain't goin' to join it."

"But your head's bigger'n a bushel, Si," remonstrated the Sergeant. "Better let the doctor see it."

"I don't want none of his bluemass or quinine," persisted Si. "That's all he ever gives for anything. The swellin' 'll come out o' my head in time, same as it does out o' other people's."

"Corporal, I'll excuse you from duty to-day," said the Captain kindly. "I really think you ought to go to the Surgeon."

"If you don't mind, Captain," said Si, saluting, "I'll stay with the boys. I want to see this thing to the end. My head won't hurt me half so bad as if I was back gruntin' 'round in the hospital."

"Probably you are right," said the Captain. "Come along, then."

Willing and brave as the men were, the movements were tiresomely slow and laggard. The week of marching and lying unsheltered in the rain, of terrific fighting, and of awful anxiety had brought about mental and physical exhaustion. The men were utterly worn out in body and mind. This is usually the case in every great battle. Both sides struggle with all their mental and physical powers, until both are worn out. The one that can make just a little more effort than the other wins the victory. This was emphatically so in the battle of Stone River. The rebels had exhausted themselves, even, more in their assaults than the Union men had in repelling them.

When, therefore, the long line of blue labored123 slowly through the mud and the drenching rain up the gentle slopes on the farther side of Stone River, the rebels sullenly gave ground before them. At last a point was reached which commanded a view of Murfreesboro' and the rebel position. The rebels were seen to be in retreat, and the exhausted Army of the Cumberland was mighty glad to have them go.

As soon as it was certain that the enemy was really abandoning the bitterly-contested field, an inexpressible weariness overwhelmed everybody. The 200th Ind. could scarcely drag one foot after another as it moved back to find a suitable camping-ground.

Si and Shorty crawled into a cedar thicket, broke down some brush for a bed, laid a pole in two crotches, leaned some brush against it to make a par tial shelter, built a fire, and sat down.

"I declare, I never knew what being tuckered out was before," said Si. "And it's come to me all of a sudden. This morning I felt as if I could do great things, but the minute I found that them rebels was really going, my legs begun to sink under me."

"Same way with me," accorded Shorty. "Don't believe I've got strength enough left to pull a settin' hen offen her nest. But we can't be drowned out this way. We must fix up some better shelter."

"The Colonel says there's a wagon-load o' rations on the way here," said Si, sinking wearily down on the ground by the fire, and putting out his hands over the feeble blaze. "Let's wait till we git something to eat. Mebbe we'll feel more like work after we've eaten something."

"Si Klegg," said Shorty sternly, but settling down himself on the other side of the fire, "I never knowed124 you to flop down before. You've always bin, if any thing, forwarder than me. I was in hopes now that you'd take me by the back o' the neck and try to shake some o' this laziness out o' me."

"Wait till the rations come," repeated Si listlessly. "Mebbe we'll fell livelier then. The shelter we've fixed up'll keep out the coarsest o' the rain, anyway. Most o' the boys ain't got none."

When the rations arrived, Si and Shorty had energy enough to draw, cook and devour an immense supper. Then they felt more tired than ever. Shorty had managed to tear off a big piece of the wagon cover while he was showing much zeal in getting the rations distributed quickly. He got the company's share in this, and helped carry it to the company, but never for a minute relaxed his hold on the coveted canvas. Then he took it back to his fire. Si and he spent what energy they had left in making a tolerable tent of it, by stretching it over their shelter. They tied it down carefully, to keep anybody else from stealing it off them, and Shorty took the additional precaution of fastening a strip of it around his neck. Then they crawled in, and before night come on they were sleeping apparently as soundly as the Seven of Ephesus.

126





CHAPTER XI. WINTER QUARTERS

THEY BUILT THEM A HOUSE AND GOT IN OUT OF THE RAIN.

THE NEXT day Sunday after the battle dawned as clear, bright and sparkling as only a Winter's day can dawn in Tennessee, after a fortnight of doleful deluges. Tennessee Winter weather is like the famous little girl with the curl right down in the middle of her forehead, who,

     "When she was good, she was very, very good,
     And when she was bad, she was horrid."

After weeks of heart-saddening down-pour that threatened to drench life and hope out of every breathing thing, it will suddenly beam out in a day so crisp and bright that all Nature will wear a gladsome smile and life become jocund.

When the reveille and the Orderly-Sergeant's brogans aroused Si and Shorty the latter's first thought was for the strip of canvas which he had secured with so much trouble from the wagon-cover, and intended to cherish for future emergencies. He felt his neck and found the strip that he had tied there, but that was all that there was of it. A sharp knife had cut away the rest so deftly that he had not felt its loss.

Shorty's boiler got very hot at once, and he began blowing off steam. Somehow he had taken an especial fancy to that piece of canvas, and his wrath was hot against the man who had stolen it.

Shorty Retaliates. 126

"Condemn that onery thief," he yelled. "He ought to be drummed out o' camp, with his head shaved. A man that'll steal ought to be hunted down and127 kicked out o' the army. He's not fit to associate with decent men."

"Why, Shorty," said Si, amused at his partner's heat, "you stole that yourself."

"I didn't nothin' o' the kind," snorted Shorty, "and don't want you sayin' so, Mr. Klegg, if you don't want to git into trouble. I took it from a teamster. You ought to know it's never stealin' to take anything from a teamster. I'll bet it was some of that Toledo regiment that stole it. Them Maumee River Muskrats are the durndest thieves in the brigade. They'd steal the salt out o' your hardtack if you didn't watch 'em not because they wanted the salt, but just because they can't help stealin'. They ought to be fired out o' the brigade. I'm going over to their camp to look for it, and if I find it I'll wipe the ground up with the feller that took it. 'Taint so much the value of the thing as the principle. I hate a thief above all things."

Si tried to calm Shorty and dissuade him from going, but his partner was determined, and Si let him go, but kept an eye and ear open for developments.

In a few minutes Shorty returned, with jubilation in his face, the canvas in one hand and a nice frying-pan and a canteen of molasses in the other.

"Just as I told you," he said triumphantly. "It was some o' them Maumee River Muskrats. I found them asleep in a bunch o' cedars, with our nice tent stretched over their thievin' carcasses. They'd been out on guard or scoutin', and come in after we'd gone to sleep. They were still snorin' away when I yanked the tent off, an' picked up their fryin'-pan an' canteen o' molasses to remember 'em by."128

"I thought you hated a thief," Si started to say; but real comrades soon learn, like husband and wife, that it is not necessary to say everything that rises to their lips. Besides, the frying-pan was a beauty, and just what they wanted.

It became generally understood during the day that the Army of the Cumberland would remain around Murfreesboro' indefinitely probably until Spring to rest, refit and prepare for another campaign. Instructions were given to regimental commanders to select good camping ground and have their men erect comfortable Winter quarters.

The 200th Ind. moved into an oak grove, on a gentle slope toward the south, and set about making itself thoroughly at home.

Si and Shorty were prompt to improve the opportunity to house themselves comfortably.

Si had now been long enough in the army to regard everything that was not held down by a man with a gun and bayonet as legitimate capture. He passed where one of the Pioneer Corps had laid down his ax for a minute to help on some other work. That minute was spent by Si in walking away with the ax hidden under his long overcoat. Those long overcoats, like charity, covered a multitude of sins.

The ax was not sharp no army ax ever was, but Si's and Shorty's muscles were vigorous enough to make up for its dullness. In a little while they had cut down and trimmed enough oak saplings to make a pen about the size of the corn-crib at Si's home. While one would whack away with the ax the other would carry the poles and build up the pen. By129 evening they had got this higher than their heads, and had to stop work from sheer exhaustion.

"I'll declare," said Si, as they sat down to eat supper and survey their work, "if father'd ever made me do half as much work in one day as I have done to-day I should have died with tiredness and then run away from home. It does seem to me that every day we try a new way o' killing ourselves."

"Well," said Shorty, arresting a liberal chunk of fried pork on the way to his capacious grinders to cast an admiring glance on the structure, "it's worth it all. It'll just be the finest shebang in Tennessee when we git it finished. I'm only afraid we'll make it so fine that Gen. Rosecrans or the Governor of Tennessee 'll come down and take it away for him self. That'd just be our luck."

"Great Scott!" said Si, looking at it with a groan; "how much work there is to do yet. What are we goin' to do for a roof? Then, we must cut out a place for a door. We'll have to chink between all the logs with mud and chunks; and we ought to have a fireplace."

"I've bin thinkin' of all them things, and I've thunk 'em out," said Shorty cheerfully. "I've bin thinkin' while you've bin workin'. Do you know, I believe I was born for an architect, an' I'll go into the architect business after the war! I've got a head plumb full of the natural stuff for the business. It growed right there. All I need is some more know-how an' makin' plans on paper."

"O, you've got a great big head, Shorty," said Si, admiringly, "and whatever you start to do you do splendid. Nobody knows that better'n me. But what's your idee about the roof?"130

"Why, do you see that there freight-car over there by the bridge" (pointing to where a car was off the track, near Stone River), "I've bin watchin' that ever since we begun buildin', for fear somebody else'd drop on to it. The roof of that car is tin. We'll jest slip down there with an ax after dark, an' cut off enough to make a splendid roof. I always wanted a tin-roofed house. Old Jack Wilson, who lives near us, had a tin roof on his barn, an' it made his daughters so proud they wouldn't go home with me from meetin'. You kin write home that we have a new house with a tin roof, an' it'll help your sisters to marry better."

"Shorty, that head o' your'n gits bigger every time I look at it."

Si and Shorty had the extreme quality of being able to forget fatigue when there was something to be accomplished. As darkness settled down they picked up the ax and proceeded across the fields to the freight-car.

"There's someone in there," said Si, as they came close to it. They reconnoitered it carefully. Five or six men, without arms, were comfortably ensconed inside and playing cards by the light of a fire of pitch-pine, which they had built upon some dirt placed in the middle of the car.

"They're blamed skulkers," said Shorty, after a minute's survey of the interior. "Don't you see they hain't got their guns with 'em? We won't mind 'em."

They climbed to the top of the car, measured off about half of it, and began cutting through the tin with the ax. The noise alarmed the men inside. They jumped out on the ground, and called up:131

"Here, what're you fellers doin' up there? This is our car. Let it alone."

"Go to the devil," said Shorty, making another slash at the roof with the ax.

"This is our car, I tell you," reiterated the men. "You let it alone, or we'll make you." Some of the men looked around for something to throw at them.

Si walked to the end of the car, tore off the brake-wheel, and came back.

"You fellers down there shut up and go back in side to your cards, if you know what's good for you," he said. "You're nothing but a lot of durned skulkers. We are here under orders. We don't want nothin' but a piece o' the tin roof. You kin have the rest. If any of you attempts to throw anything I'll mash him into the ground with this wheel. Do you hear me? Go back inside, or we'll arrest the whole lot of you and take you back to your regiments."

Si's authoritative tone, and the red stripes on his arm, were too much for the guilty consciences of the skulkers, and they went back inside the car. The tearing off the roof proceeded without further interruption, but with considerable mangling of their hands by the edges of the tin.

After they had gotten it off, they proceeded to roll it up and started back for their "house." It was a fearful load, and one that they would not have attempted to carry in ordinary times. But their blood was up; they were determined to outshine everybody else with their tin roof, and they toiled on over the mud and rough ground, although every132 little while one of them would make a misstep and both would fall, and the heavy weight would seem to mash them into the ground.

"I don't wonder old Jake Wilson was proud of his tin roof," gasped Si, as he pulled himself out of a mudhole and rolled the tin off him and Shorty. "If I'd a tin roof on my barn durned if my daughter should walk home with a man that didn't own a whole section of bottom land and drove o' mules to boot."

It was fully midnight before they reached their pen and laid their burden down. They were too tired to do anything more than lay their blankets down on a pile of cedar boughs and go to sleep.

The next morning they unrolled their booty and gloated over it. It would make a perfect roof, and they felt it repaid all their toils. Upon measurement they found it much larger each way than their log pen.

"Just right," said Shorty gleefully. "It'll stick out two feet all around. It's the aristocratic, fashion able thing now-a-days to have wide cornishes. Remember them swell houses we wuz lookin' at in Louisville? We're right in style with them."

The rest of Co. Q gathered around to inspect it and envy them.

"I suppose you left some," said Jack Wilkinson. "I'll go down there and get the rest."

"Much you won't," said Si, looking toward the car; "there ain't no rest."

They all looked that way. Early as it was the car had totally disappeared, down to the wheels, which some men were rolling away.133

"That must be some o' them Maumee River Muskrats," said Shorty, looking at the latter. "They'll steal anything they kin git away with, just for the sake of stealin'. What on earth kin they do with them wheels?"

"They may knock 'em off the axles an' make hearths for their fireplaces, and use the axles for posts," suggested Si.

"Here, you fellers," said Shorty, "give us a lift. Let's have a house-raisin'. Help us put the roof on."

They fell to with a will, even the Captain assisting, and, after a good deal of trouble and more cut hands, succeeded in getting the piece of tin on top of the pen and bent down across the ridge-pole. Si and Shorty proceeded to secure it in place by putting other poles across it and fastening them down with ropes and strips of bark to the lower logs.

"Your broad cornice is aristocratic, as you say," said the Captain, "but I'm afraid it'll catch the wind, and tip your house over in some big storm."

The House Beautiful. 133

"That's so," admitted Shorty; "but a feller that puts on airs always has to take some chances. I don't want people to think that we are mean and stingy about a little tin, so I guess we'll keep her just as she is."

The next day they borrowed a saw from the Pioneers, cut out a hole for the door, and another for the fireplace. They made a frame for the door out of pieces of cracker-boxes, and hung up their bit of canvas for a door. They filled up the spaces be tween the logs with pieces of wood, and then daubed clay on until they had the walls tight. They gathered up stones and built a commodious fireplace, daubing it all over with clay, until it was wind and water tight.

"What are we goin' to do for a chimney, Si?" said135 Shorty, as their fireplace became about breast-high. "Build one o' sticks, like these rebels around here? That'll be an awful lot o' work."

Solid Comfort. 135

"I've had an idee," said Si. "I ain't goin' to let136 you do all the thinkin', even if you are a born architect. When I was helpin' draw rations yesterday, I looked at the pork barrels, and got an idee that one of them'd make a good chimney. I spoke to Bill Suggs, the Commissary-Sergeant, about it, and he agreed to save me a barrel when it was empty, which it must be about now. I'll go down and see him about it."

Si presently came back rolling the empty barrel. They knocked the bottom out, carefully plastered it over inside with clay, and set it up on their fireplace, and made the joints with more clay. It made a splendid chimney. They washed the clay off their hands, built a cheerful fire inside, cooked a bountiful supper, and ate it in the light and comfort of their own fireside. It was now Saturday night. They had had a week of severer toil than they had ever dreamed of performing at home, but its reward was ample.

"Ah," said Shorty, as he sat on a chunk of wood, pipe in mouth, and absorbed the warmth, "this is something like home and home comforts. It's more like white livin' than I've had since I've bin in the army. Let's act like men and Christians tomorrow, by not doin' a lick o' work o' any kind. Let's lay abed late, and then wash up all over, and go to hear the Chaplain preach."

"Agreed," said Si, as he spread out their blankets for the night.

It had been threatening weather all day, and now the rain came down with a rush.

"Ain't that music, now," said Shorty, listening to the patter on the roof. "Nothin' sounds so sweet as137 rain upon a tin roof. Let it rain cats and dogs, if it wants to. The harder the better. Si, there's nothin' so healthy to sleep under as a tin roof. I'll never have anything but a tin roof on my house when I git home. And we've got the only tin roof in the regiment. Think o' that." But Si was too sleepy to think.





CHAPTER XII. ADDING TO THEIR COMFORT

MAKING ADDITIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS TO THEIR "HOME."

SI AND Shorty kept Sunday as planned. They really did not know how tired they were until they formed the resolution to give the day to absolute restfulness. Then every joint and muscle ached from the arduous toil of the past week, added to the strains and hardships of a week of battle.

"Used to seem to me," said Shorty, "that when Sunday come after the first week's plowin' in Spring that I had a bile in every limb. Now I appear to have one in every j'int, and in my brains as well. I didn't ever suppose that I could be so tired, and yit be able to set up and take nourishment."

"Same here," said Si. "Feel as if I ought to be wrapped in cotton battin' an' sweet oil, an' laid away for awhile."

The only thing about them which did not show deadly lassitude was their appetites. Fortunately, the Commissary took a liberal view of the Regulations as to rations, issuing enough to make up for those they had not drawn during the times when his department was not in working order. They ate all these and wanted more.

'am I a Soldier of the Cross?' 139

The Quartermaster had also succeeded in re-establishing relations. They drew from him new139 under-clothing to replace that which they had lost, took a thorough wash the first good one they had had since Christmas morning, beat and brushed much of the accumulated mud representing every variety of140 soil between Murfreesboro' and Nashville out of their clothes, cleaned and greased their heavy brogans, and went with their comrades to divine service, feeling that they had made every provision required for a proper observance of the holy day.

Si had a really fine baritone voice, and led the meeting in singing

     "Am I a soldier of the cross?"

After church Shorty said:

"Si, when you were singing so loud about being a soldier of the cross and a follower of the Lamb I wanted to git right up and tell you that you'd have to git a transfer from the 200th Ind. We've lots of cross soldiers, especially on mud marches, but we don't want any soldiers in this regiment except for the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof, against all enemies and opposers whatsoever, either foreign or domestic. An' as for follerin' the lamb, you know as well as I do the orders agin foragin'."

"O, dry up, Shorty. I don't believe going to church done you a mite o' good. I tell you it done me lots."

"There you're mistaken," answered Shorty. "It just done me lots o' good. Kind o' restored communications with home and respectable folks once more, an' made me think I still belonged to what the jographies call civilized and partially-civilized people, something that we seem in great danger o' forgettin', the way we've bin goin' on."

The good Chaplain's fervent appeals to devote the141 day to earnest consideration of their soul's welfare could not keep them from spending the hours in planning and discussing further improvements on the house.

"We must have a real door," said Shorty, looking critically at the strip of canvas that did duty for that important adjunct. "Muslin looks shiftless, an', besides, I think it's unhealthy. Lets in drafts, an' will give us colds."

"Too bad about our ketchin' cold," said Si sardonically. "Most o' the time lately we've bin sleepin' out with nothin' around us but the State line of Tennessee."

"Don't be too flip, young man," said Shorty severely. "You have not had a home with its blessin's long enough to appreciate it. I say we must have a real door an' a winder that'll let in light, an' a bedstead, an' a floor o' planks."

"We ought to have 'em, certainly," agreed Si. "But must have 'em is quite another thing. How are we goin' to git 'em? There's 40,000 men around here, snatchin' at every piece o' plank as big as your hand."

"Well," retorted Shorty, "we're goin' to have a real door, a winder, and a plank floor, all the same. They're to be had somewhere in this country, an' they'll have to run mighty hard to git away from us."

The next morning the Orderly-Sergeant said:

"Corp'l Klegg, you'll take five men, go down to the railroad, and report to the Commissary to load the wagon with rations."

Si took Shorty and four others and started off on142 this errand. He was soon so busy rolling heavy pork barrels from the car into the wagon that he failed to notice that Shorty was not with him. Finally they got the wagon loaded and started, with them walking alongside, puffing and sweating from their vigorous labor.

They were not 100 yards away from the train, when the Conductor came storming up:

"See here, Lieutenant," he said to the Commissary, "some o' them men o' yours sneaked around and stole the hind door off my caboose while you was loading up."

"I don't believe a word of it," said the Commissary, firing up at once. "Mine ain't that kind of men. I'd have you know they don't steal. What reason have you for saying so?"

"The door was on the car when I came out to meet you, and now it's gone, and there's been no body near the caboose but your men."

"I know my men were working hard all the time right under my eyes," said the Lieutenant, growing angrier every minute. "They're not the men to steal anything, and if they were they didn't have any chance. They were too busy. You can satisfy yourself that they didn't. You see none of them have the door with them, and you can search the wagon. Get right in there and look for it."

The Conductor climbed into the wagon and looked carefully through.

"No, it's not there," he said ruefully.

Then the Commissary's wrath flamed out. "There, confound you, you are at it again, you infernal civilian, slandering and abusing men who are fighting143 for their country. Charging them with stealing your old caboose door. Think of your disgraceful impudence, villifying men who are shedding their blood for their country by such shameless charges.144

Shorty Confiscates the Caboose Door. 143

"What'd they want with your old car door? Get away from here, before I lose my temper and do you damage."

The Conductor walked away muttering:

"Blasted thieving whelps o' soldiers, what'll they steal next? Lost all my train tools at Lavergne, swiped the bedding at Smyrna, got away with our clothes and dishes at Antioch, stole stove and lanterns at Overall's Crick, and now they've begun on the cars. I'll be lucky to have enough wheels left on the engine to run her back to Nashville."

The Commissary continued to fume about the disgraceful charges brought against his men until they reached camp. The wagon was unloaded and the squad dismissed.

As Si came up to the "house" he saw Shorty busily engaged in hanging the caboose door by means of hinges which he had improvised from some boot tops.

"Why, Shorty," gasped Si, "how did you git away with it?"

"Easy enough," answered his partner. "I saw you fellers gittin' very busy over them pork barrels, an' all the train hands helpin' you. I meandered back to the caboose, gently lifted the back door offen its hinges, slipped down into the weeds in the ditch, an' kept under cover o' them till I was out o' sight. Say, isn't it just a bully door?"

That afternoon Si and Shorty walked over to where a detail of men were at work building a bridge across Stone River, under the direction of a Lieutenant of Pioneers. They had an idea that an opportunity might occur there to pick up something that would add to their home comforts. The Lieutenant was bustling about, hurrying the completion of the work before night. As the detail was made up of squads from various regiments, he was not acquainted with the men, and had much difficulty assigning them to the work that would suit them best. He came up to Si, who still wore the artillery Sergeant's overcoat he had picked up during the battle, and said sharply:

"Here, Sergeant, don't stand around doing nothing. Set the men a good example by pitching in lively. There's plenty to do for everybody. If you can't find anything else, help dig down that bank, and roll those big stones into the fill. Hold on; I've thought of something else. I want a reliable man to send over for some lumber. Put one of your men on that wagon there, and go with him, and take this letter to Capt. Billings, over at the saw-mill. It's a requisition for a load of lumber. Avoid the camps as much as possible on your way back, or they'll steal every inch of it away from you."

"Very good, sir," said Si, saluting. "Shorty, jump on the wagon there, and gather up the lines."

Shorty very obediently took his place on the seat of the two-horse wagon employed by the Pioneers for their jobs.

"Hurry up," enjoined the Lieutenant; "we need those boards at once."

"Very good, sir," said Si, saluting.

"This is what I call a puddin'," said Shorty, oracularly, as they drove away. "The Lord always kin be trusted to help the deservin', if the deservin' only keep their eyes peeled for His p'inters. This146 comes from not workin' yesterday and goin' to church."

They drove down to the sawmill, delivered their requisition, and had their wagon loaded with newly-sawn plank. The Captain had the planks carefully counted, the number and feet entered upon the record, and set forth upon the return which he gave to Si to be delivered to the Lieutenant of Pioneers.

"Too dod-gasted much bookkeepin' in this army," remarked Si, rather disconsolately, and he put the paper in his blouse pocket, and they drove away. "Wastes entirely too much valuable time. What'd he count them boards for? Looked like he suspicioned us. How are we going to git away with any o' them?"

"I wouldn't have that man's suspicious mind for anything," answered Shorty. "He don't trust no body. All the same, we're goin' to have enough boards for our floor."

"How are we goin' to manage it?" asked Si.

"Lots o' ways. There's no need o' your carryin' that paper back to the Lootenant. I might pick up several hundred feet and sneak away without your knowin' it. Say," as a bright idea struck him, "what's the use o' goin' back to the Lootenant at all? Neither of us belongs to his detail. He don't know us from a side o' sole-leather. What's the matter with drivin' the wagon right up to camp, and swipin' the whole business, horses, wagon and all?"

"I hain't been in the army as long as you have, Shorty," said Si doubtfully. "I've made some progress in petty larceny, as you know, but I ain't yit quite up to stealin' a span o' horses and a wagon.147 Mebbe I'll come to it in time, but I ain't quite ready for it now."

"That comes from goin' to church yesterday, and hearin' the Chaplain read the Ten Commandments," said Shorty wrathfully. "I don't believe they ought to allow the Chaplains to read them things. They ain't suited to army life, and there ought to be a general order that they're prejudicial to good order and military discipline. Where'd the army be if they obeyed that one about not covetin' a horse or other movable property? I tell you what we'll do, since you're so milky on the thing: We'll drive up in front of our house, unload enough boards for our floor, you git out your gun and bayonet and stand guard over 'em, and I'll drive the wagon down near the bridge, and jump off and leave it."

"All right," said Si; "that'll do splendidly, if you think you kin dodge the Lootenant."

"O, he be darned," said Shorty scornfully. "I could git away from him if I wasn't 10 years old."

They carried out the plan. They drove up in front of their residence, and threw off a liberal quantity of the boards. The other boys raised a yell, and made a break for them. But Si ran inside, got his gun, and established himself on guard.

"Don't you budge an inch from there till I git back," shouted Shorty, as he drove away. "Don't let one of Co. Q lay a finger on them. They're the durndest thieves outside the Jeffersonville Penitentiary. You can't trust one o' them farther than you could sling a bull by the tail. I'll be back soon."

Shorty drove gaily down until he got close to the bridge. The Lieutenant had been impatiently148 expecting him, and as soon as the wagon came up it was surrounded by a crowd of men to unload it. The Lieutenant looked over the load.

Si Defended the Plunder. 148

"I wonder if he sent enough. Let me see your return," he said, looking up at the seat, where he expected to find the Sergeant he had put in charge. But the seat was empty. Shorty had jumped down, prudently mingled with the crowd, avoided the Lieutenant's eye with much more than his usual diffidence, and was modestly making his way back to camp behind a thicket of hazel bushes. When he got to the house he was delighted to find Si still master of the situation, with all the boards present and accounted for. They quickly transferred them to the interior, and found that they had enough for a nice floor, besides a couple of extra ones, to cut up into a table and stools.

"You done good work in keepin' the other boys offen 'em, Si," said he. "I was afraid you wouldn't. The only thing I've got agin Co. Q is that the boys will steal. Otherwise they're the nicest kind o' boys."

A couple of days later they got a pass to go down to Murfreesboro' and look the sleepy old town over. They were particularly interested in the quaint old courthouse, which had once been the capitol of Tennessee. They happened into one of the offices, which was entirely deserted. On the wall hung a steel engraving of Jeff Davis in a large oak frame.

"That blamed old rebel picture oughtn't to be hangin' there, Si," observed Shorty.

"Indeed it oughtn't. Jeff ought to be hung to a sour-apple tree, and that glass'd make a nice winder for our house."

"Indeed it would," Shorty started to answer, but time was too precious to waste in speech. In an instant he had shoved an old desk up to the wall, mounted it, and handed the picture down to Si. They wrapped it up in their overcoats, and started back for camp. They had seen enough of Murfreesboro' for that day.





CHAPTER XIII. "HOOSIER'S REST"

SI AND SHORTY CHRISTEN THEIR PLACE AND GIVE A HOUSE-WARMING.

WITH a tin roof, a real door, a glazed window and a plank floor, Si and Shorty's house was by far the most aristocratic in the cantonment of the 200th Ind., if not the entire Winter quarters of the Army of the Cumberland. A marble mansion, with all the modern improvements, could not more proudly overshadow all its neighbors than it did.

Even the Colonel's was no comparison to it. A tent-fly had been made to do duty for a roof at the Colonel's. It could not be stretched evenly and tight. It would persistently sag down in spots, and each of these spots became a reservoir from which would descend an icy stream. A blanket had to serve as a door, and the best substitute for window glass were Commissary blanks greased with fat from headquarters' frying-pan. The floor, instead of being of clean, new plank, as Si's and Shorty's, was made of the warped and weather-beaten boards of a stable, which had been torn down by a fatigue detail.

Si and Shorty took as much pride and pleasure in their architecture as any nabob over his million-dollar villa. They were constantly on the alert for anything that would add to the comfort and luxury151 of their home. In their wanderings they chanced to come across an old-fashioned bedstead in an out house. It was of the kind in which the rails screw together, and the bed is held up by a strong cord crossing and recrossing from one rail to another. This looked like real luxury, and they at once appropriated it without any consultation with the owner, whoever he may have been.

"It'd be a waste o' time, anyhow," remarked Shorty. "He's a rebel, and probably over there in Bragg's army."

They made a tick out of the piece of wagon-cover, filled it with beech leaves, and had a bed which surpassed their most extravagant ideas of comfort in the army.

"Shorty," said Si, as they snugged themselves in the first night, "this seems almost too much. Do you ever remember settin' the whole night on a rail, with nothin' over us but clouds leakin' ice-water?"

"Shut up," said Shorty, giving him a kick under the blankets. "Do you want me to have a night mare?"

They got a number of flat stones, and laid down a little pavement in front of their door, and drove an old bayonet into the logs to serve as a scraper. They rigorously insisted on every visitor using this before entering.

"For common Wabash-bottom fly-up-the-cricks and private soljers, you're puttin' on entirely too many frills," said Sol Murphy, the Wagonmaster, angrily, as it was firmly insisted upon that he stay outside until he carefully cleaned his shoes on the bayonet. "A man that's afraid o' mud hain't no152 business in the army. He orter stay at home an' wear Congress gaiters an' pantalets. You're puttin' on too many scollops, I tell you. You knowed all 'bout mud in the Wabash bottoms. You had 'nuff of it there, the Lord knows."

"Yes, we had," replied Shorty; "but we was too well raised to track it into anybody's parlor."

"Parlor," echoed Sol, with a horse-laugh. "Lord, how fine we are, just becaze one o' us happens to be a measly little Corporal. In some armies the Wagonmasters have Corporals to wait on 'em an' black their boots. Now, I'll tell yo' what I've come for. I've lost my scoop-shovel, an' I've bin told that you fellers stole it, an' are usin' it to bake hoe-cakes on. I've come up here to see if you've got it, an' I'm goin' right in there to see for myself, mud or no mud."

"We hain't got your blamed old scoop-shovel; you can't git it; you ain't goin' in there until you clean your feet, an' not then onless we conclude to allow you," Shorty replied.

"I'm goin' in there, or break some Wabash loon's neck," said the Wagonmaster wrathfully.

"I always did like to get a chance to lick a mule-whacker," said Si, pulling off his overcoat. "And the bigger and the more consequential he is, the better. I've never licked a Wagonmaster yit, an' I'm just achin' for a chance."

The Wagonmaster was the bully of the regiment, as Wagonmasters generally are. When Si came into the regiment, a green cub, just getting his growth, and afraid of everybody who assumed a little authority and had more knowledge of the world than he, the Wagonmaster had been very153 overbearing, and at times abusive. That is the way of Wagonmasters and their ilk. The remembrance of this rankled in Si's mind.

On the other hand, the Wagonmaster failed to comprehend the change that a few months of such service as the 200th Ind.'s wrought in verdant, bashful boys like Si. He thought he could cow him as easily as he did when Si had timidly ventured to ask His Greatness a modest question or two as they were crossing the Ohio River. Wagonmasters were always making just that kind of mistakes.

The other boys ran up to see the fun. The Wagonmaster made a rush for Si with doubled fists, but Si quickly stepped to one side, and gave the hulking fellow a tap on the butt of his ear that laid him over in the mud. The other boys yelled with delight. Next to a Sutler, or a conceited, fresh young Aid, the soldiers always delighted to see a Wagonmaster get into trouble.

Si Floors the Wagonmaster. 154

The Wagonmaster sprang up, ready for another round; but the boys raised the cry that the Officer of the Day was coming, and both Si and the Wagonmaster remembered that they had business in other parts of the camp.

The next day Shorty said: "It's all right, Si; we could've kept that scoop-shovel as long as we wanted to, but I thought that for many reasons it'd better be got out of the regiment, so I've traded it to them Maumee Muskrats for a Dutch oven they'd borrowed from their Major."

"Bully," answered Si. "I'd much rather have the Dutch oven, anyway."

Si produced a piece of board, which had been154 painted white, and evidently done duty as part of the door of a house in Murfreesboro', looked at it critically, and then selected a piece of charcoal from the fire, and sat down with an air of studious purpose. "What are you up to now, Si?" asked Shorty curiously.

"Why," explained Si, "I've noticed, whenever we've bin in any big place, that all the fine houses have signs or numbers, or something else onto 'em, to name 'em. I've bin thinkin' o' something for155 our house. How does 'Hoosier's Rest' strike you for a name?"

"Splendid," said Shorty. "Couldn't be better."

"And," continued Si, "I've got this board to make a sign to nail up over the door. Do you know how to spell Hoosier, Shorty?"

"Blest if I do," answered Shorty. "It wasn't in our book. At least, we never got to it, if it was. You see our spellin'-school broke up just as we got to 'incompatible.' The teacher got too fond o' Nancy Billings, that I was castin' sheep's eyes at myself. He got to givin' her easy words, to keep her at the head o' the class, and pickin' hard ones for me, to send me to the foot, where I'd be fur away from her. I wouldn't stand it always, so me an' him had it out one night before all the scholars; I got away with him, and he left the country, and busted up the school."

"Hoosier," repeated Si to himself. "I never saw it spelled. But there must be some way to spell it. Let me see: 'W-h-o spells who.'"

"That's so," assented Shorty.

"I-s spells 'is,'" continued Si. "Who-is that's right so far. H-e-r-e spells 'here.' 'Who-is-here?' That seems almost right, don't it, Shorty?"

"It certainly does," replied Shorty, scratching his head to accelerate his mental action. "Or it might be, Si, w-h-o, who; i-s, is; and y-e-r, yer. You know some ignorant folks say yer for you. And they say the name came from the people who first settled in Injianny sayin' 'Who's yer?' to any new comer."

"I believe you're right, Shorty," said Si, bending156 over the board with the charcoal to begin the work. "We'll make it that way, anyway."

The next day passers-by saw a white board nailed up over the door, which contained a charcoal sketch of a soldier seated on a chunk of wood, with a pipe in his mouth, taking as much ease as Si could throw into the outlines of his face and body, and with it was this legend:

"WHO IS YER'S REST."

The next idea that came into the partners' minds was that the requirements of society demanded that they give a housewarming in their sumptuous abode. They at once set about making it a memorable social event.

While out with a wagon after forage they found an Indiana man who had settled in that country. He had a good orchard. They bought from him a barrel of pretty hard cider and several bushels of apples. His wife knew how to make fried dough nuts of real Indiana digestibility. They would be luxuries for the boys, and a half-bushel were contracted for. The farmer was to bring them all in his wagon, and Si and Shorty were to meet him at the pickets and guard the treasures to their abode.

They bought a little bale of fragrant Kinnikinnick tobacco from the sutler, made a sufficiency of corncob pipes, swept off the ground in front of their house, which, as there had been no rain for several days, was in good condition, with brooms of brush, that it might serve for a dancing-floor, gathered in a stock of pitch-pine knots for their fire, spoke157 to Bunty Jim to bring his fiddle along, and to Uncle Sassafras, the Colonel's cook, to come down with his banjo, and their preparations were completed.

It was a crisp, delightful Winter evening, with the moon at full, the fire burning brightly, and every body in the best of spirits. The awful week of marching, enduring and suffering; of terrific fighting, limitless bloodshed; of wounds and death to one158 out of every four men in the ranks; of nerve-racking anxieties to all might as well have been centuries ago for any sign that appeared on the bright, animated faces of the young men who gathered in front of the cabin. They smoked, danced old-fashioned country dances to the music of the fiddle and the banjo, and sang songs which lamented the death of "Lily Dale," mourned that "My Nelly was sleeping in the Hazel Dell," adjured the "Silver Moon" to "roll on," and so on through the whole repertoire of the sentimental ballads of that day.

Then they were invited into the house to inspect its complete, luxurious appointments, and feast themselves to bursting on apples, hard cider, and doughnuts that would have tried any stomach but a young soldier's.

Billy Gurney, who had been back to Nashville as one of the guard to a train-load of wounded, was induced to favor the company with the newest song, which had just reached that city. He cleared his throat with another tincupful of cider, and started off with:

     "When this cruel war is over."

Rapturous applause followed the first verse, and Billy started in to teach them the chorus, so they could all join.

A loud explosion came from the fireplace, a campkettle full of cider that was being mulled by the fire was spattered over the company, scalding some of them severely; stones from the fireplace and bullets flew about the room. They all rushed out.159 Footsteps could be heard running in the distance. They looked in that direction, and recognized Sol Murphy's broad back and bushy head.

"That blamed Wagonmaster dropped a nosebag with a lot o' cartridges in it down the chimbly," said Shorty, who had made an inspection of the fireplace. "Mad because he wasn't invited. You bet, I'll salivate him well for that little trick."





CHAPTER XIV. DEACON KLEGG'S SURPRISE

DECIDES TO VISIT MURFREESBORO' AND MEETS WITH ADVENTURES.

"MOTHER," said Mr. Josiah Klegg, Sr., suddenly laying down the County paper, and beginning to polish his spectacles with his red bandanna, "do you know what I've the greatest mind in the world to do?"

It was an evening in February, 1863, and the family had been sitting for some hours after supper around the bright fire, engaged in various occupations.

"No, father," said Mrs. Klegg, looking up from her knitting with such interest that she dropped several stitches. The girls stopped their sewing, and turned expectant eyes on their father. When Mr. Josiah Klegg, sr., announced that he had a great mind to do anything, that thing stood in imminent danger of being done. He was not given to ordinary schemes, still less to idle speech. He thought slowly and doggedly, but when he had arrived at a conclusion there were 200 pounds of solid, stubborn unchangeable Indiana farmer behind the conclusion.

"What is it, father?" asked Mrs. Klegg, making an automatic effort to gather up her lost stitches.

"I've a good mind to go down to Murfreesboro' and161 see Si," responded the father.

"Why, father!" gasped the three "wimmen folks."

"Go down there among them gorillas?" ejaculated Mrs. Klegg.

"And John Morgan raiders," echoed Maria.

"And Secesh soljers, butternut brigands, rebel rascals," added Tilda.

"Well," answered Mr. Klegg, deliberately, "they've been peggin' away at Si for a good many months now, and they haven't killed him by a jug full. Guess I kin stand 'em for a few days. The papers say that the army's settled down at Murfreesboro' for the Winter, and that the railroad's runnin' all right from Looyiville clean there. I kin do nothin' 'round the farm for the next three or four weeks, till Spring opens, except the chores about the house, which Jimmie Watkins kin tend to as well as I kin. I've got all my fences in good shape, and split all the rails I need. There's wood enough cut to last the Winter out. I've hauled all the wheat to town I'm goin' to till prices go higher. I finished gittin' out my clover seed yesterday, and now there's nothin' left for a month but to do boy's work 'round the house, or talk politics down at the store. I'd rather go down and see Si."

"Why, father," remonstrated Mrs. Klegg, "how kin you ever git along in them camps, and live the way them soljers do?"

"You forgit," said her husband, with a touch of dignity, "that I druv team for a whole week in the Black Hawk war. I wanted to enlist, but I was too young. Then I turned out and drilled with the militia as long as there was any musters. I know a good162 deal more about war than you think."

"How do you s'pose you'll ever find Si in all that ruck o' men?" said Mrs. Klegg doubtfully.

"O, they all know Si by this time," returned the father confidently. "Besides, he's an officer now. I'll go right to Gen. Rosecrans's Headquarters. He's probably right near him, where he kin have him at any time. But don't write to Si that I'm comin'. I want to surprise him."

As soon as it was seen that the father was determined to go, mother and daughters entered upon the scheme with the greatest enthusiasm.

Each began to think of some useful thing that they could send to Si to add to his comfort. Mrs. Klegg had already knit a couple of pairs of lambs'-wool socks, and was at work on a third. Maria had knit a pair of mittens, gay with the National colors and representing the flag. The blue field with the white stars around the wrists, while the red and white stripes ran down the fingers. When they were put on the effect was picturesque, not to say startling.

"When Si holds up his hands," remarked Matilda, "they'll look like big hollyhock blossoms, and the men'll wonder where he got posies in Winter."

Matilda contributed a red flannel shirt, upon which she had been engaged since the beginning of Winter reminded her that such a present would be very acceptable to Si. She had done a lot of her finest stitching upon it. Si's initials were wrought in white thread on the cuffs, and on the bosom was a maze of white lines representing hearts, anchors, roses and flags of the Union. In the center of these, in letters of bold outline but rugged execution, was the legend: "Josiah Klegg. His shirt. From Tildy."163

     "Round is the ring,
     That has no end;
     So is my luv for you,
     My dearest friend."

"I know it ain't quite right to speak of Si as a friend," she explained, when she spread the shirt out for the family's examination and admiration; "but I couldn't think of nothin' to rhyme with brother."

"I could," said Maria, in her superior way. "I'd said somethin' like this:

     "The ring's no end
     From which to t'other;
     So is the love I send
     My onliest brother."

"Maria, you always was so much smarter'n me in writin' poetry," admitted Matilda. "It would've bin ever so much nicer. But it's too late now to do it over agin."

Annabel was sorely puzzled what to send. She wanted something that would be indicative of her feelings toward Si, and yet maiden modesty restrained with the fear of sending something that might be too significant. She spent a sleepless night thinking it over, and finally decided to send a new ambrotype of herself, with a lock of her hair. It is needless to say that this kept Si warmer than a whole bale of flannel shirts would have done.

A thousand things occurred to the family that Si would enjoy, from a couple of feather pillows to a164 crock of "head cheese," of which Si used to be immensely fond. The old hair trunk was brought down from the garret, and its dimensions studied. But the next evening Jim Wilkins, of Co. Q, who was home patching up a leg which had caught a bullet at Stone River, came in, and his advice was asked.

"No, sir-ree," said he, emphatically. "Don't you never take no trunk nor no box. Don't you take nothin' that you can't hang on to, and keep your eye on every minute. I think the Army o' the Cumberland is the most honestest army in the whole world. I'd knock any man down in a minute that hinted there was a single thief in it. All the same, the only sure way to keep anything you want is to never let go of it for a second. You'd better only take a carpetsack, and look mighty sharp after that, the nearer you git to the army. Keep one eye on it all the time after you cross the Ohio River, and both eyes on it when you git to Murfreesboro'."

A Stoutly-built, Farmer-looking Man Entered the Train 164

A week later a strongly-built, farmer-looking man entered the Nashville train at Louisville and looked anxiously around among the crowd of soldiers with which it was filled. His full, resolute face was destitute of whiskers, except a clump of sandy hair on his chin. He wore a coarse but warm overcoat, a black slouch hat, around his neck was a voluminous yarn comforter, and mittens of the same generous proportions were on his hands, one of which held a bulging blue umbrella and the other a large striped carpetsack.

He found a vacant seat beside a rough-looking soldier, who had evidently been drinking, placed his precious carpetsack between his heavy, well-oiled boots, stuck his umbrella beside it, unwound his comforter, laid it back on his shoulders, took off his mittens, unbuttoned his overcoat, and took from his pocket a long plug of navy tobacco, from which he cut off a liberal chew, and then courteously tendered the plug and knife to his neighbor, with the ramark:166

"Have a chaw, stranger."

The soldier took the plug, cut it in two, put the bigger part in his own pocket, sliced off a liberal portion off the other for his own mouth, and then rather reluctantly handed the remainder, with the knife, back to Mr. Klegg, without so much as a "thankee."

"Manners seem a little different in the army from what they are in Injianny," thought Mr. Klegg; "but mebbe the soldier's not had a chance to git any terbaker for a long time."

He chewed meditatively for some minutes, and then made another friendly advance toward his seat-partner.

"S'pose we'll start purty soon, won't we, stranger?"

"The devil you do," responded the other surlily, and sending over a strong whisky breath. "Don't know much about this blamed old start-when-it-pleases and stop-when-you-don't-want-to railroad. We'll start when some young sardine with shoulder-straps finishes his breakfast, and stop when John Morgan tears up the track. If you didn't feed your hog's any better'n this train runs, old Hayseed, they'd starve to death in a month."

"He ain't jest what you'd call perlite," thought Mr. Klegg, as he meditatively chewed for a little while longer. "But mebbe that's the way in the army. Probably Si's got jest that way, too."

He chewed meditatively for a few minutes longer. The air was getting very redolent of the fumes from his neighbor's breath. "I hope Si ain't got to drinking like that," he sighed, as a particularly strong167 whiff reached him. "If he has, I won't rest a minute till I've yanked him up before Gen. Rosecrans and made him take the pledge. Gen. Rosecrans can't afford to have officers around him who drink. 'Tain't right to trust men's lives to 'em."

"Say, ole Sorrel-top," said the soldier, turning to ward him, "give us another bite o' that terbaker o' yours, will you?"

Mr. Klegg did not like the tone nor the manner, but he produced his tobacco, and began prudently clipping off a fair-sized chew for his companion him self.

"O, the devil, that ain't no chaw," said the other, pulling the tobacco and knife from his hand. "Don't be stingy with your terbaker, old Hawbuck. You kin git plenty more."

He sliced a strip off clear across the plug, and stuffed it into his mouth.

"You don't chaw terbaker. You jest eat it," remonstrated the long-suffering Mr. Klegg.

"Here, I'll take some o' that, too," said another soldier on the seat in front, snatching at the knife and tobacco.

"No you won't, you sardine," angrily responded the first soldier. "This gentleman's a friend o' mine. I won't see him robbed."

The reply was a blow, and the two were soon mixed up in a savage fight. Mr. Klegg was alarmed, lest one of them should be hurt with the heavy, sharp knife, and he mixed in to get it in his hand. In the scuffle his hat, mittens and comforter were thrown to the floor and trampled in the tobacco juice. The provost-guard rushed in, a stalwart Sergeant168 separated the combatants, jammed the first soldier down in the seat until the timbers cracked, banged the other one's head against the side of the car, and remarked:

"Confound you, don't either o' you raise a hand or open your mouths, or I'll break both your necks. Old man, you keep mighty quiet, too. Hain't you got no sense, to mix up in such a row? You're old enough to know better. I'll snatch you off this train if you make any more disturbance."

Mr. Klegg's blood was up. He wanted to thrash the whole crowd, including the Sergeant, and felt equal to it. But the cry was raised that the train was going. The Sergeant hastened off, with a parting admonition to him to keep still if he knew what was good for him.

"I'm afeared the army's a mighty rough place," thought Mr. Klegg, as he gathered up his soiled belongings and tried to straighten them out. "I wonder if it'll git wuss the nearer we git to the front?"

The train pulled out of Louisville, and he became interested in the great banks of red earth, crowned with surly, black-mouthed cannon, where the forts were, the rows of white tents in the camps, the innumerable droves of horses and mules in the corrals, and the long trains of army wagons.

"I'm goin' to stock up with some horses when I git back," he said to himself. "The Government seems to need a powerful sight o' them, and prices is goin' up faster'n wheat."

Things had now been tolerably quiet in the car for over half an hour, entirely too long for a party of soldiers returning to the front. Monotonous peace169 was obnoxious to them. A two-fisted young fellow up toward the front rose up, drained the last drops from a pint flask, dashed the bottle on the floor, and yelled:

"Here's for a quiet life, and peace and good will.170 I belong to John F. Miller's Brigade, the best brigade in the Army of the Cumberland, and the only one that captured any guns at Stone River. I can lick any man in McCook's Corps."

The answering yell that went up seemed to indicate that nearly all in the car belonged to McCook's Corps. There was a general peeling off of overcoats, and a rush forward of answerers to his bold challenge. A few yelled,

     "Hooray for Miller's Brigade!"

     "Hooray for Crittenden's Corps!"

     "Hooray for Pap Thomas!"

and started in to help out the Miller man. Mr. Klegg rose to his feet in dismay. Before he could think the soldier beside him picked up his carpetsack and flung it at the Miller's Brigade man. Mr. Klegg groaned as he thought of the consequences to a jar of honey and a crock of butter, which Mrs. Klegg had put in for Si's delectation.

The Free Fight. 169

The combatants came together with the hearty zeal of men who had been looking for a fight for a straight month. The soldier beside Mr. Klegg snatched up the umbrella and began laying about him. The crash was fearful. The backs of the seats were wrenched off, the carpetsack trodden under foot, the windows broken out, and finally Mr. Klegg found himself on the floor of the car under a mass of struggling, fighting, striking and kicking men.

The train came to a halt at a station. The guards on the platform rushed in, and by dint of a vigorous use of gun-butts and other persuasives, and more strong language than Mr. Klegg had ever heard before in all his life, succeeded in quieting the171 disturbance and making the men take their seats. Mr. Klegg recovered his carpetsack, his comforter, mittens, hat and umbrella, and sat down again. He turned around and glared at the soldier by his side.

"If it warn't for startin' another fight," he said to himself, "I'd punch his infernal head."

But the soldier had gone to sleep; he lolled his head over in Mr. Klegg's lap and snored loudly.

For two or three hours afterward the train rattled along without particular incident. Mr. Klegg recovered his composure, and got very much interested in the country through which they were passing, and its farming possibilities. These did not strike him favorably, and he was more than ever convinced that the Wabash Valley was the garden spot of the world. Finally, the train stopped and backed on to a switch to allow another to pass.

An enterprising man had put up a shanty near the track, with a long shelf in front, upon which were displayed sandwiches, pies, boiled eggs, and other eatables. The men all rushed out of the car. Mr. Klegg had begun to feel hungry himself, and joined them.

"How much for that pie?" he asked, pointing to one.

"Half-a-dollar," answered the keeper. "Fifty cents for pies, 25 cents for sandwiches, 10 cents for a cup of coffee."

"Too blamed much," shouted a chorus of voices. "An infernal pirate come down here to skin the soldiers. Let's clean him out."

Before Mr. Klegg fairly understood the words everything was snatched up. Those who did not get172 hold of any of the viands began on the shed. It was torn to pieces, the stove kicked over, the coffee spilled on the ground, and the eating-house keeper and his assistants scuttled away out of danger. The whistle sounded, they all rushed back into the cars, and Mr. Klegg had to stay his hunger with another chew of tobacco.

Again there was tolerable peace for several hours, broken at last by the sudden stoppage of the train out in the country, the sound of shots, and the yell of "Guerrillas! Guerrillas!"

Everybody bolted out of the cars. Those who had guns buckled on their cartridge-boxes, and formed in line, ready for orders. A squad of rebel cavalry had been trying to tear up the track, but were surprised by the unexpected appearance of the train. They had fallen back to the top of the hill, to see how many were aboard, and whether it looked profitable to make an attack. They were keeping up a desultory fire at long range.

Mr Klegg had seen a gun standing in the corner as he ran out. He picked it up and joined one of the squads. He was no coward, and if there had to be fighting, he was willing to do his share.

Mr. Klegg Ready for Action. 172

"Bully for you, old Hayseed," said the man who had wanted to whip any man in the right wing of the army. "You're made of the right stuff, after all."

Others around him nodded approval, and Mr. Klegg was conscious that the social atmosphere was more pleasant for him.

The guerrillas finally decided to give the job up, and rode away, after yelling some 'very uncomplimentary things about Yankee soldiers generally.

When Mr. Klegg returned to his seat he found his carpetsack, umbrella, mittens, and comforter gone. Likewise the man who had been riding with him. He waxed very wroth, and lifted up his voice to let them know it. Several around began to guy him, but suddenly the man from Miller's Brigade forced his way174 through the crowd and asked:

"What's the matter, 'Squire?"

Mr. Klegg explained.

"Well, you've got to have every one of them things back again, if I've to lick every man on the train. I'll not see an old man and as good a man as you are mistreated where I am. I've got a father my self."

This time he was in the large majority. All of McCook's men were with him. A general hunt was instituted through the train, and one by one his possessions were recovered and brought back to him.

"Thankee, gentlemen; thankee very kindly. Will any o' you gentlemen have a chaw of terbaker? It's all I have to offer you, but it's good."

When the train pulled into Nashville that night a very tired old farmer got off and inquired:

"How much farther is it to Murfreesboro'?"

"About 25 miles," someone answered.

"I'm awful glad to hear it. If it was 30 miles I don't believe I could stand it."





CHAPTER XV. DEACON KLEGG'S ARRIVAL IS MISTAKEN

FOR A KNIGHT OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE.

"THINGS don't look so tumultuous-like on this train," said Mr. Klegg, with a sigh of satisfaction, as he seated himself in the car for Murfreesboro' and deposited his valuables by his side. "I know that boys will be boys, and I like to see them have fun just as well as any other man, but I must say that they made things on that other train a little too lively for a middle-aged Deacon of the Baptist Church."

A broad-shouldered Provost-Sergeant walked through the car, with an air of authority, and gave orders to several who were seated in it.

"Must be the Constable, or Sheriff, or Town Marshal," mused Mr. Klegg. "I hope he'll stay on the train till we reach Murfreesboro', and keep order."

Mr. Klegg was right. The irregularities and disorders of the "rear" ended at Nashville. There the strict discipline of the "front" began under the iron sway of the Provost-Marshal, whose guards were everywhere, particularly at the depots and on the cars. The occupants of the car were as orderly as the boys at a country school when the master is on his throne, with his eyes about him.

It was a bright day, and the country roundabout176 of surpassing interest to the Indiana farmer. He saw the domed, stately capitol of Tennessee crowning the highest hill, and lording a glorious landscape of hill and valley, through which the Cumberland River flowed in majestic sweeps, like a broad girdle of sparkling silver. Then came the frowning forts, with beetling banks of blood-red clay, with terror-striking black guns, with rugged palisades, and a porcupine bristle of abatis. Sentries with gleaming muskets paced their high parapets. Every mile, as far as he could see, was full of objects of engrossing interest.

He became so absorbed in the feast of his eyes that he did not observe that a middle-aged, clean shaven man in a suit of dusty black had sat down beside him, and was studying him with attention.

"How do you do, my friend?" said he at length, putting out his hand.

Mr. Klegg turned with a start, and instinctively put out his hand.

"Howdy," he said, with a tone of little encouragement, for he would much rather have continued watching the country than indulge in purposeless conversation. The stranger grasped his hand warmly, and pressed his thumb upon the first joint of Mr. Klegg's, and caught his little finger in a peculiar way. Deacon Klegg had been initiated into the Odd Fellows, and he dimly recognized this as a "grip," but he could not associate it for the moment with any of the degrees of the brotherhood of the Three blinks.

"Were you out late last night," said the stranger in a low, deeply-impressive tone.177

"Not pertickerlerly," answered Deacon Klegg, turning to catch a view of the stockade at La Vergne, where the 1st Mich. Eng. had made such a gallant defense. "I'd a mighty bothersome day, and was purty well tuckered out. I found a good place to sleep, and I turned in rather airly. Say," continued he, pointing to the wreckage of battle, "the boys seem to have poked it to 'em purty lively out there."

"It was a very sharp fight," returned the other; "but for once our friend Wheeler made a mistake, and lost heavily. Down the road farther you'll see evidences of his more successful work in some miles of burnt wagons."

"Bad man, that Gen. Wheeler," said the Deacon, looking steadfastly out of the window.

The stranger looked a little disappointed, but he rallied, and presently gave the second grand hailing sign of the Knights of the Golden Circle, in the same low, impressive tone:

"Did you see a star last night?"

"Can't say that I did," responded Mr. Klegg rather indifferently. "There was lots of gas-lamps burning, and I was rather taken with them, so that I didn't notice the moon or stars. Besides, as I told you before, I turned in purty airly, for I was tired with my ride from Looyville, and I wanted to git in good shape for the trip to-day."

A cloud of annoyance came upon the stranger's face, and he did not speak again for a minute or two. Then he said:

"You are from Indiana, are you not?"

"Yes," said Mr. Klegg.

"From Posey County?"178

"Yes."

"I knew so. I've been looking for you for several days."

"Looking for me?" said Deacon Klegg, turning around in amazement. "How come you to be lookin' for me? What business have you got with me? How'd you know I was a-comin'? Nobody knowed it outside o' Mariar, my wife, and my family."179

Deacon Klegg and the Knight of The Golden Circle.

"Come, come, now," said the other impatiently. "Don't try to play off on me. You needn't be afraid. I'm all right. I'm Deputy Grand Organizer for the Knights for Southern Indiana and the jurisdiction of Louisville generally. You ought to remember me. I recollect you perfectly. I organized the Lodges in Poseyville, and all through your County. I planted the seed there for a big crop of Butternuts that'll help hurl the tyrant Lincoln from his bloody throne, and give the country back into the hands of the white man. I got word that you were coming down with important information from your section for Gen. Bragg and John Morgan, and I've been on the lookout for you."

An understanding of what the man was, and what he was driving at, began to slowly filter into Deacon Klegg's mind, and his temper to rise.

"Confound you, you pizen Copperhead," he said wrathfully. "What do you take me for? Do you take me for a miserable, traitorous Knight o' the Golden Circle? I'm a member o' the church, or I'd punch your pizen head. I'm a loyal man, and I've got a son fightin' for the Union."

"H-u-s-h," said the unconvinced man, laying his hand on the Deacon's arm. "Don't talk so loud. They're watching us."

Klegg shook his hand off angrily, but the warning came too late. The Provost-Sergeant had been watching them, at the instigation of a sharp-eyed, clerkly-looking man in semi-uniform.

The Sergeant strode toward them, followed by a soldier with a gun.

"I arrest you both," said he. "You are men that180 we've been looking for. You'll stay right there in your seats till we get to Murfreesboro', and this man 'll see that you do."

The soldier took position at the end of the seat, and dropped the end of his musket on the floor with an I've-got-my-orders-an'-I'm-going-to- stay-right-here look on his face.

"You've been lookin' for me," gasped Deacon Klegg. "Who else's been lookin' for me, I'd like to know? Is the whole State o' Tennessee lookin' for me? What was you lookin' for me for? Think I've run away from Injianny without pay in' my debts? Think I want to desert my wife and children? Young man, you don't know Josiah Klegg. I've got a quarter section of as good land as there is in the Wabash bottoms, and I don't owe a dollar on it. As for leavin' Maria Klegg, I wouldn't do it for the whole State of Injianny. What've you been lookin' for me for, I'd like to know?"

"Old man, I haven't time to talk to you, and it ain't my business. You'll find out soon enough, when you git to headquarters, and so will your partner there."

"My partner," echoed Deacon Klegg. "This man's no partner o' mine. I never laid eyes on him till a half-hour ago."

"Continue your speech at headquarters," said the Sergeant, as he moved off. "I haven't time to listen to it now. You'd better save your breath till then, for you'll have to do some mighty slick talkin' to save your spying neck, I can tell you that."

Deacon Klegg sank back in the seat dumfounded. "What on airth kin he mean?" he gasped.181

"It's another of the outrages of the despot Lincoln," answered his companion. "It's another of the arbitrary arrests by his military satraps. Liberty is dead in this country until we can overthrow that nigger-loving usurper."

"Shut up," said the Deacon savagely. "If you say another word I'll mash you. I won't be disturbed when I'm tryin' to think things out."

"I want that carpetsack and umbrella of yours," said the Sergeant, coming back. "I've no doubt you've got 'em both full of treasonable documents and information for your rebel friends. Guard, watch both these men closely, and see that they don't destroy any papers, nor throw anything out the window."

"Young man," said the Deacon resolutely, "you can't have that carpetsack or that umbreller. They're my property. If you tech 'em I'll have the law on you. I'll sue you for trespass, larceny, assault and battery, and intent to provoke. I hain't done nothin' to justify it. I'm Josiah Klegg, of Posey County, Injianny, Deacon in the Ebenezer Church, on Mill Crick. I'm goin' down to Murfreesboro' to visit my son, Josiah Klegg, jr., o' the 200th Injianny Volunteers. You all know him. He's an officer; he's the boy that tried to git a commissary wagon away from the rebels durin' the battle, and he and Shorty 've got a house with a tin roof."

The other occupants gathered around and laughed derisively.

"Twon't do, old man," said the Sergeant, trying to wrest the carpetsack away. "You tell a pretty story, and you're well disguised, but we're onto you.182 We got full particulars about you from Louisville. You're a bad lot down there in Posey County. There's a Knights of the Golden Circle Lodge under every sycamore. You'd be at Gen. Bragg's headquarters to-morrow night if we let you alone."

He pulled hard at the carpetsack, and Deacon Klegg resisted with all his sturdy might. His strength was quite a match for the Sergeant's, but other soldiers came to help the latter. The handles came off in the struggle, and the Deacon was forced down into his seat. The other man took advantage of the confusion to work his way through the crowd to the door and jump off. This angered the Sergeant, and coming back to where Mr. Klegg sat, exhausted and intensely mad, he said:

"I'll make sure that you don't get away, anyhow. I ought to've done this at first."

So saying, he snapped a hand-cuff over Mr. Klegg's wrist and then over the arm of the seat.

The Deacon was never so humiliated in his life. He was simply speechless in his rage and mortification.

Among the many of Gen. Rosecrans's eccentricities and vagrant fancies was one for prowling around through his camps at night, wearing a private's overcoat and cap. One night he strolled into the camp of the 200th Ind. The superior architecture of Si and Shorty's cabin struck him, and he decided to look inside. He knocked on the door.

"Come in," shouted Si.183

He entered, and found Si engaged with Tom Billings in a game of checkers for the championship of the 200th Ind. Shorty was watching the game intently, as Si's counselor, and Zeke Tomkins was giving like assistance to Tom Billings. Two other crack players were acting as umpires. The light from the fire shone brightly upon them, but left the front of the room, where the General stood, in complete darkness. They were so absorbed in the game that they merely looked up, saw that the newcomer was a private soldier, and supposed that he had merely dropped in to watch the game.

"Did you clean your feet on the bayonet outside the door?" demanded Shorty, as he fixed his eyes again on the red and white grains of corn, which represented the men on the board.

"No, I forgot," said the General quietly. "Well, go right outside and clean 'em off," ordered Shorty. "Don't want no mud tracked in here for us to carry out agin."

The General, much amused, went out, carefully scraped his boots, and then returned.

"All right," said Shorty, looking up as he reentered. "Now look all you like, but don't say nothin'. Nobody s allowed to say a word but the players and the umpires."

The game proceeded in silence for several minutes, and the General became much interested. It was one of his peculiarities that he could not help getting interested in anything that his soldiers were doing, from the boiling of a cup of coffee or the pitching of a tent to the alignment of a company. Si was getting a little the better of Billings, and184 the General's sympathies naturally went toward the loser. He touched Billings on the shoulder, as he was about to make a move, and said:

The General Interrupts the Game 184

"Don't do that. You'll open your king row.

"Move—"

Shorty was alert on the instant.

"Shut up," he commanded. "You've no business talkin'; I told you when you come in you weren't allowed to say nothin'."

"Excuse me," said the General; "I quite forgot."

"Well, see that you don't forgit agin," growled Shorty. "We've got quite enough talent in the game already. We don't want no more to come in."

Again the game proceeded in intent silence for some minutes. Then Si called out:

"Hold on; you can't jump backwards with that man. That ain't no king."

"I say it is a king," said Billings. "I got him into the row half an hour ago, and crowned him. You knocked the crown off when you moved."

"I know better," said Shorty. "I've been watching that piece right along, and he's never been nearer the king-row than he is this minute."

A hot discussion ensued. The General forgot him self and joined in in his usual positive, authoritative way.

"I say the man had been crowned. I saw him crowned and the crown afterward knocked off. There's the crown by the side there."

Shorty's wrath rose. "I told you when you come in here," he said sharply, "not to mix into this game. You've got no business in it. Keep your advice till it's asked for, or git out o' the tent. If you don't git out I'll put you out."

"Be careful, my man," said the General, speaking in his usual way. "You are talking to an officer."

"I don't care if you are a Lieutenant or a Captain, even," Si chimed in; "you have no business mixing in a quiet little game o' checkers between186 enlisted men."

"I am more than a Captain," said the General, opening his overcoat slightly, to show his double dow of buttons.

"Dern' a Major or a Colonel don't make it much better," said Si, obdurately, but with much more respect.

"I'm higher than a Colonel," said the General, amusedly, and opening his overcoat a little farther.

"Excuse us, General," they all murmured, rising to their feet, and taking the position of a soldier.

"You don't command our brigade, do you?" said Shorty, trying to get a better view of his face.

"I command this brigade, and several others," said the General, smilingly enjoying their confusion.

"Lord, a Major-General commanding a corps," gasped Shorty, backing up with the rest into line, and saluting with the profoundest respect.

"Still higher," laughed the General, stepping for ward to where the light fell full on his face. "I'm Maj.-Gen. Rosecrans, commanding this army. But don't be disturbed. You've done nothing. You are all entitled to your opinions, as free American citizens; but I will insist that that man had been in the king row, and should be crowned. But you settle that among yourselves.

"I merely dropped in to compliment you on the skill you have shown in building your house and its comfort. I'm glad to find that it looks even better inside than out. I know that you are good soldiers from the way you take care of yourselves. But so fine a house ought to have a better checker-board than a barrel-head, with grains of corn for men. Who are the owners of the house?"187

"Me and him," said Shorty, indicating himself and Si.

"Very good," said the General; "both of you report at my Headquarters to-morrow morning at 10 o'clock. Good night."

"Three cheers and a tiger for Old Rosey," yelled Shorty as soon as he could get his scattered wits together enough to say a word.

They gave three such rousing cheers that the rest of Co. Q came running out of their tents, and joined in cheering, as fast as the news could be communicated to them.

The next morning a squad of prisoners was being conducted toward Army Headquarters. At their head walked a stout, middle-aged farmer, carrying a portly blue umbrella. He had spent the night among the riotous spirits in the guard-house, and had evidently undergone much wear and tear. He looked as if things had not been going his way at all. By him marched the stalwart Provost-Sergeant, with a heavy striped carpetsack under his arm.

Gen. Rosecrans rode up at the head of his staff, from an early morning inspection of some part of the camp. The men saluted and cheered.

"Whom have you here, Sergeant?" said the General, reining up his horse beside the squad.

"That's Gen. Rosecrans," said one of the guards to Deacon Klegg.

"Nobody of importance," replied the Sergeant, "except this old man here. He's a Knight of the188 Golden Circle, that we've been watching for for some time, going through with information and other things from the Knights of Indiana to the enemy in Tullahoma. I've got his carpetsack here. I expect it's full of papers and contraband stuff. It feels as if it had lead in it. I am taking him to the Provost-Marshal's for examination."

He set the heavy carpetsack down on the ground, to rest for a minute.

"Gen. Rosecrans, it's all a plaguey lie," burst out Deacon Klegg. "I'm as loyal a man as there is in the State of Injianny. I voted for Abe Lincoln and Oliver P. Morton. I've come down here to visit my son, Josiah Klegg, jr., of the 200th Injianny Volunteers. You know him, General. He's one o' your officers. He's a Corporal. He's the boy that tried to take a commissary wagon away from the rebels durin' the battle, and he's got a house with a tin roof. You recollect that, don't you?"

Some of the staff laughed loudly, but the General checked them with a look, and spoke encouragingly to the Deacon.

"Yes, General," continued Mr. Klegg, "I knowed you'd know all about him the minit I mentioned him to you. I told this over and over agin to these plaguey fools, but they wouldn't believe me. As to that carpetsack havin' things for the enemy, it's the biggest lie that ever was told. I'll open it right here before you to show you. I've only got some things that my wife and the girls was sendin to Si."

He fumbled around for his keys.

"Possibly you have made a mistake, Sergeant," said the General. "What evidence have you?"189

"We'd got word to look out for just such a man, who'd play off the dodge of being an old plug of a farmer on a visit to his son."

Meeting Between si and his Father. 189

"He was on the train with a man whom all the detectives know as one of the worst Knights in the gang. They were talking together all the way. I190 arrested the other one, too, but he slipped away in the row this man made to distract our attention."

In the meantime Deacon Klegg had gotten his carpetsack open for the General's inspection. It was a sorry sight inside. Butter, honey, shirts, socks, boots, and cakes are excellent things taken separately, but make a bad mixture. Deacon Klegg looked very dejected. The rest grinned broadly.

"I don't seem to see anything treasonable so far," said the General. "Sergeant, take the rest of your prisoners up to the Provost-Marshal, and leave this man with me."

"Gen. Rosecrans," said a familiar voice, "you ordered us to report to you this mornin' at 10 o'clock. We're here."

The General looked up and saw Corporal Si Klegg and Shorty standing at a "salute."

"Si!" said the Deacon, joyously, sticking out a hand badly smeared with honey and butter.

"Pap!" shouted the Corporal, taking the hand in rapture. "How in the world did you git down here?"

They all laughed now, and the General did not check them.

"Corporal," said he, "I turn this man over to you. I'll hold you responsible that he don't communicate with the enemy. But come on up to Headquarters and get your checker-board. I have a very nice one for you."

192





CHAPTER XVI. IN A NEW WORLD

DEACON KLEGG HAS A LITTLE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN THE ARMY.

"Pap" said Si, by way of introduction, "this is Shorty, my pardner, and the best pardner a feller ever had, and the best soldier in the Army of the Cumberland."

"Glad to see you, Mr. Klegg," said Shorty, reddening and grasping the father's outstretched hand; "but you orter 've broke that boy o' your'n o' lyin' when he was young."

"He never did lie," said the Deacon cheerfully, "and I don't believe he's lyin' now. I've heard a great deal o' you, Mr. Shorty, and I'm sure he's tellin' the truth about you."

"Drop the Mister, Pap," said Si. "We never call each other Mister here, except when we're mad."

Si took the carpetsack under his arm, and they trudged up toward Army Headquarters.

Relieved of anxiety as to his own personal safety, and having found his son, Deacon Klegg viewed everything around him with open-eyed interest. It was a wonderfully new and strange world into which the sober, plodding Indiana farmer had dropped. The men around him spoke the speech to which his ears were accustomed, but otherwise they were as foreign as if they had come from the heart of China.193

Their dress, their manners, their actions, the ways in which they were busying themselves, had no resemblance to anything seen on the prosaic plains of the Wabash in his half-century of life there. The infantry sweeping over the fields in endless waves, the dashing cavalcades of officers and staffs, the bewildering whirl of light batteries dazed him. Even Si awed him. It was hard to recognize in the broad-shouldered, self-assured young soldier, who seemed so entirely at home in his startling surroundings, the blundering, bashful hobbledehoy boy of a few months before, whose feet and hands were constantly in the way, and into everything else that they should not be.

"Somehow, Si," he said, looking at his offspring with contemplative eye, "you seem to have growed like a cornstalk in July, and yit when I come to measure you you don't seem no taller nor heavier than when you went away. How is it?"

"Don't know, Pap," Si answered. "I feel as if I'd had more'n 10 long years o' growth since we crossed the Ohio River. Yit, you don't seem a minute older than when I went away."

"I didn't feel no older," returned the father, "until I got in that guard-house last night. Then I could feel my hair gittin' grayer every hour, and my teeth droppin' out."

"I'm afraid you didn't git much chance to sleep, Pap," said Si sympathetically.

"Loss o' sleep was the least part of it," said the Deacon feelingly. "I kin stand a little loss o' sleep without any partickler bother. It wasn't bein' kept awake so much as the way I was kept awake that bore on me."

"Why, what happened?" asked Si.

"Better ask what didn't happen," groaned his father. "Used to have some mighty rough shivarees when I was a boy, and'd jest settled on the Wabash. Lots o' toughs then, 'specially 'mong the flatboat-men, who'd nothin' to drink but new sod-cornwhisky, that'd fight in every spoonful. But for sure, straight-out tumultuousness that guard-house last night gave six pecks for every bushel of a Wabash shivaree."

Shorty looked meaningly at Si. "Guard-house fellers's likely to be a ructionary lot o' roosters. Awful sorry you got in among 'em. Was they very bad?"

"Well, I should say. When I was chucked in they wuz havin' a regular prize fight, 'cordin' to rules, as to whether Rousseau or Negley wuz the best General. The Rousseau man got licked, and then the other Rousseau men wuzzent satisfied, and proposed to lick all the Negley men in the guard-house; but the Sheridan men interfered, and made the Rousseau men cool down. They they turned their attention to me. They raised a row about a citizen being put in among them. It was a disgrace. The guard house was only intended for soldiers and gentlemen, and no place for condemned civilians. Then some one said that I had been arrested as a Knight o' the Golden Circle, on my way to Bragg, with information from the Injianny Knights. Another insisted that he knowed me, and that I wuz Vallandigham himself, brought down there to be sent through the lines. Then I thought sure they'd kill me on the spot. I begged and pled and denied. Finally, they organized a court-martial to try me for my life.194

"They had an awful tonguey feller that acted as Prosecutin' Attorney, and the way he blackguarded me was a shame. He said the word 'traitor' was wrote in every liniment o' my face; that I wuz a dyed-in-the-wool butternut, and that the bag I'd brung along with me contained the muster-rolls of 100,000 Injiannians who'd bin swore in to fight for Jeff Davis.

"The feller that they appinted to defend me admitted the truth of all that the other feller'd said. He said that no one could look in my Southern Injianny face without seem' Secession, treason and nigger-lovin' wrote there in big letters. He could only ask the honorable court for mercy instid o' justice, and that I be shot instid o' hung, as I deserved.

"When they asked me what I'd got to say in my own defense I told 'em the truth, and said that I'd come down here to visit my son, who they all knowed they must know Si Klegg. o' the 200th Injianny Volunteers, who was an officer, and had a house with a tin roof.

"Then they all got up and yelled. They said they knowed Si Klegg only too well; that he wuz the meanest, oneriest soljer in the army, and that he looked just like me. They had him in the guard house now. He'd bin put in for stealin' a hoe-cake from a blind nigger half-way back to Nashville durin' the battle.

"They brought up the dirtiest, scaliest lookin' man in the guard-house, and said that was Si Klegg, and that he resembled me so much that they wuz sure he wuz my son. They asked him if he reckernized me as his dad, and after they kicked him two195 or three times he said he did, but he wuz goin' to cut his throat now, since they'd found it out. He couldn't stand everything. Then they said they'd postpone execution on condition that I'd kneel down, drink a pint o' whisky, take the oath o' allegiance to Abe Lincoln, and sing 'We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour-apple tree.'

"I told 'em I wuz perfectly willin' to take the oath to Abe Lincoln as often as they pleased; that he wuz my man from start to finish; that I wanted Jeff Davis hung the minit we ketched him. I'd sing the song if they'd learn it to me, though I've not sung anything but hymns for the last 25 years. As for the whisky, I wouldn't tech it on no account, for I belonged to the Good Templars.

"They all seemed pacified with this except one man, who insisted that I should drink the whisky. One o' the Sheridan men knocked him down, and then the fight between the Rousseau men and the Negley men broke out afresh, and the guard come in and quieted things. By the time they'd done this they found that the man who had reckernized me as his father wuz tryin' to hang himself with a piece o' tent-rope. They cut him down, larruped him with the tent-rope, and then started another court to try me for havin' sich a son. But some officer come in and took out the Prosecutin' Attorney and the lawyer for the defense and the Presidin' Judge and bucked and gagged 'em. This cooled things down agin till mornin'."

His Honor and the 'attorney' Bucked And Gagged.

"We might walk over to the Provost-Marshal's," suggested Shorty, "and watch for them fellers as they come out, and take a drop out o' some of 'em."196

"It'll be a waste o' time," said Si, with a shrug of his shoulders. "They'll all be doing hard labor for the next 30 days, and by that time we'll likely have a good deal else to think about. Let's report at Headquarters, and then take Dad over and show him our new house."

"Yes, I'm dying to see it," said the Deacon, "and197 to git somewhere that I kin sit down in peace and quietness. Seems to me I haven't had a moment's rest for years, and I'm as nigh tuckered out as I ever wuz in my life."

At the Army Headquarters was a crowd of officers, mounted and dismounted. Aids were arriving and departing, and there was a furore when some General commanding a corps or division came or went, which impressed the father greatly. Si and Shorty stood at "attention," and respectfully saluted as the officers passed, and the Deacon tried awkwardly, but his best, to imitate their example. Two or three spruce young Orderlies attempted to guy him. but this thing came to a sudden stop when Shorty took one of them quietly by the ear, and said in a low voice:

Shorty Admonishes the Orderly 198

"Don't be brash, bub. If you only knowed it, you're givin' your measure for a first-class, custom-made lickin', and I'm the artist to do the job. That old man's my chum's father, and I won't allow no funny business 'round where I am."

"We wuz ordered to report to Gen. Rosecrans," said Si to the Orderly on duty before the tent.

"What are you to report for?" asked a member of the staff, standing near. "The General is very busy now, and can see no one. Who ordered you to report?"

"The General himself," said Si.

The sound of his voice reached Gen. Rosecrans, in side, and busy as he was, arrested his attention. With the kindly thoughtfulness that so endeared him to his soldiers he instantly remembered his promise, dropped his pen, and came to the door.198

"I ordered these men to report," he said to the Aid. "Bring me that checker-board which lies on my table."

The Aid did so. Gen. Rosecrans noticed the father, and, as usual, saw the opportunity of doing a kindly, gracious thing.

"You have found your son, I see," he said to him. "Sorry that you had so much trouble. That's a fine son you have. One of the very best soldiers in199 my army. I congratulate you upon him. Boys, here is your board and men. I may drop in some evening and see you play a game. I'll be careful to clean my feet, this time."

Si and Shorty got very red in the face at this allusion, and began to stammer excuses. The General playfully pinched Si's ear and said:

"Go to your quarters now, you young rascal, and take your father with you. I hope he'll have a very pleasant time while he is in camp."

They saluted and turned away too full for utterance. After they had gone a little distance the Deacon remarked, as if communing with himself:

"And that is Gen. Rosecrans. Awful nice man. Nicest man I ever saw. Greatest General in the world. Won't this be something to tell Mariar and the girls. And the men down at the store. I'd 've come down here 40 times jest to 've seen him and talked with him. What'd last night in the guard house amount to, after all? A man must expect some trouble occasionally. Wouldn't have no fun if he didn't. Say, Si, remember Old Susy's chestnut colt?"

"Yes," answered Si.

"I thought he had in him the makin' o' the finest horse in Posey County."

"Yes," said Si.

"Well, he's turnin' out even better'n I thought he would. Shouldn't wonder if he could trot down somewhere nigh 2:40."

"You don't say so."

"Yes, indeed. You used to want that colt mighty bad, Si."200

"I remember that I did, Pap."

"Well, Si, I'll give you that colt, and take good care o' him till you come home, for that 'ere checker board."

When they arrived at their house Si and Shorty arranged the things so as to give the Deacon a most comfortable rest after his trying experiences, and cooked him the best dinner their larder would afford. After dinner they filled him a pipe-full of kinni-kinnick, and the old gentleman sat down to enjoy201 it while Si and Shorty investigated the contents of the carpetsack. They found endless fun in its woeful condition. The butter and honey were smeared over everything, in the rough handling which it had endured. They pulled out the shirt, the socks, the boots, the paper and books, and scraped off carefully as much as they could of the precious honey and butter.

"It's too good to waste the least bit," said Shorty, tasting it from time to time with unction. "Don't mind a hair or two in the butter, this time, Si. I kin believe your mother is a good buttermaker. It's the best I ever tasted."


200 (70K)

"Well, the butter and the honey may be spiled," said Si, "but the other things are all right. My, ain't this a nice shirt. And them socks. Shorty, did you ever see such socks. Ever so much obliged to you, Pap, for these boots. Old Hank Sommers's make. He's the best shoemaker in the State of Injianny. No Quartermaster's cowhide about them. And—"

Si stopped. He had suddenly come across Anna bel's ambrotype. He tried to slip it into his pocket without the others seeing him. He edged awkwardly to the door.

"You look over the rest o' the things, Shorty," he said, with a blush that hid his freckles. "I've got to go down and see the Orderly-Sergeant."

Shorty and the Deacon exchanged very profound winks.





CHAPTER XVII. THE DEACON'S INITIATION

RAPIDLY ACQUIRES EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN THE ARMY.

SI ASKED questions of his father about the folks at home and the farm until the old gentleman's head ached, and he finally fell asleep through sheer exhaustion.

The next day the Deacon took a comprehensive survey of the house, and was loud in his praises of Si and Shorty's architecture.

"Beats the cabin I had to take your mother to, Si, when I married her," he said with a retrospective look in his eye, "though I'd got up a sight better one than many o' the boys on the Wabash. Lays a way over the one that Abe Lincoln's father put up on Pigeon Crick, over in Spencer County, and where he brung the Widder Johnston when he married her. I remember it well. About the measliest shack there wuz in the country. Tom Lincoln, Abe's father, wuz about as lazy as you make 'em. They say nothin' will cure laziness in a man, but a second wife 'll shake it up awfully. The Widder Johnston had lots o' git up in her, but she found Tom Lincoln a dead load. Abe wuz made o' different stuff."

"Yes," continued the father, growing reminiscential. "There wuz no tin roof, sawed boards, glass winder nor plank floor in that little shack on the203 Wabash, but some o' the happiest days in my life wuz spent in it. Me and your mother wuz both young, both very much in love, both chock full o' hope and hard day's work. By the time you wuz born, Si, we'd got the farm and the house in much better shape, but they wuz fur from being what they are to-day."

"If we only had a deed for a quarter section o' land around our house we'd be purty well started in life for young men," ventured Si.

"I'd want it a heap sight better land than this is 'round here," said the Deacon, studying the land scape judicially. "Most of it that I've seen so far is like self-righteousness the more a man has the worse he's off. Mebbe it'll raise white beans, but I don't know o' nothin' else, except niggers and poverty. The man that'd stay 'round here, scratchin' these clay knobs, when there's no law agin him goin' to Injianny or Illinoy, hain't gumption enough to be anything but a rebel. That's my private opinion publicly expressed."

"Pap," said Si, after his father had been a day in camp, "I think we've done fairly well in providin' you with a house and a bed, but I'm afeared that our cookin's not quite up to your taste. You see, you've bin badly pampered by mother. I might say that she's forever spiled you for plain grub and common cookin'."

"Your mother's the best cook that ever lived or breathed," said the Deacon earnestly. "She kin make plain cornbread taste better than anybody else's pound cake. But you do well, Si, considerin' that your mother could never git you to do so much204 as help peel a mess o' 'taters. Your coffee'd tan a side o' sole leather, and there's enough grease about your meat to float a skiff; but I didn't expect to live at a hotel when I come down here."

The Deacon strolled down near Regimental Headquarters. An Aid came up and, saluting the Colonel, said:

"Colonel, the General presents his compliments, and instructs me to say that he has received orders from Division Headquarters to send details of a Corporal and five men from each regiment there to morrow morning at 7 o'clock for fatigue duty. You will furnish yours."

"Very good," answered the Colonel, returning the salute. "Adjutant, order the detail."

"Sergeant-Major," said the Adjutant, after a momentary glance at his roster, "send an order to Capt, McGillicuddy, of Co. Q, for a Corporal and five men for fatigue duty, to report at Division Headquarters at 7 to-morrow morning."

The Deacon walked toward Co. Q's quarters, and presently saw the Orderly hand the Captain the order from the Colonel.

"Orderly-Sergeant," said the Captain, "detail a Corporal and five men to report for fatigue duty at Division Headquarters to-morrow at 7 o'clock."

The Orderly-Sergeant looked over his roster, and then walked down to Si's residence.

"Klegg," said he, "you will report for fatigue duty at Division Headquarters to-morrow at 7 o'clock with five men. You will take Shorty, Simmons, Sullivan, Tomkins and Wheeler with you."

"Very good, sir," said Si, saluting.205

"Si," said his father, with a quizzical smile, "I've bin wonderin', ever since I heard that you wuz an officer, how much o' the army you commanded. Now I see that if it wuz turned upside down you'd be on the very top."

"He leads the army when it goes backward," interjected Shorty.

"Gracious, Pap," said Si, good-humoredly, "I haven't rank enough to get me behind a saplin' on the battlefield. The Colonel has the pick o' the biggest tree, the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major take the next; the Captains and Lieutenants take the second growth, and the Sergeants have the saplins. I'm lucky if I git so much as a bush."

"Old Rosecrans must have a big saw-log," said his father.

"Not much saw-log for old Rosey," said Si, resenting even a joking disparagement upon his beloved General. "During the battle he wuz wherever it wuz hottest, and on horseback, too. Wherever the firm' wuz the loudest he'd gallop right into it. His staff was shot down all around him, but he never flinched. I tell you, he's the greatest General in the world."

The next morning after breakfast, and as Si and Shorty were preparing to go to Division Headquarters, Si said:

"Pap, you just stay at home and keep house to day. Keep your eyes on the boys; I tell it to you in confidence, for I wouldn't for the world have it breathed outside the company, that Co. Q's the most everlastin' set o' thieves that ever wore uniform. Don't you ever say a word about it when you get206 home, for it'd never do to have the boys' folks know anything about it. I'd break their hearts. Me and Shorty, especially Shorty, are the only honest ones in the company. The other fellers'd steal the house from over your head if you didn't watch 'em."

"That's so," asseverated Shorty. "Me and Si especially me is the only honest ones in the company. We're the only ones you kin really trust."

"I'd be sorry to think that Si had learned to steal," said the Deacon gravely, at which Shorty could not resist the temptation to give Si a furtive kick. "But I'll look out for thieves. We used to have lots o' them in Posey County, but after we hung one or two, and rid some others on rails, the revival meetin's seemed to take hold on the rest, and they got converted."

"Something like that ought to be done in the army," murmured Shorty.

"When you want anything to eat you know where to git it," said Si, as they moved off. "We'll probably be back in time to git supper."

The Deacon watched the squad march away, and then turned to think how he would employ himself during the day. He busied himself for awhile cleaning up the cabin and setting things to rights, and flattered himself that his housekeeping was superior to his son's. Then he decided to cut some wood. He found the ax, "condemned" it for some time as to its dullness and bad condition, but finally attacked with it a tree which had been hauled up back of the company line for fuel. It was hard work, and presently he sat down to rest. Loud words of command came from just beyond the hill, and he walked207 over there to see what was going on. He saw a regiment drilling, and watched it for some minutes with interest. Then he walked back to his work, but found to his amazement that his ax was gone. He could see nobody around on whom his suspicions could rest.

"Mebbe somebody's borrowed it," he said, "and will bring it back when he's through usin' it. If he don't I kin buy a better ax for 10 or 12 bits. Somebody must have axes for sale 'round here somewhere."

He waited awhile for the borrower to return the tool, but as he did not, he gathered up a load of wood and carried it up to the cabin.

"The boys'l be mighty hungry when they git back this evenin'," said he to himself. "I'll jest git up a good supper for 'em. I'll show Si that the old man knows some p'ints about cookin', even if he hain't bin in the army, that'll open the youngster's eyes."

He found a tin pan, put in it a generous supply of beans, and began carefully picking them over and blowing the dust out, the same as he had often seen his wife do. Having finished this to his satisfaction, he set down the pan and went back into the cabin to get the kettle to boil them in. When he returned he found that pan and beans had vanished, and again he saw no one upon whom he could fix his suspicions. The good Deacon began to find the "old Adam rising within him," but as a faithful member of the church he repressed his choler.

"I can't hardly believe all that Si and Shorty said about the dishonesty of Co. Q," he communed with208 himself. "Many o' the boys in it I know they're right from our neighborhood. Good boys as ever lived, and honest as the day is long. Some o' them belonged to our Sunday school. I can't believe that they've turned out bad so soon. Yet it looks awful suspicious. The last one I see around here was Jed Baskins. His father's a reggerly ordained preacher. Jed never could 've took them beans. But who on airth done it?"

The Deacon carefully fastened the door of the cabin, and proceeded with his camp-kettle to the spring to get some water. He found there quite a crowd, with many in line waiting for their chance at the spring. He stood around awhile awaiting his chance, but it did not seem to get any nearer. He said something about the length of time it took, and a young fellow near remarked:

"Here, Uncle, give me your kittle. I'll git it filled for you."

Without a thought the Deacon surrendered the kettle to him, and he took his place in line. The Deacon watched him edging up toward the spring for a minute or two, and then his attention was called to a brigade manuvering in a field across the river. After awhile he thought again about his kettle, and looked for the kindly young man who had volunteered to fill it. There were several in the line who looked like him, but none whom he could positively identify as him.

"Which o' you boys got my kittle?" he inquired, walking along the line.

"Got your kittle, you blamed teamster," they an swered crossly. "Go away from here. We won't209 allow teamsters at this spring. It's only for soldiers. Go to your own spring."

His kettle was gone, too. That was clear. As the Deacon walked back to the cabin he was very hot in the region of his collar. He felt quite shame faced, too, as to the way the boys would look on his management, in the face of the injunctions they had given him at parting. His temper was not improved by discovering that while he was gone someone had carried off the bigger part of the wood he had laboriously chopped and piled up in front of the cabin. He sat down in the doorway and meditated angrily:

"I'll be dumbed (there, I'm glad that Mariar didn't hear me say that. I'm afeared I'm gittin' to swear just like these other fellers). I'll be dumbed if I ever imagined there wuz sich a passel o' condemned thieves on the face o' the airth. And they all seem sich nice, gentlemanly fellers, too. What'll we do with them when they git back home?"

Presently he roused himself up to carry out his idea of getting a good meal ready for the boys by the time they returned, tired and hungry. He rummaged through the cabin, and came across an old tin bucket partially filled with scraps of paper. There did not seem to be anything of value in it, and he tossed the contents on the smoldering fire. Instantly there was an explosion which took the barrel off the top of the chimney, sent the stones rattling down, filled the room full of smoke, singed the Deacon's hair and whiskers, and sped him out of the cabin in great alarm. A crowd quickly gathered to see what was the matter. Just then Si appeared at the head of his squad. He and Shorty hurried to the scene of the disturbance.210


210 (71K)

"What is the matter, Pap?" Si asked anxiously. "Why," explained his father, "I was lookin' round for something to git water in, and I found an old tin bucket with scraps o' paper in. I throwed them in the fire, and I'm feared I busted your fireplace all to pieces, But I'll help you to fix it up agin," he added deprecatingly.

"But you ain't hurt any, are you, Pap?" asked Si,211 anxiously examining his father, and ignoring all thought as to the damage to the dwelling.

"No," said his father cheerfully. "I guess I lost a little hair, but I could spare that. It was about time to git it cut, anyway. I think we kin fix up the fireplace, Si."

"Cuss the fireplace, so long's you're all right," answered Si. "A little mud 'll straighten that out. You got hold o' the bucket where me and Shorty 've bin savin' up our broken cartridges for a little private Fourth o' July some night."

"But, Si," said the Deacon sorrowfully, determined to have it out at once. "They're bigger thieves than you said there wuz. They stole your ax but I'll buy you a better one for 10 or 12 bits; they took your pan and beans, an' took your camp-kittle, and finally all the wood that I'd cut."

He looked so doleful that the boys could not help laughing.

"Don't worry about them, Pap," said Si cheer fully. "We'll fix them all right. Let's go inside and straighten things up, and then we'll have some thing to eat."

"But you can't git nothin' to eat," persisted the Deacon, "because there's nothin' to cook in."

"We'll have something, all the same," said Shorty, with a wink of enjoyable anticipation at Si.

The two boys carefully stowed away their overcoats, which were rolled up in bundles in a way that would be suspicious to a soldier. They got the interior of the cabin in more presentable shape, and then Shorty went out and produced a camp-kettle from somewhere, in which they made their coffee.212

When this was ready, they shut the door and care fully unrolled their overcoats. A small sugar-cured ham, a box of sardines, a can of peaches, and a couple of loaves of fresh, soft bread developed.

"Yum-yum!" murmured Shorty, gloating over the viands.

"Where in the world did you git them, boys?" asked the Deacon in wonderment.213

"Eat what is set before you, and ask no questions, for conscience's sake, Pap," said Si, slicing off a piece of the ham and starting to broil it for his father. "That's what you used to tell me."

"Si," said the father sternly, as an awful suspicion moved in his mind, "I hope you didn't steal 'em."

"Of course, not, Pap. How kin you think so?"

"Josiah Klegg," thundered the father, "tell me how you came by them things."

"Well, Pap," said Si, considerably abashed, "it was something like this: Our squad was set to work to unload a car o' Christian Commission things. Me and Shorty pulled off our overcoats and laid them in a corner. When we got through our work and picked up our coats we found these things in them. Some bad men had hid them there, thinkin' they wuz their overcoats. We thought the best way wuz to punish the thieves by takin' the things away with us. Now, here's a piece o' ham briled almost as nice as mother could do. Take it, and cut you off a slice of that soft bread."

"Si, the receiver's as bad as the thief. I won't touch it."

"Pap, the harm's been done. No matter who done it, the owner'll never see his victuals agin. Jest as like he cribbed 'em from somebody else. These Christian Commission things wuz sent down for us soljers, anyhow. We'd better have 'em than the bummers around the rear. They'll spile and be wasted if you don't eat 'em, and that'd be a sin."

Trying to Conquer the Deacon's Scruples. 212

The savory ham was very appetizing, the Deacon was very hungry, and the argument was sophistical.

"I'll take it, Si," said he with a sigh. "I don't214 wonder that the people down here are rebels and all that sort o' thing. It's in the air. I've felt my principles steadily weakenin' from the time I crossed the Ohio River."





CHAPTER XVIII. THE DEACON IS SHOCKED HE IS CAUGHT WITH THE GOODS ON HIM

AND IS RESCUED JUST IN TIME.

WITH the Deacon's assistance, the chimney was soon rebuilt, better than ever, and several homelike improvements were added. The lost utensils were also replaced, one by one. The Deacon was sometimes troubled in his mind as to where the pan, the camp-kettle, etc., came from. Si or Shorty would simply bring in one of them, with a sigh of satisfaction, and add it to the house hold stock. The Deacon was afraid to ask any questions.

One day, however, Shorty came in in a glow of excitement, with a new ax in his hand.

"There; isn't she a daisy," he said, holding it up and testing the edge with his thumb. "None o' your old sledges with no more edge than a maul, that you have to nigger the wood off with. Brand new, and got an edge like a razor. You kin chop wood with that, I tell you."

"It's a tolerable good ax. Wuth about 10 bits," said the Deacon, examining the ax critically. "Last ax I bought from Ol Taylor cost 12 bits. It was a better one. How much'd you give for this? I'll pay it myself."

'how Much'd You Give for This?' 216

"Do you know Jed Baskins thinks himself the216 best eucher player in the 200th Ind.," said Shorty, forgetting himself in the exultation of his victory. "Jed Baskins the Rev. Jared Baskins's son a eucher player," gasped the Deacon. "Why, his father'd no more tech a card than he would a coal o' fire. Not so much, for I've often heard him say that a coal o' fire kin only burn the hands, while cards scorch the soul."

"Well, Jed," continued Shorty, "bantered me to play three games out o' five for this here ax agin my galvanized brass watch. We wuz boss and hoss on the first two games; on the saw-off we had four pints apiece. I dealt and turned up the seven o' spades. Jed ordered me up, and then tried to ring in on me a right bower from another deck, but I knowed he hadn't it, because I'd tried to ketch it in the deal, but missed it an' slung it under the table. I made Jed play fair, and euchered him, with only two trumps in my hand. Jed's a mighty slick hand with the pasteboards, but he meets his boss in your Uncle Ephraim. I didn't learn to play eucher in the hay lofts o' Bean Blossom Crick for nothin', I kin tell you."

An expression of horror came into Deacon Klegg's face, and he looked at Shorty with severe disapproval, which was entirely lost on that worthy, who continued to prattle on:

"Jed Baskins kin slip in more cold decks on green horns than any boy I ever see. You'd think he'd spent his life on a Mississippi steamboat or follerin' a circus. You remember how he cleaned out them Maumee Muskrats at chuck-a-luck last pay-day? Why, there wuzn't money enough left in one company to buy postage stamps for their letters home. You know how he done it? Why, that galoot of a citizen gambler that we tossed in a blanket down there by Nashville, and then rid out o' camp on a rail, learned him how to finger the dice. I was sure some o' them Maumee smart Alecks'd git on to Jed, but they didn't. I declare they wouldn't see a six-mule team if it druv right across the board afore 'em. But I'm onto him every minit. I told him when he tried to ring in that jack on me that he218 didn't know enough about cards to play with our Sunday school class on Bean Blossom Crick."

"Josiah Klegg," said the Deacon sternly, "do you play cards?"

"I learned to play jest a little," said Si deprecatingly, and getting very red in the face. "I jest know the names o' the cards, and a few o' the rules o' the game."

"I'm surprised at you," said the Deacon, "after the careful way you wuz brung up. Cards are the devil's own picture-books. They drag a man down to hell jest as sure as strong drink. Do you own a deck o' cards?"

"No, sir," replied Si. "I did have one, but I throwed it away when we wuz goin' into the battle o' Stone River."

"Thank heaven you did," said the Deacon devoutly. "Think o' your goin' into battle with them infernal things on you. They'd draw death to you jest like iron draws lightnin'."

"That's what I was afeared of," Si confessed.

"Now, don't you ever touch another card," said the Deacon. "Don't you ever own another deck. Don't you insult the Lord by doin' things when you think you're safe that you wouldn't do when you're in danger and want His protection."

"Yes, sir," responded Si very meekly. The Deacon was so excited that he pulled out his red bandanna, mopped his face vigorously, and walked out of the door to get some fresh air. As his back was turned, Si reached slily up to a shelf, pulled down a pack of cards, and flung them behind the back-log.

"I didn't yarn to Pap when I told him I didn't219 own a deck," he said to Shorty. "Them wuzn't really our cards. I don't exactly know who they belonged to."

The good Deacon was still beset with the idea of astonishing the boys with a luxurious meal cooked by himself, without their aid, counsel or assistance. His failure the first time only made him the more determined. While he conceded that Si and Shorty did unusually well with the materials at their command, he had his full share of the conceit that possesses every man born of woman that, without any previous training or experience, he can prepare food better than anybody else who attempts to do it. It is usually conceded that there are three things which every man alive believes he can do better than the one who is engaged at it. These are:

1. Telling a story;

2. Poking a fire;

3. Managing a woman.

Cooking a meal should be made the fourth of this category.

One day Si and Shorty went with the rest of Co. Q on fatigue duty on the enormous fortifications, the building of which took up so much of the Army of the Cumberland's energies during its stay around Murfreesboro' from Jan. 3 to June 24, 1863. Rosecrans seemed suddenly seized with McClellan's mania for spade work, and was piling up a large portion of Middle Tennessee into parapet, bastion and casemate, lunet, curtain, covered-way and gorge, according to the system of Vauban. The 200th Ind. had to do its unwilling share of this, and Si and Shorty worked off some of their superabundant220 energy with pick and shovel. They would come back at night tired, muddy and mad. They would be ready to quarrel with and abuse everybody and every thing from President Lincoln down to the Commissary-Sergeant and the last issue of pickled beef and bread especially the Commissary-Sergeant and the rations. The good Deacon sorrowed over these manifestations. He was intensely loyal. He wanted to see the soldiers satisfied with their officers and the provisions made for their comfort.

He would get up a good dinner for the boys, which would soothe their ruffled tempers and make them more satisfied with their lot.

He began a labored planning of the feast. He looked over the larder, and found there pork, corned beef, potatoes, beans, coffee, brown sugar, and hard tack.

Deacon Klegg Looks over the Larder. 220

"Good, substantial vittles, that stick to the ribs," he muttered to himself, "and I'll fix up a good mess o' them. But the boys ought to have something of a treat once in a while, and I must think up some way to give it to 'em."

He pondered over the problem as he carefully cleaned the beans, and set them to boiling in a kettle over the fire. He washed some potatoes to put in the ashes and roast. But these were too common place viands. He wanted something that would be luxurious.

"I recollect," he said to himself finally, "seein' a little store, which some feller 'd set up a little ways from here. It's a board shanty, and I expect he's got a lots o' things in it that the boys'd like, for there's nearly always a big crowd around it. I'll221 jest fasten up the house, and walk over there while the beans is a-seethin', and see if I can't pick up something real good to eat."

He made his way through the crowd, which seemed to him to smell of whisky, until he came to the shelf across the front, and took a look at the222 stock. It seemed almost wholly made up of canned goods, and boxes of half-Spanish cigars, and play ing-cards.

"Don't seem to ba much of a store, after all," soliloquized the Deacon, after he had surveyed the display. "Ain't a patchin' to Ol Taylor's. Don't see anything very invitin' here. O, yes, here's a cheese. Say, Mister, gi' me about four pounds o' that there cheese."

"Plank down your $2 fust, ole man." responded the storekeeper. "This is a cash store cash in advance every time. Short credits make long friends. Hand me over your money, and I'll hand you over the cheese."

"Land o' Goshen, four bits a pound for cheese," gasped the Deacon. "Why, I kin git the best full-cream cheese at home for a bit a pound."

"Why don't you buy your cheese at home, then, old man?" replied the storekeeper. "You'd make money, if you didn't have to pay freight to Murfreesboro'. Guess you don't know much about gettin' goods down to the front. But I hain't no time to argy with you. If you don't want to buy, step back, and make room for someone that does. Business is lively this mornin'. Time is money. Small profits and quick returns, you know. No time to fool with loafers who only look on and ask questions."

"Strange way for a storekeeper to act," muttered the Deacon. "Must've bin brung up in a Land Office. He couldn't keep store in Posey County a week. They wouldn't stand his sass." Then aloud: "You may gi' me two pounds o' cheese."

"Well, why don't you plank down the rhino?" said223 the storekeeper impatiently. "Put up your money fust, and then you'll git the goods. This ain't no credit concern with a stay-law attachment. Cash in advance saves bookkeeping."

"Well, I declare," muttered the Deacon, as he fished a greenback out of a leather pocketbook fastened with a long strap. "This is the first time I ever had to pay for things before I got 'em."

"Never went to a circus, then, old man, or run for office," replied the storekeeper, and his humor was rewarded with a roar of laughter. "Anything else? Speak quick or step back."

"I'll take a can o' them preserved peaches and a quart jug o' that genuine Injianny maple molasses," said the Deacon desperately, naming two articles which seemed much in demand.

"All right; $2 for the peaches, and $2 more for the molasses."

"Sakes alive!" ejaculated the Deacon, producing the strapped pocketbook again. "Five dollars gone, and precious little to show for it."

He took his jug and his can, and started back to the cabin. A couple of hundred yards away he met a squad of armed men marching toward the store, under the command of a Lieutenant. He stepped to one side to let them pass, but the Lieutenant halted them, and asked authoritatively:

"What have you got there, sir?"

"Jest some things I've been buyin' for the boys' dinner," answered the Deacon.

"Indeed! Very likely," remarked the Lieutenant sarcastically. He struck the jug so sharply with his sword that it was broken, and the air was filled224 with a powerful odor of whisky. The liquor splashed over the Deacon's trousers and wet them through. The expression of anger on his face gave way to one of horror. He had always been one of the most rigid of Temperance men, and fairly loathed whisky in all shapes and uses.

"Just as I supposed, you old vagabond," said the Lieutenant, contemptuously. "Down here sneaking whisky into camp. We'll stop that mighty sudden."

He knocked the can of peaches out of the Deacon's arms and ran his sword into it. A gush of whisky spurted out. The Sergeant took the package of cheese away and broke it open, revealing a small flask of liquor.

"The idea of a man of your age being engaged in such business," said the Lieutenant indignantly. "You ought to be helping to keep the men of the army sober, instead of corrupting them to their own great injury. You are doing them more harm than the rebels."

The Deacon was too astonished and angry to reply. Words utterly failed him in such a crisis.

"Take charge of him, Corporal," commanded the Lieutenant. "Put him in the guard-house till tomorrow, when we'll drum him out of camp, with his partner, who is running that store."

The Corporal caught the Deacon by the arm roughly and pulled him into the rear of the squad, which hurried toward the store. The crowd in front had an inkling of what was coming. In a twinkling of an eye they made a rush on the store, each man snatched a can or a jug, and began bolting away as fast as his legs could carry him.

The storekeeper ran out the back way, and tried to make his escape, but the Sergeant of the provost squad threw down his musket and took after him. The storekeeper ran fast, inspired by fear and the desire to save his ill-gotten gains, but the Sergeant ran faster, and presently brought him back, panting and trembling, to witness the demolition of his property. The shanty was being torn down, each plank as it came off being snatched up by the soldiers to carry off and add to their own habitations. The "canned fruit" was being punched with bayonets, and the jugs smashed by gun-butts.

"You are a cheeky scoundrel," said the Lieutenant, addressing himself to the storekeeper, "to come down here and try to run such a dead-fall right in the middle of camp. But we'll cure you of any such ideas as that. You'll find it won't pay at all to try such games on us. You'll go to the guard house, and to-morrow we'll shave your head and drum you and your partner there out of camp."

"I ain't no partner o' his," protested the Deacon earnestly. "My name's Josiah Klegg, o' Posey County, Injianny. I'm down here on a visit to my son in the 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry. I'm a Deacon in the Baptist Church, and a Patriarch of the Sons o' Temperance. It'd be the last thing in the world I'd do to sell whisky."

"That story won't wash, old man," said the Lieutenant. "You were caught in the act, with the goods in your possession, and trying to deceive me."

He turned away to order the squad forward. As they marched along the storekeeper said to the Deacon:226

"I'm afraid they've got me dead to rights, old man, but you kin git out. Just keep up your sanctimonious appearance and stick to your Deacon story, and you'll git off. I know you. I've lived in Posey County myself. I'm going to trust you. I've already made a clean big profit on this venture, and I've got it right down in my pocket. In spite of all they've spiled, I'd be nigh $500 ahead o' the game if I could git out o' camp with what I've got in my sock. But they'll probably search me and confiscate my wad for the hospital. You see, I've been through this thing before. I'm goin' to pass my pile over to you to take keer of till I'm through this rumpus. You play fair with me, an' I'll whack up with you fair and square, dollar for dollar. If you don't I'll follow you for years."

"I wouldn't tech a dirty dollar of yours for the world," said the Deacon indignantly; but this was lost on the storekeeper, who was watching the Lieutenant.

"Don't say a word," he whispered; "he's got his eye on us. There it is in your overcoat pocket."

In the meantime they had arrived at the guard house. The Sergeant stepped back, took the store keeper roughly by the shoulders, and shoved him up in front of a tall, magisterial-looking man wearing a Captain's straps, who stood frowning before the door.

"Search him," said the Captain briefly.

The Sergeant went through the storekeeper's pockets with a deftness that bespoke experience. He produced a small amount of money, some of it in fractional currency and Confederate notes, a number227 of papers, a plug of tobacco, and some other articles. He handed these to the Captain, who hastily looked over them, handed back the tobacco and other things and the small change.

"Give these back to him," he said briefly. "Turn the rest of the money over to the hospital fund. Where's our barber? Shave his head, call up the fifers and drummers, and drum him out of camp at once. I haven't time to waste on him."

Before he had done speaking the guards had the storekeeper seated on a log, and were shearing his hair.

"General," shouted the Deacon.

"That's a Cap'n, you fool," said one of the guards.

"Captain, then," yelled the Deacon.

"Who is that man?" said the Captain severely.

"He's his partner," said the Lieutenant.

"Serve him the same way," said the Captain shortly, turning to go.

The Deacon's knees smote together. He, a Deacon of the Baptist Church, and a man of stainless repute at home, to have his head shaved and drummed out of camp. He would rather die at once. The guards had laid hands on him.

"Captain," he yelled again, "it's all a horrible mistake. I had nothin' to do with this man."

"Talk to the Lieutenant, there," said the Captain, moving off. "He will attend to you."

The Lieutenant was attentively watching the barbering operation. "Cut it close closer yet," he admonished the barber.

"Lieutenant! Lieutenant!" pleaded the Deacon, awkwardly saluting.

"Stand back; I'll attend to you next," said the228 Lieutenant impatiently. "Now, tie his hands behind him."

The Lieutenant turned toward the Deacon, and the barber picked up his shears and made a step in that direction. Just in the extremity of his danger the Deacon caught sight of the Captain of Co. Q walking toward Headquarters.

"Capt. McGillicuddy! Capt. McGillicuddy! come here at once! Come quick!" he called in a voice which had been trained to long-distance work on the Wabash bottoms.

Capt. McGillicuddy looked up, recognized the waving of the Deacon's bandanna, and hastened thither. Fortunately he knew the Provost officers; there were explanations all around, and profuse apologies, and just as the fifes and drums struck up the "Rogue's March" behind the luckless storekeeper, who had to step off in front of a line of leveled bayonets, the Deacon walked away arm-in-arm with the Captain.

"I'm not goin' to let go o' you till I'm safe back in our own place," he said. "My gracious! think of havin' my head shaved and marched off the way that feller's bein'."

He walked into the cabin and stirred up the beans.

"The water's biled off," said he to himself, "but they hain't been in nigh as hot a place as I have. I guess the boys'll have to do with a plain dinner to day. I'm not goin' to stir out o' this place agin unless they're with me."

He put his hand into his pocket for his bandanna and felt the roll of bills, which he had altogether forgotten in his excitement.

His face was a study.





CHAPTER XIX. THE DEACON IS TROUBLED

DISPOSES OF THE $500 "WHISKY" MONEY AND GOES OUT FORAGING.

FROM the door of the cabin the Deacon could see the fort on which the boys were piling up endless cubic yards of the red soil of Tennessee. As he watched them, with an occasional glance at the beans seething in the kettle, fond memories rose of a woman far away on the Wabash, who these many years had thought and labored for his comfort in their home, while he labored within her sight on their farm. It was the first time in their long married life that he had been away from her for such a length of time.

"I believe I'm gittin' real homesick to see Mariar," he said with a sigh. "I'd give a good deal for a letter from her. I do hope everything on the farm's all right. I think it is. I'm a little worried about Brown Susy, the mare, but I think she'll pick up as the weather settles. I hope her fool colt, that I've give Si, won't break his leg nor nothin' while I'm away."

Presently he saw the men quit work, and he turned to get ready for the boys. He covered the rough table with newspapers to do duty for a cloth; he had previously scoured up the tinware to its utmost brightness and cleanliness, and while the boys were230 washing off the accumulations of clay, and liberally denouncing the man who invented fort building, and even West Point for educating men to pursue the nefarious art, he dished out the smoking viands.

"Upon my word, Pap," said Si, as he helped him self liberally, "you do beat us cookin' all holler. Your beans taste almost as good as mother's. We must git you to give us some lessons."

"Yes; you're a boss cook," said Shorty, with his mouth full. "Better not let Gen. Rosecrans find out how well you kin bile beans, or he'll have you drafted, and keep you with him till the end o' the war."

After supper they lighted their pipes and seated themselves in front of the fire.

"How'd you git along to-day, Pap," said Si. "I hope you didn't have no trouble."

The Deacon took his pipe out of his mouth, blew a cloud of smoke, and considered a moment before replying. He did not want to recount his experiences, at least, until he had digested them more thoroughly. He was afraid of the joking of the boys, and still more that the story would get back home. Then, he was still sorely perplexed about the disposition of the money. He had not thought that out yet, by a great deal. But the question was plump and direct, and concealment and untruth were alike absolutely foreign to his nature. After a minute's pause he decided to tell the whole story.

"Well, boys," he began with a shamefaced look, "I had the flamboyantest racket to-day I've had yit."

The two boys took their pipes out and regarded him with surprise.231

"Yes," he continued, with a deep sigh, "it laid away over gittin' down here, and my night in the guard-house, even. You see, after you went away I began to think about gittin' up something a little extry for you to eat. I thought about it for awhile, and then recollected seein' a little grocery that'd been set up nigh here in a board shanty."

"Yes, we know about it," said Shorty, exchanging a look with Si.

"Well," continued the Deacon, "I concluded that I'd jest slip over there, and mebbe I could find232 something that'd give variety to your pork and beans. He didn't seem to have much but canned goods, and his prices wuz jest awful. But I wuz de termined to git something, and I finally bought a jug o' genuine Injianny maple molasses, a chunk o' cheese and a can o' peaches. I had to pay $5 for it. He said he had to charge high prices on account o' freight rates, and I remembered that I had some trouble in gittin' things down here, and so I paid him. He wuz very peart and sassy, and it was take-it-or-leave-it-and-be-plaguey- quick-about-it all the time. But I paid my $5, gathered the things up, and started back to the house. I hadn't got more'n 100 rods away when I met one o' these officers with only one o' them things in his shoulder straps."

"A First Lieutenant," interjected Si.

"Yes, they called him a Lieutenant. He spoke very bossy and cross to me, and hit my jug a welt with his sword. He broke it, and what do you suppose was in it?"

Hit My Jug a Welt With his Sword 231

"Whisky," said Si and Shorty simultaneously, with a shout of laughter.

"That's jest what it wuz. I wuz never so mortified in my life. I couldn't say a word. The Lieutenant abused me for being a partner in sellin' whisky to the soldiers me, Josiah Klegg, Patriarch of the Sons o' Temperance, and a Deacon. While I wuz tryin' to tell him he jabbed his sword into the can o' peaches, and what do you suppose was in that?"

"Whisky," yelled Si and Shorty, with another burst of laughter.

"That's jest what it wuz. Then one o' the Lieutenant's men jerked the chunk o' cheese away and283 broke it open. And what do you suppose was in that?"

"Whisky, of course," yelled the boys in uncontrollable mirth.

"That's jest what it was. I wuz so dumfounded that I couldn't say a word. They yanked me around in behind the squad, and told me they'd shave my head and drum me out o' camp. The Lieutenant took his men up to the grocery and tore it down, and ketched the feller that wuz keepin' it. They put him alongside o' me, and tuk us up to the guard house. On the way he whispered to me that they wuz likely to salt him, 'cause they knowed him, but I'd likely git off easy. He'd made $500 clean out o' the business already, and had it in his clothes. He'd pass it over to me to keep till the racket wuz over, when he'd divide fair and square with me. I told him that I'd rather burn my hand off than tech a dirty dollar o' his money, but he dropt it into my overcoat pocket all the same, and I wuz so excited that I clean forgot about it, and brung it away with me. When we got to the guard-house they tuk all the rest of his money away, shaved his head, and drummed him out o' camp."

"Yes, we saw that," answered Si; "but didn't pay no attention to it. They're drummin' some feller out o' camp nearly every day, for something or other."

"I don't see that it does any good," said Shorty. "It'd be a heap better to set 'em to work on the fortifications. That'd take the deviltry out o' 'em."

"When they'd got through with him," continued the Deacon, "they Burned their attention to me. I234 never wuz so scared in all my born days. But luckily, jest in the nick o' time, I ketched sight o' Capt. McGillicuddy, and hollered to him. He come up and explained things, and they let me go, with lots o' apologies. When I got back to the house, I felt for my handkerchief, and found that scalawag's roll o' bills, which I'd clean forgot. Here it is."

'pulled out a Fat Roll of Greenbacks. 235

He pulled out a fat roll of crisp greenbacks. Si took them, thumbed them over admiringly, counted them, and handed them to Shorty, who did the same.

"Yes, there's $500 there," said Si. "What are you goin' to do with it, Pap?"

"That's jest what's worrying the life out o' me," answered his father. "By rights I ought to throw the condemned stuff into the fire, only I hold it a great sin to destroy property of any kind."

"What, burn all that good money up?" said Shorty with a whistle. "You don't live in an insane asylum when you're at home, do you?"

"'Twouldn't be right to burn it, Pap," said Si, who better understood the rigidity of his father's principles. "It'd do a mighty sight o' good somewhere."

"The money don't belong at all to that feller," mused the Deacon. "A man can't have no property in likker. It's wet damnation, hell's broth, to nourish murderers, thieves, and paupers. It is the devil's essence, with which he makes widows and orphans. Every dollar of it is minted with women's tears and children's cries of hunger. That feller got the money by violatin' the law on the one hand and swindling the soldiers on the other, and corruptin' them to their ruin. To give the money back to him would be rewardin' him for his rascality. It'd be like235 givin' a thief his booty, or a burglar his plunder, and make me his pardner."

"You're right there, Pap," assented Si. "You'd jest be settin' him up in business in some other stand. Five hundred dollars'd give him a good start. His hair'll soon grow agin."

"The worst of it," sighed Shorty, "is that it ain't good likker. Otherwise it'd be different. But it's pizener than milk-sick or loco-weed. It's aqua-fortis, fish-berries, tobacco juice and ratsbane. That stuff'd eat a hole in a tin pan."236

"The Captain turned the rest o' his money over to the hospital," continued the Deacon. "I might do that."

"Never do it in the world, Pap," protested Si. "Better burn it up at once. It'd be the next worst thing to givin' it back to him. It'd jest be pamperin' and encouragin' a lot o' galoots that lay around the hospitals to keep out o' fights. None o' the wounded or really sick'd git the benefit of a cent of it. They wuz all sent away weeks ago to Nashville, Louisville, and back home. You jest ought to see that bummer gang. Last week me and Shorty wuz on fatigue duty down by one o' the hospitals. There wuzzent nobody in the hospital but a few 'shell-fever' shirks, who're too lazy to work on the fortifications, and we saw a crowd of civilians and men in uniform set down to a finer dinner than you kin git in any hotel. Shorty wanted to light some shells and roll in amongst 'em, but I knowed that it'd jest make a muss that we'd have to clean up afterward."

"But what am I going to do with it?" asked the Deacon despairingly. "I don't want no money in my hands that don't belong to me, and especially sich money as that, which seems to have a curse to every bill. If we could only find out the men he tuk it from."

"Be about as easy as drivin' a load o' hay back into the field, and fitting each spear o' grass back on the stalk from which it was cut," interjected Shorty.

"Or I might send it anonymously to the Baptist Board o' Missions," continued the Deacon.

"Nice way to treat the little heathens," objected Si. "Send them likker money."237

The Deacon groaned.

"Tell you what we might do, Pap," said Si, as a bright idea struck him. "There's a widder, a Union woman, jest outside the lines, whose house wuz burned down by the rebels. She could build a splendid new house with $100 better'n the one she wuz livin' in before. Send her $100.

"Not a bad idee," said the Deacon approvingly, as he poked the ashes in his pipe with his little finger.

"And, Pap," continued Si, encouraged by the reception of this suggestion, "there's poor Bill Ellerlee, who lost his leg in the fight. He used to drink awful hard, and most of his money went down his throat. He's got a wife and two small children, and they hain't a cent to live on, except what the neighbors gives. Why not put up $200 in an express pack age and send it to him, marked 'from an unknown friend?'"

"Good," accorded the Deacon.

"And Jim Pocock," put in Shorty, seeing the drift. "He's gone home with a bullet through his breast. His folks are pretty poor. Why not send him $100 the same way?"

"Excellent idee," said the father.

"That leaves $100 yit," said Si. "If you care to, you kin divide it between Shorty and me, and we'll use it among the boys that got hurt, and need some thing."

A dubious look came into the Deacon's face.

"You needn't be afeared of us, Pap," said Si, with a little blush. "I kin promise you that we won't use a cent ourselves, but give every bit where it is really needed."238

"I believe you, my son," said the Deacon heartily. "We'll do jest as you say."

They spent the evening carrying their plan into execution.

At the 9 o'clock roll-call the Orderly-Sergeant announced:

"Co. Q to go out with a forage-train to-morrow morning."

This was joyful news a delightful variation from the toil on the fortifications. "Taps" found every body getting his gun and traps ready for an excursion into the country.

"You'd like to go with us, Pap, wouldn't you?" asked Si, as he looked over his cartridge-box to see what it contained.

"Indeed I would," replied the father. "I'll go any where with you rather than spend such another day in camp. You don't think you will see any rebels, do you?" he asked rather nervously.

"Don't know; never kin tell," said Shorty oracularly. "Rebels is anywhere you find 'em. Sometimes they're seldomer than a chaw of terbaker in a Sunday school. You can't find one in a whole County. Then, the first thing you know, they're thicker'n fleas on a dog's back. But we won't likely see no rebels to-morrow. There ain't no great passel o' them this side o' Duck River. Still, we'll take our guns along, jest like a man wears a breast-pin on a dark night, because he's used to it."

"Can't you give me a gun, too? I think it'd be company for me," said the Deacon.

"Certainly," said Si.

The Deacon stowed himself in the wagons with239 the rest the next morning, and rode out with them through the bright sunshine, that gave promise of the soon oncoming of Spring. For miles they jolted over the execrable roads and through the shiftless, run-down country before they found anything worth while putting in the wagons.

"Great country, Pap," said Si suggestively.

"Yes; it'd be a great country," said his father disdainfully, "if you could put a wagonload o' manure on every foot and import some Injianny men to take care of it. The water and the sunshine down here seem all right, but the land and the people and the pigs and stock seem to be cullin's throwed out when they made Injianny."

At length the train halted by a double log house of much more pretentious character than any they had so far seen. There were a couple of well-filled corn-cribs, a large stack of fodder, and other evidences of plenty. The Deacon's practiced eye noticed that there was no stock in the fields, but Si explained this by saying that everything on hoofs had been driven off to supply the rebel army. "They're now trying to git a corn-crib and a fodder-stack with four legs, but hain't succeeded so far."

The Captain ordered the fence thrown down and the wagons driven in to be filled. The surrounding horizon was scanned for signs of rebels, but none appeared anywhere. The landscape was as tranquil, as peace-breathing as a Spring morning on the Wabash, and the Deacon's mind reverted to the condition of things on his farm. It was too wet to plow, but he would like to take a walk over the fields and see how his wheat had come out, and look over the240 peach-buds and ascertain how they had stood the Winter. He noticed how some service-trees had already unfolded their white petals, like flags of truce breaking the long array of green cedars and rusty-brown oaks.

The company stacked arms in the road, the Captain went to direct the filling of the wagons, and Si and Shorty started on a private reconnoissance for something for their larder.

The Deacon strolled around the yard for awhile inspecting the buildings and farm implements with an eye of professional curiosity, and arrived at very unfavorable opinions. He then walked up on the porch of the house, where a woman of about his own age sat in a split-bottom rocking-chair knitting and viewing the proceedings with frowning eyes.

"Good day, ma'am," said he. "Warm day, ma'am."

"'Tain't as warm as it orter to be for sich fellers as yo'uns," she snapped. "You'd better be in the brimstone pit if you had your just deserts."

The Deacon always tried to be good-humored with an angry woman, and he thought he would try the effect of a little pleasantry. "I'm a Baptist, ma'am, and they say us Baptists are tryin' to put out that fire with cold water."

"You a Babtist?" she answered scornfully. "The hot place is full o' jest sich Babtists as yo'uns air, and they're making room for more. We'uns air Babtists ourselves, but, thank the Lord, not o' your kind. Babtists air honest people. Babtists don't go about the country robbin' and murderin' and stealin' folks' corn. Don't tell me you air a Babtist,241 for I know you air a-lyin', and that's the next thing to killin' and stealin'."

"But I am a Baptist," persisted the Deacon, "and have bin for 30 year regular, free-will, close-communion, total-immersion Baptist. We have some Campbellites, a few Six Principle Baptists, and some Hard Shells, but the heft of us air jest plain, straight-out Baptists. But, speakin' o' cold water, kin you give me a drink? I'm powerful dry."

"Thar's water down in the crick, thar," she said, with a motion of her knitting in that direction. "It's as fur for me as it is for you. Go down thar and drink all you like. Lucky you can't carry the crick away with yo'uns. Yo'uns 'd steal it if yo'uns could."

"You don't seem to be in a good humor, ma'am," said the Deacon, maintaining his pleasant demeanor and tone.

"Well, if you think that a passel o' nasty Yankees is kalkerlated to put a lady in a good humor you're even a bigger fool than you look. But I hain't no time to waste jawin' you. If you want a drink thar's the crick. Go and drink your fill of it. I only wish it was a's'nic, to pizen you and your whole army."

She suddenly stopped knitting, and bent her eyes eagerly on an opening in the woods on a hill-top whence the road wound down to the house. The Deacon's eyes followed hers, and he saw unmistakable signs of men in butternut clothes. The woman saw that he noticed them, and her manner changed.

"Come inside the house," she said pleasantly, "and I'll git you a gourdful of water fresh from the spring."242

"Thankee, ma'am; I don't feel a bit dry," answered the Deacon, with his eyes fastened on the hill top. "Si, Shorty, Capt. McGillicuddy," he yelled.

"Shet your head, and come into the house this minit, you nasty Yankee, or I'll slash your fool head off," ordered the woman, picking up a corn-cutter the advantage of his position and ran up to him.

The Deacon was inside the railing around the porch, and he had not jumped a fence for 20 years. But he cleared the railing as neatly as Si could have done it, and ran bareheaded down the road, yelling at the top of his voice.

He was not a minute too soon not soon enough. A full company of rebel cavalry came dashing out of the woods, yelling like demons.

Without waiting to form, the men of Co. Q ran to their guns and began firing from fence-corners and behind trees. Capt. McGillicuddy took the first squad that he came to, and, running forward a little way, made a hasty line and opened fire. Others saw the advantage of his position and ran up to him.

The Deacon snatched up a gun and joined the Captain.

"I never wuz subject to the 'buck fever,'" he muttered to himself, "and I won't allow myself to be now. I remember jest how Gineral Jackson told his men to shoot down to New Orleans. I'm going to salt one o' them fellers as sure as my name's Josiah Klegg."

He took a long breath, to steady himself, as he joined the Captain, picked out a man on a bay horse that seemed to be the rebels' Captain, and caught his breast fully through the hindsight before he243 pulled the trigger. Through the smoke he saw his man tumble from his horse.

"Got him, anyway," he muttered; "now, how in the world kin I load this plaguey gun agin?"

At that instant a rebel bullet bit out a piece of his ear, but he paid no attention to it.

"Gi' me that cartridge," he said to the man next to him, who had just bitten off the end of one; "I can't do it."

The man handed him the cartridge, which the Deacon rammed home, but before he could find a cap the fight was over, and the rebels were seek ing the shelter of the woods.

The Deacon managed to get a cap on his gun in time to take a long-distance, ineffective shot at the rebels as they disappeared in the woods.

They hastily buried one rebel who had been killed, and picked up those who had been wounded and carried them into the house, where they were made as comfortable as possible. Among them was the man whom the Deacon had aimed at. He was found to have a wound through the fleshy part of his hip, and proved to be the son of the woman of the house.

As soon as the fight was over, Si, full of solicitude, sought his father. He found him wiping the blood from his ear with his bandanna.

"It's nothin', son; absolutely nothin'," said the old gentleman with as much pride as any recruit. "Don't hurt as much as a scratch from a briar. Some feller what couldn't write put his mark on me so's he'd know me agin. But I fetched that feller on the bay hoss. I'm glad I didn't kill him, but he'll keep out o' devilment for sometime.





CHAPTER XX. THE DEACON BUTTS IN

ENFORCES THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.

"PAP," said Si, as they were riding back, comfortably seated on a load of corn-fodder, "now that it's all over, I'm awfully scared about you. I can't forgive myself for runnin' you up agin such a scrape. I hadn't no idee that there wuz a rebel in the whole County. If anything had happened you it'd just killed mother and the girls, and then I'd never rested till I got shot myself, for I wouldn't wanted to live a minute."

"Pshaw, my son," responded his father rather testily; "you ain't my guardeen, and I hope it'll be a good many years yit before you are. I'm mighty glad that I went. There was something Providential in it. I'm a good deal of a Quaker. I believe in the movin's of the spirit. The spirit moved me very strongly to go with you, and I now see the purpose in it. If I hadn't, them fellers might've got the bulge on you. I seen them before any o' you did, and I fetched down their head devil, and I feel that I helped you a good deal."

"Indeed you did," said Shorty earnestly. "You ought to have a brevet for your 'conspicuous gallantry in action.' I think the Colonel will give you one. You put an ounce o' lead to particularly good245 use in that feller's karkiss. I only wish it'd bin a little higher up, where it'd a measured him for a wooden overcoat."

"I'm awful glad I hit him jest where I did," responded the Deacon. "I did have his heart covered with my sights, and then I pulled down a little. He was pizen, I know; but I wanted to give him a chance to repent."

"He'll repent a heap," said Shorty incredulously. "He'll lay around the house for the next six months, studyin' up new deviltry, and what he can't think of that secesh mother o' his'll put him up to. Co. Q, and particularly the Hoosier's Rest, is the only place you'll find a contrite heart and a Christian spirit cultivated."

"That reminds me," said Si; "we hain't licked the Wagonmaster yit for throwin' cartridges down our chimbley."

"Blamed if that ain't so," said Shorty. "I knowed I'd forgotten some little thing. It's bin hauntin' my mind for days. I'll jest tie a knot in my handker chief to remember that I must tend to that as soon's we git back."

"I'm quite sure that I don't want another sich a tussle," meditated the Deacon. "I never heerd any thing sound so murderin' wicked as them bullets. A painter's screech on a dark night or a rattler's rattle wuzzent to be compared to 'em. It makes my blood run cold to think o' 'em. Then, if that feller that shot at me had wobbled his gun a little to the left, Josiah Klegg's name would 've bin sculped on a slab o' white marble, and Maria would 've bin the Widder Klegg. I wish the war wuz over, and Si and Shorty246 safe at home. But their giddy young pates are so full o' dumbed nonsense that there hain't no room for scare. But, now that I'm safe through it, I wouldn't 've missed it for the best cow on my place. After all, Providence sends men where they are needed, and He certainly sent me out there.

"Then, I'll have a good story to tell the brethren and sisters some night after prayer meetin's over. It'll completely offset that story 'bout my comin' so near gittin' my head shaved. How the ungodly247 rapscallions would've gloated over Deacon Klegg's havin' his head shaved an' bein' drummed out o' camp. That thing makes me shiver worse'n the whistlin' o' them awful bullets. But they can't say nothin' now. Deacon Klegg's bin a credit to the church."

They were nearing camp. The Captain of Co. Q ordered:

"Corporal Klegg, take your wagon up that right-hand road to the Quartermaster's corral of mules, and bring me a receipt for it."

Si turned the wagon off, and had gone but a few hundred yards, when he and Shorty saw a house at a little distance, which seemed to promise to furnish something eatable. He and Shorty jumped off and cut across the fields toward it, telling the Deacon they would rejoin him before he reached the picket-line, a mile or so ahead.

The Deacon jogged on, musing intently of the stirring events of the day, until he was recalled to the things immediately around him by hearing a loud voice shout:

"Stop, there, you black scoundrel! I've ketched ye. I'm gwine to blow your onery head off."

He looked up and saw a man about his own age, dressed in butternut homespun, and riding a fine horse. He wore a broad-brimmed slouch hat, his clean-shaven face was cold and cruel, and he had leveled a double-barreled shotgun on a fine-looking negro, who had leaped over from the field into the middle of the road, and was standing there regard ing him with a look of intense disappointment and248 fear.

I'm Gwine Ter Kill Ye, Right Here 246

"You devil's ape," continued the white man, with a torrent of profanity, "I've ketched ye jest in the nick o' time. Ye wuz makin' for the Yankee camp, and 'd almost got thar. Ye thought yer 40 acres and a mule wuz jest in sight, did ye? Mebbe ye reckoned y'd git a white wife, and be an officer in the Yankee army. I'm gwine to kill ye, right here, to stop yer deviltry, and skeer off others that air o' the same mind."

"Pray God, don't kill me, massa," begged the negro. "I hain't done nuffin' to be killed foh."

"Hain't done nothin' to be killed for!" shouted the white man, with more oaths. "Do ye call sneakin' off to jine the enemy and settin' an example to the other niggers nothin'? Git down on yer knees and say yer prayers, if ye know any, for ye ain't a minnit to live."

The trembling negro dropped to his knees and be gan mumbling his prayers.

"What's the matter here?" asked the Deacon of the teamster.

"O, some man's ketched his nigger tryin' to run away to our lines, an's goin' to kill him," answered the teamster indifferently.

"Goin' to kill him," gasped the Deacon. "Are we goin' to 'low that?"

"'Tain't none o' my business," said the teamster coolly. "It's his nigger; I reckon he's a right to do as he pleases."

"I don't reckon nothin' o' the kind," said the Deacon indignantly. "I won't stand and see it done."

"Better not mix in," admonished the teamster. "Them air Southerners is pretty savage folks, and249 don't like any meddlin' twixt them and their niggers. What's a nigger, anyway?"

"Amounts to about as much as a white-livered teamster," said the Deacon hotly. "I'm goin' to mix in. I'll not see any man murdered while I'm around. Say, you," to the white man; "what are you goin' ter do with that man?"

"Mind yer own bizniss," replied the white man, after a casual glance at the Deacon, and seeing that he did not wear a uniform. "Keep yer mouth shet if ye know when y're well off."

"O, massa, save me! save me!" said the negro, jumping up and running toward the Deacon, who had slipped down from the fodder, and was standing in the road.

"All right, Sambo; don't be scared. He sha'n't kill you while I'm around," said the Deacon.

"I tell ye agin to mind yer own bizniss and keep yer mouth shet," said the white man savagely. "Who air ye, anyway? One o' them sblinkin' nigger-stealin' Abolitionists, comin' down here to rob us Southerners of our property?"

He followed this with a torrent of profane denunciation of the "whole Abolition crew."

"Look here, Mister," said the Deacon calmly, reaching back into the wagon and drawing out a musket, "I'm a member o' the church and a peaceable man. But I don't 'low no man to call me names, and I object to swearin' of all kinds. I want to argy this question with you, quietly, as between man and man."

He looked down to see if there was a cap on the gun.250

"What's the trouble 'twixt you and this man here?"

"That ain't no man," said the other hotly. "That's my nigger bought with my money. He's my property. I've ketched him tryin' to run away tryin' to rob me of $1,200 worth o' property and give it to our enemies. I'm gwine to kill him to stop others from doin' the same thing."

"Indeed you're not," said the Deacon, putting his thumb on the hammer.

"Do you mean to say you'll stop me?" said the master, starting to raise his shotgun, which he had let fall a little.

"Something like that, if not the exact words," an swered the Deacon calmly, looking at the sights of the musket with an interested air.

The master resumed his volley of epithets.

The Deacon's face became very rigid, and the musket was advanced to a more threatening position. "I told you before," he said, "that I didn't allow no man to call me sich names. I give you warnin' agin. I'm liable to fall from grace, as the Methodists say, any minnit. I'm dumbed sure to if you call me an other name."

The master glared at the musket. It was clearly in hands used to guns, and the face behind it was not that of a man to be fooled with beyond a certain limit. He lowered his shotgun, and spoke sharply to the negro:

"Sam, git 'round here in front of the hoss, and put for home at once."

"Stay where you are, till I finish talkin' to this man," commanded the Deacon. "Are you a loyal man?" he inquired of the master.251

"If ye mean loil to that rail-splittin' gorilla in Washington," replied the master, hotly; "to that low-down, nigger-lovin', nigger-stealin'—"

"Shet right up," said the Deacon, bringing up his gun in a flash of anger. "You sha'n't abuse the President o' the United States any more'n you shall me, nor half so much. He's your President, whom you must honor and respect. I won't have him blackguarded by an unhung rebel. You say yourself you're a rebel. Then you have no right whatever to this man, and I'm goin' to confiscate him in the name o' Abraham Lincoln, President o' the United States, an' accordin' to his proclamation of emancipation, done at Washington, District o' Columbia, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three and of our Independence the 87th.

"Now, you jest turn your hoss around and vacate these parts as quick as you can, and leave me and this colored man alone. We're tired o' havin' you 'round."

The master was a man of sense. He knew that there was nothing to do but obey.





CHAPTER XXI. THE PERPLEXED DEACON

TROUBLED TO KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THE FREEDMAN.

"WHAT is yer a-gwine tub do wid me, mas'r?" asked the negro, with a look and an attitude curiously like a forlorn stray dog which had at last found an owner and protector.

"Wish to gracious I knowed," answered the Deacon, knitting his brows in thought. "I don't know as I've anything to do with you. I've about as much idee what to do with you as I would with a whale in the Wabash River. I'm neither John Brown nor a colonization society. I've about as much use for a nigger, free or slave, as a frog has for a tail. You're free now that's all there is of it. Nobody's got nothin' to do with you. You've got to do with yourself that's all. You're your own master. You go your way and let other folks go theirs."

In the simplicity of his heart the Deacon thought he had covered the whole ground. What more could the man want, who had youth, health and strength, than perfect liberty to go where he pleased and strive for what he wanted?

The negro looked dazed and perplexed.

"Isn't yo' a-gwine tuh take me wid yo', mas'r?" he asked.

"Take you with me!" repeated the Deacon in253 astonishment and some petulance. "Certainly not. I don't want you. And you mustn't call me master. You mustn't call any man master. You're no longer a slave. You're your own master. You're free; don't you understand?"

"But whah'm I tuh go?" reiterated the negro hopelessly.

"Go where you please," repeated the Deacon with impatience. "The whole world's open to you. Go to the next County; go to Kaintucky, Injianny, Ohio, Illinoy, Kamskatky, New Guiney, Jericho, or Polkinhorn's tanyard if you like."

"Afo' God, I don't know what tuh do, or wha tuh go," said the negro despairingly. "If yo' leab me here, I know dat ole mas'r 'll fin' me an' done kill me daid."

"Niggers is like mules," remarked Groundhog savagely. "They only know two places in the whole world: their master's place and somewhere else. They want to run away from their master, but they hain't nary idee whar to go when they run away. A hoss has more sense 'n either a nigger or a mule. When he lights out he's got some idee o' where he wants t' go. I tell you; jest give that nigger to me. I know what to do with him. I know a man that'll give me $100 for him, and I'll whack up fair and square with you."

"Shut up, you mullet-headed mule-whacker," said the Deacon irritably. "You hain't got sense enough to take care o' mules right, let alone a man. I wouldn't trust you an hour with the poorest team on my place. I'll take care o' this man myself, at least, until I kin have a talk with the boys. Here, you nigger, what's your name?"254

"Dey call me Sam, mas'r," replied the negro.

"Well, we'll change that. You're a free man, and I'll give you another name. I'm goin' to call you Abraham—Abraham Lincoln the grandest name in the world to-day. For short I'll call you Abe. You must stop callin' me, or anybody, master, I tell you. You just call be Mister Klegg."

"Mistuh what?" said the negro, puzzled.

"Well, jest call me boss. Now, Abe, climb up into the wagon here, and come along with me."255

"He can't git into no wagon o' mine," said the teamster surlily. "Government wagons ain't no passenger coaches for runaway niggers. I didn't hire to haul niggers on pleasure excursions. That ain't no part of a white man's bizniss. Let him walk alongside."

"You dumbed citizen," said the Deacon angrily. He had been in camp long enough to catch the feeling of the men toward the Quartermaster's civilian employees. "This man shall ride in this wagon along side o' me, and you'll drive us into camp, or I'll find out the reason why. Now jest gether up your lines and start."

"I won't take no slack from no old Wabash hayseed like you," responded the teamster cordially. "You can't boss me. You hain't no right. You can't ring me in to help you steal niggers, unless you divide with me. You come out here in the road and I'll punch that old sorrel-top head o' your'n."

And the teamster pranced out and brandished his blacksnake whip menacingly.

It had been many years since anybody on the Wabash had dared Deacon Klegg to a match in fisticuffs. The memory of some youthful performances of his had secured him respectful immunity. His last affair had been a severe suppression of a noted bully who attempted to "crowd the mourners" at a camp-meeting for the good order of which the Deacon felt himself somewhat responsible. It took the bully six months to get over it, and he went to the mourner's bench himself at the next revival.

The Deacon looked at the gesticulating teamster a minute, and the dormant impulse of his youth256 stirred again within him. He laid his gun down and calmly slid from the fodder to the ground. He pulled off his coat and hat, and laid them on the wagon. He took the quid of tobacco from his mouth, carefully selected a place for it on the edge of the wagon-bed, laid it there on a piece of corn-husk, and walked toward the teamster, rolling up his sleeves.

The effect upon the monarch of the mules was immediate and marked. He stopped prancing around, and began to look alarmed.

"Now, don't you hit me," he yelled. "I'm the driver o' this team, and in Gov'ment employ. If you hit me I'll have you courtmartialed."

Do You Hear? Git on Your Mule at Onct.'

"I'm not goin' to hit you," said the Deacon, raising a fist as big as a small ham, "if you behave yourself. I want you to shut your mouth, and git on your mule and start for camp. If you don't 'tend to your bizness, or give me any more o' your sass, I'll pound the melt out o' you. D' you hear? Git on your mule at onct."



frontispiecee (114K)

The teamster did as he was bid, and drove on till they came up to where the boys were sitting on a fence-corner waiting for them.

Si had a brace of chickens tied together by the feet, and Shorty a crock of honey in the comb, with a bag of saleratus biscuits and one of cornmeal, and a number of strings of dried apples.

"Bin waitin' for you a good while, Pap. What kep' you so long? Break-down?" said Si.

"No; had to stop and argy the fugitive slave law with a Southern gentleman, and then debate niggers' civil rights with the teamster," said the Deacon. Then he told them the story. "Here's the257 darky," he said, as he concluded. "Seems to be a purty fair sort of a farm-hand, if he has sense enough to come in when it rains, which I misdoubt. What are we goin' to do with him?"

"Do with him?" said Shorty. "Do everything with him. Take him into camp first. Hire him out to the Quartermaster. Let him wait on the Captain. Take him back home with you to help on the farm while Si's away. Jehosephat, a big buck like that's a mighty handy thing to have about the house. You kin learn him more tricks in a week than he'd learn with his owner in a lifetime. Say, boy, what's your name?"

"S s-s," the negro began to say, but he caught the Deacon's eye upon him, and responded promptly, "Abr'm Lincoln."

"I believe the nigger kin be taught," thought the Deacon. "Probably this's some more o' Providence's workin's. Mebbe He brung this about jest to give me my share o' the work o' raisin' the fallen race."

"Boys," said he, "I'm glad you've got something good to eat there. Them chickens seem tol'ble young and fat. I hope you came by 'em honestly."

"Well, Pap," chuckled Si, "I don't know as a man who's been runnin' around for another man's nigger, and got him, is jest in shape to ask questions how other men got chickens and things; but I'll relieve your mind by sayin' that we came honestly by 'em."

"Yes; thought it would be interestin' to try that way once, for a change," said Shorty. "Besides, it wuz too near camp for any hornswogglin'. These fellers right around camp are gettin' on to the names258 o' the regiments. They're learnin' to notice 200th Ind. on our caps, and' foller you right into camp, and go up to the Colonel. We're layin' altogether too long in one place. The Army o' the Cumberland oughter move."

"We paid full value, C. O. D.," added Si, "and not in Drake's Plantation Bitters labels nor in busted Kalamazoo bank notes, neither. I think fellers that pass patent-medicine labels and business-college advertisements on these folks for money, oughter to be tied up by the thumbs. It's mean."

"That's what I say, too," added Shorty, with virtuous indignation. "'Specially when you kin git the best kind o' Confederit money from Cincinnati for two cents on the dollar. I always lay in enough o' that to do my tradin' with."

"What's that? What's that?" gasped the Deacon. "Passin' Confederate money that you buy in Cincinnati at two cents on the dollar? Why, that's counterfeitin'."

"That's drawin' it a little too fine," said Shorty argumentatively. "These flabbergasted fools won't take greenbacks. I offered the woman to-day some, and she said she wouldn't be found dead with 'em. She wanted Confedrit money. You may call it counterfeitin', but the whole Southern Confederacy is counterfeit, from its President down to the lowest Corporil. A dollar or two more or less won't make no difference. This feller at Cincinnati has got just as much right to print notes as they have in Richmond."

"He prints 'em on better paper, his pictures are better, and he sells his notes much cheaper, and I259 don't see why I shouldn't buy o' him rather than o' them. I believe in patronizin' home industry."

"Si," said his father, in horrified tones, "I hope you hain't bin passin' none o' the Cincinnati Confederate money on these people."

"I hope not, Pap. But then, you know, I ain't no bank-note detector. I can't tell the Cincinnati kind from the Richmond kind, and I never try very hard. All Confedrt money's alike to me, and I guess in the end it'll be to them. Both kinds say they'll be paid six months after the conclusion of peace be twixt the Confederate States and the United States, and I guess one stands jest as good show as the other. The woman asked me $2 apiece for these chickens, and I paid her in the Confedrit money I happened to have in my pocket. I didn't notice whether it wuz printed in Cincinnati or Richmond. I got it from one o' the boys playin' p——. I mean he paid it to see me." He gave Shorty a furtive kick and whispered: "Come mighty nigh givin' my self away that time."

There was a long hill just before they came in sight of the entrance to the camp, and they got out and helped the mules up. They walked on ahead until they came to the top. The Deacon looked at the entrance, and said:

"I declare, if there isn't that owner o' this nigger waitin' for us."

"That so?" said Si, turning his eyes in that direction. "And he's got some officers with him. There's some officers jest mean enough to help these rebels ketch their niggers. I'd like to knock their addled heads off."260

"Jest wait till we git discharged, Si, and then we kin lick 'em as much as we want to," said Shorty. "But we've got to do somethin' now. They can't see us yit. Deacon, jest take yer nigger and cut down around through the crick there until you come to the picket-line. Then wait. Me and Si'll go on in, and come around and find you."

"All right," assented the Deacon, who was falling into camp ways with remarkable facility. "But you've got to look out for that teamster. He's meaner'n dog-fennel. He'll tell everything."

"Good point," said Si. "We must 'tend to him. See here, Groundhog," he continued, walking back to the teamster; "you don't know nothin' about that old man and nigger that got on your wagon. They slipped off into the woods when you wuzn't lookin', while you wuz busy with your mules, and you don't know whether they went to the right or to the left, up the road or down it."

"Do you s'pose I'm goin' to help steal a nigger, and then lie about it to the officers, for you galoots, and all for nothin'?" said the teamster. "You are blamed fools, that's all I've got to say."

"Look here, Groundhog," said Shorty, coming up close, with a portentious doubled fist. "You know me, and you know Si. You know that either of us can maul the head off you in a minute, whenever we've a mind to, and we're likely any time to have a mind to. We're a durned sight nearer you all the time than any o' the officers, and you can't git away from us, though you may from them. They may buck and gag you, as they ought to, 'bout every day, but that won't be nothin' to the welting one of us 'll261 give you. Now, you tell that story, jest as Si said, and stick to it, or you won't have a whole bone in your carcass by the end o' the week."

When they came up to the entrance there indeed stood the owner of Abraham Lincoln, holding his horse, and by him stood the Lieutenant-Colonel of the 200th Ind., a big, burly man, who had been a drover and an influential politician before he got his commission, and had a high reputation at home as a rough-and-tumble fighter. He had not added to his bellicose fame since entering the field, because for some mysterious reason he had been absent every time the regiment went into a fight, or was likely to. Consequently he was all the more blustering and domineering in camp, in spite of the frequent repressions he got from the modest, quiet little Colonel.

"Old Blowhard Billings is there," said Si. "Now we'll have a gust o' wind."

"Didn't know he was in camp," said Shorty. "I've a notion to bust a cap and scare him back to Nashville agin. Don't let him bluff you, Si, even if he is the Lieutenant-Colonel."

They rode up to the entrance looking as innocent and placid as if bringing in a load from the fields on the Wabash.

"Corporal Klegg," said the Lieutenant-Colonel sternly, "bring out that nigger from the wagon."

"We ain't got no nigger in the wagon, Colonel," said Si, with an expression of surprise.

"Come, now, don't fool with me, sir, or I'll make you very sorry for it. I'm no man to be trifled with, sir. If you ain't got a nigger in the wagon, what 've you done with him."262

"We ain't done nothin' with him, Colonel," persisted Si. "I hain't had nothin' to do with no nigger since we started out this mornin'; hain't spoken to one. Sometimes niggers jump on our wagons, ride a little ways, and then jump off agin. I can't keep track of 'em. I generally make 'em git off when I notice 'em."

"Corporal Klegg, you're lyin' to me," said the Lieutenant-Colonel roughly. "I'll settle with you directly. Groundhog, have you got a nigger in the wagon?"

"No, sir," replied the teamster.

"Didn't you have' one?"

Groundhog looked up and caught Shorty's eye fixed unflinchingly on him.

"I b'lieve that one did git on," he stammered, "but he got off agin d'rectly. I didn't notice much about him. My mules wuz very bothersome all the time. They're the durndest meanest mules that ever a man tried to drive. That there off-swing mule'd—"

"We don't want to hear nothin' about your mules. We'll look in the wagon ourselves."

The search developed nothing. The Lieutenant-Colonel came back to Si, angrier than ever.

"Look here, Klegg, you're foolin' me, an' I won't stand it. I'll have the truth out o' you if I have to kill you. Understand?"

There was a dangerous gleam in Si's and Shorty's eyes, but they kept their lips tightly closed.

"This gentleman here," continued the Lieutenant-Colonel, "says, and I believe his story, against all that you may say, that the men with this wagon, which he's bin watchin' all along, took his nigger263 away from him and drove him off with insults and curses. They threatened his life. He says he can't reckonize either of you, and likely you have disguised yourselves. But he reckonizes the wagon and the teamster, and is willin' to swear to 'em. I know he's tellin' the truth, because I know you fellers. You're impudent and sassy. You've bin among them that's hollered at me. You've bin stealin' other things besides niggers to-day, and have 'em in your possession. You're loaded down with things you've stolen from houses. I won't command a regiment of nigger-thieves. I won't have nigger-thieves in my regiment. If I've got any in my regiment I'll break 'em of it, or I'll break their infernal necks. I believe you fellers got away with that nigger, and I'll tie you up by the thumbs till I get the truth out o' you. Sergeant o' the guard, take charge o' these men, and bring 'em along. Take that stuff that they've stolen away from them and send it to my tent."

Si and Shorty got very white about the mouth, but Si merely said, as they handed their guns to the guard:

"Colonel, you may tie us up till doomsday, but you'll git no help out of us to ketch runaway niggers and put 'em back in slavery."

"Shut up, you scalawag," roared the Lieutenant-Colonel. "If I hear another word out o' you I'll buck-and-gag you."

They marched to Regimental Headquarters and halted, and the Lieutenant-Colonel renewed his browbeating, Si and Shorty continued obstinate, and the Lieutenant-Colonel, getting angrier every minute,264 ordered them tied up by the thumbs. While the Sergeant of the Guard, who was a friend of the boys, and had little heart for the work, was dallying with his preparations, the Colonel himself appeared on the scene.

"Ah, Colonel, you've got back, have you?" said the Lieutenant-Colonel, little pleased at the interruption. "I've just caught two of the men in a little job o' nigger-stealin', and I was about to learn them265 a lesson which will break them of the habit. With your consent I'll go on with the work."

"Nigger-stealing?" said the Colonel quietly. "You mean helping a slave to get away? Did you learn whether the owner was a loyal man?"

"I don't know as that makes any difference," replied 'the Lieutenant-Colonel surlily. "As a matter of fact, I believe he said he had two sons in the rebel army."

'i'll Invite Your Attention to the Emancipation Proclamation 264 '

"Well, Colonel," said the other, "I'll invite your attention to the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, and the orders from the War Department, which prohibit the return of slaves to disloyal owners, and make it the duty of officers and men to assist in their escape. You had better dismiss the men to their quarters."

"If that's the case if I don't resign. I'm no

"Abolitionist. I didn't come into the army to free the niggers."

"I shall take pleasure in forwarding your resignation with a recommendation of its acceptance for the good of the service," said the Colonel calmly.

"Men, go to your quarters."

"Altogether, Pap, I consider this a mighty good day's work," remarked Si that evening after supper, as they sat around the fire smoking, with Abraham Lincoln snoring vigorously on the floor, in his first night's sleep as a free man.





CHAPTER XXII. TRYING TO EDUCATE ABRAHAM LINCOLN

TOO HIGH-PRESSURE SCHOOLING—THE BOYS ON PICKET.

ALL THREE of the men at once became guardians of Abraham Lincoln, and in their several ways heartily interested in his welfare.

The Deacon was fired by the missionary spirit of his kind and class.

"No use talkin' no more about the heathen 'On Greenland's icy mountains,' or any place else," he communed with himself that evening, as he sat and smoked, and occasionally glanced at the ebon face of the sleeper in the corner. "Providence has cut out a job for me, and sent it home. Rather, He sent me where I couldn't help stumblin' upon it, and reckonizin' it. The responsibility to Him is clear. I've got heathen enough to last me for a 'coon's age, to lift that poor, ignorant soul up, and bring it to a knowledge of Christian ways. He's not nice nor purty; never heard of a pagan that wuz. Wouldn't be pagans if they wuz. But he's a man and a brother, and the Bible says that I'm my brother's keeper. I'll keep him agin fifty-'leven o' that old snortin' rebel and Copperhead Blowhard Billings. I wuzzent brung up in the woods to be scared by the hootin' of an owl."

"We might take him along with us, Si," said Shorty, in a low tone, with a nod toward Abraham267 Lincoln. "We could make a bully cook out of him. We could have no end of fun with him. We could learn him lots o' tricks. He's as strong as an ox, and after I'd give him a few lessons in puttin' up his hands, he'd knock out that sassy nigger o' the Colonel's."

"I think so, too," acquiesced Si, with an estimating glance at the sleeper.

Abraham Lincoln's education began bright and early the next morning, when Shorty kicked and shook him into wakefulness at the sound of the reveille.

"Git up; git up," said Shorty. "Wash your hands and face, comb your hair, cut some wood and put it on the fire, and bring a kettle o' water from the spring."

"Wash my hands and face," said the negro, in a dazed way. "Wha' fo'? Don't got nufin on dem. Comb my ha'r? Nebber did dat in my life."

"Well, you've got to do it now every mornin', and be spry about it, too. Come, don't move around as if sawed out o' basswood. This ain't nigger-quarters. Git some springs in your feet."

And he emphasized his injunctions with a vigorous push.

The negro's face looked as if he began to have doubts as to whether freedom was all that had been represented to him. To have to get up early every morning, and wash his face and hands and comb his hair, seemed at the moment to be a high price to pay for liberty.

"Does I hab tuh do dat ebbery mornin', Boss?" he said, turning with a look of plaintive inquiry to the Deacon.268

"Why, certainly," said the Deacon, who had just finished his own ablutions,' and was combing his hair. "Every man must do that to be decent."

Abraham Lincoln gave a deep sigh.

"Washes himself as if he's afraid the water'd scald him," said the Deacon, watching the negro's awkward efforts. "He'll have to take more kindly to water, if he comes into a Baptist total immersion family. There's no salvation except by water, and plenty of it, too. Now," he continued, as the black man had finished, "pick up that ax and cut some wood to get breakfast with."

Abraham Lincoln took the ax, and began belaboring the wood, while the Deacon studied him with a critical eye. There was little that the Deacon prided himself on more than his skill as a wood chopper. People who think the ax is a simple, skill-less tool, dependent for its efficiency solely upon the strength and industry with which it is wielded, make a great mistake. There is as much difference in the way men handle axes, and in the result they produce, as there is in their playing the violin. Anybody can chop, it is true, as anybody can daub with a paint brush, but a real axman of the breed of the Deacon, who had gone into the wilderness with scarcely any other tool than an ax, can produce results with it of which the clumsy hacker can scarcely imagine. The Deacon watched the negro's work with disgust and impatience.

"Hadn't oughter named sich a clumsy pounder as that 'Abraham Lincoln,'" he mused. "Old Abe could handle an ax with the best of 'em. This feller handles it as if it was a handspike. If Si couldn't 've269 used an ax better'n that when he was 10 years old, I'd 'a' felt mortally ashamed o' him. Gracious, what a job I have before me o' makin' a first-class man out o' him."

The Deacon Gives Abe a Lesson in Wood Chopping 269

He took the ax from the negro's hand, and patiently showed him how to hold and strike with it. The man apparently tried his best to learn, but it270 was a perspiring effort for him and the Deacon. The negro presently dropped his ax, sat down on the log, and wiped his forehead with his shirtsleeve.

"'Fore God, Boss, dat's de hardest way ob cuttin' wood dat I ebber seed. Hit'll kill me done daid to chop wood dat a-way."

"Pshaw!" said the impatient Deacon. "You're simply stupid; that's all. That's the only way to handle an ax. You kin cut with half the work that way."

He was discovering what so many of us have found out, that among the hardest things in life is that of getting people to give up clumsy ways for those that are better.

In the meantime the boys had gotten breakfast. Then Shorty, who was dying to train their new acquisition for a winning fight with the Colonel's negro, took him behind the house for a little private instruction in boxing. The field-hand had never even heard of such a thing before, but Shorty was too much in earnest to care for a little thing like that. He went at his task with a will, making the negro double his fists just so, strike in a particular way, make a certain "guard," and hit out scientifically. Shorty was so enthusiastic that he did not stop to think that it was severe labor for the poor negro, and when he had to stop his lesson at the end of half an hour to go on battalion drill he left his pupil in a state of collapse.

Ignorant of the new ordeal through which his charge had been going, the Deacon went out in search of him. He had just finished reading the news in the Cincinnati Commercial, ending with an271 editorial on "Our Duty Toward the Freedmen," which impelled him to think that he could not begin Abraham Lincoln's education too soon.

"Now, Abe," said he briskly, "you've had a good rest, and it's time that you should be doin' some thing. You ought to learn to read as soon as possible, and you might as well begin to learn your letters at once. I'll give you your first lesson. Here are some nice large letters in this newspaper head, that you kin learn very easily. Now, the first one is T. You see it is a cross."

"Afo' de Lawd, Boss," wailed the desperate negro, "I jest can't l'arn no mo', now, nohow. 'Deed I can't. Hit's bin nuffin but l'arn, l'arn, ebbery minnit sense I got up dis mawnin', an' my haid's jest bustin', so hit is. I a'most wisht I wuz back wid my ole mas'r, who didn't want to l'arn me nuffin."

The astonished Deacon paused and reflected.

"Mebbe we've bin tryin' to force this plant too fast. There's danger about puttin' new wine into old bottles. It's not the right way to train anything. The way to break a colt is to hang the bridle on the fence where he kin see and smell it for a day or two. I'll go a little slow with him at first. Would you like something more to eat, Abe?"

"Yes, Boss. 'Deed I would," answered the negro with cheerful promptness, forgetting all about the pangs of the "new birth of freedom."

THE END OF BOOK NO. 2.








SI KLEGG

SI AND SHORTY MEET MR. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY, WHO RELATES HIS ADVENTURES



By John McElroy



BOOK No. 3



PUBLISHED BY

THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE CO.

WASHINGTON, D. C.

SECOND EDITION

COPYRIGHT 1910






THE SIX VOLUMES

  SI KLEGG, Book I, Transformation From a Raw Recruit  
  SI KLEGG, Book II, Through the Stone River Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book III, Meets Mr. Rosenbaum, the Spy  
  SI KLEGG, Book IV, On The Great Tullahoma Campaign  
  SI KLEGG, Book V, Deacon's Adventures At Chattanooga  
  SI KLEGG, Book VI, Enter On The Atlanta Campaign  







Si and Shorty As Mounted Infantry


titlepage (25K)







CONTENTS


SI KLEGG

PREFACE

CHAPTER I. OUT ON PICKET

CHAPTER II. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY

CHAPTER III. THE DEACON GOES HOME

CHAPTER IV. A SPY'S EXPERIENCES

CHAPTER V. THE BOYS GO SPYING

CHAPTER VI. LETTER FROM HOME

CHAPTER VII. CORN PONE AND BUTTERMILK

CHAPTER VIII. A PERIOD OF SELF-DISGUST

CHAPTER IX. SHORTY GETS A LETTER

CHAPTER X. TRADING WITH THE REBS

CHAPTER XI. SHORTY'S CORRESPONDENT

CHAPTER XII. THE BAN ON WET GOODS

CHAPTER XIII. THE JEW SPY WRITES

CHAPTER XIV. SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH SI

CHAPTER XV. SHORTY NEARLY GOT MARRIED

CHAPTER XVI. AN UNEXPECTED MARRIAGE

CHAPTER XVII. GATHERING INFORMATION

CHAPTER XVIII.   THE JEW SPY AGAIN






ILLUSTRATIONS


Si and Shorty As Mounted Infantry

Mr. Klegg Enjoys Solid Comfort. 16

"surrender, There, You Dumbed Rebel." 21

Trying to Save his Neck. 30

"i Know You, Unt What You're Here For." 32

The Negroes Merrymaking. 39

Klegg Starts Home. 45

Shorty Settles With the Banker. 51

Close Call for Rosenbaum. 54

The Spy in Custody. 58

Rosenbaum Runs Into Sigel's Pickets. 66

Watching the House. 75

The Surprise 79

Undesirable Acquaintances. 100

The Spoils of War 105

An Uncomfortable Situation 107

Shorty and si Are at Outs. 110

Si and Shorty As Mounted Infantry 117

Bushrod Prays for his Life 119

The Duel. 139

The Overture for Trade. 144

Si Wants a Fight 147

Shorty Wants to Fight Groundhog 157

Shorty Reading the Letter 160

She Whipped out a Long Knife. 189

Take Your Arm from Around That Yank's Neck 203

Jeff Sat up and Rubbed Himself 208

Old Bragg Used to Walk up Unt Down, Growling Unt Cussing. 259






SI KLEGG

SI AND SHORTY MEET MR. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY, WHO RELATES HIS ADVENTURES

By John McElroy.





PREFACE

"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born years ago in the brain of John McElroy, Editor of The National Tribune.

These sketches are the original ones published in The National Tribune, revised and enlarged somewhat by the author. How true they are to nature every veteran can abundantly testify from his own service. Really, only the name of the regiment was invented. There is no doubt that there were several men of the name of Josiah Klegg in the Union Army, and who did valiant service for the Government. They had experiences akin to, if not identical with, those narrated here, and substantially every man who faithfully and bravely carried a musket in defense of the best Government on earth had sometimes, if not often, experiences of which those of Si Klegg are a strong reminder.

The Publishers.

THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED TO THE RANK AND FILE OF THE GRANDEST ARMY EVER MUSTERED FOR WAR.




CHAPTER I. OUT ON PICKET

THE BOYS SHOW THE DEACON A NEW WRINKLE IN THE CULINARY ART.

SOME days later, Si had charge of a picket-post on the Readyville Pike, near Cripple Deer Creek. The Deacon went with them, at their request, which accorded with his own inclinations, The weather was getting warmer every day, which made him fidgety to get back to his own fields, though Si insisted that they were still under a foot of snow in Indiana. But he had heard so much about picket duty that, next to battle, it was the thing he most wanted to see. Abraham Lincoln was left behind to care for the "house." He had been a disappointment so far, having developed no strong qualities, except for eating and sleeping, of which he could do unlimited quantities.

"No use o' takin' him out on picket," observed Shorty, "unless we kin git a wagon to go along and haul rations for him. I understand now why these rebels are so poor; the niggers eat up everything they kin raise. I'm afraid, Deacon, he'll make the Wabash Valley look sick when you turn him loose in it."

"I guess my farm kin stand him," said the Deacon proudly. "It stood Si when he was a growin' boy, though he used, to strain it sometimes."

They found a comfortable fence-corner facing16 south for their "tent," which they constructed by making a roof of cedar boughs resting on a rail running from one angle to another. They laid more boughs down in the corner, and on this placed their blankets, making a bed which the Deacon pronounced very inviting and comfortable. They built a fire in front, for warmth and for cooking, and so set up housekeeping in a very neat and soldier-like way.

Mr. Klegg Enjoys Solid Comfort. 16

The afternoon passed without special incident. Shorty came in with a couple of chickens, but the17 Deacon had learned enough to repress any questions as to where and how he got them. He soon became more interested in his preparations for cooking them. He had built a big fire in a hole in the ground, and piled a quantity of dry cedar on this. Then he cut off the heads and legs of the chickens, and, getting some mud from the side of the road, proceeded to cover each, feathers and all, with a coating nearly an inch thick.

"What in the world do you mean by that, Shorty?" asked the Deacon in surprise.

"He's all right. Pap," assured Si. "He'll show you a new wrinkle in chicken-fixin' that you kin teach mother when you go home. She knows more about cookin' than any other woman in the world, but I'll bet she's not up to this dodge."

The fire had by this time burned down to a heap of glowing embers. The boys scraped a hole in these, laid on it their two balls of mud, then carefully covered them with live coals and piled on a little more wood.

"I'll say right now," said the Deacon, "that I don't think much o' that way. Why didn't you take their feathers off and clean out their innards? Seems to me that's a nasty way."

"Wait and see," said Shorty sententiously.

Si had mixed some meal into a dough in the half-canteens he and Shorty carried in their haversacks. He spread this out on a piece of sheet-iron, and propped it up before the fire. In a little while it was nicely browned over, when Si removed it from the sheet-iron, turned it over, and browned the other side. He repeated this until he had a sufficiency of18 "hoe cakes" for their supper. A kettle of good, strong coffee had been boiling on the other side of the fire while this was going on. Then they carefully raked the embers off, and rolled out two balls of hard-baked clay. Waiting for these to cool a little, they broke them. The skin and feathers came off with the pieces and revealed deliciously savory, sweet meat, roasted just to a turn. The intestines had shriveled up with the heat into little, hard balls, which were thrown away.

"Yum—yum—yum," said Shorty, tearing one of the chickens in two, and handing a piece to the Deacon, while Si gave him a sweet, crisp hoe cake and a cup of strong coffee. "Now, this's what you might call livin'. Never beat that cookin' in any house that had a roof. Only do that when you've stars in the roof of your kitchen."

"It certainly is splendid," admitted the Deacon. "I don't think Maria could've done better."

It was yet light when they finished their supper, filled their pipes, and adjusted themselves for a comfortable smoke. One of the men came back and said:

"Corporal, there's a rebel on horseback down the road a little ways who seems to be spying on us. We've noticed him for some little time. He don't come up in good range, and we haven't fired at him, hopin' he'd come closer. Better come and take a look at him."

"Don't do anything to scare him off," said Si. "Keep quiet. Me and Shorty'll sneak down through the field, out of sight, and git him."

They picked up their guns and slipped out under19 the cover of the undergrowth to where they could walk along the fence, screened by the heavy thicket of sumach. Catching the excitement of the occasion, the Deacon followed them at a little distance.

Without discovery Si and Shorty made their way to a covert within an easy 50 yards of where the horseman sat rather uneasily on a fine, mettled animal. They got a good look at him. He was a young, slender man, below medium hight, with curly, coalblack hair, short whiskers, a hooked nose, and large, full eyes. He wore a gray suit of rather better make and material than was customary in the rebel army. He had a revolver in his belt and a carbine slung to his saddle, but showed no immediate intention of using either. His right hand rested on his thigh, and his eyes were intently fixed on the distant picket-post.

"A rebel scout," whispered Si. "Shall we knock him over, and then order him to surrender, or halt him first, and then shoot?"

"He can't git away," said Shorty. "I have him kivered. You kivver his hoss's head. Then call him down."

Si drew his sights fine on the horse's head and yelled:

"Surrender, there, you dumbed rebel."

'surrender, There, You Dumbed Rebel.' 21

The man gave a quick start, a swift glance at the blue uniforms, and instantly both hands went up.

"That is all right, boys. Don't shoot. I'm a friend," he called in a strong German accent.

"Climb down off o' that boss, and come here, and do it mighty sudden," called out Si, with his finger still on the trigger.20

The horse became restive at the sound of strange voices, but the man succeeded in dismounting, and taking his reins in his hand, led the horse up to the fence.

"Very glad to see you, boys," said he, surveying their blue garments with undisguised satisfaction, and putting out his other hand to shake.

"Take off that revolver, and hand it here," ordered the wary Shorty, following the man with the muzzle of his gun. The man slipped his arm through the reins, unbuckled his revolver, and handed it to Shorty. Si jumped over the fence and seized the carbine.

"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked Si, starting the man up the road toward the post.

"What rechiment do you belong to?" asked the stranger, warily.

"We belong to Co. Q, 200th Injianny, the best regiment in Gen. Rosecrans's army," answered Si proudly, that the captive might understand where the honor of his taking belonged.

"That is all right," said the stranger, with an air of satisfaction. "The 200th Indianny is a very good regiment. I saw them whip John Morgan's cavalry at Green River. Clumsy farmer boys, but shoot like born devils."

"But who are you, and where did you come from?" repeated Si impatiently.

"I'm all right. I'm Levi Rosenbaum of Gen. Rosecrans's secret service. I got some news for him."

"You have?" said Si suspiciously. "Why didn't you ride right in and tell it to him? What've you21 bin hangin' around here all afternoon, watchin' our post for?"

"I wasn't sure you was there. I was told that the Yankee pickets was going to be pushed out to Cripple Deer Creek to-day, but I didn't know it for sure. I was afraid that the rebels was there yet. Jim Jones, of the secret service, had agreed to come out this afternoon and wave a flag if it was all22 right. I was waiting for his sign. But he is probably drunk. He always gets so when he reaches camp."

The Deacon joined them in the road, and gave a searching glance at the prisoner.

"Ain't you a Jew?" he inquired presently. "Ain't your name Rosenbaum? Didn't you go through Posey County, Ind., a year or two ago, with a wagon, sellin' packs o' cloth to the farmers?"

"I'm an American citizen," said the man proudly, "the same as the rest of you. My religion is Hebrew. I don't know and don't care what your religion is. Every man has the religion that suits him. My name is Rosenbaum. I did sell cloth in Posey County, unt all over Indianny. It was good cloth, too, unt I sold it at a bargain."

"It certainly was good cloth, and cheap," admitted the Deacon. "What in the world are you doin' down here in them clothes?"

"I'm doing just what these men are doing here in their cloze," answered Rosenbaum. "I'm trying to serve the country. I'm doing it different from them, because I'm built different from them. I hope I'm doing it well. But I'm awfully hungry. Got anything to eat? Just a cup of coffee and a cracker? Don't care for any pork."

"Yes, we'll give you something to eat," said Shorty. "I think there's some of our chicken left. You'll find that good."

"How did you cook that?" said Rosenbaum, looking at the tempting morsel suspiciously.

Shorty explained.23

"Thanks; I can't eat it," said Rosenbaum with a sigh. "It ain't kosher."

"What the devil's that?" asked Shorty.

"It's my religion. I can't explain. Send for the Officer of the Guard to take me to Headquarters," answered Rosenbaum, sipping his coffee.





CHAPTER II. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY

THE JEW TELLS THE THRILLING STORY OF HIS ADVENTURE.

THE Officer of the Guard was a long time in coming, and Mr. Rosenbaum grew quite chatty and communicative, as they sat around the bright fire of cedar logs and smoked.

"Yes," he said, "I have been in the secret service ever since the beginning of the war—in fact, before the war, for I began getting news for Frank Blair in the Winter before the war. They say Jews have no patriotism. That's a lie. Why should they have no patriotism for countries where they were treated like dogs? In Germany, where I was born, they treated us worse than dogs. They made us live in a little, nasty, pig-pen of an alley; we had to go in at sundown, unt stay there; we had to wear a different cloze from other folks, unt we didn't dare to say our souls were our own to any dirty loafer that insulted us.

"Here we are treated like men, unt why shouldn't we help to keep the country from breaking up? Jews ought to do more than anybody else, unt I made up my mind from the very first that I was going to do all that I could. The Generals have told me that I could do much better for the country in the secret service than as a soldier; they could get plenty of soldiers unt but few spies."25

"Now you're shoutin'," said Shorty. "They kin git me to soldier as long as the war lasts, for the askin', but I wouldn't be a spy 10 minutes for a corn-basket full o' greenbacks. I have too much regard for my neck. I need it in my business."

"You a spy," said Si derisively. "You couldn't spy for sour apples. Them big feet o' your'n 'd give you dead away to anybody that'd ever seen you before."

"Spyin' isn't the business that any straightfor'rd man,"—the Deacon began to say in tones of cold disapproval, and then he bethought him of courtesy to the stranger, and changed hastily—"that I'd like to do. It's entirely too resky."

"O, it's jest as honorable as anything else. Pap," said Si, divining his father's thought. "All's fair in love and war. We couldn't git along without spies. They're as necessary as muskets and cannon."

"Indeed they are," said Mr. Rosenbaum earnestly; "you wouldn't know what to do with your muskets and cannon if the spies didn't tell you where the rebels were, unt how many there was of them. I go out unt get information that it would cost hundreds of lives to get, unt may save thousands of lives, unt all that it costs is one poor little Jew's neck, when they drop on to him some day, unt leave him swinging from a tree. But when that time comes, I shall make no more complaint than these other poor boys do, who get their heads knockt off in battle. I'm no better than they are. My life belongs to the country the same as theirs, unt this free Government is worth all our lives, unt more, too."

His simple, sincere patriotism touched the Deacon26 deeply. "I'd no idee that there was so much o' the man in a Jew," he said to himself. Then he asked the stranger:

"How did you come to go into the spy business, Mr. Rosenbaum?"

"Well, I was in St. Louis in the Clothing pizniss, unt you know it was purty hot there. All the Germans were for the Union, unt most of the Americans unt Irish seemed to be Secessionists. I sided with the Germans, but as nobody seemed to think that a Jew had any principles or cared for anything but the almighty dollar, everybody talked right out before me, unt by keepin' my ears wide open I got hold of lots of news, which I took straight to General Lyon. I got well acquainted with him, and he used to send me here and there to find out things for him. I'd sell gray uniforms and other things to the Secessionists; they'd talk to one another right before me as to what was being done, and I'd keep my ears wide open all the time, though seemed to be only thinking about the fit and the buttons and the gold lace.

"Then General Lyon wanted to find out just exactly how many men there was in Camp Jackson—no guesswork—no suppose. I took 2,000 of my business cards, printed on white, and 1,000 printed on gray paper. I went through the whole camp. To every man in uniform I give a white card; to every man without a uniform, who seemed to be there for earnest, I give a gray card. When I got back I counted my cards in General Lyon's office, unt found I'd give out 500 white cards unt 200 gray27 ones. Then General Lyon took out about 3,000 men, unt brought the whole crowd back with him."

"Then General Lyon," continued Rosenbaum, "sent me out from Springfield, Mizzouri, to see how many men old Pap Price unt Ben McCullough had gathered up against him from Mizzouri, Arkansaw, Texas unt the plains. Holy Moses, I was scared when I saw the pile of them. The whole world seemed to be out there, yipping unt yelling for Jeff Davis, drinking raw sod-corn whisky, making secession speeches, unt shooting at marks.

"I rode right into them, unt pretended that I was looking for Mexican silver dollars to take to Mexico to buy powder unt lead for the rebel army. I had a lot of new Confedrit notes that I'd got from my cousin, who was in the tobacco business in Memphis. They was great curiosities, unt every man who had a Mexican dollar wanted to trade it for a Confedrit dollar.

"There was no use tryin' to count the men—might as well have tried to count the leaves on the trees, so I begun to count the regiments. I stuck a pin in my right lapel for every Mizzouri regiment, one in my left lapel for every Arkansaw regiment, one in my vest for every one from Texas. I had black pins for the cannons. I was getting along very well, when I run across Bob Smiles, a dirty loafer, who had been a customer in St. Louis. He wouldn't pay me, unt I had to get out a writ unt levy on his clothes just as he was dressing to go to a quadroon ball.

"I left him with only a necktie, which was worth nothing to me, as it had been worn and soiled. He was very sore against me, unt I was not surprised.28

"It made me sick at my stomach when I saw him come up.

"'Hello, you damn Dutch Jew,' he said. 'What are you doing here?'

"I tried to be very pleasant, unt I put out my hand unt said, with my best smile:

"'Good gracious. Bob, how glad I am to see you. When did you get here? Are you well? How are the other boys? Who's here? Where are you stopping?'

"But I might as well have tried to make friends with a bull dog in front of a farm house where all the people had gone away.

"'Go to blazes,' he said. 'None of your bizniss how I am, how I got here, or how the other boys are. Better not let them find out you're here. They'll take it out of your Jew hide for the way you used to skin them in St. Louis. I want to know what the devil you are doing here?'

"'Now, Mister Smiles,' I said, pleasant as a May morning, 'that's not the way to talk to me. You know I got up the stylishest clothes unt the best fits in St. Louis. We had a little trouble, it is true. It was nothing, though. Just a little business dispute. You know I always thought you one of the very nicest men in St. Louis, unt I said so, even to the Squire unt to the Constable.'

"'Go to the devil, you Savior-killing Jew,' said he. 'Shut up your mouth, or I'll stuff a piece of pork in it. I want to know at once what you are doing here? Where did you come from?'

"'I come from Memphis,' said I. 'I'm in the service of the Southern Confedrisy. General Pillow sent29 me to gather up all the Mexican dollars I could find, to send to Mexico to buy ammunition.'

"'It's a lie, of course,' said he. 'A Jew'd rather lie than eat, any day. Then you're one of them St. Louis Dutch—them imported Hessians. They're all dead against us. They all ought to be killed. I ought to kill you myself for being so cussed mean to me.'

"He put his hand on his revolver in a way that made my breakfast sour in my stomach, but then I knew that Bob Smiles was a great blowhard, unt his bark was much worse than his bite. In St. Louis he was always going to fight somebody unt kill somebody, but he never done neither. Quite a crowd gathered around, unt Bob blew off to them, unt they yelled, 'Hang the Jew spy. Kill the damn rascal,' and other things that made me unhappy. But what made my flesh crawl was to see a man who wasn't saying much, go to a wagon, pull out a rope, unt begin making a noose on the end. Bob Smiles caught hold of my collar unt started to drag me toward a tree. Just as I was giving up everything for lost, up comes Jim Jones—the same man I'm going to meet here—he come runnin' up. He was dressed in full uniform as a rebel officer—gray coat unt pants, silver stars on his collar, high boots, gray slouched hat with gold cord, unt so on.

"'Here, what is the matter? What's all this fuss in camp?' he said.

"'We've ketched one of them Dutch Jews from St. Louis spying our camp, Major,' said Bob Smiles, letting loose of my collar to salute the Major's silver stars. 'And we are going to hang him.'30

"'A spy? How do you know he's a spy?'" asked Jim Jones.

"'Well, he's Dutch; he's a Jew, unt he's from St. Louis. What more do you want?'" asked Bob Smiles.

Trying to Save his Neck. 30

The crowd yelled, unt de man with the rope went to the tree unt flung one end over a limb.

"'His being a St. Louis Dutchman is against him,'31 said Jim Jones, 'but his being a Jew is in his favor. A Jew don't care a blame for politics. He hain't got no principles. He'd rather make a picayune off you in a trade than have a wagon-load of principles. But you fellers have got nothing to do with spies, anyway. That's headquarters' bizniss. I'm an officer at General Price's headquarters. I'll take him up there unt examine him. Bring him along.'

"'Go along, Jew,' said two of three of them, giving me kicks, as Bob Smiles started with me. The man with the rope stood by the tree looking very disappointed.

"When we got near General Price's tent, Jim Jones says to the rest:

"'You stop there. Come along with me, Jew.'

"He took me by the collar, unt we walked toward General Price's tent. He whispered to me as we went along: 'You're all right, Rosenbaum. I know you, unt I know what you're here for. Just keep a stiff upper lip, tell your story straight, unt I'll see you through.'

'i Know You, Unt What You're Here For.' 32

"That scared me worse than ever, but all that I could do was to keep up my nerve, unt play my cards coolly. We went into the General's tent, but he was busy, unt motioned us with his hand to the Adjutant-General.

"'What's the matter?' asked the Adjutant-General, motioning me to sit down, while he went on making tally marks on a sheet of paper, as a man called off the regiments that had reported. Then he footed them all up, unt, turning to another officer, read from it so many Arkansaw regiments, so many32 Louisianny, so many Mizzouri, so many Texas, so many batteries of artillery, unt he said to another officer as he laid the paper face down among the other papers on his table: 'Just as I told you, Colonel. We have fully 22,000 men ready for battle.' Then to us: 'Well, what can I do for you?'

"'The boys had picked up this Jew for a spy, Colonel,' said Jim Jones, pointing to me, 'unt they33 were about to hang him, just to pass away the afternoon more than for anything else. I took him away from them, telling them that it was your privilege to hang spies, unt you could do it according to the science of war. I brung him up here to get him away from them. After they're gone away or got interested in something else I'll take him unt put him outside of camp.'

"'All right," said de Adjutant-General, without taking much interest in the matter. 'Do with him as you please. A Jew more or less isn't of any consequence. Probably he deserves hanging, though, but it isn't well to encourage the boys to hang men on sight. They're quite too ready to do that, anyway.'

"He talked to the other man a little, unt then when he went away he turned to me, unt said, sort of lazy like, as if he didn't care anything about it:

"'Where are you from?'

"'From Memphis,' said I.

"'Great place, Memphis,' said he; 'one of the thriving suburbs of Satan's Kingdom. Had lots of fun there. I know every faro bank in it, which speaks well for my memory, if not for my morals. What bizniss was you in?'

"'Clothing,' said I.

"'What a fool question to ask a Jew,' said he, yawning. 'Of course, you was in the clothing trade. You was born in it. All Jews have been since they gambled for the Savior's garments.'

"'They wasn't Jews what gambled for Christ's clothes,' said I, picking up a little courage. 'They vass Romans—Italians—Dagoes.'34

"'Was they?' said he. 'Well, mebbe they was. I haven't read my Bible for so long that I've clean forgot. Say, what are you doing with all them pins?'

"The question come so unexpected that it come nearly knocking me off my base. I had calculated on almost every other possible thing, unt was ready for it, except that fool question. I thought for a minit that disappointed man by the tree with the rope was going to get his job, after all. But I gathered myself together with a jerk, unt calmly said with a smile:

"'O, that's some of my foolishness. I can't get over being a tailor, and sticking all the pins what I find in my lapel. I must pick up every one I see.'

"'Queer where you found them all,' said he. 'Must've brung them from Memphis with you. I can't find one in the whole camp. Our men use nails unt thorns instead of pins. I've been wanting a lot of pins for my papers. Let me have all you got. I wish you had a paper of them.'

"I did have two or three papers in my pockets, unt first had a fool idea of offering them to him. Then I remembered that disappointed man with the rope by the tree, unt pulled the pins out of my lapels one by one unt give them to him, trying to keep count in my head as I did so.

"'What are you doing here, anyway?' he asked as he gathered up the pins unt put them in a pasteboard box.

"'I come here at General Pillow's orders, to pick up some Mexican silfer dollars, to buy ammunition in Mexico.

"'Another of old blowhard Pillow's fool schemes,'35 said he. 'I know old Pillow. I served with him in Mexico, when he dug his ditch on the wrong side of his fortification. He's probably going to do some-thing else with the dollars than buy ammunition. Old Gid Pillow's a mighty slick one, I tell you, when it comes to filling his own pockets. He's no fool there, whatever he may be in other ways. He's working some scheme to skin our men, unt making you his partner, then he'll turn around unt skin you. I'll stop it going any further by turning you out of camp, unt I ought to take away from you all the money you've gathered up, but I won't do it on one condition.'

"'What is your condition?' said I, trying not to speak too quick.

"'You say you are in the clothing pizniss. I want awfully a nice uniform, just like the Major's there. What's such a uniform worth?'

"'About $75,' said I.

"'I paid $65 for this in St. Louis,' said Jim Jones.

"'Well, $10 is not much of a skin for a Memphis Jew,' laughed the Adjutant-General. 'I tell you what I'll do, if you'll swear by the book of Deuteronomy, unt Moses, Abraham unt Isaac, to have me inside of two weeks just such a uniform as the Major's there, I'll let you off with all the money you have made already, unt when you come back with it I'll give you written permission to trade for every silver dollar in camp.'

"'It is a bargain,' said I.

"'Unt it'll be a perfect fit," said he.

"'Just like the paper on the wall,' said I. 'Let me36 take your measure.'

"I had my eye all the time on the paper he had laid carelessly down unt forgotten. I pulled my tapemeasure out. The old idee of the tailor come up. I forgot about the disappointed man with the rope by the tree, unt was my old self taking the measure of a customer. I put all the figures down on his piece of paper, without his noticing what I was using. I asked him about the lining, the trimming, unt the pockets, unt wrote them down. Then I folded up the paper unt stuck it in my breast pocket, unt my heart gave a big thump, though I kept my face straight, unt went on talking about buttons unt silk braid unt gold lace for the sleeves. I promised him he should have the uniform in the army in two weeks' time. Just then some officers come in, unt Jim Jones hurried me out. I could not understand Jim Jones. He hurried me across to a place behind the woods, where we found some horses.

"'Untie that one unt get on quick,' he said. 'My God, you've got the thing dead to rights; you've got everything on that piece of paper. My God, what luck! Smartest thing I ever saw done. Get that paper in General Lyon's hands before midnight if you kill yourself unt horse in doing it. I'll take you out past part of the guards, unt show you how to avoid the rest. Then ride as if the devil was after you, until you reach General Lyon's tent.'

"I was dumfounded. I looked at Jim Jones. His eyes was like fire. Then it suddenly occurred to me that Jim Jones was a spy, too.

"As I mounted I looked back across the camp. I saw the rope still hanging from a limb of the tree,37 and the disappointed man sitting down beside it patiently waiting.

"That night the paper was in General Lyon's hands, unt the next night the army moved out to fight the battle of Wilson's Creek.

"The Adjutant-General is still waiting for that uniform."

"Halt, who comes there?" called out Shorty, whose quick ears caught the sound of approaching footsteps.

"The Officer of the Guard," responded from the bank of darkness in the rear.

"Advance, Officer of the Guard, and give the countersign," commanded Shorty, lowering his musket to a charge bayonets.

The officer advanced, leaned over the bayonet's point, and whispered the countersign.

"Countersign's correct," announced Shorty, bringing his gun to a present. "Good evening. Lieutenant. We have got a man here who claims to belong to the Secret Service."

"Yes," answered the officer. "We've been expecting him all afternoon, but thought he was coming in on the other road. I'd have been around here long ago only for that. This is he, is it? Well, let's hurry in. They want you at Headquarters as soon as possible."

"Good night, boys," called out Mr. Rosenbaum as he disappeared; "see you again soon."

38





CHAPTER III. THE DEACON GOES HOME

SHORTY FALLS A VICTIM TO HIS GAMBLING PROPENSITIES.

THE BOYS did not finish their tour of picket duty till the forenoon of the next day, and it was getting toward evening when they reached their own camp.

"What in the world's going on at the house?" Si asked anxiously, as they were standing on the regimental parade ground waiting to be dismissed. Strange sounds came floating from that direction. The scraping of a fiddle was mingled with yells, the rush of feet, and laughter.

"I'll go over there and see," said the Deacon, who had sat down behind the line on a pile of the things they had brought back with them. He picked up the coffee-pot, the frying-pan, and one of the haversacks, and walked in the direction of the house. As he turned into the company street and came in sight of the cabin he looked for an instant, and then broke out:

"I'm blamed if they don't seem to be havin' a nigger political rally there, with the house as campaign headquarters. Where in time could they have all come from? Looks like a crow-roost, with some o' the crows drunk."

Apparently, all the negro cooks, teamsters, officers' servants, and roustabouts from the adjoining camps39 had been gathered there, with Groundhog, Pilgarlic, and similar specimens of the white teamsters among them and leading them.

The Negroes Merrymaking. 39

Seated on a log were three negroes, one sawing on an old fiddle, one picking a banjo, and one playing the bones. Two negroes were in the center of a ring, dancing, while the others patted "Juba." All were more or less intoxicated. Groundhog and Pilgarlic were endeavoring to get up a fight between Abraham Lincoln and another stalwart, stupid negro, and were plying them with whisky from a canteen and egging them on with words.40

The Deacon strode up to Groundhog and, catching him by the arm, demanded sternly:

"What are you doing, you miserable scoundrel? Stop it at once."

Groundhog, who had drunk considerable himself, and was pot-valiant, shook him off roughly, saying:

"G'way from here, you dumbed citizen. This hain't none o' your bizniss. Go back to your haymow and leave soldiers alone."

The Deacon began divesting himself of his burden to prepare for action, but before he could do so, Shorty rushed in, gave Groundhog a vigorous kick, and he and Si dispersed the rest of the crowd in a hurry with sharp cuffs for all they could reach. The meeting broke up without a motion to adjourn.

The Deacon caught Abraham Lincoln by the collar and shook him vigorously.

"You black rascal," he said, "what've you bin up to?"

"Didn't 'spect you back so soon. Boss," gasped the negro. "Said you wouldn't be back till termorrer."

"No matter when you expected us back," said the Deacon, shaking him still harder, while Si winked meaningly at Shorty. "What d'ye mean by sich capers as this? You've bin a-drinkin' likker, you brute."

"Cel'bratun my freedom," gasped the negro. "Groundhog done tole me to."

"I'd like to celebrate his razzled head offen him," exploded the Deacon. "I'll welt him into dog's meat hash if I kin lay my hands on him. He's too mean and wuthless to even associate with mules. If I'd a41 dog on my place as onery as he is I'd give him a button before night. He's not content with bein' a skunk himself; he wants to drag everybody else down to his level. Learnin' you to drink whisky and fight as soon as you're out o' bondage. Next thing he'll be learnin' you to steal sheep and vote for Vallandigham. I'd like to put a stone around his neck and feed him to the catfish."

There was something so strange and earnest about the Deacon's wrath that it impressed the negro more than any of the most terrible exhibitions of wrath that he had seen his master make. He cowered down, and began crying in a maudlin way and begging:

"Pray God, Boss, don't be so hard on a poor nigger."

Si, who had learned something more of the slave nature than his father, ended the unpleasant scene by giving Abraham Lincoln a sharp slap across the hips with a piece of clapboard and ordering:

"Pick up that camp-kettle, go to the spring and fill it, and git back here in short meter."

The blow came to the negro as a welcome relief. It was something that he could understand. He sprang to his feet, grinned, snatched up the campkettle, and ran to the spring.

"I must get that man away from here without delay," said the Deacon. "The influences here are awful. They'll ruin him. He'll lose his soul if he stays here. I'll start home with him to-morrow."

"He'll do worse'n lose his soul," grumbled Shorty, who had been looking over the provisions. "He'll lose the top of his woolly head if he brings another42 gang o' coons around here to eat us out o' house and home. I'll be gosh durned if I don't believe they've eat up even all the salt and soap. There ain't a crumb left of anything. Talk about losin' his soul. I'd give six bits for something to make him lose his appetite."

"I'll take him home to-morrow," reiterated the Deacon. "I raised over 'leven hundred bushels o' corn last year, 'bout 500 o' wheat, and just an even ton o' pork. I kin feed him awhile, anyway, but I don't know as I'd chance two of him."

"What'll you do if you have him and the grasshoppers the same year, Pap?" inquired Si.

That night the Deacon began his preparations for returning home. He had gathered up many relics from the battlefield to distribute among his friends at home and decorate the family mantlepiece. There were fragments of exploded shells, some canister, a broken bayonet, a smashed musket, a solid 12-pound shot, and a quart or more of battered bullets picked up in his walks over the scenes of the heavy fighting.

"Looks as if you were going into the junk business. Pap," commented Si, as the store was gathered on the floor.

The faithful old striped carpetsack was brought out, and its handles repaired with stout straps. The thrifty Deacon insisted on taking home some of Si's and Shorty's clothes to be mended. The boys protested.

"We don't mend clothes in the army, Pap," said Si. "They ain't wuth it. We just wear 'em out throw 'em away, and draw new ones."

The Deacon held out that his mother and sisters43 would take great pleasure in working on such things, from the feeling that they were helping the war along. Finally the matter was compromised by putting in some socks to be darned and shirts to be mended. Then the bullets, canister, round-shot, fragments of shell, etc., were filled in.

"I declare," said the Deacon dubiously, as he hefted the carpetsack. "It's goin' to be a job to lug that thing back home. Better hire a mule-team. But I'll try it. Mebbe it'll help work some o' the stupidity out o' Abraham Lincoln."

The whole of Co. Q and most of the regiment had grown very fond of the Deacon, and when it was noised around that he was going, they crowded in to say good-by, and give him letters and money to take home. The remaining space in the carpetsack and all that in the Deacon's many pockets were filled with these.

The next morning the company turned out to a man and escorted him to the train, with Si and his father marching arm-in-arm at the head, the company fifers playing,

     "Ain't I glad to get out of the Wilderness,
     Way down in Tennessee,"

and Abraham Lincoln, laden with the striped carpetsack, the smashed musket and other relics, bringing up the rear, under the supervision of Shorty. Tears stood in the old man's eyes as he stood on the platform of the car, and grasped Si's and Shorty's hands in adieu. His brief farewell was characteristic of the strong, self-contained Western44 man:

"Good-by, boys. God bless you. Take care of yourselves. Be good boys. Come home safe after the war."

Klegg Starts Home. 45

The boys stood and watched the train with sorrowful eyes until it had passed out of sight in the woods beyond Overall's Creek, and then turned to go to their camp with a great load of homesickness weighing down their hearts.

"Just think of it; he's going straight back to God's country," said someone near.

A sympathetic sigh went up from all.

"Shet up," said Shorty savagely. "I don't want to hear a word o' that kind. He pulled his hat down over his eyes, rammed his hands deep in his pockets, and strode off, trying to whistle

     "When this cruel war is over,"

but the attempt was a dismal failure. Si separated from the crowd and joined him. They took an unfrequented and roundabout way back to camp.

"I feel all broke up. Si," said Shorty. "I wish that we were goin' into a fight, or something to stir us up."

Si understood his partner's mood, and that it was likely to result in an outbreak of some kind. He tried to get him over to the house, so that he could get him interested in work there.

They came to a little hidden ravine, and found it filled with men playing that most fascinating of all gambling games to the average soldier—chucka-luck. There were a score of groups, each gathered around as45 many "sweat-boards." Some of the men "running" the games were citizens, and some were in uniform. Each had before him a small board on which was sometimes painted, sometimes rudely marked with charcoal, numbers from 1 to 6.

On some of the boards the numbers were indicated by playing-cards, from ace to six-spot, tacked down. The man who "ran" the game had a dice-box, with three dice. He would shake the box, turn it upside46 down on the board, and call upon the group in front of him to make their bets.

The players would deposit their money on the numbers that they fancied, and then, after the inquiry, "All down?" the "banker" would raise the box and reveal the dice. Those who had put their money on any of the three numbers which had turned up, would be paid, while those who bet on the other three would lose.

Chuck-a-luck was strictly prohibited in camp, but it was next to impossible to keep the men from playing it. Citizen gamblers would gain admittance to camp under various pretexts and immediately set up boards in secluded places, and play till they were discovered and run out, by which time they would have made enough to make it an inducement to try again whenever they could find an opportunity. They followed the army incessantly for this purpose, and in the aggregate carried off immense sums of the soldiers' pay. Chuck-a-luck is one of the fairest of gambling games, when fairly played, which it rarely or never is by a professional gambler. A tolerably quick, expert man finds little difficulty in palming the dice before a crowd of careless soldiers so as to transfer the majority of their bets to his pocket. The regular citizen gamblers were reinforced by numbers of insatiable chuck-a-luckers in the ranks, who would set up a "board" at the least chance, even under the enemy's fire, while waiting the order to move.

Chuck-a-luck was Shorty's greatest weakness. He found it as difficult to pass a chuck-a-luck board as an incurable drunkard does to pass a dram-shop.47

Si knew this, and shuddered a little as he saw the "layouts," and tried to get his partner past them. But it was of no use. Shorty was in an intractable mood. He must have a strong distraction. If he could not fight he would gamble.

"I'm goin' to bust this feller's bank before I go another step," said he, stopping before one. "I know him. He's the same feller that, you remember, I busted down before Nashville. I kin do it agin. He's a bum citizen gambler. He thinks he's the smartest chuck-a-lucker in the Army o' the Cumberland, but I'll learn him different."

"Don't risk more'n a dollar," begged Si as a final appeal.

"All down?" called the "banker."

"Allow doublin'?" inquired Shorty.

"Double as much as you blamed please, so long's you put your money down," answered the "banker" defiantly.

"Well, then, here goes a dollar on that five-spot," said Shorty, "skinning" a bill from a considerable roll.

"Don't allow more'n 25 cents bet on single cards, first bet," said the "banker," dismayed by the size of the roll.

"Thought you had some sand," remarked Shorty contemptuously. "Well, then, here's 25 cents on the five-spot, and 25 cents on the deuce," and he placed shin-plasters on the numbers. "Now, throw them dice straight, and no fingerin'. I'm watchin' you."

"Watch and be durned," said the "banker" surlily. "Watch your own business, and I'll watch mine. I'm as honest as you are any day."48

The "banker" lifted the box, and showed two sixes and a tray up. He raked in the bets on the ace, deuce, four and five-spots, and paid the others.

"Fifty cents on the deuce; 50 cents on the five," said Shorty, laying down the fractional currency.

Again they lost.

"A dollar on the deuce; a dollar on the five," said Shorty.

The same ill luck.

"Two dollars on the deuce; two dollars on the five," said Shorty, though Si in vain plucked his sleeve to get him away.

The spots remained obstinately down.

"Four dollars on the deuce; four dollars on the five," said Shorty.

No better luck.

"Eight dollars on the deuce; eight dollars on the five," said Shorty.

"Whew, there goes more'n a month's pay," said the other players, stopping to watch the dice as they rolled out, with the deuce and five-spot down somewhere else than on top. "And his roll's beginning to look as if an elephant had stepped on it. Now we'll see his sand."

"Come, Shorty, you've lost enough. You've lost too much already. Luck's agin you," urged Si. "Come away."

"I ain't goin'," said Shorty, obstinately. "Now's my chance to bust him. Every time them spots don't come up increases the chances that they'll come up next time. They've got to. They're not loaded; I kin tell that by the way they roll. He ain't fingerin' 'em; I stopped that when I made him49 give 'em a rollin' throw, instead o' keep in' 'em kivvered with the box."

"Sixteen dollars on the deuce; sixteen dollars on the five-spot. And I ain't takin' no chances o' your jumpin' the game on me, Mr. Banker. I want you to plank down $32 alongside o' mine."

Shorty laid down his money and put his fists on it. "Now put yours right there."

"O, I've got money enough to pay you. Don't be skeered," sneered the "banker," "and you'll git it if you win it."

"You bet I will," answered Shorty. "And I'm goin' to make sure by havin' it right on the board alongside o' mine. Come down, now."

The proposition met the favor of the other players, and the "banker" was constrained to comply.

"Now," said Shorty, as the money was counted down, "I've jest $20 more that says that I'll win. Put her up alongside."

The "banker" was game. He pulled out a roll and said as he thumbed it over:

"I'll see you $20, and go you $50 better that I win."

Shorty's heart beat a little faster. All his money was up, but there was the $50 which the Deacon had intrusted to him for charitable purposes. He slipped his hand into his bosom, felt it, and looked at Si. Si was not looking at him, but had his eyes fixed on a part of the board where the dice had been swept after the last throw. Shorty resisted the temptation for a moment, and withdrew his hand.

"Come down, now," taunted the "banker." "You've blowed so much about sand. Don't weaken over a50 little thing like $50. I'm a thoroughbred, myself, I am. The man don't live that kin bluff me."

The taunt was too much for Shorty. He ran his hand into his bosom in desperation, pulled out the roll of the Deacon's money, and laid it on the board.

Si had not lifted his eyes. He was wondering why the flies showed such a liking for the part of the board where the dice were lying. Numbers of them had gathered there, apparently eagerly feeding. He was trying to understand it.

He had been thinking of trying a little shy at the four-spot himself, as he had noticed that it had never won, and two or three times he had looked for it before the dice were put in the box, and had seen the "banker" turn it down on the board before picking the dice up. A thought flashed into his mind.

The "banker" picked up the dice with seeming carelessness, dropped them into the box, gave them a little shake, and rolled them out. Two threes and a six came up. The "banker's" face lighted up with triumph, and Shorty's deadened into acute despair.

"I guess that little change is mine," said the "banker" reaching for the pile.

"Hold on a minnit. Mister," said Si, covering the pile with his massive hands. "Shorty, look at them dice. He's got molasses on one side. You kin see there where the flies are eatin' it."

Shorty snatched up the dice, felt them and touched his tongue to one side. "That's so, sure's you're a foot high," said he sententiously.

Just then someone yelled:

"Scatter! Here come the guards!"51

All looked up. A company coming at the doublequick was almost upon them. The "banker" made a final desperate claw for the money, but was met by the heavy fist of Shorty and knocked on his back. Shorty grabbed what money there was on the board, and he and Si made a burst of speed which took them out of reach of the "provos" in a few seconds. Looking back from a safe distance they could see the "bankers" and a lot of the more luckless ones being gathered together to march to the guard-house. "Another detachment of horny-handed laborers for the fortifications," said Shorty grimly, as he52 recovered his breath, watched them, and sent up a yell of triumph and derision. "Another contribution to the charity fund," he continued, looking down at the bunch of bills and fractional currency in his hands.

Shorty Settles With the Banker. 51

"Shorty," said Si earnestly, "promise me solemnly that you'll never bet at chuck-a-luck agin as long as you live."

"Si, don't ask me impossibilities. But I want you to take every cent o' this money and keep it. Don't you ever give me more'n $5 at a time, under any consideration. Don't you do it, if I git down on my knees and ask for it. Lord, how nigh I come to losin' that $50 o' your father's."





CHAPTER IV. A SPY'S EXPERIENCES

MR. ROSENBAUM TELLS THE BOYS MORE OF HIS ADVENTURES.

MR. ROSENBAUM became a frequent visitor to the Hoosier's Rest, and generally greatly interested Si and Shorty with his stories of adventure.

"How did you happen to come into the Army of the Cumberland?" asked Si. "I'd a-thought you'd staid where you knowed the country and the people."

"That was just the trouble," replied Rosenbaum. "I got to know them very well, but they got to know me a confounded sight better. When I was in the clothing pizniss in St. Louis I tried to have everybody know me. I advertised. I wanted to be a great big sunflower that everybody noticed. But when I got to be a spy I wanted to be a modest little violet that hid under the leaves, unt nobody saw. Then every man what knew me become a danger, unt it got so that I shuddered every time that I see a limb running out from a tree, for I didn't know how soon I might be hung from it. I had some awful narrow escapes, I tell you.

"But what decided me to leave the country unt skip over de Mississippi River was something that happened down in the Boston Mountains just before the battle of Pea Ridge. I was down there watching Van Dorn unt Ben McCullough for General Curtis, unt54 was getting along all right. I was still playing the old racket about buying up Mexican silver dollars to buy ammunition. One night I was sitting at a campfire with two or three others, when a crowd of Texans come up. They was just drunk enough to be devilish, unt had a rope with a noose on the end, which I noticed first thing. I had begun to keep a sharp lookout for such things. My flesh creeped when I saw them. I tried to think what had stirred them up all at once, but couldn't for my life recollect, for everything had been going on all right for several days. The man with the rope—a big, ugly brute, with red hair unt one eye—says:

"'You're a Jew, ain't you?'

"'Yes,' says I; 'I was born that way.'

"'Well,' says he, 'we're going to hang you right off.' Unt he put the noose around my neck unt began trying to throw the other end over a limb."

Close Call for Rosenbaum. 54

"'What for?' I yelled, trying to pull the rope off my neck. 'I ain't done nothing.'

"'Hain't eh?' said the man with one eye. 'You hook-nosed Jews crucified our Savior.'

"'Why, you red-headed fool,' said I, catching hold of the rope with both hands, 'that happened more as 1,800 years ago. Let me go.'

"'I don't care if it did,' said the one-eyed man, getting the end of the rope over the limb, 'we didn't hear about it till the Chaplain told us this morning, unt then the boys said we'd kill every Jew we come across. Catch hold of the end here, Bowers.'

"The other fellers around me laughed at the Texans so that they finally agreed to let me go if I'd promise not to do it again, holler for Jeff Davis, unt treat all around. It was a fool thing, but it scared me worse'n anything else, unt I resolved to get out of there unt go where the people read their Bibles unt the newspapers."

"How did you manage to keep Gen. Curtis posted as to the number of rebels in front of him?" asked Si. "You couldn't always be running back and forth from one army to the other."

"O, that was easy enough. You see. General56 Curtis was advancing, unt the rebels falling back most of the time. There was cabins every little ways along the road. All these have great big fireplaces, built of smooth rocks, which they pick up out of the creek unt wherever they can find them.

"I'd go into these houses unt talk with the people unt play with the children. I'd sit by the fire unt pick up a dead coal unt mark on these smooth rocks. Sometimes I'd draw horses unt wagons unt men to amuse the children. Sometimes I'd talk to the old folks about how long they'd been in the country, how many bears unt deers the man had killed, how far it was to the next place, how the roads run, unt so on, unt I'd make marks on the jam of the fireplace to help me understand.

"The next day our scouts would come in unt see the marks unt understand them just as well as if I'd wrote them a letter. I fixed it all up with them before I left camp. I kin draw very well with a piece of charcoal. I'd make pictures of men what would make the children unt old folks open their eyes. Our scouts would understand which one meant Ben McCullough, which one Van Dorn, which one Pap Price, unt so on. Other marks would show which way each one was going unt how many men he hat with him. The rebels never dropt on to it, but they came so close to it once or twice that my hair stood on end."

"That curly mop of yours'd have a time standing on end," ventured Shorty. "I should think it'd twist your neck off tryin' to."

"Well, something gave me a queer feeling about the throat one day when I saw a rebel Colonel stop57 unt look very hard at a long letter which I'd wrote this way on a rock.

"'Who done that?' he asked.

"'This man here,' says the old woman, 'He done it while he was gassing with the old man unt fooling with the children. Lot o' pesky nonsense, marking up de walls dat a-way.'

"'Looks like very systematic nonsense,' said the Colonel very stern unt sour. 'There may be something in it. Did you do this?' said he, turning to me.

"'Yes, sir,' said I, 'I have a bad habit of marking when I'm talking. I always done it, even when I was a child. My mother used to often slap me for spoiling the walls, but she could never break me of it.'

"'Humph,' said he, not at all satisfied with my story, unt looking at the scratches harder than ever. 'Who are you, unt what are you doing here?'

"I told him my story about buying Mexican silver dollars, unt showed him a lot of the dollars I'd bought.

"'Your story ain't reasonable,' said he. 'You haven't done bizniss enough to pay you for all the time you've spent around the army. I'll put you under guard till I can look into your case.'

"He called to the Sergeant of the Guard, unt ordered him to take charge of me. The Sergeant was that same dirty loafer. Bob Smiles, that I had the trouble with by Wilson's Creek. He kicked me unt pounded me, unt put me on my horse, with my hands tied behind me, unt my feet tied under the horse's belly. I was almost dead by night, when we reached Headquarters. They gave me something to58 eat, unt I laid down on the floor of the cabin, wishing I was Pontius Pilate, so that I could crucify every man in the Southern Confedrisy, especially Bob Smiles. An hour or two later I heard Bob Smiles swearing again."

The Spy in Custody. 58

"'Make out the names of all the prisoners I have,' he was saying, 'with where they belong unt the charges against them. I can't. Do they take me for a counter-jumping clerk? I didn't come into the army to be a white-faced bookkeeper, I sprained59 my thumb the other day, unt I can't write even a Httle bit. What am I to do?'

"That was all moonshine about his spraining his thumb. He vas ignorant as a jackass. If he had 40 thumbs he couldn't write even his own name so's anybody could read it.

"'I don't believe these's a man in a mile of here that can make out such a list,' he went on. They're all a set of hominy-eating blockheads. Perhaps that hook-nosed Jew might. He's the man. I'll make him do it, or break his swindling head.'

"He come in, kicked me, unt made me get up, unt then took me out unt set me down at a table, where he had paper, pen unt ink, unt ordered me to take down the names of the prisoners as he brought them up. He'd look over my shoulder as I wrote, as if he was reading what I set down, but I knowed that he couldn't make out a letter. I was tempted to write all sorts of things about him, but I didn't, for I was in enough trouble already. When I come to my own name, he said:

"'Make de charge a spy, a thief, unt a Dutch traitor to the Southern Confedrisy.'

"I just wrote: 'Levi Rosenbaum, Memphis, Tenn. Merchant. No charge.'

"He scowled very wisely at it, unt pretended to read it, unt said:

"'It's lucky for you that you wrote it just as I told you. I'd 'a' broke every bone in your body if you hadn't.'

"I'd just got done when an officer come down from Headquarters for it. He looked it over unt said:

"'Who made this out?'

"'Why, I made it out,' said Bob Smiles, bold as brass.

"'But who wrote it?" said de officer.

"'O, I sprained my thumb, so I couldn't write very well, unt I made a Jew prisoner copy it,' said Bob Smiles.

"'It's the best writing I have seen,' said the officer. 'I want the man what wrote it to go with me to Headquarters at once. I have some copying there to be done at once, unt not one of them corn-crackers that I have up there can write anything fit to read. Bring that man out here unt I will take him with me."

"Bob Smiles hated to let me go, but he couldn't help himself, unt I went with the officer. I was so tired I could hardly move a step, unt I felt I could not write a word. But I seemed to see a chance at Headquarters, unt I determined to make every effort to do something. They gave me a stiff horn of whisky unt set me to work. They wanted me to make out unt copy a consolidated report of the army.

"I almost forgot I was tired when I found out what they wanted, for I saw a chance to get something of great value. They'd been trying to make up a report from all sorts of scraps unt sheets of paper sent in from the different Headquarters, unt they had spoiled a half-dozen big sheets of paper after they'd got them partly done. If I do say it myself, I can write better and faster and figure quicker than most any man you ever saw. Those rebels thought they had got hold of a wonder—a61 lightning calculator unt lightning penman together.

"As fast as I could copy one paper, unt it would prove to be all right, I would fold it up unt stick it into a big yaller envelope. I also folded up the spoiled reports, unt stuck them in the envelope, saying that I wanted to get rid of them—put them where seeing them wouldn't bother me. I carefully slipped the envelope under the edge of a pile of papers near the edge of the table. I had another big yaller envelope that looked just like it lying in the middle of the table, into which I stuck papers that didn't amount to nothing. I was very slick about it, unt didn't let them see that I had two envelopes.

"It was past midnight when I got the consolidated report made out, unt the rebels was tickled to death with it. They'd never seen anything so well done before. They wanted a copy made to keep, unt I said I'd make one, though I was nearly dead for sleep. I really wasn't, for the excitement made me forget all about being tired.

"I was determined, before I slept, to have that yellow envelope, with all those papers, in General Curtis's hands, though he was 40 miles away. How in the world I was going to do it I could not think, but I was going to do it, if I died a trying. The first thing was to get that envelope off the table into my clothes; the next, to get out of that cabin, away from Bob Smiles unt his guards, through the rebel lines, unt over the mountains to General Curtis's camp. It was a dark, windy night, unt things were in confusion about the camp—just the kind of a time when62 anybody might kill a Jew pedler, unt no questions would be asked.

"I had got the last copy finished, unt the officers was going over it. They had their heads together, not 18 inches from me, across the table. I had my fingers on the envelope, but I didn't dare slip it out, though my fingers itched. I was in hopes that they'd turn around, or do something that'd give me a chance.

"Suddenly Bob Smiles opened the door wide, unt walked in, with a dispatch in his hand. The wind swept in, blew the candles out, unt sent de papers flying about the room. Some went into the fire. The officers yelled unt swore at him, unt he shut the door, but I had the envelope in my breast-pocket.

"Then to get away. How in the name of Moses unt the ten commandments was I to do that?

"One of the officers said to Bob Smiles: 'Take this man away unt take good care of him until to-morrow. We'll want him again. Give him a good bed, unt plenty to eat, unt treat him well. We'll need him to-morrow.'

"'Come on, you pork-hating Jew,' said Bob Smiles crabbedly. 'I'll give you a mess of spare-ribs unt corn-dodgers for supper.'

"'You'll do nothing of the kind,' said the officer. 'I told you to treat him well, unt if you don't treat him well, I'll see about it. Give him a bed in that house where de orderlies stay.'

"Bob Smiles grumbled unt swore at me, unt we vent out, but there was nothing to do but to obey orders. He give me a good place, unt some coffee unt bread, unt I lay down pretending to go to sleep.63

"I snored away like a good feller, unt presently I heard some one come in. I looked a little out the corner of my eye, unt see by the light of the fire that Bob Smiles was sneaking back. He watched me for a minute, unt then put his hand on me.

"I was scared as I never was, for I thought he vas after my precious yaller envelope. But I thought of my bowie knife, which I always carried out of sight in my bosom, unt resolved dat I vould stick it in his heart, if he tried to take away my papers. But I never moved. He felt over me until he come to de pocket where I had the silver dollars, unt then slipped his fingers in, unt pulled them out one by one, just as gently as if he vas smoothing the hair of a cat. I let him take them all, without moving a muscle. I was glad to haf him take them. I knowed that he was playing poker somewhere, unt had run out of cash, unt would take my money unt go back to his game.

"As soon as I heard his footsteps disappear in the distance, I got up unt sneaked down to where the Headquarters horses were tied. I must get a fresh one, because my own vas played nearly out. He would never do to carry me over the rough roads I must ride before morning. But when I got there I saw a guard pacing up unt down in front of them. I had not counted on this, unt for a minit my heart stood still. There were no other horses anywheres around.

"I hesitated, looked up at Headquarters, unt saw de lights still burning, unt made up my mind at once to risk everything on one desperate chance. I remembered that I had put in my envelope some64 blank sheets of paper, with Headquarters, Army of the Frontier,' unt a rebel flag on dem. There was a big fire burning ofer to the right mit no one near. I went up in de shadow of a tree, where I could see by the firelight, took out one of the sheets of paper unt wrote on it an order to have a horse saddled for me at once. Then I slipped back so that it would look as if I was coming straight from Headquarters, unt walked up to the guard unt handed him the order. He couldn't read a word, but he recognized the heading on the paper, unt I told him the rest. He thought there was nothing for him to do but obey.

"While he was getting the horse I wrote out, by the fire, a pass for myself through the guards. I was in a hurry, you bet, unt it was all done mighty quick, unt I was on the horse's back unt started. I had lost all direction, but I knowed that I had to go generally to the northeast to get to General Curtis. But I got confused again, unt found I was riding around unt around the camp without getting out at all. I even come up again near the big fire, just where I wrote out the pass.

"Just then what should I hear but Bob Smiles's voice. He had lost all his money—all my money—at poker, unt was damning the fellers he had been playing with as cheats. He was not in a temper to meet, unt I knowed he would see me if I went by the big fire; but I was desperate, unt I stuck the spurs into my horse unt he shot ahead. I heard Bob Smiles yell:

"'There is that Jew. Where is he going? Halt, there! Stop him!'65

"I knowed that if I stopped now I would be hung sure. The only safety was to go as fast as I could. I dashed away, where, I didn't know. Directly a guard halted me, but I showed him my pass, unt he let me go on. While he was looking at it I strained my ears, unt could hear horses galloping my way. I knowed it was Bob Smiles after me. My horse was a good one, unt I determined to get on the main road unt go as fast as I could. I could see by the campfires that I was now getting away from the army, unt I began to hope that I was going north. I kept my horse running.

"Pretty soon the pickets halted me, but I didn't stop to answer them. I just bolted ahead. The chances of their shooting me wasn't as dreadful as of Bob Smiles catching me. They fired at me, but I galloped right through them, unt through a rain of bullets that they sent after me. I felt better then, for I was confident I was out in the open country, but I kept my horse on the run. It seemed to me that I went a hundred miles.

"Just as the day was breaking in the east, I heard a voice, with a strong German accent call out the brush:

"'Halt! Who comes there?'

Rosenbaum Runs Into Sigel's Pickets. 66

"I was so glad that I almost fainted, for I knowed that I'd reached General Sigel's pickets. I couldn't get my lips to answer.

"There came a lot of shots, unt one of them struck my horse in the head, unt he fell in the road, throwing me over his head. The pickets run out unt picked me up. The German language sounded the sweetest I ever heard it.66

"As soon as I could make myself talk, I answered them in German, unt told them who I was. Then they couldn't do enough for me. They helped me back to where they could get an ambulance, in which they sent me to Headquarters, for I was top weak to ride or walk a step. I handed my yellow envelope to General Curtis, got a dram of whisky to keep me up while I answered his questions, unt then went to67 sleep, unt slept through the whole battle of Pea Ridge.

"After the battle, General Curtis wanted to know how much he ought to pay me, but I told him that all I wanted was to serve the country, unt I was already paid many times over, by helping him win a victory.

"But I concluded that there was too much Bob Smiles in that country for me, unt I had better leave for some parts where I was not likely to meet him. So I crossed the Mississippi River, unt joined General Rosecrans's Headquarters."





CHAPTER V. THE BOYS GO SPYING

ON AN EXPEDITION WITH ROSENBAUM THEY MAKE A CAPTURE.

MR. ROSENBAUM'S stories of adventure were not such as to captivate the boys with the career of a spy. But the long stay in camp was getting very tedious, and they longed for something to break the monotony of camp guard and work on the interminable fortifications. Therefore, when Mr. Rosenbaum came over one morning with a proposition to take them out on an expedition, he found them ready to go. He went to Regimental Headquarters, secured a detail for them, and, returning to the Hoosier's Rest, found the boys lugubriously pulling over a pile of homespun garments they had picked up among the teamsters and campfollowers.

"I suppose we've got to wear 'em, Shorty," said Si, looking very disdainfully at a butternut-colored coat and vest. "But I'd heap rather wear a mustard plaster. I'd be a heap comfortabler."

"I ain't myself finicky about clothes," answered Shorty. "I ain't no swell—never was. But somehow I've got a prejudice in favor of blue as a color, and agin gray and brown. I only like gray and brown on a corpse. They make purty grave clothes. I always like to bury a man what has butternut clothes on."69

"What are you doing with them dirty rags, boys?" asked Rosenbaum, in astonishment, as he surveyed the scene.

"Why, we've got to wear 'em, haven't we, if we go out with you?" asked Si.

"You wear them when you go out with me—you disguise yourselves," said Rosenbaum, with fine scorn. "You'd play the devil in disguise. You can't disguise your tongues. That's the worst. Anybody'd catch on to that Indianny lingo first thing. You've got to speak like an educated man—speak like I do—to keep people from finding out where you're from. I speak correct English always. Nobody can tell where I'm from."

The boys had hard work controlling their risibles over Mr. Rosenbaum's self-complacency.

"What clothes are we to wear, then?" asked Si, much puzzled.

"Wear what you please; wear the clothes you have on, or anything else. This is not to be a full-dress affair. Gentlemen can attend in their working clothes if they want to."

"I don't understand," mumbled Si.

"Of course, you don't," said Rosenbaum gaily. "If you did, you would know as much as I do, unt I wouldn't have no advantage."

"All right," said Shorty. "We've decided to go it blind. Go ahead. Fix it up to suit yourself. We are your huckleberries for anything that you kin turn up. It all goes in our $13 a month."

"O. K.," answered Rosenbaum. "That's the right way. Trust me, unt I will bring you out all straight. Now, let me tell you something. When you70 captured me, after a hard struggle, as you remember (and he gave as much of a wink as his prominent Jewish nose would admit), I was an officer on General Roddey's staff. It was, unt still is, my business to keep up express lines by which the rebels are supplied with quinine, medicines, gun-caps, letters, giving information, unt other things. Unt I do it."

The boys opened their eyes wide, and could not restrain an exclamation of surprise.

"Now, hold your horses; don't get excited," said Rosenbaum calmly. "You don't know as much about war as I do—not by a hundred per cent. These things are always done in every war, unt General Rosecrans understands the tricks of war better as any man in the army. He beats them all when it comes to getting information about the enemy. He knows that a dog that fetches must carry, unt that the best way is to let a spy take a little to the enemy, unt bring a good deal back.

"The trouble at the battle of Stone River was that the spies took more to General Bragg than they brought to General Rosecrans. But General Rosecrans was new to the work then. It won't be so in future. He knows a great deal more about the rebels now than they know about him, thanks to such men as me."

"I don't know as we ought to have anything to do with this, Shorty," said Si dubiously. "At least, we ought to inquire of the Colonel first."

"That's all right—that's all right," said Rosenbaum quickly. "I've got the order from the Colonel which will satisfy you. Read it yourself."

He handed the order to Si, who looked carefully71 at the printed heading, "Headquarters, 200th Ind., near Murfreesboro', Tenn.," and then read the order aloud to Shorty: "Corporal Josiah Klegg and one private, whom he may select, will report to Mr. Levi Rosenbaum for special duty, and will obey such orders and instructions as he may give, and on return report to these Headquarters. By order of the Colonel. Philip Blake, Adjutant."

"That seems all straight. Shorty," said Si, folding up the order, and putting it in his pocket.

"Straight as a string," assented Shorty. "I'm ready, anyway. Go ahead, Mr. Cheap Clothing. I don't care much what it is, so long's it ain't shovelin' and diggin' on the fortifications. I'll go down to Tullahoma and pull old Bragg out of his tent rather than handle a pick and shovel any longer."

"Well, as I was going to tell you, I have been back to Tullahoma several times since you captured me, unt I have got the express lines between here unt there running pretty well. I have to tell them all sorts of stories how I got away from the Yankees. Luckily, I have a pretty good imagination, unt can furnish them with first-class narratives.

"But there is one feller on the staff that I'm afraid of. His name is Poke Bolivar, unt he is a terrible feller, I tell you. Always full of fight, unt desperate when he gets into a fight. I've seen him bluff all those other fellers. He is a red-hot Secessionist, unt wants to kill every Yankee in the country. Of late he has seemed very suspicious of me, unt has said lots of things that scared me. I want to settle him, either kill him or take him prisoner, unt keep him away, so's I can feel greater ease when I'm in72 General Bragg's camp. I can't do that so long as I know he's around, for I feel that his eyes are on me, unt that he's hunting some way to trip me up.

"I'm going out now to meet him, at a house about five miles from the lines. I have my pockets unt the pockets on my saddles full of letters unt things. Just outside the lines I will get some more. He will meet me unt we will go back to Tullahoma together—that is, if he don't kill me before we get there. I have brought a couple of revolvers, in addition to your guns, for Poke Bolivar's a terrible feller to fight, unt I want you to make sure of him. I'd take more'n two men out, but I'm afraid he'd get on to so many.

"I guess we two kin handle him," said Shorty, slipping his belt into the holster of the revolver and buckling it on. "Give us a fair show at him, and we don't want no help. I wouldn't mind having it out with Mr. Bolivar all by myself."

"Well, my plan is for you to go out by yourselves to that place where you were on picket. Then take the right-hand road through the creek bottom, as if you were going foraging. About two miles from the creek you will see a big hewed-log house standing on the left of the road. You will know it by its having brick outside chimneys, unt de doors painted blue unt yaller. There's no other house in that country like it.

"You're to keep out of sight as much as you can. Directly you will see me come riding out, follered by a nigger riding another horse. I will go up to the house, jump off, tie my horse, go inside, unt presently come out unt tie a white cloth to73 a post on the porch. That will be a signal to Poke Bolivar, who will be watching from the hill a mile ahead. You will see him come in, get off his horse, unt go into the house.

"By this time it will be dark, or nearly so. You slip up as quietly as you can, right by the house, hiding yourselves behind the lilacs. If the dogs run at you bayonet them. You can look through the windows, unt see me unt Bolivar sitting by the fire talking, unt getting ready to start for Tullahoma as soon as the nigger who is cooking our supper in the kitchen outside gets it ready unt we eat it. You can wait till you see us sit down to eat supper, unt then jump us. Better wait until we are pretty near through supper, for I'll be very hungry, unt want all I can get to keep me up for my long ride.

"You run in unt order us to surrender. I'll jump up unt blaze away with my revolver, but you needn't pay much attention to me—only be careful not to shoot me. While you are 'tending to Bolivar I'll get on my horse unt skip out. You can kill Bolivar, or take him back to camp with you, or do anything that you please, so long's you keep him away from Tullahoma. You understand, now?"

"Perfectly," said Shorty. "I think we can manage it, and it looks like a pretty good arrangement. You are to git away, and we're to git Mr. Bolivar. Those two things are settled. Any change in the evening's program will depend on Mr. Bolivar. If he wants a fight he kin git whole gobs of it."

Going over the plan again, to make sure that the boys understood it, and cautioning them once more as to the sanguinary character of Polk Bolivar,74 Mr. Rosenbaum started for his horse. He had gone but a little ways when he came back with his face full of concern.

"I like you boys better than I can tell you," he said, taking their hands affectionately, "unt I never would forgive myself if you got hurt. Do you think that two of you'll be able to manage Poke Bolivar? If you're not sure I'll get another man to help you. I think that I had better, anyway."

"O, go along with you," said Shorty scornfully. "Don't worry about us and Mr. Bolivar. I'd stack Si Klegg up against any man that ever wore gray, in any sort of a scrimmage he could put up, and I'm a better man than Si. You just favor us with a meeting with Mr. Bolivar, and then git out o' the way. If it wasn't for dividing up fair with my partner here I'd go out by myself and tackle Mr. Bolivar. You carry out your share of the plan, and don't worry about us."

Rosenbaum's countenance brightened, and he hastened to mount and away. The boys shouldered their guns and started out for the long walk. They followed Rosenbaum's directions carefully, and arrived in sight of the house, which they recognized at once, and got into a position from which they could watch its front. Presently they saw Rosenbaum come riding along the road and stop in front of the house. He tied his horse to a scraggy locust tree, went in, and then reappeared and fastened the signal to a post supporting the roof of the porch.

Watching the House. 75

They had not long to wait for the answer. Soon a horseman was seen descending from the distant hill. As he came near he was anxiously scanned,75 and appeared a cavalier so redoubtable as to fully justify Rosenbaum's apprehensions. He was a tall, strongly-built young man, who sat on his spirited horse with easy and complete mastery of him. Even at that distance it could be seen that he was heavily armed.

"Looks like a genuine fighter, and no mistake," said Si, examining the caps on his revolver. "He'll be a stiff one to tackle."76

"We must be very careful not to let him get the drop on us," said Shorty. "He looks quicker'n lightnin', and I've no doubt that he kin shoot like Dan'l Boone. We might drop him from here with our guns," he added suggestively.

"No," said Si, "that wouldn't be fair. And it wouldn't be the way Rosenbaum wants it done. He's got his reasons for the other way. Besides, I'd be a great deal better satisfied in my mind, if I could have it out with him, hand-to-hand. It'd sound so much better in the regiment."

"Guess that's so," assented Shorty. "Well, let's sneak up to the house."

When they got close to the house they saw that it had been deserted; there were no dogs or other domestic animals about, and this allowed them to get under the shade of the lilacs without discovery. The only inmates were Rosenbaum and Bolivar, who were seated before a fire, which Rosenbaum had built in the big fireplace in the main room. The negro was busy cooking supper in the outbuilding which served as a kitchen. The glass was broken out the window, and they could hear the conversation between Rosenbaum and Bolivar.

It appeared that Rosenbaum had been making a report of his recent doings, to which Bolivar listened with a touch of disdain mingled with suspicion.

The negro brought in the supper, and the men ate it sitting by the fire.


077 (80K)

"I declare," said Bolivar, stopping with a piece of bread and meat in one hand and a tin-cup of coffee in the other, "that for a man who is devoted to the77 South you can mix up with these Yankees with less danger to yourself and to them than any man I ever knew. You never get hurt, and you never hurt any of them. That's a queer thing for a soldier. War means hurting people, and getting hurt yourself. It means taking every chance to hurt some of the enemy. I never miss any opportunity of killing a Yankee, no matter what I may be doing, or what the risk is to me. I can't help myself. Whenever I see a Yankee in range I let him have it. I never go near their lines without killing at least78 one."

Shorty's thumb played a little with his gunlock, but Si restrained him with a look.

"Well," said Rosenbaum, "I hates the enemy as badly as any one can, but I always have business more important at the time than killing men. I want to get through with what I have to do, unt let other men do the killing. There's enough gentlemen like you for that work."

"No, there's not enough," said Bolivar savagely. "It's treasonable for you to say so. Our enemies outnumber us everywhere. It is the duty of every true Southern man to kill them off at every chance, like he would rattlesnakes and wolves. You are either not true to the South, or you hain't the right kind of grit. Why, you have told me yourself that you let two Yankees capture you, without firing a shot. Think of it; a Confederate officer captured by two Yankee privates, without firing a shot."

"They had the dead drop on me," murmured Rosenbaum. "If I had moved they'd killed me sure."

"Dead drop on you!" repeated Bolivar scornfully. "Two men with muskets have the dead drop on you! And you had a carbine and a revolver. Why, I have ridden into a nest of 10 or 15 Yankees, who had me covered with their guns. I killed three of them, wounded three others, and run the rest away with my empty revolver. If I'd had another revolver, not one would've got away alive. I always carry two revolvers now."

"I think our guns'll be in the way in that room," said Shorty, sotting his down. His face bore a look of stern determination. "They're too long. I'm itching to have it out with that feller hand-to-hand.79 We'll rush in. You pretend to be goin' for Rosenbaum and leave me to have it out with Mr. Bolivar. Don't you mix in at all. If I don't settle him he ought to be allowed to go."

"No," said Si decisively. "I'm your superior officer, and it's my privilege to have the first shy at him. I'll 'tend to him. I want a chance singlehanded at a man that talks that way. You take care of Rosenbaum."

"We mustn't dispute," said Shorty, stooping down and picking up a couple of straws. "Here, pull. The feller that gits the longest 'tends to Bolivar; the other to Rosenbaum."

Si drew and left the longer straw in Shorty's hand. They drew their revolvers and rushed for the room, Shorty leading, Rosenbaum and Bolivar sprang up in alarm at the sound of their feet on the steps, and drew their revolvers.

"Surrender, you infernal rebels," shouted the boys, as they bolted through the door.

With the quickness of a cat, Rosenbaum had sidled near the door through which they had come. Suddenly he fired two shots into the ceiling, and sprang through the door so quickly that Si had merely the chance to fire a carefully-aimed shot through the top of his hat. Si jumped toward the door again, and fired a shot in the air, for still further make-believe. He would waste no more, but reserve the other four for Bolivar, if he should need them.

Shorty confronted Bolivar with fierce eyes and leveled revolver, eagerly watching every movement and expression. The rebel was holding his pistol pointed upward, and his eyes looked savage. As his eyes met Shorty's the latter was amazed to see him close the left with a most emphatic wink. Seeing this was recognized, the rebel fired two shots into the ceiling, and motioned with his left hand to Si to continue firing. Without quite understanding. Si fired again. The rebel gave a terrific yell and fired a couple of shots out the window.

"Do the same," he said to Shorty, who complied, as Si had done, in half-comprehension. The rebel handed his revolver to Shorty, stepped to the window and listened.

The Surprise 79

There came the sounds of two horses galloping away on the hard, rocky road.

"He's gone, and taken the nigger with him," he said contentedly, turning from the window, and giving another fierce yell. "Better fire the other two shots out of that pistol, to hurry him along."

Shorty fired the remaining shots out of the rebel's revolver.

"What regiment do you belong to, boys?" asked Bolivar calmly.

"The 200th Ind.," answered Si, without being able to control his surprise.

"A very good regiment," said the rebel. "What's your company?"

"Co. Q," answered Si.

"Who's your Colonel?"

"Col. Duckworth."

"Who's your Captain?"

"Capt. McGillicuddy."

"All right," said the rebel, with an air of satisfaction. "I asked those questions to make sure you were genuine Yankees. One can't be too careful in my business. I'm in the United States Secret Service, and have to be constantly on the watch to keep it from being played on me by men pretending to be Yankees when they are rebels, and rebels when they are Yankees. I always make it the first point to ask them the names of their officers. I know almost all the officers in command on both sides."

"You in the Secret Service?" exploded the boys.82

They were on the point of adding "too," but something whispered to them not to betray Rosenbaum.

"Yes," answered Bolivar. "I've just come from Tullahoma, where I've been around Bragg's Headquarters. I wanted to get inside our lines, but I was puzzled how to do it. That Jew you've just run off bothered me. I wish to the Lord you'd killed him. I'm more afraid of him than any other man in Bragg's army. He's smart as a briar, always nosing around where you don't want him, and anxious to do something to commend him to Headquarters, Jew like. I've thought he suspected me, for he'd been paying special attention to me for some weeks. Two or three times I've been on the point of tailing him into the woods somewhere and killing him, and so get rid of him. It's all right now. He'll go back to Tullahoma with a fearful story of the fight I made against you, and that I am probably killed. I'll turn up there in a week or two with my own story, and I'll give him fits for having skipped out and left me to fight you two alone. Say, it's a good ways to camp. Let's start at once, for I want to get to Headquarters as soon as possible."

"You've got another revolver there," said Si, who had prudently reloaded his own weapon.

"That's so," said Bolivar, pulling it out. "You can take and carry it or I'll take the cylinder out, if you are not convinced about me."

"You'd better let me carry it," said Shorty, shoving the revolver in his own belt. "These are queer times, and one can't be too careful with rebels who83 claim to be Yankees, and Yankees who claim to be rebels."

They trudged back to camp, taking turns riding the horse. When the rebel rode, however, one of the boys walked alongside with the bridle in his hand. All doubts as to Bolivar's story were dispelled by his instant recognition by the Provost-Marshal, who happened to be at the picket-post when they reached camp.

"The longer I live," remarked Shorty, as they made their way along to the Hoosier's Rest, "and I seem to live a little longer every day, the less I seem to understand about this war."

Shorty spoke as if he had had an extensive acquaintance with wars.

"The only thing that I've come to be certain about," assented Si, "is that you sometimes most always can't generally tell."

And they proceeded to get themselves some supper, accompanying the work of denunciations of the Commissary for the kind of rations he was drawing for the regiment, and of the Orderly-Sergeant for his letting the other Orderlies eucher him out of the company's fair share.





CHAPTER VI. LETTER FROM HOME

THE DEACON'S TROUBLES IN GETTING HOME WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

ONE MORNING the Orderly-Sergeant handed Si the following letter:

Deer Son: I got hoam safely a weke ago, thanks 2 all-protecting Providens; likewise 2 about 175 pound of tuff & helthy Josiah Klegg. Providens helpt rite along, but it tuk 50-year-old Injianny hickory & whit-leather 2 pull through sum ov the tite plasis.

Abraham Lincoln is as strong as an ox, but I never thought that anything that diddent wear horns or chew the cud could be so measly dumb. He kin eat as much as Buck, our off-steer, & I declare I don't believe he knows any more.

We had only bin on the train long enuff for Abe to finish up the whole of the 3 days rations you provided us with 2 last us home, when I notist that Blowhard Billings was on board. He was still dressed in full uniform, & playin off officer yit, but I happened 2 recolleck that he was no officer no more, & it wuz lucky that I done so. He wuz lookin at me & Abe hard with them mean, fatfish ize ov hizn.

Jest as a matter ov precaushon. I make Abe change seats with me & taik the inside. Billings85 caim up. You know what I thought ov him ov old, & there's never bin any love lost betwixt us sence I stopped him cheatin poor Eli Mitchell outen his plow-team. I told him then that the coppers on a dead nigger's eyes wuzzent saif when he wuz around, & I woulddent trust him ez fur ez I could sling a bull by the tale. He got mad at this & never got over it. I never encouraged him to. I woulddent feel satisfied with myself if he wuzzent mad at me. I coulddent change my opinion, even when he tried to steal into respectability by goin into the army. I knowed he'd do anything but fite, & woulddent've bin supprized any day by hearing that him and the other mules in camp had disappeared together.

Presently Billings he cum up very corjil like & says:

"Howdy, Deacon. I hope you air very well."

I told him I wuz tollable peart, and he says:

"I see a man in the third car forward that wuz inquiring for you, and wanted to see you powerful bad."

"That so?" says I, unconcernedlike.

"Yes," says he. "He wuz awful anxious to see you, and I said I'd send you to him if I cum acrost you."

Somehow, I dropped onto it in a minnit that he wuz schemin' to git me away from Abraham Lincoln—

"Well," says I, "it's about ez fur for me forward to him as it is for him back here to me. I don't know as I want to see him at all. If he wants to see me so bad let him cum back here."86

"I think I'd go forward and see him," said Billings, sort ov impatient-like. "You'll have no trouble finding him. He's in the third car from here, up at the front end, right-hand side, next to the watercooler. He inquired most partickerlerly for you."

"Probably he wants 2 borry money," says I, without stirrin'. "Men that want particularly 2 see me always do. Well, I hain't got none 2 lend—hain't got no more'n 'll talk me hoam."

"You'd better go forward & see him," he said very bossy like, as if he was orderin me.

"I'd better stay right here, & I'm goin' to stay," says I, so decided that Billings see that it was no use.

His patience gave clean away.

"Look here, Klegg," said he, mad as a hornet, "I'm after that ere nigger you're trying to steal away into Injianny, and by the holy poker I'm goin' to have him! Come along here, you black ape," and he laid his hand on Abe Lincoln's collar. Abe showed the white ov his eyes as big as buckeyes, put his arm around the piece betwixt the winders, and held on for deer life. I see by the grip he tuk that the only way 2 git him wuz 2 tear out the side of the car, and I thought I'd let them tussle it out for a minnit or 2.

The others in the car who thought it grate fun to see a Lieutenant-Kurnol wrastlin' with a nigger, laffed and yelled:

"Go it, nigger,"

"Go it, Kurnel,"

"Grab a root,"

"I'l bet on the nigger if the car is stout onuf,"87 and sich. Jest then Groundhog cum runnin' up to help Billings, and reached over and ketched Abe, but I hit him a good biff with the musket that changed his mind. Billings turned on me, and called out to the others:

"Men, I order you to arrest this man and tie him up."

Sum ov them seemed a-mind to obey, but I sung out:

"Feller-citizens, he ain't no officer—no more'n I am. He ain't got no right to wear shoulder-straps, and he knows it as well as I do."

At this they all turned agin him & began yellin at him 2 put his head in a bag. He turned 2 me savage as a meat-ax, but I ketched him by the throat, & bent him back over the seat. The Provo-Guard cum up, & I explained it 2 them, & showed my passes for me & Abe. So they made us all sit down & keep quiet.

Bimeby we got to Nashville. Abe Lincoln wuz hungry, & I stopped 2 git him something to eat. My gracious, the lot ov ham & aigs at 50 cents a plate & sandwiches at 25 cents a piece that contraband kin eat. He never seemed 2 git full. He looked longingly at the pies, but I let him look. I wuzzent runnin no Astor House in connexion with the Freedmen's buro.

We walked through the city, crost on the ferry, & wuz jest gittin in the cars which wuz about ready 2 start, when up comes Billings agin, with 2 or 3 other men in citizen's cloze. One ov these claps his hand on my shoulder & says:

"I'm a Constable, & I arrest you in the name ov88 the State ov Tennessee for abductin a slave. Make no trubble, but come along with me."

I jest shook him off, & clumb onto the platform, pullin Abe after me. The Constable & his men follered us, but I got Abe Lincoln inside the door, shet it & made him put his shoulders agin it. The Constable & his 2 assistants wuz buttin away at it, & me grinnin at them when the train pulled off, & they had 2 jump off. I begin 2 think there wuz something good in Abe Lincoln, after all, & when we stopped at an eatin-plais, about half-way 2 Louisville, & Abe looked at the grub as if he haddent had a mouthful sence the war begun, I busted a $2-bill all 2 pieces gittin' him a little supper. If I wuz goin into the bizniss ov freein slaves I'd want 2 have a mule train haulin grub follering me at every step.

Abe wuz awful hungry agin when we reached Louisville, but I found a place where a dollar would buy him enuf pork & beans 2 probably last him over the river.

But I begun 2 be efeard that sum nosin pryin Mike Medler might make trubble in gitting Abe safely acrost the Ohio. I tuk him 2 a house, & laid it down strong 2 him that he must stay inside all day, and 2 make sure I bargained with the woman 2 keep him eating as much as she could. I ruined a $5 bill, & even then Abe looked as if he could hold some more. I've always made it a pint 2 lend 2 the Lord for the benefit ov the heathen as much as my means would allow, but I begun 2 think that my missionary contribushions this year would beat what I was layin out on my family.89

After it got dark, me & Abe meandered down through the streets 2 the ferry. There wuzzent many people out, except soljers, & I've got 2 feel purty much at home with them. They seem more likely 2 think more nearly my way than folks in every-day clothes.

There wuz quite a passel ov soljers on the wharf boat waitin' for the ferry when we got there. They saw at wuns that I had probably bin down 2 the front 2 see my son, & sum ov them axed me 2 what rigiment he belonged. When I told them the 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry they all made friends with me at wunst, for they said they knowed it wuz a good rigiment.

Bimeby a big, important-lookin' man, with a club with a silver head for a cane, cum elbowin through the crowd & scowling at everybody as if he owned the wharf-boat & all on it. He stopped in frunt ov Abraham Lincoln & says very sharp & cross:

"Boy, where did you come from?"

Abe diddent say nothin'. His ize got all white, he grinned sort ov scared like, showed his white teeth, & looked sickly over at me. I spoke up & says:

"I brung him along with me from Murfreesboro'."

"So I sposed," said he. "He's a slave you're tryin 2 steal from his master. You can't do it. I'll jest take charge ov him myself. That's my dooty here," & he ketched hold ov Abraham Lincoln's collar. Abe, in his scare, put out his arms to ketch hold ov something, & throwed them around the big important man, & lifted him clean offen his feet. I never before realized how strong Abe wuz. The soljers gethered around, purty mad, and then laffin and90 yellin when they see the man in Abe's arms. Suddenly sum one hollered:

"Throw him overboard; throw him in the river." Abe was wuss scared than ever when he found he had the man in his arms. He wuz afeared 2 hold on & still more afeared 2 let go. He heard them hollerin, & thought he had 2 do jest as they said, & begun edgin toward the river.

The man got more scared than Abe. He began kickin & wrigglin & hollerin:

"Don't let him do it. Help me. I can't swim a lick."

At this the men hollered worsen ever:

"Throw him in the river! Duck him! Baptize him! Drown him!"

I'm a Baptist, but I don't believe in immersion onless the convert has bin prepared for it, & is willin, which neither this man wuz. I stepped forward 2 make Abe let him down, but before T could do anything Abe had got 2 the edge of the wharfboat & let go, & plunk went the man into about 10 foot ov water. Abe, scared now nearly 2 death, stood there with his ize biggern sassers & whitern goose-eggs.

In a minnit the man cum up, sputterin & hollerin. A big Sergeant, with his left arm in a sling, reached over & ketchod him by the collar & held his head above water.

"If I pull you out will you promis 2 go out ov the niggor-kotchin bizniss forever?" axed the Sergeant.

"Pull me out & then I'll talk 2 you," says the man grabbin for the slippery sides ov the wharfboat.91

"No, I won't," said the Sergeant, sousin him under water agin.

"Yes, yes, I'll promise," says the man, when he come up agin.

"Will you swear it?" axed the Sergeant.

"Yes, I'll swear it before a Justice ov the Peace."

"Will you swear 2 support the Constitution ov the United States agin all enemies & opposers whatsumever, & vote for Abraham Lincoln every time?" axed the Sergeant.

"I'll take the oath ov allegiance," says the man, sputterin the water out ov his mouth, "but I'll never vote for that Abolition ape as long as I live."

"Then down you go," says the Sergeant, sousin him again.

"Yes, yes, I'll vote for Abe Lincoln, & anybody else, if you'll only pull me out," said the man, in a tired tone of voice, when he cum up agin. I begin 2 see that immersion had a great deal ov good in it, even if a man isn't prepared & willin.

"Will you swear 2 always love a nigger as a man & a brother, until death do you part, & aid & comfort all them who are tryin 2 git away from slavery?" axed the Sergeant.

"Damned if I will," says the man. "No nigger kin ever be a brother 2 me. I'll die first."

"Then you'll die right now," says the Sergeant, sendin him down as far as his long arm would reach & holding him there until I wuz scared for fear he wuz really goin 2 drown the man. When he brung him up the man whimpered:

"Yes, only pull me out—save my life—& I'll do anything you want."92

By this time the ferryboat had cum up. We got aboard & crost over to Injianny, & I felt so glad at bein on my nativ soil wuns more that I took Abe up 2 the eatin stand, & blowed in a dollar filin up the vacant plasis in his hide.

When we tried 2 git on the train there cum another trubble: The conductor woulddent let him ride in the car with white folks—not even in the smokin-car. He made him go into the baggage-car. Abe wuz so scared about leavin me for a minnit in' that strange country that I tried 2 go into the baggage-car with him, but the conductor woulddent let me. He said it wuz agin the rules for passengers to ride in the baggage-cars, but Abe could go in there, same as dogs, prize poultry, & household pets. I tried 2 joke with him, tellin him that in sum plasis I wuz considered a household pet, but he said Ide have 2 git another mug on me before he could believe it.

One of Zeke Biltner's hogs ditched the train jest before we got home, & turned the baggage-car over. Sum crates ov aigs wuz smashed over Abraham Lincoln, & he wuz a sight to behold. He wuz awfully scared, though, & begged me 2 let him go the rest ov the way on foot. He said he wuz a thousand years older than when he left his ole massa, & I could understand what he meant.

I found your mother & the girls bright & chipper & jest tickled 2 death to see me safe back. They axed me so many questions about you & Shorty that my head buzzed like a bee-hive. It is hard 2 git away from them 2 tend 2 my Spring work, but I've made an arrangement 2 giv em an hour mornin93 & evenin 2 answerin questions. I think this will keep me purty busy till the snow flise agin.

Wheat is lookin surprisinly well, though I found sum bare plasis in the north field. I think we'll have a fair crop ov apples and peaches. Your colt is growin up the purtiest thing that ever went on four legs, & jumped an eight-rail fence. My hogs wintered in good shape, & pork is risin. They have the measles over on the Crick, & school's broke up. Bill Scripp's out agin for Sheriff, & I spose I'le have 2 turn 2 agin & beat him. Singler, that he'll never know when he's got enuff.

If anything, Abraham Lincoln's appetite has bin improved by Wabash air. I wuzzent goin 2 have the wimmen folks wear theirselves out cookin for him. So I fix-ed up a place for him in the old log house, & took him over some sides ov meat, a few bushel ov pertaters, a jug ov sorghum molasses, & every time mother bakes she sends over some leaves ov bread. I jest turned him loose there. He seems 2 be very happy, & we hear him singin & yellin most all the time when he's by hisself. He's a good worker when I stand right over him, & he'll lift & dig as patient as an ox. But he hain't no more sense about goin ahead by hisself than a steer has, & the moment my back's turned he stops work. Ime af eared I've got a job on my hands makin a firstclass farmer out ov him. But if that's my share ov the work that Providens has chalked out for me, there's nothin left for me but 2 go ahead & do it in fear & tremblin.

No more from your affeckshionate father.

P. S. Give my best respects 2 Shorty.





CHAPTER VII. CORN PONE AND BUTTERMILK

SI AND SHORTY GO FORAGING AND ARE CAPTURED AND ROBBED

SI AND SHORTY got the common feeling of men of some months' service, that they had fully mastered the art of war, and that there was little, if anything, left for them to learn. It did not take some men even so long as months to acquire this pleasant idea of themselves. Some entered the army feeling quite capable of giving advice to the oldest General in it, and they were not slow about offering their opinions.

Si and Shorty had had successes enough since their enlistment to develop a self-confidence which might be pardoned if it expanded into self-sufficiency and vanity.

The 200th Ind. had been sent out on a reconnoissance toward Shelbyville. No sign of rebels in force developed in any direction, and Si and Shorty got permission to go off on a little scout of their own.

"No use o' huntin' rebels with a brass band," said Si, who, since his association with Mr. Rosenbaum, had gotten some idea that stealth and cunning were efficient war powers. "We kin jest slip around out here somewhere, and if there is any rebels, find 'em, and git more information than the whole regiment kin."

"I'm not so thirsty for information and rebels95 as I am for some fresh buttermilk," said Shorty. "Somehow, I've been hankering for buttermilk and cornpone for days. I hain't had any for a coon's age, and it'd go mighty good as a change from camp rations. Buttermilk and rebels sometimes grow near together. You look for one, I'll look for the other. Mebbe we kin git both."

"I wouldn't mind havin' some buttermilk an' cornpone myself," said Si. "But I'd like much better to drop on some rebels somewhere, and bring 'em into camp, and show that we kin git more information than the whole regiment kin."

"All right," assented Shorty; "ask the Captain to let us go. I'll be bound we'll find something worth goin' for, if it's no more'n a chicken for the Captain's supper. I'd like to take in one for him. He's been mighty good to me and you in several ways, and I'd like to show him that we appreciate it."

As the regiment had gone as far as ordered without discovering anything that in the least threatened the peace in that portion of Tennessee, it would start on its return, after the men had rested and had dinner. Si and Shorty, consequently, had no difficulty in securing the desired permission.

They cut off through a side-road, which gave promise of leading into a better-settled part of the country than that they had been traversing. A mile or so of walking brought them in sight of the substantial chimneys of a farmhouse showing above the trees. A glimpse of a well-fenced field roused warm hopes in Shorty's heart.

"Now, I think we're comin' to a better thing than we've ever struck before," said he, as they stopped96 and surveyed the prospect. "We've got out o' the barren plateaus and into the rich farming country. That's likely a farm jest like they have up in Injianny, and it's way off where they hain't knowed nothin' o' the war. No soljer's ever anigh 'em, and they've jest got lots and plenty o' everything. They've got a great big barnyard full o' chickens and turkeys, pigs and geese and guineas. There, you kin hear the guineas hollerin' now. There's cows layin' in the shade chawin' the cud, while their calves are cavortin' around in the sun, hogs rootin' in the woods-pasture, horses and sheep in the medder, and everything like it is at home. And down a little ways from the house there's a cool springhouse, with clear, cold water wellin' up and ripplin' out over the clean, white sand, with crocks o' fresh milk setting in it with cream half an inch thick, and big jars o' buttermilk from the last churnin', and piggins o' fresh butter, and mebbe a big crock full o' smearkase. Si, do you like smearkase?"

"'Deed I do," answered Si, his mouth watering at the thought. "My goodness, you jest orter eat some o' mother's smearkase. She jest lays over all the women in the country for smearkase. Many's the time I've come in hot and sweatin from the field, and got a thick slice o' bread clear acrost the loaf from one o' the girls, and went down to our spring-house and spread it with fresh butter, and then put a thick layer o' smearkase on top o' that, and then got about a quart o' cool milk, that was half cream, from ono o' the crocks, and then—"

"Shot up, Si," shouted Shorty, desperately. "Do you want me to bang you over the head with my97 musket? Do you s'pose I kin stand everything? But I believe there's jest sich a spring-house down there, and we'll find it plumb-full o' all them sort o' things. Le's mosey on."

"Do you think there's any rebels around here?" said Si, the caution which experience had taught him making a temporary reassertion of itself.

"Naw," said Shorty, contemtpuously, "there ain't no rebel this side o' the Duck River, unless some straggler, who'd run if he saw us. If we ketch sight o' one we'll take him into camp, jest to gratify you. But I ain't lookin' for none. Buttermilk and cornpone's what I want."

The scene was certainly peaceful enough to justify Shorty's confidence. A calmer, quieter landscape could not have been found in the whole country. A negro was plowing in a distant field, with occasional sonorous yells to his team. He did not seem to notice the soldiers, nor did a gray-haired white man who was sitting on the fence superintending him. A couple of negresses were washing the family linen by a fire under a large kettle on the creek bank, at some distance from the house, and spreading the cleansed garments out on the grass to dry and bleach. Cattle and horses were feeding on the fresh Spring grass and sheep browsing on the bushes on the hillside. Hens cackled and roosters crowed; the guineas, ever on the lookout, announced their approach with shrill, crackling notes. Two or three dogs waked up and barked lazily at them as they walked up the path to where an elderly, spectacled woman sat on the porch knitting. She raised98 her eyes and threw her spectacles on top of her head, and looked curiously at them.

Whatever faint misgivings Si might have had vanished at the utter peacefulness of the scene. It was so like the old home that he had left that he could not imagine that war existed anywhere near. It seemed as if the camp at Murfreesboro' and the bloody field of Stone River must be a thousand miles away. The beds of roses and pinks which bordered the walk were the same as decorated the front yard at home. There were the same clumps of snowballs and lilacs at the corners of the house.

"Howdy, gentlemen?" said the woman, as they came up.

It seemed almost a wrong and insult to be carrying deadly arms in the presence of such a woman, and Si and Shorty let their guns slip down, as if they were rather ashamed of them.

"Good day, ma'am," said Shorty, taking off his hat politely and wiping his face. "We're lookin' around to git some cornpone and buttermilk, and didn't know but what you might let us have some. We're willin' to pay for it."

"If you want suthin' to eat," said the woman promptly, "I kin gin it to ye. I never turn no hungry man away from my door. Wait a minnit and I'll bring ye some."

She disappeared inside the house, and Si remarked to Shorty:

"Your head's level this time, as it generally is. We'll git something that's worth while comin' after."

The woman reappeared with a couple of good-size corn-dodgers in her hand.99

"This appears to be all the bread that's left over from dinner," she said. "And the meat's all gone. But the wenches 'll be through their washin' purty soon, and then I'll have them cook ye some more, if ye'll wait."

"Thankee, ma'am," said Shorty; "we can't wait. This'll be a plenty, if we kin only git some buttermilk to go with it. We don't want no meat. We git plenty o' that in camp."

"You can have all the buttermilk you want to drink," she answered, "if you'll go down to the spring-house thar and git it. It's fresh, and you'll find a gourd right beside o' the jar. I'd go with you, but it allers gives me rheumatiz to go nigh the spring-house."

"Don't bother, ma'am, to go with us," said Shorty politely. "We are very much obliged to you, indeed, and we kin make out by ourselves. How much do we owe you?" And he pulled a greenback dollar from his pocket.

"Nothin', nothin' at all," said the woman hastily. "I don't sell vittels. Never thought o' sich a thing. Ye're welcome to all ye kin eat any time."

"Well, take the money, and let us ketch a couple of them chickens there," said Shorty, laying down the bill on the banister rail.

After a little demur the woman finally agreed to this, and picked up the money. The boys selected two fat chickens, ran them down, wrung their necks, and, after repeating their thanks, took their bread and started for the spring-house. They found it the coolest and most inviting place in the world on a hot, tiresome day—just such a spot as Shorty had100 described. It was built of rough stones, and covered with a moss-grown roof. A copious spring poured out a flood of clear, cool water, which flowed over white pebbles and clean-looking sand until it formed a cress-bordered rivulet just beyond the house. In the water sat crocks of fresh milk, a large jar of buttermilk, and buckets of butter. The looks, the cool, pure freshness of the place, were delightful101 contrasts from the tiresome smells and appearances of the camp kitchens. The boys reveled in the change. They forgot all about war's alarms, stood their rifles up against the side of the spring-house, washed their dust-grimed faces and hands in the pure water, dried them with their handkerchiefs, and prepared to enjoy their meal. How good the buttermilk tasted along with the cornpone. The fresh milk was also sampled, and some of the butter spread upon their bread.

Si even went to the point of declaring that it was almost as good as the things he used to eat at home, which was the highest praise he could possibly give to any food. Si never found anywhere victuals or cooking to equal that of his mother.

He was pointing out to Shorty, as they munched, the likenesses and unlikenesses of this spring-house to that on the Wabash, when they were startled by the stern command:

"Surrender, there, you infernal Yankees!"

Undesirable Acquaintances. 100

They looked up with startled eyes to stare into a dozen muskets leveled straight at their heads from the willow thickets. Corn-dodgers and milk-gourds dropped into the water as they impulsively jumped to their feet.

"If yo'uns move we'uns 'll blow the lights outen yo'uns," shouted the leader of the rebels. "Hold up yer hands."

It was a moment of the most intense anguish that either of them had ever known. Their thoughts were lightning-like in rapidity. The rebel muzzles were not a rod away, their aim was true, and it102 would be madness to risk their fire, for it meant certain death.

The slightest move toward resistance was suicide.

Si gave a deep groan, and up went his hands at the same moment with Shorty's.

The rebels rushed out of the clump of willows behind which they had crept up on the boys, and surrounded them. Two snatched up their guns, and the others began pulling off their haversacks and other personal property as their own shares of the booty. In the midst of this, Si looked around, and saw the woman standing near calmly knitting.

"You ain't so afeared o' rheumatism all at once," he said bitterly.

"My rheumatiz has spells, young man, same ez other people's," she answered, pulling one of the needles out, and counting the stitches with it. "Sometimes it is better, and sometimes it is wuss. Jest now it is a great deal better, thankee. I only wisht I could toll the whole Yankee army to destruction ez easy ez you wuz. My, but ye walked right in, like the fly to the spider. I never had nothin' do my rheumatiz so much good."

And she cackled with delight. "When you git through," she continued, addressing the leader of the rebels, "come up to the house, and I'll have some dinner cooked for ye. I know ye're powerful tired an' hungry. I s'pose nothin' need be cooked for them," and she pointed her knitting-needle contemptuously at Si and Shorty. "Ole Satan will be purvidin' fur them. I'll take these along to cook fur ye."103

She gathered up the dead chickens and stalked back to the house.

"Ef we're gwine t' shoot they'uns le's take they'uns over thar on the knoll, whar they'uns won't spile nothin'," said one evil-looking man, who had just ransacked Si's pockets and appropriated everything in them. "Hit'd be too bad t' kill they'uns here right in sight o' the house."

"Le'me see them letters, Bushrod;" said the leader, snatching a package of letters and Annabel's picture out of the other's hand. "Mebbe thar's some news in them that the Captain'd like to have."

Si gnashed his teeth as he saw the cherished missives rudely torn open and scanned, and especially when the ambrotype case was opened and Annabel's features made the subject of coarse comment. The imminent prospect of being murdered had a much lighter pang.

While the letters and ambrotype were being looked over the process of robbery was going on. One had snatched Si's cap, another had pulled off his blouse, and there was a struggle as to who should have possession of his new Government shoes, which were regarded as a great prize. Si had resisted this spoliation, but was caught from behind and held, despite his kicks and struggles, while the shoes were pulled off. Shorty was treated in the same way.

The Spoils of War 105

In a few minutes both, exhausted by their vigorous resistance, were seated on the ground, with nothing left on them but their pantaloons, while their captors were quarreling over the division of their personal effects, and as to what disposition was to be made of them. In the course of the discussion104 the boys learned that they had been captured by a squad of young men from the immediate neighborhood, who had been allowed to go home on furlough, had been gathered together when the regiment appeared, and had been watching every movement from safe coverts. They had seen Si and Shorty leave, and had carefully dogged their steps until such moment as they could pounce on them.

"Smart as we thought we wuz," said Si bitterly, "we played right into their hands. They tracked us down jest as if we'd bin a couple o' rabbits, and ketched us jest when they wanted us."

He gave a groan which Shorty echoed.

Bushrod and two others were for killing the two boys then and there and ending the matter.

"They orter be killed, Ike, right here," said Bushrod to the leader. "They deserve it, and we'uns hain't got no time to fool. We'uns can't take they'uns back with we'uns, ef we wanted to, and I for one don't want to. I'd ez soon have a rattlesnake around me."

But Ike, the leader, was farther-seeing. He represented to the others the vengeance the Yankees would take on the people of the neighborhood if they murdered the soldiers.

This developed another party, who favored taking the prisoners to some distance and killing them there, so as to avoid the contingency that Ike had set forth. Then there were propositions to deliver them over to the guerrilla leaders, to be disposed of as they pleased.

Finally, it occurred to Ike that they were talking entirely too freely before the prisoners, unless they105 intended to kill them outright, for they were giving information in regard to the position and operations of rebel bands that might prove dangerous. He drew his squad off a little distance to continue the discussion. At first they kept their eyes on the prisoners and their guns ready to fire, but as they talked they lost their watchful attitude in the eagerness of making their points.

Si looked at Shorty, and caught an answering gleam. Like a flash both were on their feet and started on a mad rush for the fence. Bushrod saw106 them start, and fired. His bullet cut off a lock of Si's auburn hair. Others fired as fast as they could bring their guns up, and the bullets sang viciously around, but none touched the fugitives. Their bare feet were torn by the briars as they ran, but they thought not of these. They plunged into the blackberry briars along the fence, climbed it, and gained the road some distance ahead of their pursuers, who were not impelled by the fear of immediate death to spur them on. Up the road went Si and Shorty with all the speed that will-power could infuse into their legs. Some of the rebels stopped to reload; the others ran after. A score of noisy dogs suddenly waked up and joined in the pursuit. The old white man mounted his horse and came galloping toward the house.

On the boys ran, gaining, if anything, upon the foremost of the rebels. The dogs came nearer, but before they could do any harm the boys halted for an instant and poured such a volley of stones into them that they ran back lamed and yelping. The fleetest-footed of the rebels, who was the sanguinary Bushrod, also came within a stone's throw, and received a well-aimed bowlder from Si's muscular hand full in his face. This cheered the boys so that they ran ahead with increased speed, and finally gained the top of the hill from which they had first seen the farmhouse.

They looked back and saw their enemies still after them. Ike had taken the old man's horse and was coming on a gallop. They knew he had a revolver, and shivered at the thought. But both stooped and selected the best stones to throw, to attack him with107 as soon as he came within range. They halted a minute to get their breath and nerve for the good effort. Ike had reached a steep, difficult part of the road, where his horse had to come down to a walk and pick his way.

An Uncomfortable Situation 107

"Now, Si," said Shorty, "throw for your life, if you never did before. I'm goin' to git him. You take his horse's head. Aim for that white blaze in his forehead."

Si concentrated his energy into one supreme effort.108

He could always beat the rest of the boys in throwing stones, and now his practice was to save him. He flung the smooth, round pebble with terrific force, and it went true to its mark. The horse reared with his rider just at the instant that a bowlder from Shorty's hand landed on Ike's breast. The rebel fell to the ground, and the boys ran on.

At the top of the next hill they saw the regiment marching leisurely along at the foot of the hill. It was so unexpected a deliverance that it startled them. It seemed so long since they had left the regiment that it might have been clear back to Nashville. They yelled with all their remaining strength, and tore down the hill. Co. Q saw them at once, and at the command of the Captain came forward at the double-quick. The rebels had in the meanwhile gained the top of the hill. A few shots were fired at them as they turned from the chase.

The Colonel rode back and questioned the boys. Then he turned to the Captain of Co. Q and said:

"Captain, take your company over to that house. If you find anything that you think we need in camp, bring it back with you. Put these boys in the ambulance."

The exhausted Si and Shorty were helped into the ambulance, the Surgeon gave them a reviving drink of whisky and quinine, and as they stretched themselves out on the cushioned seats Si remarked:

"Shorty, we ain't ez purty ez we used to be, but we know a durned sight more."

"I doubt it," said Shorty surlily. "I think me and you'll be fools as long as we live. We won't be fools the same way agin, you kin bet your life, but we'll find some other way."





CHAPTER VIII. A PERIOD OF SELF-DISGUST

SI AND SHORTY HAVE AN ATTACK OF IT, FOLLOWED BY RECOVERY.

IT TOOK many days for the boys' lacerated feet to recover sufficiently to permit their going about and returning to duty. They spent the period of enforced idleness in chewing the cud of bitter reflection. The thorns had cut far more painfully into their pride than into their feet. The time was mostly passed in moody silence, very foreign to the customary liveliness of the Hoosier's Rest. They only spoke to one another on the most necessary subjects, and then briefly. In their sour shame at the whole thing they even became wroth with each other. Shorty sneered at the way Si cleaned up the house, and Si condemned Shorty's cooking. Thenceforth Shorty slept on the floor, while Si occupied the bed, and they cooked their meals separately. The newness of the clothes they drew from the Quartermaster angered them, and they tried to make them look as dirty and shabby as the old.

Once they were on the point of actually coming to blows.

Si had thoughtlessly flung some dishwater into the company street. It was a misdemeanor that in ordinary times would have been impossible to him. Now almost anything was.

Shorty instantly growled:110

"You slouch, you ought to go to the guard-house for that."

Si retorted hotly:

"Slouch yourself! Look where you throwed them coffee-grounds this morning," and he pointed to the tell-tale evidence beside the house.

Shorty and si Are at Outs. 110

"Well, that ain't near so bad," said Shorty crustily. "That at least intended to be tidy."

"Humph," said Si, with supreme disdainfulness. "It's the difference betwixt sneakin' an' straightout. I throwed mine right out in the street. You tried to hide yours, and made it all the nastier. But111 whatever you do's all right. Whatever I do's all wrong. You're a pill."

"Look here, Mister Klegg," said Shorty, stepping forward with doubled fist, "I'll have you understand that I've took all the slack and impudence from you that I'm a-goin' to."

"Shorty, if you double your fist up at me," roared the irate Si, "I'll knock your head off in a holy minute."

The boys of Co. Q were thunderstruck. It seemed as if their world was toppling when two such partners should disagree. They gathered around in voiceless sorrow and wonderment and watched, developments.

Shorty seemed in the act of springing forward, when the sharp roll of the drum at Headquarters beating the "assembly" arrested all attention. Everyone looked eagerly toward the Colonel's tent, and saw him come out buckling on his sword, while his Orderly sped away for his horse. Apparently, all the officers had been in consultation with him, for they were hurrying away to their several companies.

"Fall in, Co. Q," shouted the Orderly-Sergeant. "Fall in promptly."

Everybody made a rush for his gun and equipments.

"Hurry up. Orderly," said Capt. McGillicuddy, coming up with his sword and belt in hand. "Let the boys take what rations they can lay their hands on, but not stop to cook any. We've got to go on the jump."

All was rush and hurry. Si and Shorty bolted for their house, forgetful of their mangled feet. Si112 got in first, took his gun and cartridge-box down, and buckled on his belt. He looked around for his rations while Shorty was putting on his things. His bread and meat and Shorty's were separate, and there was no trouble about them. But the coffee and sugar had not been divided, and were in common receptacles. He opened the coffee-can and looked in. There did not seem to be more than one ration there. He hesitated a brief instant what to do. It would serve Shorty just right to take all the coffee. He liked his coffee even better than Shorty did, and was very strenuous about having it. If he did not take it Shorty might think that he was either anxious to make up or afraid, and he wanted to demonstrate that he was neither. Then there was a twinge that it would be mean to take the coffee, and leave his partner, senseless and provoking as he seemed, without any. He set the can down, and, turning as if to look for something to empty it in, pretended to hear something outside the house to make him forget it, and hurried out.

Presently Shorty came out, and ostentatiously fell into line at a distance from Si. It was the first time they had not stood shoulder to shoulder.

The Orderly-Sergeant looked down the line, and called out:

"Here, Corp'l Klegg, you're not fit to go. Neither are you, Shorty. Step out, both of you."

"Yes, I'm all right," said Shorty. "Feet's got well. I kin outwalk a Wea Injun."

"Must've bin using some Lightning Elixir Liniment," said the Orderly-Sergeant incredulously.. "I saw you both limping around like string-halted113 horses not 15 minutes ago. Step out, I tell you."

"Captain, le' me go along," pleaded Si. "You never knowed me to fall out, did you?"

"Captain, I never felt activer in my life," asserted Shorty; "and you know I always kept up. I never played sore-foot any day."

"I don't believe either of you're fit to go," said Capt. McGillicuddy, "but I won't deny you. You may start, anyway. By the time we get to the pickets you can fall out if you find you can't keep up."

"The rebel calvary's jumped a herd of beef cattle out at pasture, run off the guard, and are trying to get away with them," the Orderly-Sergeant hurriedly explained as he lined up Co. Q. "We're to make a short cut across the country and try to cut them off. Sir, the company's formed."

"Attention, Co. Q!" shouted Capt. McGillicuddy. "Right face!—Forward, file left!—March!"

The company went off at a terrific pace to get its place with the regiment, which had already started without it.

Though every step was a pang. Si and Shorty kept up unflinchingly. Each was anxious to outdo the other, and to bear off bravery before the company. The Captain and Orderly-Sergeant took an occasional look at them until they passed the picket-line, when other more pressing matters engaged the officers' attention.

The stampeded guards, mounted on mules or condemned horses, or running on foot, came tearing back, each with a prodigious tale of the numbers and ferocity of the rebels.114

The regiment was pushed forward with all the speed there was in it, going down-hill and over the level stretch at a double-quick. Si felt his feet bleeding, and it seemed at times that he could not go another step, but then he would look back down the line and catch a glimpse of Shorty keeping abreast of his set of fours, and he would spur himself to renewed effort. Shorty would long to throw himself in a fence-corner and rest for a week, until, as they went over some rise, he would catch sight of Si's sandy hair, well in the lead, when he would drink in fresh determination to keep up, if he died in the attempt.

Presently they arrived at the top of the hill from which they could see the rebel cavalry rounding up and driving off the cattle, while a portion of the enemy's horsemen were engaged in a fight with a small squad of infantry ensconced behind a high rail fence.

Si and Shorty absolutely forgot their lameness as Co. Q separated from the column and rushed to the assistance of the squad, while the rest of the regiment turned off to the right to cut off the herd. But they were lame all the same, and tripped and fell over a low fence which the rest of the company easily leaped. They gathered themselves up, sat on the ground for an instant, and glared at one another.

"Blamed old tangle-foot," said Shorty derisively.

"You've got hoofs like a foundered hoss," retorted Si.

After this interchange of compliments they staggered painfully to their feet and picked up their115 guns, which were thrown some distance from their hands as they fell.

By this time Co. Q was a quarter of a mile away, and already beginning to fire on the rebels, who showed signs of relinquishing the attack.

"Gol darn the luck!" said Si with Wabash emphasis, beginning to limp forward.

"Wish the whole outfit was a mile deep in burnin' brimstone," wrathfully observed Shorty.

A couple of lucky shots had emptied two of the rebel saddles. The frightened horses turned away from the fighting line, and galloped down the road to the right of the boys. The leading one suddenly halted in a fence-corner about 30 yards away from Si, threw up his head and began surveying the scene, as if undecided what to do next. The other, seeing his mate stop, began circling around.

Hope leaped up in Si's breast. He began creeping toward the first horse, under the covert of the sumach. Shorty saw his design and the advantage it would give Si, and, standing still, began swearing worse than ever.

Si crept up as cautiously as he had used to in the old days when he was rabbit-hunting. The horse thrust his head over the fence, and began nibbling at a clump of tall rye growing there. Si thrust his hand out and caught his bridle. The horse made one frightened plunge, but the hand on his bridle held with the grip of iron, and he settled down to mute obedience.

Si set his gun down in the fence-corner and climbed into the saddle.

Shorty made the Spring air yellow with profanity116 until he saw Si ride away from his gun toward the other horse. When the latter saw his mate, with a rider, coming toward him he gave a whinney and dashed forward. In an instant Si had hold of his bridle and was turning back. His face was bright with triumph. Shorty stopped in the middle of a soul-curdling oath and yelled delightedly:

"Bully for old Wabash! You're my pardner after all Si."

He hastened forward to the fence, grabbed up Si's gun and handed it to him and then climbed into the other saddle.

The rebels were now falling back rapidly before Co. Q's fire. A small part detached itself and started down a side road.

Si and Shorty gave a yell, and galloped toward them, in full sight of Co. Q. who raised a cheer. The rebels spurred their horses, but Si and Shorty gained on them.

"Come on. Shorty." Si yelled. "I don't believe they've got a shot left. They hain't fired once since they started."

He was right. Their cartridge-boxes had been emptied.

At the bottom of the hill a creek crossing the road made a deep, wide quagmire. The rebels were in too much hurry to pick out whatever road there might have been through it. Their leaders plunged in, their horses sank nearly to the knees, and the whole party bunched up.

"Surrender, you rebel galoots." yelled Si reining up at a little distance, and bringing his gun to bear.117

"Surrender, you off-scourings of secession," added Shorty.

Si and Shorty As Mounted Infantry 117

The rebels looked back, held up their hands, and said imploringly:

"Don't shoot, Mister. We'uns give up. We'uns air taylored."

"Come back up here, one by one," commanded Si,118 "and go to our rear. Hold on to your guns. Don't throw 'em away. We ain't afraid of 'em."

One by one the rebels extricated their horses from the mire with more or less difficulty and filed back. Si kept his gun on those in the quagmire, while Shorty attended to the others as they came back. Co. Q was coming to his assistance as fast as the boys could march.

What was the delight of the boys to recognize in their captives the squad which had captured them. The sanguinary Bushrod was the first to come back, and Si had to restrain a violent impulse to knock him off his horse with his gun-barrel. But he decided to settle with him when through with the present business.

By the time the rebels were all up, Co. Q had arrived on the scene. As the prisoners were being disarmed and put under guard, Si called out to Capt. McGillicuddy:

"Captain, one o' these men is my partickler meat. I want to 'tend to him."

"All right. Corporal," responded the Captain, "attend to him, but don't be too rough on him. Remember that he is an unarmed prisoner."

Si and Shorty got down off their horses, and approached Bushrod, who turned white as death, trembled violently, and began to beg.

"Gentlemen, don't kill me," he whined. "I'm a poor man, an' have a fambly to support. I didn't mean nothin' by what I said. I sw'ar't' Lord A'mighty I didn't."

"Jest wanted to hear yourself talk—jest practicin' your voice," said Shorty sarcastically, as he took the119 man by the shoulder and pulled him off into the bush by the roadside. "Jest wanted to skeer us, and see how fast we could run. Pleasant little pastime, eh?" "And them things you said about a young lady up in Injianny," said Si, clutching him by the throat.

Bushrod Prays for his Life 119

"I want to wring your neck jest like a chicken's. What'd you do with her picture and letters?"

Si thrust his hand unceremoniously into Bushrod's pocket and found the ambrotype of Annabel. A brief glance showed him that it was all right, and he gave a sigh of satisfaction, which showed some amelioration of temper toward the captive.120

"What'd you do with them letters?" Si demanded fiercely.

"Ike has 'em," said Bushrod.

"You've got my shoes on, you brindle whelp," said Shorty, giving him a cuff in bitter remembrance of his own smarting feet.

"If we're goin' to shoot him, let's do it right off," said Si, looking at the cap on his gun. "The company's gittin' ready to start back."

"All right," said Shorty, with cheerful alacrity. "Johnny, your ticket for a brimstone supper's made out. How'd you rather be shot—standin' or kneelin'?"

"O, gentlemen, don't kill be. Ye hadn't orter. Why do ye pick me out to kill? I wuzzent no wuss'n the others. I wuzzent rayly half ez bad. I didn't rayly mean t' harm ye. I only talked. I had t' talk that-a-way, for I alluz was a Union man, and had t' make a show for the others. I don't want t' be shot at all."

"You ain't answerin' my question," said Shorty coolly and inexorably. "I asked you how you preferred to be shot. These other things you mention hain't nothin' to do with my question."

He leveled his gun at the unhappy man and took a deliberate sight.

"O, for the Lord A'mighty's sake, don't shoot me down like a dog," screamed Bushrod. "Le'me have a chance to pray, an' make my peace with my Maker."

"All right," conceded Shorty, "go and kneel down there by that cottonwood, and do the fastest prayin* you ever did in all your born days, for you have need of it. We'll shoot when I count three. You'd121 better make a clean breast of all your sins and transgressions before you go. You'll git a cooler place in the camp down below."

Unseen, the rest of Co. Q were peeping through the bushes and enjoying the scene.

Bushrod knelt down with his face toward the Cottonwood, and began an agonized prayer, mingled with confessions of crimes and malefactions, some flagrant, some which brought a grin of amusement to the faces of Co. Q.

"One!" called out Shorty in stentorian tones.

"O, for the love o' God, Mister, don't shoot me," yelled Bushrod, whirling around, with uplifted arms. "I'm too wicked to die, an' I've got a fambly dependin' on me."

"Turn around there, and finish your prayin'," sternly commanded Shorty, with his and Si's faces down to the stocks of their muskets, in the act of taking deliberate aim.

Bushrod flopped around, threw increased vehemence into his prayer, and resumed his recital of his misdeeds.

"Two!" counted Shorty.

Again Bushrod whirled around with uplifted hands and begged for mercy.

"Nary mercy," said Shorty. "You wouldn't give it to us, and you hain't given it to many others, according to your own account. Your light's flickerin', and we'll blow it out at the next count. Turn around, there."

Bushrod made the woods ring this time with his fervent, tearful appeals to the Throne of Grace. He was so wrought up by his impending death that he122 did not hear Co. Q quietly move away, at a sign from the Captain, with Si and Shorty mounting their horses and riding off noiselessly over the sod.

For long minutes Bushrod continued his impassioned appeals at the top of his voice, expecting every instant to have the Yankee bullets crash through his brain. At length he had to stop from lack of breath. Everything was very quiet—deathly so, it seemed to him. He stole a furtive glance around. No Yankees could be seen out of the tail of his eye on either side. Then he looked squarely around. None was visible anywhere. He jumped up, began cursing savagely, ran into the road, and started for home. He had gone but a few steps when he came squarely in front of the musket of the Orderly-Sergeant of Co. Q, who had placed himself in concealment to see the end of the play and bring him along.

"Halt, there," commanded the Orderly-Sergeant; "face the other way and trot. We must catch up with the company."

Si and Shorty felt that they had redeemed themselves, and returned to camp in such good humor with each other, and everybody else, that they forgot that their feet were almost as bad as ever.

They went into the house and began cooking their supper together again. Shorty picked up the coffeecan and said:

"Si Klegg, you're a gentleman all through, if you was born on the Wabash. A genuine gentleman is knowed by his never bein' no hog under no circumstances. I watched you when you looked into this coffee-can, and mad as I was at you, I said you was a thorobred when you left it all to me."

123





CHAPTER IX. SHORTY GETS A LETTER

BECOMES ENTANGLED IN A HIGHLY IMPORTANT CORRESPONDENCE.

A LIGHT spring wagon, inscribed "United States Sanitary Commission," drove through the camp of the 200th Ind., under the charge of a dignified man with a clerical cast of countenance, who walked alongside, looking at the soldiers and into the tents, and stopping from time to time to hand a can of condensed milk to this one, a jar of jam to another, and bunches of tracts to whomsoever would take them.

Shorty was sitting in front of the house bathing his aching feet. The man stopped before him, and looked compassionately at his swollen pedals.

"Your feet are in a very bad way, my man," he said sadly.

"Yes, durn 'em," said Shorty impatiently. "I don't seem to git 'em well nohow. Must've got 'em pizened when I was runnin' through the briars."

"Probably some ivy or poison-oak, or nightshade among the briars. Poison-oak is very bad, and nightshade is deadly. I knew a man once that had to have his hand amputated on account of getting poisoned by something that scratched him—nightshade, ivy, or poison-oak. I'm afraid your feet are beginning to mortify."

"Well, you are a Job's comforter," thought Shorty.124

"You'd be nice to send for when a man's sick. You'd scare him to death, even if there was no danger o' his dyin'."

"My friend," said the man, turning to his wagon, "I've here a nice pair of home-made socks, which I will give you, and which will come in nicely if you save your legs. If you don't, give them to some needy man. Here are also some valuable tracts, full of religious consolation and advice, which it will do your soul good to peruse and study."

Shorty took the gift thankfully, and turned over the tracts with curiosity.

"On the Sin of Idolatry," he read the title of the first.

"Now, why'd he give that? What graven image have I bin worshipin'? What gods of wood and stone have I bin bowin' down before in my blindness? There've bin times when I thought a good deal more of a Commissary tent then I did of a church, but I got cured of that as soon as I got a square meal. I don't see where I have bin guilty of idolatry.

"On the Folly of Self-Pride," he read from the next one. "Humph, there may be something in that that I oughter read. I am very liable to git stuck on myself, and think how purty I am, and how graceful, and how sweetly I talk, and what fine cloze I wear. Especially the cloze. I'll put that tract in my pocket an' read it after awhile."

"On the Evils of Gluttony," he next read. "Well, that's a timely tract, for a fact. I'm in the habit o' goin' around stuffin' myself, as this says, with delicate viands, and drinkin' fine wines—'makin' my belly a god.' The man what wrote this must've bin125 intimately acquainted with the sumptuous meals which Uncle Sam sets before his nephews. He must've knowed all about the delicate, apetizin' flavor of a slab o' fat pork four inches thick, taken off the side of the hog that's uppermost when he's laying on his back. And how I gormandize on hardtack baked in the first place for the Revolutioners, and kept over ever since. That feller knows jest what he's writin' about. I'd like to exchange photographs with him."

"Thou Shalt Not Swear." Shorty read a few words, got red in the face, whistled softly, crumpled the tract up, and threw it away.

"On the Sin of Dancing," Shorty yelled with laughter. "Me dance with these hoofs! And he thinks likely mortification'll set in, and I'll lose 'em altogether. Well, he oughter be harnessed up with Thompson's colt. Which'd come out ahead in the race for the fool medal? But these seem to be nice socks. Fine yarn, well-knit, and by stretching a little I think I kin get 'em on. I declare, they're beauties. I'll jest make Si sick with envy when I show 'em to him. I do believe they lay over anything his mother ever sent him. Hello, what's this?"

He extracted from one of them a note in a small, white envelope, on one end of which was a blue Zouave, with red face, hands, cap and gaiters, brandishing a red sword in defense of a Star Spangled Banner which he held in his left hand.

"Must belong to the Army o' the Potomac," mused Shorty, studying the picture. "They wear all sorts o' outlandish uniforms there. That red-headed woodpecker'd be shot before he'd git a mile o' the rebels out here. All that hollyhock business'd jest be meat126 for their sharpshooters. And what's he doin' with that 'ere sword? I wouldn't give that Springfield rifle o' mine for all the swords that were ever hammered out. When I reach for a feller 600 or even 800 yards away I kin fetch him every time. He's my meat unless he jumps behind a tree. But as for swords, I never could see no sense in 'em except for officers to put on lugs with. I wouldn't pack one a mile for a wagonload of 'em."

He looked at the address on the envelope. Straight lines had been scratched across with a pin. On these was written, in a cramped, mincing hand:

"To the brave soljer who Gits these Socks."

"Humph," mused Shorty, "that's probably for me. I've got the socks, and I'm a soldier. As to whether I'm brave or not's a matter of opinion. Sometimes I think I am; agin, when there's a dozen rebel guns pinted at my head, not 10 feet away, I think I'm not. But we'll play that I'm brave enough to have this intended for me, and I'll open it."

On the sheet of paper inside was another valorous red-and-blue Zouave defending the flag with drawn sword. On it was written:

     "Bad Ax, Wisconsin,

     "Janooary the 14th, 1863.

     "Braiv Soljer: I doant know who you air, or whair you may
     bee; I only know that you air serving your country, and
     that is enuf to entitle to the gratitude and afl'ection of
     every man and woman who has the breath of patriotism in
     their bodies.

     "I am anxious to do something all the time, very little
     though it may be, to help in some way the men127 who air
     fiting the awful battles for me, and for every man and woman
     in the country.

     "I send these socks now as my latest contribution. They aint
     much, but I've put my best work on them, and I hoap they
     will be useful and comfortable to some good, braiv man.

     "How good you may be I doant know, but you air sertingly a
     much better man than you would be if you was not fiting for
     the Union. I hoap you air a regler, consistent Christian.
     Ide prefer you to be a Methodist Episcopal, but any church
     is much better than none.

     "He be glad to heer that you have received these things all
     rite.

     "Sincerely your friend and well-wisher,

     "Jerusha Ellen Briggs."

Although Shorty was little inclined to any form of reading, and disliked handwriting about as much as he did work on the fortifications, he read the letter over several times, until he had every word in it and every feature of the labored, cramped penmanship thoroughly imprinted on his mind. Then he held it off at arm's length for some time, and studied it with growing admiration. It seemed to him the most wonderful epistle that ever emanated from any human hand. A faint scent of roses came from it to help the fascination.

"I'll jest bet my head agin a big red apple," he soliloquized, "the woman that writ that's the purtiest girl in the State o' Wisconsin. I'll bet there's nothin' in Injianny to hold a candle to her, purty as Si thinks his Annabel is. And smart—my! Jest look at that letter. That tells it. Every word spelled correckly,128 and the grammar away up in G. Annabel's a mighty nice girl, and purty, too, but I've noticed she makes mistakes in spelling, and her grammar's the Wabash kind—home-made."

He drew down his eyebrows, pursed his lips, and assumed a severely critical look for a reperusal of the letter and judgment upon it according to the highest literary standards.

"No, sir," he said, with an air of satisfaction, "not a blamed mistake in it, from beginnin' to end. Every word spelled jest right, the grammar straight as the Ten Commandments, every t crossed and i dotted accordin' to regulashuns and the Constitushun of the United States. She must be a school-teacher, and yit a school-teacher couldn't knit sich socks as them. She's a lady, every inch of her. Religious, too. Belongs to the Methodist Church. Si's father's a Baptist, and so's my folks, but I always did think a heap o' the Methodists. I think they have a little nicer girls than the Baptists. I think I'd like to marry a Methodist wife."

Then he blushed vividly, all to himself, to think how fast his thoughts had traveled. He returned to the letter, to cover his confusion.

"Bad Ax, Wis. What a queer name for a place. Never heard of it before. Wonder where in time it is? I'd like awfully to know. There's the 1st and 21st Wis. in Rousseau's Division, and the 10th Wis. Battery in Palmer's Division. I might go over there and ask some o' them. Mebbe some of 'em are right from there. I'll bet it's a mighty nice place."

He turned to the signature with increased interest.

"Jerusha Ellen Briggs. Why, the name itself is129 reg'lar poetry. Jerusha is awful purty. Your Mollies and Sallies and Emmies can't hold a candle to it. And Annabel—pshaw! Ellen—why that's my mother's name. Briggs? I knowed some Briggses once away-up, awfully nice people. Seems to me they wuz Presbyterians, though, and I always thought that Presbyterians wuz stuck-up, but they wuzzent stuck-up a mite. I wonder if Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs—she must be a Miss—haint some beau? But she can't have. If he wuzzent in the army she wouldn't have him; and if he was in the army she'd be sending the socks to him, instead of to whom it may concern."

This brilliant bit of logic disposed of a sudden fear which had been clutching at his heart. It tickled him so much that he jumped up, slapped his breast, and grinned delightedly and triumphantly at the whole landscape.

"What's pleasin' you so mightily. Shorty?" asked Si, who had just come up. "Got a new system for beatin' chuck-a-luck, or bin promoted?"

"No, nothin'! Nothin's happened," said Shorty curtly, as he hastily shoved the letter into his blouse pocket. "Will you watch them beans bilin' while I go down to the spring and git some water?"

He picked up the camp-kettle and started. He wanted to be utterly alone, even from Si, with his new-born thought. He did not go directly to the spring, but took another way to a clump of pawpaw bushes, which would hide him from the observation of everyone. There he sat down, pulled out the letter again, and read it over carefully, word by word.

"Wants me to write whether I got the socks," he130 mused. "You jest bet I will. I've a great mind to ask for a furlough to go up to Wisconsin, and find out Bad Ax. I wonder how fur it is. I'll go over to the Suiter's and git some paper and envelopes, and write to her this very afternoon."

He carried his camp-kettle back to the house, set it down, and making some excuse, set off for the Sutler's shop.

"Le'me see your best paper and envelopes," he said to the pirate who had license to fleece the volunteers.

"Awfully common trash," said Shorty, looking over the assortment disdainfully, for he wanted something superlatively fine for his letter. "Why don't you git something fit for a gentleman to write to a lady on? Something with gold edges on the paper and envelopes, and perfumed? I never write to a lady except on gilt-edged paper, smellin' o' bergamot, and musk, and citronella, and them things. I don't think it's good taste."

"Well, think what you please," said the Sutler. "That's all the kind I have, and that's all the kind you'll git. Take it or leave it."

Shorty finally selected a quire of heavy letter paper and a bunch of envelopes, both emblazoned with patriotic and warlike designs in brilliant red and blue.

"Better take enough," he said to himself. "I've been handlin' a pick and shovel and gun so much that I'm afeared my hand isn't as light as it used to be, and I'll have to spile several sheets before I git it just right."

On his way back he decided to go by the camp of131 one of the Wisconsin regiments and learn what he could of Bad Ax and its people.

"Is there a town in your State called Bad Ax?" he asked of the first man he met with "Wis." on his cap.

"Cert'," was the answer. "And another one called Milwaukee, one called Madison, and another called Green Bay. Are you studying primary geography, or just getting up a postoffice directory?"

"Don't be funny, Skeezics," said Shorty severely. "Know anything about it? Mighty nice place, ain't it?"

"Know anything about it? I should say so. My folks live in Bad Ax County. It's the toughest, ornerist little hole in the State. Run by lead-miners. More whisky-shanties than dwellings. It's tough, I tell you."

"I believe you're an infernal liar," said Shorty, turning away in wrath.

Not being fit for duty, he could devote all his time to the composition of the letter. He was so wrought up over it that he could not eat much dinner, which alarmed Si.

"What's the matter with your appetite. Shorty?" he asked. "Haint bin eatin' nothin' that disagreed with you, have you?

"Naw," answered Shorty impatiently; "nothin' wuss'n army rations. They always disagree with me when I'm layin' around doin' nothin'. Why, in the name of goodness, don't the army move? I've got sick o' the sight o' every cedar and rocky knob in Middle Tennessee. We ought to go down and take a look at things around Tullahoma, where Mr. Bragg132 is."

It was Si's turn to clean up after dinner, and, making an excuse of going over into another camp to see a man who had arrived there, Shorty, with his paper and envelopes concealed under his blouse, and Si's pen and wooden ink-stand furtively conveyed to his pocket, picked up the checkerboard when Si's back was turned, and made his way to the pawpaw thicket, where he could be unseen and unmolested in the greatest literary undertaking of his life.

He took a comfortable seat on a rock, spread the paper on the checkerboard, and then began vigorously chewing the end of the penholder to stimulate his thoughts.

It had been easy to form the determination to write; the desire to do so was irresistible, but never before had he been confronted with a task which seemed so overwhelming. Compared with it, struggling with a mule-train all day through the mud and rain, working with pick and shovel on the fortifications, charging an enemy's solid line-of-battle, appeared light and easy performances. He would have gone at either, on the instant, at the word of command, or without waiting for it, with entire confidence in his ability to master the situation. But to write a half-dozen lines to a strange girl, whom he had already enthroned as a lovely divinity, had more terrors than all of Bragg's army could induce.

But when Shorty set that somewhat thick head of his upon the doing of a thing, the thing was tolerably certain to be done in some shape or another.

"I believe, if I knowed whore Bad Ax was, I'd git a furlough, and walk clean there, rather than write a line," he said, as he wiped from his brow the sweat133 forced out by the labor of his mind. "I always did hate writin'. I'd rather maul rails out of a twisted elm log any day than fill up a copy book. But it's got to be done, and the sooner I do it the sooner the agony 'll be over. Here goes."

He began laboriously forming each letter with his lips, and still more laboriously with his stiff fingers, adding one to another, until he had traced out:

     "Headquarters Co. Q, 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry,
     Murfreesboro, Aprile the 16th eighteen hundred & sixty
     three."

The sweat stood out in beads upon his forehead after this effort, but it was as nothing compared to the strain of deciding how he should address his correspondent. He wanted to use some term of fervent admiration, but fear deterred him. He debated the question with himself until his head fairly ached, when he settled upon the inoffensive phrase:

     "Respected Lady."

The effort was so exhausting that he had to go down to the spring, take a deep drink of cold water, and bathe his forehead. But his determination was unabated, and before the sun went down he had produced the following:

     "i talk mi pen in hand 2 inform U that ive reseeved the SOX
     U so kindly cent, & i thank U 1,000 times 4 them. They are
     boss sox & no mistake. They are the bossest sox that ever
     wuz nit. The man is a lire who sez they aint. He dassent tel
     Me so. U are a boss nitter. Even Misses Clinkun can't hold a
     candle 2 U.

     "The sox fit me 2 a t, but that is becaws they are nit so
     wel, & stretch."134

"I wish I knowed some more real strong words to praise her knitting," said Shorty, reading over the laboriously-written lines. "But after I have said they're boss what more is there to say? I spose I ought to say something about her health next. That's polite." And he wrote:

     "ime in fair helth, except my feet are" locoed, & i weigh
     156 pounds, & hope U are injoying the saim blessing."

"I expect I ought to praise her socks a little more," said he, and wrote:

     "The SOX are jest boss. They outrank anything in the Army of
     the Cumberland."

After this effort he was compelled to take a long rest. Then he communed with himself:

"When a man's writin' to a lady, and especially an educated lady, he should always throw in a little poetry. It touches her."

There was another period of intense thought, and then he wrote:

     "Dan Elliott is my name,
     & single is my station,
     Injianny is mi dwelling place,
     & Christ is mi salvation."

"Now," he said triumphantly, "that's neat and effective. It tells her a whole lot about me, and makes her think I know Shakspere by heart. Wonder if I can't think o' some more? Hum—hum. Yes, here goes:

     "The rose is red, the vilet's blue;
     ime 4 the Union, so are U."

Shorty was so tickled over this happy conceit that he fairly hugged himself, and had to read it over135 several times to admire its beauty. But it left him too exhausted for any further mental labor than to close up with:

     "No moar at present, from yours til death.

     "Dan Elliott,

     "Co. Q, 200th injianny Volunteer Infantry."

He folded up the missive, put it into an envelope, carefully directed to Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs, Bad Ax, Wis., and after depositing it in the box at the Chaplain's tent, plodded homeward, feeling more tired than after a day's digging on the fortifications. Yet his fatigue was illuminated by the shimmering light of a fascinating hope.





CHAPTER X. TRADING WITH THE REBS

THE BOYS HAVE SOME FRIENDLY COMMERCE WITH THE REBEL PICKETS.

THE 200th Ind. Volunteer Infantry had been pushed out to watch the crossings of Duck River and the movements of the rebels on the south bank of that narrow stream. The rebels, who had fallen into the incurable habit of objecting to everything that the "Yankees" did, seemed to have especial and vindictive repugnance to being watched.

Probably no man, except he be an actor or a politician, likes to be watched, but few ever showed themselves as spitefully resentful of observation as the rebels.

Co. Q was advanced to picket the north bank of the river, but the moment it reached the top of the hill overlooking the stream it had to deploy as skirmishers, and Enfield bullets began to sing viciously about its ears.

"Looks as if them fellers think we want to steal their old river and send it North," said Shorty, as he reloaded his gun after firing at a puff of smoke that had come out of the sumach bushes along the fence at the foot of the hill. "They needn't be so grouchy. We don't want their river—only to use it awhile. They kin have it back agin after we're through with it."

"Blamed if that feller didn't make a good line137 shot," said Si, glancing up just above his head to where a twig had been clipped off the persimmon tree behind which he was standing. "He put up his sights a little too fur, or he'd 'a' got me."

Si took careful aim at where he supposed the lurking marksman to be and fired.

There was a waving of the tops of the bushes, as if the men concealed there had rushed out.

"Guess we both landed mighty close," said Shorty triumphantly. "They seem to have lost interest in this piece o' sidehill, anyway."

He and Si made a rush down the hill, and gained the covert of the fence just in time to see the rails splintered by a bunch of shots striking them.

"Lay down, Yanks!" called out Shorty cheerily, dropping into the weeds. "Grab a root!"

To the right of them they could see the rest of Co. Q going through similar performances.

Si and Shorty pushed the weeds aside, crawled cautiously to the fence, and looked through. There was a road on the other side of the fence, and beyond it a grove of large beech trees extending to the bank of the river. Half concealed by the trunk of one of these stood a tall, rather good-looking young man, with his gun raised and intently peering into the bushes. He had seen the tops stir, and knew that his enemies had gained their cover. He seemed expecting that they would climb the fence and jump down into the road. At a little distance to his right could be seen other men on the sharp lookout.

Shorty put his hand on Si to caution and repress138 him.

With his eyes fixed on the rebel, Shorty drew his gun toward him. The hammer caught on a trailing vine, and, forgetting himself, he gave it an impatient jerk. It went off, the bullet whistling past Shorty's head and the powder burning his face.

The rebel instantly fired in return, and cut the leaves about four feet above Shorty.

"Purty good shot that, Johnny," called out Shorty as he reloaded his gun; "but too low. It went between my legs. You hain't no idee how tall I am."

"If I couldn't shoot no better'n you kin on a sneak," answered the rebel, his rammer ringing in his gun-barrel, "I wouldn't handle firearms. Your bullet went a mile over my head. Must've bin shootin' at an angel. But you Yanks can't shoot nary bit—you're too skeered."

"I made you hump out o' the bushes a few minutes ago," replied Shorty, putting on a cap. "Who was skeered then? You struck for tall timber like a cotton-tailed rabbit."

"I'll rabbit ye, ye nigger-lovin' whelp," shouted the rebel. "Take that," and he fired as close as he could to the sound of Shorty's voice.

Shorty had tried to anticipate his motion and fired first, but the limbs bothered his aim, and his bullet went a foot to the right of the rebel's head. It was close enough, however, to make the rebel cover himself carefully with the tree.

"That was a much better shot, Yank," he called out. "But ye orter do a powerful sight better'n that on a sneak. Ye'd never kill no deer, nor rebels nuthor, with that kind o' shootin'. You Yanks are139 great on the sneak, but that's all the good it does, yet ye can't shoot fer a handful o' huckleberries."

"Sneaks! Can't shoot!" roared Shorty. "I kin outshoot you or any other man in Jeff Davis's kingdom. I dare you to come out from behind your tree, and take a shot with me in the open, accordin' to Hardee's tactics. Your gun's empty; so's mine. My chum here'll see fair play; and you kin bring your chum with you. Come out, you skulkin' brindle pup, and shoot man fashion, if you dare."140

"Ye can't dare me, ye nigger-stealin' blue-belly," shouted the rebel in return, coming out from behind his tree. Shorty climbed over the fence and stood at the edge of the road, with his gun at order arms. Si came out on Shorty's left, and a rebel appeared to the right of the first. For a minute all stood in expectancy. Then Shorty spoke:

"I want nuthin' but what's fair. Your gun's empty; so's mine. You probably know Hardee's tactics as well as I do."

"I'm up in Hardee," said the rebel with a firm voice.

"Well, then," continued Shorty, "let my chum here call off the orders for loadin' and firin', and we'll both go through 'em, and shoot at the word."

"Go ahead—I'm agreed," said the rebel briefly.

Shorty nodded to Si.

"Carry arms," commanded Si.

Both brought their guns up to their right sides.

"Present arms."

Both courteously saluted.

"Load in nine times—Load," ordered Si.

Both guns came down at the same instant, each man grasped his muzzle with his left hand, and reached for his cartridge-box, awaiting the next order.

"Handle cartridges."

"Tear cartridges."

"Charge cartridges," repeated Si slowly and distinctly. The rebel's second nodded approval of his knowledge of the drill, and sang out:

"Good soldiers, all of yo'uns."

"Draw rammer," continued Si,141

"Turn rammer."

"Ram cartridge."

Shorty punctiliously executed the three blows on the cartridge exacted by the regulations, and paused a breath for the next word. The rebel had sent his cartridge home with one strong thrust, but he saw his opponent's act and waited.

"Return rammer," commanded Si. He was getting a little nervous, but Shorty deliberately withdrew his rammer, turned it, placed one end in the thimbles, deliberately covered the head with his little finger, exactly as the tactics prescribed, and sent it home with a single movement. The rebel had a little trouble in returning rammer, and Shorty and Si waited.

"Cast about,"

"Prime!"

Both men capped at the same instant.

"Ready!"

Shorty cocked his piece and glanced at the rebel, whose gun was at his side.

"Aim!"

Both guns came up like a flash.

The Duel. 139

Si's heart began thumping at a terrible rate. He was far more alarmed about Shorty than he had ever been about himself. Up to this moment he had hoped that Shorty's coolness and deliberation would "rattle" the rebel and make him fire wildly. But the latter, as Si expressed it afterward, "seemed to be made of mighty good stuff," and it looked as if both would be shot down.

"Fire!" shouted Si, with a perceptible tremor in his voice.142

Both guns flashed at the same instant. Si saw Shorty's hat fly off, and him stagger and fall, while the rebel dropped his gun, and clapped his hand to his side. Si ran toward Shorty, who instantly sprang up again, rubbing his head, from which came a faint trickle of blood.

"He aimed at my head, and jest scraped my scalp," he said. "Where'd I hit him? I aimed at his heart, and had a good bead."

"You seem to have struck him in the side," answered Si, looking at the rebel. "But not badly, for he's still standin' up. Mebbe you broke a rib though."

"Couldn't, if he's still up. I must file my trigger Gun pulls too hard. I had a dead aim on his heart, but I seem to've pulled too much to the right."

"Say, I'll take a turn with you," said Si, picking up his gun and motioning with his left hand at the other rebel.

"All right," answered the other promptly. "My gun ain't loaded, though."

"I'll wait for you," said Si, looking at the cap on his gun. A loud cheer was heard from far to the right, and Co. Q was seen coming forward on a rush, with the rebels in front running back to the river bank. Several were seen to be overtaken and forced to surrender.

The two rebels in front of the boys gave a startled look at their comrades, then at the boys, and turned to run. Si raised his gun to order them to halt.

"No," said Shorty. "Let 'em go. It was a fair bargain, and I'll stick to it. Skip out Johnnies, for every cent you're worth."143

The rebels did not wait for the conclusion of the sentence, but followed their comrades with alacrity.

The boys ran forward through the woods to the edge of the bank, and saw their opponents climbing up the opposite bank and getting behind the sheltering trees. Si waited till his particular one got good shelter behind a large sycamore, and then sent a bullet that cut closely above his head.

This was the signal for a general and spiteful fusillade from both sides of the river and all along the line. The rebels banged away as if in red-hot wrath at being run across the stream, and Co. Q retorted with such earnestness that another company was sent forward to its assistance, but returned when the Irish Lieutenant, who had gone forward to investigate, reported:

"Faith, its loike the divil shearing a hog—all cry and no wool at all."

So it was. Both sides found complete shelter behind the giant trunks of the trees, and each fired at insignificant portions of the anatomy allowed to momentarily protrude beyond the impenetrable boles.

After this had gone on for about half an hour those across the river from Si and Shorty called out:

"Say, Yanks, ye can't shoot down a beech tree with a Springfield musket, nohow ye kin do it. If we'uns hain't killin' more o' yo'uns than yo'uns is a-killin' o' we'uns, we'uns air both wastin' a powerful lot o' powder an' lead and good shootin'. What d' yo'uns say to King's excuse for awhile?"

"We're agreed," said Si promptly, stepping from144 behind the tree, and leaving his gun standing against it.

"Hit's a go," responded the rebels, coming out disarmed. "We'uns won't shoot no more till ordered, an' then'll give yo'uns warnin' fust."

The Overture for Trade. 144

"All right; we'll give you warning before we shoot," coincided Si.

"Say, have yo'uns got any Yankee coffee that145 you'll trade for a good plug o' terbacker?" inquired the man whom Si had regarded as his particular antagonist.

"Yes," answered Si. "We've got a little. We'll give you a cupful for a long plug with none cut off."

"What kind of a cupful?" asked the bartering "Johnny."

"A big, honest cupful. One o' this kind," said Si, showing his.

"All right. Hit's to be strike measure," said the rebel. "Here's the plug," and he held up a long plug of "natural leaf."

"O. K.," responded Si. "Meet me half way."

The truce had quickly extended, and the firing suspended all along the line of Co. Q. The men came out from behind their trees, and sat down on the banks in open view of one another.

Si filled his cup "heaping-full" with coffee, climbed down the bank and waded out into the middle of the water. The rebel met him there, while his companion and Shorty stood on the banks above and watched the trade.

"Y're givin' me honest measure, Yank," said the rebel, looking at the cup. "Now, if ye hain't filled the bottom o' yer cup with coffee that's bin biled before, I'll say y're all right. Some o' yo'uns air so dod-gasted smart that y' poke off on we'uns coffee that's bin already biled, and swindle we'uns."

"Turn it out and see," said Si.

The rebel emptied the cup into a little bag, carefully scrutinizing the stream as it ran in. It was all fine, fragrant, roasted and ground coffee.146

"Lord, thar's enough t' last me a month with keer," said the rebel, gazing unctuously at the rich brown grains. "I won't use more'n a spoonful a day, an' bile hit over twice. Yank, here's yer terbacker. I've made a good trade. Here's a Chatanooga paper I'll throw in to boot. Got a Northern paper about ye anywhar?"

Si produced a somewhat frayed Cincinnati Gazette.

"I can't read myself," said the rebel, as he tucked the paper away. "Never l'arned to. Pap wuz agin hit. Said hit made men lazy. He got erlong without readin', and raised the biggest fambly on Possum Crick. But thar's a feller in my mess kin read everything but the big words, and I like t' git a paper for him to read to the rest o' we'uns."

"Was your pardner badly hurt by mine's shot?" asked Si.

"No. The bullet jest scraped the bone. He'll be likely to have a stitch in his side for awhile, but he's a very peart man, and won't mind that. I'm s'prised he didn't lay your pardner out. He's the best shot in our company."

"Well, he was buckin' agin a mighty good shot, and I'm surprised your pardner's alive. I wouldn't 've given three cents for him when Shorty drawed down on him; but Shorty's bin off duty for awhile, and his gun's not in the best order. Howsumever, I'm awful glad that it come out as it did. His life's worth a dozen rebels."

"The blazes you say. I'd have you know, Yank, that one Confederit is wuth a whole rijimint o' Lincoln hirelings. I'll—"147

"O, come off—come off—that's more o' your old five-to-one gas," said Si irritatingly. "I thought we'd walloped that dumbed nonsense out o' your heads long ago. We've showed right along that, man for man, we're a sight better'n you. We've always licked you when we've had anything like a fair show. At Stone River you had easy two men to our one, and yit we got away with you."

"'Tain't so. It's a lie. If hit wuzzent for the148 Dutch and Irish you hire, you couldn't fight we'uns at all."

"Look here, reb," said Si, getting hot around the ears, "I'm neither a Dutchman nor an Irishman; we hain't a half dozen in our company. I'm a better man than you've got in your regiment. Either me or Shorty kin lick any man you put up; Co. Q kin lick your company single-handed and easy; the 200th Injianny kin lick any regiment in the rebel army. To prove it, I kin lick you right here."

Si Wants a Fight 147

Si thrust the plug of tobacco into his blouse pocket and began rolling up his sleeves.

The rebel did not seem at all averse to the trial and squared off at him. Then Shorty saw the belligerent attitude and yelled:

"Come, Si. Don't fight there. That's no place. If you're goin' to fight, come up on level ground, where it kin be fair and square. Come up here, or we'll go over there."

"O, come off," shouted the rebel on the other side. "Don't be a fool, Bill. Fist-foutin' don't settle nothin'. Come back here and git your gun if ye want to fout. But don't le's fout no more to-day. Thar's plenty of it for ter-morrer. Le's keep quiet and peaceful now. I want powerfully to take a swim. Air you fellers agreed?"

"Yes; yes," shouted Shorty. "You fellers keep to your side o' the river, and we will to ours."

The agreement was carried into instantaneous effect, and soon both sides of the stream were filled with laughing, romping, splashing men.

There was something very exhilarating in the cool, clear, mountain water of the stream. The boys149 got to wrestling, and Si came off victorious in two or three bouts with his comrades.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo," he shouted, imitating the crow of a rooster. "I kin duck any man in the 200th Injianny."

The challenge reached the ears of the rebel with whom Si had traded. He was not satisfied with the result of his conference.

"You kin crow over your fellers, Yank," he shouted; "but you dassent come to the middle an' try me two falls outen three."

Si immediately made toward him. They surveyed each other warily for a minute to get the advantages of the first clinch, when a yell came from the rebel side:

"Scatter, Confeds! Hunt yer holes, Yanks! The Cunnel's a-comin'."

Both sides ran up their respective banks, snatched up their guns, took their places behind their trees, and opened a noisy but harmless fire.

150





CHAPTER XI. SHORTY'S CORRESPONDENT

GETS A LETTER FROM BAD AX, WIS., AND IS ALMOST OVERCOME WITH JOY.

SHORTY had always been conspicuously lacking in the general interest which his comrades had shown in the mails. Probably at some time in his life he had had a home like the rest of them, but for some reason home now played no part in his thoughts. The enlistment and muster-rolls stated that he was born in Indiana, but he was a stranger in the neighborhood when he enrolled himself in Co. Q.

His revelations as to his past were confined to memories of things which happened "when I was cuttin' wood down the Mississippi," or "when I was runnin' on an Ohio sternwheel."

He wrote no letters and received none. And when the joyful cry, "Mail's come," would send everybody else in the regiment on a run to the Chaplain's tent, in eager anticipation, to jostle one another in impatience, until the contents of the mailpouch were distributed, Shorty would remain indifferent in his tent, without an instant's interruption in his gun cleaning, mending, or whatever task he might have in hand.

A change came over him after he sent his letter to Bad Ax, Wis. The cry, "Mail's come," would make151 him start, in spite of himself, and before he could think to maintain his old indifference. He was ashamed, lest he betray his heart's most secret thoughts.

The matter of the secure transmission of the mails between camp and home began to receive his earnest attention. He feared that the authorities were not taking sufficient precautions. The report that John Morgan's guerrillas had captured a train between Louisville and Nashville, rifled the mail car, and carried off the letters, filled him with burning indignation, both against Morgan and his band and the Generals who had not long ago exterminated that pestiferous crowd.

He had some severe strictures on the slovenly way in which the mail was distributed from the Division and Brigade Headquarters to the regiments. It was a matter, he said, which could not be done too carefully. It was a great deal more important than the distribution of rations. A man would much rather lose several days' rations than a letter from home. He could manage in some way to get enough to live on, but nothing would replace a lost letter.

Then, he would have fits of silent musing, sometimes when alone, sometimes when with Si in the company, over the personality of the fair stocking-knitter of Wisconsin and the letter he had sent her. He would try to recall the exact wording of each sentence he had laboriously penned, and wonder how it impressed her, think how it might have been improved, and blame himself for not having been more outspoken in his desire to hear from her again. He would steal off into the brush, pull out the socks152 and letter, which he kept carefully wrapped up in a sheet of the heavy letter paper, and read over the letter carefully again, although he knew every word of it by heart. These fits alarmed Si.

"I'm af eared," he confided to some cronies, "that rebel bullet hurt Shorty more'n he'll let on. He's not actin' like hisself at times. That bullet scraped so near his thinkery that it may have addled it. It was an awful close shave."

"Better talk to the Surgeon," said they. "Glancing bullets sometimes hurt worse'n they seem to."

"No, the bullet didn't hurt Shorty, any more than make a scratch," said the Surgeon cheerfully when Si laid the case before him. "I examined him carefully. That fellow's head is so hard that no mere scraping is going to affect it. You'd have to bore straight through it, and I'd want at least a six-pounder to do it with if I was going to undertake the job. An Indiana head may not be particularly fine, but it is sure to be awfully solid and tough. No; his system's likely to be out of order. You rapscallions will take no care of yourselves, in spite of all that I can say, but will eat and drink as if you were ostriches. He's probably a little off his feed, and a good dose of bluemass followed up with quinine will bring him around all right. Here, take these, and give them to him."

The Surgeon was famous for prescribing bluemass and quinine for every ailment presented to him, from sore feet to "shell fever." Si received the medicines with a proper show of thankfulness, saluted, and left. As he passed through the clump if bushes he was tempted to add them to the153 collection of little white papers which marked the trail from the Surgeon's tent, but solicitude for his comrade restrained him. The Surgeon was probably right, and it was Si's duty to do all that he could to bring Shorty around again to his normal condition. But how in the world was he going to get his partner to take the medicine? Shorty had the resolute antipathy to drugs common to all healthy men.

It was so grave a problem that Si sat down on a log to think about it. As was Si's way, the more he thought about it, the more determined he became to do it, and when Si Klegg determined to do a thing, that thing was pretty nearly as good as done.

"I kin git him to take the quinine easy enough," he mused. "All I've got to do is to put it in a bottle o' whisky, and he'd drink it if there wuz 40 'doses o' quinine in it. But the bluemass's a very different thing. He's got to swaller it in a lump, and what in the world kin I put it in that he'll swaller whole?"

Si wandered over to the Sutler's in hopes of seeing something there that would help him. He was about despairing when he noticed a boy open a can of large, yellow peaches.

"The very thing," said Si, slapping his thigh. "Say, young man, gi' me a can o' peaches jest like them."

Si took his can and carefully approached his tent, that he might decide upon his plan before Shorty could see him and his load. He discovered that Shorty was sitting at a little distance, with his back to him, cleaning his gun, which he had taken apart.

"Bully," thought Si. "Just the thing. His hands154 are dirty and greasy, and he won't want to tech anything to eat."

He slipped into the tent, cut open the can, took out a large peach with a spoon, laid the pellet of bluemass in it, laid another slice of peach upon it, and then came around in front of Shorty, holding out the spoon.

"Open your mouth and shut your eyes, Shorty," he said. "I saw some o' the nicest canned peaches down at the Sutler's, and I suddenly got hungry for some. I bought a can and brung 'em up to the tent. Jest try 'em."

He stuck the spoon out towards Shorty's mouth. The latter, with his gunlock in one hand and a greasy rag in the other, looked at the tempting morsel, opened his mouth, and the deed was done.

"Must've left a stone in that peach," he said, as he gulped it down.

"Mebbe so," said Si, with a guilty flush, and pretending to examine the others. "But I don't find none in the rest Have another?"

Shorty swallowed two or three spoonfuls more, and then gasped:

"They're awful nice, Si, but I've got enough. Keep the rest for yourself."

Si went back to the tent and finished the can with mingled emotions of triumph at having succeeded, and of contrition at playing a trick on his partner. He decided to make amends for the latter by giving Shorty an unusually large quantity of whisky to take with his quinine.

Si was generally very rigid in his temperance ideas, He strongly disapproved of Shorty's155 drinking, and always interposed all the obstacles he could in the way of it. But this was an extraordinary case—it would be "using liquor for a medicinal purpose"—and his conscience was quieted.

Co. Q had one of those men—to be found in every company—who can get whisky under apparently any and all circumstances. In every company there is always one man who seemingly can find something to get drunk on in the midst of the Desert of Sahara. To Co. Q's representative of this class Si went, and was piloted to where, after solemn assurances against "giving away," he procured a halfpint of fairly-good applejack, into which he put his doses of quinine.

In the middle of the night Shorty woke up with a yell.

"Great Cesar's ghost!" he howled, "what's the matter with me? I'm sicker'n a dog. Must've bin them dodgasted peaches. Si, don't you feel nothin'?"

"No," said Si sheepishly; "I'm all right. Didn't you eat nothin' else but them?"

"Naw," said Shorty disgustedly. "Nothin' but my usual load o' hardtack and pork. Yes, I chawed a piece o' sassafras root that one of the boys dug up."

"Must've bin the sassafras root," said Si. He hated to lie, and made a resolution that he would make a clean breast to Shorty—at some more convenient time. It was not opportune now. "That must've bin a sockdologer of a dose the Surgeon gave me," he muttered to himself.

Shorty continued to writhe and howl, and Si made156 a hypocritical offer of going for the Surgeon, but Shorty vetoed that emphatically.

"No; blast old Sawbones," he said. "He won't do nothin' but give me bluemass, and quinine, and I never could nor would take bluemass. It's only fit for horses and hogs."

Toward morning Shorty grew quite weak, and correspondingly depressed.

"Si," said he, "I may not git over this. This may be the breakin' out o' the cholera that the folks around here say comes every seven years and kills off the strangers. Si, I'll tell you a secret. A letter may come for me. If I don't git over this, and the letter comes, I want you to burn it up without reading it, and write a letter to Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs, Bad Ax, Wis., tellin' her that I died like a man and soldier, and with her socks on, defendin' his country."

Si whistled softly to himself. "I'll do it. Shorty," he said, and repeated the address to make sure.

The crisis soon passed, however, and the morning found Shorty bright and cheerful, though weak.

Si was puzzled how to get the whisky to Shorty. It would never do to let him know that he had gotten it especially for him. That would have been so contrary to Si's past as to arouse suspicion. He finally decided to lay it where it would seem that someone passing had dropped it, and Shorty could not help finding it. The plan worked all right. Shorty picked it up in a few minutes after Si had deposited it, and made quite an ado over his treasure trove.

"Splendid applejack," he said, tasting it; "little bitter, but that probably comes from their using157 dogwood in the fires when they're 'stilhn'. They know that dogwood'll make the liquor bitter, but they're too all-fired lazy to go after any other kind o' wood." He drank, and as he drank his spirits rose. After the first dram he thought he would clean around the tent, and make their grounds look neater than anybody else's. After the second he turned his attention to his arms and accouterments. After the third he felt like going out on a scout and finding some rebels to vary the monotony of the camp-life. After the fourth, "Groundhog," unluckily for himself, came along, and Shorty remembered that he had long owed the teamster a licking, and he felt that the debt should not be allowed to run any longer. He ordered Groundhog to halt and receive his dues. The teamster demurred, but Shorty was obdurate, and began preparations to put his intention into operation, when the Orderly-Sergeant came down through the company street distributing mail.

Shorty Wants to Fight Groundhog 157

"Shorty," he said, entirely ignoring the bellicosity of the scene, "here's a letter for you."

Shorty's first thought was to look at the postmark. Sure enough, it was Bad Ax, Wis. Instantly his whole demeanor changed. Here was something a hundred times more important than licking any teamster that ever lived.

"Git out, you scab," he said contemptuously. "I haint no time to fool with you now. You'll keep. This won't."

Groundhog mistook the cause of his escape. "O, you're powerful anxious to fight, ain't you, till you find I'm ready for you, and then you quiet down. I'll let you know, sir, that you mustn't give me no more o' your sass. I won't stand it from you. You jest keep your mouth shet after this, if you know when you're well off."

The temptation would have been irresistible to Shorty at any other time, but now he must go off somewhere where he could be alone with his letter, and to the amazement of all the spectators he made no reply to the teamster's gibes, but holding the159 precious envelope firmly in his hand, strode off to the seclusion of a neighboring laurel thicket.

His first thought, as he sat down and looked the envelope over again, was shame that it had come to him when he was under the influence of drink. He remembered the writer's fervent Christianity, and it seemed to him that it would be a gross breach of faith for him to open and read the letter while the fumes of whisky were on his breath. He had a struggle with his burning desire to see the inside of the envelope, but he conquered, and put the letter back in his pocket until he was thoroughly sober.

But he knew not what to do to fill up the time till he could conscientiously open the letter. He thought of going back and fulfilling his long-delayed purpose of thrashing Groundhog, but on reflection this scarcely commended itself as a fitting prelude.

He heard voices approaching—one sympathetic and encouraging, the other weak, pain-breathing, almost despairing. He looked out and saw the Chaplain helping back to the hospital a sick man who had over-estimated his strength and tried to reach his company. The man sat down on a rock, in utter exhaustion.

Shorty thrust the letter back into his blousepocket, sprang forward, picked the man up in his strong arms, and carried him bodily to the hospital. It taxed his strength to the utmost, but it sobered him and cleared his brain.

He returned to his covert, took out his letter, and again scanned its exterior carefully. He actually feared to open it, but at last drew his knife and carefully slit one side. He unfolded the inclosure as160 carefully as if it had been a rare flower, and with palpitating heart slowly spelled out the words, one after another:

Shorty Reading the Letter 160
     "Bad Ax, Wisconsin,

     "April the Twenty-First, 1863.

     "Mister Daniel Elliott, Company Q, 200th Indiana Volunteer
     Infantry.

     "Respected Sir: I taik my pen in hand toe inform you that I
     am wel, and hoap that you aire in joying161 the saim
     blessing. For this, God be prazed and magnified forever."

"Goodness, how religious she is," said he, stopping to ruminate. "How much nicer it makes a woman to be pious. It don't hurt a man much to be a cuss—at least while he's young—but I want a woman to be awfully religious. It sets her off more'n anything else."

He continued his spelling exercise:

     "I am verry glad that my sox reached you all rite, that they
     fell into the hands of a braiv, pious Union soldier, and he
     found them nice."

"Brave, pious Union soldier," he repeated to himself, with a whistle. "Jewhilikins, I'm glad Bad Ax, Wis., is so fur away that she never heard me makin' remarks when a mule-team's stalled. But I must git a brace on myself, and clean up my langwidge for inspection-day."

He resumed the spelling:

     "I done the best I could on them, and moren that no one can
     do. Wimmen cant fite in this cruel war, but they ought all
     to do what they can. I only wish I could do more. But the
     wimmen must stay at home and watch and wait, while the men
     go to the front."

"That's all right. Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs," said he, with more satisfaction. "You jest stay at home and watch and wait, and I'll try to do fightin' enough for both of us. I'll put in some extra licks in future on your account, and they won't miss you from the front."

The next paragraph read:

     "I should like to hear more of you and your162 regiment.
     The only time I ever beared of the 200th Indiana regiment
     was in a letter writ home by one of our Wisconsin boys and
     published in the Bad Ax Grindstone, in which he said they
     wuz brigaded with the 200th Indiana, a good fighting
     regiment, but which would stele even the shoes off the
     brigade mules if they wuzzent watched, and sumtimes when
     they wuz. Ime sorry to hear that any Union soldier is a
     thief. I know that our boys from Wisconsin would rather die
     than stele."

"Steal! The 200th Injianny steal!" Shorty flamed out in a rage. "Them flabbergasted, knock-kneed, wall-eyed Wisconsin whelps writin' home that the Injiannians are thieves! The idee o' them longhaired, splay-footed lumbermen, them chuckleheaded, wap-sided, white-pine butchers talking about anybody else's honesty. Why, they wuz born stealin'. They never knowed anything else. They'd steal the salt out o' your hardtack. They'd steal the lids off the Bible. They talk about the 200th Injiannny! I'd like to find the liar that writ that letter. I'd literally pound the head offen him."

It was some time before he could calm himself down sufficiently to continue his literary exercise. Then he made out:

     "Spring's lait here, but things is looking very well. Wheat
     wintered good, and a big crop is expected. We had a fine
     singing-school during the Winter, but the protracted meeting
     drawed off a good many. We doant complain, however, for the
     revival brought a great many into the fold. No moar at
     present, but belave me

     "Sincerly Your Friend,

     "Jerusha Ellen Briggs."163

Shorty's heart almost choked him when he finished. It was the first time in his hfe that he had received a letter from any woman. It was the first time since his mother's days that any woman had shown the slightest interest in his personality. And, true man like, his impulses were to exalt this particular woman into something above the mere mortal.

Then came a hot flush of indignation that the Wisconsin men should malign his regiment, which, of course, included him, to the mind of such a being. He burned to go over and thrash the first Wisconsin man he should meet.

"Call us thieves; say we'll steal," he muttered, as he walked toward the Wisconsin camp. "I'll learn 'em different."

He did not see anybody in the camp that he could properly administer this needed lesson to. All the vigorous, able-bodied members seemed to be out on drill or some other duty, leaving only a few sick moping around the tents.

Shorty's attention was called to a spade lying temptingly behind one of the tents. He and Si had badly wanted a spade for several days. Here was an opportunity to acquire one. Shorty sauntered carelessly around to the rear of the tent, looked about to see that no one was observing, picked up the implement and walked off with it with that easy, innocent air that no one could assume with more success than he when on a predatory expedition.





CHAPTER XII. THE BAN ON WET GOODS

SI HAS A HARD TIME TRYING TO KEEP WHISKY OUT OF CAMP.

"DETAIL for guard to-morrow," sang out the Orderly-Sergeant, after he had finished the evening roll-call: "Bailey, Belcher, Doolittle, Elliott, Fracker, Gleason, Hendricks, Hummerson. Long, Mansur, Nolan, Thompson."

"Corp'l Klegg, you will act as Sergeant of the Guard.

"Dan Elliott will act as Corporal of the Guard." It is one of the peculiarities of men that the less they have to do the less they want to do. The boys of Co. Q were no different from the rest. When they were in active service a more lively, energetic crowd could not be found in the army. They would march from daybreak till midnight, and build roads, dig ditches, and chop trees on the way. They were ready and willing for any service, and none were louder than they in their condemnation when they thought that the officers did not order done what should be. But when lying around camp, with absolutely nothing to do but ordinary routine, they developed into the laziest mortals that breathed. To do a turn of guard duty was a heart-breaking affliction, and the Orderly-Sergeant's announcement of those who were detailed for the morrow brought forth a yell of protest from every man whose name was called.165

"I only come off guard day before yesterday," shouted Bailey.

"I'm sick, and can't walk a step," complained Belcher, who had walked 15 miles the day before, hunting "pies-an'-milk."

"That blamed Orderly's got a spite at me; he'd keep me on guard every day in the week," grumbled Doolittle.

"I was on fatigue dooty only yesterday," protested Fracker, who had to help carry the company rations from the Commissary's tent.

"I'm goin' to the Surgeon an' git an excuse," said Gleason, who had sprained his wrist a trifle in turning a handspring.

So it went through the whole list.

"I want to see every gun spick-and-span, every blouse brushed and buttoned, and every shoe neatly blacked, when I march you up to the Adjutant," said the Orderly, entirely oblivious to the howls. "If any of you don't, he'll have a spell of digging up roots on the parade. I won't have such a gang of scarecrows as I have had to march out the last few days. You fellows make a note of that, and govern yourselves accordingly."

"Right face—Break ranks—March!"

"Corp'l Klegg," said the Officer of the Day the next morning, as Si was preparing to relieve the old guard, "the Colonel is very much worked up over the amount of whisky that finds its way into camp. Now that we are out here by ourselves we certainly ought to be able to control this. Yet there was a disgusting number of drunken men in camp yesterday, and a lot of trouble that should not be. The Colonel has166 talked very strongly on this subject, and he expects us to-day to put a stop to this. I want you to make an extra effort to keep whisky out. I think you can do it if you try real hard."

"I'll do my best, sir," said Si, saluting.

"Shorty," Si communed with his next in rank before they started on their rounds with the first relief, "we must see that there's no whisky brung into camp this day."

"You jest bet your sweet life there won't be, either," returned Shorty. He felt not a little elated over his brevet rank and the responsibilities of his position as Corporal of the Guard. "This here camp'll be as dry as the State o' Maine to-day."

It was a hot, dull day, with little to occupy the time of those off guard. As usual, Satan was finding "some mischief for idle hands to do."

After he put on the first relief, Si went back to the guard tent and busied himself awhile over the details of work to be found there. There were men under sentence of hard labor that he had to find employment for, digging roots, cleaning up the camp, chopping wood and making trenches. He got the usual chin-music from those whom he set to enforced toil, about the injustice of their sentences and "the airs that some folks put on when they wear a couple of stripes," but he took this composedly, and after awhile went the rounds to look over his guard-line, taking Shorty with him.

Everything seemed straight and soldierly, and they sat down by a cool spring in a little shady hollow.

"Did you ever notice, Shorty," said Si, speculatively, as he looked over the tin cup of cool water he167 was sipping, "how long and straight and string-like the cat-brier grows down here in this country? You see 25 or 30 feet of it at times no thicker'n wooltwine. Now, there's a piece layin' right over there, on t'other side o' the branch, more'n a rod long, and no thicker'n a rye straw."

"I see it, an' I never saw a piece o' cat-brier move endwise before," said Shorty, fixing his eyes on the string-like green.

"As sure's you're alive, it is movin'," said Si, starting to rise.

"Set still, keep quiet an' watch," admonished Shorty. "You'll find out more."

Si sat still and looked. The direction the brier was moving was toward the guard-line, some 100 feet away to the left. About the same distance to the right was a thicket of alders, where Si thought he heard voices. There were indications in the weeds that the cat-brier extended to there.

The brier maintained its outward motion. Presently a clump of rags was seen carried along by it.

"They're sending out their money for whisky," whispered Shorty. "Keep quiet, and we'll confiscate the stuff when it comes in."

They saw the rag move straight toward the guardline, and pass under the log on which the sentry walked when he paced his beat across the branch. It finally disappeared in a bunch of willows.

Presently a bigger rag came out from the willows, in response to the backward movement of the long cat-brier, and crawled slowly back under the log and into camp. As it came opposite Si jumped out, put his foot on the cat-brier and lifted up the rag. He168 found, as he had expected, that it wrapped up a pint flask of whisky.

"O, come off, Si; come off, Shorty!" appealed some of Co. Q from the alders. "Drop that. You ain't goin' to be mean, boy's. You don't need to know nothin' about that, an' why go makin' yourselves fresh when there's no necessity? We want that awful bad, and we've paid good money for it."

"No, sir," said Shorty sternly, as he twisted the bottle off, and smashed it on the stones. "No whisky goes into this camp. I'm astonished at you. Whisky's a cuss. It's the bane of the army. It's the worm that never dies. Its feet lead down to hell. Who hath vain babblings? Who hath redness of eyes? The feller that drinks likker, and especially Tennessee rotgut."

"O, come off; stop that dinged preaching, Shorty," said one impatiently. "There's nobody in this camp that likes whisky better'n you do; there's nobody that'll go further to get it, an' there's nobody up to more tricks to beat the guard."

"What I do as a private soldier, Mr. Blakesley," said Shorty with dignity, "haint nothing to do with my conduct when I'm charged with responsible dooty. It's my dooty to stop the awful practice o' likker-drinkin' in this camp, an' I'm goin' to do it, no matter what the cost. You jest shet up that clam-shell o' your'n an' stop interfering with your officers."

Si and Shorty went outside the lines to the clump of willows, but they were not quick enough to catch Groundhog, the teamster, and the civilian whom our readers will remember as having his head shaved in the camp at Murfreesboro some weeks before. They169 found, however, a jug of new and particularly rasping apple-jack. There was just an instant of wavering in Shorty's firmness when he uncorked the jug and smelled its contents. He lifted it to his lips, to further confirm its character, and Si trembled, for he saw the longing in his partner's eyes. The latter's hand shook a little as the first few drops touched his tongue, but with the look of a hero he turned and smashed the jug on a stone.

"You're solid. Shorty," said Si.

"Yes, but it was an awful wrench. Le's git away from the smell o' the stuff," answered Shorty. "I'm afraid it'll be too much for me yit."

"Corporal of the Guard, Post No. 1."

"Sergeant of the Guard, Post No. 1," came down the line of sentries as the two boys were sauntering back to camp.

"Somethin's happening over there at the gate," said Si, and they quickened their steps in the direction of the main entrance to the camp.

They found there a lank, long-haired, ragged Tennesseean, with a tattered hat of white wool on his head. His scanty whiskers were weather-beaten, he had lost most of his front teeth, and as he talked he spattered everything around with tobacco-juice. He rode on a blind, raw-bone horse, which, with a dejected, broken-down mule, was attached by ropes, fragments of straps, withes, and pawpaw bark to a shackly wagon.

In the latter were some strings of dried apples, a pile of crescents of dried pumpkins, a sack of meal, a few hands of tobacco, and a jug of buttermilk.

"I want t' go inter the camps an' sell a leetle jag170 o' truck," the native explained, as he drenched the surrounding weeds with tobacco-juice. "My ole woman's powerful sick an' ailin', an' I need some money awfully t' git her some quinine. Yarbs don't seem t' do her no sort o' good. She must have some Yankee quinine, and she's nigh dead fer some Yankee coffee. This war's mouty hard on po' people. Hit's jest killin' 'em by inches, by takin' away their coffee an' quinine. I'm a Union man, an' allers have bin."

"You haint got any whisky in that wagon, have you?" asked Si.

"O, Lord, no! nary mite. You don't think I'd try t' take whisky into camp, do you? I'm not sich a bad man as that. Besides, whar'd I git whisky? The war's broke up all the 'stilleries in the country. What the Confedrits didn't burn yo'uns did. I've bin sufferin' for months fur a dram o' whisky, an' as fur my ole woman, she's nearly died. That's the reason the yarbs don't do her no good. She can't get no whisky to soak 'em in."

"He's entirely too talkative about the wickedness o' bringin' whisky into camp," whispered Shorty. "He's bin there before. He's an old hand at the business."

"Sure you've got no whisky?" said Si.

"Sartin, gentlemen; sarch my wagon, if you don't take my word. I only wish I knowed whar thar wuz some whisky. I'd walk 20 miles in the rain t' git one little flask fur my ole woman and myself. I tell you, thar haint a drap t' be found in the hull Duck River Valley. 'Stilleries all burnt, I tell you." And in the earnestness of his protestations he sprayed his team,171 himself, and the neighboring weeds with liquid tobacco.

Si stepped back and carefully searched the wagon, opening the meal sack, uncorking the buttermilk jug, and turning over the dried apples, pumpkins and tobacco. There certainly was no whisky there.

Shorty stood leaning on his musket and looking at the man. He was pretty sure that the fellow had had previous experience in running whisky into camp, and was up to the tricks of the trade. Instead of a saddle the man had under him an old calico quilt, whose original gaudy colors were sadly dimmed by the sun, rain, and dirt. Shorty stepped forward and lifted one corner. His suspicions were right. It had an under pocket, in which was a flat, half-pint flask with a cob stopper, and filled with apple-jack so new that it was as colorless as water.

"I wuz jest bringin' that 'ere in fur you, Capting," said the Tennesseean, with a profound wink and an unabashed countenance. "Stick hit in your pocket, quick. None o' the rest 's seed you."

Shorty flung the bottle down and ordered the man off his horse. The quilt was examined. It contained a half-dozen more flasks, each holding a "half-pint of throat-scorch and at least two fights," as Shorty expressed it. A clumsy leather contrivance lay on the hames of the mule. Flasks were found underneath this, and the man himself was searched. More flasks were pulled out from the tail pockets of his ragged coat; from his breast; from the crown of his ragged hat.

"Well," said Shorty, as he got through, "you're a regler grogshop on wheels. All you need is a lot172 o' loafers talkin' politics, a few picturs o' racin' hosses and some customers buried in the village graveyard to be a first-class bar-room. Turn around and git back to that ole woman o' your'n, or we'll make you sicker'n she is."

Si and Shorty marched around with the second relief, and then sat down to talk over the events of the morning.

"I guess we've purty well settled the whisky business for to-day, at least," said Si. "The Colonel can't complain of us. I don't think we'll have any more trouble. Seems to me that there can't be no more whisky in this part o' Tennessee, from the quantity we've destroyed."

"Don't be too dinged sure o' that," said Shorty. "Whisky seems to brew as naturally in this country as the rosin to run out o' the pine trees. I never saw sich a country fur likker. They have more stills in Tennessee than blacksmith shops, and they work stiddier."

Si looked down the road and saw returning a wagon which had been sent out in the morning for forage. It was well loaded, and the guards who were marching behind had a few chickens and other supplies that they had gathered up.

"Boys seem to be purty fresh, after their tramp," said he, with the first thought of a soldier looking at marching men. "They've all got their guns at carry arms. I noticed that as they came over the hill."

"Yes," answered Shorty, after a glance, "and they're holdin' 'em up very stiff an' straight. That gives mo an idee. Lo's go over there an' take a look at 'em."173

Shorty had sniffed at a trick that he had more than once played in getting the forbidden beverage past the lynx-eyed sentry.

"Don't you find it hard work to march at routstep with your guns at a carry?" he said insinuatingly. "No need o' doin' that except on parade or drill. Right-shoulder-shift or arms-at-will is the thing when you're on the road."

"H-s-sh," said the leading file, with a profound wink and a sidelong glance at Si. "Keep quiet, Shorty," he added in a stage whisper. "We'll give you some. It's all right. We'll whack up fair."

"No, it ain't all right," said Shorty, with properly offended official dignity. "Don't you dare offer to bribe me, Buck Harper, when I'm on duty. Hand me that gun this minute."

Harper shamefacedly handed over the musket, still holding it carefully upright. Shorty at once reversed it and a stream of whisky ran out upon the thirsty soil.

Si grasped the situation, and disarmed the others with like result.

"I ought to put every one o' you in' the guardhouse for this. It's lucky that the Officer of the Guard wasn't here. He'd have done it. There he comes now. Skip out after the wagon, quick, before he gits on to you."

"What next?" sighed Si. "Is the whole world bent on bringin' whisky into this camp? Haint they got none for the others?"

"Sergeant of the Guard, Post No. 1," rang out upon the hot air. Si walked over again to the entrance, and saw seeking admission a tall, bony174 woman, wearing a dirty and limp sunbonnet and smoking a corn-cob pipe. She was mounted on a slab-sided horse, with ribs like a washboard, and carried a basket on her arm covered with a coarse cloth none too clean.

"Looks as if she'd bin picked before she was ripe and got awfully warped in the dryin'. All the same she's loaded with whisky," commented Shorty as the woman descended from her saddle and approached the sentry with an air of resolute demand.

"You haint got no right to stop me, young feller," she said. "I come in hyar every day an' bring pies. Your Jinerul said I could, an' he wanted me to. His men want my pies, an' they do 'em good. Hit's homecookin', an' takes the taste o' the nasty camp vittles out o' their mouths, an' makes 'em healthy. You jest raise yer gun, an' let me go right in, or I'll tell yer Jinerul, an' he'll make it warm fur yer. I've got a pass from him."

"Let me see your pass," said Si, stepping forward. The woman unhooked her linsey dress, fumbled around in the recesses, and finally produced a soiled and crumpled paper, which, when straightened out, read:

     "Mrs. Sarah Bolster has permission to pass in and out of the
     camp of the 200th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

     "By order of Col. Quackenbush.

     "D. L. Blakemore, Lieut. & Adj't."

"What've you got in that basket?" asked Si, still hesitating.

"Pies," she answered confidently. "The best pies you ever seed. Some of 'em pumpkin; but the rest175 of 'em dried apple, with lots o' 'lasses in fur sweetenin'. Your mother never baked better pies 'n 'em."

"To my mind," muttered Shorty, as he stepped forward to investigate the basket, "she's the kind o' a woman I'd like to have bake pies for a gang o' State's prison birds that I wanted to kill off without the trouble o' hangin'. Say, ma'am, are your pies pegged or sewed? What'd you use for shortenen'—injy rubber or Aunt Jemimy's plaster?" he continued as he turned back the cloth and surveyed the well-known specimens of mountain baking which were as harmful to Uncle Sam's boys as the bullets of their enemies.

"Young feller, none o' yer sass," she said severely. "Them's better pies than ye're used ter. Folks that's never had nothin' air allers the most partickeler, an' turnin' up thar noses at rayly good things. Don't fool with me no more, but let me go on inter camp, fur the soljers air expectin' me."

"Sure you haint got no whisky down in the bottom o' that basket?" said Si, pushing the pies about a little, to get a better look.

The indignation of the woman at this insinuation was stunning. She took her pipe out of her mouth to better express her contempt for men who would insult a Southern lady by such a hint—one, too, that had been of so much benefit to the soldiers by toiling over the hot oven to prepare for them food more acceptable than the coarse rations their stingy Government furnished them. She had never been so insulted in her life, and she would bring down on them dire punishment from the Colonel.

Several experiences with the tongue-lashings of176 Southern viragoes had made Si and Shorty less impressed by them than they had been earlier in their service. Still, they had the healthy young man's awe of anything that wore skirts, and the tirade produced its effect, but not strong enough to eradicate the belief that she was a whisky-bringer. While she stormed Si kept his eyes fixed upon the scant linsey dress which draped her tall form. Presently he said to Shorty:

"What do you think? Shall we let her go in?" Shorty whispered back with great deliberation: "Si, what I know about the female form don't amount to shucks. Least of all the Tennessee female form. But I've been lookin' that 'ere woman over carefully while she's been jawin', an' while she's naturally covered with knots and knobs in places where it seems to me that women generally don't have 'em, I can't help believin' that she's got some knots and knobs that naturally don't belong to her. In other words, she's got a whole lot o' flasks of whisky under her skirts."

"Jest what I've been suspicionin'," said Si. "I've heard that that's the way lots o' whisky is brung into camp. Shorty, as Corporal o' the Guard, it's your duty to search her."

"What!" yelled Shorty, horror-struck at the immodest thought. "Si Klegg, are you gone plum crazy?"

"Shorty," said Si firmly, "it's got to be done. She's got a pass, and the right to go into camp. We're both o' the opinion that she's carryin' in whisky. If she was a man there'd be no doubt that she'd have to be searched. I don't understand that the law177 knows any difference in persons. No matter what you may think about it, it is your duty, as Corporal o' the Guard, to make the search."

"No, sir-ree," insisted Shorty. "You're Sergeant o' the Guard, and it's your dooty to make all searches."

"Shorty," expostulated Si, "I'm much younger and modester'n you are, an' haint seen nearly so much o' the world. You ought to do this. Besides, you're under my orders, as Actin' Corporal. I order you to make the search."

"Si Klegg," said Shorty firmly, "I'll see you and all the Corporals and Sergeants betwixt here and Washington in the middle o' next week before I'll do it. You may buck-and-gag me, and tie me up by the thumbs, and then I won't. I resign my position as Corporal right here, and'll take by gun and go on post."

"What in the world are we goin' to do?" said Si desperately. "If we let her in, she'll fill the camp full o' whisky, and she'll have to go in, unless we kin show some reason for keepin' her out. Hold on; I've got an idee."

He went up to the woman and said:

"You say you want to go into camp to sell your pies?"

"Yes, sir, an' I want to go in right off—no more foolin' around," she answered tartly.

"How many pies've you got?"

She went through a laborious counting, and finally announced: "Eight altogether."

"How much are they worth?"

"Fifty cents apiece."178

"Very good," announced Si taking some money from his pocket. "That comes to $4. I'll take the lot and treat the boys. Here's your money. Now you've got no more business in camp, jest turn around and mosey for home. You've made a good day's business, and ought to be satisfied."

The woman scowled with disappointment. But she wisely concluded that she h'd better be content with the compromise, remounted her horse and disappeared down the road.

"That was a sneak out of a difficulty," Si confessed to Shorty; "but you were as big a coward as I was."

"No, I wasn't," insisted Shorty, still watchful. "You'd no right to order me do something that you was afraid to do yourself. That's no kind o' officering."

179





CHAPTER XIII. THE JEW SPY WRITES

SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH A LONE, LORN WIDDER LADY."

"I WONDER what has become of our Jew spy, Shorty?" said Si, as he and Shorty sat on the bank of Duck River and watched the rebel pickets lounging under the beeches on the other side. "We hain't heard nothin' of him for more'n a month now."

"He's probably hung," answered Shorty. "He was entirely too smart to live long. A man can't go on always pokin' his finger into a rattlesnake's jaw without gittin' it nipped sooner or later."

"I'm looking fur a man called Si Klegg," they heard behind them. Looking around they saw the tall, gaunt woman whom they had turned back from entering the camp a few days before, under the belief that she was trying to smuggle in whisky.

"What in the world can she want o' me?" thought Si; but he answered:

"That's my name. What'll you have?"

A flash of recognition filled at once her faded blue eyes. Without taking her pipe from between her yellow, snaggly teeth she delivered a volley of tobacco-juice at an unoffending morning-glory, and snapped out:

"O, y'r him, air ye? Y'r the dratted measly180 sapsucker that bounced me 'bout takin' likker inter camp. What bizniss wuz hit o' your'n whether I tuk likker in or not? Jest wanted t' be smart, didn't ye? Jest wanted t' interfere with a lone, lorn widder lady makin' a honest livin' for herself and 10 children. My ole man ketched the black ager layin' out in the brush to dodge the conscripters. It went plumb to his heart an' killed him. He wa'n't no great loss, nohow, fur he'd eat more in a week than he'd kill, ketch, or raise in a year. When his light went out I'd only one less mouth to feed, and got rid o' his jawin' an' cussin' all the time. But that hain't nothin' t' do with you. You 's jest puttin' on a lettle authority kase ye could. But all men air alike that-a-way. Elect a man Constable, an' he wants t' put on more airs than the Guv-nor; marry him, an' he makes ye his slave."

"I should think it'd be a bold man that'd try to make you his slave. Madam," Si ventured.

"Y' she'd think," she retorted, with her arms akimbo. "Who axed y' t' think, young feller? What d' y' do hit with. Why d' y' strain y'rself doin' somethin' y' ain't used t'?"

It did Shorty so much good to see Si squelched, that he chuckled aloud and called out:

"Give it to him, old Snuff-Dipper. He's from the Wabash, an' hain't no friends. He's bin itchin' a long time for jest such a skinnin' as you're givin' him."

"Who air y' callin' Snuff-Dipper?" she retorted, turning angrily on Shorty. "What've ye got t' say agin snuff-dippin', anyway, y' terbacker-chawin', likker-guzzlin', wall-oyed, splay-footed, knock-kneed181 oaf? What air y' greasy hirelings a-comin' down heah fo', t' sass and slander Southern ladies, who air yo' superiors?"

"Give it to him, old Corncob Pipe," yelled Si "He needs lambastin' worse'n any man in the regiment. But what did you want to see me for?"

"I wanted to see yo' bekase I got a letter to yo' from a friend o' mine, who said yo' wuz gentlemen, an' rayly not Yankees at all. He said that yo' wuz forced into the army agin yo' will."

"Gracious, what a liar that man must be," murmured Shorty to himself.

"An' yo' rayly had no heart to fight for the nigger, an' that yo'd treat me like a sister."

"A sister," Shorty exploded internally. "Think of a feller's havin' a sister like that. Why, I wouldn't throw her in a soap-grease barrel."

"Who was this friend. Madam?" said Si, "and where is his letter?"

"I don't know whether to give it to yo' or not," said she. "Y're not the men at all that he ascribed to me. He said yo' wuz very good-lookin', perlite gentlemen, who couldn't do too much for a lady."

"Sorry we're not as handsome as you expected," said Si; "but mebbe that's because we're in fatigue uniforms. You ought to see my partner there when he's fixed up for parade. He's purtier'n a red wagon then. Let me see the letter. I can tell then whether we're the men or not."

"Kin yo' read?" she asked suspiciously.

"O, yes," answered Si laughingly at the thought almost universal in the South that reading and writing were—like the Gift of Tongues—a special182 dispensation to a few favored individuals only. "I can read and do lots o' things that common people can't. I'm seventh son of a seventh son, born with a caul on my head at the time o' the full moon. Let me see the letter."

She was not more than half convinced, but unhooked her dress and took a note from her bosom, which she stuck out toward Si, holding tightly on to one end in the meanwhile. Si read, in Levi Rosenbaum's flourishing, ornate handwriting:

     "Corporal Josiah Klegg, Co. Q, 200th Indiana Volunteers,
     in Camp on Duck River."

"That means me," said Si, taking hold of the end of the envelope. "There ain't but one 200th Injianny Volunteers; there's no other Co. Q, and I'm the only Josiah Klegg."

The woman still held on to the other end of the letter.

"It comes," continued Si, "from a man a little under medium size, with black hair and eyes, dresses well, talks fast, and speaks a Dutch brogue."

"That's him," said the woman, relinquishing the letter, and taking a seat under the shade of a young cucumber tree, where she proceeded to fill her pipe, while awaiting the reading of the missive.

Si stepped off a little ways, and Shorty looked over his shoulder as he opened the letter and read:

     "Dear Boys: This will be handed you, if it reaches you at
     all, by Mrs. Bolster, who has more about her than you
     think."183

"I don't know about that," muttered Shorty; "the last time I had the pleasure o' meetin' the lady she had 'steen dozen bottles o' head-bust about her."

     "She's a Confederate, as far as she goes."

Si continued reading,

     "which is not very far. She don't go but a little ways. A
     jay-bird that did not have any more brains would not build
     much of a nest. But she is very useful to me, and I want you
     to get in with her. As soon as you read this I want Si to
     give her that pair of horn combs I gave him. Do it at once.
     Sincerely your friend,

     "Levi Rosenbaum."

Si knit his brows in perplexity and wonderment over this strange message. He looked at Shorty, but Shorty's face was as blank of explanation as his own. He fumbled around in his blouse pocket, drew forth the combs, and handed them to the woman. Her dull face lighted up visibly. She examined the combs carefully, as if fitting them to a description, and, reaching in her bosom, pulled out another letter and handed it to Si.

When this was opened Si read:

     "Dear Boys: Now you will understand the comb business. I
     wanted to make sure that my letter reached the right men,
     and the combs were the only things I could think of at the
     moment. Mrs. B. will prize them, though she will never think
     of using them, either on herself or one of her shock-headed
     brats. I want you to play it on her as far as your
     consciences will allow. Pretend that you are awful sick of
     this Abolition war, and tired fighting for the nigger, and
     all that stuff. Make her the happiest184 woman in
     Tennessee by giving her all the coffee you can spare. That
     will fetch her quicker and surer than anything else. Like
     most Southern women, she is a coffee-drinker first and a
     rebel afterward, and if some preacher would tell her that
     heaven is a place where she will get all the Yankee coffee
     she can drink, she would go to church regularly for the rest
     of her life. Tell her a lot of news—as much of it true as
     you can and think best; as much of it otherwise as you can
     invent. Follow her cautiously when she leaves camp. Don't
     let her see you do so. You will find that she will lead you
     to a nest of spies, and the place where all the whisky is
     furnished to sell in camp. I write you thus freely because I
     am certain that this will get in your hands. I know that
     your regiment is out here, because I have been watching it
     for a week, with reference to its being attacked. It won't
     be for at least awhile, for there's another hen on. But make
     up to the old lady as much as your consciences and stomachs
     will allow you. It will be for the best interests of the
     service.

     "Sincerely your friend, Levi Rosenbaum."

"I wonder what game Levi is up to?" Si said, as he stood with the letter in his hand and looked at the woman. "I'll give her all the coffee I can and be very civil to her, but that's as far as I'll go. The old rebel cat. I'll not lie to her for 40 Levi Rosenbaums."

"Well, I will," said Shorty. "You fix her up with the coffee, and leave the rest to me. I always had a fancy for queer animals, and run off from home once to travel with a menagerie. I'd like to take her up185 North and start a side-show with her. 'The Queen o' the Raccoon Mountains,' or the 'Champion Snuff-Dipper o' the Sequatchie Valley.' How'd that do for a sign?"

"Well, go ahead," said Si. "But expect no help from me."

"Mr. Klegg, when I want your help in courtin' a lady I'll let you know," said Shorty with dignity. Si went back to the tent to see about getting the coffee, and Shorty approached Mrs. Bolster with an engaging expression on his countenance. She was knocking the ashes out of her pipe.

"Let me fill your pipe up again. Madam, with something very choice," said he, pulling out a plug of bright natural leaf. "Here's some terbacker the like o' which you never see in all your born days. It was raised from seed stole from the private stock of the High-muk-a-muk o' Turkey, brung acrost the ocean in a silver terbacker box for the use o' President Buchanan, and planted in the new o' the moon on a piece o' ground that never before had raised nothin' but roses and sweet-williams. My oldest brother, who is a Senator from Oshkosh, got just one plug of it, which he divided with me."

"O, my! is that true?" she gurgled.

"It's as true as that you are a remarkably fine lookin' woman," he said with unblushing countenance, as he began whittling off some of the tobacco to fill her pipe. "I was struck by your appearance as soon as I saw you. I always was very fond of the Southern ladies."

"Sakes alive, air y'?" she asked; "then what air yo'uns down here foutin' we'uns fur?"186

"That's a long story, m'm," answered Shorty. "It was a trick o' the Abolition politicians that got us into it. I'm awful sick o' the war (that we hain't gone ahead and knocked the heads offen this whole crowd instead o' layin' 'round here in camp for months)" he added as a mental reservation, "and wisht I was out of it (after we've hung Jeff Davis on a sour-apple tree). Then I might settle down here and marry some nice woman. You're a widder, I believe you said."

"Yes, I'm a widder," she answered, taking her pipe from her mouth and giving him what she intended for a languishing smile, but which Shorty afterward said reminded him of a sun-crack in a mud fence. "Yes, I'm a widder. Bin so for gwine on six months. Sakes alive, but ye do talk nice. You air the best-lookin' Yankee I've ever seed." "Nothin' painfully bashful about her," thought Shorty. "But I must be careful not to let her get me near a Justice of the Peace. She'd marry me before I could ketch my breath. Madam," he continued aloud.

"Yo' may call me Sophrony," she said, with another cavernous smile.

"Well, Sophrony, let me present you with half o' this plug o' famous terbacker." He drew his jackknife and sliced the plug in two. "Take it, with my warmest respects. Here comes my partner with some coffee I've sent him for, and which I want you to have. It is not as much as I'd like to give you, but it's all that I have. Some other day you shall have much more."

"Law's sakes." she bubbled, as the fragrant odor187 of the coffee reached her nose, and she hefted the package. "Yo' air jest the nicest man I ever did see in all my born days. I didn't s'pose thar wuz so nice a man, or sich a good-lookin' one, in the hull Yankee army, or in the oonfederit either, fur that matter. But, then, yo' ain't no real blue-bellied Yankee."

"No, indeed, Sophrony. I never saw New England in all my life, nor did any o' my people. They wuz from Virginny (about 500 miles, as near as I kin calculate)" he added to himself as a mental poultice.

"Say, Mister, why don't you leave the Yankee army?"

"Can't," said Shorty, despairingly. "If I tried to git back home the Provos 'll ketch me. If I go the other way the rebel's ketch me. I'm betwixt the devil and the deep sea."

She sat and smoked for several minutes in semblance of deep thought, and spat with careful aim at one after another of the prominent weeds around. Then she said:

"If yo' want t' splice with me, I kin take keer o' yo'. I've helped run off several o' the boys who wuz sick o' this Abolition war. Thar's two o' them now with Bill Phillips's gang makin' it hot for the Yankee trains and camps. They're makin' more'n they ever did soljerin', an' havin' a much better time, for they take whatever they want, no matter who it belongs to. D' yo' know Groundhog, a teamster? He's in cahoots with us."

"Oh!" said Shorty to himself. "Here's another lay altogether. Guess it's my duty to work it for all that it's worth."188

"Is it a bargain?" she said suddenly, stretching out her long, skinny hand.

"Sophrony," said Shorty, taking her hand, "this is so sudden. I never thought o' marryin'—at least till this cruel war is over. I don't know what kind of a husband I'd make. I don't know whether I could fill the place o' your late husband!"

"Yo're not gwine t' sneak out," she said, with a fierce flash in her gray eyes. "If yo' do I'll have yo' pizened."

"Now, who's talkin' about backin' out?" said Shorty in a fever of placation, for he was afraid that some of the other boys would overhear the conversation. "Don't talk so loud. Come, let's walk on toward your home. We kin talk on the way."

The proposition appeared reasonable. She took the bridle of her horse in her arm, and together they walked out through the guard-line. The sentries gave Shorty a deep, knowing wink as he passed. He went the more willingly, as he was anxious to find out more about the woman, and the operations of the gang with which she was connected. She had already said enough to explain several mysterious things of recent occurrence. Night came down and as her ungainliness was not thrust upon him as it was in the broad glare of day, he felt less difficulty in professing a deep attachment for her. He even took her hand. On her part she grew more open and communicative at every step, and Shorty had no difficulty in understanding that there was gathered around her a gang that was practicing about everything detrimental to the army. They were by turns spies, robbers, murderers, whisky189 smugglers, horse-thieves, and anything else that promised a benefit to themselves. Ostensibly they were rebels, but this did not prevent their preying upon the rebels when occasion offered. Some were deserters from the rebel army, some were evading the conscript laws, two or three were deserters from our army.

Shorty and the woman had reached a point nearly a half-mile outside of the guard-line when he stopped and said:

"I can't go no farther now. I must go back." "Why must yo' go back?" she demanded, with a190 sudden angry suspicion. "I thought yo' wuz gwine right along with me."

"Why, no. I never thought o' that. I must go back and get my things before I go with you," said Shorty, as the readiest way of putting her off.

"Plague take y'r things," she said. "Let 'em go. Yo' kin git plenty more jest as good from the next Yankee camp. Yo' slip back some night with the boys an' git yo'r own things, if y'r so dratted stuck on 'em. Come along now."

She took hold of his wrist with a grip like iron. Shorty had no idea that a woman could have such strength.

"I want to go back and git my partner," said Shorty. "Me and him 've bin together all the time we've bin in the army. He'll go along with me, I'm sure. Me and him thinks alike on everything, and what one starts the other jines in. I want to go back an' git him."

"I don't like that partner o' your'n. I don't want him. I'll be a better partner t' yo' than ever he was. Yo' mustn't think more o' him than yo' do o' me."

"Look here, Sophrony," said Shorty desperately, "I cannot an' will not go with you to-night. I'm expectin' important letters from home to-morrow, and I must go back an' git 'em. I've a thousand things to do before I go away. Have some sense. This thing's bin sprung on me so suddenly that it ketches me unawares."

With the quickness of a flash she whipped out a long knife from somewhere, and raised it, and then hesitated a second.

She Whipped out a Long Knife. 189

"I believe yo're foolin' me, and if I wuz shore I'd191 stick yo'. But I'm gwine t' give yo' a chance. Yo' kin go back now, an' I'll come for yo' ter-morrer. If you go back on me hit'll be a mouty sorry day for yo'. Mind that now."

Shorty gallantly helped her mount, and then hurried back to camp.





CHAPTER XIV. SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH SI

HE GOES OUT TO VISIT MRS. BOLSTER.

SHORTY sauntered thoughtfully back to the tent, and on the way decided to tell Si the whole occurrence, not even omitting the deceit practiced.

He had to admit to himself that he was unaccountably shaken up by the affair.

Si was so deeply interested in the revelations that he forgot to blame Shorty's double-dealing.

"Never had my nerve so strained before," Shorty frankly admitted. "At their best, women are curiouser than transmogrified hullaloos, and when a real cute one sets out to hornswoggle a man he might as well lay down and give right up, for he hain't no earthly show. She gits away with him every time, and one to spare. That there woman's got the devil in her bigger'n a sheep, and she come nigher makin' putty o' your Uncle Ephraim than I ever dreamed of before. It makes me shivery to think about it."

"I don't care if she's more devils in her than the Gadarene swine, she must be stopped at once," said Si, his patriotic zeal flaming up. "She's doin' more mischief than a whole regiment o' rebels, and must be busted immediately. We've got to stop193 her."

"But just how are we goin' to stop her?" Shorty asked. There was a weak unreadiness in Shorty's tones that made Si look at him in surprise. Never before, in any emergency, had there been the slightest shade of such a thing in his bold, self-reliant partner's voice.

"I'd rather tackle any two men there are in the Southern Confederacy than that woman," said Shorty. "I believe she put a spell on me."

"Le's go up and talk to Capt. McGillicuddy about it," said Si. Ordinarily, this was the last thing that either of them would have thought of doing. Their usual disposition was to go ahead and settle the problem before them in their own way, and report about it afterward. But Shorty was clearly demoralized.

Capt. McGillicuddy listened very gravely to their story.

"Evidently that old hen has a nest of bad, dangerous men, which has to be broken up," he said. "We can get the whole raft if we go about it in the right way, but we've got to be mighty smart in dealing with them, or they'll fly the coop, and leave the laugh on us. You say she's coming back to-morrow?"

"Yes," said Shorty, with a perceptible shiver.

"Well, I want you to fall right in with all her plans—both of you. Pretend to be anxious to desert, or anything else that she may propose. Go back home with her. I shall watch you carefully, but without seeming to, and follow you with a squad big enough to take care of anything that may be out there. Go back to your tent now, and think it194 all over, and arrange some signal to let me know when you want me to jump the outfit."

The boys went back to their tent, and spent an hour in anxious consideration of their plans. Si saw the opportunity to render a great service, and was eager to perform it, but he firmly refused to tell any lies to the woman or those around her. He would not say that he was tired of the service and wanted to desert; he would not pretend liking for the Southern Confederacy or the rebels, nor hatred to his own people. He would do nothing but go along, share all the dangers with Shorty, and be ready at the moment to co-operate in breaking up the gang.

"Some folks's so durned straight that they lean over backwards," said Shorty impatiently. "What in thunder does it amount to what you tell these onery gallinippers? They'll lie to you as fast as a hoss kin trot. There's no devilment they won't do, and there kin be nothin' wrong in anything you kin do and say to them."

"Everybody settles some things for himself," said the unchangeable Si. "I believe them folks are as bad as they kin be made. I believe every one o' 'em ought to be killed, and if it wuz orders to kill 'em I'd kill without turnin' a hair. But I jest simply won't lie to nobody, I don't care who he is. I'll stand by you until the last drop; you kin tell 'em what you please, but I won't tell 'em nothin', except that they're a pizen gang, and ought t've bin roastin' in brimstone long ago."

"But," expostulated Shorty, "if you only go along with me you're actin' a lie. If you go out o' camp with mo you'll pretend to bo desertin' and j'inin' in195 with 'em. Seems to me that's jest as bad as tellin' a lie straight out."

"Well," said the immovable Si, "I draw the line there. I'll go along with you, and they kin think what they like. But if I say anything to 'em, they'll git it mighty straight."

"Well, I don't know but, after all, we kin better arrange it that way," said Shorty, after he had thought it over in silence for some time. "I'm sure that if you'd talk you'd give us dead away. That clumsy basswood tongue o' your'n hain't any suppleness, and you'd be sure to blurt out something that'd jest ruin us. An idee occurs to me. You jest go along, look sour and say nothin'. I'll tell 'em you ketched cold the other night and lost your speech. It'll give me a turn o' extra dooty talkin' for two, but I guess I kin do it."

"All right," agreed Si. "Let it go that way."

"Now, look here, Si," said Shorty, in a low, mysterious tone, "I'm goin' to tell you somethin' that I hadn't intended to. I'm scared to death lest that old hag'll git the drop on me some way and marry me right out of hand. I tell you, she jest frightens the life out o' me. That worries me more'n all the rest put together. I expect I ought t 'v' told you so at the very first."

"Nonsense," said Si contemptuously. "The idee o' you're being afeared o' such a thing."

"It's all very well for you to snort and laugh, Si Klegg," persisted Shorty. "You don't know her. I sneered at her, too, at first, but when I was left alone with her she seemed to mesmerize me. I found myself talkin' about marryin' her before I knowed196 it, and the next thing I was on the p'int o' actually marryin' her. I believe that if she'd got me to walk a half-mile further with her she'd a run me up agin a Justice o' the Peace and married me in spite of all that I could do. I'd much ruther have my head blowed off than married to that old catamount.

"Bah, you can't marry folks unless both are willin'," insisted Si. "A man can't have a marriage rung in on him willy-nilly."

"There's just where you're shootin' off your mouth without any sense. You don't know what you're talkin' about. Men are lassoed every day and married to women that they'd run away from like a dog from a porcupine, if they could. You jest look around among the married folks you know, and see how many there are that wouldn't have married one another if they'd bin in their senses."

"Well, I don't think o' many," said Si, whose remembrances were that the people in Posey County seemed generally well-mated.

"Well, there mayn't be many, but there's some, and I don't propose to be one of 'em. There's some spell or witchcraft about it. I've read in books about things that gave a woman power to marry any man she wanted to, and he couldn't help himself. That woman's got something o' that kind, and she's set her eye on me. I'm goin' to meet her, and I want to help break up her gang, but I'd a great deal rather tackle old Bragg and his entire army. I want you to stay right by me every minnit, and keep your eye on me when she's near me."197

"All right," said Si sleepily, as he crawled into bed.

The next morning, as they were discussing the question of signals, they happened to pass the Sutler's, and Si caught a glimpse of packages of firecrackers, which the regimental purveyor had, for some inscrutable reason, thought he might sell. An idea occurred to Si, and he bought a couple of packages, and stowed them away in his blouse pocket and told the Captain that their firing would be the signal, unless a musket-shot should come first.

It was yet early in the forenoon as they walked on the less-frequented side of the camp. Shorty gave a start, and gasped:

"Jewhilikins, there she is already."

Si looked, and saw Mrs. Bolster striding toward them. Shorty hung back instinctively for an instant, and then braced up and bade her good morning.

She grunted an acknowledgment, and said rather imperiously:

"Y're a-gwine, air yo'?"

"Certainly," answered Shorty.

"And yo'?" she inquired, looking at Si.

"He's a-goin', too," answered Shorty. "Mustn't expect him to talk. He's short on tongue this mornin'. Ketched a bad cold night before last. Settled on his word-mill. Unjinted his clapper. Can't speak a word. Doctor says it will last several days. Not a great affliction. Couldn't 've lost anything o' less account."

"Must've bin an orful cold," said she, taking her pipe from her mouth and eyeing Si suspiciously.198

"Never knowed a cold to shut off any one's gab afore. Seems t' me that hit makes people talk more. But these Yankees air different. Whar air yer things? Did yo' bring plenty o' coffee?'

"We've got 'em hid down here in the brush," said Shorty. "We'll git 'em when we're ready to start."

"We're ready now," she answered. "Come along."

"But we hain't no passes," objected Shorty. "We must go to the Captain and git passes."

"Yo' won't need no passes," she said impatiently. "Foller me."

Shorty had expected to make the pretext about the passes serve for informing Capt. McGillicuddy of the presence of the woman in the camp. He looked quickly around and saw the Captain sauntering carelessly at a little distance, so that any notification was unnecessary. He turned and followed Mrs. Bolster's long strides, with Si bringing up the rear.

They went to the clump of brush where they had hidden their haversacks and guns. Mrs. Bolster eagerly examined the precious package of coffee.

"I'll take keer o' this myself," she said, stowing it away about her lanky person. "I can't afford to take no resks as to hit."

Si and Shorty had thought themselves very familiar with the campground, but they were astonished to find themselves led outside the line without passing under the eye of a single guard. Si looked at Shorty in amazement, and Shorty remarked:

"Well, I'll be durned."

The woman noticed and understood. "Yo' Yanks,"199 she said scornfully, "think yourselves moughty smart with all your book-larnin', and yo'uns put on heaps o' airs over po' folks what hain't no eddication; but what you don't know about Tennessee woods would make a bigger book than ever was printed."

"I believe you," said Shorty fervently. His superstition in regard to her was rapidly augmenting to that point where he believed her capable of anything. He was alarmed a'bout Capt. McGillicuddy's being able to follow their mysterious movements. But they soon came to the road, and looking back from the top of a hill, Shorty's heart lightened as he saw a squad moving out which he was confident was led by Capt. McGillicuddy.

But little had been said so far. At a turn of the road they came upon a gray-bearded man, wearing a battered silk hat and spectacles, whom Mrs. Bolster greeted as "'Squire."

The word seemed to send all the blood from Shorty's face, and he looked appealingly to Si as if the crisis had come.

The newcomer looked them over sharply and inquired:

"Who are these men, Mrs. Bolster?"

"They'uns 's all right. They'uns 's had enough o' Abolition doin's, and hev come over whar they'uns allers rayly belonged. This one is a partickler friend o' mine," and she leered at Shorty in a way that made his blood run cold.

"Hain't yo' time t' stop a minute, 'Squire?" she asked appealingly, as the newcomer turned his horse's head to renew his journey.200

"Not now; not now," answered the 'Squire, digging his heels into his steed's side. "I want to talk t' yo' and these 'ere men 'bout what's gwine on in the Lincoln camps, but I must hurry on now to meet Capt. Solomon at the Winding Blades. I'll come over to your house this evening," he called back.

"Don't fail, 'Squire," she answered, "fur I've got a little job for yo', an' I want hit partickerly done this very evenin'. Hit can't wait."

"I'll be there without fail," he assured her.

"Capt. Solomon's the man what sent the letter to you," she explained, which somewhat raised Shorty's depressed heart, for he began to have hopes that Rosenbaum might rescue him if Capt. McGillicuddy should be behind time.

As they jogged onward farther from camp Mrs. Bolster's saturnine earnestness began to be succeeded by what were intended to be demonstrations of playful affection for her future husband, whom she now began to regard as securely hers. She would draw Shorty into the path a little ahead of Si, and walk alongside of him, pinching his arm and jabbering incoherent words which were meant for terms of endearment. When the narrowness of the road made them walk in single file she would come up from time to time alongside with cuffs intended for playful love-taps.

At each of these Shorty would cast such a look of wretchedness at Si that the latter had difficulty in preserving his steadfast silence and rigidity of countenance.

But the woman's chief affection seemed to be called forth by the package of coffee. She would201 stop in the midst of any demonstration to pull out the bag containing the fragrant berry, and lovingly inhale its odor.

It was long past noon when she announced: "Thar's my house right ahead." She followed this up with a ringing whoopee, which made the tumbledown cabin suddenly swarm with animation. A legion of loud-mouthed dogs charged down toward the road. Children of various ages, but of no variety in their rags and unkempt wildness, followed the dogs, or perched upon the fence-corners and stumps, and three or four shambling, evil-faced mountaineers lunged forward, guns in hand, with eyes fiercer than the dogs, as they looked over the two armed soldiers.

"They'uns is all right, boys," exclaimed the woman. "They'uns 's plum sick o' doggin' hit for Abe Lincoln an' quit."

"Let 'em gin up thar guns, then," said the foremost man, who had but one eye, reaching for Shorty's musket. "I'll take this one. I've been longin' for a good Yankee gun for a plum month to reach them Yankee pickets on Duck River."

Though Shorty and Si had schooled themselves in the part they were to play, the repugnant thought of giving up their arms to the rebels threatened to overset everything. Instinctively they threw up their guns to knock over the impudent guerrillas. The woman strode between them and the others, and caught hold of their muskets.

"Don't be fools. Let 'em have your guns," she said, and she caught Si's with such quick unexpectedness that she wrenched it from his grasp and flung202 it to the man who wanted Shorty's. She threw one arm around Shorty's neck, with a hug so muscular that his breath failed, and she wrenched his gun away. She kept this in her hand, however.

"Now, I want these 'ere men treated right," she announced to the others, "and I'm a-gwine to have 'em treated right, or I'll bust somebody's skillet. They'uns is my takings, and I'm a-gwine to have all the say 'bout 'em. I've never interfered with any Yankees any o' yo'uns have brung in. Yo've done with them as you pleased, an' I'm a-gwine to do with these jest as I please, and yo'uns that don't like hit kin jest lump hit, that's all."

Take Your Arm from Around That Yank's Neck 203

"'Frony Bolster, I want yo' to take yo'r arms from around that Yank's neck," said the man who had tried to take Shorty's gun. "I won't 'low yo' to put yo'r arm 'round another man's neck as long's I'm alive to stop it."

"Ye won't, Jeff Hackberry," she sneered. "Jealous, air ye? You've got no bizniss o' bein'. Done tole ye 'long ago I'd never marry yo', so long as I could find a man who has two good eyes and a 'spectable character. I've done found him. Here he is, and 'Squire Corson 'll splice us to-night."

How much of each of the emotions of jealousy, disappointment, hurt vanity, and rebel antagonism went into the howl that Mr. Jeff Hackberry set up at this announcement will never be known. He made a rush with clenched fists at Shorty.

A better description could be given of the operations of the center of a tornado than of the events of the next few minutes. Shorty and Hackberry grappled fiercely. Mrs. Bolster mixed in to stop the fight and save Shorty. Si and the other three rebels flung themselves into the whirlpool of strikes, kicks, and grapples. The delighted children came rushing in, and eagerly joined the fray, striking with charming impartiality at every opportunity to get a lick in anywhere on anybody; and finally the legion of dogs, to whom such scenes seemed familiar and gladsome, rushed in with an ear-splitting clamor, and jumped and bit at the arms and legs that went flying around.204

This was too violent to last long. Everybody and everything had to stop from sheer exhaustion. But when the stop came Mrs. Bolster was sitting on the prostrate form of Jeff Hackberry. The others were disentangling themselves from one another, the children and the dogs, and apparently trying to get themselves into relation with the points of the compass and understand what had been happening.

"Have yo' had enough, Jeff Hackberry," inquired Mrs. Bolster, "or will yo' obleege me to gouge yer other eye out afore yo' come to yer senses?"

"Le' me up, 'Frony," pleaded the man, "an' then we kin talk this thing over."





CHAPTER XV. SHORTY NEARLY GOT MARRIED

BREAKING UP A BAD REBEL NEST IS NO PICNIC.

WHEN physical exhaustion called a halt in the fracas, Mrs. Bolster was seated on Jeff Hackberry's breast with her sinewy hands clutching his long hair, and her thumb, with a cruel, long nail, pressing the ball of his one good eye. Shorty was holding down one of the guerrillas who had tried to climb on his back when he was grappling with Hackberry. Si had knocked one guerrilla senseless with his gun-barrel, and now came to a breathless standstill in a struggle with another for the possession of his gun. The children and dogs had broken up into several smaller stormcenters, in each of which a vicious fight was going on. In some it was dog and dog; in some child and child, and in others dogs and children mixed.

Then they all halted to observe the outcome of the discussion between Mrs. Bolster and Jeff Hackberry.

"Holler 'nuff, Jeff, or out goes yer last light," commanded Mrs. Bolster, emphasizing her words by rising a little, and then settling down on Jeff's breast with a force that drove near every spoonful of breath out of him.

"'Frony, le' me up," he begged in gasps.206

"Mrs. Bolster," she reminded him, with another jounce upon his chest.

"Mrs. Bolster, le' me up. I'd 'a' got away with that 'ere Yank ef ye' hedn't tripped me with them long legs o' your'n."

"I'm right smart on the trip, aint I," she grinned. "I never seed a man yit that I couldn't throw in any sort of a rastle."

"Le' me up, Mrs. Bolster, an le's begin over agin, an' yo' keep out," begged Hackberry.

"Not much I won't. I ain't that kind of a chicken," she asserted with another jounce. "When I down a man I down him fer good, an' he never gits up agin 'till he caves entirely. If I let yo' up, will yo' swar to quite down peaceable as a lamb, an' make the rest do the same?"

"Never," asserted Hackberry. "I'm ergwine to have it out with that Yank."

"No you haint," she replied with a still more emphatic jounce that made Hackberry use all the breath left him to groan.

"I'll quit," he said, with his next instalment of atmosphere.

"Will yo' agree t' let me marry this Yank, an' t' give me away as my oldest friend, nearest o' kin, an' best man?" she inquired, rising sufficiently to let him take in a full breath and give a free, unforced answer.

"Nary a time," he shrieked. "I'll die fust, afore I'll 'low yo' t' marry ary other man but me."

"Then you'll lose yor bClinker, yo' pigheaded, likker-guzzling', ornery, no-account sand-hill crane," she said, viciously coming down on his chest with207 her full weight and sticking the point of hei nail against his eye. "I wouldn't marry yo' if ye wuz the last nubbin' in the Lord A'mighty's crib, and thar'd never be another crap o' men. Ye'll never git no chance to make me yer slave, and beat me and starve me t' death as yo' did Nance Brill. I ain't gwine t' fool with yer pervarsity nary a minnit longer. Say this instant whether yo'll do as I say with a freewill and good heart, or out goes yer peeper." "I promise," groaned Jeff.208

"Yo' sw'ar hit?" she demanded.

"Yes, I sw'ar hit," answered Jeff.

Mrs. Bolster rose, and confirmed the contract by giving him a kick in the side with her heavy brogan.

"That's jest a lovetap," she remarked, "'t let yo' know t' le' me alone hereafter. Now, le's straighten things around here fer a pleasant time."

She initiated her proposed era of good feeling by a sounding kick in the ribs of the most obstreperous of the dogs, and a slap on the face of a 12-year-old girl, who was the noisest and most pugnacious of the lot. Each of these set up a howl, but there was a general acquiescence in her assertion of authority.

Jeff Sat up and Rubbed Himself 208

Jeff Hackberry sat up, scratched and rubbed himself, seemed to be trying to once more get a full supply of air in his lungs, and turned a one-eyed glare on his surroundings. The guerrilla whom Si had knocked down began to show signs of returning consciousness, but no one paid any attention to him. One of the other two pulled out a piece of tobacco, split it in two, put the bigger half in his mouth and handed the remainder to his partner. Both began chewing meditatively and looking with vacant eyes for the next act in the drama. Shorty regained his gun, and he and Si looked inquiringly at one another and the mistress of the ranch.

"Come on up t' the house," she said, starting in that direction. The rest followed, with Si and Shorty in the lead.

The boys gazed around them with strong curiosity. The interior was like that of the other log cabins they had seen—a rough puncheon floor for the single room, a fireplace as big as a barn door, built of rough209 stones, with a hearth of undressed flat stones, upon which sat a few clumsy cooking utensils of heavy cast-iron, three-legged stools for chairs, a table of rough whip-sawed boards held together by wooden pins. In two of the corners were beds made of a layer of poles resting upon a stick supported at one end upon a log in the wall and at the other end a forked stick driven between the puncheons into the ground below. Upon this was a pile of beech leaves doing duty as a mattress. The bed-clothes were a mass of ragged fabrics, sheepskins, etc., used in the daytime for saddle-blankets and at night upon the bed. There had been added to them, however, looking particularly good and rich in contrast with their squalor, several blankets with "U. S." marked upon them. Around the room were canteens, shoes, and other soldier belongings.

"Have they killed and robbed the men to whom these belonged, or merely traded whisky for them?" was the thought that instantly flashed through Si's and Shorty's minds. The answer seemed to be favorable to murder and robbery. "Set down an' make yourselves at home. I'll git yo' out suthin' t' wet yer whistles," said Mrs. Bolster, wreathing as much graciousness as she could into her weathered-wood countenance. She apparently kicked at the same instant a stool toward them with her left foot, and a dog out of the way with her right, a performance that excited Shorty's admiration.

"When I see a