xt72v6986f1x https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt72v6986f1x/data/mets.xml Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. 190618  books b92-230-31280747v2 English C. Scribner's sons, : New York : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 2) text Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 2) 1906 2002 true xt72v6986f1x section xt72v6986f1x 









































The Colonel simply turned away his face.

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, THE NOVELS, STORIES,
SKETCHES AND POEMS OF
THOMAS NELSON PAGE 4



         THE
BURIAL OF THE GUNS



CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
NEWYORK, 4  4 4 1906

 




































Copyright, 1892, 1904, 1903i, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


   All Rights Reserved

 


























TO MY WIFE

 
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                   CONTENTS



THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS .. .......



PAGMk
. 3



LITTLE DARBY ............... . 49

"RUN TO SEED" .............. . 137

MY COUSIN   FANNY   . . . . .  . . . . . . .   . . 171

THE GRAY JACKET OF "No. 4 ...... .        .  .   . 213

"GEORGE WASHINGTON'S " LAST DUEL ... .   . 245

P'LASKI'S TUNAMENT . .   .................. 313

MISS DANGERLIE'S ROSES .... .       . . . .  .   . 343

HOW THE CAPTAIN MADE CHRISTMAS ... .    . 371



 In this volume are included  " Run  to Seed,-" ' . George
Washington's Last Duel," and " P'laski's Tunamnent," heretofore
published in the volume entitled " Elsket and Other Stories."

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                  ILLUSTRATIONS


"THE COLONEL SIMPLY TURNED AWAY HIS FACE'  Frontispiece
  Drawn by Alonzo Kimball.
                                              FACING PAGE
"'A WHAT' HE ASKED, AGHAST. HIS BRAIN NOT WHOLLY
    TAKING IN HER WORDS" ....... . .  . .           109
  Drawn by Clara D. Davidson.

MARGARET AND THE MAJOR ... .   .   .   ....... 308
  Drawn by Alonzo Kimball



xi

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THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS

 
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  THE BURIAL OF THE
                GUNS


L EE surrendered the remnant of his army
     at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, and yet a
couple of days later the old Colonel's battery
lay intrenched right in the mountain-pass where
it had halted three days before. Two weeks
previously it had been detailed with a light di-
vision sent to meet and repel a force which it
was understood was coming in by way of the
southwest valley to strike Lee in the rear of
his long line from Richmond to Petersburg. It
had done its work. The mountain-pass had
been seized and held, and the Federal force had
not gotten by that road within the blue rampart
which guarded on that side the heart of Vir-
ginia. This pass, which was the key to the
main line of passage over the mountains, had
been assigned by the commander of the division
to the old Colonel and his old battery, and they
had held it. The position taken by the battery
                     3

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
had been chosen with a soldier's eye. A better
place could not have been selected to hold the
pass. It was its highest point, just where the
road crawled over the shoulder of the mountain
along the limestone cliff, a hundred feet sheer
above the deep river, where its waters had cut
their way in ages past, and now lay deep and
silent, as if resting after their arduous toil
before they began to boil over the great bowl-
ders which filled the bed a hundred or more
yards below.
  The little plateau at the top guarded the de-
scending road on either side for nearly a mile,
and the mountain on the other side of the river
was the centre of a clump of rocky, heavily
timbered spurs, so inaccessible that no feet but
those of wild animals or the hardiest hunter
had ever climbed it. On the side of the river
on which the road lay, the only path out over
the mountain except the road itself was a char-
coal-burner 's track, dwindling at times to a
footway known only to the mountain-folk,
which a picket at the top could hold against an
army. The position, well defended, was im-
pregnable, and it was well defended. This
the general of the division knew when he de-
tailed the old Colonel and gave him his order
                      4

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
to hold the pass until relieved, and not let his
guns fall into the hands of the enemy. He
knew both the Colonel and his battery. The
battery was one of the oldest in the army. It
had been in the service since April, 1861, and
its commander had come to be known as "The
Wheel Horse of his division."  He was, per-
haps, the oldest officer of his rank in his branch
of the service. Although he had bitterly op-
posed secession, and was many years past the
age of service when the war came on, yet as soon
as the President called on the State for her quota
of troops to coerce South Carolina, lie had
raised and uniformed an artillery company, and
offered it, not to the President of the United
States, but to the Governor of Virginia.
  It is just at this point that he suddenly looms
up to ne as a soldier; the relation he never
wholly lost to me afterward, though I knew him
for many, many years of peace. His gray coat
with the red facing and the bars on the collar;
bis military cap; his gray flannel shirt-it was
the first time I ever saw him wear anything but
immaculate linen-his high boots; his horse
caparisoned with a black, high-peaked saddle,
with crupper and breast-girth, instead of the
light English hunting-saddle to which I had
                      5

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
been accustomed, all come before me now as if
it were but the other day. I remember but
little beyond it, yet I remember, as if it were
yesterday, his leaving home, and the scenes
which immediately preceded it; the excitement
created by the news of the President's call for
troops; the unanimous judgment that it meant
war; the immediate determination of the old
Colonel, who had hitherto opposed secession,
that it must be met; the suppressed agitation
on the plantation, attendant upon the tender of
his services and the Governor's acceptance
of them. The prompt and continuous work inci-
dent to the enlistment of the men, the bustle
of preparation, and all the scenes of that time,
come before me now. It turned the calm cur-
rent of the life of an old and placid country
neighborhood, far from any city or centre, and
stirred it into a boiling torrent, strong enough,
or fierce enough to cut its way and join the gen-
eral torrent which was bearing down and sweep-
ing everything before it. It seemed but a min-
ute before the quiet old plantation, in which
the harvest, the corn-shucking, and the Christ-
mas holidays alone marked the passage of the
quiet seasons, and where a strange carriage or
a single horseman coming down the big road
                     6

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
was an event in life, was turned into a depot of
war-supplies, and the neighborhood became a
parade-ground. The old Colonel, not a colonel
yet, nor even a captain, except by brevet, was
on his horse by daybreak and off on his rounds
through the plantations and the pines enlisting
his company. The office in the yard, hereto-
fore one in name only, became one now in re-
ality, and a table was set out piled with papers,
pens, ink, books of tactics and regulation,
at which men were accepted and enrolled.
Soldiers seemed to spring from the ground, as
they did from the sowing of the dragon's teeth
in the days of Cadmus. Men came up the high
road or down the paths across the fields, some-
times singly, but oftener in little parties of two
or three, and, asking for the Captain, entered
the office as private citizens and came out sol-
diers enlisted for the war. There was nothing
heard of on the plantation except fighting;
white and black, all were at work, and all were
eager; the servants contending for the honor of
going with their master; the women flocked
to the house to assist in the work of prepa-
ration, cutting out and making under-clothes,
knitting socks, picking lint, preparing ban-
dages, and sewing on uniforms; for many of the
                      7

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
men who had enlisted were of the poorest class,
far too poor to furnish anything themselves,
and their equipment had to be contributed
mainly by wealthier neighbors. The work was
carried on at night as well as by day, for the
occasion was urgent. Meantime the men were
being drilled by the Captain and his lieuten-
ants, who had been militia officers of old. We
were carried to see the drill at the cross-roads,
and a brave sight it seemed to us: the lines
marching and countermarching in the field,
with the horses galloping as they wheeled amid
clouds of dust, at the hoarse commands of the
excited officers, and the roadside lined with
spectators of every age and condition,. I recall
the arrival of the messenger one night, with
the telegraphic order to the Captain to report
with his company at "Camp Lee" imme-
diately; the hush in the parlor that attended
its reading; then the forced beginning of the
conversation afterwards in a somewhat strained
and unnatural key, and the Captain's quick and
decisive outlining of his plans.
  Within the hour a. dozen messengers were on
their way in various directions to notify the
members of the command of the summons, and
to deliver the order for their attendance at a
                      8

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
given point next day. It seemed that a sudden
and great change had come. It was the actual
appearance of what had hitherto only been
theoretical-war. The next morning the Cap-
tain, in full uniform, took leave of the assembled
plantation, with a few solemn words commend-
ing all he left behind to God, and galloped
away up the big road to join and lead his
battery to the war, and to be gone just four
years.
  Within a month lie was on "the Peninsula"
with Magruder, guarding Virginia on the east
against the first attack. His camp was first at
Yorktown and then on Jamestown Island, the
honor having been assigned his battery of
guarding the oldest cradle of the race on this
continent. It was at "Little Bethel" that his
guns were first trained on the enemy, and that
the battery first saw what they had to do, and
from this time until the middle of April, 1865,
they were in service, and no battery saw more
service or suffered more in it. Its story was a
part of the story of the Southern Army in Vir-
ginia. The Captain was a rigid disciplinarian,
and his company had more work to do than
most new companies. A pious churchman, of
the old puritanical type not uncommon to Vir-
                      9

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
ginia, he looked after the spiritual as well as
the physical welfare of his men, and his chap-
lain or he read prayers at the head of his com-
pany every morning during the war. At first
he was not popular with the men, he made the
duties of camp life so onerous to them, it was
" nothing but drilling and praying all the time, "
they said. But he had not commanded very
long before they came to know the stuff that
was in him. He had not been in service a year
before he had had four horses shot under him,
and when later he was offered the command of
a battalion, the old company petitioned to be
one of his batteries, and still remained under
his command. Before the first year was out
the battery had, through its own elements, and
discipline of the Captain, become a cohesive
force, and a distinct integer in the Army of
Northern Virginia. Young farmer recruits
knew of its prestige and expressed preference
for it of many batteries of rapidly growing or
grown reputation. Owing to its high stand,
the old and clumsy guns with which it bad
started out were taken from it, and in their
place was presented a battery of four fine,
brass, twelve-pound Napoleons of the newest
and most approved kind, and two three-inch
                     10

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
Parrots, all captured. The men were as pleased
with them as children with new tovs. The care
and attention needed to keep them in prime
order broke the monotony of camp life. They
soon had abundant opportunities to test their
power. They worked admirably, carried far,
and were extraordinarily accurate in their aim.
The men from admiration of their guns grew
to have first a pride in, and then an affection
for, them, and gave them nicknames as they did
their comrades; the four Napoleons being
dubbed, "The Evangelists," and the two rifles
being "The Eagle," because of its scream and
force, and "The Cat," because when it became
hot from rapid firing "It jumped," they said,
" like a cat. " From many a hill-top in Virginia,
Maryland, and Pennsylvania " The Evange-
lists" spoke their hoarse message of battle and
death, "The Eagle" screamed her terrible note,
and "The Cat" jumped as she spat her deadly
shot from her hot throat. In the Valley of
Virginia; on the levels of Henrico and Han-
over; on the slopes of Manassas; in the woods
of Clhancellorsville; on the heights of Freder-
icksburg; at Antietam and Gettysburg; in the
Spottsylvania wilderness, and again on the Han-
over levels and on the lines before Petersburg,
                    11

 
       THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
the old guns through nearly four years roared
from fiery throats their deadly messages. The
history of the battery was bound up with the
history of Lee's army. A rivalry sprang up
among the detachments of the different guns,
and their several records were jealously kept.
The number of duels each gun was in was care-
fully counted, every scar got in battle was
treasured, and the men around their camp-fires,
at their scanty messes, or on the march, bragged
of them among themselves and avouched them
as witnesses. New recruits coming in to fill
the gaps made by the killed and disabled, read-
ily fell in with the common mood and caught
the spirit like a contagion. It was not an un-
common thing for a wheel to be smashed in by
a shell, but if it happened to one gun oftener
than to another there was envy. Two of the
Evangelists seemed to be especially favored in
this line, while the Cat was so exempt as to be-
come the subject of some derision. The men
stood by the guns till they were knocked to
pieces, and when the fortune of the day went
against them, had with their own hands oftener
than once saved them after most of their horses
were killed.
  This had happened in turn to every gun, the
                     12

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
men at times working like beavers in mud up
to their thighs and under a murderous fire to
get their guns out. Many a man had been
killed tugging at trail or wheel when the day
was against them; but not a gun had ever been
lost. At last the evil day arrived. At Win-
chester a sudden and impetuous charge for a
while swept everything before it, and carried
the knoll where the old battery was posted;
but all the guns were got out by the toiling and
rapidly dropping men, except the Cat, which
was captured with its entire detachment work-
ing at it until they were surrounded and knocked
from the piece by cavalrymen. Most of the men
who were not killed were retaken before the
day was over, with many guns; but the Cat was
lost. She remained in the enemy's hands and
probably was being turned against her old com-
rades and lovers. The company was inconsol-
able. The death of comrades was too natural
and common a thing to depress the men beyond
what such occurrences necessarily did; but to
lose a gun! It was like losing the old Colonel:
it was worse: a gun was ranked as a brigadier;
and the Cat was equal to a major-general. The
other guns seemed lost without her; the Eagle
especially, which generally went next to her,
                    13

        THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
appeared to the men to have a lonely and sub-
dued air. The battery was no longer the same:
it seemed broken and depleted, shrunken to a
mere section. It was worse than Cold Harbor,
where over half the men were killed or wounded.
The old Captain, now Colonel of the battalion,
appreciated the loss and apprehended its effect
on the men, as much as they themselves did, and
application was made for a gun to take the place
of the lost piece; but there was none to be had,
as the men said they had known all along. It
was added-perhaps by a department clerk-
that if they wanted a gun to take the place of
the one they had lost, they had better capture
it. "By , we will," they said-adding epi-
thets, intended for the department clerk in his
"bomb-proof," not to be printed in this record
-and they did. For some time afterwards in
every engagement into which they got there
used to be speculation among them as to whether
the Cat were not there on the other side; some
of the men swearing they could tell her report,
and even going to the rash length of offering
bets on her presence.
  By one of those curious coincidences, as
strange as anything in fiction, a new general
had, in 1864, come down across the Rapidan
                     14

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
to take Richmond, and the old battery had
found a hill-top in the line in which Lee's army
lay stretched across "the Wilderness" country
to stop him. The day, though early in May,
was a hot one, and the old battery, like most
others, had suffered fearfully. Two of the guns
had had wheels cut down by shells and the men
had been badly cut up; but the fortune of the
day had been with Lee, and a little before night-
fall, after a terrible fight, there was a rapid
advance, Lee's infantry sweeping everything
before it, and the artillery, after opening the
way for the charge, pushing along with it;
now unlimbering as some vantage-ground was
gained, and using canister with deadly effect;
now driving ahead again so rapidly that it was
mixed up with the muskets when the long line
of breastworks was carried with a rush, and
a line of guns were caught still hot from their
rapid work. As the old battery, with lathered
horses and smoke-grimed men, swung up the
crest and unlimbered on the captured breast-
work, a cheer went up which was heard even
above the long general yell of the advancing
line, and for a moment half the men in the bat-
tery crowded together around some object on
the edge of the redoubt, yelling like madmen.
                     15

 
       THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
The next instant they divided, and there was
the Cat, smoke-grimed and blood-stained and
still sweating hot from her last fire, being
dragged from her muddy ditch by as many men
as could get hold of trail-rope or wheel, and
rushed into her old place beside the Eagle, in
time to be double-shotted with canister to the
muzzle, and to pour it from among her old com-
rades into her now retiring former masters.
Still, she had a new carriage, and her record
was lost, while those of the other guns had been
faithfully kept by the men. This made a differ-
ence in her position for which even the bullets
in her wheels did not wholly atone; even Harris,
the sergeant of her detachment, felt that.
  It was only a few days later, however, that
abundant atonement was made. The new gen-
eral did not retire across the Rapidan after his
first defeat, and a new battle had to be fought:
a battle, if anything, more furious, more ter-
rible than the first, when the dead filled the
trenches and covered the fields. He simply
marched by the left flank, and Lee marching
by the right flank to head him, flung himself
upon him again at Spottsylvania Court-House.
That day the Cat, standing in her place behind
the new and temporary breastwork thrown up
                     16

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUINS
when the battery was posted, had the felloes of
her wheels, which showed above the top of the
bank, entirely cut away by Minie-bullets, so
that when she jumped in the recoil her wheels
smashed and let her down. This covered all
old scores. The other guns had been cut down
by shells or solid shot; but never before had one
been gnawed down by musket-balls. From this
time all through the campaign the Cat held her
own beside her brazen and bloody sisters, and
in the cold trenches before Petersburg that win-
ter, when the new general-Starvation-had
joined the one already there, she made her
bloody mark as often as any gun on the long
lines.
  Thus the old battery had come to be known,
as its old commander, now colonel of a bat-
talion, had come to be known by those in yet
higher command. And when in the opening
spring of 1865 it became apparent to the lead-
ers of both armies that the long line could not
longer be held if a force should enter behind it,
and, sweeping the one partially unswept portion
of Virginia, cut the railways in the southwest,
and a man was wanted to command the artillery
in the expedition sent to meet this force, it was
iLot remarkable that the old Colonel and his
                     17

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
battalion should be selected for the work. The
force sent out was small; for the long line
was worn to a thin one in those days, and great
changes were taking place, the consequences of
which were known only to the commanders.
In a few days the commander of the expedition
found that he must divide his small force for a
time at least, to accomplish his purpose, and
sending the old Colonel with one battery of
artillery to guard one pass, must push on over
the mountain by another way to meet the ex-
pected force, if possible, and repel it before it
crossed the farther range. Thus the old bat-
tery, on an April evening of 1865, found it-
self toiling alone up the steep mountain road
which leads above the river to the gap, which
formed the chief pass in that part of the Blue
Ridge. Both men and horses looked, in the
dim and waning light of the gray April day,
rather like shadows of the beings they repre-
sented than the actual beings themselves. And
anyone seeing them as they toiled painfully up,
the thin horses floundering in the mud, and the
men, often up to their knees tugging at the
sinking wheels, now stopping to rest, and al-
ways moving so slowly that they seemed
scarcely to advance at all, might have thought
                     18

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
them the ghosts of some old battery lost from
some long gone and forgotten war on that deep
and desolate mountain road. Often, when they
stopped, the blowing of the horses and
the murmuring of the river in its bed
below were the only sounds heard, and
the tired voices of the men when they spoke
among themselves seemed hardly more ar-
ticulate sounds than they. Then the voice
of the mounted figure on the roan horse
half hidden in the mist would cut in, clear
and inspiring, in a tone of encouragement more
fhan of command, and everything would wake
up: the drivers would shout and crack their
whips; the horses would bend themselves
on the collars and flounder in the mud; the
men would spring once more to the mud-
clogged wheels, and the slow ascent would begin
again.
  The orders of the Colonel, as has been said,
were brief: To hold the pass until he received
further instructions, and not to lose his guns.
To be ordered, with him, was to obey. The
last streak of twilight brought them to the top
of the pass; his soldier's instinct and a brief
reconnaissance made earlier in the day told him
that this was his place, and before daybreak
                    19

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
next morning the point was as well fortified as
a night's work by weary and supperless men
could make it. A prettier spot could not have
been found for the purpose; a, small plateau,
something over an acre in extent, where a char-
coal-burner's hut had once stood, lay right at
the top of the pass. It was a little higher on
either side than in the middle, where a small
brook, along which the charcoal-burner's track
was yet visible, came down from the wooded
mountain above, thus giving a natural crest to
aid the fortification on either side, with open
space for the guns, while the edge of the wood
coming down from the mountain afforded shel-
ter for the camp.
  As the battery was unsupported it had to
rely on itself for everything, a condition which
most soldiers by this time were accustomed to.
A dozen or so of rifles were in the camp, and
with these pickets were armed and posted. The
pass had been seized none too soon; a scout
brought in the information before nightfall that
the invading force had crossed the farther
range before that sent to meet it could get
there, and taking the nearest road had avoided
the main body opposing it, and been met only
by a rapidly moving detachment, nothing more
                     20

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
than a scouting party, and were now advancing
rapidly on the road on which they were posted,
evidently meaning to seize the pass and cross
the mountain at this point. The day was Sun-
day; a beautiful Spring Sunday; but it was no
Sabbath for the old battery. All day the men
worked making and strengthening their re-
doubt to guard the pass, and by the next morn-
ing, with the old battery at the top, it was im-
pregnable. They were just in time. Before
noon their vedettes brought in word that the
enemy was ascending the mountain, and the
sun had hardly turned when the advance guard
rode up, came within range of the picket, and
were fired on.
  It was apparent that they supposed the force
there only a small one, for they retired and
soon came up again reinforced in some num-
bers, and a sharp little skirmish ensued, hot
enough to make them more prudent afterwards,
though the picket retired up the mountain.
This gave them encouragement and probably
misled them, for they now advanced boldily.
They saw the redoubt on the crest as they came
on, and unlimbering a section or two, flung
a few shells up at it, which either fell short
or passed over without doing material damage.
                    21

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
None of the guns was allowed to respond,
as the distance was too great with the ammu-
nition the battery had, and, indifferent as it
was, it was too precious to be wasted in a duel
at an ineffectual range. Doubtless deceived by
this, the enemy came on in force, being obliged
by the character of the ground to keep almost
entirely to the road, which really made them
advance in column. The battery waited. Un-
der orders of the Colonel the guns standing
in line were double-shotted with canister, and,
loaded to the muzzle, were trained down to
sweep the road at from four to five hundred
yards' distance. And when the column reached
this point the six guns, aimed by old and skil-
ful gunners, at a given word swept road and
mountain-side with a storm of leaden hail. It
was a fire no mortal man could stand up against,
and the practiced gunners rammed their pieces
full again, and before the smoke had cleared or
the reverberation had died away among the
mountains, had fired the guns again and yet
again. The road was cleared of living things
when the draught setting down the river
drew the smoke away; but it was no discredit
to the other force; for no army that was ever
uniformed could stand against that battery
                    22

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
in that pass. Again and again the attempt was
made to get a body of men up under cover of
the woods and rocks on the mountain-side,
while the guns below utilized their better
ammunition from longer range; but it was
useless. Although one of the lieutenants and
several men were killed in the skirmish, and
a number more were wounded, though not se-
yerely, the old battery commanded the mioun-
tain-side, and its skilful gunners swept it at
every point the foot of man could scale. The
sun went down flinging his last flame on a
victorious battery still crowning the mountain
pass. The dead were buried by night in a
corner of the little plateau, borne to their last
bivouac on the old gun-carriages which they
had stood by so often-which the men said
would "sort of ease their minds."
  The next day the fight was renewed, and
with the same result. The old battery in its
position was unconquerable. Only one fear
now faced them; their ammunition was getting
as low as their rations; another such day or
half-day would exhaust it. A sergeant was
sent back down the mountain to try to get
more, or, if not, to get tidings. The next day
it was supposed the fight would be renewed;
                    23

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
and the men waited, alert, eager, vigilant, their
spirits high, their appetite for victory whetted
by success. The men were at their breakfast, or
what went for breakfast, scanty at all times, now
doubly so, hardly deserving the title of a meal,
so poor and small were the portions of corn-
meal, cooked in their frying-pans, which went
for their rations, when the sound of artillery
below broke on the quiet air. They were on
their feet in an instant and at the guns, crowd-
ing upon the breastwork to look or to listen;
for the road, as far as could be seen down the
mountain, was empty except for their own
picket, and lay as quiet as if sleeping in the
balmy air. And yet volley after volley of ar-
tillery came rolling up the mountain. What
could it mean That the rest of their force
had come up and was engaged with that at the
foot of the mountain The Colonel decided to
be ready to go and help them; to fall on the
enemy in the rear; perhaps they might capture
the entire force. It seemed the natural thing
to do, and the guns were limbered up in an
incredibly short time, and a roadway made
through the intrenchment, the men working
like beavers under the excitement.  Before
they had left the redoubt, however, the vedettes
                     24

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
sent out returned and reported that there was
no engagement going on, and the firing be-
low seemed to be only practising. There was
quite a stir in the camp below; but they had not
even broken camp.    This was mysterious.
Perhaps it meant that they had received rein-
forcements, but it was a queer way of showing
it. The old Colonel sighed as lie thought of
the good ammunition they could throw away
down there, and of his empty limber-chests.
It was necessary to be on the alert, however;
the guns were run back into their old places,
and the horses picketed once more back among
the trees. Meantime he sent another messen-
ger back, this time a courier, for he had but
one commissioned officer left, and the picket
below was strengthened.
  The morning passed and no one came; the
day wore on and still no advance was made
by the force below. It was suggested that the
enemy had left; he had, at least, gotten enough
of that battery. A reconnoissance, however,
showed that he was still encamped at the foot
of the mountain. It was conjectured that he
was trying to find a way around to take them
in the rear, or to cross the ridge by the foot-
path. Preparation was made to guard more
                     25

 
      THE BURIAL OF THE GUNS
closely the mountain-path across the spur,
and a detachment was sent up to strengthen
the picket there. The waiting told on the
men and they grew bored and restless. They
gathered about the guns in groups and talked;
talked of etch piece some, but not with the old
spirit and vim; the loneliness of the mountain
seemed to oppress them; the mountains stretch-
ing up so brown and gray on one side of them,
and so brown and gray on the other, with their
bare, dark forests soughing from time to time
as the wind swept up the pass. The minds of
the men seemed to go back to the time when
they were not so alone, but were part of a great
and busy army, and some of them fell to talk-
ing of the past, and the battles they had figured
in, and of the comrades they had lost. They told
them off in a slow and colorless way, as if it
were all part of the great past as much as
the dead they named. One hundred and nine-
teen times they had been in action. Only seven-
teen men were left of the eighty odd who had
first enlisted in the battery, and of these four
were at home crippled for life. Two of the old-
est men had been among the half-dozen who had
fallen in the skirmish just the day before. It
looked tolerably hard to be killed that way aft