Documenting the American South Logo
Loading

With Sabre and Scalpel. The Autobiography of a Soldier and Surgeon:
Electronic Edition.

Wyeth, John Allan, 1845-1922


Funding from the Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition supported the electronic publication of this title.


Text scanned (OCR) by Tricia Walker
Images scanned by Tricia Walker
Text encoded by Heather Bumbalough and Natalia Smith
First edition, 1998
ca. 1MB
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
1998.

        © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.


Call number E605.W97 1914 (Davis Library, UNC-Chapel Hill)

Source Description:
(title page) With Sabre and Scalpel. The Autobiography of a Soldier and Surgeon
Wyeth, John Allan
New York, NY
Harper & Brothers Publishers
1914

        The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digitization project, Documenting the American South.
        Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
        All quotation marks and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
        All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
        All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
        Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
        Running titles have not been preserved.
        Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.


Library of Congress Subject Headings

Languages Used:

LC Subject Headings:


Revision History:


        WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
A SOLDIER AND SURGEON
JOHN ALLAN WYETH, M.D., LL.D.
UNIVERSITIES OF ALABAMA AND MARYLAND

        FOUNDER OF THE NEW YORK POLYCLINIC MEDICAL SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL, THE PIONEER ORGANIZATION FOR POSTGRADUATE MEDICAL INSTRUCTION IN AMERICA--PRESIDENT OF THE FACULTY AND SURGEON-IN-CHIEF; EX-PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE, THE NEW YORK STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE NEW YORK PATHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN SOCIETY, AND THE ALABAMA SOCIETY OF NEW YORK CITY; FORMERLY ATTENDING SURGEON TO MT. SINAI AND ST. ELIZABETH HOSPITALS; HONORARY MEMBER OF THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY AND OF THE TEXAS STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION; AUTHOR OF ESSAYS IN SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY; AWARDED THE FIRST AND SECOND PRIZES OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IN 1878 AND THE BELLEVUE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION PRIZE IN 1876; A TEXT-BOOK ON GENERAL SURGERY; THE LIFE OF LIEUTENANT-GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST; HISTORY OF LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY AND THE CADET CORPS; A HISTORICAL ESSAY ON THE STRUGGLE FOR OREGON, ETC.

        

Illustration

JOHN ALLAN WYETH, M.D., LL.D.
From a photograph by Bradley, 1914
[Frontispiece Image]

        

Illustration

[Title Page Image]


WITH SABRE
AND SCALPEL
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF A SOLDIER AND SURGEON

BY

JOHN ALLAN WYETH
M.D., LL.D.

ILLUSTRATED

HARPER& BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
MCMXIV


Page verso

COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY HARPER& BROTHERS
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PUBLISHED OCTOBER, 1914
K-O


Page v

        TO
LOUIS WEISS WYETH
AND
EUPHEMIA ALLAN


                         "MY BOAST IS NOT THAT I DEDUCE MY BIRTH
                         FROM LOINS ENTHRONED AND RULERS OF THE EARTH;
                         BUT HIGHER STILL MY PROUD PRETENSIONS RISE,
                         THE SON OF PARENTS PASSED INTO THE SKIES."
COWPER


Page vii

CONTENTS


Page xi


Page xiii

INTRODUCTION

        THE chief purpose of this volume is to record from personal observation something of the social, economic, and political conditions which prevailed in the South before, during, and immediately after the Civil War. It was my good fortune to have been born and reared in a section where the wealthy landed proprietors and slave-owners, the poorer whites, and the negroes came together.

        What is written of the delightful society of the aristocracy of the old South at Huntsville would apply to hundreds of other communities of that period below "the Line." It was only possible with the institution of slavery, and with the downfall of the Southern oligarchy it disappeared, never to be repeated. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Wythe, Monroe, Mason, the Randolphs and Lees were among the products of that unique civilization. "There were giants in those days."

        In my native county the poor whites greatly outnumbered the rich slaveholders and their slaves. The negroes baptized them contemptuously as "poor white trash." They were poor, comparatively speaking, but they were not trash. The vast majority were uneducated, many could not read or write; but they were as a class far from being ignorant, for they were "good listeners" and close observers of current events. My father, whom they made at first county and later district judge, was idolized by these simple people,


Page xiv

and I fell heir to their affectionate guardianship. By the time I was fifteen years old I believe I was personally acquainted with every one of these families in our county. Their homes were chiefly in the uplands or foot-hills or coves or in the sparsely settled plateau of Sand Mountain. The houses were of logs, some hewn, many of skinned poles, and some so primitive that the bark was left on. The roofs were of rived boards, not nailed, but held in place by split logs laid on as weights and reinforced here and there by stones. Some of the floors were of puncheons, others of planks; and not infrequently the kitchen, smokehouse, and other added shelters had for flooring the sandy earth. As might be inferred, their lives were simple, and in general they were obedient to law. They were, however, high-strung and quick to resent an affront, and their too ready appeal to the rifle and the hunting-knife in the settlement of personal differences was the chief exception to their common acceptance of the authority which the court-house represented. Very rarely, far back in some remote fastness, an occasional mountaineer, who gathered inspiration from the sun which curved over his head each day without seeming to pay much attention to human regulations, or from the free air which the preacher told him "bloweth where it listeth," would conclude that the government at Washington had no right to prescribe in what form the corn which he raised with his own hands and on his own land should ultimately be marketed, and would proceed to distil it into whisky by the light of the moon. I shall never forget the feeling which was evident as one of these mountaineers remarked to me: "Your pap put me in jail once for moonshinin', but I never blamed him fer it. We all knowed he was a good man and done what he thought was


Page xv

right." These poor whites were in the main religious, belonging to the Baptist or Methodist persuasions, and were much given to "protracted meetings," revivals, and exhortations to secure conversions, which latter was defined as "comin' through."

        They dressed with extreme simplicity, usually in cotton or woolen stuffs, raised, spun, woven, and tailored at home. The mild climate made it possible to go for at least nine months without shoes, and the one pair of brogans for the year was usually put on at Christmas. The young children and boys to about the sixteenth year wore in summertime nothing but a single garment made like a long shirt, which came down to near the ankles and was slit on each side as high as the knees to allow freedom in walking or running. As they raised everything they ate, except sugar and coffee, it may well be said that their wants were few and easily supplied.

        At least three-fourths of the men who carried guns in the battle-line of the Southern Confederacy were of this class. They had no interest directly or indirectly in slavery, and would willingly have seen the negroes freed and colonized out of the country. The proportion of non-slave-owners in my own company and regiment was greater than seventy-five per cent. Colonel James Cooper Nesbit,1 in his most interesting and instructive narrative, says: "My company, H, Twenty-first Georgia regiment, was recruited in northwest Georgia and Alabama. The muster-rolls show one hundred and eighty-five names. All were non-slaveholders except myself. The parents of four owned one or two slaves, and the father of one of my lieutenants owned forty.
1 Four Years on the Firing Line, p. 69. Imperial Press, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1914.


Page xvi

This was the average of the Twenty-first Georgia and the Twenty-first North Carolina of the same brigade, and these two regiments made the best record of any in Stonewall Jackson's corps."

        The brave fight these men made was not for slavery. Their contention was that freemen had the inherent right to do as they pleased, and as freemen they would stay in the Union or secede, as the majority desired. They were then and are still clean-cut Americans, uncontaminated by contact or association with the restless, poverty-stricken, and discontented hordes of immigrants who are crowding our shores in these latter days either as anarchists, who, like shedding snakes, strike blindly and viciously at everything which moves, or like the socialists, whose aim is seemingly to bring all human endeavor to the common level of mediocrity. Should the safety of our institutions ever be endangered I prophesy that these men of the foot-hills and mountains of the South will be the strongest guarantee of law and order.

        At various periods in history (and doubtless before the records were preserved, for in his natural tendency to do foolish things on a large scale man is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever) epidemics of insanity have appeared with results more unfortunate to moral and intellectual development than have followed the wide-spread infections of the body.

        The legend of the Tower of Babel; the numerous racial migrations; the crusades and the war of the five great nations now in progress in Europe, each of which, claiming to represent a Christian civilization, is calling for divine assistance in robbing and killing, are examples.

        One such epidemic has visited our shores. In the agitation


Page xvii

for and against slavery in the United States, reason and conscience were finally dominated by fanaticism. There was a period in the decade from 1830 when by the judicious co-operation of the advocates of emancipation North and South a humane and practical solution of this momentous problem was possible. I ask attention to the fact that at this time there were in the eight largely agricultural and slave-owning counties of my native section along the Tennessee River in Alabama eight active emancipation societies organized by Southern men, and that in Huntsville a former slaveholder edited an emancipation newspaper and was twice nominated for the Presidency of the United States on the abolition ticket; also to the fact that a single state freed negroes approximating in value one hundred million dollars without one penny of remuneration!

        I am firmly convinced that if instead of the nagging, irritating, insulting, and finally insurrectionary and murderous meddlesomeness of the Northern abolitionists, the conservative and better portion had united in earnest and friendly co-operation with their brothers of the South, who proved their zeal and devotion to principle by the wholesale sacrifice of wealth and ease, the humane scheme of emancipation and colonization as set forth in the "Virginia Resolutions" would have been carried out and chattel slavery would have disappeared by peaceful means.

        That portion of the volume which relates to the Civil War is chiefly a narrative of the every-day life of a private soldier in camp, in battle, and in prison. A single experience-- namely, the battle of Chickamauga--is discussed from the standpoint of speculation. In my opinion the Southern Confederacy was won here by desperate valor and lost by the failure of the commanding general to appreciate the


Page xviii

magnitude of his victory and to take advantage of the great opportunity which was his for the capture or destruction of the entire Union army in Georgia and Tennessee. Chickamauga, as I interpret it from personal observation and from careful study, marked the high tide of the Confederacy.

        I have been asked to describe the sensations or emotions which are experienced under the trying ordeal of battle. The courage, whether moral or physical, or the combination of both, which enables a human being to incur the risk of suffering and death is a common possession. I would guess that of every one hundred men in our regiment fully ninety-five would have done, or would have tried to do, more or less willingly, any duty required. The other five would shirk and exhaust ingenuity to keep out of gunshot range by feigning illness, or some temporary necessity, or lagging until a chance offered to dodge behind an obstacle whence only the file-closers could drive them to the firing-line.

        In very rare instances the sense of fear became so overwhelming the victim would run away without regard to the commands to halt and the danger of being shot in the back by one's own men.

        Personally I never saw any one do this, but it did occur. The very unusual experience of the soldier who, when what was thought to be a dangerous charge was ordered and we were in the act of moving forward, stepped from the ranks and handed his gun to our captain and said he couldn't "go in" is given in the text. Vanity, another name for which is "family pride," or the dread of being called a coward, will account in part for what is usually accepted as courage; and yet admitting all this as a measure of human frailty, I have witnessed a great many instances of that


Page xix

sublime quality of self-forgetfulness in the performance of duty which is the crystallization of virtue namely, true courage. Appreciating, as every normal human being must, the instinctive dread of suffering and the love of life, it is not difficult to realize the awful sensation which is experienced in the moments given for reflection as one marches calmly up to the point of danger. It must, as I take it, count as a supreme moment in existence. Once engaged and in the excitement of fighting, this sense of impending disaster is happily lost; and to some there comes an exhilaration which it would be almost permissible to term ecstatic.

        In my own case, in the first two or three minor engagements I was not scared; in fact, the excitement or exhilaration was rather enjoyable; but this was "the valor of ignorance." After I had learned what war really was I never went under fire without experiencing an overpowering sense of dread and fear, with the single exception of the incident of riding through the Union lines at Chickamauga, which is given further on.

        Part II is devoted mainly to my work as a surgeon and teacher. My aim has been to collect in concise form for convenient reference those original contributions which have been generally accepted by the profession.

        The Ligation of the External Carotid Artery as an accepted procedure dates from the publication of my essays on the arteries by the American Medical Association in I878; the Bloodless Amputations at the Hip-joint and at the Shoulder, in 1889; The Cure of Otherwise Inoperable Vascular Tumors by the Injection into their Substance of Water at a High Temperature; The Immunizing Effect upon Sarcoma of a Mixed (Pyogenic) Infection; The Demonstration of the Process of Arterial Occlusion after Ligation in Continuity, etc.


Page xx

        Upon these, together with the introduction of systematized postgraduate medical teaching in America, the author "rests his case" at the bar of posterity. That the Polyclinic gave an impetus to and was coincident with the great awakening in American medicine there can be no doubt. Once inaugurated, the movement practically compelled postgraduate study in the general profession, for it naturally followed, that when even a single practitioner in any community took advantage of the extraordinary facilities which were offered for increasing his store of knowledge, public opinion, that insistent vis a tergo of human progress, compelled the others to follow. Not only has every city of importance in our own country established one or more postgraduate medical schools, but abroad (as in London) our system has been adopted.


Page xxi

PART I


Page 1

WITH SABRE AND SCALPEL

I
THE TENNESSEE VALLEY--MARSHALL COUNTY AND GUNTERSVILLE IN ALABAMA

        FIFTH in size of the rivers in the United States, the Tennessee, rising in the mountainous regions of Virginia and North Carolina, flows in a general direction southwest until, at the great bend in northern Alabama, it turns northwest to empty into the Ohio. Although three-fourths of its course is within the boundaries of the state to which it gave its name, that section of the South widely known as the Tennessee Valley is wholly within the state of Alabama.

        Eastward and to the north, from where Lookout stands sentinel for the mighty Appalachian range, the numerous large tributaries fairly divide honors with the main stream, while to the west, after pitching over the great cascade at Mussel Shoals, it leaves the mountains and the picturesque valley through which it has flowed for two hundred miles.

        Emerging near Chattanooga from the narrow gorge through which it has worn its way, walled in by cliffs of stone so steep and high that from the channel their crests are at times not within the range of vision, this majestic river enters the beautiful Valley of the Tennessee.

        Winding in and out among the mountains on either hand,


Page 2

some near, some far, for most of the year covered with verdure to the steep cliffs which form their crests, opening here and there into fertile plains or densely timbered coves that rise as they recede to reach the summit of the distant heights, on past bold projecting bluffs which seem to block the way, wide fields of corn and grain and cotton which long before the frosts of winter fall shall be as white as snow upon the arctic plains, flows ever on this gracious gift of nature, blessing with plenty my native Valley of the Tennessee.

        In 1802 the territory now included in the states of Mississippi and Alabama was ceded by Georgia to the United States, and in 1819 Alabama was admitted to the Union. That portion of this new state lying north of the river had been opened for settlement a number of years, while to the south stretched the reservations of three great Indian tribes--the Seminoles, nearest the Gulf of Mexico; then the restless, warring Creeks, and, closest in touch with civilization, the wonderful Cherokees. Lovers of peace and tactful, they were on living terms not only with their war-like brothers, but friendly also with their Anglo-Saxon neighbors just across the Tennessee. Builders of houses and tillers of the soil, these Indians had made such progress toward civilization that they had in use a syllabic alphabet and a method of printing. Invented by Sequoyah,1 this alphabet of eighty-five characters, each representing a single sound of their language, is pronounced by a writer in the American Encyclopedia to be the "most perfect alphabet ever devised for any language."

        While the Cherokees could not hold the Creeks and Seminoles to peaceful ways, they would not allow them to
1 This remarkable man died in 1843. It was with this tribe that Sam Houston lived before and after he became Governor of Tennessee.


Page 2a

Illustration

MARSHALL COUNTY COURT-HOUSE, GUNTERSVILLE, ALABAMA


Page 3

pass through their domain to harrow the white settlers north of the Tennessee. The massacre at Fort Mims, Alabama, on August 30, 1813, where four hundred men, women, and children were butchered, led to the annihilation of the Creek Nation at the battle of the Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa in 1814, while the remnant of their allies, the Seminoles, sought refuge in the impenetrable marshes of the everglades in Florida, where they still survive. For twenty-four years longer the Cherokees lingered in their native land, until by treaty in 1836 they marched to the West, and their former reservation was opened for settlers.

        When from a part of this Indian land the new county of Marshall was formed, Louis Wyeth, a young lawyer, journeying by stage from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburg, by steamboat down the Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky, thence by stage to Huntsville, Alabama, and on foot for the remainder of the way (for as yet there were only trails in the Cherokee purchase), came to cast his lot with the other pioneers and to "grow up with the country."

        He must have taken well with these men of the wilderness, for they made him their county judge within the first years of his advent; and, although he did not long remain on the bench--for he sought a wider field--it may truthfully be said that throughout a long and useful career he judged these, his people, to whose welfare he devoted his life. In 1848 he founded the town of Guntersville at the south bend of the Tennessee, built at his private expense a handsome brick court-house and a well-appointed jail, which were his gifts to the county and the new town, which became and still is the county-seat. As a member of the state legislature he secured a charter for a railroad "to connect the navigable waters of the Tennessee and Coosa


Page 4

rivers, with the object of securing an inland system of transportation between Mobile Bay and the vast rich region through which flowed the Tennessee and its tributaries." Of this railroad, which is now a part of the great Nashville& Chattanooga and Louisville& Nashville railroad systems, he was the originator and first president.


Page 5

II
EARLY RECOLLECTIONS

        IT would be interesting to determine just when the brain-cells begin to register impressions that become fixed and are subject to the call of memory; and also with which of the senses these early registrations are associated. The brain is such an unreliable machine that the results of its operations require careful study and critical analysis before acceptance. Since older minds (which are considered mature) are known to entertain absolutely impossible schemes as fixed convictions, it is not to be wondered at that children are readily susceptible to self-deception. I have no doubt that many incidents retold as being the recollections of early childhood are nothing more than reflected images of word-pictures from older persons who really were witnesses. Only to-day a woman of more than ordinary brilliancy and of unquestionable sincerity assured me she remembered distinctly being held as a baby in her grandmother's arms when she was only a little more than one year old!

        It occurs to me that since children are almost wholly animal, their earlier brain-cell registrations should be associated with alimentation, and with those to whose personal ministrations they looked for comfort and protection. It would seem but natural that one's mother should come first of all things; but with myself, I am sorry to say, this is not the case. I was four years old when my memory of things began; and my mother, who, as I now know, did little


Page 6

else but devote her time and thoughtful care to me, does not hold this precedence. My earliest recollection is of a burning house, and of Mack, one of our slaves, holding me seated on one of the front gate-posts, where I could have a good view of the conflagration. The date of this incident is known, and it enables me to determine that my brain-cells were not registering fixed impressions earlier than the fourth year. About this time I first straddled a horse and tumbled off, and that incident was indelibly impressed, as was a relation thus early established with Aunt Peggy, our negro cook, whereby without the knowledge of my mother, at about ten o'clock every morning I found myself in the kitchen eating from a small wooden tray corn-bread crusts soaked in "pot-liquor," a very filling, greasy, and satisfying mixture, which, I learned later, was a common food of the negro children of the plantations.

        It is clear, then, as far as I am concerned, that the very first enduring impression was conveyed to the cells from the retina, through the so-called "sense of sight." The second was from fright, and fused with this is another impression which seems to indicate that the mind was commencing operations from within on its own responsibility. I very distinctly remember that as I was sliding off the bare back of the horse and was about half-way to the ground my good guardian Mack caught me and placed me again in position. Being scared, I asked him to let me get off and walk, but he was as inexorable as the law of gravitation. There was no getting out of it. I had to learn, and did learn, and from that time on I almost lived on horseback. This lovable slave not only taught me to ride, but he gave me a first lesson of inestimable value, which was, not to get scared and quit. The third registration, which, according to the "animal


Page 7

theory" just expressed, should have come first, was evidently conveyed through the "sense of taste," or hunger. Now, the one--to me--incomprehensible feature of this retrospection is that up to this period, and even later, I have not the slightest recollection of my parents. I was on excellent terms with the cook, and between Mack and his ward there was established an affectionate association which had already a fixed place and never ceased; in fact, grew so strong as time went on that I never wanted to be away from him in daylight.

        At five years of age I was taken to school; and here again fright comes in, for I doubt if any wretch riding toward the guillotine ever suffered more than did this victim of civilization on this occasion. The teacher who preceded the present incumbent had not spared the rod; in fact, had whipped two of his boy pupils so severely that his services were dispensed with. Hearing all this from the older children, I supposed I would come in for my share from the new man, who was "part Cherokee."1

        "Mr. Dave" was, however, a mild-mannered man, and, while he kept a long hickory switch in the chimney corner near his chair, it was only a reminder of the possibilities which might follow bad behavior. The worst he ever did was to "thump" us on the head with the last knuckle of one finger, and usually we got this punishment for misspelling a word or for some shortcoming in our studies. My first, and I believe only, experience came within a day or two after I began. The spelling-class stood in a row behind one of the long benches. When a word went wrong, in order to have the correction indelibly impressed on our
1 Descended from intermarriage between a Cherokee Indian and a white person.


Page 8

minds the culprit had to walk to where the teacher sat, project his small head in advance of the perpendicular, and receive thereon a thump which was light or heavy in proportion to the gravity of the error. My offense was "separation," and from that day to this I have never forgotten that it is dangerous to change the first "a" of the word into "e."

        I had been at school for some time, and was well turned into my seventh year, when on one memorable day I made a discovery which was worth more to me than the finding of a new world was to Columbus. I discovered my mother, and incidentally began to appreciate the fact that I had a father, although at this early period he occupied a position, to my vision, very much nearer the horizon than did my newly discovered planet. The discovery came about in this fashion: a boy playmate lost his temper at something that happened between us, and in anger gave me a slap which I did not resent. At this juncture I heard a voice from a near-by window, and, turning, I saw my mother leaning out, her eyes flashing so that I could almost see the sparks flying and her cheeks as red as fire. In a tone about which there could be no misinterpretation, even by one who instinctively preferred peace to war, she asked me if the boy struck me in anger; and when I told her he had, she blazed up and said, "And you didn't hit him back?" My response was that father had told me it was wrong to fight, and that when another boy gave way to anger just to tell him it was wrong and not fight back. At this the blue bonnet of Clan-Allan went "over the border," and she fairly screamed: "I don't care what your father told you; if you don't whip that boy this minute I'll whip you!" And she looked on, and was satisfied when it was all over. I date my career from that eventful day; for I had come to the parting of the ways.


Page 8a

        

Illustration

CHEROKEE MISSIONARY STATION, 1820
The first house built in that part of "The Reservation" in the present county of Marshall in Alabama. The author's parents were living here when he was born. It still serves as a residence and bids fair to endure for another century


Page 9

        No one who knew my father ever doubted his physical or moral courage, for it was of that sublime type that held life as of secondary consideration where duty was involved, but his was the gift of gentle forbearance and kindly remonstrance to those who gave way to ungovernable and passionate word or deed. His was the way of the Nazarene and of that far-reaching wisdom of which the Proverb says: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

        My mother, too, was a Presbyterian, the daughter of a minister of that faith, tender and true to her convictions of duty. Peter didn't love his Lord any less because he was human enough to lose his temper and smite off the ear of the servant of the high priest. My mother and I chose him for our patron saint, and, turning aside from the path of peace, hand in hand we trod the rougher road which led up the hill Difficulty. Upon its summit we stood at last triumphant, and thence, her beautiful face lighted up with a heavenly smile, an eternal benediction, she left me and passed down into the valley.


                         Time but the impression stronger makes,
                         As streams their channels deeper wear.

        It was on one of her later birthdays I wrote:


                         Deal gently with her, Time! These many years
                         Of life have brought more smiles with them than tears.
                         Lay not thy hand too harshly on her now,
                         But trace decline so slowly on her brow
                         That, like a sunset of the northern clime,
                         Where twilight lingers in the summer-time,
                         And fades at last into the silent night,
                         Ere one may note the passing of the light,
                         So may she pass--since 'tis the common lot--
                         As one who, resting, sleeps and knows it not. --Century Magazine, January, 1902.


Page 10

III
OUR VILLAGE BOYS

        Boys are boys the world over, and we were boys, some good, some bad. None good all the time; none so bad but that if properly handled the germ of good in him could have been cultivated to an aspiration for the ideals of life and for usefulness. It is almost a maxim that children are what their parents make them. Even the influences of heredity may in large measure be eliminated if carefully studied and the value of environment appreciated, for children, like chameleons, take readily the color of that which is about them. A left-handed child, or even an adult with a strongly inherited tendency to use the off-hand, may be made just as clever with the opposite and unpreferred member by persistent training. This has been very frequently demonstrated. It is just as possible to make both members equally useful. This will be done in the years to come, and it will greatly increase both mental and muscular efficiency. What is true of a physical defect or deviation from the normal is just as true of a moral weakness. No one doubts that Ashanti infants transplanted to a Christian civilization and reared with refined and cultivated children would cease to be cannibals and savages. The domestication of wild animals and fowls is complete evidence of the influence of environment.

        Among the boys of our village very few turned out bad;


Page 11

and had these few been surrounded in their homes by better example and received more kindly consideration and encouragement, even they would not have fallen by the way. Fully fifty per cent. of my playmates near my age perished in battle or from wounds or sickness contracted in the military service of the Confederacy. Most of our time up to our fifteenth year, when as a rule we were sent away to one of the well-known colleges, was spent in the long sessions of the village school with its exacting duties. A week at Christmas and the months of July and August made up the vacation period. On holidays in the fall and winter months, when the river and creeks and forests were flush with game, we were hunters and became adepts in woodcraft and the use of firearms. Often on Saturday nights, in the colder season, with the young negro boys, toward whom we white boys were always kind and considerate, with pine torch-lights and our dogs, we would roam the heavily timbered bottom lands hunting possums and coons, and at times on moonlight nights take our shotguns and seek out the wild-turkey roosts. With the full moon on cloudless nights we could even shoot turkeys, coons, and possums from the trees with the rifles, which carried only one ball. It was the practice to get the dark object between the marksman and the bright moon, sight into the moon, and slowly lower the barrel until both sights were darkened by the intervening black object, and at this moment touch the trigger. We were at home on horseback, and in the very warm days of the long summers we almost lived in the river, the temperature of which was several degrees warmer than the cold water which came in from the near-by mountain streams. Few of us could remember when we learned to swim, and the practice was general. No one seemed


Page 12

afraid of the water, nor was there ever a death by drowning. I recall that one day in the late spring, when the water in the river was still cold from the melting snows in the Virginia mountains, and it was nearly to the top of the banks, five of our group deposited our scant wardrobes, which consisted of trousers, shirt, and hat (no one wore shoes in warm weather), in the hollow of a giant sycamore and swam across the Tennessee and back for the frolic of it. In going the six hundred yards across the strong current we were carried fully a mile below the starting-point, and in returning we were compelled to walk far enough up the river-bank to offset the force of the current.

        Life was not by any means all play and school with us. It was the custom with both rich and poor for every boy to do a certain amount of manual labor, plowing or other work in the garden, or chopping wood or hauling. The wealthiest planter in our county insisted that his sons work in the fields with his slaves a certain number of days each crop season. In one year I raised unaided a ten-acre field of corn. It was a wholesome custom, for it instilled in our minds an appreciation of the dignity and value of labor and made us acquainted with the use of various implements. My father refused to give me even the small "spending-money" a boy is supposed to be allowed, but he gave me every opportunity to earn what I needed by my own efforts. My chief source of revenue was cutting wood in the forests near town which belonged to him, and hauling and selling it by the wagon-load to my various regular customers. With the money so earned I became an early subscriber to Harper's Magazine and Harper's Weekly. One of the family treasures which was lost when the Union soldiers burned our home was a much-appreciated


Page 13

personal letter to me from one of the original "Brothers" who founded the great "House of Harper." Thackeray and "Porte Crayon" were contributors to the Magazine then, and in the Weekly were appearing the illustrations of the Sepoy Rebellion in India.

        Thoughtful care was always given the selection of our teachers, and our community was fortunate in securing the services of Professor W. D. Lovett, of Zanesville, Ohio, a college graduate, well versed in the classics, an excellent mathematician, patient, insistent, and conscientious in the discharge of his duty. He was to me teacher and friend, and with his encouraging help and that of my father, himself at home with the classics, I was able in my fifteenth year to pass my college entrance examinations and matriculate at La Grange Military Academy in January, 1861.


Page 14

IV
HORSE AND GUN

        THE boy of the old South learned to ride and to shoot almost as soon as he learned to walk.1 I began to ride when I was only four years old, and at ten was the possessor of my own horse and gun. A saddle was not permitted to beginners. Stirrups were dangerous entanglements, and when we grew up to the saddle our stirrups had leather guards to prevent the ankle from slipping through and hanging. A blanket fastened on with a surcingle was the favorite seat. For years before I was big enough to get on a horse without sidling up to a stump or a fence I rode to the creek to water my horse, or straddled an evenly balanced sack of shelled corn and made the trip twice a week to the water-mill a mile away.

        I had also good practice in "riding behind" one or the other of my parents, for the newness of the country and the absence of good roads made the use of buggies or carriages practically impossible and horseback the one reliable way of traveling or of visiting our neighbors.

        My first gun was a flint-lock rifle of the same death-dealing
1 The girls of the South in my day were equally at home on horseback. Both of my sisters owned their saddle-horses, were fearless riders, and were expert with gun and pistol. On one occasion during the war, while all the men-folk were absent from the plantation in Lee County, Georgia, the negroes came running in great consternation to tell my eldest sister that a huge alligator was eating the pigs at the barn down near the lake. With an accurate shot through the eye she killed the monster, which was over six feet in length.


Page 15

pattern as those used by the backwoodsmen of Jackson and Coffee on Wellington's Peninsular veterans at New Orleans. It was a dangerous weapon at the muzzle, and not altogether harmless at the other end. I could never entirely overcome the sense of nervousness at the flash of the powder in the priming-pan within a few inches of the eye. The bullet used was molded from bars of lead kept in stock at all frontier stores. The ball was laid in the palm of the hand, and the proper charge of powder was measured by pouring enough to make a pyramid which just concealed it. The powder was then poured into the muzzle of the barrel held perpendicularly. A bit of thick cotton cloth greased with tallow on the under side was laid over the muzzle, and the ball, placed on this, was pushed in until its top was level with the surface of the barrel, when the patch was cut smoothly across with a sharp knife. Incased in this lubricated cloth envelope, the bullet was pushed down upon the charge of measured powder near the touch-hole by means of a long, slender ramrod of tough hickory. The priming-pan was next opened and filled with powder, and the "striker" closed. The flint was so arranged that when the hammer was cocked and the trigger pressed a spring drove the flint against the striker and primer, forcing it open, and thus bringing the powder in the pan in contact with the igniting spark. These guns, now obsolete, soon gave way to those equipped with tubes for percussion-caps, and these in turn to our modern breech-loaders with percussion-cartridges.

        This early training to horse and gun will explain why the mounted troops of the Confederacy for the first two years of the Civil War were notably superior to the cavalry of the North. For the third year honors were about even, and after that to the end the advantage was on the Union


Page 16

side. It took the Federal cavalrymen about two years to become expert riders and marksmen, and as such they held their own with their opponents. By 1864, when the South was depleted of live stock, the impossibility of securing good mounts or of maintaining the efficiency of those in service placed its cavalry at great disadvantage; and when to the best of horses and seasoned veterans was added the equipment with the repeating-rifle, as against the single-barreled muzzle-loader of the Confederates, it is no wonder that the men who had followed Forrest and Wheeler and Stuart and Morgan to victory on practically every battle field in the earlier campaigns could no longer successfully resist the gallant troopers of Wilson and Sheridan.

        The hunting-season in the South began in the early autumn and lasted until March. In the wide ranges of uncleared woodland in the near-by mountains, and in the dense cane-brakes which grew in the rich bottom land of the Tennessee, there were wild deer and turkeys in great numbers throughout the year. I counted more than twenty of the beautiful animals in one herd within three miles of our village, and I have killed turkeys feeding in the fields and truck-gardens of our home. So plentiful were they at one time that during the breeding-season I have often heard, as I sat on our portico, the drumming sound made by the wings of the males when strutting. Squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and opossums were abundant, while beavers, muskrats, and minks made their homes in the river's bank. Wild duck and geese came with the cold weather and remained until spring. Of the migrating birds the wild pigeon was at once the most beautiful and wonderful. The story of these birds will seem in this day like a gross exaggeration, and yet there are many persons still living who saw,


Page 17

as I have seen, the vast and countless flocks of these swift and graceful birds of passage as they whirred through the air on their southward flight, so massed that they cast a shadow like a thick cloud which shut out the sun, while the noise of their countless wings sounded like the roar of an approaching cyclone. As far as the eye could distinguish them their lines were stretched, and one flock would scarcely be out of sight before another followed. A favorite feeding-ground was the beech forest near our home, and one of the most wonderful sights I have ever beheld was the sudden and almost perpendicular descent of a vast army of these birds from a height of at least a mile to the tree-tops in the bottom lands. They simply let go, fell like snowflakes from the heavens, and alighted in such numbers that the limbs broke beneath the great weight. When the nuts were all consumed, or threshed off by the motion of their wings, the birds would swarm to the ground, many of them lost to sight in the foot-deep leaves which carpeted the earth beneath these giant trees. My father and I on one occasion picked up twenty-five pigeons killed by a single volley of our two shotguns--his a double, mine a single barreled gun. I have no idea of the cause of their disappearance; but they, like the buffalo, are now practically extinct. As late as 1870 I saw them in the White River section of Arkansas, as plentiful as they had been before the war in Northern Alabama. I am informed by a close student of ornithology that a reward of $5,000 for a pair of these birds has for three years remained unclaimed.

        In the cane-brakes and thickly wooded regions we hunted chiefly on foot, but for deer and turkey and for shooting quail, the horse was in common use, while for the rare sport of fox-hunting the gun was discarded, and the


Page 18

swift horses kept the hunters always close up with the hounds.

        When I became the owner of a saddle-horse it was my duty to feed and curry and take personal care of my mount; and so when the war came on, and I rode away on my beautiful Fanny, we knew each other thoroughly and were as comrades in all the exciting scenes, the times of danger in battle and of trial, with long marches and short rations, and all the hardships of an active cavalry service. Horses are not unlike their two-legged masters in the variations of character and quality; and a well-bred animal feels and shows its distinction and superiority over a common plug as does the man of gentle breeding exhibit certain qualities that mark him as not of the common run. Fanny was not only the most beautifully formed horse I have ever seen, but she possessed an intelligence almost human and could be trusted in any emergency. A whip or spur she would not tolerate. I could ride and guide her anywhere without saddle or bridle. A word, a motion of the hand, or a slight inclination of the body gave to her quick perception the direction and the gait. If the saddle was not comfortably adjusted she would stop and back one ear or the other to tell me where it pinched.

        I trained her to a running-walk, at once the easiest stride for horse and rider, and day after day she has averaged forty miles over roads and trails not easy as to going. I rode her twice from my home to Rome, in Georgia, seventy-five miles, in a day and a half. When it came to running she was like the wind, and in the long speeding to safety in our scouting expeditions, when speed needed stamina to make the goal of the picket-line, she showed her mettle. As long as I rode this graceful, coal-black creature-- unmarked save


Page 19

for a white star in the center of the forehead and a white ring on the nigh hind pastern--I felt no fear of capture. On one memorable occasion she showed her heels and her rider's back in most satisfactory fashion to a squadron of Brownlow's Union Cavalry in a chase from near Triune to our outpost, some four miles away. There are times in a soldier's life when, as Campbell expresses it,

'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view.

        In the Christmas raid through Kentucky in 1862, when in the crisis of the pursuit and hemmed in on all sides, we were forced to ride day and night for thirty-six hours through a merciless blizzard without stopping, and then, after a rest of six hours, went on to the end of our seventy-two hours' forced march, there was not in that entire command of three thousand a horse more fit than "The Little Black"--for that was her pet name in the regiment.

        In times of stress, when food was scarce and Fanny was hungry, I have often shared with her the roasting-ears of corn issued to me as my rations. At night, when we bivouacked, and the enemy was so near that every man must be ready to mount at a moment's notice, I would unspring the bit from the head-stall, and as she ate her shelled corn from the saddle-blanket I would sleep holding the halter strap and knowing full well she would never tread upon or attempt to wander from her sleeping comrade.

        We Southerners rode with long stirrup-leathers, such as the vaqueros of Mexico and the cowboys of the plains and pampas use. The trained horseman with this seat is one with his mount. When it becomes necessary, the saddle pressure can be lessened by tiptoeing slightly in the stirrups.


Page 20

The pigskin-covered, shallow-seated saddle of the English, with the short stirrup-leathers and the bobbing-up-and-down style of riding, is, from my point of view and training, awkward and tiring to both rider and horse.

        Our saddles were strong, and raised behind and in front, so that when firmly cinched one foot could be caught beneath the rim as the rider swung head downward on the other side to pick up any object from the ground. This we were trained to do with the horse at full gallop. At mounting we were equally expert, and from either side I could mount or leap entirely over my horse, and vault into the saddle from behind, with my pistol buckled around the waist, by placing my two hands on the horse's rump.

        I said good-by to my little Fanny on June 27, 1863, and I look back on this as one of the saddest experiences of a lifetime. It was the day of the battle of Shelbyville. From near Eagleville on the Triune turnpike our regiment, then on outpost duty, was ordered to retreat hurriedly to Shelbyville. Near noon we stopped for half an hour to cool our horses' backs and rest and feed. As there was no forage except grazing, I stripped my mount of saddle and bridle and turned her into a near-by clover-field to feed at will.

        When the bugle blew to saddle up I called "Fanny!" Tossing her head in the air with a whinny of recognition, she came to me at once. Leaping on her back without a bridle, I guided her by a movement of the hand toward my company's bivouac. As I approached there lay across the way the huge trunk of a fallen tree. I urged her to a canter, and she jumped over the log as I had trained her over hurdles before we began our war experiences. As she rose to take the jump the inner calk of the right fore shoe caught


Page 21

in the bark and tore the shoe loose. Unfortunately, the forge and farrier had moved on ahead; and as the enemy were in sight and pressing us, I saddled and mounted and joined in the six-mile run to Shelbyville. Within a mile the flinty bed of the macadamized roadway had done its work. Fanny began to limp, and then to lag, as her hoof was split to the quick, and I dismounted and led her. As good luck would have it, the enemy did not press us, or I should have been lost.

        As I came up at last the regiment was in line of battle, and the enemy's line, a mile away, was in sight, evidently preparing to advance. As I mounted and rode into the line Major Taylor, seeing how lame my horse was, ordered me to the wagon-train and would not listen to my entreaty to let me stay. Dismounting and leading Fanny, now hobbling on three legs, and depressed beyond measure at the thought of being absent from the first big fight the regiment was to be engaged in since I had joined it, I made my way sorrowfully to the rear.

        Two or three hundred yards back I came upon a member of my company who told me he was detailed to guard the wagon-train. As he had a fairly good horse and seemed anxious to take care of one too lame to be in the fight, I changed horses and equipments; and, exacting a promise that he would take Fanny to my home in Alabama, where I could find her at the close of the campaign, I mounted and rode into the line of battle just as the firing began.

        The story of that fight, from two o'clock to sundown, and the disaster which overtook me at its close is told elsewhere. The great tragedy of it was, not that we were beaten or that I was left on the field, ridden down and over by the victorious enemy, but that I never again saw my


Page 22

noble Fanny. The man to whom I intrusted her reported that she grew so sore of foot she could no longer move, and he had left her in care of a farmer in Tennessee. At the close of the war my first duty was to search for my little thoroughbred, but no trace of her could be found.


Page 23

V
MAJOR, THE VILLAGE KING--LESSON FROM THE LIFE OF A NOBLE DOG

        IT is as true of dogs as of poets that they are "born, not made." Major was born great. Not that he had a proud pedigree. No more have poets as a rule: Shakespeare's father was a glovemaker; Milton's a scrivener; Spenser's a tailor; Keats's paternal ancestor kept a livery stable; and the father of Robert Burns made a very insufficient living as a gardener.

        The average poet, however, knew his father--and here the comparison becomes embarrassing for Major. Genealogically he was classified as a mongrel cur, but genealogy, like the thermometer, does not always register correctly. The laws of heredity, like the laws of the universe, are as inexorable as they are wonderful and difficult of comprehension. Major was an illustration. Even as the planets of our system, after eons of divergence in space, come again in conjunction, so in this loved and faithful companion of my boyhood, born to be king of his kind in the village, there united by some mysterious alchemy certain ancestral strains, certain inherited qualities, which made him worthy of founding a dynasty.

        Cast in human form, he would have been another Forrest or Jackson, a natural-born soldier. Courage and strategy and tactics were of his mental make-up, and behind these


Page 24

qualities there was a magnificent endowment of muscle and bone which made them savagely effective. Like the "Wizard of the Saddle," who said, "five minutes of 'bulge' was worth more than a week of tactics," Major believed in bulge. He always "showed fight," and never waited to be attacked. Forrest's one "general order" was: "Whenever you see a Yankee, show fight. If there ain't but one of you and a hundred of them, show fight. They'll think a heap more of you for it."

        Now, Major was not particular about what the other village dogs thought of him, but he did enjoy a quiet stroll along a dogless highway. Even Cowper in his "Morning Walk" was not more fond of solitude, and as my fighter's reputation spread his meditations were rarely disturbed. At the zenith of his reign, if there was a canine in all the region round about his Judea upon whose skin he had not left the indelible register of his prowess, it was only because the other dog elected to keep between his hide and Major that distance which lent enchantment to the view. When after one of these occasional joy-chases in the wake of a fleet-footed vagrant he would return panting, with his dripping tongue hanging out of one side of his mouth, and come up to me to get the usual pat of commendation on his back, he would sit down on his hunkers and in very human fashion laugh at the comical figure the scared fugitive had cut. And it was funny enough to make even a dog laugh; for few things are more ludicrous than precipitate flight, whether there be two or four legs in action. In my soldier days I took an active part in more than one cavalry stampede, in which for the time being my comrades and I parted company with our family pride, which is another name for courage. On these occasions, if on no other, I


Page 24a

Illustration

"MAJOR" AND HIS PUPIL


Page 25

was inspired with the idea of leadership, and if the inspiration was of brief duration it was only because the horse I rode was not equal to the occasion. As one after another the rattled troopers passed me in the wild scramble toward safety I had ample opportunity to observe the earnestness which characterized each individual's effort to annihilate distance. Notwithstanding the increasing proximity of the pursuers, I registered the ludicrous features of the situation, and many a time since then, with bullets and sabres eliminated, I have laughed over these scenes.

        Somebody has said, or is said to have said, "All the world loves a lover," which is generally accepted as true. There is another saying that "Everybody sympathizes with the under dog." Elsewhere and in the abstract this may have been (or may be) true; but in our village it did not hold. When the bottom dog got on his feet, saw his chance, tucked his tail between his legs, and ran, every boy and man whose Christian mother or wife was not in hearing yelled at him in terms not found in the Westminster Confession, and added to the fugitive's intensity of purpose the quickening impulse of a stone or a brickbat.

        Naturally, Major became the pride of the village, his prowess the talk of the neighborhood; and I, his master, shone, albeit with reflected glory. We are all more or less influenced by environment and association, and little wonder it soon came into my mind that I among my kind must keep stride with my victorious dog. He expected it of me, and when on one memorable day I licked the bully of the playground, Major jumped all over me for joy. Victors on every field, Major and his master, like Alexander, sighed for more worlds.

        In a near-by settlement there was another fighting dog


Page 26

of local repute; and one summer's day when the circus came to town, the boy who owned him and his crowd walked in to see the sights, bringing with them the redoubtable pup. My chum and I were engaged in watching the busy showmen put up the big tent, when the other boys and their champion came on the scene. He was a magnificent specimen of his kind, brindle-colored, well muscled, noticeably longer in body and neck, and some two inches taller than Major. He was evidently game to the core, for he no sooner saw my pet than he bristled up, fixed his eyes intently upon him, and assumed that muscular tension peculiar to the wolf and cat tribes when about to spring. As he and they approached, the circus men, seeing that something exciting was in the air, quit work and with the crowd of loiterers attracted by the "Greatest Show on Earth" turned their attention to the battle-scene.

        I recall distinctly that sinking feeling which often comes over one in the first few moments of an impending crisis, the issue of which is doubtful. I put my hand encouragingly on my companion's neck, pulled his head against my leg, and said in a low tone, "Steady, Major." There must have been some quiver of the arm or tremor in the voice which betrayed my apprehension, for, while the other valiant knight was yet some thirty yards away, my champion turned his eyes reproachfully on mine with a look which said. "Watch me." I did watch him, and, to my surprise, for the first time in his life Major did not advance to meet the enemy. I knew later his keen intelligence had cautioned him that this was the heaviest contract he had ever undertaken, and that strategy and tactics as well as courage and strength would be needed to win. I did not know it then, and as the stranger boldly and deliberately advanced


Page 27

I almost sank to the earth with shame and mortification; for Major not only failed to meet him half-way, but stood there stock-still, seemingly not wanting to fight and wagging his tail in friendly fashion, as if he were about to greet a long-lost brother. So deceptive was this assumption of friendliness, or timidity, or cowardice, that the other crowd of boys began to jeer and yell at the top of their lungs, "School-butter!" "Chicken-liver!" "Soak him!" and a lot of other objectionable constructions of nouns, verbs, and adjectives of origin as unknown as they were insulting.

        It was just as this yell of exultation in anticipation of our discomfiture rose that the strategy of the master was disclosed. Unused to such a crowd and to such an unearthly noise, the invader turned his head for a moment toward his shouting mob of backers. This error sealed his doom; for in that instant, like a stone from a catapult, with lightning-like swiftness and with irresistible force, Major bounded forward, striking full-breasted against the side of the neck and shoulders of the longer dog, bowling him over and on his back. The stranger did not hit the ground before his cunning and savage foe had his throat and windpipe in the grip of a pair of jaws that never relaxed their hold until the bottom dog was half dead and hopelessly beaten, when we pulled the victor off. As Major shook himself and stood over his fallen foe in triumphant pose, ready to renew the attack, the crowd yelled and hurrahed again and again for him and me. Then we "town boys" laughed best, because we had laughed last.

        Major's star, ascendant from the day he entered the arena, reached its zenith in this month, when he was four years old and when Sirius was in its glory. From this on


Page 28

his story is briefly told, and I venture to apply to my faithful friend, tried and not found wanting, a quotation from Froude's Sketch of Cæsar:

Everything which grows holds in perfection but a single moment.

        When the days of the sere and yellow leaf came on for this, my Cæsar, the college days came on for me; and although I did not suspect it then, I bade a long and last good-by to the home of a happy boyhood and to my loved and faithful dog. From college I went into the Southern army until the end of the Civil War, and when peace came there was no home, and Major had long since gone to the undiscovered country. After I had left, one of the slaves, ambitious to maintain the prestige of the absent member, brought into the fold a puppy, scion of my village king, who schooled him as a fighter, alas! to his own undoing.

        As in the course of nature Major's muscles withered and his jaws became toothless his powerful and plucky son grew more and more resentful of the painful reprimands inflicted by his hectoring sire, and at last turned on him in mortal combat. I was told that when the servants pulled them apart the beaten but unconquered old warrior, staggering to his feet, tried in vain to renew the hopeless combat, and then, with head erect and lordly mien, passed for ever from the scene. A week later they found him dead in the edge of a forest near the town. Victory or death was the lesson that came from the spirit of this dumb creature. The savagery which he exhibited was his by nature, uncurbed and unchanged by the impossibility of a higher intelligence. That of his master, whose heart now in ripe old age, and long before he had reached the years of maturity, was filled with


Page 29

regret that even in the wild life of the frontier and in the riot of restless boyhood he could delight in these tests of animal courage and skill and strength, had less in extenuation. With all of this the moral of the lesson was not lost: "He who fights the battle of life to win or die, wins."


Page 30

VI
EARLY SCENES, RELIGIOUS AND OTHERWISE

        WHILE a large majority of our early settlers were sober and law-abiding, it was inevitable that some lawlessness should prevail in the formative period of a community such as this in which I grew to manhood. Disputed pre-emption claims and other conflicts of interest led to feuds between individuals and families, in the settlement of which personal prowess and the bowie-knife or rifle were too often appealed to instead of argument or arbitration or reason and law.

        In partial extenuation of these brutal combats it must be said that they usually were open fights without unfair advantage; in fact, in all the earlier bloody history of Marshall County I knew of but a single instance where one man shot and killed another from ambush. I witnessed a number of these affairs, as they often took place in the streets of my native village, where the county and district courts were held, and where from far and near the people came to political conventions, or to vote on election days, or to take part in the annual muster of the militia. During the afternoon of one election contest in which excitement ran high I saw a half-dozen different combats, while fully as many more, as I afterward learned, took place beyong my field of vision.

        The business center of our village was confined to a single street, on either side of which for some two hundred yards


Page 31

the stores and shops were located. One of these stores, with a roof that sloped away from the street, the comb or highest portion of which was parallel with the edge of the sidewalk, was a favorite rendezvous for our crowd of boys, who never willingly missed those exciting scenes. Upon one pretext or another we would manage to get away from home and climb to our gallery on Kinzler's grocery. This point of vantage not only gave us a commanding view of the street, but it possessed another attractive feature, for we could peep over the edge and see all that was going on with nothing but our eyes and the tops of our heads in danger. Whenever a gun was pointed our way, or a badly aimed stone or stick flew too high, we had only to slide back a few inches and duck our heads to be safe until the gun went of or the missile had passed on. The casualties on one occasion included one man killed and a large number laid up for repairs.

        Another personal encounter that came under my observation was a fight between two men, for each of whom even as a small boy I had formed a warm friendship. Passing along the sidewalk on an errand to my father's office, I came upon my two friends in excited conversation standing on a platform or open porch which served as entrance to a candyshop where I was a frequent visitor. As I stood within a few feet of them the proprietor of the shop, a very small but wiry man, stepped back quickly, drew a single-barreled pistol from his pocket, and pointed it at the other larger man, saying, "If you take a step toward me I'll kill you." The big man did not advance. He said, "I am unarmed; but if you'll wait I'll be right back, and we'll settle it." With this he hurried across the street to a dry-goods store and asked the merchant for the loan of a pistol, which was


Page 32

refused. He then picked up an ax, which he held in his right hand. With the other he seized the top of a wooden packing-box, and holding this in front of his chest and abdomen as a Kaffir would hold his pavise, or rawhide shield, to ward off a thrust from an assagai, he walked straight toward his adversary.

        Meanwhile the small man was standing at the edge of the platform, pistol in hand, and pointing now directly at the big miller, who was advancing at a fast walk. The one thing which made the most vivid impression on my mind of what happened here was the self-cocking feature of the pistol. As the man pulled the trigger I saw distinctly the hammer rise just before the flash and noise of the explosion. I had never before seen a "self-cocker." My big friend interposed the box-top, through which the bullet passed before it buried itself in the muscles of his broad chest, where it remained many years, to the day of his death. As it struck him he staggered back with the ax slightly raised, whereupon the other fighter hit him a stunning blow with the heavy barrel of the empty pistol. By this time some other men had come up and separated the combatants.

        This pioneer settlement was about as active and violent in matters of religion as in the occasional settlement "outside the law" of personal differences. Of the various sects the Baptists and the Methodists were about equally divided--these two outnumbering all the rest. I do not think there was a single Catholic in our community, and only one family of Episcopalians, while our immediate family furnished the Presbyterian contingent.

        When my father founded the present village of Guntersville he gave a spacious lot to each sect, to be deeded


Page 33

when a house of worship was erected; but up to the breaking out of the Civil War, in 1861, there was not a single church edifice in the town. The school-house, the courthouse, and later the large Masonic Hall were used for Sunday services. Our preachers were all "circuit riders," and occupied the pulpit in turn, all the sects attending to swell the congregation. There was Sunday-school from ten to eleven o'clock in the morning, preaching from eleven to twelve, and again by candlelight, to which each family contributed a candle and a sconce, or holder, which was fastened to the wall.

        The Baptists were spoken of as the "Hardshell" and "Foot-washing" sects, and were believers in total immersion; and the congregations of this particular church celebrated once or twice a year the ceremony of foot-washing. The creeks or the Tennessee River furnished holes deep enough for immersion, which usually took place in warm weather, while a piggin of water and a towel served the parson or assistants who performed the foot-washing rite.

        At certain times, usually in the late summer months, in the periods of comparative leisure in a farming community after the crops were "laid by" and before "gathering-time," would be held what were called "protracted meetings" or "revivals." When the attendance proved too large for the meeting-house the congregation would move out under the shade-trees; or more frequently great arbors made of the branches of thick-leaved trees would be hastily constructed. The negroes spoke of these as "Bresh-Harbor" revivals.

        The "circuit-riders," so called because they were designated to preach in a circuit of several counties, traveled their rounds on horseback, as the roads were new, ill kept, and often impassable to any kind of vehicle except the


Page 34

crude, heavy wagons drawn by oxen. At these protracted gatherings the exercises lasted three or four days, and when the excitement ran high a longer time was utilized until the supply of "mourners" and "converts" was exhausted.

        The assistants to the leading clergymen were known as "exhorters," selected, it seemed to me, on account of their cleverness in appealing to the emotional qualities of their hearers. Most of them had good voices, and at certain periods in their exhortations to all who had not been converted to come up to the mourners' bench, confess their sins, and be saved, they would at the psychological moment break forth in some one of the many revival songs which rarely failed to fire the train of religious fervor or hysteria which the preacher's sermon and his own preliminary exhortation had prepared for explosion.

        Of one of these songs I recall a verse or two:


                         Jesus my all to heaven is gone;
                         Glory halleluiah!
                         Him whom I fix my hopes upon;
                         Glory halleluiah!


                         His track I see and I'll pursue;
                         Glory halleluiah!
                         If you get there before I do,
                         Tell all my friends I'm coming, too;
                         Glory halleluiah!

        And so on for a number of stanzas. When the song began he would leave the place in front of the pulpit, where he had been standing, and rush along the aisles, shaking hands vigorously right and left with all in reach, and calling them by name as "my brother" or "my sister"--there being as a rule about three sisters to one brother. There was a very large lady in our village easily moved to tears


Page 35

and hysterical sobbing, who usually gave way first and, like Abou ben Adhem, led all the rest. By the time the sermon was over she was about ready for the outburst, and when the exhorter broke loose with his "Glory halleluiah" song she would clap her hands violently together with a resounding smack, sway her body back and forth, and scream out at the top of her high-pitched voice: "Bless the Lord! Bless the Lord! Oh, my Jesus!" And with this she would follow on the trail of the exhorter, crying out to her two sons, about eighteen and twenty-two respectively, to "Come to Jesus." These young men, knowing their mother's weakness, found it convenient to sit near the door or an open window, through which a quick exit was possible when she began a rush for them.

        I remember on one occasion one of the boys reached the door and escaped, and the dear old lady cut the other off from that exit only to see him leap through a window at least six feet from the ground. With twenty or thirty mourners kneeling before the parallelogram of benches arranged for them just in front of the pulpit, many of these sobbing, the exhorters singing and shaking hands in and out among the congregation, and a half-dozen hysterical women shouting as loud as they could scream, confusion reigned. There was one young man whose fondness for alcohol caused him to fall from grace with recurring regularity, and his way of restoring himself to divine favor was to confess his errors at these revivals and ask to be taken back in the fold. He immortalized himself with the smaller boys in our neighborhood by breaking out on one occasion in an ecstasy of song which, as far as I knew, was entirely original. As the exhorter was on his rounds, Jasper leaped from his seat, grasped him by both hands, and, jumping up and down, not


Page 36

unlike the movements of a turkey-gobbler in the early spring chanted:


                         The devil is dead, and I am glad;
                         Glory halleluiah!
                         He ain't got the soul he thought he had;
                         Glory halleluiah!

        My parents, being Presbyterians, did not wholly approve of these excitable religious demonstrations, and I did not attend as many as I should have liked. Their minister, who always stayed at our house, did not reach us in his circuit oftener than once in four or five weeks, and the intervening Sundays I spent in familiarizing myself with the Westminster Confession of Faith, the religious section of the New York Observer, and Alexander's Sermons, one of which I was called upon to stand up before the family and read aloud. How long each one of these effusions of the good old Princeton theologian seemed! Visiting in 1913, in one of the private rooms of the Polyclinic Hospital, a grandson of their author, himself eminent in the affairs of the metropolis, I was answered with a smile when I told him I rejoiced at last to have an opportunity of taking revenge on the family for the wrongs I had suffered at the hands of his grandfather.


Page 37

VII
THE ARISTOCRACY OF THE OLD SOUTH

        IT would be difficult to imagine a society more cultured, hospitable, and delightful, more in harmony with that definition of gentlefolk as "those whose rule of conduct is consideration for others," than that to which, thanks to my mother, I found admission in the community of Huntsville in the days of the old régime. This may savor of exaggeration or prejudice, or perhaps of conceit; but in the larger view which has come from reading and travel, and an association of more than forty years with many of the noblest and best of the metropolis, nothing like it has come to my knowledge. Such a society was possible only with the institution of slavery; and when slavery ended it ended never again to be reproduced. The people composing this society were almost wholly descended from the cavaliers of Virginia, many of the earlier settlers coming directly from the tide-water section of the Old Dominion; others indirectly, from Kentucky and Tennessee and North Carolina--countries which were stocked by the Virginia overflow.

        In the spirit of adventure, and with the wealth in slaves inherited from their fathers, these hardy scions of a noble race passed over the mountains, pre-empted the rich valley of the Tennessee, and established there a New Virginia. Twelve miles north of the Tennessee River, in the upper


Page 38

reaches of a rich agricultural section, where the spurs of the Appalachian range begin to hem it in from the north, at the base of a picturesque limestone cliff, there gushes from the earth a spring of crystal water. It is of such volume and force that it sets in motion the powerful machinery which carries unlimited luxury into every home. Upon the summit of the bluff which overlooks this marvelous spring and the far-reaching valley through which the silvery stream flows toward the great river, one of those restless pioneers, John Hunt by name, built his cabin of cedar logs in 1806 and claimed the region roundabout. There was no Alabama then-- only Indians and wilderness. The area which now forms the states of Alabama and Mississippi was ceded in 1802 by Georgia to the United States. The fact that the Cherokee Indians had lived there from time beyond the memory of man and still claimed the land did not matter to John Hunt. He was friendly with the aborigines, and sent his Calebs and Joshuas back to civilization to spread the news of the rich Canaan, and others just as hardy and just as hungry for land joined him. The discreet Cherokees, children of the great Sequoyah, wisest of all the Indian tribes, realizing that the better part of valor was discretion, and seeing that the white man was surely crowding him out, ceded in 1819, for a price, all their claims north of the Tennessee River, and in the same year Congress made of Alabama a sovereign state.

        Huntsville had not waited for this. Indians or no Indians, it was a town already, having incorporated itself in 1811; and in 1812, the year that our second war began with England, when Napoleon's Grand Army was freezing to death in Russia, and one year before the great Tecumseh passed along the Creek Path in sight of these settlers' log


Page 39

defenses and made those speeches which stirred the red men to the massacre of Fort Mims and to other bloody deeds, Huntsville was publishing The Madison Gazette, the first newspaper printed within the limits of the present state.

        The first sessions of the legislature were held here, and but for its location in the extreme northern end of the state it would without doubt have been the permanent capital. It remained, however, the political capital and the social and commercial center of one of the most enterprising and productive agricultural communities in the New World. For more than a hundred miles in all directions the rich owners of vast estates whose work was done by slaves, and the humbler settlers who came in covered wagons and cleared their small farms and tilled them with their own hands, everybody, except the outlaws and the rowdies, who haunted the wilderness for refuge, made of Huntsville even in these earlier days the Mecca toward which all eyes were turned. The wealthier people built their homes and churches here, established in 1812 the famous Greene Academy, a college-preparatory school, whence to La Grange College, or Henry and Emory, or William and Mary, or the University of Virginia, or Princeton, or elsewhere in the then far-away world their sons went for their finishing studies. The Huntsville Seminary (Presbyterian), where my mother and her daughters were educated, and the equally famous and popular Female College (Methodist), were other institutions of learning which won for this beautiful city the well-deserved name of the "Athens of the South." The country was so new, the atmosphere and environment so inspiring to endeavor, that, instead of yielding to the softening influences of wealth and the luxury which the institution of slavery implied, the men of this period turned their attention to


Page 40

active pursuits, to the excitement of politics, to manufacturing and commercial enterprises, and to public improvements. Theirs was the first cotton factory in the state, and probably in the far South, established in 1832, the machinery being run by the water-power of Flint River. The magnificent macadamized roads, which stand to-day as models of highway construction, were built by them while yet the crack of the Indian's rifle was heard in the near-by brakes.

        In this delightful society, through years of peace and prosperity and happiness, my mother had lived from infancy to the fullness of a noble womanhood; hither came Louis Wyeth, a young lawyer, just turned of twenty-seven, and already appointed by the state legislature judge of the new county of Marshall, carved out of the Cherokee country, and lately opened for settlement. Thence went this man and woman, whom God had joined and nothing but death could part, to their new home in the wild and sparsely settled region to the south, from which as yet the Indians had not wholly departed. John Allan, her father, had graduated from the University of Georgia in 1807. In addition to the Greek and Latin classics; he had mastered the French language, and, supplementing his college course with another in theology, he made himself familiar with Hebrew literature. Having been admitted to the ministry, and having married the daughter of a soldier, who in recognition of his services in the war for independence had been granted a rich estate in the blue-grass region of Tennessee, he accepted the call to the Presbyterian church in Huntsville. From the pulpit, and in his professorship of the classics in the Greene Academy, he became a power for good, and died at his post, universally beloved and lamented.


Page 41

        Naturally, the home of such a family as his became a center of the refinement and culture of the community, a rallying-point of the remarkable group of men and women, many of whom as they grew to maturity found high places in the esteem of mankind and later wrote their names in history. First of all, as the memory of these earlier days flashes through my mind, there comes a woman, the girlhood and lifelong friend of my mother, Virginia Tunstall, descended as were almost all of them from the cavaliers; later to be more widely known as the brilliant leader of society at the national capital in the decade that preceded the tragedy of 1861-65, as the wife of Senator Clement C. Clay, Jr. The story of that unique period is known to all readers of our native literature in a most fascinating book by Mrs. Clay, A Belle of the Fifties. Still holding, in 1914, the sway she could not relinquish if she would, the sole survivor of the brilliant throng of whom I write, one can fitly apply to her that unsurpassed compliment of Shakespeare to womanhood:


                         Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
                         Her infinite variety.

        The Clays all came from Virginia. The famous orator was from Ashland, near Richmond, and I have always felt a touch of pride that my kinsman, George Wythe, discovered Henry Clay, educated him, and trained him in the law. Clement C. Clay, the elder, from Halifax, in the Old Dominion, came to Huntsville in 1811, served many terms in the legislature, and was governor and United States Senator. Clement C. Clay, Jr., his son, "to the manner born and native hero" with his university degree, succeeded his father in the United States Senate, and was the first


Page 42

Senator elected from Alabama to the Southern Confederacy. His history, even down to the long and wearisome and unjust persecution of imprisonment in Fortress Monroe, is known to all. The record stands without a stain. And here Jere Clemens, lawyer, legislator, soldier of the Mexican War, Senator of the United States, and, beyond all such ordinary distinction to my youthful mind, author of Bernard Lile, Mustang Gray, and The Rivals; or, the Days of Burr and Hamilton. How many a tallow candle that I helped my mother mold have I seen melt away as I read and reread these "romances, couched in gorgeous diction and abounding in thrilling episode," when I should have been absorbed in the brain-racking exercises of algebra or geometry! A college man of La Grange and the State University, handsome of feature and proud of carriage, no wonder the maidens of the land fell victims to his charms. Virginia Tunstall was not alone in the list of young girls whose hearts beat faster at first sight of this "Romeo of Madison County."

        Let her tell it in her own inimitable way:1

        "It was to my Uncle Tom that I owe the one love sorrow of my life. It was an affair of the greatest intensity while it endured, and was attended by the utmost anguish for some twelve or fourteen hours. During that space of time I endured all the hopes and fears, the yearnings and despairs, to which the human heart is victim. I was nearing the age of fifteen when my uncle one evening bade me put on my prettiest frock and accompany him to the home of a friend, where a dance was to be given. I was dressed with all the alacrity my old mammy was capable of summoning, and was soon ensconced in the carriage and on my way to
1 A Belle of the Fifties, Doubleday, Page& Co., 1904.


Page 43

the hospitable scene. En route we stopped at the hotel, where my uncle alighted, reappearing in a moment with a very handsome young man, who entered the carriage with him and drove with us to the house where he, too, was to be a guest.

        "Never had my eyes beheld so pleasing a masculine wonder! He was the personification of manly beauty! His head was shapely as Tasso's (in after life I often heard the comparison made), and in his eyes there burned a romantic fire that enslaved me from the moment their gaze rested upon me. At their warmth all the ardor, all the ideals upon which a romantic heart had fed, rose in recognition of their realization in him. During the evening he paid me some pretty compliments, remarking upon my hazel eyes and the gleam of gold in my hair, and he touched my curls admiringly, as if they were revered by him.

        "My head swam! Lohengrin never dazzled Elsa more completely than did this knight of the poet's head charm the maiden that was I. We danced together frequently throughout the evening, and my hero rendered me every attention a kind man may offer to the little daughter of a valued friend. When at last we stepped into the carriage and turned homeward the whole world was changed for me.

        "My first apprehension of approaching sorrow came as we neared the hotel. To my surprise, the knight was willing, nay, desired to be set down there. A dark suspicion crept into my mind that perhaps, after all, my hero might be less gallant than I had supposed, else why did he not seek this opportunity of riding home with me? If this wonderful emotion that possessed me also had actuated him--and how could I doubt it after his devotion throughout


Page 44

the evening?--how could he bear to part from me in this way without a single word or look of tenderness?

        "As the door closed behind him I leaned back in the darkest corner of the carriage and thought hard, though not hardly, of him. After a little my uncle roused me by saying, 'Did my little daughter enjoy this evening?' I responded enthusiastically.

        " 'And was I not kind to provide you with such a gallant cavalier? Isn't Colonel Jere Clemens a handsome man?'

        "Ah, was he not? My full heart sang out his praises with an unmistakable note. My uncle listened sympathetically; then he continued, 'Yes; he's a fine fellow, Virginia, and he has a nice little wife and baby.'

        "No thunderbolt ever fell more crushingly upon the unsuspecting than did these awful words from the lips of my uncle. I know not how I reached my room, but, once there, I wept passionately throughout the night and much of the following morning. Within my own heart I accused my erstwhile hero of the rankest perfidy, of villainy of every imaginable quality; and in this recoil of injured pride perished my first love dream, vanished the heroic wrappings of my quondam knight!"


        With all his charm of manner and handsome face, this gifted man fell short of his opportunities. The judgment of Jacob upon his first-born son might well apply to him! "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel." Although a member of the Secession Convention, signing the ordinance which carried his native state into the Southern Confederacy, and accepting the chief command of all the Alabama forces when hostilities were declared, he resigned later, and when the armies of the North occupied Huntsville he went


Page 45

over, "foot, baggage, and artillery," to those making savage war upon the people among whom he was born and reared and to whom he owed the distinction that had been accorded to him. His kinsman, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), joined the Confederate cavalry as a lieutenant, and deserted, as did Henry M. Stanley, the noted explorer.

        From Virginia also came John W. Walker, a Princeton graduate, and the first United States Senator from Alabama, and his two sons, Richard and Pope, born in Huntsville and schooled at Greene Academy and at the University of Virginia and at Princeton; the former a Confederate State Senator, the latter the first Secretary of War in the Confederate cabinet. Gabriel Moore, lawyer, governor, Congressman, United States Senator, and James G. Birney were Huntsville men. The latter, with my mother's father, John Allan, organized the first "Society for the Emancipation of Slavery" in Alabama, published a newspaper founded to advocate the cause of abolition, and was the nominee on this ticket in 1840, and again in 1844, for the Presidency of the United States.

        Also came hither Reuben Chapman, of Caroline County, Virginia, lawyer, legislator, governor, and Congressman. I remember my father reading to me a letter from this famous politician, asking his advice as to whether or not he could safely vote for an appropriation then before Congress for a certain sum of money to construct an experimental telegraph line from Washington City to Baltimore. My father advised him to vote for it by all means, but added, "You need not hope to be re-elected if you do."

        Dr. Henry Chambers, from the Old Dominion, the only member of the medical profession ever elected to the Senate of the United States from Alabama, was a practising physician


Page 46

here. James White McClung, the brilliant and dissipated orator; William Smith, who was offered and declined an associate-justiceship in the Supreme Court of the United States; Silas Parsons, of the state Supreme Court; Colonel Robert and Dr. Thomas L. Fearn, the Erskines, Mastins, Popes, Coles, Brandons, Facklers, Donegans, Lanes, Acklens, Garths, Irbys, Russells, Newmans, Mathewses, Leftwicks, Calhouns, Phelans, Beirnes, Hales, Weedons, and Pattons, and many others were of this extraordinary community of pioneers in which my parents moved. The list would not be complete did I not mention Robert C. Brickell, the famous chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and his associate in law, Septimus D. Cabaniss; also Peter M. Dox and Wm. M. Lowe, members of Congress, each of whom was bound to my father by the ties of personal friendship.

        Into this community I made my first entrance when I was nine years old. I had learned the story of Aladdin, and now I felt as if his lamp was mine. Born in a log cabin and reared in the country of the Cherokees, as yet little more than a wilderness, I knew nothing of the outer world except what I had gathered from conversation with my parents. The sun which rose over the high mountains an hour's walk from our home, and went down behind the range which shut in our beautiful valley on the west, measured the limits of my horizon. The near-by hills and valleys and streams and woods made up my world. I knew the trees in the forests and the animals and birds, wild and tame, before I knew the names of the human beings coming in ever-increasing numbers into the newly opened territory.

        My father made frequent journeys away on errands connected with his law practice, and every year my mother made a visit of a few weeks to her old home and girlhood friends


Page 47

in Huntsville, and this time I was to go with her. We took the steamboat Lookout, which puffed and whistled and churned the water into huge waves that went surging from underneath the great stern wheel, which turned over so fast and made such a mighty splashing. Captain Matt Todd, whose boat it was, took me on the roof--he called it the "hurricane-deck"--and held me as I leaned over to watch the water fly from the strokes of the paddles, or "buckets," and then into the pilot-house, where the man at a smaller wheel turned it one way and then another, always busy and watchful, as our boat plowed between great rocks that we could see down below the surface, or sunken logs or "sawyers" (loose, half-submerged logs), or swept around a bend in the beautiful river. Great cliffs of stone, with cedars clinging to the fissures in the rock, rose up on one or the other side so high at times I wondered if anybody ever climbed to the top.

        On we went, by great plantations of corn and cotton; and every now and then the deafening whistle blew, and the big bell rang, and the noisy wheel stopped as we swung around bow up-stream and tied to the bank to take on or put off travelers and freight. At the mouth of Flint River, where the shoals were bad, the good Lookout went aground, and a great rope hawser had to be taken ashore and fastened by one end to a big tree while the other was wound around the capstan until our boat was pulled back into the channel.

        From Whitesburg Landing we drove the twelve miles to Huntsville in a stage-coach. The road was so wide and white and hard I wondered if it was the same kind of earth we were used to. No dust, no stumps for the wheels to bump over, no loose rocks, and no mud-holes. Then my mother told me of a Mr. McAdam, who taught people how


Page 48

to build good roads of crushed stone, and how "her people" had learned to do this long ago. Near sundown we climbed a high hill, and from the top of this I saw ever so many houses clustered together, and one with a great round dome high above the others, and farther on a steeple even higher still. They told me one was the court-house and the other, my mother said, was her father's church. We had no court-house where we lived, and up to this moment I had never seen a church. There were preachers at times in Marshall, "circuit-riders" who came to our village every once in a while, usually on horseback, with their sermons and belongings in a pair of saddle-bags, preached and held "revivals" in our log school-house, and in summer-time under brush arbors.

        Somewhere, in a street with great houses stretching away on both sides as far as I could see, our stage stopped, and we got out. I remember the high iron fence, and the gate that opened into the park-like yard, and the smoothly mown blue grass, and ever so many shade-trees on either side of the long brick walk which led up to the mansion. The servants took our luggage, and Colonel Fearn and his dear wife came out to welcome my mother. They called her by her school-girl name, and she spoke to them as "Robert" and "Mary," for they had grown up together. Even Caledonia, the seamstress, who had been lady's-maid to her young mistress in their younger days, courtesied and took my mother's hand as she said, "Howdy, Miss Phemie." I wondered why Carter (I can't spell it as Colonel Fearn pronounced it, for he had the tide-water accent), the butler, wore a red waistcoat and a blue coat with shiny brass buttons; and I was told that was his livery. The wide front portico was nearly as large as all of our little house at


Page 48a

Illustration

A HUNTSVILLE MANSION OF THE EARLY DAYS


Page 49

home, and the great white columns went up two stories to the roof; and inside there was a maze of rooms and winding stairs and strange, old-fashioned furniture--bureaus and tables, and beds with long posts which reached to near the ceiling, and had tops or testers, with curtains on the sides. How strange it all was, and a lonesome feeling came over me, and I wanted to go back home!

        I remember vividly that when we went to the supper-table I saw for the first time a silver fork, and it felt so awkward as I tried to eat with it that I boldly asked Colonel Fearn if I couldn't have "a sure-enough fork instead of a split-spoon." He laughed louder than I thought he ought to as he said: "Carter, go to the kitchen and bring that child another fork."

        Another great surprise was in store for me when I discovered up in our room that there were pipes which carried cold and hot water, and that we didn't have to go to the spring with a bucket and bring it in by hand. I learned later that there were hydrants on the corners of all the streets, and I soon learned that by pushing down on the handle and slipping a pebble above it I could keep the clear stream flowing until the gutter was as full as the spring branch at home; and one day a rude policeman took the pebble out and stopped the water from wasting, with a threat to arrest me if I did it again. But the greatest surprise was in store for me when I saw what I was told was gas-light; no wick or candle or lamp, just light; and there was nothing to do but to turn a brass key and strike a match. What a wonderful new world all this was to a boy of nine years who had never before been out of sight of his home in the backwoods!

        I shall never forget those Huntsville gardens and the


Page 50

beautiful flowers. These we had at our home; for mother watched and cared for her rose-bushes and flower-beds with her own hand, and, as I was always with her, I had learned their names; but here the grounds were very large, and this garden was laid out like a big Chinese puzzle. There were tiny paths that led in all directions, with dense rows of box along the edges, and the beds were grouped in all sorts of fantastic shapes, and down at one end stood a small house all of glass windows where they put things away in cold weather to keep the frost from killing them. Farther away was the vegetable garden, for there were no market-houses in those early days, and every home provided for itself; and back of this, opening on an alleyway which cut the block in two, were the spacious stables for the milk-cows, horses, and carriages.

        As we entered the church the next Sunday morning I found myself in the largest room I had ever been in, with row after row of benches--enough, it seemed to me then, to seat all the people in Marshall County. On the high wall at the end where the preacher stood was a tablet, and in big letters was written my grandfather's name, and when he was installed as pastor, and the date of his death. When the minister said the prayer I started to kneel down as we did when my father had family prayers at home, but here they all stood up to pray. What was just as strange as this was the way he gave out the hymn, which he read verse after verse all through before any one began to sing. At our "meetings" the preacher alone had a hymn-book, and he gave out only two lines at a time, which was as much as he thought the congregation could remember, and then when they had sung these he would go on with more until the whole hymn was finished.


Page 51

        When the Huntsville minister read the last verse, a half-dozen young people stood up over in the corner of the church, and as they began to sing there sounded with their voices the soft, low tones of some--to me--strange instrument (the organ), and such heavenly harmonies as I had never dreamed were in the world. No wonder my mother loved to come to Huntsville, and no wonder I looked forward after this first visit to the many I was to make, and did make, in the years which followed, until I felt at home, and knew by face and name all of these delightful people, the like of whom I shall not look upon again.

        Their "literary circles," the yearly "college commencements" in which they took such justifiable pride, and, above all, as I grew older and better able to appreciate them, the great political debates in which the foremost men of that period figured in the tournaments of oratory, were among the great attractions to this exceptional community. It was here, in 1859 or 1860, in the shade of a beautiful grove of oaks, where thousands of people were gathered, I sat for four hours and had no thought of the lapse of time as I listened to the fiery argument in favor of secession by William L. Yancey, then famous as one of the greatest political orators of our country.


Page 52

VIII
THE NEGRO AND SLAVERY IN THE OLD SOUTH

        THE negro of the South in the days of slavery so little resembles the "colored citizens" of half a century later that we of the earlier period scarcely recognize in him the descendant of those of his race with whom we were once so happily associated. The charm of manner, the pride of family--the "quality," as they so aptly termed it--the sentiment of loyalty, affection, and trust which characterized the relation between these faithful, patient, submissive, and happy creatures and the "white folks" in the "big house" is now only a memory.

        For nearly two hundred miles the fertile valley of the Tennessee, in which I was born and grew to manhood, was a succession of plantations tilled almost wholly by slaves. On some of these the owner lived and superintended in person the laborers, while on others an overseer took charge for the master, whose home was in some center of culture, usually where there were schools or colleges which the children attended.

        As child and boy I played and romped with the younger negroes belonging to my parents and neighbors; visited the various plantations, and knew intimately scores of this race living under the various conditions of slavery; and I know that with very rare exceptions the negroes were treated with great kindness and consideration. They were well


Page 53

fed, housed, and clothed, and when ill had the best available medical attendance. Had human sympathy been entirely absent, the protection of valuable property would for selfish reasons have assured this fostering care. They were happy and contented, and proved their gratitude by an affectionate loyalty and an efficient and profitable service. To my mind, in no other way can there be explained that wonderful exhibition of devotion in those millions of slaves toiling away on the home plantations during the four years of the war which their absent owners were waging for their continued enslavement. And this notwithstanding the knowledge which was general among them that the success of the Federal army meant for them freedom!

        As there were no white domestic servants in the South and no freed negroes in Alabama, since the law required that all emancipated slaves should be transported to a free state or exported to Liberia, my parents, both of whom favored emancipation, bought for house service two families of negroes, each consisting of the father and the mother and their children, some twelve or fifteen in all. They were as near being members of the family as was possible in the kindly relation of master and mistress and slave. When "Mack," our majordomo, was taken seriously ill, a room was given him, not in his own comfortable house, but in our residence, where we thought he could be more carefully watched. His wife, a woman of fine character, was a second mother to us as children. We called her "Mammy," and when our own mother was not at hand we knew to whom to look for our needs.

        When in later unhappy years the war came on and I was about to mount my horse and ride away to take my place in the ranks, and said good-by to my mother and my father,


Page 54

I knew that back in the kitchen this devoted black woman was waiting for me to come to have her blessing; and there, with her arms around "the boy she had brought up"--for I was not yet eighteen years old--I had the only "crying-spell" of the parting scene. I said, "Mammy, the chances are you won't see me again, and I know you will take good care of all the folks at home." She said she would; and she was true to her word, even refusing, as did all of our slaves, to go away when the Union army occupied our section and offered them their freedom from bondage.

        It was my father's custom to have family prayers, and the negro children were required to be present, the only distinction being that we sat on chairs and they had stools or small ottomans. Physical punishment was unknown except when the parents switched their own children for cause. I cannot imagine a more mutually satisfactory arrangement than such servitude under such humane conditions. There was a very great deal of this sort of relationship in our section, and, as I believe, throughout the entire South. There was another side to the picture, however; for the system did allow of cruelty and inhumanity, and, though this was very rare, it could and did exist at times, and it was the knowledge of this fact that made so many of the best people of the South emancipationists.

        The number of slaves belonging to a single plantation varied in our section from ten to twenty-five or fifty, rarely exceeding one hundred. While I knew personally every slave-owner in our county and a great many of the slaves, it so happened that I spent more time and became more intimately acquainted with the management of the establishments belonging to my cousin, Mr. James A. Boyd, in Madison County, where I frequently visited, remaining for


Page 55

weeks at a time, and that of Dr. Sydney Harris, a retired physician who lived on and managed his own plantation near our village. His residence--known in plantation parlance as "the big house" or "the white-folks' house"--made of smoothly hewn logs with chinking filling the interstices, all painted in white, with large halls and passageways, stood on a slight elevation or hillock, surrounded by a grove of oak and hickory trees, which almost hid it from view as one approached through the half-mile of open road which led from the front gate through the fields of cotton, corn, and grain.

        Beginning some seventy-five yards to the rear in the same grove, and arranged in two parallel rows, each with its spacious yard and vegetable garden, were ranged a dozen or more comfortable whitewashed log cabins of different sizes to accommodate the various families of slaves. Still farther back were the stables and the barns, the gin-house, the cotton-press, and the fields for pasturage. It was the duty of the head-man, the most trusted and capable of the slaves, to be up early to see that the work-animals were properly fed and curried; and at daybreak the horn blew, calling all hands to breakfast. By sunrise the plows and hoes were going, and kept busy until twelve noon, when a blast from the horn sounded the hour of rest and dinner; then back to the fields till sundown.

        There was no white overseer or slave-driver on this place. One of the negroes was in charge to see that each did his duty. On rainy days there was plenty of indoor employment, such as spinning and weaving, making or mending harness and shoes and repairing the wagons, for every big plantation had its blacksmith and carpenter shop, ran spinning-wheels and looms, and made most of its clothing. When


Page 56

the crops had been gathered, the winter supply of wood was cut and hauled in; and the thousand and one odds and ends of keeping a great estate in order and in getting ready for the next crop were attended to. The physical and moral welfare of these slaves was carefully looked after by the good doctor and his gentle and cultured wife.

        After the work of the day was over, the negroes were required to remain on the place, and usually from fatigue and the necessity of rising early they were in bed an hour after dark. On Saturday nights singing and dancing were permitted in the cabins, and, by special permission in writing, visits could be made to neighboring plantations. The constable of each township or "beat" was the official patrol, and had authority to punish by arrest and whipping any negro slave found "after an hour by sun" away from his home without a written and signed "pass and repass." The form was: "Pass the bearer to and from the plantation named between eight and twelve o'clock to-night." (Dated and signed by the owner.)

        This precaution was taken to prevent vagrancy, to keep the laborers in good condition for work, and to guard against the possibility of conspiracy and insurrection. While the relations between the white people of the Tennessee Valley and the negroes were in every respect, as far as I was able to judge, kindly and mutually trustful, the Southern people had learned from the occasional outbreaks, and especially from the midnight massacre of women and children in the Southampton uprising in 1831, that watchfulness was as essential a guarantee of safety as kindliness.1


1 Nat Turner, the instigator and leader of the Southampton massacres, was the trusted head-man and overseer of his owner. The kindly relations of owner and slave were exemplified in his case. On the day of the night when he began his murders he feigned illness, and the lady to whom he belonged cooked and carried to his cabin the food she thought would be best for a sick man. He repaid these kindly acts by slipping into their room at dead of night and knocking her husband and herself in the head with hatchet or ax and braining her baby against the fireplace. Details of this insurrection will be given in the chapter devoted to the movement for the abolition of slavery and the Harper's Ferry attempt at servile insurrection.

Page 57

        The negroes of our section were so well behaved that punishment of any kind was almost unknown. I never heard of a negro being whipped by the patrol in our county, and knew of but a single instance where a rawhide was used in chastisement. A negro man who had done some injury to another received thirty-nine lashes on his naked back from the constable of our town, under an order of the court. With the enterprising curiosity of a boy, I climbed the jail-yard fence and witnessed this performance. The first half-dozen lashes were severe enough to cause the unhappy victim to cry out, and after that only the form of the law was carried out.

        It was on the occasion of one of my earlier visits to the plantation of my cousin, Mr. James A. Boyd, in Madison County, that I first witnessed a "corn-shucking." In gathering the corn the ears were pulled from the stalks and piled in pens near the cribs. The negroes on one plantation were privileged to invite those of other places near by to come at dark on Saturday night. A bonfire was built at a safe distance, by the light of which the men and the women ranged themselves around the corn-piles and began to strip the shuck, or husk, from the ear, to the cadence of their African chants and weirdly melodious singing. One of the number, by reason of his greater accomplishments, took the part of leader, and from the top of the heap sang out or chanted a line of a verse often improvised. When he


Page 58

ceased, the chorus of from fifty to one hundred voices would take up the refrain and carry it in a strange and varying cadence of sounds without words, which typified joy or sorrow, or an emotion in full sympathy with the sentiment expressed by the leader.

        I can recall only a few of these lines, and wish I could transcribe the music. For instance, the leader would sing "I'm gwine away to leave you," and, as this was suggestive of the sadness of parting, the chorus would begin in a low moan, which, rising and falling, would for a minute or two be carried to the fullest tone, and then die away so gradually one could scarcely say just when it ceased. Then the leader would chant in tones a little less tinged with sadness: "I'm gwine to de happy islands!" And, as this suggested the consummation of a dream of rest, the chanting of the chorus was more cheeringly rendered.

        On these occasions extraordinary liberties were permissible, and not infrequently, as the white people of the premises were listening, the bold leader would by suggestion open the way for a holiday, or a barbecue, or a dance, or extra Christmas vacation, when they visited relatives and friends on other plantations. For example:


                         Marster an' Mistus lookin' mighty fine--
                         Gwine to take a journey; gwine whar day gwine;
                         Crab-grass a-dyin', red sun in de west--
                         Saturday's comin', nigger gwine to rest.

        And much more in this happy vein. Meanwhile everyone was busy stripping corn, throwing the ears into the winter crib and packing the shucks in the rail pens. It took usually about three hours for the many hands to strip all the corn raised on the place, and then there was a


Page 59

supper with all sorts of home-made edibles, especially pumpkin pies, sweet cakes, and persimmon beer, a refreshing, unfermented beverage which the negroes made from this fruit.

        Among the articles of diet peculiar to the negroes on the great plantations were the "ash-cake," the "hoe-cake," and the "Johnny-cake." The two first named were made of corn-meal dough. For hoe-cake the dough was spread or "patted" thin on the smooth surface of a hoe and held close to the fire until it was cooked brown. The other was wrapped in corn-shucks, leaves, or brown-paper, and buried under the hot ashes and embers until it was well baked or roasted. The Johnny-cake was made of wheat-flour dough, with "shortenin' " (some form of grease or fat) in it; and this, as with the hoe-cake, was spread thin on a hickory or an ash board and baked before the coals. Many a time I have shared these--to me then--delicious breads with my friends and playmates of another race.

        The real fun began with the dancing. The banjo and the fiddle made up the orchestra, and there were accompanists who "patted" with the hands, keeping accurate time with the music. In patting, the position was usually a half-stoop or forward bend, with a slap of one hand on the left knee followed by the same stroke and noise on the right, and then a loud slap of the two palms together. I should add that the left hand made two strokes in half-time to one for the right, something after the double stroke of the left drumstick in beating the kettle-drum. In rare instances I have seen the triangle in these crude orchestras or trios, and have heard that before the triangle came into vogue the dried and resonant jaw-bone of the ox or horse was used this way, the sides being rhythmically struck with


Page 60

a rib. I have no doubt of this, for I learned from one of their songs, handed down by repetition, probably, from pre-American sires, these lines:


                         Oh, de jaw-bone walk,
                         And de jaw-bone talk,
                         And de jaw-bone eat
                         Wid a knife and fork:
                         I laid my jaw-bone on de fence,
                         And I hain't seed dat jaw-bone sence.

        When on these occasions the crowd was very large, they would divide and go to the cabins in smaller parties, or the big floor of the gin-house may have been selected. Strange to say, they did not relish dancing on the ground, in the manner of the American Indians; and I think this can be explained by the negroes' instinctive love of rhythm, which the Indian does not seem to possess. The shuffle of the feet, in many instances unshod--for in warm weather they would pull off their shoes to keep their feet cool--could not be heard as distinctly on the ground as on a plank floor or a tight puncheon.1 I have often seen them dance on the bottom of a wagon-bed, which made an excellent sounding-board. The dances were primitive and gave opportunity for great activity; and when two danced alone, whether of the same sex or not, the object seemed to be to determine which could outdo the other. As the "steps," or gyrations and contortions, not only of the body and the legs, but of the arms and the hands, grew more violent and rapid,
1 A puncheon was the flat surface of a split log, smoothed with an ax and pinned to the joists to make the floors of the rude cabins constructed before sawmills were introduced. Sometimes they became loose, and rocked or rattled when trod upon. When the negroes would dance a pas de deux, a tight puncheon was selected, and the two danced forward and back on this single slab. Hence the common expression, "Hunt your puncheon," when something fixed or solid or sure was desired.


Page 61

the spectators would begin to pat and shout words of approval or kindly criticism, until at last one of the contestants gave up and the victor was hailed as the "best man." At midnight the frolic ended, and the visitors returned to their several homes.

        The banjo was the real musical instrument of the Southern negroes, not the fancy silver or nickel rimmed article with frets seen now on the minstrel stage or in the shops, but a very crude device, which I believe to be of native origin, notwithstanding the name is said to be corrupted from the Spanish bandore. The most primitive instrument was made from a large gourd with a long, straight neck or handle, shaped like those of smaller growth, used commonly then for drinking-dippers. The bowl of the gourd was cut away on a plane level with the surface of the neck, the seed and contents removed, and over this, like a drumhead, a freshly tanned coonskin was stretched, fastened, and allowed to dry. The five strings of homemade materials passing from the apron behind over a small bridge near the middle of the drumhead were attached to the keys in proper position on the neck.

        I learned to play upon a banjo which one of our slaves, who was a very good performer, helped me to make, when I was about eleven years old. The rim was made from the circle of a cheese-box. A calfskin soaked in lime solution, which removed the hair, was tacked while wet over one surface of this, while the stem was carved from a suitable piece of soft poplar. I was extravagant enough to import four catgut strings and a wire bass, which excited no little curiosity, as they were the first ever seen by our negroes. To the uninitiated there would probably be some surprise at the quality of the music or harmony--even if crude-- which


Page 62

could be produced by playing on this primitive instrument. "Billy," my teacher, accompanied his various tunes with songs rendered with no ordinary skill--at least, that was the verdict of his pupil. One of these "selections" was a great dancing-score entitled "Jimmie Rose," and no one with any love of music, or even an ordinary sense or appreciation of rhythm, could keep his feet still as Billy "waked to ecstasy," not "the living lyre," but our home-made banjo.

        The song was something in this strain:


                         Jimmie Rose he went to town;
                         Jimmie Rose he went to town;
                         Jimmie Rose he went to town;
                         To 'commodate de ladies.


                         Fare ye well, ye ladies all;
                         Fare ye well, ye ladies all;
                         Fare ye well, ye ladies all;
                         God Ermighty bless you.

        And so for an hour or more my instructor would continue with the exploits of his hero, Jimmie Rose, while the other in twos or fours danced away, "cutting the pigeon-wing," "the back-step," "the double shuffle," and other steps which required not only a keen sense of keeping time with the music, but agility and muscular power of a high order.

        The real negro music as I knew it was, as one would expect, simple and crude, and quite unlike that which modern negro minstrelsy has made popular. One of the best-known "jig," or short-step, banjo and dance tunes was called "Juba."


                         Juba dis and juba dat;
                         Juba kill a yaller cat.
                         Juba up and juba down;
                         Juba runnin' all aroun'.


Page 63


                         Ole Aunt Kate she bake de cake;
                         She bake it hine de garden gate.
                         She sift de meal, she gim me de dust,
                         She bake de bread, she gim me de crust,
                         She eat de meat, she gim me de skin,
                         And dat's de way she tuck me in.

        Another piece much in vogue was:


                         Sugar in de gourd; when you want to git it out,
                         Way ter git de sugar out roll de gourd about.

        There was one old-time tune called "Johnny Booker," which I learned very early from the negroes, and I believe it to have originated with them. It had a swing and go to it which suited the banjo as played by the plantation negro--that is, "over-hand," and not "guitar fashion," as almost all are taught now.


                         I went down de back ob de fiel';
                         A black-snake cotch me by de heel
                         I cut my dus', I run my best;
                         Run my head in a hornet's nest
                         Oh! do, Mr. Booker, do; Oh, do, Johnny Booker, do;
                         Oh do, Mr. Booker, Johnny Booker, Mr. Booker, Mr. Booker, Johnny Booker, do!

        Another popular song referred to the "patrol," which the negroes styled "patter-rollers":


                         Run, nigger, run; patter-roller catch you;
                         Run, nigger, run; it's almos' day;
                         Run, nigger, run; patter-roller catch you;
                         Run, nigger, run; you'd better git away.
                         Dis nigger run; he run his best;
                         Stuck his head in a hornet's nest.
                         Jump'd de fence and run frew de paster;
                         White man run, but nigger run faster.

        There was an embellishment of this "star" selection which may be of interest. After playing the music of the chorus,


Page 64

Billy would pause, lay the banjo across his knees, and speak in about this style, preluding his remark with one of those long-drawn-out grunts or weirdly intonated expressions of great surprise which only the African seems to enjoy: "Golly! folks; I went to see Miss Sal last Sat'day night. Sal's a handsome gal, too, no 'ceptions to dat. I ain't more'n had time to 'spress myself on de occasion when Sal say, 'Looky dar, Peet!' 'Looky whar, Sal?' 'Look at dat patter-roller peepin' frew de crack!'" Then a second long grunt or ejaculation of surprise.

        "Golly! chillun; dis yer nigger riz as quick as a nigger could convenient; jumped frew de winder, fell ober de wood-pile, knocked de wood into short sticks, an' took down de road fas' as my laigs could go, an' de white man he tuk airter me, an' ebery jump I make de white man say" (then he would sing):

"Run, nigger, run, patter-roller ketch you," etc.

        "Sech a gittin up-stairs I nebber did see," and "Susanna, don't you cry," were also banjo tunes of more modern origin. I can recall only a single verse and the refrain of the latter:


                         I jumped on board de telegraf,
                         An' floated down de ribber.
                         De 'lectric fluid magnified
                         An' killed five hundred nigger.
                         Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me,
                         For I'se down in Alabama wid de banjo on my knee.

        Still another:


                         Ole Aunt Dinah she done got drunk;
                         Fell in de fire; kicked up a chunk.
                         De red-hot coals got in her shoe--
                         Good Lord! how de ashes flew!


Page 65

        "Nellie Gray," "Ole Dan Tucker," "Jordan am a Hard Road to Trabbel," "I'se Gwine on Down to Lynchburg Town," and scores of other pieces of more modern production were in vogue, and popular with the negroes.

        In addition to their love of melody they were fond of story-telling, and many a night I have slipped off to Mammy Tildy's cabin to sit by her at the kitchen hearth and listen to the weird stories of ghosts and other "skeery" things, until I was afraid to go alone in the dark the very short distance between her door and the porch of our house. Joel Chandler Harris has done much to popularize the negro folk-lore stories, but I do not recall that he dwelt upon the pantomime accompaniment which was a part of some of these dramatic recitals.

        By way of illustration I will repeat a story which I learned from a very superior member of his race, a coal-black negro with clear-cut features after the type of physiognomy of the African East Coast. "Uncle Henry Moore" was one whose ability and character obtained for him the confidence of his master and of the entire community, and, with the exception of the franchise, he was granted about every privilege that the ruling whites enjoyed; with all of which, together with freedom from responsibility and taxes, he should have been, and I believe was, a happy and contented being. He did not even require a "pass" at night, and he could come and go at all hours without molestation. He was a frequent visitor with our servants, and I never tired of listening to him. This is one of his stories, entitled, "Uncle Efra'm and de Lord":

        "Ole Marster come along down de quarter one dark night, and dess as he was passin' Uncle Efra'm's cabin he heered de ole man a-prayin' so loud and so e'rnes'-like, he dess say


Page 66

to hisself: 'I'se gwine ter stop and listen ter what Efra'm's a-sayin'.' So he walk up on hes tiptoe an' put his eye ter a hole in de chinkin', an' dar was Efra'm down on hes knees a-prayin' and a-supplicatin' to de good Lord, an' he say--an' ole Marster he heared ever' word he say--'O Lord, hear de pra'r ob old Uncle Efra'm, for he tired o' livin' in dis yer worl' whar de grass grow so fas' and de sun shine so hot, and de nigger do all de wu'k, and ole Marster he dess set aroun' in de shade; and O Lord, come down and take Uncle Efra'm inter Abraham's bosom, whar dar ain't no grass a-growin' an' de sun don't shine like a bresh-heap a-burnin'. Yes, Lord, come down right now!'

        "An' when old Marster hear dat he say to hisself, 'I gwine ter try Uncle Efra'm'; an' so he knock free times wid de butt en' ob his walkin'-stick on de side ob de cabin, and when Efra'm hear de knockin' he stop a-prayin', an' he say, 'Who dat knockin'?' An' ole Marster he dess change hes voice, an' he say pow'ful slow, 'It's de Lord come down to answer Efra'm's pra'r!' An' de ole nigger was dat skeered he didn't know whether he los' his hearin' or not, an' he holler out loud, 'Who's dat you say you is?' An' ole Marster he say ag'in, 'It's de Lord come down to take Efra'm to Abraham's bosom'; and by dat time Efra'm was a-shakin' all over like he have a chill, an' he say, a-tremblin', 'Look here, Lord; Efra'm don't live her no mo'--he done move away!' "

        All through this recital Uncle Henry's voice would be modulated to suit the meaning he wished to convey, and every gesture and movement was in sympathy with the text. He would kneel down to show how Ephraim prayed, and then get up and walk to the door, open it, lean outside, knock three times on the wall, and then imitate from without


Page 67

in the dark the voice of the Lord. By this time the children in the half-circle about the fireplace--for all the cooking was done then on the open hearth--would be in such a condition of excitement that I for one would not have been surprised to see the Lord walk right in and snatch Black Mammy and me (for I was sticking so close to her He would have had to take us both), and flit way to plant us in Abraham's bosom. I might add pages of negro folk-lore stories and of incidents associated with the life of the slave with us, but what I have already said is enough to show the true relation of the negro slave to the white people of our immediate section. I will add one very remarkable experience connected with this race, for fear there may be made of it no other published record.

        Three miles from our village, at a plantation known as "Beard's Bluff," on the Tennessee, there lived a Mr. McLemore, who owned a negro called "Cap." He was about twenty-five years old when I first remember him; dark brown or almost black in color, and of normal development physically, with the exception of his eyes, which were unusually prominent (exophthalmus) and opened wider than I had ever observed. The almost constant rolling movement of his eyeballs, which, as it seemed to me, he could not fix steadily on any object, gave him an uncanny expression. In fact, he was mentally defective in the ordinary sense, and had to be cared for as if he were a child.

        As his parents were field-hands, at work on the plantation during most of the day, the kind master had built a cabin for them in the yard of his own home, where the helpless boy might be cared for while the mother was absent. When he was about fifteen years old Mr. McLemore noticed one day that the boy who had been shelling the grains from


Page 68

an ear of corn had arranged them decimally--i. e., in squares of ten rows, each row containing ten grains. He stopped for a moment and said, "Ten times ten makes a hundred, ten times one hundred makes one thousand." The negro's face lighted up with a look of surprise or joy, and he repeated the words of the master, who then repeated the numerals, and soon discovered the boy's wonderful aptitude for figures and for calculation. Although he never learned to read or write, he developed into one of the most remarkable mathematical machines I have ever known. He would solve instantly problems in multiplication which would take me an hour or more to work out and prove. For instance, he was given this example:

        "Cap, the hind-wheel of a wagon is five feet in diameter; it is forty miles from here to Huntsville. How many times will it revolve in going that distance?" As the proposition was being given out his eyeballs would turn upward, and, with the lids half closed, only the white portion was visible. By the time the last word of the questioner was spoken he would begin with the answer, which was invariably correct; and after the last figure was named his eyes would open as he politely added "Sir" to each answer. Time and again I have tried to catch him in the multiplication of the most confusing figures, such as 789, 687, 431, and so on, by the same figures rearranged. Though the answer ran into quadrillions, it made no difference to him, for he gave the correct answer immediately. In the course of time many well-known persons, teachers, professors of mathematics, and others came to investigate this phenomenon or to satisfy curiosity. He would have been as profitable on exhibition as was Blind Tom, another negro prodigy, but his kind-hearted and proud master would not permit his


Page 69

ward to be carried around as a money-making show. When the war was over, and the various county-seats of the Southern states were garrisoned by negro soldiers (to keep us "rebels" in subjection), the white captain of the company stationed at Guntersville, under the operations of the famous "Freedman's Bureau," had himself appointed guardian for "Cap," and was preparing for a tour of exhibition when the negro died of cholera.

        I have always regretted that his brain could not have been submitted to the careful study of a competent anatomist. As he was mentally deficient in the ordinary sense, it is probable that certain brain cells, which in the average human beings are arranged to carry on the various functions of this puzzling organ, were crowded into his mathematical center, enormously developing it.

        In Blind Tom's case the center of music or harmony was the seat of this extraordinary development. From what I could see in the study of this wonderful creature, I felt that in some way the secret was related to the decimal system. Dreaming, sometimes, I have dared to think that perhaps the brain of this poor, helpless negro was more nearly attuned to the universal harmony than ours, which we deem normal; more nearly in touch with that mysterious influence which holds planets and systems in unchanging relationship, with that eternal influence which we of our time and limited knowledge "call God and know no more"!

        Another phase of slave life in Alabama may be illustrated in a brief sketch of "Uncle Dan Gilbreath," a pure-blooded negro of the prevailing East Coast or Somali type. He and his master were of the same age and had grown up together on the plantation. They had played and hunted and fished in their younger days in constant companionship.


Page 70

When the young man came into his inheritance he gave Dan all the privileges of a freeman. Far from abusing the confidence and affection of his master, he was industrious, conscientious, and had developed a fair degree of business ability. It was not to be expected that a slave who, as the other negroes expressed it, had "growed up in de white folks' house" would labor with the field-hands, but none the less Dan made himself useful and profitable.

        Years before the Emancipation Proclamation, which was at first only effective in theory, and even before the collapse of the Confederacy, which made all slaves free, Dan had earned enough money to ransom himself, but he was too wise in his generation to accept freedom with the risks of exportation to Liberia, for such was then the law. There was never a public occasion which would draw a crowd to the county-seat at which Uncle Dan did not appear driving his yoke of steers with the two-wheeled cart with melons or fruits or some enticing article of food or drink. When fruits were out of season he had the art of making chicken-pies, ginger-cakes, and cider or persimmon beer, which made him famous in every nook and corner of the county. The allurements of freedom or of "reconstruction politics" could not seduce Dan from his loyal appreciation of the white people who had always shown him kindness. Respected by all classes, he lived to a very old age. In common with his race he possessed a keen sense of the ludicrous and the ability to describe humorous or exciting incidents. I am tempted to give in his own language as near as I can remember it his description of a personal experience when the Federal artillerists first turned their guns on our quiet village.

        The incident I am about to relate occurred on the 27th


Page 71

of July, 1862. That portion of Alabama north of the Tennessee River had been occupied by the Federal armies. The Confederate pickets held the south bank, and the village of Guntersville was a mile still farther south, yet in full view from the high bluff on the north side of the river. By a night march a regiment of Union infantry, half a regiment of cavalry, and a section of artillery reached the river opposite the town, and from a commanding height had two six-pounder Parrott guns in position and trained upon it.

        When daylight dawned the villagers bestirred themselves in peaceful unconsciousness of the storm impending. An hour later, Uncle Dan, seated upon the cross-plank of his two-wheeled ox-cart, drove down Main Street, which, running north and south, was for half a mile in plain view of the Union artillerists across the Tennessee. Like his master, Dan was of the "old school." The former still held to the customs and costumes of the Virginia planters from whom he had descended; and Dan, who fell heir to the costumes, sat erect and proud, clad in the long-tailed, blue-cotton, brass-buttoned frock coat which he had received from his owner. Farther on he turned aside and drove his panting team for shelter from the hot July sun into the cool shade behind the big brick edifice which served not only as county and district court-house, but as town hall, Masonic lodge, and a place in which wandering one-night Thespians could give their entertainments.

        Before he could unhitch his oxen preparatory to making the usual display of his melons the unexpected had happened--a flash of lightning from a cloudless sky. Not even the blast from Gabriel's trumpet sounding the Day of Judgment could have startled the villagers or Uncle Dan more


Page 72

than this unlooked-for boom of a cannon, the reverberation of which, while waking the echoes upon the mountainsides, was accompanied by the whiz of a shell which rent the air above the housetops, exploding with deafening noise and sending its whirring fragments to the ground.

        The white citizens of the village knew what was at hand and stood not upon the order of their going, but fled for safety to a deep ravine which crossed Main Street near the upper end of the village.1 There a hundred or more women and children were huddled against the northern slope of the hillside when Dan flashed by in flight so meteor-like and swift and in demoralization so complete that he did not know whether he was running or flying, living or dead. I can do no better than repeat the story as nearly as possible in Dan's own language:

        "When de fust shell busted I was dat skeered I mighty near drapp'd dead. I look up quick for thunder, but dar warn't no cloud in de sky, an' I knowed den it warn't a storm a-comin', but I didn't have no notion o' what it wuz till anoder one dess like it come a-whizzin' high up. Dat en hadn't more'n blowed up when Jedge Lott he run out o' de Probit Office bar'headed an' in his shirt-sleeves, an' he holler out, 'Run, everybody--de Yankees is a-shellin'!' When I hyeah dat I kinder come to, an' I say ter myse'f de cou't-house walls is mighty thick, an' de Yankees is a mile off on de oder side o' de ribber, an' when dey sees dey ain't nobody hyeah to fight back dey gwine ter git tired an' quit shootin', an' den I kin take my cyart an' go on home. Bless my soul, chile, befo' de words was out 'er my mouf sumpen done hit de cou't-house 'bout ha'f-way up, an' one
1 Mrs. S. K. Rayburn and another citizen were killed by shells, and another wounded; all non-combatants.


Page 73

whole side o' de wall jump away from whar it wuz, an' de brickbats dey scatter dess like a drove o' pa'tridges. Some ob em hit me, but mos' ob em hit de steers, an' dey broke in er run, an' dess as dey wuz a-startin' I sez to myse'f, 'Dis ain't no place fer me'; so I lit inter de waggin, an' away we went, lickerty-split. Dem steers wuz dat skeered dey couldn' run true, an' dess as we swung round inter de street, one wheel it hit de corner pos' ob de grocery stoah, an' de cyart turned bottom side up an' frode me an' de watermillions plum inter de middle ob de road. Dar warn't no time for foolishness, so I riz a-runnin', an' lef' de steers standin' dar wid de yoke turned an' de watermillions still a-rollin', and I tuk up de street so fas' I dess fairly shuck myse'f loose from de face ob de earth. An', my Lord! honey, dem blasted Yankees dey seed me a-runnin', an' dey p'int de cannon at me as I kep' right on up de street, an' de shells kep' a-hittin' de groun' closer an' closer ter me, some er-bouncin', an' some er-bustin', an some er-doin' bofe at de same time an' er-kickin' up dus' an' grabbel till I thought in my soul I nebber would git ter de top o' de hill by de ravine. By de time I got dar an' struck de slant gwine down, I wuz so skeered an' wuz a-workin' my laigs so fas' dat I warn't sho' but what I'd plum lef' de groun', fer when I look back, dar wuz de tails o' my coat a-standin' straight out behin' me dess like dey wuz wings. Den I shot pass de wimmen an' chillen a-scrouchin' down in de ravine, an' I holler out dess as loud as I cud holler, 'White folks, fo' de Lord's sake, tell me, is I runnin' or is I flyin'?' Some o' de white people say, 'Stop, Uncle Dan; dar ain't no danger heah,' an' dat make me know I wuz still a-livin'; but, Lord bless yer, chile, my laigs was dat deaf dey couldn't hear em; an' dey kep' right on."


Page 74

IX
THE POINT OF VIEW--HISTORY OF AMERICAN SLAVERY AND THE ABOLITION CRUSADERS--SOME TRUTHS ABOUT JOHN BROWN AND THE SO-CALLED MARTYRDOM

        IN the discussion of slavery and the movement for its abolition in the United States one may be open to the criticism, however trite, that one's convictions depend largely upon the point of view. While my viewpoint is Southern, it is that of one convinced early in life of the moral wrong and economic unwisdom of chattel slavery.

        My father was born and reared in a Northern community, and his training and early associations were with those who believed in universal freedom. My mother came of a family of Southern emancipationists. Her father, John Allan, a Presbyterian minister, liberated his slaves, his six children jointly signing the articles of manumission. In association with James G. Birney, who twice preceded Frémont and Lincoln as the nominee for the Presidency on the Abolition platform, he organized in Huntsville, Alabama, one of the early societies of Southern emancipationists, and published there an abolition newspaper. There were in 1835 eight emancipation societies organized in seven of the wealthy and populous agricultural counties in the Tennessee Valley in northern Alabama. In Lawrence County, where one of these existed, an uncle of mine, David A. Smith, in 1838 liberated all of his slaves and transported


Page 75

them to, and provided them with homes in, Morgan County, Illinois.

        The gravest of the many errors made by the Northern abolitionists was their failure to appreciate the strength and the possibilities of the Southern emancipation movement. It was undoubtedly well under way and gaining strength steadily. The example and teaching of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, the Randolphs, and a host of the great leaders of Virginia, to whom the whole South looked for guidance, had exercised a profound influence on the best minds of the slave-holding class. My kinsman George Wythe not only freed his slaves, but, in order to show the possibilities of the race, gave one of his young negro lads a classical education. This influence was widely felt in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. In 1827 the legislature of Alabama enacted a "law forbidding the importation of slaves for barter or hire." As early as 1722 the Virginia assembly had authorized private emancipations, and in 1778 this assembly prohibited slave importations, imposing a fine of five thousand dollars for each offense. Ballagh, in his history, says, "Virginia had thus the honor of being the first political community in the civilized world to prohibit the pernicious traffic." After Virginia in 1784 ceded the Northwest Territory to the United States, her delegates in Congress were the leading spirits in securing the adoption of the ordinance for ever excluding slavery from that vast empire.

        At the close of the Revolution there were less than three thousand freed negroes in the state. By 1810 there were more than thirty thousand. By 1860, despite the deportation of thousands whose masters had freed them and settled them in Liberia and elsewhere, nearly sixty thousand freed


Page 76

negroes still remained. Mr. Ballagh, author of The History of Slavery, estimates that Virginian planters had manumitted up to that time, "without a penny's compensation, one hundred thousand of these bondsmen," the money value approximating one hundred million dollars. Of this period W. Gordon McCabe, in his careful review1 of this subject, says: "Unfortunately, when the hopes of Virginia emancipationists were highest during the famous session devoted to 'Slavery Debates' the rabid abolitionists of the North, through secret emissaries, flooded the state with abusive and incendiary pamphlets calling on the slaves to rise and re-enact the horrors of Haiti and San Domingo. One of these-- the notorious Walker pamphlet--referred to 'Haiti, the glory of the blacks and the terror of tyrants.'" Then came the Southampton Insurrection, in 1831, an event of horror which created intense excitement throughout the South. Speaking for Virginia, McCabe says: "The reaction was immediate, even the strongest antislavery advocates were disgusted and repelled, and the movement collapsed." In the campaign of vilification which dealt this stunning blow to the Southern emancipationists the Genius of Universal Emancipation, edited by Benjamin Lundy, of Baltimore, and the Liberator, founded by William Lloyd Garrison in Massachusetts, were prominently aggressive. Passing from words to deeds, the "Underground Railroad," a numerous, active, and wealthy organization, the outspoken business of which was the unlawful enticing away of slaves, began its operations. These openly disregarded the Constitution (the basis of the Union), which guaranteed protection in property of slaves, and by mob-rule and the enactment of state laws persistently
1 London Saturday Review, March 5, 1910.


Page 77

and successfully set at naught the laws of Congress.

        Then came the armed invasion of Virginia by John Brown and his band of outlaws, and with this effort to arm a servile race and repeat the Southampton Massacre on a large scale secession was made possible and the hope of peace was gone. Living as I did through this period of intense excitement, a close observer of events as they were happening, I am convinced that but for this murderous foray the leaders of secession in the South could not have carried Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama out of the Union; and without these there would have been no Southern Confederacy and no Civil War.

        Slavery was already doomed, and a bloody war was not necessary for its extinction.

        A large majority of the Anglo-Saxon South did not own a slave, and had no selfish interest in perpetuating slavery. Fleming, the historian, says that as late as 1860 a majority of the white people of Alabama were opposed to slavery. They realized that the verdict of the higher civilization was against it; and, although the movement for emancipation which at one period was gaining a strong and influential backing in the slave-holding section was temporarily checked in the resentment which followed the mistaken policy of the militant abolitionists of the North, it could not have been long deferred.

        Mr. Benton said in the United States Senate in 1829: "I can truly say that slavery, a hereditary institution, descended upon us from our ancestors, has but few advocates or defenders in the slave-holding states, and would have fewer if those who have nothing to do with the subject


Page 78

would only let us alone."1 I have no doubt that but for this meddlesomeness to which Benton refers, the Southern people, aided by the kindly sympathy of their Northern kinsmen, would long before this have carried out a humane plan of emancipation, giving the African race a home of their own in a "territory where, secure from external dangers, they would enjoy civil and political liberty," (Report of the Virginia Committee.) How much better for both blacks and whites would this have been than the long, bloody, and cruel war, which, as I maintain, only the aggressive abolitionists made possible.

        The introduction of negro chattel slavery in the North American colonies dates from 1619, when a Dutch ship sold to the settlers along the James River, in Virginia, a small cargo of slaves. There followed other consignments, distributed along the Atlantic coast, until by 1700 African slavery existed in all of the thirteen original colonies, these aliens forming then about one-sixteenth of the entire population. Vessels owned chiefly by skippers from New England and New York took up the profitable traffic, with Newport and Bristol, Rhode Island, as the chief ports of distribution in the North, and Charleston and Savannah in the South. Although in the more fertile sections of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey negroes were purchased in considerable numbers by individual owners for work upon the larger plantations, in New England and in the states north of Maryland in general ownership was more frequently limited to a single slave or to one family, the members of which performed the duties of house-servants.
1 With this conviction, Benton would doubtless have approved Wendell Phillips's assertion that a New-Englander's definition of hell is a place where every man has to attend to his own business.


Page 79

It soon became evident that the rigorous climate of the North was unsuitable to the profitable employment of a race born and reared under tropical conditions and suddenly subjected to the long winters, the frosts and snows of the North Atlantic colonies.

        In the lower temperate zone and nearer the equator in the southern settlements, where a semitropical climate prevailed, profitable employment for negroes was found; and hither, in obedience to the inexorable law of demand and supply, the system of slavery gravitated.

        It has been stated with great positiveness by certain writers that the introduction of the cotton-gin, invented by Eli Whitney in 1794, by giving renewed impetus to the cultivation of cotton, increased the demand for slave labor as a necessity for its production and added largely to the money value of slaves. In view of the fact that for the thirty-six years following this invention the annual increase in the number of bales produced was less than thirty thousand, I am not willing to accept the statement. In 1800 the output was two hundred and ten thousand bales, and the million-bale mark was not reached until 1830. Meanwhile, during the forty years from 1790 to 1830, the number of negro slaves increased from seven hundred thousand to two millions. As the African trade ceased in 1807, it may be inferred that conditions in the South were favorable to procreation in this alien race. The market price of negroes had risen from fifty to one hundred dollars, in early colonial days, to about five hundred dollars in 1830, and they continued to become more valuable, until by 1860 a "prime field-hand" brought from one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars. Other causes than cotton must be looked for to explain the rise in value. That the negro was not essential


Page 80

to the cultivation of this great crop has been amply demonstrated in late years by the millions of bales produced annually in vast areas of the South where only white labor is engaged. What is true of cotton is equally true of rice and cane, and but for the unfortunate presence of the blacks the Southern country would long ago have swarmed with white laborers of the same intelligence and thrift that have created the wealthy, prosperous, and thickly populated Northwest.

        Notwithstanding the fact that slavery had existed in practically every nation of the earth since the dawn of history, and that even in the early settlement of America white persons from Great Britain had been sold and indentured as slaves to the colonists, yet the vast majority of these hardy pioneers had sought the wilderness for a greater liberty than the older civilization allowed, and it was to be expected that from the very beginning African slavery would meet with strong protest and formidable opposition. Theirs was the broad and just contention that, however humanely practised, chattel slavery was wrong; that involuntary servitude was repugnant to the instinctive love and natural right of liberty; and that ownership as a chattel to be leased or sold permitted the infliction of bodily punishments and the enforced severance of the family relation which were cruel and inhuman.

        As far back as 1641 Massachusetts forbade the importation of African slaves, and Rhode Island followed her sister colony's example in 1652; but these regulations could not then be successfully enforced, and the traffic and slavery continued for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. In 1688 a society of Friends in Pennsylvania made public protest against the growing practice of slavery, but it was


Page 81

not until 1775 that the first abolition society was formally organized (in Pennsylvania), with Benjamin Franklin as president.

        The first state to enact emancipation was Vermont, which in 1777 freed all slaves at majority (twenty-one years). Pennsylvania followed in 1780, fixing the age at twenty-eight; and Massachusetts in the same year freed all slaves without regard to age. New Hampshire in 1783, Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1784, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1804 enacted schemes of gradual emancipation. In 1807 Congress absolutely forbade the further importation of slaves into the United States.

        By 1820 slavery, formally recognized by the Constitution, the compact of union, which guaranteed protection to slaves as property, was accepted as a permanent institution in the states then existing south of the Mason and Dixon line, although at the North the antislavery organizations had already grown in numbers and influence to formidable proportions. In this year slavery first came prominently before the American people as a political issue. The proslavery politicians, in the effort to counteract the growing influence of the champions of emancipation, succeeded in having Missouri admitted as a slave state. The opposition, however, was strong enough to compel a "Compromise," which, while permitting slavery in Missouri, excluded it from all the rest of the Louisiana Purchase north of a line which from the Mississippi River followed westward the 36° 30' degree of north latitude, which line was the southern boundary of Missouri.

        A period comparatively free from agitation followed the Missouri Compromise from 1821 to 1836, when Texas, having declared its independence of Mexico, asked to be


Page 82

taken into the Union as a slave state. The antislavery advocates, North and South, resisted this proposition so successfully that the Lone Star State was not admitted until 1845. In 1854, under the leadership of Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, the spokesman of Democracy, North as well as South, the proslavery politicians made the fatal blunder of reopening the fight for the further extension of this institution in the territories, and, although they succeeded in repealing the Missouri Compromise and in passing the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which in substance left it to the bona-fide settlers to determine by popular vote whether or not slavery should be permitted in the states to be admitted, they sealed their own doom.

        It was this action which precipitated the "Kansas conflict" and made of this territory for several years the battle-ground between the contending forces of slavery and antislavery. In this period the generally accepted laws of God and man which are supposed to govern a Christian civilization were in large measure suspended, and the so called "higher law" was substituted. It seemed a ready transition from the enthusiast to the zealot, from the zealot to the fanatic; and these, given as of old to the wildest exaggeration of their own importance in the reformation of their kind, flattering themselves into the delusion that they were ordained of God for the accomplishment of a great and self-imposed purpose, ran amuck in bloodshed and robbery. "Bleeding Kansas" became the storm-center of the great controversy, around and over which since 1820 the darkening clouds of sectionalism had been gathering; and from this center, in ever-widening circle, spread a cyclone of insanity which swept over North and South alike in its maddening progress. Reason, like a lightship parted


Page 83

from its moorings, was carried away to be lost in the stormy sea of differing opinions. Forbearance and charity and kindly argument as to right and wrong gave way to reckless and passionate assertion and to the bitter speech of prejudice, and conscience became dulled to that deplorable degree which permitted the end to justify the means.

        Out of this turmoil emerged a weird, red-handed specter in human form whose name but for his lawless deeds in Kansas would never have crossed the boundaries of that fair State had he not become the agent in one of the most nefarious plots recorded in history. A group of men of intelligence, position, and wealth aided him in the armed invasion of a peaceful and law-abiding community. Brown's purpose was the treasonable capture of the United States arsenal and the appropriation of government property to an unlawful purpose, the robbery of the houses of law-abiding citizens, and murder. He sought to incite a widespread slave insurrection and the consequent massacre of thousands of helpless women and children. This wicked deed, known as the "Harper's Ferry Raid," made secession possible and brought on the Civil War.

        The world knows that the active leader of this enterprise was John Brown. It may not know that among those who very substantially aided him were such men as Gerrit Smith, George L. Stearns, Theodore Parker, Dr. S. G. Howe, Frederick Douglass, F. B. Sanborn, Judge Thomas Russell, T. W. Higginson, Edwin Morton, and F. G. Merriam. Those who aided Brown practically all denied any intention to incite a servile insurrection; yet for what other purpose did Brown carry one thousand pikes than to arm such slaves as could not yet use the guns to be taken by


Page 84

force from the United States arsenal? The civilized world cried out at the shame of it. Brown had declared it were "better that a whole generation of men, women, and children should be wiped out than that slavery should endure." He also said after his capture1: "I knew the negroes would rally to my standard. If I had only got the thing fairly started, you Virginians would have seen sights that would have opened your eyes, and I tell you if I was free this moment and had five hundred negroes around me I would put these irons on Wise himself before Saturday night." He had said to Frederick Douglass, "When I strike, the bees will swarm." What more positive evidence of Brown's purpose than is set forth in Gerrit Smith's letter of August 27, 1859, only a few weeks before the invasion of Virginia:

        "It is perhaps too late to bring slavery to an end by peaceful means. The feeling among the blacks that they must deliver themselves gains strength with fearful rapidity. The South would not respect her own Jefferson's prediction of servile insurrection, and is it entirely certain that these insurrections will be put down promptly? Will telegraphs and railroads be too swift for even the swiftest insurrections? Remember that telegraphs and railroads can be rendered useless in an hour. Remember, too, that many who would be glad to face the insurgents would be busy transporting their wives and daughters to places where they would be safe," etc. To this letter Sanborn adds: "He knew what Brown's purpose was, and his last contribution of money to Brown's camp-chest was sent about the time this letter was written" (page 545). And what else could Dr. Howe have in mind than an insurrection of slaves
1 Life and Letters of John Brown. By F. B. Sanborn. Page 572.


Page 85

when he wrote that he trembled at the fate which might befall his friend in the South?

        Strongest of all the evidence, to my mind, is the action of many of Brown's backers, who promptly fled beyond the borders of their own country--the country to whose laws they owed obedience. True, they had begun their course with an earnest and laudable purpose, and at first by open and honorable methods of protest and argument sought to free the slaves in the South. Under the excitement of a passionate antagonism they had advanced by rapid strides from enthusiasm to zeal and from zeal to fanaticism, which in many cases blinded their perception of right and justified in their minds even horrible and bloody means for the accomplishment of the end they had in view.

        When the news was heard of the failure of Brown's nefarious plot, Gerrit Smith retired to an insane asylum at Utica, New York. As late as 1874 he attempted some explanation. Still later, when Sanborn notified him of his probable utterance on the subject, he wrote: "If you could defer your contemplated work until after my death you would lay me under great obligations to your kindness."

        Scarcely less pitiable was the position of Dr. S. G. Howe. Referring to a visit, shortly before the John Brown raid, to Wade Hampton's plantation, he said he shuddered to think of what might have happened to these people, of whose hospitality he had been lately the recipient, as a result of this foray into the South. Dr. Howe promptly went to Canada. He wrote on November 4, 1859: "Rumor has mingled my name with the events at Harper's Ferry. That event was unforeseen and unexpected by me." When, at last, he appeared before the Mason committee he tried to


Page 86

convince them that the last fifty dollars he gave went toward the purchase of the Thompson farm for Brown.1

        Commenting on Dr. Howe's conversation in the summer of 1859 with John Brown, Mrs. Adams, Brown's daughter writes: "It was after father had become weary and even discouraged with begging for money and men to carry out his plan that he made up his mind to confiscate property that the slave or his ancestors had been compelled to earn for others--property that he needed to subsist on. At a former time when Dr. Howe was parting from father, he gave him a little walnut box with a fine Smith& Wesson revolver in it. I have it still." "Now, in making this gift, Dr. Howe fully expected Captain Brown to break the law against carrying concealed weapons, and possibly the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' " (Villard, pages 181-2).

        George L. Stearns fled to Canada, and later, according to Sanborn, twisted the truth out of shape in his efforts to square his conscience and escape indictment. The Reverend Theodore Parker remained abroad, and died there. This exponent of the Divine Law in a letter to Judge Russell, dated April, 1857, wrote as follows:

        "MY DEAR JUDGE,--If John Brown falls into the hands of the marshal from Kansas he is sure of the gallows or of something worse. If I were in his position I should shoot dead any man who attempted to arrest me for those alleged crimes; then I should be tried by a Massachusetts jury and be acquitted." Then, with the exquisite capacity for dodging which many developed at about this time, he added: "P. S. I don't advise J. B. to do this; but it is what I would do."

        The high regard for morals and law which prevailed in
1 John Brown, Fifty Years After. By Oswald Garrison Villard.


Page 87

Massachusetts at this period in the minds disordered on the subject of slavery is evident in this letter from a preacher to a judge. Edwin Morton hastened to inform Sanborn that important letters had been "buried under a brick walk leading to Mr. Smith's door," and then took refuge in Switzerland, where at length he died.

        Judge Thomas Russell's activities seemed to have ceased when he did not accept his friend's offer of "two hundred and fifty dollars and a good big fee besides in personal property," which Brown had accumulated overnight from the silver and valuables of Colonel Washington and other citizens south of Mason and Dixon's line. Frederick Douglass lost no time in crossing the boundary-line between Canada and the United States, and found a residence with the Atlantic Ocean between him and his native land. Francis J. Merriam alone demonstrated in a measure the courage of his convictions by venturing as far as the Maryland side of the danger-line when the attack was made, whence with Owen Brown (also with the wagon-train) he ran away at an early and propitious moment and escaped over the mountains. F. B. Sanborn, instead of following the object of his obsession to glory and the grave in Virginia, fled to Canada. Venturing back to the Concord Circle, when he and his friends thought the danger had passed, he was arrested by officers of the law and released (not by a mob--only "one hundred and fifty men and women present") by the Massachusetts construction of justice and law.

        In the New York Evening Post, March 15, 1878, Sanborn lays bare some facts connected with this scheme which it would appear he had hesitated to make public until everybody else concerned was dead.

        He writes: "My own first knowledge of the plans of John


Page 88

Brown for invading the South and forcibly emancipating slaves, the same plans he afterward attempted to execute in Virginia, was obtained from Brown in Gerrit Smith's house at Peterboro, February 22, 1858, and in the presence of Mr. Smith himself, with whom I discussed them fully on that day, the following day, and again on the 24th of May, 1858, at the Revere House in Boston. We two--Mr. Smith then sixty-one years old, and myself a little turned twenty-six--on the 23d of February, 1858, at about the hour of sunset, did deliberately and earnestly engage with each other that we would stand by and support John Brown in his undertaking. Up to the day of John Brown's capture at Harper's Ferry in October, 1859, that engagement was faithfully kept.

        "Neither of us, probably, was ever fully or coolly convinced of the wisdom of his scheme. At no time during the nineteen months between February 19, 1858, and October 18, 1859, did Mr. Smith cease to aid the plan. When he wrote me that 'as things now stand it seems to me it would be madness to attempt to execute it' (May 7, 1858) he had just given money to aid it, and within a month afterward he gave money again. He allowed Brown to take the responsibility of failure. Such was then my opinion, and when Smith met at his own room in the Revere House, Boston, May 24, 1858, with Theodore Parker, Dr. Howe, George L. Stearns, and myself, to decide whether Brown should be allowed to go on at that time, Mr. Smith was an active participant in the discussion. It resulted in sending Brown back to Kansas until such a time as he could more safely undertake his Southern campaign. It was understood that Brown should go to Kansas for the summer and autumn of 1858, but should be aided to begin his Southern campaign


Page 89

in the winter and spring of 1859, when two or three thousand dollars should be raised for him by Messrs. Stearns, Smith, and the rest of us. In accordance with this agreement, in the following spring, April, 1859, Brown presented himself at Peterboro after delivering his twelve forcibly emancipated Missouri slaves in Canada and received from Mr. Smith there a subscription of four hundred dollars. With some of this money Brown paid in part for his pikes at Collinsville, Connecticut, to arm the slaves of Virginia.

        "Again, in August, 1859, when Brown wrote me from Chambersburg that he still wanted three hundred dollars with which to begin the attack, I sent his letter to Smith, who at once sent Brown a draft for a hundred dollars on the State Bank of Albany. I am certain that this was sent with a full general knowledge of what Brown would do with it. How, then, could Mr. Smith, G. L. Stearns, and Dr. Howe deny, as they all did, that they knew of the Harper's Ferry attack--simply because they did not know, or guess, that Brown meant to begin it? We expected he would go farther west, into a region less accessible, where his movements might escape notice for weeks except as the alleged acts of some marauding party. In this respect, and in this alone, as far as I know, he changed his plans of 1858, which he fully explained. Being called to testify at Washington, the two last named (as they both1 told me) found the questions of the Senate committee so unskilfully framed that they could without literal falsehood answer as they did. I do not say they were justified in this, but such was their own opinion. Probably Gerrit Smith also felt justified at the time in making public statements which told a part of the truth, but not the whole. He was not a
1 Stearns and Howe.


Page 90

witness at Washington, being an asylum patient at Utica; but in 1860 and again in 1867 he published papers which, had I seen them in manuscript, as I did that of 1874, I should have protested against their publication."

        The Southern people were fully alive to the significance of this attempt by John Brown and his sympathizers in the North to arm and liberate the slaves. Had they succeeded the enterprise would have led to a wide-spread servile insurrection. Of several such uprisings in Virginia the details of one shall be here given. The leader of this insurrection was a negro, Nat Turner, thirty-one years old, who had been kindly reared in the Turner family of Southampton County, Virginia.1 He had been taught to read; he professed religion, became a preacher of the Baptist sect, and was intrusted as overseer of the work and in the management of the other slaves on the plantation. Of the kindly nature of the treatment to which he was accustomed it is known that upon his feigning sickness on the Sunday of the outbreak the wife of his owner carried
1 Professor William S. Drewry, 2 after a most exhaustive study of the matter, shows that undoubtedly this fanatical negro, of more than ordinary intelligence, had been informed of the uprising of the slaves in Haiti and San Domingo, and had persuaded himself that the success of that insurrection could be repeated in the Southern states. In 1793 a crowd of refugees escaping from Haiti arrived in Baltimore, bringing with them about six hundred slaves. Some of these refugees settled in Southampton County. In 1800 and 1801, and in succeeding years, rebellious slaves in various sections of Virginia confessed that they had been inspired by the hope that the uprising in Haiti might be successfully repeated. Of these earlier outbreaks, the one in Henrico County in 1800 was the most formidable. Moreover, the militant abolitionists of the North were active in encouraging the negroes to insurrection. Benjamin Lundy, of Baltimore, editor of the Genius of Universal Emancipation, published and circulated in 1828 a detailed history of these various insurrections, and in 1830 the celebrated "Walker Pamphlet" was secretly distributed, urging the negroes to remember Haiti, "the glory of the blacks and the terror of tyrants."

2 The Southampton Insurrection. The Neale Company, Washington.


Page 91

to his cabin some specially prepared articles of food for the supposed invalid, to whom the family were attached. As Mrs. Turner slept that night with her infant at her side, she and her husband were slain with axes, and the baby's brains were dashed out against the brickwork of the fireplace. Two other children, boys of about twelve and fourteen, were fatally struck on the head as they slept. Having wiped out this family at dead of night, Nat and his seven negro accomplices armed themselves with the guns belonging to his dead master, mounted themselves on horseback and rode to the home of Mr. Francis, a bachelor brother of the woman they had just slain, called him under the pretext that there was a message for him, and, as he opened the door, killed him. Mrs. Reese and her son William were the next victims of the ax, and Mr. James Barmer, being hit on the head, fell limp and unconscious and was left for dead, but ultimately survived--a life-long cripple. Three miles away to the farm of Mrs. Elizabeth Turner they rode quickly, and she, Mrs. Newsom, and a Mr. Peebles were murdered. The company of negroes now numbered fifteen, nine of whom were mounted. Mr. Henry Bryant, his wife and child, and his wife's mother died next, and these were followed in short order by Mrs. Whitehead and her son Richard, three daughters, an infant, and the grandmother. One of the daughters, fleeing to escape, was pursued by Nat Turner, who beat her brains out with a piece of fence-rail. Harriet, another daughter, successfully concealed herself beneath the mattress in a box-bed, the only survivor of this family. About sunrise, as they were proceeding to the next farm, they met Mr. Doyle in the road and killed him. Mrs. Williams and her little child and two small boys were then butchered. Another


Page 92

Mr. Doyle, Mr. John Barrow, George Vaughan, Mrs. Levi Waller and her child, Martha Waller, Lucinda Jones and eight other school-children, Mr. Williams and wife, Miles and Henry Johnson, Mrs. Warrell and child, Mrs. Vaughan, her son and niece, Mrs. John K. Williams and child, Mrs. Jacob Williams and three children, and Mrs. Edwin Drewry were among the other victims of this horrible slaughter. Drewry, the historian, says this is not the complete list.

        Only a few of these victims were shot. The negroes were not accustomed to the use of firearms. Axes and hatchets and grubbing-hoes were preferred as weapons. The pikes John Brown had made, which philanthropists like Stearns, Gerrit Smith, Sanborn, and their associates had paid for, were well suited to the purpose these conspirators had in mind. In the course of the trials which ensued--for none of these murderers was lynched--it was shown that the razor was used to despatch only one person. The head of a small boy, who ran up to one of the negroes he knew and asked him to take him up behind him for a ride, was completely severed from the body by a single stroke of an ax. Some few armed themselves with scythe-blades; all robbed the dead; and finally nearly the whole of this murderous gang became drunk.

        They had gone about their bloody work in cunning fashion. The region was not thickly settled. The farm-houses were so far apart that the screams of the frightened and dying could not be heard at the place the negroes were next to visit; then, having killed every one, they rode hurriedly to the next house. In this way the bloody work went on all through the night, and it was only after broad daylight that some one escaped and began to spread the alarm; so that the remaining women and children fled to the woods


Page 93

to hide themselves, and the men and lads began to gather to put down the desperate rabble. It so happened that a neighbor escaping galloped along the road shouting to each household as he passed the great danger of remaining indoors.

        In one of these homes was then living Mrs. John Thomas, and as Nat Turner's band was seen approaching she and her fifteen-year-old son narrowly escaped the common doom by running, closely pursued, into the dense forest, where they were safely concealed. By this narrow margin was saved the life of the one human being who, in my opinion, defeated the Southern Confederacy and saved the cause of the Union in the crisis of the Civil War on the field of Chickamauga, where the independence of the South was won and thrown away. That fifteen-year-old boy was George H. Thomas, who lived to be the "Rock of Chickamauga."

        By noon the white men of the country had rallied under arms, and soon killed, captured, or dispersed the negroes. The ringleaders and some fifteen others were tried, convicted, and hanged. Thus ended the sickening slaughter. Haiti and San Domingo had been imitated.

        John Brown treasonably and murderously led an armed invasion of this same state to liberate and arm the slaves and subject the helpless women and children to a repetition of these scenes of horror on a more extended scale. The heartless fanaticism of the antislavery agitation is indicated in Sanborn's Life and Letters of John Brown. Upon receipt of the news of this massacre at the home of Brown in Ohio, Squire Hudson exclaimed: "Thank God! I am glad of it. The slaves have risen down in Virginia!"


Page 94

X
SOME FACTS ABOUT JOHN BROWN NOT GENERALLY KNOWN

        HAVING failed at every one of a half-dozen different vocations to make a living for his family and himself, a rolling stone so mossless that at the age of fifty-five he was absolutely bankrupt in fortune, and no less so in honorable reputation, John Brown turned up in Kansas in October, 1855, in the rôle of a professional Free-soil agitator in the employ of Mr. Amos A. Lawrence, Secretary and Treasurer of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, of which Mr. Eli Thayer, of Massachusetts, was the president. It is safe to say that had his antecedents been known to these honorable gentlemen, they would not have given him employment or furnished him the money to pay his traveling-expenses to the territory (without which he could not have made the trip), for as soon as his misconduct there revealed his true character--and this was soon in evidence--they repudiated him and publicly denounced him as unworthy of confidence and respect and an injury to the free-state cause.

        Disappointed and embittered at the age of fifty-five, "fit for treason," looking for "spoils," and ready with whatever "stratagem" was required to secure them, he, with scant regard for the laws of God and man, began the mad career of crime which in the course of four years of robbery, bloodshed, and murder, carried into untimely graves three of his sons and one son-in-law and ended on December 2, 1859, in his legal execution at Charlestown, Virginia.


Page 95

        Born in 1800 of poor and respectable New England parents, who moved in 1805 to Hudson, Ohio, where there were scant opportunities for schooling, John Brown learned to read and write, and later in life acquired a working knowledge of surveying. Here he worked at tanning and surveying, then moved to Pennsylvania, thence to Portage County, Ohio, where he speculated in lands which "did much to injure his standing and business credit,"1 tried public contracting, at which he failed, and went into bankruptcy.

        "On July 11, 1836, he was sued on a debt of six thousand dollars, and his surety, a Mr. Oviatt, was forced to pay the debt. Brown made a bond to Oviatt, to secure him on a piece of land he had traded for, but without recording the deed. When the deed was finally recorded, without notice to Oviatt, to whom he was under every obligation of honor, Brown mortgaged the land to two other men." Mr. Villard says: "This transaction bears an unpleasant aspect." In 1837 he moved back to Hudson, Ohio, and went into the business of breeding race-horses, and changed in 1838 to the cattle and sheep raising business. In one of a number of suits brought against him about this time, which was decided against him, he resisted the process of the law. With his three sons, John, Jason, and Owen, he barricaded himself in a house on the land in question and held unlawful possession until the sheriff with a posse compelled them to vacate and placed them in the jail at Akron, Ohio.

        "On June 15, 1839, John Brown received from the New England Woolen Company at Rockville, Connecticut, the sum of twenty-eight hundred dollars, through its agent, George Kellogg, for the purchase of wool. This money he
1 John Brown, Fifty Years After. By Oswald Garrison Villard. The most reliable history of this subject yet printed.


Page 96

purloined for his own benefit, and was never able to redeem. Fortunately for him, and very probably convinced that their chance of securing the return of all or a part of this money was better with the defaulter at large than in the penitentiary, the company exercised leniency toward him, in return for which he promised, in 1842, after passing through bankruptcy, to pay the money from time to time with interest, as Divine Providence might enable him to do."1 Although he lived twenty years after this transaction and robbed much, none of the stolen money was ever repaid.

        Villard states: "On the records of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas at Ravenna, Ohio, are no less than twenty-one lawsuits in which John Brown figured as defendant. Thirteen were actions brought to recover money loaned to Brown, singly or in company with others. The remaining suits were mostly for claims for wages or payments due or for nonfulfilment of contracts. Judgment against Brown was once entered by his consent for a nominal sum. In ten other cases he was successfully sued, and judgments were obtained against him. A serious litigation was an action brought by the Bank of Worcester to recover on a bill of exchange drawn by Brown and others on the Leather Manufacturers Bank of New York, and repudiated by that institution on the ground that Brown and his associates had no money in the bank. When judgment against Brown and his associates was rendered it was for nine hundred and seventeen dollars and sixty-five cents."1 Mr. Sanborn says 2 that when he questioned Mr. Simon Perkins, of Akron, about Brown's wool-growing and wool-dealing, he replied, "The less you say about them the better." In 1841 Brown hired out as a sheep-tender at Richfield, Ohio;
1 Villard.

2 Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 57.


Page 97

went back to tanning in 1842; and gave it up once more in 1844. In 1846 he was settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a wool-dealer, in association with the Mr. Perkins mentioned above, and in 1849 made a trip to England in connection with this business, failed, and caused his partner a loss of forty thousand dollars. Suit was brought against Perkins& Brown for sixty thousand dollars for breach of contract. The case was tried in 1853. According to Villard, it was settled out of court, "counsel deeming it wiser to compromise than to face a jury." From this time to his death, in 1859, he had no business and no visible means of support except "gifts made to maintain him as a guerrilla leader in Kansas or as a prospective invader of Virginia."

        Five of Brown's sons, John, Jason, Owen, Frederick, and Salmon, chips of the old block, able and willing to commit murder and rob defenseless settlers in a new country, squatted on lands in Kansas in the spring of 1855, and here their father joined them in October, 1855.1 The excitement over the struggle between the proslavery and the free-state partisans in the territory was already great. In all probability the most important factor in finally winning Kansas as a free state was the New England Emigrant Aid Company, chartered in February, 1855. The head and prime mover in this far-sighted measure was Mr. Eli Thayer, who represented Worcester in the Massachusetts legislature and later was a member of Congress. Of this company Mr. Amos A. Lawrence, for whom I believe the city in
1 As an index of the character for thrift and industry of these sons of Brown it may be stated that John, Jr., was thirty-four years old; Jason, thirty-two; Owen, thirty-one; Frederick, twenty-five; and Salmon nineteen; and all they had to show for their lives to this time were eleven cattle and three horses. They were worthy sons of their sire, and went to Kansas ripe for the era of plunder and murder in which they moved with much success.


Page 98

Kansas is named, was the treasurer, and it was he who paid Brown to go to Kansas to take part in any activities which might require the use of Sharp's rifles, or "Beecher Bibles," as the markings on the boxes specified. A man of blameless life, whose reputation for cautious speech and perfect truthfulness is unquestioned, Mr. Lawrence said before the Massachusetts Historical Society in May, 1884: "When Eli Thayer obtained the charter for the company, Dr. Robinson was chosen territorial agent. It was to support the party of law and order and make Kansas a free state by bona-fide settlement. Charles Robinson had the requisite qualities to direct this movement. He was cool, judicious, entirely devoid of fear, and in every respect worthy of the confidence reposed in him by the society and the settlers. He was imprisoned, his house burned, his life was threatened, yet he never bore arms or omitted to do what he thought to be his duty. He sternly held the people to their loyalty to the government against the arguments and the example of the 'higher-law' men, who were always armed, and who were bent on bringing on a border war.

        "But what shall we say of John Brown? His course was the opposite of Robinson's. He was always armed, he was always disloyal to the United States government, and to all government except what he called the 'higher-law.' He was always ready to shed blood, and he always did shed it without remorse.

        "It fell to me to give John Brown his first letter to Kansas, introducing him to Governor Robinson and authorizing him to employ Brown and to draw on me for his compensation, if he could make him useful in the work of the Emigrant Aid Company. But very soon Governor Robinson wrote that he would not employ him, as he was unreliable and


Page 99

would as soon shoot a United States officer as a border ruffian. When he was a prisoner at Harper's Ferry I wrote to Governor Wise, advising his release on the ground that he was a monomaniac and that his execution would make him a martyr. John Brown had no enemies in New England, but many friends and admirers. He was constantly receiving money from them. They little knew what use he was making of it, for he deceived everybody. If he had succeeded in his design at Harper's Ferry of exciting a servile insurrection the country would have stood aghast with horror."

        Eli Thayer says in the Kansas Crusade (page 189): "John Brown induced Mr. Amos A. Lawrence to furnish him money to pay his expenses to Kansas. It was easy for any one who professed a desire to aid in the work of making Kansas a free state to secure his entire confidence. But his confidence was sometimes abused, notably in the case of John Brown. Mr. Lawrence furnished him the money which enabled him to pay his fare to Kansas, late in 1855. Subsequently he contributed for his use in the territory, and for traveling outside of it, many important sums. He also furnished about one thousand dollars to pay a mortgage on Brown's home at North Elba, New York. For one or two years he regarded Brown as an honest man and an aid to the free-state cause. At length, however, he learned how his confidence had been abused, and from that time no one ever denounced the Pottawatomie assassin in more vigorous English."

        Mr. Thayer says further: "The Republican convention which nominated Lincoln for the presidency in 1860 named John Brown as one of the greatest of criminals.

        "When Brown made his invasion of Virginia, and during


Page 100

his trial, conviction, and execution, I was a member of Congress, and had the means of knowing the opinions of members. There was not one of that body who considered his punishment as unjust. A few, however, were of the opinion that it would have been better to have put him in a mad-house for life. This would have prevented the grotesque efforts of a few of his sympathizers and supporters to parade him before the country as a martyr.

        "John Brown arrived in Kansas nearly two years after the conflict there against slavery began. He was a great injury to the free-state cause and to the free-state settlers. He said, 'I have not come to make Kansas free, but to get a shot at the South.' He wished to begin a civil war. He never had any property in Kansas which might be subject to retaliation and reprisal for his crimes. Skulking about under various disguises and pretenses, he left the free-state settlers to suffer further numerous outrages. At length they compelled him to leave the territory.

        "To the above should be added the robbing of slaves in Kansas, the stealing of horses, and about four thousand dollars' worth of oxen, mules, wagons, harness, and such valuables and property as he could find. He was a merciless and most unscrupulous jayhawker. . . . After his midnight murders the people about Ossawatomie assembled to express their indignation. Here on most friendly terms were the free-state men and the slave-state men. In the overshadowing gloom of such a terrible crime all partisan issues were forgotten. John Brown, with characteristic lying, denied that he was present at this massacre or that he had had anything to do with it. No fact in history is now better established than that he was the father of the crime and leader of the assassins."


Page 101

        Mr. Thayer says further: "He came to me in Worcester to solicit a contribution of arms for the defense of some Kansas settlements which he said he knew were to be attacked. Not doubting his word, I gave him all the arms I had, in value about five hundred dollars. Under the same false pretense he received another contribution from Ethan Allan& Co., manufacturers in this city. These arms were never taken to Kansas, but were captured at Harper's Ferry. Under the same false pretense of assisting the settlers, he procured funds from several New York merchants."

        Mr. Thayer says that after the raid in Missouri, in December, 1858, when William Cruse was murdered, Brown stole about four thousand dollars' worth of property and valuables, along with eleven slaves; and then, in order to make them useful for the purpose of securing funds, he took from December to April to get his liberated slaves to Canada. He sent agents in all directions to solicit aid.

        In an editorial comment on Mr. Thayer's statement, the New York Sun of November 27, 1887, says: "Mr. Thayer speaks from intimate personal knowledge; describes John Brown as a felon or a fiend, a robber, murderer, and traitor, and gives instances of his conduct to justify the truth of his description. Abraham Lincoln in his famous speech at Cooper Institute agrees with Mr. Thayer in ranging John Brown with the monomaniacs who resort to assassination for the cure of what seem to them social or political evils. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon and John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were in their philosophy the same. These words expressed a sentiment so general in the North that the first Republican leader felt it necessary to speak so emphatically. At that time the


Page 102

abolitionists, always a small and detested body of fanatics, had reached the firm conclusion that their only hope lay in the dissolution of the Union. They were out and out disunionists, trampling on the Constitution at their meeting as 'a league with death and a covenant with hell,' and declaring that 'there was no issue of any importance except the dissolution of the Union.' They were therefore quick to make John Brown a martyr to their cause. These are doubtless the facts of history, and Mr. Thayer does the public a service in calling attention to them at a time when anarchists are attempting to justify their savagery by pointing to John Brown as a great moral hero whose memory is revered by his countrymen and honored by the whole world."

        I have quoted these men of high character and unquestioned veracity because they were men of strong conviction, who believed that Kansas was a battle-ground where under the law a stand-up fight might be made in the open, and with guns if need be, between the opposing forces of slavery and antislavery. They were wise enough to see that carrying hardy farmers and planting them as tillers of the free soil was the one legitimate and logical way of doing what Thomas Jefferson of Virginia tried to do--namely, prevent the extension of slavery into the territories. These men were in personal contact with John Brown, and they knew him. Eli Thayer was of such prominence in his day that, according to the New York Independent of December 16, 1875, "Charles Sumner said in January, 1857: 'The state of Kansas should be named "Thayer." ' "

        In 1910, at a meeting of the veterans of '56 in Kansas, Colonel O. E. Learnard, of Lawrence, made an address from which what follows is taken. While I felt sure, from the


Page 103

tone of the protest, that its author could say nothing that was of doubtful truthfulness, I wrote to a brother physician in Lawrence, Dr. George W. Jones, making proper inquiry. He assured me that "Mr. Warren, a former State Senator; Mr. Brooks, once member of the legislature; Mr. Kennedy and Captain Huddleston and Colonel Learnard were in every respect among the foremost citizens of the state. Of Colonel O. E. Learnard, the noblest Roman of them all, one cannot say too much in praise of his noted integrity. A man who has had about all the honors the community could give him is now in retirement, universally respected. Colonel Learnard was an abolitionist Republican."

        In the address entitled "John Brown's Career in Kansas," Colonel Learnard said:

        "At the meeting of this association two years ago I was to have made some remarks in relation to John Brown and his career in Kansas, but was unable to do so on account of ill health. Since then I have given the matter very little thought until the recent much-heralded event at Ossawatomie,1 by and through which was revealed a stated purpose to pervert the facts in the interest of a mawkish sentimentality that deliberately ignores and derides well-authenticated history.

        "The late Joel K. Goodwin, in a letter to Governor Robinson, said: 'The sickening adulation and offensive slobbers over some of the imaginary saviors of Kansas to freedom which have passed the lips of ministers and laymen, lecturers and politicians, editors and essayists during the past thirty years has added little to the truthfulness of history or the healthy education of the young men and young women of the state.' Under the circumstances it seems
1 In reference to the address of ex-President Roosevelt.


Page 104

pertinent that at least some of the salient facts of the matter should be stated, and I do this from no motive or wish other than a vindication of the truth of history. It is conceded at the outset that most of the early settlers, those who were cognizant of the facts, most of whom were participants in these events, did not, and do not, share the sentiments which have recently been expressed as to the character and achievements of John Brown. I have always thought that some of us who survive think they know better. Of those who have passed away I readily recall General Thomas Ewing, Marcus J. Parrott, Colonel W. Y. Roberts, Colonel Campbell, Colonel C. K. Holliday, General R. B. Mitchell, Guilford Dudley, George A. Crawford, Senator Alex. McDonald, Colonel Blood, C. W. Babcock, Lyman Allen, B. W. Woodward, Judge Emery, General G. Deitsler, and Joel K. Goodwin--indeed, the list might be extended almost indefinitely.

        "Those present here to-day, Mr. Morrow, Paul R. Brooks, Scott Kennedy, your president, Captain Huddleston, and others who were active participants in nearly all the stirring events of '56, of my personal knowledge--these gentlemen can speak for themselves. The claims made for John Brown are that he was the savior of Kansas to freedom, that he inspired the organized armed resistance to border-ruffian aggression, and was its master spirit and guide. Each and all of these claims on his behalf I unhesitatingly and absolutely repudiate and deny.

        "The first organized and armed resistance was in what is designated as the 'Wakarusa War.' Governor Robinson was chief in command, and General Lane second. John Brown had but recently arrived, and on the strength of the representation that he had fought in the battle of Plattsburg


Page 105

in the War of 1812--a representation, by the way, that was absolutely false--he was given the nominal command of a small squad of men.

        "During that brief and bloodless campaign John Brown spent most of his time in faultfinding and growling about the camp, particularly of the Topeka company; so that they ordered him to get out and stay out. This statement is made on the authority of the late Guilford Dudley, for a great many years a prominent and well-known resident of Topeka, who was a member of the Topeka company. John Speer, in his Life of General Lane, referring to the treaty that closed the 'Wakarusa War,' says: 'The conflict was remarkable for the harmony among the free-state leaders. I heard of no disagreement except Brown, who was bitter against any settlement.'

        "And this same habit of growling and faultfinding characterized all his later relation to the free-state movement and its leaders. During the spring and summer of 1856 John Brown was only occasionally about Lawrence, and only for brief periods, and at no time did he have a command here. He was here on the 14th of September. I saw him a little after noon as twenty-five of us mounted men started to locate the Missourians, about whom all sorts of rumors were afloat. I saw no more of him that day, and I know of no one who did. The only free-state forces employed that day other than our twenty-five horsemen, who occupied the outpost southeast of town until the troops came, was a small company under the command of Captain Joseph Cracklin, stationed out in Earl's addition, and some members of the Cabot guards, and other citizens in the stone fort on the hill. I saw Brown at Rock Creek camp and one or two other times during the summer. When Lane proposed


Page 106

to me to make the demonstration on Leavenworth that summer he coupled with it the suggestion that Brown accompany us. I replied that I was willing to make the trip, but that Brown could not go with us; and, of course, he did not.

        "Most of his operations were in the border counties of Kansas and Missouri--forays, night alarms, and frightening peaceful citizens. Generally his raids were fruitful of plunder. A proslavery man, or even a free-state man who did not accord with his views and methods, had no rights of person or property that Brown respected. This condition continued long after the free-state issue was settled and the territorial legislature was in the hands of the free-state men, as well as the administration of local affairs in the border counties. Indeed, a condition of disquiet and apprehension prevailed to a greater or less extent in the border counties until Brown left Kansas for good.

        "His achievements for the most part were of the order of that noted by Professor Spring, as follows: 'At St. Bernard, five miles from camp, a successful proslavery trader had a miscellaneous store, filled with dry-goods, clothing, drugs, groceries, firearms, hardware, boots and shoes. A necessitous company of guerrillas could scarcely be expected to neglect so favorable an opportunity to supply their wants at the expense of a Southerner. Certainly the company camped on Middle Creek did nothing of the kind. About nightfall, June 3d, such is the drift of the testimony before the Strickler Commission, "part of a company commanded by one John Brown, armed with Sharp's rifles, pistols, bowie-knives, and other deadly weapons, came upon the premises and attacked and rushed into the said store"--a sudden condition of affairs so warlike that the employees


Page 107

were deterred, threatened, and overpowered by the desperadoes, who demanded a surrender of the goods and chattels, threatening immediate death and destruction should the slightest opposition be offered. Finding the prize richer than they had anticipated and their appliances for transportation inadequate, the gang returned in the morning and resumed operations. They evidently left nothing to be desired in point of thoroughness.['] "


        Redpath, in his Life of John Brown, says: "Brown then lay down by our side and told us of the wars and trials he had passed through; that he had settled in Kansas with a large family, having with him six full-grown sons; that he had taken a claim in Lykens County, Kansas, and was attending peacefully to the duties of husbandry when the hordes of wild men came over from Missouri and took possession of all the ballot-boxes, destroyed his corn, stole his horses, and shot down his cattle, sheep, and hogs, and repeatedly threatened to shoot, hang, or burn him." Commenting upon this, Dr. George W. Brown, who has written some of the most accurate of Kansas history, and who lived a great part of it, says: "Need we write, even at this distance in time from those occurrences in Kansas history, that probably there was not one word of truth in all that statement? Old John Brown had participated in no wars; he never settled in Kansas with his family, hence did not have any six sons with him in that family; he never entered any claim in Lykens County, Kansas, nor anywhere else; he did not attend to the duties of husbandry; he was not in the territory until six months after the Missouri usurpation of the ballot-boxes. The only horses he ever owned, save the one he drove into the territory, were stolen, and the same is true of


Page 108

his blooded stock, his sheep, and his hogs, if he had any."

        The late General J. K. Hudson, for many years editor of the Topeka Capital, and one of the foremost writers of the West, said in the course of an editorial in the Topeka Capital: "There is not written in the annals of Kansas a single incident that reflects credit upon the intelligence of John Brown, his industry, his integrity, or reveals a single admirable quality of heart or mind. Kansas has been wont to veneer the character of John Brown with excessive praise. It has habitually spread upon his memory the spittle of effulgent adulation. Isn't it about time to take the measure of his true value as a citizen? Isn't it about time to admit the truth, which is that he was a loafer, a brawler, a disturber who did nothing to his own credit and who scattered misery with the hand of a sower?"

        As to the alleged "battle of Ossawatomie," August 30, 1856, John Brown, in a letter to his wife recently published, stated that he had had a hard fight with the Missourians, whom he had defeated, their killed being estimated at from seventy to eighty men. Dr. Updegraft, in his speech at the dedication of the John Brown monument, fixed the number of killed at from thirty to forty and the wounded from seventy-five to one hundred. The well-authenticated facts are that not one of the Missourians was killed, and only three were wounded by gun-shots.

        Judge Robinson, for years a prominent citizen of Paola, who wrote the history of Miami County, verifies this statement, and adds:

        "When I came to the battle of Ossawatomie, wishing to be historically correct, I spent a good deal of time investigating the subject; and, while my sympathies are and always


Page 109

have been with the defenders of Ossawatomie, and I should have been glad to have had the Missourians routed or captured, sentiment cannot be used in making history--facts are required."

        Colonel William Higgins, formerly secretary of state for Kansas, and at present postmaster and post commander of the G. A. R. at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, then a boy who was present on the occasion as a teamster in the Read, or proslavery, command, says: "Two of the gunners were wounded, and one man with a bad shot in his left arm. The two wounded gunners were conveyed back to Missouri in a wagon, while the other wounded man was able to ride his horse. This covers the total loss and damage sustained by the border ruffians, while but two of the free-state men were killed, and they on the picket-line in the morning."

        These were Fred Brown and George Partridge, the only authenticated victims of the engagement. Mr. Higgins adds: "While the fires were still burning the roll was called, and every man that marched to Ossawatomie was accounted for; not one killed or missing."

        Captain J. M. Anthony, brother of Colonel D. R. Anthony, a resident of Ossawatomie at the time, in a letter to the Leavenworth Times recounting the incidents of the occasion, said: "A few shots were exchanged. When pressed by the enemy there was no orderly retreat, but a general skedaddle, every man for himself--John Brown with the rest." He adds: "I went down to the barnyard to milk the cow, having had nothing to eat since breakfast, and while milking saw Brown advancing up the ravine. When about twenty-five feet from me he stopped and called out: 'Hello! Is that you?' I replied that it assuredly


Page 110

was. He then asked me about the day's engagement, seemingly entirely ignorant of the result, and, like Dr. Updegraft and everybody else, thought the whole community had been killed."

        As an example of the reliability of any statement emanating from John Brown or any member of his family the following extract is taken from a letter of Brown's printed in Sanborn's book and dated Lawrence, Kansas Territory, September 7, 1856:

        "On the morning of the 30th of August an attack was made by the ruffians on Ossawatomie, numbering some four hundred. At this time I was about three miles off, where I had some fourteen or fifteen men. These I collected with some twelve or fifteen men, and in about three-quarters of an hour I attacked them from a wood with thick undergrowth. With this force we threw them into confusion for about fifteen or twenty minutes, during which time we killed or wounded from seventy to eighty of the enemy, as they say. Four or five free-state men were butchered during the day in all. I was struck by a partly spent grape, canister, or rifle shot which bruised me some but did not injure me seriously. 'Hitherto the Lord has helped me,' notwithstanding my afflictions."

        The simple facts above given are from sources no sane person will question, and this distortion of truth by John Brown, which his biographers use as a text for a sermon on one of his greatest and most heroic battles for free Kansas, demonstrates the force of the maxim that there is but "a step from the sublime to the ridiculous," which is still further emphasized when we reflect that the people of Kansas have been deceived into erecting a monument on this battle-field, on one side of which is blazoned the "Heroism of


Page 111

Captain John Brown, who commanded at the Battle of Ossawatomie August 30, 1856; who died and conquered American Slavery at Charlestown, Va., December 2, 1859."

        It may be illuminating to quote from a letter from Mr. Richard Mendenhall, a Quaker (Sanborn, page 326): "I next met John Brown again on the evening before the battle of Ossawatomie. He with a number of others was driving a herd of cattle which they had taken from proslavery men. He rode out of the company to speak to me when I playfully asked him where he got those cattle. He replied with a characteristic shake of the head that 'they were good free-state cattle now.' "

        Governor Charles Robinson, in his Kansas Conflict, says (page 330): "The only battles in which Brown was engaged were at Black Jack and Ossawatomie. At the first Captain Shore had nineteen men and Brown nine. Shore with his men attacked Pate from the open prairie and drove him into the ravine, while Brown took to the ravine at once and was not in sight of the foe at all. Shore also went into the ravine, and shots were exchanged for several hours, till Captain J. B. Abbott appeared in sight of the enemy with his company, when Pate surrendered. This is substantially the part played in this battle by Brown."

        The truth is that Brown's most famous engagement, and one that will be remembered when Black Jack and Ossawatomie are forgotten, took place on the night of May 24, 1856. On this night, accompanied by his four sons Owen, Frederick, Salmon, and Oliver, his son-in-law Henry Thompson, a Jew named Wiener, and Townsley, a settler, about two o'clock in the morning he took from their beds and homes three men and two lads, one under age, and made his sons


Page 112

and the others cut these to death in a manner almost too horrible to be believed. That their leader and his gang were careful of their own lives is attested by the statement of Salmon Brown, one of the murderers, who wrote later: "Soon after crossing the creek some one of the party knocked at the door of a cabin. There was no reply, but from within came the sound of a gun rammed through the chinks of the cabin walls. At that we all scattered. We did not disturb that man" (Villard). They next proceeded to the cabin of William Sherman, knocked, and the door was opened. James Harris in his testimony before the committee of Congress swore: "I took Mr. William Sherman out of the creek and examined him. Mr. Whitman was with me. Sherman's skull was split in two places, and some of his brain was washed out by the water. A large hole was cut in his breast, and his left hand was cut off except a little piece of skin on one side." Sanborn says: "When the bodies of the dead were found, there went up a cry that they had been mutilated; but this was because of the weapons used." Ordinarily it would seem that two gashes through the skull from which the brain was oozing might suffice without the extra thrust on the side and lopping off of the hand.

        Another of the victims was a Mr. Wilkinson, who was the postmaster at Shermansville (now Lane), and also a member of the territorial legislature of Kansas. Mrs. Wilkinson in her testimony said that she was sick in bed with the measles; that she begged them to let her husband stay with her, as she was helpless. "The old man [Brown] who seemed to be in command looked at me and then around at the children, and replied, 'You have neighbors.' They then took my husband away. One of them came back and took two


Page 113

saddles. The next morning Mr. Wilkinson was found. I believe that one of Captain Brown's sons was in the party which murdered my husband. My husband was a quiet man and was not engaged in arresting or disturbing anybody."

        Three Doyles, father and sons, one of the lads under age, were also murdered. John Doyle, a son of the murdered man, testified: "I found my father and one brother, William, lying dead in the road about two hundred yards from the house. I saw my other brother lying dead on the ground about one hundred and fifty yards from the house. His fingers were cut off, and his arms were cut off; his head was cut open, and there was a large hole in his breast. William's head was cut open, and a hole was in his jaw, as if made by a knife; and a hole was also in his side. My father was shot in the forehead and stabbed in the breast" (page 160). This done, the horses and saddles of the dead men were taken along and, according to Sanborn, traded off in northern Kansas.

        John Brown denied killing any of these men with his own hands, and yet a pistol-shot was fired, and Doyle was found with a bullet through the forehead. Salmon Brown says that Owen and another killed the Doyles; and Villard adds, "By a process of elimination it is apparent that the other could only have been himself." Salmon Brown will not positively state that his father fired this shot, but admits that no one else in the party pulled a trigger. He is at a loss to explain why the shot was fired. He said Doyle was dead; it was probable that the old man fired into the dead man's skull for additional moral effect.

        Of this affair Andrew Johnson said in the United States Senate: "Innocent and unoffending men were taken out,


Page 114

and in the midnight hour fell victims to the insatiable thirst of John Brown for blood. Then it was that he shrank from the dimensions of a human being into those of a reptile. Then it was, if not before, that he changed his character to a demon who had lost all the virtues of a man."

        Professor L. W. Spring, in his Kansas, says: "John Brown's statements were sufficiently evasive to deceive members of his own family and personal friends who long denied that he led the foray. The five squatters upon whom he laid a tiger's paw were not exceptionally bad men; and the squatters, without distinction of party, denounced the deed as 'an outrage of the darkest and foulest nature, by midnight assassins who murdered and mangled them in the most awful manner.' To this must be charged most of the havoc and anarchy in which the Kansas of 1855 weltered. It set afoot retaliatory violence, and finally issued in a total military collapse of the free-state cause."

        Villard says (page 264): "Between November 1, 1855, and December 1, 1856, about two hundred people are known to have lost their lives in the anarchical conditions which prevailed, and the property loss in this period is officially set down at not less than two millions of dollars. However superior in character and intelligence and industry the free-state emigrants indubitably were in the beginning, there was little to choose between the border ruffians and the Kansas ruffians in midsummer of 1856. The Whipples and Harveys and Browns plundered and robbed as freely on one side as did the Martin Whites, the Reids, and the Tituses on the other, and there was not the slightest difference in their methods."

        Concerning the Pottawattomie murders, the governor of the territory (Shannon), on May 31, 1856, wrote to the


Page 115

president of the United States: "The respectability of the parties and the cruelties attending these murders have produced an extraordinary state of excitement in that portion of the territory which has heretofore remained comparatively quiet" (Villard, page 169).

        Major John Sedgwick, who later won undying fame as commander of a corps in the Army of the Potomac, reported: "Five men were taken out of their beds, their throats cut, their ears cut off, and their persons gashed more horribly than our savages have ever done. I sincerely think that most of the atrocities have been committed by the Free-soil party, but I cannot think that they countenance such acts--that is, the respectable class" (Villard, page 169).

        Mr. Adair, a Free-soiler, when Owen Brown, who with his brother Salmon had cut the Doyles to death, asked to stay all night, said to him: "Get away--get away as quickly as you can. You are a vile murderer, a marked man."

        " 'I intend to be a marked man,' shouted Owen, and rode away on one of the murdered man's horses" (according to Mr. Villard).

        John Brown, Jr., was deposed from command of a company (Villard, page 151) because a man rode into camp in great excitement, saying, "Five men have been killed on Pottawattomie Creek, butchered and most brutally mangled, and old John Brown has done it." Jason Brown says: "This information caused great excitement and fear among the men of our company, and a feeling arose against John and myself which led the men all to desert us."

        Villard says (page 187): "From the ethical point of view John Brown's crime on the Pottawattomie cannot be successfully palliated or excused. It must ever remain a complete indictment of his judgment and wisdom; a dark


Page 116

blot upon his memory; a proof that, however self-controlled, he had neither true respect for the laws nor for human life, nor a knowledge that two wrongs never make a right."

        Biographers of Brown, notably Sanborn and Redpath, disclaimed his reponsibility or participation in this crime until the proof was so positive that even the former accepted it. He then justifies the murders as "executions" in which his hero became judge and jury, holding midnight sessions of about one minute each for each defendant--"brief but sufficient trials," as he beautifully expresses it. Sanborn's qualifications for his self-imposed task may be judged from his treatment of this incident. Redpath, another "reliable" historian, says he was twenty-five miles away. The retaliatory killings at the Marais des Cygnes were not "executions," but murders! The poet Whittier, who sang of the Marais des Cygnes outrage, could not tune his lyre to the measure of the Pottawattomie. The wrong ox had been gored. The zealots of abolitionism were so far lost to the sense of justice and to truth itself that they made of themselves the apostles of misrepresentation. Witness Longfellow's "The Slave in the Dismal Swamp" and Whittier's "Barbara Frietchie," recited by thousands of impressionable school-children and read by many more thousands of older persons who may never know the truth and will accept this version of an incident which occurred only in the imagination of the poet as an indictment of the Southern soldier and of his section.

        I know from a brother physician, an honorable member of my profession and of this same family in Frederick, who assured me that his aged relative never saw Stonewall Jackson or a single Confederate soldier, and that when the poet of New England sang of her as leaning out of the window


Page 117

waving her country's flag in Jackson's face and daring him to shoot, she was a block away, hopelessly bedridden. Her joints were stiffened to such a painful degree that not only was it impossible for her to get out of bed and walk, but she could not even have stood upright had she been placed on her feet!

        As late as November 10, 1913, this often resurrected falsehood arose again from the dead through the medium of the New York Sun, and was again temporarily laid to rest by Professor W. Gordon McCabe, of Richmond, Virginia, with the timely aid of Mr. Valerius Ebert, of Frederick, Maryland. The original was published in the Baltimore Sun:

SIR,

        --I have just read a communication in the Sun, purporting to set forth certain facts in relation to the life and character of the late Barbara Frietchie, the heroine of Whittier's celebrated war poem. It may be proper to state that I am the nephew of Dame Barbara, and had the settling up of her husband's estate in the capacity of administrator.

        This necessarily threw me into frequent communication with the ancient and venerable dame. Barbara Frietchie, my venerable aunt, was not a lady of twenty-two summers, but an ancient dame of ninety-six winters when she departed this life.

        As to the waving of the Federal flag in the face of the rebels by Dame Barbara on the occasion of Stonewall Jackson's march through Frederick, truth requires me to say that Stonewall Jackson with his troops did not pass Barbara Frietchie's residence at all, but passed up what in this city is popularly called "The Mill Alley," about three hundred yards above her residence, then passed due west to Antietam, and thus out of the city.

        But another and stranger fact with regard to this matter may be presented: the poem by Whittier represents our venerable relative (then ninety-six years of age) as nimbly ascending to her attic window and waving her small Federal flag defiantly in the face of Stonewall Jackson's troops. Now, what are the facts at this point? Dame Barbara was, at the moment of the passing of that distinguished general and his forces through Frederick, bedridden and helpless, and lost the power of locomotion. She could at this period only move as she was


Page 118

moved by the help of her attendants. These are the true and stern facts, proving that Whittier's poem upon this subject is fiction, pure fiction, and nothing else, without even the remotest semblance or resemblance of fact.

VALERIUS EBERT.

FREDERICK CITY, MARYLAND, August 27, 1874
.

        Such is the explicit testimony of one who could "speak with authority," and such must be reckoned the real "truth about Barbara Frietchie."

        This same otherwise lovable man is also responsible for another unpoetic untruth, "Brown of Ossawatomie," which served its purpose of aiding to establish his martyrdom-- viz., the kissing of a negro baby as he was walking to the gallows, which deed, according to the standard of zealots, cleaned his record of all misdeeds. Even Sanborn now admits it could not have taken place; and, in fact, nothing of the kind did occur.

        Brown's next notorious expedition was over the border in Missouri on December 20, 1859. "With him were a well-known horse-thief, 'Pickles' by designation, Charles Jemison, Jeremiah Anderson, Gill, Kagi, and two young men named Ayres, besides one or two others. At midnight Hicklan's (a slave-owning citizen's) door was quickly forced by men with pointed revolvers, and he was informed of the mission of the raiders. Gill, one of the raiders, says: 'Watches and other articles were taken; some of our number proved to be mere adventurers, ready to take from friend or foe as opportunity offered' " (Villard).

        Mr. Hicklan testified: "Nothing that was taken was ever recovered. I learn that it was stated by John Brown that he made his men return all the property they had taken from me. This is not true. They did not give anything


Page 119

back. Brown said to me that we might get our property back if we could; that he defied us and the whole United States to follow him" (Villard, page 368).

        "Besides the negroes Brown took from the Lawrence estate two good horses, a yoke of oxen, a good wagon, harness, saddles, a considerable quantity of provisions, bacon, flour, meal, coffee, sugar, etc., all the bedding and clothing of the negroes, Hicklan's shotgun, overcoat, boots, and many other articles belonging to the whites. From Larue were taken five negroes, six head of horses, harness, a wagon, a lot of bedding and clothing, provisions, and, in short, all the loot available and portable" (Villard, page 369).

        Meanwhile Stevens's expedition had released but one slave, and that at the cost of the owner's life. David Cruse, a wealthy settler, had a woman slave whom the Daniels party wished to take along. Stevens had hardly entered the house when he said he thought Mr. Cruse was reaching for a weapon. He fired instantly, and the old man dropped dead. Stevens, who was hanged at Charlestown with Brown, freely admitted the killing, though it weighed heavily upon him. The Cruse family charged wholesale looting of the house, the taking of two yoke of oxen, a wagon-load of provisions, eleven mules, and two horses. John Brown says of this expedition that a white man who resisted the liberation was killed; and Sanborn adds, "He left Kansas pursued by United States troops."

        On pages 370, 371 Villard says: "Naturally, the death of Mr. Cruse created great excitement in Missouri, for, Stevens's narrative to the contrary notwithstanding, he ranked as a peaceful, law-abiding citizen, accustomed to minding his own business. This murder instantly imperiled the safety of all the Kansas settlements near the border line, for it was


Page 120

wholly unprovoked and without a shadow of the usual apology-- that Cruse had been guilty of outrages upon the people of Kansas. Finally, for this crime the President of the United State offered a reward of two hundred and fifty dollars for the arrest of Brown and Montgomery, and the governor of Missouri three thousand dollars for the capture of Brown." Sanborn admits that even in Kansas he was "proscribed." Villard also says that "Brown, on March 25, 1859, sent from Ashtabula, Ohio, one hundred and fifty dollars, part of the proceeds of the sale of the horses taken from the Missouri farmers to his family at North Elba." Part of this particular fund paid for a yoke of oxen for the Brown family.

        In this period as a fugitive from justice he lived under various aliases: Isaac Smith, Shubel Morgan, James Smith, and Nelson Hawkins. Naturally he writes, "I am advised that one of Uncle Sam's hounds is on my track."

        It will amuse students of the art of war after reading Xenophon's Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and Napoleon's disastrous march from Moscow to the Berezina, to follow the historian Sanborn's detailed description of the retreat of Captain John Brown from the plantations he had robbed in Missouri to Detroit, Michigan, and thence across the river to Canada. Although Xenophon came home a loser, he was in pretty fair shape, considering the difficulties he had to encounter. Napoleon lost about everything; but Brown, like a rolling ball of snow, gathered as he went. This from Sanborn:

        "The retreat from southern Kansas with his freedmen, and particularly the first step of his journey, was one of the boldest adventures of Brown. With a price on his head, with but one white companion, himself an outlaw, with


Page 121

their property loaded into an odd-looking wagon drawn by the cattle taken from the slave-owner in Missouri, Brown pushed forward in the dead of winter, relying on the mercy of God and on his own stout heart."1

        The "himself an outlaw" was Whipple, alias Stevens, who murdered Mr. Cruse, and who was hung at Charlestown. It took Brown nearly three months to pull through.

        Eli Thayer, who had employed Brown until he learned his real character, says that he stole on this expedition some four thousand dollars' worth of property, and instead of going directly to Canada, which he could easily have done in two weeks, as no one hindered him, he dawdled along in all sorts of meanderings, working everybody for any and every thing he could get, sending agents in all directions to excite sympathy for the poor captive slaves, and incidentally to get money for John Brown. The retreat led through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan to Canada.

        "At Muddy Creek, with only twenty-three white men and a dozen negroes, he put to rout a marshal with eighty men, chased them six miles, and brought back four prisoners and five horses. The captain told the prisoners they could proceed on foot. Their horses were retained for prudential motives! and given to the brave Topeka boys" (Sanborn, page 485). It may be recalled that in the great battle of Ossawatomie Brown reported some seventy of the enemy hors de combat, when not a single man was killed.

        The Kansas strategist acquired an item of "one hundred and thirty-eight dollars in cash received on his private account of J. H. Painter." Also something from Gerrit Smith, who, having "heard of his foray in Missouri," wrote to friend Sanborn as follows (page 483):


1 Sanborn's Rhapsody, page 484.

Page 122

PETERSBORO, January 22, 1859
.

"MY DEAR SIR,

        -- I have yours of 19th. I am happy to learn that the Underground Railroad is so prosperous in Kansas. I send you twenty-five dollars, which I wish you to send to our noble friend, John Brown. The topography of Missouri is unfavorable. Would that a spur of the Alleghany extended from the east to the west borders of the state."


        The italics are in the original, and are significant, as they refer to the proposed invasion of the South to arm the negroes. Villard says Brown sent his wife one hundred and fifty dollars from the proceeds of the sale in Ohio of the horses stolen in Missouri. But these were insignificant sums when compared with the amount contributed by the New England contingent. Mr. George L. Stearns, one of the militant group of abolitionists, was a gold-mine for the "hero and martyr." How much he worked this placer for it is impossible to determine; but, being needy, as was his wont, he wrote and read at the psychological moment to Mrs. Stearns's "Old Brown's Farewell," the last lines of which are: "I am destitute of horses, baggage-wagons, tents, harness, saddles, bridles, holsters, spurs and belts; camp equipage, such as cooking and eating utensils, blankets, knapsacks, intrenching-tools, axes, shovels, spades, mattocks, crowbars; have not a supply of ammunition; have not money sufficient to pay freight and traveling expenses; and left my family poorly supplied with common necessities." The dear lady says: "I wish I could picture him as he sat and read, lifting his eyes to mine now and then, to see how it impressed me." Mrs. Stearns was won over, very much won over, as was her husband, for "when breakfast was over he [Mr. Stearns] drove to the residence of Judge


Page 123

Russell and handed Captain Brown his check for seven thousand dollars!"

        Discredited in Kansas by reason of his unlawful methods, disowned by such honorable antislavery leaders as Eli Thayer, Amos A. Lawrence, Governor Charles Robinson, O. E. Learned, and a host of men whose names are the synonyms of honor, integrity, and truthfulness; dismissed from their service and pay as unworthy of confidence or respect; an outlaw, with rewards for his apprehension offered by the President of the United States and by the Governor of Missouri; a fugitive from justice, slipping about under various aliases; an Ishmaelite with no possible means of a living for himself and the pitiable family he had long neglected, except what he might obtain from the wealthy zealots among the militant abolitionists or appropriate by violence, John Brown was now in a position to undertake even a venture that might involve some risk. Like Macbeth in more ways than one, he was so hopelessly advanced in bloody deeds 'twas just as easy to go on as to recede. He had had in mind what his historian dignifies by calling it an "invasion of the South" for the liberation of the slaves. It might or might not involve a wide-spread insurrection and a repetition on a grand scale in many remote communities of Nat Turner's massacres in Southampton. He had said it was better for a whole generation of white men, women, and children to be wiped out rather than slavery should continue. He knew what had been done in Haiti, San Domingo, and in Virginia. Mr. Sanborn, who conspired with him, and who more than all others, perhaps, is responsible for this apotheosis, regales us with the record of loud shouting, "Thank God, the negroes have risen in Virginia at last!" when the news came to


Page 124

Hudson, Ohio, about Nat Turner's murderous insurrection. Will the reader calmly and dispassionately think of this, and then read the appalling story, only a part of which is given in this book.

        It is stated that Brown had thought of going down the Mississippi to near the Louisiana line, where the negroes were ten to one more numerous than the whites, but in all probability he abandoned this project as the chances of escape in case of disaster would not be so good at such a distance from the Mason and Dixon line. No one who carefully studies each step of his career at this crisis can doubt that he had no idea of being caught or of dying. Had he been a really brave man and of heroic mold, ready and willing to die for the liberation of the slaves, nothing would have been easier than to have gone down the Ohio and the Mississippi in a trading flatboat, in which his guns and pikes and men could have been readily concealed, or on a raft of logs, which would have disarmed suspicion, and to have opened his campaign of "arming the slaves" where it was feasible. He knew that in 1811 in St. John's Parish, in Louisiana, the negroes, unaided from without, had risen, and that it took a week to put the insurrection down. With a white leader and his armed company and guns, and pikes for those who didn't know how to shoot, what a great success he might have made of it!

        The truth, as I believe it, is that John Brown was a craven at heart. He and his two sons ran away from the click of a gun from the inside of a cabin when they were calling unsuspecting men and boys to the door and, finding them unarmed, hacking them to pieces with cleavers--in order not to raise an alarm in that bloody night on the Pottawattomie. There is undoubted testimony that he


Page 125

ran at Ossawatomie, from which he emerges as a hero at the hands of the martyrists. Read Brown's report of this great battle, with its sixty or seventy of the enemy slain, and then read the truth, that not one of the enemy was killed, and that there was "a general skedaddle, John Brown with the rest," and you begin to get the measure of a colossal fraud. He evidently expected to escape into the mountains and then to his harbor of refuge in the North in case of failure at Harper's Ferry. "He and his men had studied the country carefully and knew it a hundred times better than any of the inhabitants. Every avenue of escape was noted" (Sanborn, page 556). It was the measure of a coward to take helpless citizens and hold them as hostages in constant danger of being shot to protect himself in the engine-house, in which, from a port-hole, he, rifle in hand, was killing or trying to kill his assailants. He had refused to surrender, saying, "I prefer to die just here," but when the crisis came what did he do?

        "One lone man, Lieutenant Green, of the United States Marine Corps, forced his way through a small aperture made by a ladder used as a battering-ram, jumped on top of the engine, and stood a second mid a shower of balls. Singling out John Brown, he sprang at him, having no weapon but a small officer's sword which bent double with the first thrust or blow, when Brown fell down, with his head between his knees, permitting Green to maul him with the bent weapon, and offering no resistance whatever!"

        Brown was at last face to face with a fearless man, armed as he was; he had boasted he preferred to die just here, but when he had the opportunity to fight he behaved as stated before in the words of an eye-witness, one of the hostages. If there is a suggestion of the heroic in this, I fail to discern


Page 126

it. Even after he was caught red-handed he did not abandon hope or the effort to escape the just penalty of his crimes. He offered Judge Thomas Russell (among others), who was in the conspiracy, two hundred and fifty dollars "and personal property sufficient to pay a most liberal fee to yourself" to come and try to get him off, and in his anxiety he added, "Do not send an ultra abolitionist!" They had taken Colonel Washington's silver and watch, and probably other valuables. Brown had no personal property beyond what he had obtained illegally. To Senator Mason he spoke falsely when he said he furnished most of the money for his expedition, and that he had killed no man except in fair fight. Standing by and ordering his sons to kill his victims was not killing unfairly, as he interpreted it.

        Of the trial, Sanborn, his rhapsodist, says: "He was ably defended." Brown said: "I feel entirely satisfied with the treatment I have received on my trial. It has been more generous than I expected." He was sentenced to be executed on December 2, 1859. Then--and only then--when all hope of escape was gone, came the pose of martyrdom. Sanborn sounds the slogan when he says: "But he soon began to see that his mistake" (in not running earlier) "was leading him to his most glorious success, a victory such as he might never have won in his own way." A deluge of letters flowed from the Charlestown jail to all points of the compass but one--pathetic appeals of a dying man, of a poor man with a helpless family, of a man who had lost three sons and a son-in-law and was himself soon to be judicially murdered by slave-owners, and all because he had tried to free the slaves.

        Nobody stopped to think that one of his dead sons, Frederick, was a murderer in Kansas before he in turn was


Page 127

murdered by a proslavery preacher who got the drop on him; that Owen, Salmon, and Oliver, and son-in-law Thompson cut some of the Pottawattomie helpless and unarmed victims into slices with cleavers; and that the leading candidate for martyrdom had a long and varied career of deception, embezzlement, robbery, and murder. Oh no! The maxim of Napoleon, the great master in the art of pulling the wool over men's eyes--namely, "Not facts, but sentiment and imagination, if you would rule mankind"-- was the motto of the crusade of martyrdom. It spread like wild-fire among the militant abolitionists of the North; it appealed to thousands who never stopped to reason, only to sympathize. It found a ready lodgment in the "Concord Circle of Authors." On December 2, 1859, at the hour at which the execution was to take place at Charlestown, with time allowance carefully calculated, the circle began at Concord the Crusade of Martyrdom. Sanborn furnished "A Dirge"; Alcott read the "Martyr's Service" and quoted appropriately from Solomon, David, the Psalms, and Plato; Thoreau chimed in with selections from the poets, and the Reverend E. H. Sears "offered prayer." Alcott, in his Diary, notes: "The spectacle of a martyrdom such as his must needs be, will be greater service," etc., etc. But it was left to Mr. F. B. Sanborn to settle the matter in this rhapsodical outburst: "From the crucifixion at Jerusalem a light sprang forth that was reflected back without obstruction from the ugly gallows of Virginia. John Brown took up his cross and followed the Lord, and it was enough for this servant that he was as his Master!"


Page 128

XI
A DISSERTATION UPON THE PERVERSION OF FACTS-- SKETCHES FROM THE BACKWOODS OF ALABAMA-- THE GRAPE-VINE TELEGRAPH--THE LIARS' TOURNAMENT--THE SHERIFF'S STORY OF "WHEN THE YANKEES FIRST CAME"

        ALTHOUGH born a Presbyterian and brought up with a Bible and the Westminster Confession in either hand, I must own up to a mental reservation in accepting the definition of a lie as the "wilful perversion of fact." I would rather define a real lie as perversion of fact with intent to avoid an obligation or to harm another. Deep down in its heart the human family believes that there are moments when lying is a near virtue. Judas told the truth when he gave his Master away, while Peter perverted fact three times with such a rising inflection that his last whopper started the cock crowing--and yet we all despise the man who told the truth and applaud the liar.

        If I ever write a book and dedicate it to one of the disciples, I shall not forget Peter. He was human enough to get mad and to qualify his nouns with forcible adjectives, and even went so far once on a time as to cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Then, too, Peter believed in himself. How we all look up to a man who has the courage of his convictions! He wasn't willing to let any living man get ahead of him, so when the Master came near to the boat walking across the surface of the water, as if


Page 129

it were the Mall in Central Park, Peter said, "I can do it if He can," and overboard he went. Alas for Peter! the law of gravitation refused to be suspended in his case, and he had to shout to his Master for help and swim until it was at hand.

        It may be that I lean toward the twisting of facts because I am a doctor. In my profession we often feel justified in deceiving our patients, especially when the truth might contribute to their mental or physical undoing. The fact that we are caught at it does not discourage us or stop the practice. I was on one occasion "sitting up" with a very dear and very sick friend, the late Dr. J. Marion Sims. He was suffering acutely, and begged so persistently for a hypodermic injection of morphine that I said at last, in affected sincerity: "Well, if you will have it, I'll give it to you; but you must take the responsibility, for you know Doctors Loomis and Janeway have forbidden it."

        He said he would, and so I went through all the forms of sterilizing the solution and the instrument, inserted the needle and gave him--nothing but plain water. The light was turned down, and I went back to the cot by the bedside, feigning sleep, but listening. In a few minutes I heard a whisper calling me. He said:

        "How much morphine did you give me?"

        I put on my best Presbyterian face and, looking him straight in the eye, said, "A fourth of a grain."

        Quick as a flash he said, "Wyeth, you're a liar, and you know it!"

        I wrote on the chart, "Diagnosis correct."

        Lawyers, too, are said at times to wander from the straight and narrow path of truth. On one occasion a group of this profession, in selecting a site for the county court-house,


Page 130

requested a Baptist preacher to officiate in dedicating this bit of earth to its great purpose. He opened the services by asking those present to join in singing that well-known hymn--


                         Come, trembling sinner, view the ground
                         Where you shall shortly lie--

        If Bobby Burns is to be believed, even our clerical friends occasionally part company with facts. In that irreverent poem entitled "Death and Doctor Hornbook," he says:


                         Some books are lies frae end to end,
                         An' some great lies were never penn'd;
                         E'en ministers they ha'e been kenn'd,
                         In holy rapture,
                         A rousing whid at times to vend
                         An' nail't wi' Scripture.

        Even a soldier may find it necessary to protect himself by a false statement. In one of my war-time experiences I had to go into the Union lines on an urgent errand. The night was dark, and the little light which the stars were shedding was shut out by the overhanging forest and the dense undergrowth, which grew right up to the edges of the narrow country roadway. Suddenly as I struck the enemy's pickets my horse shied, and as I gave him the spurs I recognized the dim outlines of two men as they sprang to one side to keep from being run over. Our interview was brief, and very hurried on my part; but had I told those two pickets the truth as to who I was and what I was up to, the reader would have been spared the present infliction.

        The definition once given, that "a lie is an abomination in the sight of the Lord, but an ever-present help in time of trouble," might apply to such a situation. There is current a positive, comparative, and superlative classification,


Page 131

as lies, damned lies, and statistics. In my boyhood days down in Alabama you might be called a liar, and survive with something of character and reputation by promptly replying, "You're another"; but when in a moment of excitement or anger one boy called another a "damned liar" he had to fight or go to Texas. No boy ever took that insult and retained the respect of his playmates, or even of the grown-ups in that community. Whenever one of our crowd took it into his head that he wanted a fight with another boy, all he had to do was to call him a "damned liar," and the fight was on. The only delay was in a rapid exfoliation of hat and coat, and in summer-time the hat alone was in the way. I suppose boys are alike the world over, and in these engagements the usual rules of warfare were enforced. You could pull hair, and hit with your fists anywhere above or below the belt, smash a nose or blacken an eye or two, clench and wrestle and bang away until one or the other "hollered," but you dared not choke, scratch, bite, gouge, or kick. If you were guilty of one of these reprehensible practices the onlookers intervened and declared the victim the victor, and from that time on the offender was an Ishmaelite, with every hand against him.

        Modern society recognizes very properly the "white lie," which is accepted as a distortion of fact, not only without intent to do an injury, but often to avoid wounding the sensibilities, or to amuse, and thereby benefit, another.

        One of the cherished memories of my youth is that of an intimate association with a man some fifteen or twenty years my senior, who was endowed by nature with such a keen sense of humor, coupled with a genius for invention and exaggeration, that his companionship was always welcome. With the straightest face and in the most earnest


Page 132

and impressive way he would tell of the most impossible happenings. Up to a certain age I believed everything he told me, and when it dawned upon my awakening reason that I was the victim of a romancer I felt something of the same sickening sense that came over me when I first learned that Santa Claus really didn't come down the chimney. All the same, I loved and admired this gentle, gifted, blue-eyed, and soft-voiced old friend, who long ago knocked at the door of heaven; and if St. Peter knows a good thing when he sees it (and I think he does), James Swiverly is on the inside. If I am ever lucky enough to get there with him I'll lay aside my harp at any time to hear him talk. At heart this man was truthful and the soul of honor. He became the most popular man in our county, constable of his beat, sheriff, and a member of the legislature. He was of humble origin and uneducated. The district in which he was born was for many years represented in Congress by a statesman who boasted that there was no use for an education beyond the three R's--readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic. In frontier days--for we grew up in the Cherokee country of northern Alabama--the school facilities in Honey-Comb Cove were limited. In all probability neither his opportunities nor his aspirations carried him beyond the simpler forms of spelling.

        In addition to his genial disposition, which brought him in friendly touch and sympathy with every man, woman, and child in our county, it may be that something of his political success was due to a serious lameness which incapacitated him for physical labor, and when the war came on barred him from military duty. One leg was fully six inches shorter than the other, and, as he made no attempt to correct the inequality by wearing a high shoe, his limping


Page 133

gait made of him a rather grotesque figure as he went bobbing up and down. With a boy's curiosity I asked him how it happened that one of his legs was so much shorter than the other. We were walking down the village street side by side in our usual familiar conversation. As I made this inquiry he stopped short and, looking earnestly down at me, turned and led the way to the back of one of the stores--his look, manner, and tone indicating that what he was about to say was in the nature of a confidential communication.

        When we were by ourselves he said: "John, I don't like to brag about myself in public; but I don't mind talking to you, if you won't tell it." I told him I wouldn't. In a tone so serious that I believed every word, he said: "It come about in this way. When I was a-growin' up ther' wasn't nobody in Honey-Comb could lift as big a load as me. One day a lot of us fellers was a-standin' in front of Rickett's store when a feller drove up with a bushel bag plum full o' buckshot. He said he'd bet a dollar I couldn't shoulder the bag, and I took him up. It wasn't no trouble for me to shoulder a bushel o' shot, but, as bad luck would have it, my left foot was a-restin' on a rock and couldn't sink into the ground as the other one did, and the heavy weight drove that hip-bone half a foot up into my body, and it's stayed thar ever sence." Before I could tell him how sorry I was that the rock happened to be under his foot, he forestalled the expression of sympathy which he saw coming by adding: "After all, son, it ain't so powerful bad as a feller might think, specially in turnin' over ground with a mold-board plow. I just keep my long foot down in the furrer and the short one up on the land, and it ain't half so tirin' as bein' in Marshall County one second and up in High Jackson the next."


Page 134

        In later years, after the dawn of his political career, he turned this seeming misfortune to his further advantage, for, as he said, it gave him a chance to meet all classes of people on their own level. "When I'm a-talkin' to the people in 'The Gap' or over in Honey-Comb, I git down among 'em on my short leg, familiar like; but when I'm up here in town with the upper ten, like your pap, I rise up on my other foot, and thar I am."

        In those earlier days, before civilization moved into Marshall, there were no cattle laws, and at times not many of any other kind except those which the rifle and the bowie-knife enforced. Everybody's hogs ran loose and oftentimes strayed away into the woods and became wild. More than once in my hunting expeditions I have had to climb a tree or retire precipitately before the onslaught of a savage sow on guard over her litter. When the mast in the forests was scarce these omnivera would play havoc with the cornfields, gardens, and orchards of the settlers, and great care was necessary to build tight or close fences. Jim said: "John Kennedy's razorbacks was so poor and thin they laughed at fences and palings and went through them as if they wasn't there. Even tying knots in their tails couldn't stop 'em. Howsomever," he added, "old Ben Swords got the best of 'em. He went up on the side o' the mountain whar the chestnut-trees growed twistin', and split rails enough to fence in his peach-orchard. Well, John, you'd 'a' died laughin' to 'a' seen how foolish them shotes looked when they struck them cork-screw rails, and went in and come out on the same side."

        He furthermore assured me that down in Parch Corn Cove a friend of his raised so many hogs he couldn't take time to mark them with "a hole in the left ear and an underbit


Page 135

in the right," so he changed his registration to a "smooth crop for both ears, and mowed 'em off with a scythe-blade."

        Jim Swiverly was not the only man in politics in Marshall County. At one time or another about everybody I knew who wore breeches was running for something, and with some of our people this was a continuous performance. I remember one man well along in years when I was just getting big enough to go with my father to the barbecues and musters and other large gatherings held after the crops were "laid by," who at every convention in the absence of any one else to present his name would mount the stump when it was possible to get it before another candidate pre-empted it and announce himself as a candidate for governor. He did this so often that everybody knew him by the nickname of "Governor Hutton."

        An opportunity such as this could not escape the observation of Jim Swiverly, and there went the rounds the story that after repeated failures the candidate determined upon suicide. As Jim stated the facts: "The Governor wasn't a-goin' t' have no flash in the pan in his case; so he bought him an inch rope, a big dose o' arsenic, a quart o' turpentine, and a box o' red-headed matches, loaded his old Derringer so full the bullet stuck half out of the muzzle, and then, to make things shore, he got in a skiff and paddled out in the river, under a leanin' willer, to hang himself. He tied the rope 'round the tree, slipped the noose over his head, said his prayers, swallowed the pizen, poured the turpentine over his clothes, struck a match and set himself on fire, cocked his Derringer quick, stuck the muzzle agin the side of his head, kicked the boat out from under him, and blazed away. Well, by doggie, his head was that hard the bullet glanced off and cut the rope in two, and Gov, he drapped inter the


Page 136

water, which put out the blaze and strangled him till he coughed and throwed up the arsenic, and--would you believe it?--the river was so shaller he couldn't drown, and he waded to the bank plum disgusted, shook himself like a wet dog, and swore 'By -- , he'd be a candidate for life!' "

        More than once I've listened to the story of the "Liars' Tournament," held around the red-hot stove in Kinzler's grocery in Christmas week when "Tom and Jerry" and "egg-nog" were half-price to everybody, and free to all accepted entries. It was on such occasions that James Swiverly, self-appointed master of ceremonies, autocrat, and umpire, rose on his long leg to his greatest height. I can hear him now making the opening address to the crowd of eager listeners, seated and standing about the warm fire, all seemingly unmindful of the stifling air which was only spasmodically relieved when an inrush of cold wind announced another accession to the throng.

        "Feller-citizens: This meetin' is called to settle the question as to who's the biggest liar in Marshall County. It's a momentous question. Everybody knows it's as full o' liars as a watermillion is o' meat. Some of us is born liars and can't help it; some of us learned it young, and has stuck close to it for a livin'; and some few, natterally truthful, have bin obliged to lie to save 'emselves from drowning and taxation. I've bin assessor five years, and I know what I'm talkin' about. Thar's a power o' candidates for the fust prize, and it ain't bin no easy job to thin out the rows to a good stand. Fur be it from me to intentionally hurt any feller's feelin's, but after prayerful consideration thar's jest three that's stayed in for the last heat. Them's Ben Weeks, Jack Holder, and Ezekiel Burgess. We'll hear first from Mr Weeks."


Page 137

        Ben arose and with modest mien faced the stove and the half-encircling throng, and spoke as convincingly as his monotonous low drawl would permit:

        "Boys, you know thar's allers bin feelin' betwixt Parch Corn and the settlers over in Honey-Comb Cove, 'specially in the matter of watermillions. As it was me that come out ahead in the raisin' contest, it got spread over the 'North Side' that what I said about it was made outen whole cloth. Now, thar is liars in this county, as the sheriff says, and thar ain't as many of 'em down in Honey-Comb as thar used to be before he moved up to the county-seat, but thar's enough yit for a farmin' community. I'm a forty-gallon Baptist and the father of sixteen childen, all baptized exceptin' the last set o' twins, and they'll be put under when the circuit-rider comes around, and what I'm a-goin' to-tell you is the plum truth, and if any man disputes it thar'll be a vote missin' in his beat at the next election.

        "When Kernal Cobb was a-runnin' for Congress and was around shaking hands--and I tell you he was so pertickerler not to slight anybody that he'd wake the babies up in their cradles to git a chance to tell their mammies how purty they was--he tole me he had my name down at Washington for a package o' garden seeds. Shore enough, next spring they come along, and among 'em was one big, fat-lookin' watermillion seed. He sent word that it was a new kind, and powerful sca'ce, and cost the gov'mint five dollars a seed, and I must be very pertickerler to plant it whar the ground was rich and give it plenty of water and lots of room. Well, I fenced in a half-acre by the spring branch, 'riched the bed, and planted that seed. It come up next day, run out just one shoot, and on the end o' that thar come a great big yaller blossom. And now, gentlemen,


Page 138

comes the queer part of what I'm a-tellin' you. Instead o' waitin' a week to shed that blossom, that darned watermillion growed so fast it pushed it off in one night, and from that time on tell frost it was all we could do to keep outen the way and not git run over. It growed so fast you could see its shadder gittin' bigger every minute of the day. When it was three weeks old it throwed the fence down, dammed up the spring branch, and made for the house, and all hell couldn't stop it. When the logs begun to keel over and the roof was a-fallin' in, me and my wife and childen cut a door in one end of the watermillion and moved in, and lived on it tell a week before frost, when we met a drove o' hogs eatin' thar way through from the other side; and we had to move out and go and live with my wife's pap, whar we've been a-livin' ever sence."

        When the applause died out and Ben had resumed his seat Jim said he would reserve "all p'inted comments until the other contestants had spoke," but there was a semi-malicious smile of satisfaction, which may have sprung from Cove rivalry, when he added, "If all of what we've jest heard was as true as the last part of it, it ought to be a chapter in the Bible." By the time the laugh and the muffled comments on Ben's relations to his father-in-law's corn-crib had ceased Mr. Jack Holder was on his feet.

        "I'm not a church member," he announced, "and as far as I know I ain't never been really baptized, for my folks was only sprinklers; but I'm a thirty-second degree Freemason and a full-fledged Know-nothing, and I've got a discharge paper from Gineral Fremont and Kit Carson, certifying that what I seed in Arizony, when we marched thro' thar on our way to Californy in 1853, was as true as the Book of Exodus. When we fust started out from Missouri


Page 139

it looked like we was goin' to have nothin' but a long walk and lots o' fun, but the farther west we went the thinner the grass got, and when we got over the Rockies it give plum out. When we hit the edge of the desert everybody was ordered to fill up with water and to tote all he could, for Kit said thar wasn't a drap to be had for one hundred miles of the hot and petrified forests we marched through. Talk about your pillar of cloud by day! Why, gentlemen, the childen of Israel never raised such a dust as we did a-windin' in and out among them rock trees. Thar they stood, just like they wuz before they turned to stone, and they must have turned powerful quick when the change come, for on every petrified tree thar wuz petrified limbs, and them limbs wuz thick with petrified leaves which never throwed a shade, and the most surprisin' thing of it all wuz that a-settin' all over them limbs was thousands of petrified birds, and every darn bird was a-singin' a petrified song."

        Amid a considerable clapping of hands and a scattering fire at the square sawdust-spitbox near the stove, Jack found his seat, while Jim remarked:

        "The Good Book tells us that when Lot was a-runnin' from Sodom after the fire broke out, his old woman looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. As Judge Shorter said in his charge to the jury in the case of Feemster agin McShane, 'I don't intend to draw any invidious distinctions,' but in my opinion it would 'a' bin a great blessin' to this country if 'Truthful Jack' had looked back and been turned into a standin' committee of one and had stayed out in Arizony a-listenin' to petrified birds a-singin' petrified songs till Gabriel blowed a petrified blast on his petrified horn."

        There was nothing of mock modesty or assumed humility


Page 140

in the mien or tone of Ezekiel Burgess, a veteran of the Mexican War, as he arose and with military precision made two steps forward to the open place in the circle, took off his hat, saluted the sheriff, and then, looking squarely into the face of a large chromo of the Father of his Country which adorned the wall of the saloon, said:

        "Gentlemen, like George Washington, I have served my country. When the call for volunteers was made to repel the Mexican invaders of the Lone Star State I offered my humble services, and they were accepted. When we reached the Rio Grande General Taylor rode up to me and said, 'Zeke' (he always called me that when we were alone) 'get on your horse and swim across and make a scout, and come back and tell me how many of Santa Anna's men there are over there.' I found a low place in the banks and got across, and went ten or twenty miles and never saw a sign of their men, until just as I was riding around a bunch of chaparral two hundred Mexican lancers dashed out and came yelling right at me. There was nothing left for me to do but to break for the river at the nearest point and trust to luck in hitting a low place. As I came up to it at full speed I saw, to my horror, that I had struck a high bluff where it was at least one hundred and fifty feet straight down to the water. By this time the lancers were so close and coming so fast I could almost feel their sharp points between my shoulder-blades. Now, gentlemen, there are times in a man's life when he who hesitates is lost; and, as I realized it was sure death to stop or turn, I shut my eyes, said my prayers, stuck my spurs into my faithful horse's sides, and over the precipice I went--horse and all--a hundred and fifty feet down into the Rio Grande."

        As Ezekiel lowered his eyes from the calm face of George


Page 141

Washington, repeated his salute, and started to resume his seat, the sheriff said, "Will Ezekiel Burgess inform this crowd how long it took him to come up after that dive?" The veteran, unable to conceal his contempt at such a question, turned only a moment to reply: "Come up, Mr. Sheriff? Come up? I never did come up; I'm there yet!" And as he ceased, amid applause which shook the saloon to its underpinning, the chromo of George Washington fell with a crash to the floor.

        Startled by the outburst of applause at the way Ezekiel had downed the sheriff, and before the vote could be taken, Ben Weeks jumped to his feet and, with eyes turned heavenward and both hands raised in the same general direction, in a pleading tone shouted: "Boys, like Moses of old, I'm a-holdin' my hands up to ask fer a word more. If thar ever wuz a time when friendship and jestice could jine hands to help Ben Weeks, it's right now. My repertation down in Parch Corn Cove is at stake. Up to now over on our side of the river no man has ever worked with as long a pole as me or knocked down as many high persimmons. If this vote is agin me, the chances is ten to one that my wife's pap 'll turn us out, and I'll have to go back to work to make my own livin'. While I scorn the idee of usin' undue influence, I want to tell yer that I saved eight bushels of them watermillion seeds, and they're soon to be distributed in Marshall County, free, gratis, fer nuthin'."

        As Ben seated himself the sheriff arose and remarked that, as Mr. Weeks had added "a codicil to his will," if the other candidates desired to speak any "last words" they now had the chance. Without rising or even uncrossing his legs, and with a voice of such subdued tone that it gave the impression of despair, Mr. Jack Holder said, "I pass."


Page 142

Not so with Colonel Ezekiel Burgess, who stood erect and with a gesture which included the whole audience in its sweep said: "Mr. Sheriff, to draw one card to four aces would be an act of deception to which a survivor of the Mexican War could never stoop. Gentlemen, I stand."

        And Ezekiel Burgess passed into history as the biggest liar the Cherokee country of northern Alabama had ever produced.

        When the war came on, in 1861, Jim had grown tired of being sheriff, and ran for the legislature, and was elected, of course, for nobody could beat him. By the spring of 1862 the Confederate Army of the West had been driven back to the south side of the Tennessee River, which then became the dividing-line of the opposing hosts. Guntersville, my native town, was situated about a mile from the southerly bank of this noble stream. When Huntsville, some forty miles to the north, became the headquarters of the Union forces, communication for us with the outside world practically ceased. The steamboats could no longer run, the stages and mail-riders were discontinued or became so unreliable that we could learn little of what was going on, and war news was eagerly desired. In this emergency my friend again rose to the occasion and established what he termed "the grape-vine telegraph." He said, "The Yankees may burn our steamboats, tear up our railroads, cut our telegraph wires, and stop the mails, but there ain't enough of 'em left to strip the grape-vines from the trees along the river-banks, and as long as they last there'll be plenty o' news." He justified himself by saying: "Whether it's so or not don't make no difference; for the people is starving for news, and one kind is jest as good as another." Over those wireless lines, long before Marconi


Page 143

was born, came volumes of the most impossible happenings, as interpreted by the fertile brain of our proprietor and sole operator; and by the few at home, mostly old men or cripples and wounded soldiers on furlough who gathered daily at the post-office, where the operator made his headquarters, they were heard with a smile, for no bad news ever came that way. The Confederacy was always victorious and its diplomacy invariably prevailed.

        On the occasion of the Mason-Slidell controversy the irrepressible operator reported that Mason was coming back with the whole British navy to raise the blockade, while Slidell and the Emperor Napoleon at the head of a million French soldiers were marching by way of Moscow and Bering Strait to take the United States in the rear. Before the cyclone of active hostilities struck my native village and wiped it out with fire and sword I had gone to the wars, and for three years I lost sight of my old friend. When I saw him again during the period of reconstruction the scepter had departed from Judah and the ruler's staff from between his feet. Old in body, broken in health and fortune, he was living the song of "Tam o' Shanter"--


                         Inspiring bold John Barleycorn,
                         What sorrows thou canst make us scorn!

        My last recollection of him is the ludicrous story told in one of his moments of sobriety, or semi-sobriety, of a panic and stampede in which he took an active part upon the occasion of the sudden and unexpected visit of a company of Ohio cavalry to our village.

        The Federal commander at Huntsville had been informed that the steamer Paint Rock was hid away in a creek which emptied into the Tennessee near Guntersville, and he determined


Page 144

upon its capture. Guided by a native scout, and crossing the river near Huntsville, an all-night ride over the mountains brought the Union cavalry upon the unsuspecting villagers about nine o'clock on an April morning. At this period there were no soldiers in town, and but few men, and these were non-combatants, either too old for military duty or exempt by reason of physical defects. When the advance-guard of the Federals reached the head of the main street a dozen troopers dashed at full speed down this highway through the village, paying no heed to anybody, their object being to seize the steamboat at the river-landing beyond. All unconscious of what was about to occur, the sheriff, the village doctor, and a wealthy, pompous, and very portly planter, who had seen some service in the Mexican War, were sitting on the open platform in front of the doctor's drug-store, which served also as the post-office and headquarters of "the grape-vine telegraph." Trusting to memory in the repetition of a narrative tinged, no doubt, with the exaggeration which a ludicrous incident invites, and may, on occasion, justify, this was the story:

        "I've been skeered lots o' times in my life, and bad skeered, too, but I never come so near being paralyzed all over at once as I was the mornin' them dod-blasted Yankees dashed 'round the corner and come a-tearin' down Main Street so fast and so sudden-like that before a feller could say Jack Robberson they was right on top of him.

        "We all knowed they was over in Huntsville, but nobody ever dreamt they'd cross the river below and come on us in the back way. Howsomever, that's jest what they done, and at the wrong time, too, for Kernel Jim was right in the middle of one of his big war talks. I disremember whar he left off, for he was a-facin' up the street, and me and Doc


Page 145

was a-lookin' the other way, and he seed the Yankees fuss. You see, Kernel Jim was askin' if thar was any news, and I says nothin' more than Lee and Stonewall Jackson had whupped 'em ag'in and had tuk Washington City, and Jeff Davis was a-movin' over from Richmond so he could keep closer to 'em. With that the Kernel says: 'That's the only way to end the war-- whup 'em, and keep on a-whuppin' 'em, and drive 'em into the Atlantic Ocean, and drown 'em, or corral 'em away up in Cannedy, and hold 'em thar till winter-time comes on and freezes 'em to death. Fight 'em, just like we fout the Mexicans at Buny Visty. The more them lancers charged, the firmer we stood our ground, and when we got 'em a-goin' we never let 'em stop long enough to git thar wind. Thar's whar General Beauregard made the big mistake at Shiloh. If he'd 'a' kep' on another hour he'd 'a' drove Grant into the Tennessee. My motto is to keep on a-fightin' 'em. One Southern man can whup five Yankees any day, and if they ever try to take our town we'll--' And right here Kernel Jim stopped a-talkin' so short off I knowed somethin' more'n common had happened.

        "I was a-lookin' straight at him, and as he shut up his eyes popped wide open, and he riz and jumped over me and Doc and flew out o' sight into the narrer passageway betwixt the drug-store and Kinzler's grocery. Four hundred pounds o' dead weight wasn't interferin' with Kernel Jim's quick action. As I was a-noticin' the way he was behavin' I heard a roarin' sound like a drove o' horses a-runnin' away, and, turnin' 'round, thar was the whole road blue with Yankees, and they was right on top of us. Talk about being skeered! When I tried to git up my legs wouldn't work, and I slid off my cheer onto the platform and rolled


Page 146

into the street. By this time the Yankees was gone, and everybody else was gone but me. Then my legs come back, and I run into the alleyway, and thar I seed the comicalest sight I ever seed in all my born days. Skeered as I was, I jest had to laugh, for thar, at the back o' the house where the underpinnin' had sagged down and narrowed the passage, was Kernel Jim wedged in so tight he couldn't move one way or t'other, and Doc was jest a-clearin' him with one o' the highest jumps I ever seed.

        "By this time I was a-movin' so fast I couldn't check up, and I riz on my long leg and tried to clear the Kernel like Doc, but I fell short, and my knees hit him right between his shoulder-blades. Just as I struck him he hollered, 'Oh, Lord! I'm shot plum through with a cannon-ball,' and then he went to prayin' same as if he'd been a church-member, and as I crawled betwixt his legs and cleared the openin' he was still a-supplicatin'. By the time I got through Doc was nearly out o' sight, and I hollered to him to wait for me, but the louder I hollered the faster he went, and if it hadn't been for one thing I never could 'a' cotched him. When we come to the side o' the steep hill back o' town, as good luck would have it, I struck the slant with my short leg on the upper side, and then I went by Doc like he was a-standin' still."

        How the Colonel extricated himself from his unfortunate position was not included in the story as it was told to me. It may be that the whole thing was evolved from the fertile mind of the loquacious sheriff. In any event, its repetition furnished merriment for many a day thereafter, and no doubt helped to lighten some of the sad hours of that unhappy period.


Page 147

XII
THE SNAKES OF NORTHERN ALABAMA

        WHAT I have to say of snakes is based entirely on personal observation and experience, and not on a scientific study of these vertebrates. Much that is absurd or untrue or grossly exaggerated has been uttered concerning snakes, and it would seem as if the human family, taking its cue from the Garden of Eden on serpents, and from Jonah and one of the parables on fish, had exercised a free license in speaking of these creatures. In the early settlement days there were a great many snakes of different kinds in Marshall County; but now, owing to the clearing of the land for cultivation and the common warfare of extermination, they are comparatively rare with the exception of the water-moccasin. The snakes that run their prey down and catch it with their teeth, and when necessary kill it by constriction and crushing, are not venomous, and when fully grown are comparatively long (three to six or seven feet), slender, and graceful in motion. Some of them move with surprising rapidity. The "coach-whip," a very dark-brown, almost black serpent, so called because it looks as if it were a platted coach-whip, I have seen flash across the road so quickly that if the track it left in the dust or sand was not there as a witness one might doubt the testimony of the eye. By reason of their alertness they are rarely killed. While snakes are in general repulsive, this particular one may almost be said to be beautiful. Their nests, or dens, were


Page 148

usually in the ground, in recesses or caverns left by the decay and disintegration of the long, large roots of dead trees. When frightened they glide almost like a flash of lightning for their holes and do not seem to notice the presence of any body coming between them and the refuge they are seeking. This fact would seem to account for the superstition, especially among the negroes, that a coach-whip would attack a man. Like all other animals, these will always run if they see a way to escape, and fight only when cornered or wounded and desperate.

        The rattlesnake comes nearer to being indifferent to the presence of man than any other creature of its kind. I have seen coach-whips fully six feet in length. As they move so swiftly, they are apt to give the impression of being much longer than they are. The blacksnake, also a constrictor, is quite common in Alabama, is long, graceful, and moves with remarkable swiftness, leaving a track or trail only slightly sinuous. In fact, as it propels itself by the transverse movable scales across its belly, to which the abdominal and lateral muscles are attached, its progress is almost in a straight line, as with the common earthworm. This latter, however, elongates itself, fixes its anterior extremity, and then draws up its rear portion in a straight line, which the snake does not. The short or stubby and usually venomous snakes leave a sinuous or serpentine trail, showing that they propel themselves by the use of their large lateral muscles rather than by the abdominal or transverse scale layers. I infer from this that they are nearer in evolution to the vertebrates with legs. These move much slower than the constrictors. They lie in wait for their prey, and kill it by striking with their poison-injecting fangs, usually holding


Page 149

on to it until it soon dies from the venom which is rapidly absorbed in the blood.

        The saying "Be ye wise as serpents" is not without a meaning as applied to some of the snake tribe, for I have often observed their cunning when out for prey. I was seated on a log on a hillside in an open, shady woodland while hunting. Hearing a rustling above, I turned to see coming toward me a black racer four or five feet in length, and leaping for dear life about twenty feet ahead of it was a bullfrog of good size. The frog was clever enough to leap in zigzags, first to right and then to left; and for the first four or five manoeuvers of this kind the snake followed each turn of the animal it was chasing; but as the rapidly moving and, to me, extremely interesting picture arrived opposite my position I noticed that the racer, instead of turning to the right, glided the other way, and as the frog, reversing in his course, neared the ground he fell into the open jaws of his pursuer, who had actually caught him "on the fly." Sitting still unobserved, I noted that without constriction the snake proceeded to swallow his victim. The frog was at least two or three times as large as the head and neck of the snake, and I marveled at the way the mouth of the latter stretched as the morsel began to disappear down its throat. It was probably half an hour before it was well out of sight.

        I once killed a big blacksnake, and in order to discover the cause of a large lump or swelling in its abdomen I cut it open to find an undigested bird, feathers and all. It was a flicker, or yellowhammer, a beautiful bird of the South about the size of a Florida quail. The largest diameter of the bird was at least five times greater than the neck of the snake as it lay dead.


Page 150

        The blacksnake and the chicken-snake, constrictors of near kin to the racer and the coach-whip, but not nearly so swift, are tree-climbers. I have seen them high above the ground, stretched full length on top of a long limb, as motionless and fixed as the branch upon which they were lying in wait for some unwary bird to alight near enough to be snapped by the lightning-like stroke of the head and anterior portion of the body. In climbing they take hold by winding around the trunk of the tree. I recall a fright I experienced on one occasion when I was riding at a canter along a narrow path with a worm-fence on one side and a deep gulley on the other. Just as I was leaning forward on my horse's neck to pass under the limb of a tree which stretched directly across the trail, when my face was not a foot away, I saw stretched along the branch a huge chicken-snake five or six feet in length. It was too late to check my horse, so I ducked my head to pass under. The snake, more frightened than I, let loose and fell, striking across the horse's back just behind the saddle. As soon as he hit the ground he glided through the fence and was gone. I knew this one was not poisonous, and I was in no danger; but, although I have been accustomed to seeing them from childhood, the sight of a snake, even the picture of one, gives me a shudder.

        Chicken-snakes infest barns and outhouses, and live on tiny chickens, mice, and eggs. A large one will swallow a half-dozen hen's eggs without breaking the shells, which are later dissolved by the gastric juice. The only other snake I have seen in the trees was a small, slender creature about two feet in length and as green as the leaves. I do not know whether or not it is venomous, and I am of the opinion that, like the garter-snake, it lives largely on insects


Page 151

The garter-snake is very common, and is not only harmless, but useful in that it destroys insects. I have seen people pick them up by grasping them in the middle, and the wriggling captive would not even try to bite the hand that held it. Two of the largest of the harmless variety I ever saw were blacksnakes. They were as large around in the middle as my arm and fully six feet in length. My father and I were having a canoe hewn out of the trunk of a large poplar-tree in the Tennessee bottom. Within fifty yards this pair of serpents had their den in the roots of a great oak, and every afternoon near sundown they would appear and chase each other in a regular frolic, like two children playing hide-and-seek. No one had a thought of trying to kill them, as they were far from a habitation.

        Among the venomous serpents of northern Alabama are the Elaps russelli, or king-snake; the rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus, or diamond-back); the copperhead (Trigonocephalus contortrix, or cottonmouth); the moccasin--two varieties, the highland and the water moccasin (Toxicophis); and the spreading-adder, of the order Vipera berus. The elaps is quite rare. I have seen less than half a dozen. They are small, about two feet long, slender, graceful, slow and deliberate in movement, and seemingly fearless. Their markings are unique, having from neck to tail alternating black and golden rings, while the head is black with a golden arch over each eye. While driving along a lonely mountain road on a very bright and hot summer day I saw one of this variety gliding down the rather steep bank on the upper side of the highway. I stopped the horse, and, seemingly unmindful of danger or observation, the little creature came into the road, passed between the front and rear wheels of one side, and went


Page 152

between the two hind wheels, and thence into the brush wood on the other side. Several times, as it was directly beneath the buggy, it shot its forked tongue out of its mouth. It was a very interesting experience.

        At that time I had no idea of how very poisonous this seemingly innocent fellow was, but a mountaineer whom I knew very well told me it was a king-snake, and that he had seen one kill a rattlesnake several times larger than itself. I took this statement cum grano, as I always take fish or snake reports, although it may have been true. Later I secured one of these reptiles alive, brought it to New York, and presented it to Mr. Conkling, then the superintendent of the Central Park Zoo. As soon as he saw it he pronounced it the Elaps russelli, adding that it was the most deadly snake on the continent. It was on exhibition in New York for some time.

        The most horrible snake of all is the highland moccasin, a short, thick, stubby-tailed, and hammer-headed monster. It is said to be, and I believe is, very venomous. It is sluggish in its wriggling way of moving, and, as it inhabits lonely and unfrequented mountainsides, usually under cliffs and boulders, where it can readily find a fissure for refuge, it is rarely seen. I had an instructive experience with one of these, and I recall it vividly because on the same day I was stung in the palm of the hand by a scorpion. These latter live under rocks and beneath the loosened bark of fallen trees. While making a survey I planted the instrument near the trunk of a pine which had been blown down, and as I was leaning over to sight the flagman I displaced a piece of the loose bark with the flat of my right hand. Feeling a sharp sting, I lifted the hand and saw the scorpion, about two inches long, hanging by his tail, the stinger


Page 153

fastened in my palm holding it captive. Shaking the vicious creature loose, I sucked the poison out at once, and thought no more of it. Clambering over the bluff and well down the crest of the mountain, peering over a large boulder to find a place to set the transit, I saw a highland moccasin. It did not budge, and was probably sound asleep. While not over a foot and a half in length, it seemed fully three inches in diameter in the middle of its body. Picking up a large stone, I leaned over and dropped it directly on the snake, killing it. Cutting the body open, I made the (to me) surprising discovery that it was viviparous--I had thought all snakes were oviparous like the chicken-snake, and racer, and coach-whip.

        The water-moccasins are very numerous, and, as they live in or near the creeks and ponds, in which they dive out of sight when approached, their extermination will be long deferred. This snake is colored on the back and sides a muddy brown, not quite a black shade, while the belly is a light salmon. The largest I have seen were from three to four feet long, but these are exceptional. If a drift of logs or brush is cautiously approached on a hot, clear day, from one to a dozen or more may be seen, seemingly asleep and coiled, or half coiled, evidently enjoying the warmth. Disturbed, they slide below the surface of the water, where they seem to be able to remain indefinitely.

        The spreading-adder has a short and not very thick body, and is dark in color. When teased it will flatten its body until it looks not unlike thick webbing, and as it raises its head and the fore part of its body to strike it emits a warning, short hiss. Their habitat is in the uplands, and preferably among heaps of loose stones.

        I have saved the rattlesnake for the last out of respect


Page 154

to this underrated animal. They are admittedly very dangerous when nearly approached, but they will not strike unless they are trod on or attacked, and unless asleep when approached they will always warn you of danger by sounding the rattle with which nature has adorned their tails. Moreover, they are less afraid of man than any other living creature. On a hot August day while on a long horseback-ride, being saddle-weary, I alighted, threw the reins over the saddle, and walked ahead, my well-trained horse following. The road was narrow, with dense undergrowth on either side. Looking ahead some fifty yards, I saw a large rattlesnake glide slowly into the roadway. When he observed me he stopped as his head was over one wagon track and his tail over the other, and head and tail were raised three or four inches. As I came up within a few feet, instead of going on and escaping, as he could have done, he rattled his warning note; and I could see the tail in rapid, short vibration. As my horse now came up and saw and smelt his natural enemy, he turned to run back, and stopped only when I spoke. I led him off a short distance and fastened the bridle to a sapling.

        Meanwhile the rattler had not budged, although he had ample time to crawl into the underbrush and escape. As it was a wild and uninhabited stretch, I hoped he would go; but as I approached again, still stretched full length across the road, it rattled away and refused to move. It did not coil in defense until I came near with a long tree-branch, raised to strike. Then it gathered itself in half-coil; that is, doubling up the posterior two-thirds of its body, the part nearest the head was drawn back in an S-shape, and the open mouth, with the large poison-fangs in view, was shot toward me very rapidly four or five


Page 155

times. I broke his back and pounded his head. He measured in length the distance between the regulation wagon-wheels (forty-eight inches), and had nine rattles and a button, which I cut off and kept as a souvenir. In passing I may note the practice of the country fiddlers at home to drop one of these rattles inside their violins to increase the tone or resonance. I was curious to register the circumference of this, the largest rattler I ever killed (I never saw but one larger out of captivity). Having no measuring-tape with me, I stripped a ribbon of bark from a hickory sapling, carried it around the animal's body at the largest part, and marked it. It measured nine inches by the foot-rule. The sound of the rattle is like the clatter of dry beans in a pod.

        Rattlesnakes are rarely seen in the water. Only once have I seen one swimming, and this was in Arkansas in 1869. The boat upon which I was acting as pilot was lying at a wood-yard on Little Red River, when swimming directly toward us from the opposite shore we saw a rattler about three feet long. The engineer and another man rowed out in a yawl, and the former skilfully caught the animal--which was helpless in the water--just back of the head with one hand and near the tail with the other, and brought the captive on board. It was an exhibition of nerve I had never before seen--one I would not have repeated for the gold of Ophir.

        There is really very little danger of death even from venomous snakes, and none whatever from the constrictors of North America. I saw one of our negroes actually tangled up in the coils of a very long black racer, and I have never seen a human being more frightened. I was on horseback, and, with the negroes on foot, was trying to drive a small herd of cattle along a country road. As one of the cows started


Page 156

to turn into a patch of short, stubby bushes I shouted to one of the men to head her off, and he darted at full speed through the bushes, which were just about as high as his knees. After he had started, and before I could possibly give him the alarm, I saw from my elevated seat on horseback a tremendous long blacksnake lying at full length near the top of the dense bushes, evidently waiting for an unsuspecting bird. In another instant, moving at full speed, the negro's leg hit the snake about its middle and doubled the frightened creature around him. The darky screamed, kicked wildly with both legs, and fell over yelling, but before we could go to his rescue the swift traveler, true to his name, had raced away.

        There has not been, so far as I am informed, a fatal case of snake-bite in Marshall County, and, considering the large number of these reptiles when I was living in this comparatively unsettled section--1845-1869--very few persons were bitten. A young girl of twelve was struck on the ankle by a water-moccasin. The leg was considerably swollen and painful for several days, but the constitutional symptoms were insignificant.

        There is no danger in approaching a snake in coil or extended, provided one keeps his distance with ordinary care. That part of the body which rests upon the ground as it strikes with the anterior portion never budges. They cannot leap or jump, and cannot strike while crawling. The so-called suicide of the snake by biting itself is another fiction, since it is well known that the venom of a reptile is innocuous to itself or its kind, although it may be fatal to another snake of a different species. I have frequently seen them bite at a stick with which I held them down and occasionally miss the stick and bite themselves, but I believe


Page 157

the act was accidental rather than intentional. Moreover, they do not spit their venom. I have seen it ooze out and adhere to a stick with which I was teasing the snake, but never saw it leave the mouth any other way. I can imagine that if one were exuding a large quantity it would be possible, as the animal struck out in the attempt to bite, to throw off a small quantity; but I have never seen this happen.

        I have been told by several natives that they had seen very young snakes run for shelter and disappear down the open mouth of the mother reptile, but I cannot vouch for this as a fact. While I have never seen a battle-royal between two snakes, I do not doubt that they kill and eat each other. One such combat was witnessed by my friend Mr. John S. Sutphen, of New York.

        "I was trout-fishing," he said, "in Pike County, Pennsylvania, in the spring of 1905, when by a rare chance I saw a fight to the death between a rattlesnake about thirty inches long and a blacksnake fully five feet long. I was following a narrow, winding trail when I heard a rustling in the leaves near by. Peering through the undergrowth, I observed in a small clear space not fifteen feet away a small rattler coiled, with his head up and his rattle buzzing vigorously. Facing him, with his head about three feet distant, was his natural enemy, a long, graceful, and beautiful black racer, stretched at full length. Both seemed oblivious to the presence of a spectator.

        "Presently the black fellow began to encircle the rattler, carefully keeping out of harm's way as the head above the coil constantly turned to face him. Soon the strategy of the black was apparent, for as he spun faster and faster around the rattler he gradually decreased the distance, and


Page 158

soon he was so close that the rattlesnake struck--and missed. Twice the black adroitly dodged the blows, then boldly drew his circle still closer and glided still faster, as if taunting the foe to strike again. This the rattler did, when, with a movement so lightning-like that my eyes could hardly follow it, the black racer seized him with his jaws just back of the head. In a few seconds the black coiled himself around the rattlesnake and quickly strangled it. Then, to my great surprise, the black racer began to swallow his victim head foremost, and when I left the scene of the tragedy that had held me in its spell the process was well advanced."

        Before closing this sketch I wish to record an experience of my friend the late Dr. John S. Billings, a surgeon in the United States army for many years, and, at the time of his death, the librarian of the New York Public Library. It may be accepted as absolutely true, for I knew him well, and I am indebted to him for great help in my article on serpent venom in my work on surgery. In the experiments on snake poisons he was conducting he had in confinement a six-foot diamond-backed Florida rattler. Rattlesnakes are difficult to retain alive, as they are fastidious and will starve to death unless they can have the food which tempts them. This one would eat only white rats, and one of these was dropped into the large barrel in the bottom of which the snake was lying.

        Next morning Dr. Billings was astonished to see the rat resting at ease by the body of the dead reptile. Upon examination it was discovered that the spinal cord, just where it joins the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain, had been gnawed into and divided by the sharp, long teeth of the clever and plucky old rodent. Without doubt, as he


Page 159

landed in the bottom of the barrel and realized his situation he had with the instinct of the mongoose, which destroys the cobra in this same manner, seized his enemy in the one safe and vital spot and never let loose until his teeth had cut through the real center of life.


Page 160

XIII
MY YEAR AT COLLEGE--THE GUNBOAT INCIDENT

        HOW few of us realize the career of which we dreamed in boyhood! Mine was to be a soldier. It may have been the wild life about me, the early familiarity with horse and gun, or perhaps in the strain, for the ancestors of each of my parents had fought through the war for American independence. The first book I read was the life of Francis Marion. Nothing has ever fascinated me as did the story of this dashing partisan. I lived over and over again with him each hair-breadth escape, each thrilling exploit, and suffered with him the pangs of hunger and the misery of defeat. Then followed Weems's Life of Washington, Abbott's Napoleon Bonaparte, and a book of the marshals of the great soldier. My mind was made up.

        One day in the autumn of 1860, when I was fifteen years old, while attending the fair at Athens, in Limestone County, I saw the cadet corps of La Grange Military Academy giving an exhibition drill. It was wonderful. The beautifully fitting uniforms of gray and white, the tall black caps, the guns and bayonets glinting in the sunlight, the perfection of manual, the complicated manoeuvers carried out with marvelous precision, left a picture in my mind which stands out now clear and distinct, despite the fifty-three years that time has interposed.

        As I was ready for college, and as my father approved


Page 160a

Illustration

LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY, 1861
On the right the chapel, armory towers, and section-rooms; on the left Company B barracks; in the center the main building with section-rooms, chemical laboratory, etc., and company barracks. The headquarters structure, the hospital, the library buildings of the Dialectical and Lafayette societies, the extensive commissary and quartermaster buildings are not shown in the picture.


Page 161

my selection, I matriculated as a cadet on February 1, 1861. This institution, famous in the old South, was situated in what was then Franklin, now Colbert County, Alabama, upon the summit of a spur of the Cumberland Mountains, which, rising about four hundred feet above the surrounding country, overlooks the far-stretching valley of the Tennessee. La Grange College, chartered by the legislature of Alabama, had opened its doors in 1830, and was conducted strictly as a literary school until 1857, when the military feature was introduced. Under the new régime it reached its highest degree of popularity and prosperity. With wise forethought the state provided for the free education of two boys from each county, selected by competitive examination. The only obligation incurred was that each cadet should teach school in his native county for as many years as he was at La Grange. In 1861, out of one hundred and seventy enrolled, forty-seven were state cadets. The course of study was for four years; the curriculum was that of the National Academy at West Point. The teaching was of the highest order, the discipline very strict, but never unjustly severe. The students almost without exception were earnest, honest, and manly fellows, of fine physical and mental development; and but for the unhappy war, which involved this school in its trail of destruction, it would without doubt have ranked higher each year as one of the greatest educational institutions in the South, and of inestimable value in the moral and mental training of the people.

        Looking back upon the year I spent at La Grange, if I passed through any unpleasant experiences they have been forgotten, and there is now present in my mind nothing but the memory of happy associations and a sincere


Page 162

appreciation of the fact that the days there were of great help in fitting me for my subsequent career. Doubtless at the time I protested inwardly at the hard work which was required, some of which may then have seemed like drudgery. To sweep the floor, dust the room, carry water and wood, and to be held responsible for the order and cleanliness of our apartments were novel experiences. Nor was the scramble out of bed at the sound of reveille, the hurry to dress, the rush down-stairs to get in line and answer to roll-call before being marked late or absent, always a pleasant duty, especially for boys, who as a rule love to sleep late. Yet this was a valuable lesson, for no one could have remained long at La Grange without being converted to the early-rising habit. Then, when the roll-call was over, there was still the bed to be made, blankets and mattress rolled and buckled with a leather strap, the iron bedstead folded and placed against the wall for economy of space, shoes to be polished, and in a few minutes more the return to the campus to fall in for breakfast roll-call and the march to the mess-hall.

        It required a large dining-hall to seat nearly two hundred cadets. At each table there were ten privates and two officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, who sat at the head and foot, respectively, according to rank, the cadets at either side; and the ranking officer was held responsible for the deportment of the students at his table.

        After the breakfast-hour we had recitations and study until twelve. Dinner from twelve until one; in the afternoon recitations and study until five, and from five to six either infantry or artillery drill. At six o'clock we had dress-parade, and when we broke ranks we repaired to our quarters, put away our guns and accouterments, and


Page 163

immediately returned to the campus to fall in for supper. At dark the patrol was posted to stand guard until ten; at nine o'clock the drum beat for "lights out," and the day's work was over.

        On Saturday mornings we had full-dress parade and inspection, in which the most careful scrutiny was made, not only of every article of clothing as to strict personal cleanliness, but of the arms and accouterments, belt-plates, and gun-trimmings. In the afternoon of Saturday we usually played football or "foot-and-a-half," a long-distance leap over one another, or exercised on the ring swings or horizontal bars, or by special permission took long strolls through the mountain forests or in the valley. On Sunday we attended church. There were services in the chapel daily.

        At the July examinations my general standing in the fourth, or freshman, class, the last "half-term" of which I had entered in February, was eighth in a class of twenty-eight. Then for the two weeks' vacation I hurried home; and, as the steamboat did not leave Decatur for two days, we five cadets from Marshall County left our trunks to come by boat, continued by train to Woodville, in Jackson County, and walked in eight hours the twenty-six miles across the mountains to Guntersville. Upon my return I entered the third, or sophomore, class, and passed all the examinations before the close of the session for the winter holiday.

        Earlier in the year the war had begun, and the spirit of unrest was in the air. South Carolina had seceded on December 20, 1860, and Florida and Mississippi soon followed. On January 11, 1861, Alabama passed the ordinance, and these four states, with Georgia and Louisiana, had on February 4th met at Montgomery to organize the


Page 164

Southern Confederacy; but with all this I did not dream of the great catastrophe which was impending.

        I remember distinctly that one night while on sentry duty, marching up and down on my post in front of Barracks B, I noticed a peculiar mist-like star which I soon recognized as a comet. No one else had observed it, nor had we any notice of its coming. I called the attention of others to it, and night after night we watched its approach toward the earth with increasing interest, until it became the most remarkable heavenly body I have ever seen. In its nearest position it seemed to stretch more than half the entire distance across the heavens, the starry point being toward the west and the nebulous trail spread out in a great flowing mist far toward the eastern horizon. The superstitious considered it to be the forerunner of some great disaster. The wise men of the country should have known then that the disaster had already arrived.

        By March and April, 1861, there was a call for volunteers, and a very considerable number of the cadets resigned and returned to their homes in order to enlist in the first companies which marched to the front. By the time the first session ended with the commencement on the 4th and 5th of July, 1861, fully one-fourth of the corps had enlisted. Among the first to leave were Fielding Bradford, Bob Coles, and Jimmy Brandon, all of whom had volunteered with one of the Huntsville companies which made part of the famous Fourth Alabama Infantry. Bradford was killed, and Jimmy was wounded at the Battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861. Soon after this Brandon came home on furlough and visited his college-mates at La Grange. His presence excited the envy of every lad who had not been allowed to go home to volunteer. To have been in a great battle,


Page 164a

Illustration

SITE OF LA GRANGE MILITARY ACADEMY
The trees shown here are growing from the ruins of the large central building with the portico of four columns shown in the illustration facing page 160


Page 165

wounded and furloughed, made Jimmy a hero, and all of us would probably have given our hopes of immortality to have been in his place. This gallant, handsome lad joined my regiment in 1863, and was killed at Big Shanty in 1864.

        When, early in 1862, northern Alabama became the scene of active hostilities the college closed its doors and remained unoccupied until April 28, 1863, when it was destroyed by fire by Federal cavalry under the command of Colonel Florence M. Cornyn. The destruction of this institution of learning was not only not a military necessity, but was in disobedience of the orders of General Grenville M. Dodge, in command of this expedition. In his official report, on page 250 of Volume XXIII, Part I, Official Reports, he says: "They were guilty of but one disobedience of orders, in burning some houses between Town Creek and Tuscumbia, on discovery of which I issued orders to shoot any man detected in the act." This officer, now, in 1914, a resident of Council Bluffs, Iowa, in a personal communication to the writer says, "It was a matter of great regret that my troops exceeded their authority and destroyed these buildings."

        A bill was introduced in Congress in 1904 by Hon. William Richardson to reimburse the trustees of La Grange Military Academy for the loss sustained by the destruction of this property during the Civil War. To replace at this period the library of four thousand volumes belonging to the institution, together with the chemical and physical apparatus, furniture, buildings, etc., would require at the lowest estimate one hundred thousand dollars. Upon the introduction of this bill the matter was referred to the Court of Claims. Over the door of that court might well be written the quotation from Dante, "Who enters here leaves Hope behind."


Page 166

        My native section of the South still feels the need of such a college as La Grange, and I have never given up the hope that some day some great-souled, far-seeing philanthropist would rebuild and perpetuate this institution.

        I published, in 1907, The History of La Grange Military Academy and the Cadet Corps. Of the one hundred and seventy-nine cadets, with the exception of three lads who to the end of the war were still too young to enter the service, all became soldiers of the Confederacy. Of this number twenty-three were killed in battle, and twenty-six died in the service from wounds or diseases incident to exposure, a total death-rate in the war of nearly twenty-eight per cent. Of those who survived many suffered from wounds or acquired diseases which carried them, soon after the close of hostilities, to untimely graves, while some who still live are suffering from those injuries which have handicapped them in their struggle for the support of themselves and families. True to their convictions of duty, they were worthy sons of the land they loved. The story of their war experiences would fill a volume of thrilling narrative, and were it possible I would honor these pages with the roster of their names and the record of their heroism.1 There were four, however, to whom I am closely bound by the ties of an affectionate friendship, which, commencing in youth, ripened with the years of maturity and crystallized with age. They were of the flower of our country, typical of the spirit of the South.

        James Alston McKinstry, from Pickens County, was my
1 In 1904, forty-three years after we had disbanded, twenty-eight survivors of the Corps held a reunion in the Old Brick Church at La Grange. No other building had been spared. The college campus was a dense tangle of briers and saplings. From the mound and debris where my room had been, a sycamore-tree fully thirty feet high was growing.


Page 166a

Illustration

THE "OLD BRICK CHURCH"
From a photograph taken at the Reunion in May, 1904. The only building now standing at La Grange


Page 167

chum, and had the distinction of heading our class in mathematics. He enlisted as a private in Company D, Forty-second Alabama Infantry, and was in the assault on Fort Robinet at Corinth, October 4, 1862. One hundred yards in front of this fort was a dense abatis, and while working their way through this tangle the command suffered great loss from the direct fire in front and from two enfilading batteries. The survivors rushed across the open space and leaped into the ditch, where they were met with a shower of hand-grenades, some of which they picked up and hurled back into the fort, where they exploded. As they clambered out of the ditch and up to the parapet they received a volley which killed a comrade, who in falling threw his arms about Jim, and he and the dead man rolled back into the ditch. Regaining his footing and clearing the angle of a bastion, just as he recognized a small group of Confederates within the fort he emptied his gun at a Federal soldier, the muzzle almost touching his breast. As this man fell their reserve line fired a volley, and of the fourteen assailants who still survived all but McKinstry were killed. He received a Minié ball through the upper part of one arm, another through the shoulder, which fortunately did not penetrate the lung, while a third passed through the muscles of the thigh. Tumbling again into the ditch, he ran along this and hid under some debris until nightfall, when he made his escape. On the forced march in the retreat to Tupelo, for two days and nights, this lad of seventeen, with three painful wounds, lay on the botton of a wagon-bed jolting over rough country roads. A photograph of the dead bodies of these men, taken where they fell, may be seen in the Photographic History of the War, published in 1911. I place the incident on record here as one of the


Page 168

thousands which occurred in a war as unnecessary as it was cruel.1

        Robert Thompson Coles, descended from one of the old Virginia families at Huntsville, joined the Fourth Alabama Infantry, one of the most famous regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia. He became adjutant of this regiment, was in the first battle of Bull Run and at Appomattox, and except when wounded was in every battle in which this great army was engaged.

        Thomas Edward Stanley, of Lawrence County, Alabama, became lieutenant in Company B, Tenth Alabama Infantry, and, receiving two wounds at Chickamauga, was carried to his uncle's house near Leighton, Alabama. While there the Union army occupied the country, but with the aid of the faithful negroes he was concealed until he was convalescent. Armed with a shotgun, he surprised and captured an officer who was inspecting his outposts, appropriated his horse and equipment, and rejoined his command. 2

        Frederick Moseley Nelson, of Limestone County, Alabama, served in the Seventh Alabama Cavalry.3 In J. P. Young's history mention is made of his gallant conduct. The following experience may serve to illustrate the strange vicissitudes of a soldier's career.

        As Fred was leaving home his thoughtful father gave him a small Derringer pistol, which was easily carried in the side-pocket of his forage jacket, with the remark that he might need it some day when he did not have his six-shooter. Out of respect to his parent's admonition, Fred
1 As modest and retiring as they were brave, Jim McKinstry and Bob Coles are still living (1914), loved and respected as leading citizens of Marshall County, Alabama.

2 Stanley settled in Arkansas, became prominent in politics as a state senator, and died in 1904.

3 Nelson survives in Mississippi.


Page 169

kept the small weapon ready for use. One day while on picket duty he had dismounted and was sitting at the root of a tree, engaged in the pleasant perusal of a communication from his sweetheart. He glanced often down the road in the direction from which the enemy would be likely to come, and was satisfied that none was approaching. The cracking of a dead twig immediately in the rear attracted his attention, and, turning suddenly in that direction, he found himself covered with a six-shooter in the hands of a Federal who had stealthily crept up behind him. He was told to stand up, unbuckle his pistol-belt, let it drop to the ground, and walk off a few steps, which orders he obeyed. He was then told to mount his horse and ride alongside as a prisoner of war. He had not lost sight of an opportunity to use the Derringer, and the two had not proceeded a quarter of a mile before Fred, getting the weapon out unobserved, had it cocked, and, turning quickly, presented it within three feet of the body of his captor, telling him to throw up his hands. Fred immediately made himself possessor of the four pistols, and marched the chagrined Yankee triumphantly into his own headquarters.

        My first and only year at college ended in December, 1861. In that period our state had seceded, the Southern Confederacy was organized, with the capital at Montgomery, war was formally declared, and the battle of Bull Run had been fought. Then came a lull, which every one knew was the hush before the storm. The war-fever was spreading on both sides of the line. In the South it ran high. On my way home every village seemed ablaze with bunting. On every plantation, home, and farm-house the "Bonnie Blue Flag" was flying. Three companies of infantry and one of cavalry had already gone from our county. With


Page 170

these were one or two boys of my age (sixteen), and I wanted to enlist. As I was small of stature, my parents argued that I should wait another year and work on the farm. My father, though well beyond the military age, enlisted and went to the front and left me as the man of the family. When the farming season opened in 1862, I plowed, planted, and cultivated without assistance ten acres in corn. Incidentally I learned that farming is not an easy way of earning a livelihood, and that there are few hotter places on earth than a waist-high field of corn in the Tennessee River bottoms about "laying-by" time, early in July. I missed only one work-day, and this was on the 8th of June.

        The fortunes of war were going against the Confederacy in the West. Shiloh had followed Fort Donelson, and all of Alabama north of the Tennessee was now occupied by the Union army, and their gunboats had reached Florence. Above this point that great obstacle to through navigation of this noble river, the "Mussel Shoals," prevented their going. The upper Tennessee is landlocked, and the Confederates had made way with all the steamboats above the Shoals. In this emergency the Federal commander at Huntsville improvised a small gunboat with steam motorpower, protected it with an armor of cotton bales, placed on board two six-pounder Parrott guns and a crew of some sixty men of the Tenth Ohio Infantry, and sent it on its way to take possession of the upper Tennessee.

        It was such a slow tub that at Guntersville we knew it was coming six hours before it hove in sight. A man on horseback who saw it start had brought the news. Our local humorist, the genial sheriff, said of it after the excitement of its advent had subsided, that "up-stream it could


Page 171

run all day under the shade of a leaning sycamore, while going the other way the current went by it so fast it made your head swim."

        On this eventful 8th of June, while I was following a mule and a turning-plow up and down the long rows of growing corn, with thoughts about as far removed from Cincinnatus or Israel Putnam or glory as one pole is from the other, a lad from the village came to give me the exciting information that the gunboat was coming, and everybody who could shoot a gun was rallying to defend the town. As soon as I could unhitch my mule, we rode toward home, and when near enough, not wishing to alarm my mother, I slipped in through a back window, got my double-barreled shotgun and ammunition, and was just making my exit through the same opening when I heard a familiar voice say, "Hadn't you better go out through the door?" I saluted my commanding officer, my mother, and hurried out as directed. The truth is, if I hadn't come in of my own accord she would have sent for me and handed me the gun at the gate and made me go. Some twenty of us, old men and boys, reached the river-landing in time to see the United States gunboat Tennessee pass at a snail's pace, closely hugging the northern bank of the stream, and taking no more notice of our presence than if we hadn't been "bushwhackers" aching to fill anybody who had on blue clothes full of buckshot!

        After a hurried conference we rode as fast as our mounts could carry us to a point a few miles above Guntersville, where, at the low stage of water which then prevailed, the channel was near enough to the southern bank to bring the craft in reach of our shotguns. Arriving there, we dismounted some two hundred yards back in the woods, and,


Page 172

to give my mule a chance to graze, I tied one end of a long plow-line around his neck and the other to an ash sapling. Our company advanced, and we ranged ourselves along the bank, entirely concealed in the thick growth of cane. As the queer-looking boat came puffing toward us, the crew, seemingly without any thought of danger, were seated here and there on top of the bulwarks, evidently enjoying the scenery and sunshine. It seemed as if our captain pro tem would never say "Fire!" but when he did and we turned loose our fusillade of twenty double-barreled shotguns and rifles, the blue coats disappeared into the hold, as Artemus Ward would have said, "unanimously."

        In another minute they opened on us with their long-range rifles, and I heard the singing whiz of a swarm of Minié balls for the first time. Then the six-pounder joined in with shrapnel, at which by common consent we rose from our recumbent posture and ran for our horses, followed, or rather passed, by the screaming shells, which clipped an occasional branch from a tree-top, but flew too far above our heads to be very dangerous. That I did not equal the speed of the negro who testified in a shooting case was not my fault. Being under oath, he was advised by the attorney to be cautious and exact in his statement. When asked if he had heard the bullet whiz, he answered, quietly, "Yes, sah, I heered it twice." "You don't mean to say you heard the bullet twice, do you?" inquired the lawyer. "Oh yes, sah, I done heered it twice. Fust time I heered it when it whizzed by me, an' den, sah, I heered it ag'n when I whizzed by it!"

        By the time we reached our animals they were in a wild state of fright, and all that could break loose had stampeded. My mule had evidently tried to break away with the others


Page 173

and had run as far as the tether would permit, and had then gone into training as a circus performer by circling the sapling turn after turn in a gradually decreasing arc, until, when I reached him, his head was lashed so close to the tree no one but an expert could have told where the mule ended and the bark began. To add to the perplexity of the situation, I had lost my knife; and, as I could not get at the knot in the rope to untie it, expecting every minute to see the Yankees land on our side and come swarming up the bank in pursuit, I spent a seeming eternity, along with some earnest language and much muscular energy, in compelling this proverbially obstinate animal to do as some of our great jurists do at times--reverse himself. As soon as this process had been carried far enough to slacken the rope and expose the knot, I untied it, mounted, and rode off in a long stern chase to catch up with the company.

        A mile or so back in the depth of the forest we rallied, called the roll, and found all present or accounted for but one. As this one was the enthusiast who had summoned me from the plow to defend our lares et penates, and as I had seen him leading the retreat, having thrown his gun away and run out from under his hat, I assured my comrades he had not been killed, also that while I was unwinding my mule he had asked me to go back with him to help find his gun, a request which the exigencies of the moment forced me to decline. None had been killed or wounded by bullets. Some few had passed through the sharp cane-blades with such rapidity or had ridden too close to a swinging limb and bore the marks of the campaign on their faces and heads. At Short Creek the company halted, dismounted, and washed its face preparatory to the triumphal entry into Guntersville.


Page 174

        The deeds of prowess which were narrated as we rode toward town would fill several pages. When we blazed away with our sudden shower of buckshot the unsuspecting crew, who were airing themselves and viewing the scenery from every point of vantage, must have thought Gabriel's trumpet would sound next. The sheriff said: "Boys, talk about action! Them Yankees went out o' sight quicker' n a didapper duck." It was really a rapid act, and none stood on the order of his going. Some jumped into the hold, some rolled or slid off, and some turned back somersaults; and it looked for a few moments as if we had killed everybody on board. The fact that the machinery didn't stop, together with the rifle volley which flashed out of the port-holes and the swarm of Miniés which came singing through and over the cane, began to undeceive us, and when the cannon boomed we knew we hadn't disabled all. We compromised on half. Cæsar returning from Gaul never aroused greater excitement at Rome (in proportion to population) than did this partisan troop as it rode by twos through the main street of Guntersville and disbanded in front of Kinzler's grocery. It was a great day. I really thought so then. I have laughed at it a thousand times since. If I think of it on my dying day I shall smile, and it will be worth it. I have often wondered what my hero Francis Marion would have said of our quixotic performance. For one I am glad he can never know it.

        The truth remains that the boat was so much farther out in the stream than we had estimated that our short-range guns did no harm. Years after the war I corresponded with the surgeon who was on board. One buckshot just did bury itself in the shoulder-blade of a young chap who didn't glide out of sight as quick as he wished he had. This


Page 175

was the only casualty, and the victim never went to bed with it. The doctor confided that our volley was "like a bolt out of the blue sky,["] and caused a temporary panic on board, which, however, didn't last as long as the bushwhackers on the bank would have preferred. The pilot made for the other shore at once, and with our retreat the "Battle of Law's Landing" passed into history. I might add that it had a good deal to do with the military careers of two of this immortal band.

        One of these, the Paul Revere who came riding at full speed to summon me and others to glory, who never fired his gun or raised himself from the prone position on the ground until an exploding shrapnel furnished the impetus, and who, hatless and gunless, led the movement to the rear, never again heard the music of the battle-line. He was seized with a muscular contraction which drew one leg into a knot and held it there until the war was over, whereupon it straightway healed, and he was restored to usefulness. He suffered the fate of the shirker, as the village girls not only refused to speak to him, but sent him knitting-needles and bits of unfinished sewing and all sorts of gentle hints as to how a young man who didn't go into the army should occupy his time. It was a pressure no man could resist and survive in the respect of his neighbors. Soon after the war the youth went away to lose himself in the all-absorbing West.

        To the other it furnished a good excuse for regular enlistment. There was a clever native woman spy who lived on the north side of the river, who kept the Union commander well informed of all that happened in our section during the war; and we were notified promptly that the name of every guerrilla or bushwhacker who fired at the gunboat was


Page 176

known, and that when captured we would be hanged. The argument that it was just a little bit better to be shot fighting than to be kept in a state of "suspense" prevailed, and, as my father had been discharged on account of sickness and physical inability and was now at home, my way was open.


Page 177

XIV
WITH MORGAN'S CAVALRY--THE CHRISTMAS RAID--1862-1863

        IN August of 1862 a detachment of Morgan's cavalry, commanded by General Basil W. Duke, passed through our village and left in our care Lieutenant Frank Brady, who had been wounded a few days before in a skirmish near Huntsville. Bragg's strategic move through Cumberland Gap and across the upper Tennessee into Kentucky had caused the withdrawal of the Union forces from Alabama and Tennessee. The battles of Richmond and Perryville in Kentucky were indecisive and resulted in the retirement of the Confederate army to the vicinity of Murfreesborough in middle Tennessee. When Lieutenant Brady had sufficiently recovered to rejoin his command I went with him to"see the army." A ride of three or four days brought us to Alexandria, Tennessee, where Morgan's division was encamped. Here we learned that orders had been received to make a hurried dash into Kentucky, to destroy the Louisville& Nashville Railroad, and break up the communications of the Federal army with the North. As I was too young for enlistment, I joined Quirk's Scouts as an "independent," and took my place in that company.

        The expedition, with three days' cooked rations, started north from Alexandria on December 22, 1862. The command was divided into two brigades. The First, under Brigadier-General Basil W. Duke, was made up of the


Page 178

Second, Third, and Eighth Kentucky Cavalry, and Palmer's battery of four pieces, two of which were twelve-pounder howitzers and two six-pounder guns. The Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Kentucky and the Fourteenth Tennessee, to which was attached a small company of artillery including two mountain howitzers and one three-inch Parrott gun, formed the Second Brigade, in command of Colonel W. C. P. Breckinridge.

        There was also a company of picked men, about fifty in number, known as Quirk's Scouts, made up chiefly of the remnants of Morgan's original squadron, which acted throughout the expedition as the advance-guard.

        The entire command, including the artillerists, numbered thirty-nine hundred, of whom four hundred were at this time unarmed. The command was generally well mounted and the animals in good condition. While the artillery was an impediment to a rapid dash into the enemy's country, it was essential to the accomplishment of the objects of the expedition, since by this time all of the railroad bridges, tunnels, and important depots of supplies along the route to be traversed were protected by forts and stockades, the reduction of which was impossible without artillery.

        "Morgan's men," mostly young fellows from eighteen to thirty-five years old, were a fine lot, and there were no better fighters in the world. They idolized their leader, who at the close of this, his most successful expedition, reached the zenith of his career. This command, as well as practically all of our Western mounted troops, fell short of their full efficiency in the absence of that strict discipline without which no men ever make the best of soldiers. They were in the main well armed. While it is true that four hundred of the command were without guns, these did


Page 179

effective service as horse-holders until the rich captures made at Elizabethtown and Muldraugh's Hill furnished them with the very best of modern firearms. The entire command was practically without sabres. The majority of the companies, which had been in service for a year or more, had one or two Colt's army pistols for each man; a smaller portion had cavalry carbines captured from the enemy, while some were armed with double-barreled shotguns, a weapon which at that period was capable of doing excellent service in the close-range fighting to which cavalry was accustomed. The greater part of the troops, however, carried long-barreled rifles, some Enfields and some of Austrian and Belgian make, weapons well adapted to fighting on foot, but clumsy to carry on horseback. As Morgan's men, and in fact all of the Confederate cavalry, did most of their fighting on foot, this long gun was an advantage rather than otherwise. Each man was expected to carry two horseshoes, a dozen nails, all the ammunition he might need, one blanket, and an oil-cloth or overcoat. There was nothing on wheels but the artillery.

        Late in the day we crossed the Cumberland River at Sand Shoals, and camped in the woods at dark about six miles north of Carthage, Tennessee. By daylight of the 23d we were in the saddle, at eleven stopping an hour to feed and rest, and then on until dark toward Tompkinsville, Kentucky. No enemy was encountered until at dusk on December 24th when the advance-guard entered the suburbs of Glasgow, the county-seat of Barren County, Kentucky. As they reached one corner of the public square several companies of the Second Michigan Cavalry, with no idea that Morgan's men were in that part of the world, rode into sight just across the square, and both sides fired


Page 180

simultaneously and at close range.1 One Federal was killed and two wounded, and a Confederate captain and one soldier were mortally and one lieutenant slightly wounded. Twenty Michiganders were captured, among them the adjutant of the regiment, whose saddle, a beautifully padded and brass-mounted McClellan tree, carried me for many a day thereafter. A number of the prisoners had Christmas turkeys strapped to their saddles--but man only proposes. In three short winter days, over bad roads and through a rough and hilly country, we had made ninety miles, and the artillery was up.

        As we marched out of Glasgow early Christmas morning on the Mumfordsville turnpike Quirk's Scouts were well in advance, and about ten o'clock we were joined by General Morgan, who rode with us until noon. He was in appearance the ideal of the beau sabreur, with light-blue or gray eyes and a strikingly handsome face partly concealed by a brownish or sandy mustache and imperial.

        In the early afternoon, as we approached a small settlement known as Bear Wallow, our vidette came tearing back at full speed, shouting as he drew near, "Yankees thick as hell up the road!" We were ordered to load and cap our guns, and then rode briskly forward to a rise, and there, some four or five hundred yards in front, in line of battle which extended on either side of and across the pike, were some two hundred mounted men in blue. 2 There was another company which we did not see then, but saw later, to our sorrow, for they were in ambush on the side of the road along which our Irish captain was to lead us. When we
1 Company C, Captain Darrow in command, supported by Companies L, M, and H, Second Michigan Cavalry, page 148, Official Records, vol. xx.

2 Official Records, vol. xx, part 1, page 151. Companies of the Fourth and Fifth Indiana Cavalry under Colonel Isaac P. Grey.


Page 181

were about two hundred yards from the Federal line, and protected by a depression in the road which for the moment hid us from view, we dismounted and advanced on foot toward the enemy. As we reached the top of the rise in a lane which had a high worm-fence on either side, the Federals gave us a lively volley, which we returned from the fence-corners. With my long Austrian rifle I took a dead rest through a crack in the fence at an officer who was recklessly riding up and down in front of us, but missed him. While we were thus engaged with the troops in front of us another detachment (Company C, Fifth Indiana), which was in ambush in a hollow to our right, charged up unexpectedly to within a few yards of the road abreast of and in the rear of our position, and fired into us and into the horse-holders at practically muzzle range.

        The sudden appearance of those troops and the fusillade from the flank and rear as well as from the front stampeded the horses and horse-holders, all of whom disappeared down the pike, leaving Captain Quirk and his fifty men with no means of escape except by climbing the westerly fence and running for a dense thicket of black-jacks or heavy undergrowth of bushes, some two hundred yards across an open field. Several of our men had been wounded--none seriously, however--but no one was killed on our side. Half a dozen of our company took shelter in a small farm-house which stood within fifty yards of where the fight began, and these were made prisoners. I happened to climb over the same panel of fence with our captain, whose face was a sight with blood from two bullet-wounds of the scalp. He was not in a happy frame of mind, for he was swearing like a trooper at the horse-holders for running away. The Yankees peppered away at us as we scampered in quick time across the


Page 182

space which lay between us and the thicket into which we dived and disappeared from view.

        At this juncture the leading regiment of our main column which had caught our runaway horses came up, and we remounted and joined in the pursuit, Tom Quirk, as usual, out in front, where at close quarters he killed a Federal trooper with his pistol. Those who escaped fled in the direction of Cave City. 1

        On the further march to Green River, which was crossed before dark, we captured a huge sutler's wagon which the stampeded owner had abandoned. Its contents were unceremoniously appropriated, even to a box of women's shoes, which the men gallantly distributed to the houses on the line of march. That night we camped in the woods between Hammondsville and Upton Station, on the Louisville& Nashville Railroad. All in all, it was the liveliest Christmas I had ever had.

        In the early morning of December 26th, while a light, drizzly rain was falling, we struck the railroad at Uptons, capturing a number of Union soldiers who were guarding the depot and this section of the track. Here we were again joined by General Morgan, and I witnessed a very interesting incident. Attached to the General's staff was a telegraph operator, a quick-witted young man about twenty-five years old named Ellsworth, better known by the nickname of "Lightning." On a former occasion having tapped a wire and interposed his instrument--which, being a pocket affair, did not always give the most perfect
1 Colonel Grey, page 151, vol. xx, Official Records, reports the Confederate loss as "nine killed and, as near as I can ascertain, twenty-two wounded and five prisoners." The last item is correct, but none was killed and only two wounded. His own loss he reports as "one killed and two captured."


Page 183

satisfaction--its wobbling and uncertain tick aroused the suspicion of the operator he was calling.

        "Who are you, and what's the matter with your office?" came over the wire, and quick as a flash Ellsworth disarmed suspicion by answering "O. K. Lightning," which in the language of telegraphy meant, "Go ahead; storm and lightning here interfering." This restored confidence at the other end, and Ellsworth got not only the information he and his general wanted, but also his nickname.

        At Uptons one of the men climbed a telegraph-pole, fastened two strands of wire to the line on each side of the insulation, and to these Ellsworth attached his instrument. Seated on a cross-tie within a few feet of General Morgan, I heard him dictate messages to be sent to General Boyle (who, I think, was military governor of Kentucky), in Louisville, and to other Federal commanders in that state, making inquiries as to the disposition of the Union forces, and at the same time telling some awful stories in regard to the large size of his own command and of its movements. Among other answers received was one that a train bearing some artillery and ammunition had left Elizabethtown on its way to Mumfordsville. Morgan immediately ordered Quirk to take his company and be ready to obstruct the track as soon as the train should pass the point indicated. Unfortunately, the wary engineer saw us in time to reverse his engine and escape with the train before we could get behind him. The two pieces of artillery were on a freight-car in plain view, and the few shots we fired at the engineer were poor consolation for missing a valuable capture.

        Heavy cannonading was now heard in the direction of Bacon Creek Bridge stockade, which, after a gallant resistance, was reduced, its garrison captured, and the bridge


Page 184

destroyed. We took up our march toward toward Nolin, the next station north of Uptons, where there was another bridge guarded by a stockade. This garrison surrendered to General Duke, and the bridge was also burned. We bivouacked that night a few miles from Elizabethtown, which place, garrisoned by eight companies of the Ninety-first Illinois Regiment, we captured after a slight resistance on the next day, the number of prisoners being six hundred and fifty-two men and officers.1 A number of brick warehouses near the railroad station had been loopholed and otherwise strengthened, and to make a direct assault upon such a stronghold would have been folly. Morgan made a rapid disposition of his forces, completely surrounding the town, brought up his artillery, and after a number of shells and solid shot had knocked great holes in the houses the garrison surrendered. That night we slept in feather beds, the only experience of this kind during the raid.

        While parleying for a surrender the colonel of this Union regiment marched his men several times over the exposed crest of a hill, then out of sight and around again, until I was convinced he had several thousand in his command. Morgan was too old a soldier, however, to be fooled by this ruse.

        On the 28th we reached the two great trestles on the Louisville& Nashville Railroad at Muldraugh's Hill, the destruction of which was the most important object of the expedition. They were each from sixty to seventy-five feet high and about seven hundred feet in length, and constructed entirely of wooden beams, or "bents," superimposed one upon another until the required height was
1 Official Records, vol. lxx, part 1, page 156. The garrisons captured at Bacon Creek, Nolin, and Uptons belonged to this regiment.


Page 185

reached. They were deemed of such importance that two strong stockades or forts had been built, and were then garrisoned by the Seventy-first Indiana and Seventy-eighth Illinois regiments of infantry. Morgan assailed both strongholds at the same time, the artillery doing most of the execution, and in less than two hours the two garrisons of seven hundred men were prisoners.1 This was the second time that Morgan had captured the Indiana regiment, and he directed Ellsworth to telegraph Governor Morton of the Hoosier State, thanking him for again sending the regiment down, and suggesting that the next time he could send the oil-cloths and overcoats without the men, as he was tired of paroling them. They were armed with new Enfield rifles, one of the most effective weapons of that day.

        When we reached the stockade, from which some of the enemy had escaped, we were ordered to scour the woods for fugitives. About two or three hundred yards from the fort I came upon a stripling, who, hearing some one approaching, bobbed up from behind the trunk of a fallen tree and held up one hand in token of surrender. As no one else was near, I took his gun--a beautiful new Enfield rifle--and accouterments. He seemed about my age, and I noticed tears running down over his "peach-down cheeks." His crying quickly aroused my sympathy, and I tried to reassure him by saying: "Don't be afraid; nobody's going to harm you; you'll be paroled right away and can go home." At this he sobbed out: "I've got a good mother at home, and if I ever get back I'll never leave her again." By this time my own feelings were getting the better of me, and when he mentioned his mother the thought of my own so overcame me that I could not keep the tears out of my eyes as I said to him:
1 Official Records, vol. lxx, part 1, page 156.


Page 186

"I have a good mother, too, and don't you cry any more." All this occurred as we were walking side by side back to the stockade, my war-spirit no little dampened and the pride of my capture about lost in the sympathy for the captive.

        After burning the trestles, which made the most magnificent bonfire I ever saw, the command moved to Rolling Fork River, the greater portion of the troops crossing that night and proceeding toward Bardstown.

        A detachment of five hundred men was sent under Colonel Cluke to destroy the railroad bridge over Rolling Fork, but before the stockade could be battered down a sharp rear-guard action with a strong body of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, three thousand strong, under Colonel John M. Harlan, later General, and still later a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, compelled his withdrawal. When Harlan's men came up with us Quirk's company had been left as rear-guard, and took part in a sharp engagement which occurred about ten o'clock on the morning of December 29th. General Basil W. Duke, having recrossed from the north side of the river, took command of Cluke's regiment and Quirk's Scouts, which now formed the entire rear-guard, and led an attack which was so vigorous that, although he had but a handful of men, Colonel Harlan hesitated to press his great advantage.

        At this crisis Duke was wounded while with our company. A fragment of a well-aimed shrapnel struck him on the head and stunned him. The same shell killed two of our horses. It made an awful noise as it exploded. Quirk and others of the scouts hurried to the fallen man, placed him astride the pommel of the saddle in which our captain was seated, and, with the captain's arm around the limp


Page 187

body, the faithful animal was guided into the swollen stream. Quirk and Duke were both small in stature, and the captain's horse, a powerful bay, carried his double load safely across. Another vicious shell burst in the water as we were floundering across and splattered us. General Duke, being unconscious, was the only man who wasn't scared.

        Had the Federal commander pushed his advantage in this crisis, we must have lost heavily. As it was, we did not lose a man, as our other wounded rode away on their horses. Colonel Harlan reports his loss as three killed and one wounded. He explained his cautious advance by saying, "Morgan had a larger force than I."

        Safely over the river, a carriage was impressed, filled with soft bedding, and in this our wounded general was placed and carried along with the command.1

        Our company was now ordered to ride through the command and take the lead, which we did, reaching Bardstown at dusk, where we found shelter in a livery stable and a sound sleep on a corn-pile. Before leaving, between daylight and sunrise, December 30th, I witnessed the looting of one of the largest general stores in Bardstown. The proprietor had refused to accept Confederate money for his goods, locked his store, and left town. The men who had crowded in through the doors they had battered down found great difficulty in making their way out with their plunder through a surging crowd that pressed to get in before everything was gone. I was amused at one trooper, who induced others to let him out by holding an ax in front of him, cutting edge forward, one arm clasping a bundle of at least a dozen pairs of shoes and other plunder,
1 General Basil W. Duke still survives at this date, 1914.


Page 188

while on his head was a pyramid of eight or ten soft hats, one on top of the other, just as they had come out of the packing-box. Within a short half-hour nothing but the shelves and counters were left, for in the riot of an uncontrolled desire to plunder these men took piles of stuff they could not carry away or use.

        It was still clear, and yet colder than we had thus far experienced, as we marched in the direction of Springfield. Our spirits were high, for up to this time we had had a picnic, and as we passed a home of the Trappist brotherhood some ten miles up the road Lieutenant Frank Brady entertained us by singing "Lorena," a war-time poem which had been set to music and was then very popular. He told us that the author of the poem was an inmate of this Trappist home. If this were true and the self-imprisoned brother heard the sweet voice of the cavalier as he sang, "The years creep slowly by, Lorena," what sad and tender memories it must have awakened!

        I recall two verses:


                         The years creep slowly by, Lorena;
                         The snow is on the grass again;
                         The sun's low down the sky, Lorena;
                         The frost is where the flowers have been.


                         But the heart beats on as warmly now
                         As when the summer days were nigh:
                         The sun can never dip so low
                         Adown affection's cloudless sky.

        I may not be doing the author strict justice in quoting from memory. There was one other line that told of the past being "in the eternal past," upon which our tenor dwelt feelingly as he sang it. All of which, no doubt, will provoke a smile from the pupils of Debussy, Wagner, et id omne;


Page 189

yet I would rather hear my debonair comrade of "The Scouts" sing that war-time song again as we began our ride of thirty-two miles through a blizzard than listen to the so-called music of the "immortals" at our beautiful Metropolitan Opera House.

        By midday the clouds had gathered and a chilling rain set in, which, as the thermometer fell, turned into sleet. Reaching Springfield in the gloom of the evening (December 30th), our company was ordered to keep on to the suburbs of Lebanon, some nine miles farther, and there to drive in the pickets and build fires for as long a line on that side of town as possible, in order to give the enemy the impression that we were up in force and were only awaiting for daylight to attack. We piled fence-rails and made fires until late at night, while Morgan was leading his men south along a narrow and not much used country road, with Lebanon some two miles to the left. Having completed our work, we caught up with the command, and acted as rear-guard throughout the remainder of that awful night. What with the bitter, penetrating cold, the fatigue, the overwhelming desire to sleep, so difficult to overcome, and, under the conditions we were experiencing, so fatal if yielded to, the numerous halts to get the artillery out of bad places, the impenetrable darkness, and the inevitable confusion which attends the moving of troops and artillery along a narrow country road, we put in a night of such misery and anxiety and suffering that no man who experienced it could ever forget.

        Toward morning it became our chief duty to keep one another awake. All through the night the sleet pelted us unmercifully and covered our coats and oil-cloths with a sheet of ice. Time and again we dismounted and, holding


Page 190

on to the stirrup leather, trudged on through the slush and ice to keep from freezing.

        Daylight found us several miles south of Lebanon and the strong Federal command concentrated there to catch us, but we kept on without halting, for another heavy column was reported moving out from Mumfordsville and Glasgow to intercept us at Columbia or Burkesville before we could recross the Cumberland River.

        About midday (December 31st) we stopped for an hour to feed and rest, and then rode on to Campbellville, where we arrived at dark, having been thirty-six hours in the saddle since leaving Bardstown. Here we rested eight hours, and early on New-Year's day, 1863, left for Columbia, which we reached late in the afternoon, and then on throughout the whole bitter-cold night without stopping, until we passed through Burkesville on the morning of January 2d, where we recrossed the Cumberland and were safe from pursuit or interception. Since leaving Bardstown we had, with the exception of nine hours, been seventy-two hours in the saddle. I doubt if any troops in the entire history of the war ever passed through a more trying ordeal than Morgan's cavalry on this expedition. Of it General Basil W. Duke writes: "It is common to hear men who served in Morgan's command through all its career of trial and hardship refer to this night march around Lebanon as the most trying scene of their entire experience."

        It was not so much the bitter cold which bothered us as the slow going of the artillery. As long as we could stick to the turnpikes we moved swiftly. It was when driven to the ill-kept dirt roads that our troubles began, and in the pitch-darkness of a stormy winter's night, with the most severe blizzard raging that that section had ever


Page 191

known, they multiplied. For the entire night in the ride around Lebanon we made only seven miles. Climbing Muldraugh's Hill, we not only double-teamed the guns, but long lines of men on foot pushed and pulled to help the weary horses. Every piece was brought out safely over the Cumberland. We now took it leisurely to Livingston, and then to Liberty, Tennessee, where on January 6, 1863, we resumed our place on the right wing of Bragg's army.

        This was Morgan's most successful enterprise. He had destroyed the Louisville& Nashville Railroad from Mumfordsville to Shepherdsville, within eighteen miles of Louisville, captured 1,877 prisoners, destroyed a vast amount of United State property, and had lost only 2 men killed, 24 wounded, and 64 missing. His command returned well armed as a result of its captures, and better mounted than when it set out. The country along the line of march had been stripped of its horses. Every man in my company led out an extra mount.

        Moreover, Morgan had demonstrated again that genius of leadership which divined the plans and movements of the enemy in time to elude him. He had still further won the devotion of the men who followed his fortunes and who believed in him implicitly. I wonder now that after having succeeded in the object of his expedition, which culminated with the destruction of the Muldraugh's Hill trestles, he did not turn on Harlan and capture or destroy him, which he could easily have done. He could then at leisure have retraced his steps to Tennessee.

        All things considered, we had moved with great celerity. Despite the hindrance of artillery, the shortness of the winter days, and the rough roads in the hilly country before we reached Glasgow, the two all-night marches around


Page 192

Lebanon and from Columbia to Burkesville, we had marched two hundred and seventy-one miles and fought ten engagements. On Christmas Day we marched thirty miles, notwithstanding an hour's delay in the fight at Bear Wallow, and the next day made twenty-five miles, besides capturing the garrison at Uptons, the stockades at Bacon Creek and Nolin, and destroying the two bridges there.

        In our absence the great battle of Murfreesboro had been fought. The Confederates had captured some thirty pieces of artillery and had lost four; and, although Rosecrans was finally victorious in that Bragg retreated a day's march to Tullahoma, he had hammered his opponent so hard that it took him from January 1st to June 24th before he was again ready to advance. In this enforced delay Morgan's destruction of the Louisville& Nashville Railroad was an important factor.

        I have made no attempt to narrate the many acts of personal bravery which took place on this exciting expedition, but there were two occurrences of such an extraordinary character that I must find place for them. The first of these encounters took place about ten o'clock on the morning of December 31st, as the rear-guard was crossing Salt River, some five or six miles south of Lebanon. Captain Alexander Tribble, Lieutenant George B. Eastin, and a private soldier had been sent on a detour to New Market, four or five miles from the line of march, to secure a supply of shoes which were reported stored at that point. As they were returning to overtake the command they were set upon and pursued by a squad of Federal cavalry. Being well mounted, the three kept a safe distance ahead of their pursuers. Glancing backward in a long, straight stretch of road, they observed as the chase proceeded that all but


Page 193

three of the enemy had checked up, and they determined at the first favorable place to ride to one side and await their approach and attack them.

        The place selected was the ford at Salt River. At this point Eastin checked his horse and turned sharply to the right, concealing himself under the bank. Tribble continued into the middle of the stream, which here was about fifty yards wide, and stopped his horse where the water was about two feet deep. For reasons satisfactory to himself the private soldier kept on, leaving the two officers to confront the three Federals, who were now in sight coming at full speed toward the river and strung out from fifty to one hundred yards apart. The leading Federal turned out to be Colonel Dennis J. Halisey, of the Sixth Kentucky Cavalry. As he came near Eastin the latter fired at him with his six-shooter, which fire Halisey returned. Both missed; and, as Eastin now had the drop on his adversary, Halisey threw up his hands in token of surrender. As Eastin approached him, having lowered his weapon, Halisey fired, again missing, whereupon Eastin shot Halisey through the head, killing him instantly, his body falling from his horse into the river.

        While this combat was taking place the next in order of the Federals had closed with Captain Tribble. These two opened fire without effect, when Tribble spurred his horse alongside of his adversary, threw his arms around him, and dragged him with himself from the saddle into the river. Luckily, Tribble fell on top and strangled his enemy into surrender. At this moment the third Union trooper came on the scene, only to throw up his hands and surrender to the two Confederates.

        The second incident illustrates another phase of our war


Page 194

and almost justifies the term "Civil," which some writers apply to it.1 Five of our men on one of the numerous side expeditions, or scouts, came unexpectedly face to face and within a few yards of about the same number of Federal cavalry, just as each party reached the crest of a sharp rise or hill in the road. The surprise was mutual, the situation serious. The men were experienced enough to know that on such equal terms neither would surrender to the other without a hand-to-hand fight or killing. With wonderful presence of mind the Union officer at the head of his squad said, "Don't raise your guns," and the lieutenant of the other side quickly responded, "Don't raise yours," and they rode past one another, saluting, and went their respective ways. It reads like a romance, but it is true. It is not a bit more seemingly improbable than an incident in which I took part in another campaign later on, and which I shall describe elsewhere.

        Our war was full of pathos, and the tragedy of it makes the chivalric and pathetic side stand out in bolder relief. There is a man still living (1914) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a man of affairs, who captured his own brother, who was seated by the fireside holding his mother's hand. The two armies were near each other, and each of the sons had obtained leave for the night to pass into the intervening neutral zone to see his mother. The one who came last saw through a crack the other seated by the fire, opened the door quickly, gun in hand, and cried: "Throw up your hands; you're my prisoner!" The trio chatted till late, and then
1 This occurrence was detailed to me by Hugh Garvin of our command. He was a true soldier, always where he ought to have been, and entirely reliable in every respect. After the war he became a physician at Cave City, Kentucky, and died there a few years ago, beloved and respected by all.


Page 195

the prisoner went with his captor into the Union lines. It was largely a family affair. When I was captured I was guarded the first night by men from a company in the Tenth Illinois Infantry, of which my first cousin, Thomas Smith, of Morgan County, was captain.

        In February, leading my "captured" horse, I started on the long ride to my home. It rained almost incessantly for two days and nights, until every stream became a torrent, and some of them difficult and not altogether safe, especially while trying to cross with two animals. When I reached Paint Rock River it had overflowed its banks; and, the Tennessee being full, the back-water had flooded the lowlands, until where I had to cross it was over a mile from shore to shore. The hospitable citizen who gave me shelter for the night informed me that the ferryman who lived on the far side had tied up his boat and quit, as the general overflow had put an end to all travel.

        One of the great advantages of being raised in the backwoods is that every boy and man learns of necessity the use of tools and gets in the habit of overcoming difficulties. My good host said I could stay with him till the river fell. He thought in four or five days the road might be open. Early next morning another traveler on horseback came on the scene. He and I formed a partnership, borrowed an ax and an auger, cut three good ash logs of proper length, pinned them together into a fairly respectable raft, and with one pole and a bit of plank for a paddle we started on a voyage of discovery. It was half a mile to the river proper, and the rails of the corduroy road-bed had floated and made navigation difficult, but we were yet in dead-water and could take our time.

        When we arrived at the river's edge we found the current


Page 196

booming swiftly toward the Tennessee, several miles farther on. Away on the other side, a half-mile across, we could see the coveted ferryboat where the retiring ferryman had tied it when he suspended operations. The opening of the roadway on that side was narrow--not over twenty feet--and if in crossing we failed to hit it exactly right we would have to continue our journey indefinitely down-stream and take our chances of finding a landing-place somewhere down on the Tennessee; so we poled our raft through the still water far enough up-stream to give us good leeway, paddled across the swift current, and hit the opening in great style. I heard of one colored brother who indiscreetly inquired of another, "What wuz de price o' dem new britches what you got on?" and the reply was. "How'd I know. De shopkeeper wasn't dar." My partner and I never asked the price of this ferriage. We took the boat, pulled back for our three horses, ferried ourselves across, and went our way rejoicing. That night I reported as present and accounted for to my anxious mother and father, and they sat up to a late hour listening to my story of how I had "seen the army."


Page 197

XV
FOURTH ALABAMA CAVALRY

        MY brief partisan-ranger service as a "bushwhacker," and the trying and exciting experience as an "independent" with Morgan's cavalry, in 1862 and early in 1863, only whetted the desire to engage regularly in the active business of the war. In February I had asked Captain Tom Quirk at Liberty, Tennessee, where "the Scouts" were stationed after the Christmas raid was over, if I might not join his company. Evidently, Lieutenant Frank Brady, who felt responsible for my leaving home and going on the great ride through Kentucky, had talked my case over with the captain and had advised him not to let me enlist, as I was under age, and he thought I ought to report to my parents. Quirk frankly told me he would like to keep me with his company, but on account of my size and age he didn't think it would be best, and asked me to go home, talk it over with my parents, and, later on, if they consented and I still cared to come to him, he would take me.

        I was greatly disappointed at this, for I had fallen in love with my Kentucky comrades, especially with the Scouts, for they were as gallant a lot of horsemen as ever sat in the saddle. They had volunteered early in the war, and with John H. Morgan and Basil W. Duke had done some wonderful work and won undying fame as "Morgan's old squadron." When I joined them at Alexandria and asked to be


Page 198

allowed to go on the raid they never bothered about asking me what my full name was. Captain Quirk hailed me as "Little Johnny," and after that I never had any other name while with Morgan's men.

        After the final consultation with my parents the conclusion was that I had better join one of the cavalry companies from my native county already in service in a famous regiment, the Fourth Alabama, known also as "Russell's regiment."1 So early in April I was regularly enrolled as a private in Company I, joining the command then doing outpost duty near Eagleville, on the turnpike leading north from Shelbyville, Tennessee, to Triune and Nashville. Russell's Fourth Alabama was justly ranked as one of the best cavalry regiments in the service. In its organization a valuable military lesson may be learned--namely, the sandwiching of raw and untrained soldiers between true and tried veterans. The negroes had a saying that "It takes an old dog to teach a pup how to fight." Among the first troops to go to the front from Alabama were four mounted companies, and these were fortunate enough to be included in a battalion of cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest. Anybody who knows anything about the Civil War knows what that meant. He led them, and they followed "close up" at Sacramento and at Fort Henry.

        At Fort Donelson, when everybody else was whipped and cowed and wanted to surrender, Forrest told the commanding officers not to include him and his men in the cartel, as he had no notion of surrendering. Napoleon said that the supreme test of courage was at four o'clock in the morning.
1 In distinction from another regiment under General Roddy, which is sometimes mentioned in the reports as the Fourth Alabama Cavalry.


Page 199

Near this hour on that cold, cheerless, and desolate February morning the grim fighter roused his tired and sleepy troopers from under their snow-covered blankets, called them about him, and said: "Men, they are going to surrender this fort and this army at daybreak. I am going out. The way is open. Get on your horses." They rode safely away without seeing one solitary Federal soldier. Every man surrendered there, who could have walked four miles between four and six o'clock A.M., could have come away and left General Grant the empty triumph of a "last year's bird's nest."

        These same men were with him at Shiloh, where they rode squarely in among Sherman's infantry, and for at least once during our four years' war men on foot were jabbing bayonets at men on horseback. When their twelve months' enlistment had expired they re-enlisted "for the war," and to these four old companies as a nucleus were added six new companies of mounted troops, all from Alabama, and the new regiment was christened Russell's Fourth Alabama in honor of the brave, grim doctor who laid aside the spatula and scalpel for the sword and six-shooter.

        Most of these recent volunteers made excellent soldiers, and with the example and prestige of the "old Forresters" they became a splendid body of fighters. Within two months of their organization two of the new companies, under the leadership of the daring Captain Frank Gurley, rode over and captured a section of artillery at Lexington, Tennessee, the orderly sergeant of one company being blown bodily from his horse at the cannon's mouth. They captured in addition the redoubtable Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll and troops of the Eleventh Illinois, Second


Page 200

West Tennessee, and Fifth Ohio Cavalry, and were bulletined by General Forrest for "exceptional gallantry" on this and other occasions. One of the proudest moments of my life as a soldier was when, at Anderson's Cross Roads, on October 2, 1863, as a brigade which had been sent to the front to beat off a train-guard came back beaten and demoralized, General Wheeler galloped up to our commander and said, "Colonel Russell, you will have to go in with the Fourth Alabama." Our grim old colonel came nearer smiling than I ever saw him as he saluted and gave the order, "Cap your guns, men!" We made short work of it.

        The men and horses were in generally good condition when I joined the company, although the equipment was far from sufficient. An official inspection had just been made, and the report of March 6, 1863, shows that out of seven hundred men present for duty in this regiment four hundred were as yet without arms.1 Nothing could better demonstrate the difficulties with which the South was contending. The four old companies were splendidly equipped with guns and army pistols which they had captured. The others carried long muzzle-loading Austrian or Belgian rifles, a clumsy weapon for mounted men. Some had double-barreled shotguns, a very effective weapon at close quarters--seventy-five yards or less. Army pistols were scarce, and no sabres were carried. I furnished myself with a captured Burnside carbine, for which I paid fifty dollars, and an army six-shooter, and as far as my mount was concerned there was not in all the seven hundred a horse more beautiful, intelligent, or swifter of foot than my thoroughbred Fanny. The hard campaign with Morgan had left her in the best of condition for service.


1 Official Records, series I, 23, part 2, p. 663

Page 201

        The only tent in our regiment belonged to Colonel Russell. The rest of us lived out of doors, with the dome of heaven for our covering. When night came on we slept on the ground, wherever we happened to be, provided we were not on picket or doing guard duty. When it rained, if in bivouac we leaned two rails or poles against a tree or a fence-panel, laid an oil-cloth over these, spread another oil-cloth on leaves or bushes, then a saddle-blanket; and then, with our saddles for pillows, two of us went to bed with an extra blanket for cover. When the rainfall was extraordinarily heavy, in cloudburst fashion, as occasionally happened, there was nothing to do but sit or stand up and take it good humoredly when we could, or the other way when patience and patriotism succumbed for the time being to the suffering which cold and loss of sleep entailed.

        I recall one night, when a young deluge was let down on us, with several inches of water on the ground, I placed two flat rails across the angle of a worm-fence, and, protected by a waterproof blanket, slept the sleep of the weary, unmindful of the heavy downpour. When day broke, as far as one could see the top of the fence on both sides of the pike was occupied by troopers in every possible attitude of discomfort. We didn't mind so much the rains of summer-time; but the winter rains, the sleet, the snow, and the biting wind made us think of home and wish "the cruel war was over." One great misfortune was that most of the men did not have oil-cloths or blankets enough to protect them properly, and now, as I look back on all this physical discomfort and misery, to which add short rations of food--and most of the time the little we got was bad--I marvel that our army stood up as long as it did. The truth is the men were in dead earnest to win out for the Southern Confederacy.


Page 202

        We had what by courtesy was called a commissary, took with grateful appreciation all it offered, and made up the deficit by foraging. Now, foraging is a science and an art which can only be acquired by experience. I messed with the captain and the first lieutenant of my company. Our utensils and housekeeping outfit consisted of a small frying-pan, a skillet, and one canteen which held three pints. We fried our bacon or other meat in one and mixed the meal dough and cooked it into bread in the other. At meal-time we drank in regular order from the canteen. Custom required that the last drinker should dry off the canteen's mouth before passing it. The nearest approach to a napkin was a handkerchief, and when this had not been recently laundered the palm of the hand sufficed.

        Buttermilk was the one great luxury of the mess, and as I was so youthful and small, and in appearance so generally suggestive of helplessness and hunger, the captain and the lieutenant detailed me with great regularity to scour the surrounding territory for this essential. As a rule I rarely came in with an empty canteen. The Confederate cavalry subsisted chiefly on corn--as roasting-ears when green or half ripe, and parched, or as hominy, when ripe. Corn-bread was the great standby. Wheat flour we rarely saw, and we used to say the infantry got it all. Coffee and tea were unknown, and sugar was as scarce as flour.

        Dr. Will Fennell was the captain of Company I, and it was chiefly on his account that I had joined it. He had studied medicine, and was just commencing practice when the war broke out. He volunteered as assistant surgeon in a regiment in the Army of Northern Virginia. At the battle of Seven Pines, as the wounded were not coming in fast enough to suit him, he had borrowed a gun and gone into the fight just


Page 203

in time to be severely wounded. During his convalescence at home he amused himself by drumming up a company of volunteers for the cavalry service, and, having been made captain, he gave up his place as surgeon. He was a fine type of man, sober, fearless, reliable, and withal just a little bit too quick-tempered. He and the second lieutenant, Sam Browning, would have come to blows on one occasion if we privates had not by expostulation and interference prevented it. Captain Fennell ordered Browning to perform some duty. The latter resented the tone and bearing of his superior, saying, "Captain Fennell, you wouldn't dare to speak to me that way if you didn't have those bars on your collar." Off went the captain's coat, and as he was squaring for action he remarked, "Lieutenant, the bars are off." It was a matter of great regret to me that on account of ill health he was compelled to leave the service.

        Between the Federal picket-line and ours, extending the fifteen or twenty miles of front along which the cavalry of either army was strung out, was a strip of country about four miles in width known as the neutral zone. An important part of the duty to which I was assigned was to make frequent excursions across this zone to obtain all possible information from the citizens living near the Union lines, especially from those who had access to their encampments. Practically all residents of this section of middle Tennessee were intensely Southern in sympathy.

        About half a mile north of Little Harpeth River, where the pike to Triune crosses, east of the road some four hundred yards stood a substantial brick farm-house. A carriageway led from the gate on the pike straight to the front yard through a beautiful field then green with clover. From a rise of ground in the turnpike, two hundred yards


Page 204

farther north of this gate, could be seen the Federal videttes as they sat on their horses. I visited at this house a number of times and made the acquaintance of the family. They were in good circumstances. The Federals being so near, naturally they also found their way there frequently. It was only half a mile from their outpost, and fully three miles to ours. The male members of the household were away in our army. The mother and the two young girls, about fourteen and sixteen years old, were all of the family I can recall.1 The oldest girl told me that Colonel Brownlow, of the First Tennessee Union Cavalry, or some of his officers rode out nearly every afternoon. They were polite enough "to keep on the good side of the Yankees," and equally loyal to me; for she gave me all the Northern newspapers she could obtain from them, and any other information. I usually started on these excursions before daylight, and on Fanny it did not take long to go three or four miles on a good Tennessee pike. The Louisville Journal I remember as one of the important papers we were glad to get from that side of the line.

        Realizing that this could not go on indefinitely without discovery, I took every precaution to prevent surprise. On the morning of my last visit I had with me two very reliable men, and when we reached the big gate I left it open and told them to ride to the rise in the road in sight of the pickets, and if the Yankees charged them to yell a warning to me, save themselves by a run for camp, and I would escape by a back way across the fields. The one embarrassing feature of a run down the pike was the river,
1 The younger of these daughters was still living in this house in 1907, wife of a Mr. Wommack, who, I think, is a preacher. He wrote me that the elder one, my little friend, had died many years ago.


Page 205

half a mile away, which, while not wide, was deep enough to stop the full speed of a horse or cause him to fall if not checked up. With a good start, however, this could be crossed before the pursuers were close enough to shoot with accuracy, and it would impede them as well.

        When about two-thirds of the way from the gate to the house, I was startled to see my little friend standing in the hall and well back from the door, where she could not be seen from the outside, waving her hand, and evidently signaling me to turn back, as there was danger. I wheeled at once and rode at full speed to rejoin my two comrades. As I neared them they threw up their guns and shouted to me: "Here they come!" I exclaimed quickly, "Don't shoot!" and in another instant I was on the rise where they were stationed and could see coming toward us, but as yet about four hundred yards away, a squadron of from fifteen to twenty Union troopers. Naturally, our first thought was to run full tilt for camp, but the river just in our rear made that a dangerous experiment, to be avoided if possible; and so we concluded to try to "bluff them off," and the three of us lined up across the pike, lowered our guns, and sat stock-still. They came on in a walk until they had reached a slight elevation about three hundred yards from us, where they halted in a line that stretched the full width of the roadway.

        I saw one of them raise his field-glasses, and while he still held them to his eyes every second trooper turned back and disappeared behind the hill. They evidently suspected us of trying to lead them into an ambuscade; so we waved our hats and, shouting, "Come on, boys!" turned and rode leisurely away, keeping our eyes on them until we were out of sight below the crest of the hill. As yet they had not


Page 206

budged, but as soon as we could no longer be seen we put the spurs to our horses and went at full speed toward the river, across which we floundered without accident and made our way safely to our lines. Had they rushed us from the start our situation would have been precarious in the extreme. I need scarcely add that this was my last visit to this house.

        Scouting and picket duty, foraging for one's self and horse, and attending drills on alternate days made a busy life of it. Our rule was four consecutive hours on post, and at night it was at times almost impossible to stay awake, especially toward morning, when stationed at some lonesome spot where not a sound could be heard except the hoot or screech of the owls, the cry of a whippoorwill, or the chirp of the grasshoppers or katydids. It was against orders to dismount, but I remember on one occasion the only way I could keep from going to sleep was to mount and dismount for minutes at a time, and to repeat this performance until fully aroused.

        Just at daylight on May 5, 1863, the outpost picket fired his gun, and, closely pursued by six Federal cavalrymen, came at full speed to the reserve. Lieutenant John Gibson, officer of the guard, followed by a man named Julian, mounted at once and raced in the direction of the enemy, who now faced about and started as fast as their horses could carry them back toward Triune. A dozen of us threw our saddles on and joined in the chase. One of the Yankee horses went down, and a comrade checked his horse, took the unseated man up behind him, and tried to escape. The double weight told on the animal, and, seeing they were being overhauled, the two dismounted, knelt in the road, and fired their carbines at Gibson, now two hundred yards


Page 207

in advance of Julian, who was about the same distance ahead of the others of the reserve. One of the balls struck the big sorrel just above the eye and crashed into his brain, killing him instantly. As he was going at a full run, some idea of the jolt the plucky lieutenant received when he struck the hard road-bed may be imagined. Stunned as he was, he staggered to his feet, revolver in hand, and advanced on the two desperate Federals, who, seeing Julian approaching and the guard right up, surrendered to Gibson. The other four made good their escape.

        Had these men been caught two weeks later they would in all likelihood have fared badly, for an important incident occurred at this time which embittered the Fourth Alabama against the First Tennessee (Union). A corn-detail sent into the neutral zone was set upon by a scouting party of the enemy and fled after two of the detail had been wounded. The citizens who owned the corn testified that Brownlow's troopers had ruthlessly put both the wounded men to death as they were lying helpless on the ground. The evidence was so convincing that reprisals were determined upon. I happened to be one of the detachment sent out on this expedition, and we had gone ahead of the corn-detail to guard it from attack. The Federals had evidently come out during the night, and were lying in wait for the corn-carriers, and in this way they were not discovered by us. As soon as the firing began we raced in that direction and drove the assailants away. In their precipitate retreat one was thrown from his horse and escaped into the dense cedar brakes or thickets which are numerous in this section and can only be traversed by a man on foot. As Fanny was the fastest animal in our scouting party, I happened to get ahead and capture the horse and outfit. Within a week two of this


Page 208

command were caught and shot. The men comprising this regiment were almost wholly from the mountain country of east Tennessee, where the people were about equally divided in their political affiliations. They were a hardy lot, and neither they nor the men from the mountain region just over the line in northern Alabama took the trouble to refer their grievances to the proper authorities for settlement, as the following dispatch may testify:

HEADQUARTERS FIRST TENNESSEE CAVALRY,
SPARTA, TENN., December 1st, 1863.

        Drove the enemy eight miles, killing nine and wounding between fifteen and twenty. I would take no prisoners.

JAMES P. BROWNLOW,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.1


        1 Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, series I, vol. xxxi, part 1, p. 591.

        Colonel Brownlow was a son of the "Parson" Brownlow who was Governor of Tennessee at one time, and in reconstruction days was one of the most implacable enemies the South ever had.



        By a singular coincidence a man who at this time commanded a company in the First Tennessee Cavalry (Union) became one of my most devoted personal friends. Long after the war he came as a patient and remained in my private hospital for several weeks. I knew nothing of his war record until he was just far enough under the influence of the anesthetic, as I was proceeding to operate on him, to lose control of his tongue. He then said, "Dr. Wyeth, this isn't the first time you and I have seen each other," and to quiet him I said: "That's all right, Captain. Just keep quiet and go to sleep." But the spell was on him, the control was gone, and the memory cells of those awful experiences came into action as he continued: "Yes; I know it's all right, and I trust you with my life; but there was a


Page 209

time, when you were in Russell's regiment and I was in Brownlow's, when we wouldn't have been talking to each other this way." At this I held up the ether for a minute in order to assure him as emphatically as I was able that old scores were forgotten and forgiven and that his vote of confidence had touched me deeply.1


1 Captain E. O. Tate was then a post-office inspector. He died at Morristown, Tennessee, about 1900. To the day of his death, long after this incident, he never missed an opportunity to demonstrate his gratitude and friendship.

Page 210

XVI
COVERING THE RETREAT FROM TULLAHOMA--THE 27TH OF JUNE, 1863

        FROM about June 20, 1863, the increased activity of the Union cavalry gave every indication of the long-looked-for general advance of Rosecrans's army. There was hardly a day that we were not in collision with their videttes, and on June 27th we retired to Shelbyville, where we arrived about two o'clock in the afternoon, just in time to take part in the opening of one of the liveliest experiences which fell to my lot. On the way back my horse cast a front shoe; and as the farrier and forge had gone ahead, the shoe could not be replaced at once. The hard macadamized road caused a split in Fanny's hoof, which soon became so tender that she hobbled in on three legs. For the last mile I led her on foot. When I reached the battle-line which was forming, on account of my lame horse I was ordered back to the wagon-train, which was still in sight. Here I found a man belonging to my company who had a fairly good horse. He readily consented to take charge of Fanny with the wagons, so I transferred my saddle to my new mount and hurried back to the company just in time to go out on the skirmish-line.

        Some of our cavalry which had been handled roughly at Hoover's Gap were coming in at a lively pace; and although the sun was now shining, it had rained hard for an hour or


Page 211

two in the forenoon, and these flying troopers, all bespattered with mud, presented a rather demoralized appearance which afforded us no little merriment at their expense. The pursuers checked up when they came in sight of our line of battle and formed theirs in full view, a half-mile in our front. I had scarcely reached my place with the skirmishers when their long line began to advance. We were some two hundred yards in front of our main line, and the videttes deployed at intervals of about one hundred yards. When the Federal skirmisher, who was coming directly toward me, was about eighty yards off I thought it was about time to try to stop him, and, taking as steady an aim as was possible from the back of a restless horse, I fired. Instead of returning the shot from his saddle he dismounted, and, holding on to the bridle, rested the barrel of his gun against a tree.

        We were in an open wooded bit of ground, and, fortunately for me, there were other trees than the one he was using. Some twenty feet to my right was an oak of good size, and when I realized I had missed him and he was taking such deliberate aim at me I put the spurs to my horse and tried to get my body behind it. As the horse jumped the Yankee's gun went off, and when I was within two or three feet of the tree I saw the bark fly as the bullet struck the trunk and glanced off. Either it or a good-sized piece of bark struck me on the left side of the abdomen, and for the moment I was sure it had gone through me, for my left leg became immediately numb. My gun being empty, I had let it drop to the sling over my shoulder to which it was attached for safety and glanced quickly at the place where I had been struck. As there was no bleeding, I was reassured at once that the ball had not penetrated.


Page 212

        All this happened within a few seconds, and by this time my antagonist, doubtless thinking he had disabled me, had remounted and was coming right at me. As he came on at full speed I arose on tiptoe in the stirrups and shot at him four times with my army pistol; but my horse was rearing and behaving so badly that I failed to stop him. Incidentally he was popping away at me with his pistol at the same time. As I fired the fourth shot he was so close I could have thrown the pistol and hit him with it. At the flash of this shot he reeled in his saddle, fell or leaned over on the other side from me, pulled the bridle on that side, turned, and, to my great relief, urged his horse at full speed toward his comrades, who were advancing in line of battle and were now not over two hundred yards away. I followed him some fifty yards as he still clung to the saddle, gave him a parting shot, and then turned back to where I belonged.

        This horseback duel had taken place in plain view of the regiment and excited no little interest, for as it ended a wild cheer went up from our line of battle, and I only then realized how foolish I had been. This conviction was emphasized by the remark of a comrade who had gone out with Forrest early in the war and knew what soldiering really was. Fearing I was in danger, he had started to my assistance, and as I rode up to him on my way back he said, "John, you are the damnedest fool I ever saw."1

        I had scarcely taken my place with my company when the enemy's bugles sounded the charge, and their whole line came on at a gallop. We gave them a volley; but I doubt if this would have stopped them if General Wheeler had not
1 Dr. C. A. (Meck) Robinson, of Huntsville, one of the bravest and best soldiers in our command, is still living in Huntsville (1914).


Page 212a

Illustration

JOHN A. WYETH, Co. I, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY
From a photograph taken in 1861


Page 213

posted a battery, which at this juncture opened on them. As they broke under this unexpected development--for the guns had been masked--we charged and drove them in considerable disorder on their reserves, which were constantly coming on the field. At this advance I recall hearing a ball strike the chest of one of our men which sounded as if some one had slapped him with the palm of the hand. It went through one lung and passed out below the shoulder-blade.1

        For the entire afternoon this kind of fighting was going on, with charge and countercharge, with no material advantage to either side, until late in the day near sundown. I did not know it then, but General Wheeler told me years after the war that when the fight began the road was jammed with loaded wagons filing slowly toward and over the narrow bridge across Duck River, two miles in our rear, and that his fighting was to hold the enemy off and save as much of the train as possible.

        Had the Federal commander been less cautious he could have run over us, battery and all, in the first hour of the fight, as he did later when the sun was setting, and taken us with the train, which was now safe. As the bridge was clear, General Wheeler withdrew the artillery and all the troops except our regiment, which he left in line across the pike with orders to stand our ground as long as possible. As the battery disappeared the Union commander ordered a general advance, and as we sat on our horses, ranged along the crest of a gentle rise, I witnessed one of the most magnificent cavalry charges made during the war. For a mile at least the open country in our front was in plain view, and
1 This man and another young soldier (Polk Wright) from Huntsville, who was shot here through one lung, also recovered.


Page 214

it was blue with thousands of Federal soldiers, for Stanley's corps was coming on the field, ten thousand in all, as the official reports show. Had we been wise our small band would have scattered at once into the woods to the east and saved itself, instead of waiting to be ridden over. But we had our orders to wait until they were within easy range, fire, and then "sauve qui peut." The Seventh Pennsylvania came on in front, in columns of fours, in gallant style, and just behind galloped the Fourth United States regulars. As they came within four hundred yards of us they spread right and left into line, opening like a fan. It was a glorious sight, and the thunder of their horses' hoofs was the only sound. Not a word of command, not a huzza from them, or a yell of defiance from us do I recall. The truth is, there was no defiance in us, only the courage born of despair, for we knew we were doomed. I lived an age in those few minutes, and every incident of the wonderful picture flashes on the screen of memory so vividly, so distinctly, that I can almost believe I am again a lad just turned eighteen and witnessing that scene anew. And clearer than all else there stands in relief the form and face of one of the bravest men that lived, who in this crisis gave me the assurance of a friendship which I have ever valued as one of the priceless treasures of my life.

        I had known John Gibson only a few months; he was an officer in another company than mine, and yet we were already like brothers. There is not only "a divinity that shapes our ends"; there is a divine, a mysterious influence which shapes our friendships, and that influence had brought us together. He was our colonel's most trusted scout, venturesome without being foolhardy, cool and self-possessed in the moment of peril, and so tenacious of purpose


Page 214a

Illustration

LIEUT. JOHN A. GIBSON, Co. C, 4TH ALABAMA CAVALRY
From a photograph taken ten years after the Civil War closed


Page 215

that when sent out for information he never came in empty-handed. I had been close to him already on two exciting occasions, the one when Brownlow's men killed his horse near Rover, the other when our two wounded men were murdered near Eagleville, for he was in charge of the scout that day.

        In the emergency that was at hand now, while the double blue line, with their drawn sabres gleaming high above their heads and bearing down on us at a gallop, was still two or three hundred yards away, Gibson galloped to my side and said, "Johnny, when we break I'll be with you," and, pointing back in the direction we were to retreat, he said, "Bear off to the left yonder," and then he went to his place. Gibson's quick eye had seen what would probably have escaped me, as I was comparatively new in the business of war. Our position was very nearly opposite the extreme left of the advancing line, and a sharp run in the direction he had indicated gave us a chance to get out of the heavier rush of the charge, and possibly to dodge it altogether.

        With our guns at cock, and sighting along the barrel, waiting for the word, they were now so near that we could distinctly see their features; then some one shouted "Fire!" and as our volley blazed in their faces we wheeled our horses and started on the race for life. By the time we turned about not more than fifty yards separated pursuers and pursued. Obeying my friend's injunction, I bore off to the left at the best speed my horse could go, and within the first hundred yards of our flight Gibson, on his big, blue roan, six-shooter in hand, was at my side. Very near us--so near, in fact, that they called to us to stop and surrender--were a dozen or more Federal troopers, who had in all probability


Page 216

noticed that we were trying to run around the end of their line, while looming up before us was a rail-fence which seemed very high. As it was evident that I could never clear it, I said: "Lieutenant, I'll never get over on this horse. Go on and save yourself." His quick reply was: "I'll knock the top rails off, and you follow." And as he spoke his splendid horse went over like a bird, never touching a rail. I was now not more than three lengths behind him as he pulled up, turned in his saddle and shot at the man who was nearest to me with his sabre raised for the finishing-stroke. To avoid this danger I dodged to take the next panel, which my horse struck at full speed, and he, his rider, and a dozen or more fence-rails went down in a heap together. My last recollection of Gibson was when his pistol flashed. He saw the disaster that had overtaken me, and he told me afterward he was sure I had been killed. He so reported, and my parents had the great distress of finding me named among those who were dead. have no clear remembrance of what took place after I struck the ground. When I "came to" my horse was a few yards away nibbling at some grass, and not another living thing was in sight. Far off, a mile or more in the direction of Shelbyville, guns were popping and men were shouting and yelling; and the sun had gone down. I got on my feet, caught my horse, and led him into a near-by clump of cedars to be sure of a hiding-place. My gun and pistol were empty. I at once reloaded them. It soon grew dark enough to venture out, and, still bearing off to the east, I crossed a road and came upon a farm-house, the occupants of which gave me directions to find my way to the river. The bridge at Shelbyville was now in the hands of the enemy. The next one was eight or ten miles to the east,


Page 217

and my only hope was to hurry on and reach it before they could. Following a southeasterly course, guided by the stars, across fields and through long stretches of woodland, I came about midnight into a well-used road near a house. There was no light within, but as I rode up to the front gate I recognized the outline of a horse hitched to the fence.

        I was quite certain it did not belong to a Federal soldier, for the reason that one lone trooper would not venture this far afield and be away from his horse. In feeling over the saddle--for it was so dark I could not see clearly--I struck a wooden canteen. Then I knew the owner was a Confederate, and I hallooed. A man came to the door, and when he heard my story he said there was another soldier in the house on his way to the bridge, which was two miles off; so we rode on together.

        When within some two hundred yards of the bridge we were startled by a loud shout which formed itself into "Halt! Who comes there?" and I answered, "Friend." The sentinel replied, "What command?" Fearing he might be a Federal picket, I hedged by shouting, "Who are you?" At this there came the most pleasing blasphemy that has ever grated on my Presbyterian ears, "Eighth Texas, by God!" Then I answered, "Fourth Alabama." "How many?" "Two." "One of you come up on foot." One of us went up on foot, and we were safe at last. A half-mile on the south side of Duck River two worn-out Confederates on two worn-out horses rode into a clump of trees, dismounted, unsaddled, tethered, and when they opened their eyes the sun had been up an hour or more. The 27th of June, 1863, was for one of the two a day never to be forgotten. Neither of us had eaten anything since noon of the day before, and our forage-sacks were empty. The army had passed along


Page 218

this road on its retreat, and the locusts never stripped Egypt any cleaner than the hungry Confederates did the ground they passed over. Our horses could get an occasional tuft of grass or a bunch of leaves, but their riders could not graze or browse.

        We followed a road leading south to Tullahoma. The wagon-trains had evidently gone by this route, and how they ever got through was a wonder. The June rains had been pouring down for the last week and were to keep on pouring for another. Once or twice every day or night the heavens opened and soaked the earth and us; then the hot sun would do its best to dry us by a process akin to steaming; then another shower, and so on. For thirteen days in this retreat we were wet at least once every day.1 The rawhide upon our saddle-trees softened, slipped, rotted, and stank to such an extent that it was our practice whenever a halt was made to strip our horses, turn our saddles under side up, and dry them and our blankets. When we reached Elk River, some days later (July 2d), and took advantage of the first opportunity for a wash (no real soldier ever bathed), in trying to get my cotton shirt off it came hopelessly to pieces. How aptly the song in "The Pirates of Penzance" applies to the experiences of war:


                         Taking one consideration with another,
                         A (soldier's) life is not a happy one.

        As we were riding along we noticed lying in the muddy road a knuckle of ham-bone several inches in length. That portion sticking out of the mud had been picked so clean it seemed hardly worth while to investigate the hidden portion, and we passed on. The sight of something which
1 To any who may think this an exaggeration or a lapse of memory I refer to the Official Records of this campaign for daily weather reports.


Page 219

might be eaten, however, started our salivary and gastric machinery into action, so we stopped our horses, and one said he thought he would go back and see if anything had been left on the under side. I was that one; and when I scraped the mud off as cautiously as I could and showed it to my comrade, even the periosteum had disappeared. As a last resort we tightened our cartridge-box belts and rode on.

        The Federal cavalry reached the outposts in front of Tullahoma almost as soon as we did, for I scarcely had time to assure my comrades that I wasn't dead when we had a collision with them. There we lost the gallant Stearns of the Fourth Tennessee, one of the best colonels of cavalry the Civil War developed. As every one in the company thought I had been killed, my reappearance afforded an opportunity for congratulations in which I heartily joined. I looked up Gibson at once, and his outburst was: "Lord God Almighty-- Johnny!" It was irreverent, but not meant to be so, and I give the words just as the brave lieutenant spoke them. My mother and my father had started for the front when they read the news of the bad luck which had befallen, but went back when I reappeared.

        There is not in all the history of our great war a more heroic record than that of General Joseph Wheeler, and with the means at hand he never fought a better fight, or achieved a greater success, or showed more generalship or more desperate personal bravery than here at Shelbyville.

        The Official Records show that in addition to an infantry force of about ten thousand men, which came up late in the afternoon of the 27th of June, the following Union regiments were on the ground and actively engaged (see pp. 547, 548, and 556, vol. xxiii, part 1):


Page 220

        Colonel E. M. McCook's brigade was in reserve and on the field. It was made up of:

        With their superior numbers and equipment the Federals could have run over us at any time after three o'clock, captured us and the enormous wagon-train floundering slowly along in the muddy roads between Shelbyville and Tullahoma. It was nearly sundown when the last wagon was over the river. Wheeler at no time on that day had more than three thousand effective men under his command, and his principal losses were caused by his recrossing to the north side after he and his men were safely over, as he was


Page 221

informed that Forrest had come up and was being surrounded. In an article entitled "General Wheeler's Leap," published in Harper's Weekly for June 18, 1898, the following description is given:

        "General Wheeler, who had safely crossed the river, was in the act of firing the bridge when a member of General Forrest's staff reported to him that Forrest, with two brigades, was within two miles of Shelbyville and advancing rapidly to cross. Realizing the danger which threatened Forrest, Wheeler, notwithstanding the Federals were in strong force in the suburbs of Shelbyville and advancing into town, taking with him two pieces of artillery and five hundred men of Martin's division, with this officer, hastily recrossed the north side in order to hold the bridge and save Forrest from disaster.

        "The guns were hastily thrown into position, but the charges had scarcely been rammed home when the Union troops came in full sweep down the main street. When within a few paces of the muzzle of the guns they were discharged, inflicting, however, insignificant loss. With their small force of five hundred men Generals Wheeler and Martin stood up as best they could under the pressure of this charge. They held their ground manfully as the cavalry rode through and over them, sabring the cannoneers from the guns, of which they took possession, and then passed on and secured the bridge, leaving the two Confederate generals and their troops well in the rear. The bridge had become blocked by one of the caissons, which had been overturned, and now, thinking they had them in a trap, the Union forces formed a line of battle parallel with the bank of Duck River and across the entrance to the bridge.

        "The idea of surrendering himself and his command had


Page 222

not entered the mind of General Wheeler. As Poniatowski had done at the Elster, he now shouted to his men that they must cut their way through and attempt to escape by swimming the river. With General Martin by his side, sabres in hand, they led the charge, which, made in such desperate mood, parted the Federals in their front as they rode through. Without a moment's hesitation, and without considering the distance from the top of the river-bank, which was here precipitous, to the water-level, these gallant soldiers followed their invincible leader and plunged at full speed sheer fifteen feet down into the sweeping current.

        "They struck the water with such velocity that horses and riders disappeared, some of them to rise no more. The Union troopers rushed to the water's edge and fired at the men and animals struggling in the river, killing or wounding and drowning a number. Holding to his horse's mane, General Wheeler took the precaution to shield himself as much as possible behind the body of the animal, and, although fired at repeatedly, he escaped injury and safely reached the opposite shore. Some forty or fifty were said to have perished in this desperate attempt. 'Fighting Joe Wheeler' never did a more heroic and generous deed than when he risked all to save Forrest from disaster. Many years after the war the hero of this story gave me the facts as above stated."


Page 223

XVII
TULLAHOMA TO ALEXANDRIA--ELK RIVER

        THERE was to be no great battle at Tullahoma, where behind formidable intrenchments Bragg's army had for months been sheltered, and upon which Rosecrans was now advancing. When we arrived the wagon-trains had had a four days' start along the awful roads to Chattanooga. The artillery went next, then the long lines of infantry floundered through the mud, and last of all we brought up the rear. Nothing so depresses an army as a retreat; no duty is so harrowing and demoralizing as that of fighting rear-guard actions day after day. South of Tullahoma, with the regular instalment of rain, we stood off the aggressive Union cavalry until we cleared the half-barren post-oak and black-jack plateau, from the summit of which we descended to cross Elk River on a planked-over railroad-bridge, and at dark on July 1st found ourselves posted to oppose the enemy at the crossing of this river known as Morris's Ford.

        On our side of the river at this crossing there was an open hillside which sloped gradually upward from the river-bank for about four hundred yards. It was an old, turned-out field, barren of trees or bushes and fully exposed to the fire of artillery and small arms from the opposite shore, which commanded the slope for this distance. Straight up this hillside the road ascended from the ford. The only protection east of the roadway on the south side was a narrow


Page 224

fringe of bushes and small trees which grew immediately upon the edge of the bank, just back of which was a worm-fence half fallen to pieces from age and neglect. West of the road, as it led up from the crossing, was a fairly dense thicket of scrub timber about half an acre in extent. Through this undergrowth there ran obliquely from the hillside eastward to the river a sinuous wash-out some four or five feet in depth which afforded admirable protection to a limited number of sharp-shooters.

        From this gully the entrance to the ford from the opposite side was in plain view, and not over eighty yards distant. Upon the opposite or northern shore of Elk River, which was here not more than two hundred feet wide, there was a low bottom heavily timbered and with a dense undergrowth of small bushes which extended back some two hundred yards from the stream. A fringe of tall, rank weeds lined the river-bank. The roadway coming from the north and leading into the stream was an ordinary Southern country highway, and so narrow that not more than four men could ride abreast. Moreover, as a result of the heavy rains,1 the river was so full that in midstream it was swimming for the horses for probably half of its width.

        On the morning of July 2, 1863, we were up early and were congratulating ourselves on having a short rest. It was clear, and as soon as the sun rose we turned our saddles bottom side up to dry, and while some of the men were busy getting breakfast a number of us went down to

        1 Official Records, series I, vol. xxiii, part 1, p. 620.

        (a) June 26th: "Rained nearly all day."--Major-General David S. Stanley.

        (b) June 28th: "At daylight the train and troops were all in motion, but owing to the continued rains the roads were in a terrible condition."

        (c) June 29th: "The men remained in line all day and all night. Raining all day and night."--Lieutenant W. B. Richmond, aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Polk.



Page 225

the river to indulge in the luxury of a swim. As we were finishing our simple breakfast of corn-bread and bacon the videttes left half a mile from the ford on the north side of the stream fired at a squadron of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, which chased them into the river. As soon as the guns were heard we were ordered to rush to the ford and hold the enemy back. Some of us (sixteen in all) were fortunate enough to reach the small thicket near the crossing, where we ensconced in the gully described before. Others lay down behind the worm-fence, with nothing but that and the light fringe of bushes for protection. We had barely reached our places when the Federals opened on us with a heavy fire of small arms and two pieces of artillery.1 This fire raked the bivouac on the open hillside behind us, stampeded the horses, and drove the entire command--except the small number who had already succeeded in sheltering themselves close along the bank--back over the crest of the hill fully a half-mile away. As we had no artillery, our position was not to be envied. To try to escape exposed us at close range to the fire from small arms, and to grape and canister for fully four hundred yards of open hillside. Realizing that we were in for it, we prepared for rapid loading by laying our cartridges and caps in rows on the ground and concentrated our fire on the narrow roadway which led into the stream from the other side.

        After having driven everybody else away, the enemy gave their undivided attention to us, and for nearly three hours 2 there was the liveliest firing I ever heard. They were so near we could distinctly hear every command given in an ordinary tone of voice. Those of our men who were lying
1 Stokes's battery.

2 Lieutenant-Colonel O. P. Robbie says, "Nearly three hours."--Official Records, vol. xxiii, part 1, p. 575.


Page 226

behind the old fence suffered severely, and a number were killed or wounded (we could hear their groans), and long before the fight was over no resistance was offered anywhere except by our small squad of sixteen men. Captain Stokes of the Federal battery reported that he "advanced his section within thirty yards of the crossing"1 and opened on us "with canister." Finally they tried volley-firing, concentrating all their small arms and both cannon loaded with grape or canister on our thicket, an area not larger than half an acre. Our fire must have been effective, for we kept their two guns and them back in the undergrowth, where they could not aim with accuracy. Our heads alone were exposed, and after the first volley we ducked into the gully to avoid the others, for we distinctly heard the guns being loaded and knew about when they were going to pull the lanyards. The missiles crashed in showers through the bushes or plowed up the dirt over us, but we were unhurt. They seemed coming thick enough to mow the saplings down, and but for the gully we would all have been killed.

        The thick hedge or fringe of high weeds along the northern bank, where the soil was rich, which was not present on our side where the river cut into the hill, gave us a great advantage. At one time we observed a movement of the top of these weeds, which indicated that some one was crawling down to near the water's edge; and Frank Cotton, Jasper Matheny, and I trained our guns on that point. As soon as the blue uniform was seen we fired together, and nothing more came from that quarter.

        While this fight was in progress there occurred an incident that may well challenge credulity. For pickets of the two armies posted on opposite sides of narrow streams
1 Official Records, vol. xxiii, part 1, p. 579.


Page 227

to converse and at times to barter during the suspension of active hostilities was not uncommon, but to call a truce while the desperate defense of an important crossing was going on was certainly a novel procedure, yet this occurred here. I credit the Union officer responsible for it with motives of generous admiration for a handful of men who were putting up a desperate and determined fight. In a lull longer than usual which followed one of their volleys a voice from their side said, "Hello, boys! Let's hold up awhile and talk it over." We could scarcely believe our senses, and Frank Cotton replied, "What do you want?" The Federal answered, "To stop firing," and we said, "All right."

        It is difficult to estimate time accurately under circumstances of great excitement. I am positive that several minutes elapsed, during which time we and they talked as if in ordinary conversation. I recall clearly that one of our squad asked in a joking way if tobacco was not scarce on their side, and got the retort, "Not any scarcer than coffee is over there."

        The truce ended abruptly when the Union officer said, "Look out; we will have to open fire again," and we soon understood the reason. Being informed of our situation, General Wheeler had hurried back two Parrott guns, which at this moment were unlimbering on the crest of the ridge behind us where we could not see them, but in plain view of the Federals. The roar of these guns, the whizzing of the shells as they passed not far above our heads, and their explosion in the timber across the river was the most welcome sound I ever heard, for the Yankees scampered away as fast as our men had earlier in the day. Then when all was clear we ventured out and rejoined our company, to


Page 228

be publicly commended by our good colonel for what we really couldn't help doing.

        Wishing to make this extraordinary experience a matter of record, several years after the war I secured the following statement in writing from Mr. Jasper N. Matheny, a worthy farmer who in 1913 was still living in Marshall County, Alabama, and who was one of this detachment. I wrote him as follows: "Kindly let me know if you were with this detachment on that day (July 2, 1863), and, if so, whether or not you recall the fact that in a temporary lull in the firing, by mutual consent, the firing on both sides ceased for several minutes, during which time we talked to each other in practically an ordinary tone of voice." In reply he says:

        I distinctly recall the fact concerning which you write. During the truce we exposed ourselves to view by standing up in the gully in which we had been hidden, and no one shot at us, nor did we again fire. I am under the impression that at least five or ten minutes elapsed before the conversation was interrupted by a Federal, presumably an officer, who gave us warning that the firing would be resumed. We again concealed ourselves, but were almost immediately rescued from our precarious position by a Confederate battery, which from the hill in our rear opened upon the Federals across the stream and drove them precipitately from our front.

(Signed) J. N. MATHENY.


        In looking over the Official Records I find a further corroboration in the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver P. Robie, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, who commanded the advance, dated "July 8, 1863, near Winchester" (Official Records, vol. xxiii, part 1, p. 575): "On the morning of the 2d [July] we came upon a small squad of rebels, to whom we gave chase as far as the river, when, finding the river too deep to ford quickly, and the enemy in considerable force on the opposite side, in obedience to orders I retired a short distance


Page 229

and dismounted my men and advanced into the thicket skirting the bank on the right of the road, where we remained within speaking distance of the enemy for nearly three hours, during which time the firing was very brisk.1 At 11 A.M. the enemy opened fire upon us with shell and canister, and, fearing a stampede of my horses, I returned and mounted my men and retired about a fourth of a mile and formed a line."

        Colonel Eli Long, commanding a Union brigade at this date, a gallant officer who never failed to distinguish himself, was in command in this fight. Six days thereafter, on July 8, 1863, he officially reported as follows: "July 2d. Returned to Hillsborough, thence taking the Winchester road. When within a mile of Morris's Ford on Elk River my advance discovered a squad of rebel cavalry and gave chase, the remainder of their regiment (Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry) moving up briskly. Pursued them to the river, and drove them into the stream, when sharp musketry-firing was opened on the advance from the woods on the opposite shore, and replied to by my men, who found the water too deep to ford readily. The enemy proved to be in considerable force, and additional companies were moved up to support the advance. One officer (Captain Adae) and one man of the Fourth Ohio were here wounded; and, the firing becoming more heavy, I dismounted the remaining company of the Fourth and sent them forward as skirmishers on the front and left. I then dismounted a part of the Third Ohio and deployed them in the woods on our right. The numbers of the enemy were augmented by reinforcements from their rear, and they occupied a quite strong position, so that it was found difficult to dislodge
1 Italics not in the original.


Page 230

them until two pieces of Captain Stokes's battery were brought forward by order of General Turchin and opened upon them. This silenced their fire for a while, but meantime they were reinforced by a brigade of infantry and two pieces of artillery, the latter of which opened upon us a fierce fire with six and twelve pounder shells and canister. My main command (twelve companies altogether) was now forced back from the woods. Sharp firing was now kept up on both sides for some time, the rebel infantry retiring toward Decherd, with the two pieces of artillery. . . . My entire loss during the day was one officer and ten men wounded. Two of the latter were mortally wounded, and died during the afternoon."1

        General Long was in error in regard to the presence of any infantry on our side. After their artillery opened and drove the fragments of our brigade (parts of the Fifty-first and Fourth Alabama regiments) there was not a Confederate soldier in firing distance except our squad of sixteen men. Protected as we were, and commanding at close range the narrow roadway which led into the river, our position was impregnable.

        We had scarcely reached our horses when Lieutenant Gibson was ordered to take a scouting party of eight men to investigate a report that the enemy were crossing at an obscure ford about a mile and a half below or west of our position, and I went along. After going about a mile we left the high ground and were soon in the thickly wooded land of the river-bottom following a narrow, winding, and little-used road which had been made through a dense thicket of small saplings into which one could not see fifty feet on either side. Gibson rode ahead, and we followed in
1 Official Records, vol. xxiii, part 1, p. 558


Page 231

close double file. George Morris and Will Fackler were in front, and I was just behind Morris, when suddenly we were fired on from ambush. One bullet struck Morris at the outer edge of his left eye, cutting a trench along the side of his temple. The direction of the shots was from in front, but no one saw the flash or smoke. Gibson ordered us back one hundred yards, where a turn in the roadway took us out of range. We could now distinctly hear the shouting and tumult of the Federals, who were swimming their horses across the river.

        Gibson ordered me and two others to dismount and advance cautiously through the thicket in order to find out something of their strength. I had not gone a hundred yards through the dense undergrowth when a gun was fired and a bullet came through the saplings alarmingly near. I fell flat on the ground for safety and peered through the bushes in the direction from which it came, but saw no one. I then crawled forward some thirty or forty yards farther, when a second shot rang out, and the missile came my way. I could still see no one, and was in about as unhappy a frame of mind as was possible, when Gibson called us back; and we ran to our horses, mounted, and hurried back to report that the enemy was over and advancing in force. As we reached the upland a vidette was posted with orders to fire as soon as the Yankee cavalry came in sight. Within five minutes of the time we reached the command our picket came dashing in with a large body of Federals at his heels.

        A mile or more back from the river we formed in line of battle and skirmished heavily and continuously, gradually retiring until nearly dark. By this time General Wheeler had assembled a division of cavalry and lined them in a field in which the wheat had just been cut and shocked.


Page 232

The enemy's cavalry were now in full view, and it seemed as if we were to have a regular cavalry battle in this great open space. We advanced in echelon, firing by regiments as we came into line. It was a very beautiful sight; but the two lines of battle were not sufficiently near each other to do effective work. I afterward learned that we were manoeuvering to lead them into a trap, but the Federal commander (Long) was too smart to be caught, and withdrew his forces for the night.

        We left the Federals going into camp, and with a light line of pickets to watch them through the night our main column trudged on in the retreat southward until twelve o'clock, when we rested until daylight, only to resume the weary, disheartening march up the Cumberland Mountains, across this broad plateau, in rainy weather and along muddy roads, until we reached Bridgeport, Alabama, late one night. Here the Memphis& Charleston Railroad bridge over the Tennessee had been floored for the passage of troops. There was no side protection, but the floor was sufficiently wide for ordinary safety if one would keep between the rails. To prevent accident we were ordered to dismount and lead our horses single file; but I was so worn out I rode my horse all the way over. The rear-guard burned the bridge.

        Little of interest occurred for the next few days; and, worn out with the constant marching and fighting, loss of sleep, and daily rains which kept us wet and chilled, we proceeded at leisure down Big Will's Valley to a recruiting-camp near Alexandria, Alabama.

        I recall but one moment of merriment in all this trying experience, and this was due to a wholly unexpected reply our orderly sergeant received to an impertinent question he was wont to put to any lone and unprotected straggler.


Page 233

Sam Russell, whose experience of several years as conductor of a freight-train on the Memphis& Charleston Railroad had afforded a fairly good training for the hardships of a campaign, was not only a good soldier, but a great wag and "bluffer." On this particular occasion we were sitting by the roadside upon the top rails of a worm-fence, giving our horses and ourselves a rest, while another cavalry command was passing. Trailing behind the last regiment came the inevitable stragglers, and at the very last there jogged by on a raw-boned, flea-bitten gray nag one of the most forlorn-looking specimens of a soldier I had ever seen. The roads were so sloppy and the horse so bespattered with mud that the natural color was only recognizable on a limited area behind the saddle.

        The cavalryman had covered himself as well as he could with a homespun, copperas-dyed blanket which was water-soaked. The blanket reached to within about a foot of his shoe-tops, and from his ankles up the skin was bare, for his trousers had crawled upward to parts unknown. He wore a Confederate wool hat, which may originally have been gray, but sun and rain and time had changed it to a dirty ash color. The stiffening had long been washed out, and the brim flopped up and down with the movements of the horse. He looked neither to the right nor to the left as he passed and paid no attention to the remarks about himself or his horse until Sergeant Russell's voice rang out in an extra loud and insulting tone: "Hello, Mister! Are you a married man or a dog?"

        The pitcher had gone to the well one time too often; for this cavalier, the moment he heard the insulting query, reined his horse and, carrying his right hand back in the direction of the six-shooter which he was keeping dry under


Page 234

his blanket, faced the sergeant and said in a voice which could be heard beyond our company limit: "I'm a dog, G-- d-- you! What are you?" And Sam, abashed, red in the face, and crestfallen, stood convicted; for we all knew he, too, was a bachelor. The roar of laughter which swept along the line was like a ray of sunshine on a cold, gray winter's day. We cheered the stranger, gave him a vote of thanks, and proffered an escort, which he gracefully declined. Henceforth this question was erased from the sergeant's catechism.

        From Trenton I made a two days' ride over the mountains to my home to get the horse I had brought out of Kentucky in 1862, rested there three days, and then said good-by to my parents for two years and to the dear old home and faithful "black mammy" for ever. The Federals burned our village in 1864 and took mammy and her children to Nashville, where they all died in an epidemic of smallpox. The policy of devastation was carried out over practically all of northern Alabama; Bridgeport, Stevenson, Bellefont, Scottsboro, Larkinsville, Woodville, Camden, Vienna, and a number of other prosperous villages were burned, and there are no official reports of these transactions.

        At Alexandria we were comfortably stationed for the rest of July and until the last week in August. There was plenty of growing corn in this section, ripe enough to make good roasting-ears for the troopers and to be fed green to the horses. We bivouacked in a piece of wooded land which had been part of one of Jackson's old battle-grounds in the Creek War. There were still traces of the trenches and breastworks which had sheltered him when driven by these warlike Indians, who later took refuge and fortified themselves


Page 235

in the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa near by, where they were exterminated.

        We had little to do but feed and curry our horses, do camp duty, and drill two hours a day. One of those drill days, at least, I remember was excessively hot, and few places can get hotter than an open field from which the grain has been cut, with a midday sun overhead in mid-August and in middle Alabama! The full regiment was in line, and we had been doing all sorts of stunts--advancing and firing by companies, in echelon, skirmish drill, flanking drill, etc.--until men and horses were superheated, restless, and half mad at any and every thing, and thinking that nothing on earth was worth while at that particular moment but a drink of cool water and the shade of a tree. Dividing two of these hot stubble-fields was the wreckage of a half-rotted, tumble-down, old worm-fence, not over six rails high at any place, and these so rickety that if our horses' hoofs struck them they would break and fly in pieces.

        Colonel Russell ordered a charge, with this fence as the imaginary line of the enemy. As he rode along our front, with his long auburn beard and his gray uniform frock-coat buttoned up to the chin--and this was one of several of his eccentricities, for it never grew hot enough to make him unbutton his coat--we privates thought he was the hottest-looking thing we had ever seen on horseback. The "enemy" was three hundred yards in front; the bugle sounded "trot," then "gallop," then "charge." Yelling like Comanches, we rode over the fence, briers and all, acquiring so much momentum that no private could stop his horse until he reached that tree in camp to which his mount was habitually tethered.

        The officers came in later, at a walk. There was some small talk about having us lined up in front of the colonel's


Page 236

tent, but we all held out that our horses were crazy for water and had run away, and couldn't be stopped until they reached camp. The brave old colonel (who quit medicine and surgery to command a cavalry brigade) forgave us.

        The unconquerable spirit in that man never gave up. When Forrest surrendered at Gainesville he rode away to the West, crossed over into Mexico, and settled at Cordova, where he resumed the practice of medicine, accumulated a large fortune, and died only a few years ago. He sent me, only a little while before he died, the picture reproduced in my Life of Forrest, and with it a characteristic letter wondering how I could "live in a land governed by Yankees!" In this letter he said: "The Confederate army was not whipped; it simply wore itself out whipping the Yankees."


Page 237

XVIII
CHICKAMAUGA, WHERE THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY WAS WON AND LOST--THE REAL CRISIS OF THE CIVIL WAR

        LATE in August we saddled up for the march to Chattanooga. Two nights before we were to start my horse, tethered with a rope, got it tangled under one of his pasterns and was thrown lame. For three days of the march I walked and led my mount: they were long and tiresome days. Fortunately, the command moved leisurely, to save the horses--about twenty miles a day. By starting off at three or four in the morning I would be passed by the column about noon, and would catch up when they bivouacked for the night, usually long after dark. On the third day I made a temporary exchange with a trooper who was content to keep my disabled mount with the wagons, and secured in this way a first-class horse which I rode all through the Chickamauga campaign.

        It was on this march that an attempt was made to collect all the carbines and most modern and effective guns in the regiment and give them to the two flanking companies. I had bought my Burnside carbine with fifty dollars given me by my married sister, and I resented the order to turn it in for a long and heavy Austrian rifle. It so happened that a dear friend was ordnance officer, and when the inspection was made he allowed me to retain my carbine.


Page 238

        We reached Lafayette, Georgia, September 1st, and were assigned to active duty at once, to watch the gaps in Lookout Mountain, through which we were daily expecting the advancing columns of Rosecrans's army to descend into Georgia. Two of his three corps were already south of the Tennessee and were climbing the mountains. The other was in sight of Chattanooga.

        My first duty was with four other men to picket a defile through which one of the roads across Lookout Mountain led into the Chickamauga Valley. Our orders were to remain there until driven in by the enemy. As we started out with two days' rations, and as it was six days before the enemy appeared, we were soon left to our own resources for subsistence. The Confederate cavalry was used to that. Near our post there were two small farm-houses about half a mile apart. In one, a double cabin of hewn logs, there lived three ladies--a widowed mother, a married and an unmarried daughter. The husband of the daughter was away in our army, and these women unaided had cultivated a small field of several acres in corn. As it was all they had to live on, we took what we needed from another farm owned by an able-bodied man who had managed to stay at home. Within two weeks the battle of Chickamauga had been fought, in part over this very ground, and the next day I rode by this spot. Where the field of corn which we would not touch had stood there was not a stalk left, not even a fence-rail. The trodden ground was checkered with the charred embers of camp-fires where the tents of the Federal infantry had stood in rows, and nothing but the chimneys remained to tell where stood the log house which had sheltered those three lone women.


Page 239a

        

Illustration

MAP OF THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA

        DESCRIPTION OF MAP
The battle of Chickarnauga was fought on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st of September, 1863. The stream from which it took its name is a sluggish, crooked creek running in a general direction a little east of north toward the Tennessee River. The original battle-lines, facing east and west, extended from Wheeler's position on the extreme Confederate left to where Forrest, at the other end, opened the fight, about eight miles. There was a dam at Lee and Gordon's mill, and above, or south of this, for about a half-mile the back-water was too deep to be forded or waded. Some two miles farther south at Glass's mill there was another dam. There were several bridges; one at Lee and Gordon's (not shown on the map), Alexander's, Reed's, and at the Ringgold road-crossing, and a number of fords used for cross-cut or wood-roads. With the exception of the two deep-water stretches of about a half-mile each, this creek was not a formidable obstacle to the aggressive Confederates. When they opened the battle on the right on Friday afternoon, they captured all the bridges in short order, and over these and by the fords went the artillery. Most of the troops waded where it was not more than waist-deep. Here and there, as indicated, were small fields or cleared patches; but in general the ground which near the creek was fairly level, gradually rising to a rolling or hilly formation to the west, was covered with a forest of post-oak, black-jack and pine-trees, with an occasional dense cedar-brake, and practically everywhere a heavy undergrowth of bushes so thick that in some places an enemy could not be seen until the opposing lines were within a few yards of each other. All day of Saturday and until near noon on Sunday the Federals, shielded by the deep-water stretches on their right wing, held on to the creek. From Lee and Gordon's northward the Confederates held the stream, driving the Union line back to the La Fayette, Rossville, and Chattanooga road, which, as shown, runs due north and south. Along this highway the hard fighting of Saturday and early Sunday took place.
The possession of the creek was of great value in supplying the men and animals with water. It had not rained for several weeks, and the few wells or springs of a sparsely settled region were very low or dry. A hot southern sun shone for the four days of battle from a sky with no intervening clouds except those made by smoke and dust. The Union lines were supplied from Crawfish Spring on their far right wing, and the stretch of creek still held as far down as Lee and Gordon's. The smoke was at times very dense; but the dust was most distressing. On those sections of the field most stubbornly contested the tramping of men and horses back and forth repeatedly over the same ground pulverized the dry crust of the whitish soil and raised such a thick cloud of dust that at times it hid from view the almost stifled combatants.
For days after the battle the leaves on the undergrowth and on the lower limbs of the trees were still white. The arrow is pointing north toward Chattanooga. North and south the map represents a little over ten miles of ground. Note especially Missionary Ridge and the gaps at McFarland's and at Rossville. Through these Bragg permitted Thomas to escape. The great disaster to the Union line occurred near noon on Sunday where Hood's name appears. The entire right wing and center of the Federal battle-line fled the field and disappeared in panic through the woods, pouring through McFarland's gap and over the Ridge, and taking along in the stampede to Chattanooga the Commander in Chief, General Rosecrans, and Generals McCook and Crittenden, commanding two of the three corps of the Union army. Honorable Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, took a leading part in this part of the engagement.
Note that part of the field marked "Forrest's Second Position," and that from this point the several roads into Chattanooga were open and in possession of the Confederates at 4 o'clock P.M. Sunday, September 20th. At this hour there was no organized resistance to the victorious Confederates save that by Thomas.


Page 239

        By September 12th a corps of Union infantry under General McCook and a strong body of cavalry under General Stanley came over Lookout Mountain to Alpine, Georgia, and drove our pickets back. Then two other divisions of infantry advanced through the gaps in Pigeon Mountain, and we took part in an effort to capture these commands, which at that moment were widely separated; but owing to the lack of co-operation on the part of the Confederate generals the movement failed, and the Federals were at last permitted to concentrate their forces on the field of Chickamauga.

        In this movement to capture McCook's corps it was my good fortune to pass safely through a very unusual experience. Starting in the afternoon from Lafayette, our division marched all night in the direction of Alpine. Toward morning a staff-officer stationed on the side of the road as we filed by repeated to each company the order to cease talking and to make as little noise as possible. At four we were halted, and word came from the front down the line, repeated from regiment to regiment, that "a volunteer was wanted at the head of the column who would go where he was ordered." My curiosity was aroused, and I said to Lieutenant Jack Weatherly, my messmate, that I would go with him and see what was wanted. It was very dark, and there was no little difficulty in riding through the command, which packed the narrow country road. The general in command asked me if I was "willing to go inside the enemy's lines," and I replied, "If it was necessary I would try to do what was required, provided I could wear my uniform, but that I wouldn't go as a spy." To this he said: "All right. I want you to carry a message to some troops that have passed around their flank, and are now coming up in their rear. It is important that they be headed off


Page 240

and ordered to return by the route they traveled. To reach them in time you will have to pass through the Federal lines."

        He gave me some general directions as to about where I ought to find this detachment at daylight, and turned me over to a guide, a farmer who lived near by, who agreed to accompany me to where the road turned off that I must follow. As the mission promised to be more than ordinarily risky, I stripped my horse and self of everything not absolutely necessary, and with the exception of a small New Testament which my mother had handed me as I left home for the war, with the injunction that I should read at least one chapter every day, and my trusted army six-shooter, I turned over all my personal belongings to Jack. The incongruity of associating a Testament and a six-shooter did not occur to my mind then as it has since. While this was going on some one fastened on an extra surcingle to make my saddle more secure.

        As our good colonel, whose interest in this enterprise was evidently aroused, rode along with Jack, the guide, and myself for a short distance, he said: "If you get through all right, I'll see that you get as long a furlough as you want"; and then he and Lieutenant Weatherly said "Good luck!" and turned back. About a quarter of a mile farther on the farmer and I came to where the roads forked. I followed my guide a few yards along the one to the right, which I was to take. He told me it was about half a mile down that road to where the Federal pickets were stationed. He had seen them there between sundown and dark. After getting from him what information I could as to the character of the road ahead of me, I went on alone. It was now between four and five o'clock and very dark.


Page 241

        Having become accustomed to the darkness, I could make out the opening of the roadway a few yards ahead chiefly because it was accentuated by the blackness of the forest on either side. This was in my favor, as was the fact that the road was sandy and soft and my horse's hoof-beats at a fast walk were scarcely audible. The only sound that I did hear--and it is indelibly registered in the memory cells occupied by this experience--was the weird note of one of the small screech-owls which are common in this section, the cry of which no one is apt to forget who hears it for the first time. I had heard them hundreds of times, but never under just such surroundings.

        It goes without saying that I appreciated the dangers which this mission involved, but the most astonishing feature of the psychology of this moment was that I found myself in a condition of mind in which the value of life became a secondary consideration. It had never come to me before; it never has since. In that brief period the stars were not far away, for I had eliminated self. The one absorbing thought which took possession of me was that my mother would be proud of me for trying to do my duty. I did not intend to be stopped, and with a swift, game, and powerful horse the chances were in my favor. Riding into their lines would disarm suspicion, and if I could get by the outpost without alarm the rest would be easy. I had made up my mind that I would ride by or over anything or anybody who got in the way, and when hailed would say, as I galloped by, that I was a courier with important despatches.

        When I had gone about the distance which should bring me near the pickets, as indicated by the guide, I took my pistol from the holster, cocked it, and with the finger inside the guard held it ready for instant use. Catching a short


Page 242

hold on the bridle, I leaned well down on my horse's neck and urged him into a slow canter. He had not gone more than two hundred yards at this gait when he suddenly raised his head and seemed about to shy, and then not twenty feet ahead I recognized the dark figures of two men as they vanished from the open roadway into the dark bushes to my left. They must have spoken or challenged, and I doubtless replied; but the moment I saw them I gave my horse the spurs, and he bounded over or by them, and on the wings of the wind in another instant he and his rider were lost from their view. It is more than probable that my lucky escape was due to lack of vigilance on the part of the pickets. My horse made little or no sound in the deep, soft sand. Once past them, if they fired they endangered their own men.

        Another interesting feature of the psychology of this incident is that, while every detail up to this moment is distinctly and indelibly registered, I have never been clear as to what occurred for the next few minutes. The next thing I remember is that as the day dawned I was racing along, and saw from the top of a hill off in the valley below, probably a mile away, what looked like a heavy fog. As it had not rained for several weeks and the roads were very dusty, I realized that it was not fog, but a cloud of dust made by moving troops.1 Coming in plain sight, I was overjoyed to find that they were our troops, and to the officer in command I delivered my message.


1 A drought prevailed for nearly two months at this time in 1863. While we were on picket, early in September, the Federal corps crossing Lookout Mountain raised such clouds of dust that fifteen miles away their line of march could be made out. So thick was the dust on the battle-field at Chickamauga that at times it enveloped and bid the troops like a fog, and the forest trees far removed from the roads were white with the dust that settled on the leaves. See the official reports immediately after the battle.

Page 243

        When I got back to the regiment our colonel was as good as his word, and told me I was free to go home; but we knew a great battle was impending, and I stayed to see it.

        I must relate a very extraordinary experience which has an association with this night ride. In November, 1912, forty-nine years after it was made, I happened to be in Chattanooga, and, wandering along one of the hill streets at an hour so early that very few people were stirring, I saw following me at a short distance another early riser. Feeling in a conversational mood, I slackened my pace, and as he came up I remarked, "Fine town," to which he courteously responded with real Chattanooga pride, "Yes, indeed!" "Native?" I asked. "No sir; born in Madison County, Alabama." Then I continued: "We came near being twins. I'm from Marshall." He inquired my name, and I replied: "You don't know of me, but you must know of my father, Judge Louis Wyeth." As yet we had scarcely looked at each other; but when he heard my father's name he turned quickly toward me and stopped so suddenly that I did the same. In a voice that betrayed evident feeling he said: "Then you are Dr. Wyeth from New York; John A. Wyeth, Company I, Fourth Alabama Cavalry. My God! I haven't seen you since that night in 1863 when you volunteered to go into the Yankee lines for General Wheeler"--and he continued with some details which for the time being had escaped my memory. My accidental acquaintance turned out to be Mr. G. G. Lilly, of Chattanooga, a well-known citizen and a gallant soldier of our regiment to the end of the war. I did not suppose until then that there was living a human being who knew anything personally about this incident.

        The hot weather, the scarcity of water, and the dusty


Page 244

roads were very trying to the columns of infantry that were being rapidly concentrated near Lafayette, Georgia. In one of the divisions that passed my post I noticed the men were barefoot, their shoes swung across the barrels of their guns. The road here was sandy and soft, and they were saving their footgear for rougher going. They would march fifteen minutes or so and rest five, lying flat on the ground. In one of the Texas regiments I recognized a young lad, "part Cherokee," with whom I had gone to school in Alabama.

        For ten days before the battle we were almost constantly in touch with the enemy's cavalry, and on September 17th we had a lively skirmish in McLenmore's Cove near Catlett's Gap, which for a while seemed to be the precursor of a general engagement, but none in our company were hurt. Part of this action took place in a stretch of open farm-land with half a dozen houses in sight. Both sides were using artillery, and, naturally, the shells produced great consternation among the home people. One of the houses centrally located had a cellar for refuge, and toward it every man, woman, and child in the neighborhood was running to disappear within like bees darting into a hive at the sudden approach of a shower.

        On the late afternoon of September 18th, when the great battle of Chickamauga opened, we were posted on the extreme left of the Confederate line, about two miles from Crawfish Spring, in contact with Mitchell's and Crook's divisions of the Union cavalry. On the 19th the far-away thunder of artillery told the story of the hard fighting that was going on where the infantry were at work. We spent the day skirmishing and sharp-shooting with their cavalry advance, chiefly in observation. For protection we made defenses of rails and logs, and, until the ruse was discovered,


Page 245

amused ourselves by placing a hat on a ramrod and slowly elevating it, as if some one were peering over the rails to shoot. Meanwhile our best long-range rifle-shots, with their guns thrust through cracks and well protected, trained their sights on the trees and stumps from behind which the Federals were firing. No sooner would the hat rise high enough to be seen than their blue arms and shoulders would be exposed to our fire. Just in front of our position was a small field of corn, and, as we needed some for our horses and ourselves--for parched corn was our chief provender at this time--when there was a lull in the firing several of us crawled on our hands and knees, trailing our forage-sacks, and reached the corn rows without being seen. The watchful enemy, observing the tops of the stalks in commotion, turned loose on us so effectively that the corn detail suspended operations until night-time.

        Early on Sunday, September 20th, some of the Federal long-range guns began to land bullets in our bivouac, and one or two horses were hit. The firing came from a log cabin about four hundred yards across a field which was now grown up with a rich crop of high ragweed. Some ten of us volunteered to drive them out or capture them, and I was placed in command of the detachment. In order to get into the field of weeds through which it was necessary to crawl to keep out of sight, we made a slight detour and came up behind a dense copse of bushes, where we loosened a lower rail and crawled through the fence without being seen. As it was not safe to try to rush the cabin from the front, we made our way cautiously to the back of the barns or stables of a farm-house two or three hundred yards from the nest of the sharp-shooters in the log cabin. It was still very early, for as I came to the open back door of the farm-house


Page 246

I saw a lady and two children at the breakfast-table. When she saw me she started up and, recognizing my gray jacket, in evident alarm exclaimed, "The Yankee pickets are in the road by our front gate." To my inquiry of how many there were and how long they had been there she said a company of cavalry came the day before and left some of their men on picket. I crept along the wall of the house, peeped cautiously around the comer, but saw no one, and told her she must have been mistaken. She assured me she had seen them since daylight. I then signaled the others to come up, and as we reached the road we found plenty of fresh tracks made since the dew had fallen. There was no mistaking these footprints, for they were made by the square-toed regulation shoe of the United States army.

        We now quickly formed in a line about ten feet apart and ran through the woods toward the cabin, taking it on the flank and rear. Not a word was spoken as we rushed ahead with our guns cocked and ready. I expected every moment to see gun-smoke jet out of the cracks in the cabin; but when we reached it it was empty. A fresh fire was burning, and we found some blankets, cooking-utensils--among these a coffee-pot, for which we had little use--and a small sack of salt and other plunder, which the Federals had hurriedly abandoned. General Martin, who was watching us through his field-glasses, met us half-way across the field as we were returning, and upon my report ordered the ever-reliable Lieutenant John Gibson to ride out with some twenty men and see what was up. He came back within an hour with information which caused General Wheeler to move his whole command some two miles or more in great haste to Glass's Mill on the Chickamauga, about a mile from Crawfish Spring.


Page 247

        We had hardly reached this spot when we struck a big body of their cavalry, and a lively fight was precipitated. One of our batteries went immediately into action just in front of our position, and we were posted to guard it. The Federal guns about five hundred yards away soon got the range and threw a lot of shrapnel, which kept us on the anxious seat for fully an hour, for they frequently burst up in front of us, and the fragments came whirring down our way. One piece about two inches long struck the ground right by my horse, and I dismounted and picked it up and sent it home to my mother as a souvenir. Had we been fifty yards farther back we would have been fully protected behind the crest of the ridge on which we were formed. After what seemed an interminable time we were ordered back this far, and a detail was made to parch corn. Here two flour-biscuits and a small piece of bacon were issued to each man. For the three days of this battle no other ration than this was given to our command--we were subsisting on parched corn. After about two hours of fighting the Eighth Texas got on the flank of the Federals and gave them a wild chase in the direction of Lee& Gordon's Mill, in which we all joined.

        In this engagement a lot of prisoners were captured, and several of our dead and wounded were brought in on the horses, as we carried no stretchers and an ambulance was unknown. I saw one body held across the lap and legs of one of the Texas troopers, the limp arms and legs dangling nearly to the ground. I was told it was his brother, who had been instantly killed. That and another scene I witnessed at Glass's Mill still remain vividly in mind. A captured Union cavalry officer who had been shot through the bones of one foot came in limping along with the other dismounted


Page 248

captives. I was standing close by when a ranger who had been one of the captors said to him, "I want your boots." The officer had on a magnificent pair of Wellingtons, and, as it was useless to say no, he sat down and held up the sound foot while the Texan pulled that boot off and tried it on. As it was a fit, he motioned for the other. When the wounded man asked him if he wouldn't split it so it could be pulled off without hurting, the ranger simply pulled it off vi et armis, remarking, "You reckon I'm going to spoil that boot?" It was a pretty rough experience, and my sympathies were with the unfortunate prisoner. Earlier in the war this incident would not have been possible, but men had become callous and indifferent, and then the necessities of the Southern troops, half starved and poorly clad as they were, justified to some extent the wholesale appropriation of all the belongings of their prisoners.

        The dead on the field were practically all stripped before burial, leaving only a single undergarment on. Right after the Chickamauga battle I was detailed to gather up guns and other wreckage on the field, and the dead Federals were scattered everywhere, in some places very thick. I counted seven who had fallen in one pile, and I recall but one that had not been stripped of all outer clothing; yet not one of all these dead men but had some covering left for the sake of modesty.

        This cavalry fight at Glass's Mill and near Crawfish Spring ended about the time that Longstreet broke through the Union left wing and sent Crittenden's and McCook's corps flying toward Thomas and Chattanooga, and it may be that knowledge of this disaster had reached the Federal cavalry in our front and hastened their departure. Certain it is that, try as hard as we could, we never caught up


Page 249

with them any more that day. Had General Wheeler been promptly informed of the Confederate success, we could have been immeasurably more useful by going from Glass's Mill straight to Crawfish Spring, and on by the direct road into the immediate rear of the flying Union infantry, for they were disorganized, and we could have added to the rout and captured thousands whom our infantry could not overhaul. Instead of doing this we moved along the easterly bank of the Chickamauga, and, although we ran our horses all the way, we lost valuable time before we dismounted to advance on foot at Lee& Gordon's Mill.

        When the order was given to "dismount to fight" we were called off in "eights" instead of "fours," as usual, and when we were told that no more men could be spared to hold the horses we were convinced that a desperate situation was at hand. It so happened that number eight fell to me, and I made Nat Scott--a boy younger than I whom my parents had lately sent from home to bring me some much-needed articles of clothing--take my place as horse-holder. Nat asked for a gun and a place with us in the battle, but I insisted that he take my place with the horses.

        As we fell in line for the advance, and were loading and capping our guns, a member of my company, pale and trembling, left the line and walked up to the captain. I heard him say, "Captain, I can't go in." Captain James L. Smith, who had succeeded Dr. Fennell in command of Company I, replied, more in pity than contempt, "My God, then go back to the horses!" I have often thought that it took more courage to confess cowardice than it did to go into battle. I had seen shirking in many forms, but this was the first and only instance I ever saw or heard of in which a soldier in the presence of his comrades handed his


Page 250

gun to his captain and owned up that he couldn't face the music. There was a man in my company, sober, kindly disposed, and well behaved, who in one way and another dodged out of every fight the company was in and was captured late in 1863, only because his horse didn't start soon enough and couldn't run fast enough to get him on this final occasion out of the danger-zone in time. This was the man I found with the wagon-train in the rear of the line at Shelbyville who jumped at the chance to exchange his sound horse for my crippled mount. I never learned by what route or under what pretext he found his way to the rear. If he didn't "live to fight another day," he lived, and is still, at a very advanced age, a successful farmer in my native state.

        I have narrated elsewhere the incident of the lad who remained flattened out as close to the ground as his anatomy could be applied while all the others were standing or kneeling and shooting at the enemy, and who, when the retreat began, found his feet so quickly that he forgot his gun, and, like Ben Adhem's name, led all the rest. This was his first and only appearance on the field of Mars. It became the practice to station reliable men, usually sergeants or corporals, in the rear of the advancing or forming line to prevent shirking. At times some man would take advantage of a tree or stump, and, being out of sight for a moment, would fall down and remain there unobserved, or "break like a steer"--to use a homely phrase--and run for dear life, as did a bully of our county at Shiloh. This man, I was told by a comrade who didn't run, died from the effect of this stampede; in fact, dropped dead, presumably of heart disease, while running.

        Forrest had a standing order to shoot any man who ran,


Page 251

and himself set the example on more than one occasion. The late Colonel Alfred H. Belo, who commanded a North Carolina regiment in Lee's army, and who ultimately died from the effect of various wounds received in the service, told me that at Gettysburg, just as they were about to open fire, a soldier was seen to take advantage of a stump for a few minutes, seeing which an officer shouted to his sergeant, "Stay by that man and bring him on." One of the most rampant fire-eaters of the exciting period just before the war became an ultra-conservative when hostilities were declared, and finally was conscripted. He reached at dark the regiment to which he had been assigned. At daylight next morning the Federal cavalry stampeded this regiment. The raw recruit led the charge to the rear, and, having a good start, never stopped until he reached home, where he remained unmolested until the war was ended.

        As we began the advance our regiment was the extreme left of our line, and when we struck the Chickamauga we waded the stream just below the Lee& Gordon mill-dam. Hoping to get over dry, a number of us started to run across the dam; but an officer shouted: "Get off! They're going to rake you with grapeshot," and we leaped into the water like so many bullfrogs. Where I waded it was not quite waist-deep. We learned in a few minutes that we could have gone over on the dam dry-shod and in perfect safety. Down near the water's edge we reformed our line, and as we climbed the bank to the crest of the ridge in our front every one was alert and at great tension, for we had no thought but that the ridge above was lined with Federals who would give us a volley at any moment. I know that never in my life have I been so apprehensive of danger as on this occasion, and I never saw such determination


Page 252

in our men as was in evidence here. I do not believe they could have been stopped by any ordinary force or resistance. I was profoundly impressed with this idea by a remark made by the man next to me as we clambered up the hill. He said, "Johnnie, we've got to whip 'em right now!" When we reached the crest and peered over I could hardly believe my eyes. There was not a Yankee in sight.

        Pushing on, our company came to a small patch of an acre or two of sorghum sugar-cane, and as we passed through we cut the stalks in short sections and filled our haversacks and pockets, eating it as we advanced. There were everywhere the evidences of a hurried retreat. The ground was strewn with abandoned property. Suddenly coming upon an ambulance in which some musicians had piled their instruments as they joined in the flight, I saw the mouth of a big brass horn sticking out over the tail-board, and my first impression was that we had run into a masked battery. We kept on in vain pursuit for several hours, and then the horse-holders came up, and we mounted and rode to Crawfish Spring, where the enemy had established their headquarters at first. Here we captured their camp and hospitals, and a lot of prisoners, mostly wounded. It was now dark, and I fed my horse, crammed my haversack with Yankee hardtack (a great and rare luxury for us), filled a fine tin canteen just acquired with water from that glorious spring--one of the most beautiful in the world-- and ate real crackers and drank water until I fell asleep.

        When I awoke the sun was shining in my face. My trousers-- the only pair I had--soaked in wading the creek, had held the dust we raised as we marched over that much-trodden field. They were now dry and as stiff as if they had been starched, and very uncomfortable. I was about to


Page 253

wash them and their owner in the spring branch when a courier came with the news that a lot of wagons and some Union troops had been cut off the evening before and had taken refuge in Chattanooga Valley. Thither we rode as fast as our horses could carry us. It was not much of a fight, for we outnumbered them and rode over them just as they had done with us at Shelbyville. In the pursuit one of their wounded fell from his horse right underfoot, and two of our men and the surgeon of our regiment stopped and dragged the poor fellow to the side of the road; for the dust was so thick that it was at times with difficulty that we could see the road-bed, and he would probably have been trodden to death. Dr. Steger told me afterward that this plucky and unfortunate soldier, whose wound was evidently mortal, refused to be treated, and swore at him, saying, "No damned rebel doctor shall touch me." We captured here, according to the official records, ninety wagons full of plunder, some four hundred prisoners, and scattered the remainder among the bluffs of Lookout Mountain.

        General Wheeler reported eighteen stand of colors taken by us in all our fighting in this great battle, which began on September 18th and ended with this engagement on Monday the 21st. Under date of October 30, 1863, he reports: "The results of the operations of the cavalry under my command during the battle of Chickamauga were, first, guarding the left flank of the army for twenty days preceding the battle of Chickamauga, during which time it continually observed and skirmished with the enemy, repelling and developing all his diversions. During the battle we fought the enemy vigorously and successfully, killing and wounding large numbers, and capturing two thousand prisoners, one hundred wagons and teams, a large amount of


Page 254

other property, and eighteen stand of colors, all of which were turned over to the proper authorities." 1

        We were now ordered to return to the battle-field to pick up arms and other abandoned property, as well as stragglers. During the night most of the Confederate dead had been gathered in long trenches and buried; but the Union dead were still lying where they fell. For its effect on the survivors it was the policy of the victor to hide his own losses and let those of the other side be seen. On our part of the field, cannon, guns, swords, sabres, drums, brass horns, wagons, caissons, hats, cartridge and cap boxes, coats, canteens, and all the impedimenta of a great and well-equipped army were scattered through the woods. Beneath brush-piles or fallen tree-tops or from behind logs we were never surprised to find one or more frightened and dejected soldiers in blue, who would emerge with a hand raised in token of surrender. At the "Little School House" (now a well-marked historical spot, where so many regimental monuments are clustered) I counted sixteen dead Federals in an area so small that half of this number were touching one another, and as I entered the door a voice from one corner said, "You won't shoot a wounded man, will you?" Rarely have I been more shocked, and I exclaimed in reply: "My God! You can't think that of us!"

        Both of his legs were broken, and he had dragged himself or had been carried in there for shelter from the bullets. We sent at once for our surgeon to take charge of him and went on with our work. In a dense thicket near here I came upon a soldier in blue sitting upright against the trunk of a tree, one hand on his gun, which rested across his thighs, the other tightly grasping the brim of his hat, which was
1 Official Records, vol. xxx, part 2, p. 522.


Page 255

drawn well down on one side of his face, as if shielding his eyes from the sun. I had no idea that a dead man would be sitting upright, but such was the case. He was stiff and stark. From under the knee of one leg a pool of clotted blood told the story. A minié ball had cut his popliteal artery or vein, and I reasoned that as he grew faint he sought the tree, leaned back against it, held on faithfully to his gun with one hand, with the other pulled the brim of his hat down to shade his eyes, then fainted from loss of blood and died.

The arena swims around him; he is gone--

        and when, years after this awful day, I saw in Rome that marvelous work of art, "The Dying Gladiator," this scene came back to me. He was the only dead Union soldier I saw on that field of slaughter whose outer clothes had not been removed; and yet not one but had a single garment left on to cover his nakedness. The Confederate army was compelled to take the clothes of the dead to cover the living, for it was in sore straits.

        In places where the woods had caught on fire or where men had been killed (or possibly only wounded) near a house which had been burned, their charred bodies told the awful story. As much of the legs and thighs as were not burned off were drawn tightly against the abdomen, as were the stumps of the blackened arms against the chest. The one object in all this nightmare of horror which touched me most deeply of all was the calm and beautiful expression on the smooth and beardless face of a slender lad who had been shot through the brain. Happily for him, he must have died instantly. Some comrade had stopped long enough to straighten him out and fold his hands across his breast.


Page 256

Here he was to be laid in a trench with other dead comrades, two or three deep, with just enough earth over them to keep off the hogs and buzzards. I could not help thinking that he, too, must have a mother who, like my own, was praying that her boy might come back to her; and this one could never come. I have asked myself the question a thousand times as I look back on my own life, Why cannot men with hearts in them and with heads on them settle their foolish differences in some other way than by shooting holes through one another?

        Farther on I came to one of the field hospitals where the surgeons were busy with the wounded, stretched out on their blankets under the trees. One poor fellow was walking up and down holding the freshly amputated stump of his forearm with the remaining hand. His jaws were firmly set, and his face wore the hard, fixed expression of pain, yet he made no complaint. In fact, I do not think I heard a groan or a cry in all that experience. Some fragments of arms and legs lying around completed the gruesome picture.

        The battle of Chickamauga marked what history must record as the "High Tide of the Southern Confederacy," and ended one of the great campaigns of the Civil War, a campaign than which none ever offered so many brilliant opportunities to win undying glory as were given to the Confederate commander. He failed in every particular. The courage, the heroism, the self-sacrifice of the soldiers who made up his great army were in vain. Fully informed of every movement of his over-confident opponent, and with time to make his preparations either for battle or retreat, he hesitated with a vacillation which lost to him the confidence of his subordinates and finally the respect of his adversary, for in the latter days of the campaign General


Page 257

Rosecrans threw caution to the winds, scattered his advancing columns in difficult mountain-passes far removed from one another, and invited a destruction which a competent antagonist would readily have accomplished. With Duck River in front and strongly fortified at Tullahoma, the unchecked strategy of Rosecrans forced him out with no fighting except by our cavalry. Then came the actions at Elk River and Cumberland Mountain, both strong defensive positions, and finally at the great Tennessee River, fifth in size in the United States, at which not a gun was fired. It is not surprising the Union general thought the Army of Tennessee was a disorganized and dispirited mob, that it was scampering away among the hills of northern Georgia.

        On the contrary, Bragg, behind the great bulwark of Lookout Mountain, had halted at last and concentrated his veterans into an army as efficient as any the world ever saw. They proved it on one of the bloodiest fields in history. Rosecrans's pursuing army was recklessly divided into three great corps, descending to the valley through mountain defiles so widely separated that each column could have been destroyed without hope of aid from the other. On September 10th Crittenden's corps was in Chattanooga, McCook's at Summerville, Georgia, forty miles to the south; and Thomas in McLamore's Cove, half-way between the two, and practically Bragg's whole army was in front of Thomas. The Confederate commander allowed them all to escape and to concentrate, and then assaulted them on ground of their own selection. Moreover, in the hour of victory he failed to take advantage of the one great and glorious opportunity to establish the Southern Confederacy. In the four years of our war there may have been other occasions where independence was possible, but surely none


Page 258

like this. From 4 to 7 P.M. on Sunday, the 20th of September, 1863, General Braxton Bragg had the entire Union army in his grasp and its destruction assured. No one who was on that field and witnessed the utter demoralization of at least one-half of the Federal line of battle and the isolation of the other half, and who is capable of an unprejudiced analysis of the records, can doubt this assertion.

        There was present on that field a wise man, a close and critical observer. He had been especially selected by President Lincoln and Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, because he was wise and critical. He was their agent at the front, a kind of "inspector" of the Union generals. Withal he was a bitter partisan and about as prejudiced against the South and its cause as it was possible for a human being to become, yet this is what Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, wrote:

        "I had not slept much for two nights, and dismounted about noon and lay down and went to sleep. I was awakened by the most infernal noise I ever heard. Never, in any battle I had witnessed, was there such a discharge of cannon and musketry. The first thing I saw was General Rosecrans crossing himself; he was a very devout Catholic. 'Hello!' I said to myself, 'if the general is crossing himself we are in a desperate situation.' I was on my horse in a moment. I had no sooner looked around toward the part where all this din came from than I saw our lines break and melt away like leaves before the wind. Then the headquarters around me disappeared. The graybacks came through with a rush, and soon the musketballs and cannon-shot began to reach the place where we stood. The whole right of the army had apparently been routed. We drew back for greater safety into the woods,


Page 259

and then I came upon Captain Horace Porter and Captain Drouillard, aide-de-camp to General Rosecrans, halting fugitives. They would halt a few, get them in some sort of order, and then there would come a few rounds of cannon-shot and the men would break and run.

        "I attempted to make my way in the woods to Sheridan's division, but when I reached the place where it had been I found it had been swept from the field. Then I made my way over Missionary Ridge and rode to Chattanooga, twelve or fifteen miles away. The whole road was filled with flying soldiers; here and there were pieces of artillery, caissons, and baggage-wagons. Everything was in the greatest disorder. When I reached Chattanooga, a little before four o'clock, I found Rosecrans there. In the helter-skelter to the rear he had escaped by the Rossville road. He was expecting every moment that the enemy would arrive before the town, and was doing all he could to prepare to resist their entrance. Soon after I arrived the two corps commanders, McCook and Crittenden, both came to Chattanooga. Having been swept bodily off the battle-field, and having made my way into Chattanooga through a panic-stricken rabble, I telegraphed Mr. Stanton, 'Chickamauga is as fatal a name in our history as Bull Run.' "

        If this is not a pen picture and a true picture of a battle-field panic, one has never been made. That it was not confined to McCook's and Crittenden's corps alone there is overwhelming evidence. Despite the claims so often made to the contrary, it is now known that Thomas, after holding on so tenaciously, at last gave way in such confusion that any kind of organized pursuit would have overwhelmed and captured him and the remnant of his command.

        There was never written a more exhaustive, unprejudiced,


Page 260

or a fairer book than Colonel Archibald Gracie's The Truth about Chickamauga. Trained as a soldier, he spent several years in the study of this battle, months at a time on the field walking over the ground, measuring the distances, and analyzing the various movements, and determining the different positions of the troops. It has been criticized as too favorable to the Federal side, but in my opinion unfairly so. I have gone over his book carefully and spent hours in consultation with him over a subject of great personal interest to us both, and I am convinced that, no matter whom it may hurt or what illusions of this great battle it may dispel, those looking for cold facts will find them here. 1 It is to be greatly deplored that this gentleman died untimely from the frightful exposure he suffered when the Titanic went down. Gracie says, "One Confederate division which had successfully stormed the precipitous heights and driven the Federals from their final position picked up four thousand five hundred guns thrown away by the fleeing enemy." Fifteen thousand stand of arms in all were gathered up, to say nothing of eight thousand prisoners and thirty-six pieces of artillery.

        General John Beatty, a gallant Union brigade commander, writes in his memoirs of the withdrawal of this part of the army under Thomas after it reached Rossville:

        "At this hour of the night (eleven to twelve o'clock) the army is simply a mob. There appears to be neither organization nor discipline. The various commands are mixed up in what appears to be inextricable confusion. Were a division of the enemy to pounce down upon us between this and morning, I fear the Army of the Cumberland would be blotted out."


1 The Truth about Chickamauga. By Colonel Archibald Gracie.

Page 261

        General John G. Spears, commanding a brigade in Granger's corps, was posted by order of General Rosecrans to halt all fugitive officers and soldiers coming from the battle-field into Chattanooga. He says in his report: "The whole night was spent in executing said orders, and by next morning I had halted and encamped of the different corps and divisions between eight thousand and twelve thousand men and officers."

        The facts now known to all are these: Just before noon on Sunday, September 20th, Longstreet had broken through the Federal right wing. The Union line was composed of McCook's corps on the right, Crittenden's corps in the center, Thomas's on the left and nearest to their base at Chattanooga. Rosecrans, commander-in-chief, and corps commanders McCook and Crittenden, fled with their panic-stricken men as fast as their horses would carry them to get behind the breastworks at Chattanooga, some twelve miles to the rear.

        Thomas 1 alone was holding fast. Driven back with the
1 So much has been said and written about the attitude toward the South of this man, who, in my opinion, saved the cause of the Union in this great crisis, that the following letter in the possession of Professor W. S. Drewry, of Richmond, Virginia, which I have his permission to use, may not be without interest. Professor Drewry is the author of the Southampton Insurrection, a most carefully prepared and thrilling narrative of those horrible murders, and it is a startling coincidence, as stated in this book in the chapter on "Slavery," that Nat Turner and his gang of murderers came within a few moments of killing George H. Thomas and his mother, who, trying to escape in a one-horse buggy, were being overhauled by the mounted negroes, and only saved their lives by leaping from the vehicle and concealing themselves in the dense thickets. Well may the believers say, "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." The letter before me is signed by (Miss) Fannie C. Thomas, sister of the general, and is dated Newsom P. O., Southampton, Va., November 2, 1900: "With regard to the visit of General Thomas, I have to say he arrived at the home [the Thomas homestead in Southampton, Va.) the fifteenth of December, 1860, and remained until the eighth of January, 1861, I believe. While here he said he should side with the South, and my sister says tell you the last word he said to her at parting was he should be back in March. He had much of his army baggage sent here and left it, wishing it to be stored in the house, implying he would return for it, and it would be ready for his use; He also brought his servants and left them in my sister's care until such time as he and his wife might require the services of the cook, whom Mrs. Thomas wished to retain. The above are facts."


Page 262

rest by the desperate onslaught of the Confederates, this lion at bay gathered about him the remnant of his corps and as many of the fugitives as had rallied to the roar of his guns, and behind hurriedly constructed barricades of brush and rails and logs and earth stretched along the crests of Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill for a time checked the Confederate advance. All else was in rout and wild disorder, and could offer no resistance to organized and determined pursuit. The road to Chattanooga was wide open to the victorious legions, and the woods were no more impenetrable than were the forests on the great battle-ground, through which and over which for three days they had tramped and fought. There were five thousand soldiers, as brave as ever followed the Bonnie Blue Flag, who had just come fresh on the field and in sight and who had not yet fired a gun. And Forrest was there on the far Confederate right with his unbeaten troopers straining at the leash and eager to "run them into the river." This man who in his crude, unlettered, and immortal style had said, "The time to whip the enemy is when they're running," was on hand to lead the way; to ignore Thomas and his desperate fighters; to let them have and hold Horseshoe and Snodgrass ridges ten miles in the rear of Chattanooga, with this fortress and McCook's and Crittenden's fugitives in possession of the Confederates!

        Thomas was short of ammunition, and his men, brave fighters as they were, were worn down with fatigue, for they had fought two days, spent nearly all of one night in a long


Page 262a

Illustration

BATTLE-FLAG OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY
Blue cross containing thirteen stars; red field, white border. Burnside breech-loading cavalry carbine and Colt's army six-shooter of models used by the author in the service. Post-oak relic containing two cannon-balls and two grape-shot lodged during the battle of Chickamauga, 1863. Thirty years later this souvenir was secured and presented to the author by his friend Dr. Cooper Holtzclaw, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Page 263

march, changing position from the Union right to the extreme left, and the second night in felling trees and building breastworks and barricades. Thus completely cut off from Chattanooga, there was no possible alternative but surrender. Forrest and his mounted men were at hand in sight of the town; the five thousand fresh infantry and the rest of the victorious army, certainly no more fatigued than the retreating fugitives of McCook and Crittenden, could have followed on their heels and gone with them into Chattanooga; and as if to emphasize the opportunity, when the sun went down behind Lookout Mountain the moon made night almost as clear as day! With the capture of the armies of the Cumberland and the Tennessee, Burnside at Knoxville was cut off from help and possible escape, even as later he was pent up in that city. Armed resistance to the Confederate Army of the West would no longer have existed; Tennessee and Kentucky were ours again, and the way wide open to the Ohio and beyond!

        The greatest soldier of the war had foreseen this possibility. General Longstreet narrates that when he was bidding good-by to General Lee upon starting to reinforce Bragg prior to this battle, Lee enjoined him, when he should win the expected victory, to push on to the Ohio at once, as this would relieve him of the great pressure in his front. The official returns, as carefully prepared by Longstreet, show that the contending armies were practically equal in numbers in this bloody battle, the Confederates having in the fight of September 20th 59,242, and the Federals 60,867. He says: "Official reports show that on both sides the casualties in killed, wounded, and missing embraced the enormous proportion of practically thirty-three per cent.


Page 264

of the troops actually engaged." As the Confederates lost no prisoners, all of their losses were killed or wounded. Of his own command he lost in two hours nearly forty-four per cent., while on the Union side a score of regiments lost forty-nine per cent. The Tenth Tennessee suffered a loss of sixty-eight per cent.

        Strange as it may seem, there have been found writers who claim Chickamauga as a Union victory, since, although the Confederates held the field, the result of the fighting assured the holding of Chattanooga by the Federals! The Confederates evacuated Chattanooga on September 9th, and Crittenden occupied this stronghold on the 10th. As the Union army, badly beaten at Chickamauga, was able to hold it after that defeat, it goes without saying that they could have held it equally well without fighting this battle.


Page 265

XIX
SEQUATCHIE VALLEY--CAPTURE OF THE GREAT WAGON-TRAIN--A PRISONER OF WAR

        MY furlough was indefinitely postponed. The Federals had escaped into Chattanooga and were penned in behind fortifications they had made impregnable. Their only source of supply was by wagon through Sequatchie Valley and over Walden's Ridge. Every cavalryman whose horse had stood the strain of the last three weeks was called to volunteer for a movement to the enemy's rear to break up his communications and starve him to surrender. We started September 27th, and in order to save the animals for the hard work which was to come we moved by easy marches to Cottonport on the upper Tennessee, where the river was shallow enough to ford. The country through which we passed had been stripped of almost everything which man or horse could eat.

        I often wonder now how our poor animals lived through the privation and punishment of this expedition. We scattered in small companies and turned off on side-roads and byways looking for forage and food. The old men and women and children, all that were left at home, had been preyed upon by friend and foe alike until they had learned to hide away the little that was left. My company came on to a dilapidated lone cabin, in the garden of which were half a dozen rows of cabbage-stalks from which the heads


Page 266

had long been cut. We broke ranks and made a rush for them, pulled the stalks up, root and all, and devoured them. In another patch we found some small pumpkins which had been overlooked or considered not worth gathering, but everything was grist to a hungry Confederate, and we roasted and ate them with parched corn, and that was all we had for several days, until we struck the great wagon-train on October 2d.

        In one of our side-excursions in search of anything we might devour we had an experience which illustrated the truth of the proverb that he "who laughs last, laughs best." A member of my company had failed to take proper care of his horse, and the animal's back became so sore the saddle could no longer be endured. We were now among the "loyal East-Tennesseeans" (Tories, we called them then), and as we came unexpectedly (to him) upon a native pacing along the lonely highway on a good-looking bay mare, Jim Jester proposed a swap. The old man demurred, but the exigencies of war, emphasized by a drawn six-shooter, prevailed; and Jim, with an expression of triumph over a Tory and pride in a fine mount, paced up and down through the company, showing off her fine points, and boasting as if the rest of us were on foot.

        Two days later, after we had toiled up the steep, long ascent of Walden's Ridge and stopped on the summit for a breathing-spell, Jim's purchase suddenly began to shiver and groan and, before her rider could dismount, was seized with a violent convulsion, evidently epileptic in character. Staggering this way and that, buck-jumping and snorting, spraddling all four legs to keep from sinking to the ground, with her frightened and crestfallen owner yelling "Whoa!" and trying to find a chance to jump off without disaster,


Page 267

the distressed animal and its demoralized rider made one of the most comical scenes I ever witnessed. Jim's embarrassment was not lessened by the jeering remarks of his comrades, such as, "Jump off and grab a root!" "Light and come in!" "Hit her on the hairy side!" etc. The poor creature at last went down, and Jim rolled off unscathed. We carried his outfit while he tramped on foot into Sequatchie Valley, where early the next morning we captured the great wagon-train and mounted our pedestrian on a mule branded on the left hip "U.S." The old Tory had laughed last, for, barring the sore back, he had much the best of the bargain.

        We reached the Tennessee at Cottonport at dark. Early next morning volunteers with long-range rifles were called for to cover the crossing. By the time it was light enough to see, quite a number of us were peeping from behind trees along the bank at our friends on the other side, the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, whom we had last greeted at Morris's Ford on Elk River. We both remembered that occasion. They weren't expecting us this time, for they rode boldly down to water their horses and themselves, but scampered to cover when our rifles cracked and the bullets came whizzing near by. I got in three fairly good shots, with the sight raised to four hundred yards, and then they came back at us as was their habit. Then our side brought up two Parrott guns, and when the shells began to explode in the fringe of timber on the other bank the "Buckeyes" retired, but not all of them. I stood directly behind one of our guns as the artillerists were firing, as I had done once before on the field of Chickamauga, and could distinctly see the shrapnel as they sped on their way. I was never able to see one coming toward me, even when the shells came at or over us, although I have heard my comrades say they saw them.


Page 268

        As soon as everybody thought the Yankees had left the other side, Colonel Russell and a crowd of officers and some of the men gathered on the bank in an open space, and I came up behind them. The firing had ceased for some minutes, and the troops who were to cross first were mounting, when all unexpectedly some impertinent Ohioan, who had lingered after his companions had departed, concluded he would take a parting shot at the bunch. His carbine rang out startlingly loud, the bullet splattered in the water about seventy-five yards short, ricocheted, and whizzed over our heads. I don't know whether the colonel ducked or not--probably not--but despite the fact that I was protected by a position behind the others I instinctively dodged, and the movement seemed fairly general.

        The funny feature of the situation was that everybody present wanted to get away, but no one was brave enough to run first. We knew that the man who was bold enough to stay and shoot once would shoot again as soon as he could load his gun. Moreover, he had the range by raising his sight, for he could see where the first bullet had fallen short. We all glanced toward the colonel, hoping he might lead the way or tell us we might just as well walk back a few yards and sit down behind a tree, or run, but he did neither. A keen-eyed artillerist, who had a shell already rammed home, came to the rescue, for he had seen the small flash of blue smoke on the other bank, marked the tree by the side of which it had puffed up, and came so near it after pulling the lanyard that we didn't have to move. The great dramatist was not far from right when he said, "What fools these mortals be!"

        That which we call courage is largely a cross between personal


Page 269

vanity and family pride. The soldier who, advancing in line of battle, stepped aside to let a frightened rabbit get through to the rear came very near the truth when he shouted out: "Go it, Molly Cotton-Tail, and go it fast! I'd be with you if it wasn't for my family!" The only man I ever saw who had courage enough to come out in the open and acknowledge he was a coward was the one at Chickamauga, and that man after the war had pluck enough to meet in a personal encounter another of about his size. This ludicrous scene took place in the road that runs for several miles along the edge of the alluvial bank of the Tennessee west of Guntersville. The river was at a low stage, and the steep bank of sand and mud sloped rather precipitously to the water's edge, forty or fifty feet below. The only witness was my intimate friend, the sheriff, who described the duel to me. He and one of the men on horseback met the other, and the discussion of a small debt owed by one led to an angry dispute, and finally to a challenge to "light and fight."

        Both combatants were more than ordinarily portly and short in stature and, as it turned out, in wind. As neither party was armed, it promised to be more amusing to my friend than dangerous to either contestant; so he held the horses and acted as umpire. He said that the two heavyweights exhibited extraordinary agility in dismounting. With clenched fists and arms flexed in the attitude of defense, they advanced cautiously toward each other, "steppin' high," as Jim expressed it in the homely phrase of Honeycomb Cove, "as a Shanghai rooster walking over frozen ground." Without violating the proprieties which were recognized as pertaining to an encounter between gentlemen, they sparred for a few rounds, landing of necessity on the


Page 270

most projecting portion of the abdominal wall some below the belt.

        At the close of the third round, as the respiratory movements had assumed a rapidity which made it difficult for the umpire to count them, they clenched for a fall, and while swinging to and fro in the effort to down each other they approached so near the edge of the sand-bank that it caved in. Locked in a frenzied grip, first one on top and then the other, after some dozen or more revolutions they rolled into the river and disappeared for a brief period from view. When they rose to the surface they were no longer locked in each other's arms. As each, half strangled and trying to breathe, was blowing the water ("snortin', " as Jim called it) out of his mouth and nose, there was at least three feet of troubled river between them. With barely strength enough left to reach the bank, and unable to stand, they sat there in the mud, their lower extremities still submerged, and, though glaring at each other, pacified by baptism and pumping for breath. The umpire, holding his side as he described the affair to me, closed the account by saying, "John, I thought in my soul I'd die a-laughin' before I could call it a draw."

        We forded the river on September 30th and moved out to the foot of Walden's Ridge, which we climbed during a heavy downpour of rain, the first we had experienced since leaving Alexandria on August 27th. The trail over this great mountain could not have been traveled by troops before, for we came upon a small apple-orchard, the trees of which were heavily laden with a small but very welcome fruit. Taking small note of the shower that was coming down at the time, we rode under the trees and from the saddle filled our forage-sacks.


Page 271

        We marched until midnight, bivouacked on the westerly crest of the ridge until daylight, and reached Anderson's Cross Roads in Sequatchie Valley early in the morning of October 2d. Our advance, composed of a portion of two regiments, encountered the leading wagons of a supply-train guarded by a detachment of Union infantry, which they attacked; but they were driven back in no little confusion. We were in line, in reserve, and the beaten troopers passed through to our rear. One young lad was being supported by a comrade on either side. He had been shot through the lung, and was bleeding profusely from the mouth. He was taken to Camp Morton a prisoner, and made a complete recovery.

        It was here that General Wheeler paid us the compliment of sending us in. Colonel Russell threw two companies on the right flank of their line, which was lying down behind a fence. Seeing they were flanked, they began to give way, and at this we charged at full speed, rode over and captured the entire guard. I do not think they fired more than one volley. Some of the Federals ran into a field of sorghum-cane which had been blown down and hid themselves beneath the tangle. When our horses struck the tangle with their fore legs the crackling sounded not unlike a bunch of firecrackers popping away, and every few steps there would rise a frightened man in blue, holding up both hands. One very badly scared fellow who had been not long out of his native Deutschland shouted: "Mein Gott! Don't choodt!"

        We didn't shoot for the very good reason that from noon to near sundown we didn't see any but frightened teamsters, and not over many of these; for when they heard the guns banging and heard our yells as we came on galloping they abandoned their teams and took to the woods and mountains.


Page 272

Riding up to a single-room log cabin which appeared to be empty, and shouting, "Come out!" we called forth two fine-looking young chaps bearing Springfield rifles and full equipment. They seemed content, but somewhat agitated. I made a hurried exchange of pocket-knives with one of these prisoners. He was the owner of a United States army knife, a clever invention which had one good-sized blade, with a spoon and a fork attached. We traded even. My "frog-sticker" was of Confederate make, and as the youth went back under guard I rode on, not entirely satisfying my conscience that I had not been guilty of a mean act. It was the first and only time I ever robbed a prisoner--and I wish now I hadn't done it. The exigencies of war, and the knowledge that he would be paroled at once and returned to his Northern home where knives were plentiful helped in a measure to direct my moral vision once more toward the Westminster Confession.

        For fully ten miles on and on we went, overhauling more wagons, mules, and plunder than I ever dreamed of seeing in one day. At times for a quarter or maybe half a mile the road would be clear. Then we would come upon a bunch of from ten to fifteen, or maybe fifty or more wagons, jammed and tangled up in inextricable confusion. In the scramble to get away one vehicle would be upset or lose a wheel and block the road. First on one side and then on the other a four or six mule team would wedge itself, and back of this others in wild flight would pile on one another and fall over.

        We had gone at as full speed as our horses could be urged for at least eight miles, and had passed hundreds of wagons. Only the men with the best mounts had held out; the rest were strung out in the ruck, setting fire to the wagons, the


Page 273

smoke of which was already filling the valley as far back as we could see. Suddenly, while going at a full run, my horse went down in a limp heap; and it took all I could do to disengage my right leg, as the animal sprawled and rolled on that side. There was no bleeding; and, while I had heard the bullets singing among us as we rode at the train-guard, it did not occur to me that my horse had been struck. I think it was a rupture of the heart or the bursting of a large blood-vessel which proved so suddenly fatal. In my dilemma nothing was left but to transfer my outfit to one of the captured mules; so, selecting a large, fine-looking animal, I was soon up and going still farther down the Sequatchie Valley road toward Bridgeport. The sun was about two hours high when we reached the end of this great train, probably the largest taken during the Civil War.

        Not more than twenty men had come this far, and we had turned back, firing the last wagons as we went. Near sundown we came upon the rear of a line of cavalry formed across the valley--and they had on blue uniforms! We didn't know what to make of this unexpected visitation, and at first thought it must be our own men; but when through their field-glasses they recognized us we were quickly undeceived; for they sent a squadron after us at full speed. Leaving the road, we galloped across a field, the outer fence of which lay along the foot of Walden's Ridge, up the steep sides of which we clambered beyond pursuit. When I exchanged my dead horse for a mule I had no idea that I would so soon try him out on a mountain-climbing test; but now he easily outstripped the horses in the party. Two of these, after we had reached a very great height, stumbled, fell over backward, and, rolling and bounding like loosened boulders down the precipitate mountainside, were


Page 274

dashed to death hundreds of feet below. It was a harrowing and unusual exhibition of "grand and lofty tumbling."

        From our high elevation we could now distinctly see the Union cavalry and other troops coming up the valley to reinforce them. As far as the eye could reach the smoke was rising from the burning train, and frequently loud explosions told that the fire had reached cases of ammunition. The sun was going down, and we, though distressed beyond measure at our predicament, felt we had done a great day's work.

        We were in the immediate rear of the Union army in Chattanooga, and cut off from our command by a superior force of cavalry which was pursuing our own men. Nothing was left us now but to abandon our animals, break up into squads of two or three, and try to slip through Rosecrans's lines and recross the Tennessee. We knew that the chances of success were slim. My fine saddle and bridle, captured from the adjutant of the Second Michigan Cavalry in Kentucky on Christmas Eve, 1862, was deposited in a hollow tree, together with two extra horseshoes and all my outfit except an oil-cloth. The last glimpse I had of my newly acquired mule he was nibbling at the sparse, tough blades of grass which the western slope of Walden's Ridge afforded.

        In our party were two sturdy young fellows, members of my company, both older than I by one or two years. They stood well in every way, and I cast my lot with them. In the run I had the misfortune to lose my carbine, but still retained my army pistol and its cartridges. One of my comrades still had his gun, the other had also lost his in the wild scramble through the thick underbrush. Our camping outfit was my oil-cloth and a blanket each for the


Page 275

other two. Having been driven from the train so precipitately, we had failed to secure any food-supplies from the rich capture, nor had we filled with water the one canteen in our kit. We were hungry, of course, and thirsty beyond expression; but darkness had come on, we could not see to walk, so we huddled together to keep warm, and spent a very cold and unhappy night. Our craving for water was intensified in the numerous intervals of waking by hearing the water pouring over a mill-dam in the valley, and with the first streak of dawn we lost no time in finding it. No shipwrecked mariner could have appreciated a drink more than we did this refreshing supply from the race.

        Seeing a well-worn path, I followed it in search of a house and something to eat, requesting my comrades to follow. I soon came to a log cabin with an open door, and as I reached the gate I could see opposite this another door which opened on a back porch. There was no platform or piazza in front, both doors were wide open, yet no one seemed to be stirring. As I opened the gate its wooden hinges creaked, and almost instantly a woman appeared in the door. Recognizing my gray jacket, she said, quickly: "You're a rebel, and you'd better go away. There's a Union soldier on the back porch!" As she began this greeting I knew I was not a welcome guest, and before she finished I had my pistol out and ready, and none too soon, for as I reached the front door, which she cleared when she saw what might happen, a man in Federal uniform stepped into the rear doorway just opposite and started toward the chimney, where, leaning against the jamb, I saw his gun. He was wise enough to see the odds were in my favor, and when I told him to stop he did so, raising his right hand in token of surrender. I took possession of his Springfield rifle, a beautiful weapon, one of the best all-round


Page 276

army guns of our war. He was one of the infantry guarding the train when we attacked it the day before, had escaped into the woods, and at dark was lucky enough to seek shelter under a roof that welcomed a blue uniform.

        My two comrades came up at this juncture, and to the one who had lost his gun in the stampede up the mountain I turned over the new equipment. The woman with none too good a grace gave us one small pone of corn-bread, which she said was all she had to spare. I thanked her, and, telling my Yankee friend that he was free to go where he pleased and that the Federals were now in possession of the valley road, we went back to the mill-race, made a fair divide, and enjoyed our breakfast of corn-bread and branch water, filled our one canteen, and then proceeded on the tramp in the direction of the Tennessee River. Now and then we got glimpses of the valley road along which the Union cavalry was marching in its pursuit of Wheeler's riders, and to keep clear we took our course about half-way up the steep side of the mountain. Being horsemen, we were unaccustomed to walking, and the rough going over boulders, logs, loose stones, and brush told on us heavily. By noon the canteen was emptied, and the sun, which was now over on our slope of the ridge, was as much too hot for comfort as the night had been too cold. Seeing below us a corn-patch, we ventured down, found a spring, and after laying in an essential supply of water we pulled several ears of corn and started back up the slope. As we were clambering over the fence the people who lived in the cabin near the spring spied us and yelled something which we did not stop to analyze. Our sentiments came very near expression in the remark of the colored woman who went with her "old man" to see the great curiosity of a later period, the "X-ray." When


Page 277

she looked through the fluorescope and saw through his coat and shirt not only the bones in her husband's chest, but objects beyond, she laid the instrument aside and sought the door, saying: "Efram, I'm gwine home; 'tain't no place for a lady!"

        One bit of luck in our chapter of misfortunes was the possession of a box of matches. Early in the captured train we came across a lot of lucifer matches, the first, I think, I had ever seen. We made effective use of them in setting fire to the wagons as we rode along. Every teamster carried at the tail-board or hind gate of his wagon a feed-trough, and among other provender some fodder or hay, and all we had to do was to strike one of these red-headed matches and as it flared up stick it in among this combustible material, and the job was done. When we were driven off I happened to have in my pocket the remnants of one of these boxes, and now it came in well, for we made a fire and parched our corn and had luncheon. Moreover, we rested, pulled off our boots or shoes to cool our feet, which were beginning to blister, then trudged on wearily and painfully a few miles farther until dark. Then, wishing we were at the Tennessee or anywhere else than where we were excepting Hades, we fell asleep from exhaustion. When we awoke it was October 4th, a date I wish I could forget.

        As we ate what was left of our parched corn and emptied the canteen, a council of war was held. We were a unit on one point: we couldn't continue along the rough slope of the mountain; and I saw with more regret than surprise that my two companions had about lost heart. They voted to go down to the valley road and surrender as the easiest way out of our seemingly hopeless dilemma. Their argument was not without force, for prisoners of war were


Page 278

being exchanged then, and, without all this suffering from fatigue and hunger and the danger of missing our way through the Federal lines, in the immediate rear of which we were, we might, by surrendering, be exchanged and so safely back with the regiment in a few weeks. I prevailed on them to try the top of the ridge, which was one of the highest of the ranges in that part of Tennessee, with a rock escarpment along its western slope from one to two hundred feet high. It was a hard pull to the base of this magnificent cliff, which we found so precipitous that no one could scale it without a ladder. We staggered along over the stony debris which had been eroded by the wear and tear of frosts and time, until in sheer despair and weakness my companions threw their guns and accouterments away, saying they were too weak to carry them any longer. Farther on we came to a deep fissure in the escarpment, and up this we clambered, helping one another in the hardest places, and at last found ourselves on the plateau, where we were glad to sit down on the trunk of a fallen tree and rest.

        The prospect was far from reassuring. For forty-eight hours we had eaten nothing but a small bit of corn-bread and some parched corn, and not much of that. We were too much exhausted to retrace our steps to the valley; to follow the ridge to where the river cuts through it in sight of Chattanooga was impossible, for there was neither water nor food on the route; and as we estimated the distance we were still some thirty miles from the Tennessee. As far as we could see there was not a sign of human habitation, nothing but an unbroken vista of sparsely timbered, half-barren mountain plateau. While we were getting what comfort we might out of these somber reflections we saw, as if he had come up out of the earth, coming so directly


Page 279

toward us that he must of necessity pass very near, a man on foot--a Federal soldier, for he had on a full blue uniform. He had not seen us, so we simply slid backward off the log and peered over at the passing stranger. As he came nearer I saw he was unarmed, and it would have been a simple matter to have taken him in with my six-shooter. We were, however, as desirous of not being seen as he could be; and he went on his way in blissful ignorance of the fact that six Confederate eyes were taking his measure only a few yards away. He was evidently a deserter from Rosecrans's army trying to make his way back to his home through the woods across these desolate mountains. Poor fellow, he was in more danger than we, for if caught he would be shot in short order, and the chances were heavily against him, for he had many weary miles to tramp before he could cross the Ohio. Even then he would not be safe. Our own situation did not admit of argument, and as our only hope of getting out at all lay in the direction of food and water, we struck out in desperation straight across the plateau.

        Between three and four in the afternoon we spied a break in the timber ahead, which as we came nearer proved to be a small clearing around which was the wreckage of a half-rotten rail-fence The inclosure, which contained several good-sized apple-trees, was uncultivated. When we reached the trees we discovered plenty of leaves but not one solitary apple, and in the sandy ground beneath we read the reason. There were footprints without number, and fresh, and square-toed shoes had made them, and we knew these shoes were worn by Union soldiers. We listened eagerly and could hear nothing, but, as children playing "hide and seek" might say, we were "getting warm." A ravine at the corner of the inclosure indicated the presence


Page 280

of the spring, which must be somewhere near; for no one could ever have lived there without this source of a supply of water.

        We found it, refreshed ourselves, and started up the narrow path which we supposed would take us to the home of the people who used this spring. This trail led up a sharp rise, and just as I reached the top I almost collided with two Federal soldiers, who, climbing up the other side, reached the crest as I did. I ducked down instantly, and, getting my pistol out as I turned, ran back and passed comrades, saying, "Run boys! Here are the Yankees!" One of these answered, "It's no use; we might as well surrender now"; and, as the two men in blue were right on them, they gave up. At this I turned about and noticed that the man in front was an officer and had, so far as I could see, no other weapon than his sword. The equipment of his companion, who was directly behind him in the path, I could not make out.

        Taking a dead aim at the officer, who, pluckily advancing, was not ten steps from the muzzle of my pistol, I was just in the act of firing when Frank Erwin jumped between him and me and, running toward me with both hands raised, cried, appealingly: "For God's sake, John, don't shoot him! If you do, we'll all be murdered." With this I threw my six-shooter on the ground and was a prisoner. The humiliation and wretchedness of this moment I shall not attempt to describe; but I render my captor the compliment due a brave soldier.

        We were practically in the bivouac of a company of cavalry. We were placed under guard in a wagon, and carried by sundown back into Sequatchie Valley, and turned over to the Tenth Illinois Infantry. Three fine young fellows


Page 281

were detailed to take charge of us, and for safe-keeping the adjutant of this regiment (I think he was called Captain Lusk) directed that we be guarded inside of an old unused stable. The stench was so disagreeable that I said to the officer, "The smell in here is so bad, couldn't you let us sleep out in the lot?" and his quick retort was, "Young man, Jesus Christ was born in a stable, and you might afford to spend a night in one."

        When dark came the corporal of the guard said, "Boys, if you'll give us your word of honor you won't try to escape you may come out here and lay around the fire with us," and we did. These were fine fellows, and I found out that my first cousin, Thomas Smith, of Jacksonville, Illinois, was captain of this company. He was, however, absent on account of an illness from which he died. Richmond Walcott was the lieutenant in command, and was very courteous to me. We had not as yet tasted food, and when I remarked to young McEvers that we hadn't had anything for a long time he said they were on half-rations by reason of our destruction of their train, but that he would see what could be done. He disappeared for a while, and came back with two big army crackers (hardtack) for each of us and a jar of strained honey. In 1868, while visiting my relatives there, I called on this young man at his home in Jacksonville to pay my respects. On October 5th we started by wagon for Stevenson, Alabama, where we spent several days in a stockade. Our route lay through miles of burned wagons and fully a thousand dead mules, for when General Wheeler saw he could not escape with these animals he ordered them killed. As our wagon was passing near where I had captured the Union soldier I happened to see him, sitting by the roadside. The recognition was mutual,


Page 282

and he greeted me cordially with, "Hello, Johnny! They've got you this time," and I told him it looked that way. The term Johnny, an abbreviation of "Johnny Reb," was often used by Union soldiers in greeting a Confederate.

        From Stevenson we were carried by train to Nashville, and there confined in the state penitentiary for two days. I slept in a cold, damp cell along with deserters, "bounty-jumpers," and a crowd of criminals, many of whom had a ball and chain dangling at their ankles. In this prison I contracted a cold, which developed into a severe pneumonia, the initial chill of which came on three days later, when I arrived in Camp Morton. The troops which chased us into the mountains on October 2d belonged to a brigade of cavalry under Colonel E. M. McCook, 1 who was just too late to save the great train he was sent to protect. They had come up from Bridgeport by a road parallel with the one down which we were advancing in the destruction of their wagons. When they heard the wagons loaded with ammunition exploding they came through a gap in the intervening ridge and formed their line of battle facing up the valley, cutting our detachment hopelessly off from our main column.

        Russell's Fourth Alabama regiment, unaided, captured this immense train. General Wheeler reported: "The number of wagons was variously estimated from eight hundred to fifteen hundred. The quartermaster in charge of the train stated that there were eight hundred six-mule wagons besides a great number of sutler's wagons. The train was guarded by a brigade of cavalry in front and a brigade of cavalry in the rear, and on the flank where we attacked were stationed two regiments of infantry." General
1 Official Records, vol. xxx, part 1, p. 675.


Page 283

Rosecrans, commander-in-chief of the Union army, in a despatch to Major-General Burnside, dated October 5, 1863, referring to this train, says: "Your failure to close your troops down to our left has cost five hundred wagons loaded with essentials, and Heaven only knows where the mischief will end." From my own observation, I am of the opinion that five hundred would not be very far from correct. We missed one bunch of about thirty wagons which had turned off in a narrow and not much used roadway, and were already partly toward the summit of Walden's Ridge. One of these was reported to have been the paymaster's wagon, loaded with greenbacks enough to pay off the army in Chattanooga. As to the truth of this I cannot testify. We lost two men killed in my company and eight or ten captured.

        With the exception of our detachment of about twenty men (and not more than this number rode on until the last wagon was taken), which was hopelessly cut off from escape by the interposition of McCook's brigade, our losses would have been insignificant had it not been for the unfortunate discovery of a sutler's wagon loaded to the guards with brandied peaches. The driver and owner had fled at our approach, and, having sought safety by climbing up the steep side of Walden's Ridge, along the foot of which the road lay, was in all likelihood a helpless and hopeless witness of the plundering of his merchandise. The rich harvest this sutler had expected to reap when he arrived in the beleaguered fortress of Chattanooga was not to be garnered. Man only proposes; the disposition is elsewhere.

        The brandy must have been very strong or our men unusually susceptible to intoxication, for quite a number became so drunk from eating these peaches that they fell


Page 284

from their horses and were made prisoners while asleep on the roadside. One officer on General Wheeler's staff suffered an impairment of co-ordination to such an extent that in a sabre duel with a Federal trooper the Union sabreur dealt him a right cut which not only unhorsed him, but cut his upper lip clear across just beneath the nose, leaving it and the attached mustache to droop an inch below the normal position. He joined our squad of prisoners at Stevenson, and was about the most dilapidated member of the group.

        Of my personal experiences on this exciting day, beyond the loss of my horse a brief interview with our general was the most interesting. We had whipped everything in sight, captured the train-guard or scattered it into the woods, and I had kept on overtaking wagon after wagon for fully eight miles without stopping for a minute to hunt for something to eat. At last, seeing a big box of cheese and some crackers in one of the wagons, I dismounted, threw the bridle over a standard, clambered in, cut off a large chunk of the cheese, filled my pockets with crackers, and was just in the act of remounting my captured mule when General Wheeler galloped up, sword in hand, and said to me, "Get in your saddle and go on after the enemy." As he and I were the only Confederates in sight just then, I said, "All right, General. Have some cheese," and the private and the major-general rode on side by side down the Sequatchie Valley road "after the enemy" and munching cheese and crackers.

        Fully thirty years after the war I gave a dinner in New York to a number of friends in honor of my old commander, and in introducing him I told this story as above given, seemingly to his enjoyment at the remembrance of it. My


Page 285

military career practically ended on October 4, 1863. Had I thought for an instant that there would be no further exchange of prisoners, or that for sixteen weary months there was in store for me the anguish of enforced idleness and the suffering from cold, hunger, and vermin, to say nothing of the cruel indifference of our keepers, I would not have surrendered as long as I could have stood on my feet. It was a lucky thing for the officer to whom I yielded, for I could and would have killed him, notwithstanding the intervention of my comrades. It is all now of the long ago, and "all's well that ends well"; but it was a sad awakening from my soldier dream of glory.


Page 286

XX
PRISON LIFE IN CAMP MORTON--HOMEWARD BOUND-- JOHN JONES

        IT was about the middle of October, 1863, and late at night when we arrived in the prison inclosure at Camp Morton, in the suburbs of Indianapolis. No provision had been made for "fresh fish"--the term of welcome applied to every new batch of prisoners--and we slept, or tried to sleep, through the cold night in the open air upon the ground. This was a fitting introduction to the indifference and brutality of the authorities who had succeeded the noble, generous, and beloved Colonel Owen as commander of this prison, to whose memory we ex-Confederates in later years in grateful recognition placed a memorial bust in the capitol at Indianapolis. Toward morning I was seized with a chill which lasted for several hours and ushered in a severe attack of pneumonia, from the effects of which I did not recover for many years.

        As soon as it was day a fellow-prisoner, the Rev. J. G. Wilson, formerly President of the Huntsville (Alabama) Female College, requested an officer in charge to send me to a hospital, or at least put me under shelter. He was told there was no room, but was promised that the first vacancy would be held for me. This occurred, as the hospital steward afterward informed me, at 2 P.M., and an hour later I was in the dead man's bed.


Page 287

        I found myself in kind hands and under the skilful care of Dr. Charles J. Kipp, whom in later years I was to know intimately. Little did he or I think as I lay there day after day, a lad of eighteen years, hovering between life and death, that in 1902 I should, as President of the American Medical Association, entertain him, a delegate from the state of New Jersey, as the honored guest of myself and my family. In 1911 this noble man died; and, as it was impossible for me to attend the funeral, I sent a floral tribute and a note saying, "From an old Confederate soldier who owes a lasting debt of gratitude to this great and good surgeon of the Union army." I was told the minister read this for his text, and from it preached the funeral sermon.

        During my prison life, broken in health by exposure and lack of sufficient food, I spent several months in the hospitals at Camp Morton, and I bear witness to the conscientious attention and kindly treatment accorded to myself and comrades by the physicians, nurses, and hospital authorities.

        It is none the less true that in 1863, and to the middle of 1864, the facilities for treating the sick were wholly inadequate, and many deaths were doubtless due to this failure to provide the necessary quarters. Later wooden pavilions with plastered walls and ceilings were erected, and by the fall of 1864 these were increased to a capacity equal to all ordinary requirements.

        The hospital in which I found myself was composed of two square army tents merged into one pavilion, on either side of which cots were placed--I think sixteen beds in all. The heat furnished was from a single stove which was situated near the center of the aisle. The floor was of plank, elevated slightly above the ground.


Page 288

        Since I had no clothes except the light suit I wore when captured, and was without an overcoat or a blanket, my good friend Dr. Wilson notified my relatives living at Jacksonville, Illinois, of my serious illness and great needs. A sister of my mother came at once to the prison and provided me with everything I needed, gave me twenty dollars in greenbacks, and left an order at headquarters for all I might require. In about three weeks I was declared convalescent and sent back to the cold, cheerless barracks in which no method of heating had been installed. Within a fortnight I was taken ill with measles and sent to the hospital for contagious diseases, where I remained for many weeks.

        Camp Morton, a military prison, was in 1863 a plot of ground formerly used as a fair-ground, in shape a parallelogram, containing then about twenty acres of land and inclosed by a plank wall some twenty feet high. In 1864 the prison wall was moved out on one side, taking in some ten acres more. It was bisected by a little rivulet which the prisoners christened "the Potomac." The barracks were situated on either side of this branch. They had been erected as cattle-sheds and stables for fair-ground purposes, were about twenty feet wide, ten feet to the eaves, fifteen to the middle of the roof, and about eighty feet long. The sides were of weather-boards ten to twelve inches wide, set on end, and leaving numerous cracks through which the rain and snow beat in upon us. I have often seen our top blankets white with snow when we were hustled out for morning roll-call.

        The roof was of shingles and water-tight. Along the comb an open space about a foot wide extended the entire length of the shed. The earth served as a floor, which in wet weather became a quagmire near the two end doors.


Page 289

Along each side of this shelter, extending seven feet toward the center, were constructed four tiers of bunks, the lowest about one foot from the ground, the second three feet above this, the third three feet above the second, while the fourth was on a level with the eaves. Upon these long shelves, not partitioned off, the prisoners slept or lay down, heads to the wall and feet toward the center of the passageway. About two feet of space was allotted to each man, making about three hundred and twenty men housed in each shed. As we had little or no straw for bedding, and as each man was allowed only one blanket, there was scant comfort to be had in our bunks until our miseries were forgotten in sleep. The scarcity of blankets forced us to huddle together in cold weather three in a group or more, with one blanket between us and the planks, and the other two for covering. The custom was to take turns in occupying the warm middle place.

        The only attempt at heating these sheds was by means of four stoves placed at equal distances along the passageway, and these were not installed until late in the winter of 1863. Even then only the stronger men who could push or fight their way to the fire and had muscle enough to maintain their place enjoyed the luxury of artificial warmth. Up to Christmas of 1864 I do not believe I had felt the heat from a stove, as I was unable to hold my own in the miserable crowd which hovered about the fire until the guards drove them to their bunks at dark. Among men the great number of whom had never been in a cold climate the suffering was intense, when with such surroundings the mercury was near zero. The records show that it was twenty degrees below zero at Indianapolis on New Year's day, 1864, and that it remained below for thirty-six hours. One


Page 290

man sleeping near my bunk was frozen to death, and many perished from disease brought on by exposure, added to their condition of emaciation from lack of food.

        During the very coldest spells the prisoners were in the habit of sleeping in larger squads or groups, since the cold could be better combated by combining blankets and body heat. The top blanket would be moistened to make it more impermeable and prevent the radiation of body warmth. Lots were drawn for places, and woe to the unfortunate end men. The squad of from five to seven slept "spoon fashion." No one was allowed to rest on his back, since this took up too much room from the middle of the blankets. The narrower the bulk to be covered the thicker the covering. At intervals all through these intensely cold nights above the shivering groans of the unhappy prisoners could be heard the orders of the end men, "Now, boys, spoon!" and they would all flop over on the other side, to the gratification of one end man and the disgust of the other, whose back by the change was once more exposed to the cold. No one can imagine how long those days and nights of winter seemed unless he has gone through such an experience.

        Relatives living in the North and my good friends the Breckinridges in Kentucky supplied me generously with books, and many an hour of those days of desolation was utilized in reading, and especially in studying French. Some one sent a Fasquelle's French grammar, and I almost "learned it by heart." There were among the prisoners a goodly number of Louisiana creoles, whose mother tongue was French, and from some of these I took lessons in conversation.

        During my term of imprisonment I had a good opportunity


Page 291

to make a careful study of the Bible, which I read through three times while there. I remember some thoughtful friend sent me a book, which no doubt she supposed would fit into the loneliness of a prisoner in his cell. It was entitled Salad for the Solitary. She would have smiled to see the hopeless efforts I was making to be "solitary" in our over-packed cattle-shed.

        When the bugle sounded, between daylight and sunrise, we gladly tumbled out for roll-call, for we were tired of the hard planks. Our toilet, which in winter consisted of putting on our hats, was soon over, and we were in line to answer to our names. In the Medical and Surgical History of the Rebellion, issued from the office of the Surgeon-General of the United States Army (Medical Volume, Part III), is the report of an official inspection of these quarters in Camp Morton, made in July, 1864. They are described as "nine dilapidated barracks." "There were also two hundred and ten tents in use. The quarters were much crowded. This condition continued until September, 1864."

        At no period was the ration issued sufficient to satisfy hunger. During the first few months of my prison life I was allowed to purchase certain articles from the prison sutler. Tickets which were worthless elsewhere were issued by this man to the prisoners in return for greenbacks placed to their credit at headquarters. Although the prices paid were extortionately high, we never ceased to regret the order which closed this source of supply. I was reduced to such straits that at one time I gladly paid fifteen cents for a single ear of corn, and I know from personal observation that many of my comrades suffered acutely from starvation. Day after day it was easy to notice the progress of emaciation, until the men became so weak that when


Page 292

attacked with an illness which a well-nourished man would readily have resisted they succumbed. One feature of this miserable process of starvation by degrees, sadder by far than death itself, was the moral degradation to which many of the prisoners sank. Men who had borne reputations for honesty and soldierly conduct not only practised stealing from their comrades, but fed like hogs upon the refuse material thrown into the swill-tubs from the hospital kitchen. I was one of a committee whose duty it was to forcibly prevent these men from making brutes of themselves and bringing shame unjustly upon their comrades by such unmanly practices.

        In the Century Magazine for September, 1891, Dr. Charles J. Kipp, who was surgeon in charge, says: "I know that the refuse material of the swill-barrels of the hospital was often carried away by the prisoners. I reported this fact to the officers, and was assured by them that the men who did this had either sold their rations or lost them through gambling."

        The sad truth is that the poor fellows were hungry, and did not have the moral courage to abstain from eating this kitchen refuse. In punishment, upon one occasion, we dipped a chronic offender head foremost as far as his shoulders in the swill and exacted from him a promise that he would never repeat the offense. All the rats which could be trapped were eaten, and to my knowledge one fat dog was captured by my messmates, cooked, and eaten. I was invited to partake; and, although the scent of the cooking meat was tempting, I could not so far overcome my repugnance to this animal as an article of diet as to taste it. The only way to obtain a bit of extra bread was by barter with tobacco.


Page 293

        In the last months of my prison life tobacco became the medium of exchange. Those of us who had money at headquarters received sutler's tickets in exchange, and with these we bought small plugs of black tobacco, which we traded for bits of bread and other food with those who would part with a small part of their ration for a chew of tobacco or a smoke. The unit of currency was a "chaw" of tobacco, cut about one inch square and a quarter of an inch thick. A loaf of bread, about three and a half inches wide and deep by seven inches long, was known as a "duffer," and a cracker as "hardtack." The oil and marrow of beef bones, which were carefully split into fine particles and boiled, formed a prison luxury called "bone butter." The entire ration for one day was not enough for a single meal. As soon as bread was issued the more improvident devoured their loaves without waiting for anything else. When the wagon was late a crowd would gather as near the gate as they dared to approach and shout "Bread! Bread!" in a distressing chorus. The small piece of meat would be eaten at once, and after this, with the exception of a pint of soup issued to each man at sundown, nothing was received until the next day. The more sensible men restrained their appetites until the entire ration was received, and then divided it in two portions, for a morning and an afternoon meal. There were seven men in my mess, and the piece of meat for this squad was divided into as many portions, so equally distributed that each member expressed himself as entirely satisfied before lots were drawn. To avoid any suspicion of partiality one member turned his back, and as the chief touched one portion and cried, "Who gets this?" the arbiter would call the name of the person to whom it was to be allotted. There was no appeal from this decision.


Page 294

When vegetables were issued with the meat there was no soup at sundown.

        For the first three months of my imprisonment I was almost all of the time in the hospital, ill with pneumonia and measles and the prostration which followed. Early in 1864 the "retaliatory order" from the office of the Secretary of War at Washington was carried into effect; and our ration, already insufficient, was still further reduced. Although I could command all the money I wanted, I could not use it to purchase food from the outside. Moreover, we had no way of letting those ready and willing to send us food know of our want. Every line written was scanned, and any suggestion of lack of food or maltreatment caused the destruction of the letter. For a short time I was detailed as "camp messenger" at the prison headquarters, and while there I witnessed the method of "going through the mail" by the inspectors, who did not hesitate to appropriate their contents in the shape of prison-made trinkets inclosed to friends. A ring which I had bought from a prisoner and sent as a souvenir to my uncle, an officer in the Union service, was never received by him.

        Naturally, men in such wretched surroundings were on the alert to escape, and some took desperate, often fatal, chances to regain their liberty. The wall of twenty feet, smooth on the inside, was so high, the sentinels so close together, and the approach so well lighted that an attempt to scale the parapet was virtually inviting death. The sentinels were on a walk-way so well concealed that only their heads and shoulders could be seen. At night strong reflectors were so placed that while the prison yard was as light as day the sentinels were invisible, and all beyond seemed doubly dark. A ditch sixteen feet wide and ten feet deep


Page 295

had been dug just inside the wall. In one dash for the fence two prisoners were killed and several captured. The survivors were disciplined by being tied with their backs to trees all through the remainder of the night. I saw them released the next morning in a most pitiable condition of exhaustion. On another occasion between thirty and forty prisoners made a rush for the fence at dark. Ladders hastily constructed by splicing bits of plank taken from the berths were used to scale the fence. Armed with stones, pieces of wood, and bottles filled with water, they overturned an outhouse into the ditch, crossed on this, placed their ladders against the wall, and attacked the guards, all of whom ran away. No one was killed, and the entire body of men succeeded in getting over the fence, although several were recaptured the next day.

        A number of tunnels were projected, but only one was successful, and four or five men escaped. The night following, a prisoner, foolishly hoping the outlet had not been discovered, essayed the same route, and as he stuck his head out the heartless guard standing at the hole, without giving the unfortunate man a chance to surrender, placed a gun against his head and blew his brains out.

        I was interested in two tunnels, one of which had to be abandoned on account of filling with water soon after it was started. In the other a shaft eight feet deep was sunk in the corner of a tent, and from the bottom of this in the direction of the fence, some sixty yards away, the tunnel was projected. One man would work in the tunnel, cutting the loose earth or sand and gravel with a case-knife, and putting it into a sack, which was drawn back into the tent, and the contents concealed under a blanket until sundown. At dusk, after tucking the last few inches of the


Page 296

legs of our trousers into the tops of our socks, we would fill up from above with as much loose dirt as we could carry without attracting too much notice, and then stroll unconcernedly in the direction of "the Potomac." Reaching the middle of one of the various planks or small bridges across this stream, the trousers leg on one side and then on the other would be pulled out of the sock and the gravel and sand allowed to drop into the water, where it disappeared. When very near completion this tunnel also was discovered, to our great disappointment.

        Of the cruel indignities to which the prisoners were subjected I witnessed only a small proportion. I saw Corporal Augustus Baker, a man whose heartless conduct toward us entitles him to painful notoriety, shoot a prisoner for leaving the ranks after roll-call was ended but before "Break ranks" was commanded. The man was too eager to warm himself at a fire only a few feet distant from the line. It was a bitter cold morning; the poor fellow had no overcoat or blanket with which to cover himself, and he ventured to the fire. Baker drew his pistol, saying with an oath, "I'll show you how to leave ranks before you are dismissed!" and deliberately shot him down. The wound was not fatal, but the intent was murderous. The commanding officer testified after the war that he had never known of this shooting.

        On April 16, 1864, one guard, at a single shot, the minié ball passing through the bodies of both, killed James Beattie and Michael Healy, who were walking in front of him on garbage detail outside the prison quarters. I was with one of these men as he was dying, and heard him solemnly assert in the presence of death that they had made no attempt to escape, had disobeyed no order, and that he and his comrade had been deliberately murdered.


Page 297

        On various occasions I saw prisoners beaten with sticks for no other provocation than that they would not move quickly to get out of the way or cease talking when the patrol was passing. At one time I saw an officer with a stick of firewood knock two men down, leaving them unconscious. To discourage all efforts at escape an order was enforced that a prisoner when obliged to go to the sink at night should not wear a coat. Two men from my barracks one intensely cold night infringed upon this rule, were detected, and compelled to mark time in the deep snow for so long that one of them was frost-bitten and parts of both feet were lost from gangrene. He died from exhaustion on the train on which we were being carried to Baltimore in February, 1865.

        Another constant source of unhappiness and discomfort was from vermin. Try as one would, it seemed impossible to avoid them. Finally the nuisance became so unbearable that the Vigilance Committee in our barracks forced a general inspection and cleaning-up. Men were compelled to strip, their hair was closely cropped, and their apparel dipped in a caldron of scalding water. It is not pleasant to think, much less to write, of such disgusting conditions, but I feel that the repulsive side of war should be given along with the heroic, which is always emphasized. I saw in one of these crusades a forlorn wretch standing as naked as when he made his advent into the world trying to thaw out his wardrobe, which had frozen stiff as it came out of the boiling water. We were not long in discovering that the law of gravitation applied to vermin as well as to other ponderable matter, and that the berths of the top row were less infested; so those of our committee and the cleaner set quietly organized a syndicate and bought out the top bunks.


Page 298

        Our efforts at exclusiveness naturally excited comment, and not infrequently we were referred to as the "top-bunk aristocracy." United States Senator Pasco, now living at Monticello, Florida, was among our select group of top-bunkers.

        To half a dozen prisoners who could command the means the privilege was accorded in 1864 of having constructed at their private expense a small one-room shanty and of living in it. I was invited to join the group, and I would have gladly done so had it not involved the desertion of my two comrades who in cold weather were largely dependent on my extra blankets. My uncle, Mr. David A. Smith, of Jacksonville, Illinois, who as a young man had practised law in the same circuit with Mr. Lincoln and was intimately acquainted with him, secured from the President a parole and desired me to come and live with him and continue my studies at the University of Illinois. As the acceptance of this parole until the war was over would carry the implication of desertion in case an exchange of prisoners took place, I felt bound to decline the generous offer. My uncle then endeavored to have the parole modified so that I might remain until exchanged, but Mr. Stanton would not consent to this. It was a great temptation, but the last words my mother and father had said to me were, "Don't forget that, although you are only a boy and all we have, we would rather have you come home in a coffin than dishonored."

        History records few instances of the considerate treatment of prisoners of war. In the late conflict with Russia the conduct of Japan stands out as an exception. In our war both sides were grievously at fault. We of the Southern side cannot wholly excuse Andersonville, albeit we have much in extenuation. I saw this prison-pen two months


Page 299

before the surrender, and no good reason could be advanced for not providing better shelter for the inmates. The material was at hand in the great pine forests in sight, and the prisoners should have been made to protect themselves. The failure to do this was due to that indifference which characterized the management of nearly all the prison-pens on both sides. The fault was naturally with the one man who was actually in charge.

        When in 1891 my article in the Century Magazine excited so much discussion, the commandant of this prison who was in charge during my imprisonment testified that he had never heard of Corporal Baker shooting a prisoner. I stood within a few yards of Baker and witnessed the whole cruel proceeding. There were other witnesses. Yet the man who should have been held responsible and whose duty it was to protect prisoners never knew of it until he read my article twenty-seven years after it occurred.

        The "retaliation act" of the United States government, reducing in 1864 the ration of the prisoner of war, was one of the most cruel acts of this unhappy period. This authorized starvation caused the death of thousands by lowering their resistance to the diseases incident to exposure. The Confederates did not have the proper food in quality or quantity to give to their prisoners. The records show that the prisoners at Andersonville were getting the ration issued to the Confederate soldier in the field. In the winter of 1864-65 the Confederate commissary-general reported that "the Army of Northern Virginia was living literally from hand to mouth." Beef sold at six dollars a pound, and flour at one thousand dollars a barrel. At one time, pleading with his government for food, Lee said that for three days his men had been in line of


Page 300

battle and had not tasted meat. These are truths of record.

        At the North there was no such excuse. Their granaries were full, and the world was open to them. The Union prisoners at Andersonville were in general unaccustomed to coarse corn meal, and this, with the conditions due to a hot climate and the malarial mosquito and other insects which spread disease, will account for the difference in the ratio of mortality. The official records of the United States government show that of every thousand Federal prisoners held in captivity by the Confederacy one hundred and fifty-three died. At Camp Morton the records show that one hundred and forty-six of every thousand died. At Andersonville three hundred and thirty-three of every thousand Union prisoners perished. At Elmira, New York, two hundred and forty-five of every thousand Confederates died (War Department Records).

        The Confederates had no quinine to check the ravages of malaria. They appealed directly to Washington for a supply for use at Andersonville, and offered to have it conveyed by the agents of the United States government under proper escort and distributed by them to the prisoners. The United States government refused to accede to this humane request. Later the Confederates offered to turn over these prisoners without exchange if the Washington authorities would send a fleet of vessels to some convenient point on the coast to receive them. Several months elapsed before these ships were sent, and in the period of delay several thousand more deaths occurred. Well may the New England historian Rhodes conclude, "We of the North cannot afford to throw stones at our brethren of the South on the question of the treatment of prisoners."


Page 301

        In the final analysis it is evident that the real cause of all the suffering and death which the retention of soldiers in prison-camps entailed during the Civil War is traceable to the war policy of the United States government, which in 1863 refused all further exchange of prisoners. This was a part of General Grant's policy of attrition. When forced to declare the real reason of it he said: "It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them; but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we commence a system of exchange we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught they amount to no more than dead men."

        In the last week of February, 1865, I was included in a list of five hundred convalescents too feeble to fight to be sent to Richmond for exchange. While in active service in the field I had never missed a single day from duty. The pneumonia contracted in the cold, damp cell in the Nashville penitentiary was followed by measles, and then by a dysentery which left me in a very low condition. The good doctor took pity on me and kept me on light hospital duty, and not only had me placed on the list for exchange, but, to my great gratification, included the name of an able-bodied friend who had shown me great kindness during my long illness and who was detailed as an orderly to look after the wants of the invalid prisoners in transit.

        There have been few happier moments in my life than when we marched out of the prison-yard, the outside of which I had not seen for sixteen months. At the station in Indianapolis we were placed in (freight) box-cars, the floors of which were covered with straw, and started for Baltimore. The weather was cold, the rivers we crossed


Page 302

were frozen over, and the country covered with snow. The only fire on our train was in the locomotive, but the deep bed of straw kept us fairly warm. Two armed guards sat one at each of the side-doors, which were kept partly open for ventilation. Through these limited apertures, as we passed the various stations, I noticed with no little astonishment the crowd of able-bodied men in citizen dress. It was plain that the North had enough at home for another army when it might be needed. About midnight, as we were nearing Cumberland, Maryland, rounding a short curve, our engine collided with that of another train. I was sound asleep and did not hear the crash, but felt myself sliding along the floor with a pile of men in the loose straw in which we were lying side by side as thick as we could be placed. No one in our car was seriously hurt. After daylight one dead man was removed. He was the frost-bitten prisoner already mentioned, and I think his death was due to exhaustion as much as to accident. We were on the edge of a high bank or bluff, and just below on one side was the Potomac River solidly frozen over.

        From the station in Baltimore we were marched to the wharf and placed in the hold of a large transport. As we came to one of the crossings where a number of persons were halted to let us file by I noticed standing at the curb, within a few feet of where I was walking in the street, a woman whose dress of mourning struck me as being in harmony with the sad yet beautiful expression of her face. It was the first womanly face I had seen in many and many a day, and as I passed gazing into her eyes, in a voice so full of tenderness and sympathy that it brought the tears to my own she said, "God bless you, my child." With a mother's intuition she had read my thoughts, and as I


Page 303

trudged on with that throng of prisoners, thinking of my own mother, whom I hoped soon to see, I could not rid myself of the sad thought that I had passed in the shadow of a mother's grief for her boy who would not come again. Were I an artist, how I would love to paint that portrait!

        And what strange things come about! Forty-five years later the University of Maryland did me the very great honor of conferring on me the degree of LL.D., and I went to Baltimore to attend the graduating exercises. My train was twenty minutes late, and when I met the provost at the Opera House he greeted me with: "Dr. Wyeth, we were afraid something had happened. The audience is waiting a little impatiently for your address." As this was the first intimation I had received that I was expected to say a word, the shock I experienced may be imagined. When we came on the stage, and I faced that array of thousands--for the vast amphitheater, aisles, and foyer were packed with loyal Marylanders--I was racking my brain for something that might appeal to their sympathy. In that critical moment there flashed into my mind the memory of the voice and the sad face that greeted me long ago, and when the great welcome those dear people gave me was hushed I tried to tell them how much I appreciated it, and then with all the pathos with which I was able to invest it I told the simple story that was enacted in that far-away February morning in 1865. It touched every heart, and I knew I was at home.

        At Fortress Monroe, in sight of the spars of the Cumberland, which still projected above the water where the Merrimac had sent her hull to the bottom, we were transferred to a side-wheeler and landed at Aikens Landing on the James River, some twelve or fifteen miles by land from Richmond. When we came in sight of our fortifications


Page 304

and were turned over to the Confederate agent, those who had life enough to run broke for the works, but were stopped and led single file along a zigzag path to avoid the line of torpedoes. Several miles from the city we received a generous ration of corn-pone. At dark, worn out by the long walk of ten hours, we straggled into the capital of the Confederacy. The signs of dissolution were in the air. My companion and I wandered into a hospital and were allowed to spread our blankets on the floor between two of a long row of cots in one of the wards. At daylight we took up our beds and walked. In a small shop I saw a single cold baked sweet-potato, and, as two years had elapsed since I had tasted so great a luxury, I gave five dollars for it, and the same for half a pound of butter. There was no use for anything smaller than five dollars; and, as my jacket was padded with Confederate money I had bought with "chaws" of tobacco in prison, I had only to make a hole in the lining to draw on the bank.

        In the shadow of the Washington statue in the Capitol grounds, my friend and I ate a rare breakfast of corn-bread and sweet-potato and butter. Our paroles carried with them a sick-leave of thirty days, and at dark on March 1, 1865, we climbed to the top of a dilapidated box-car, which, like four others, inside and out was packed and jammed with invalid, semi-invalid, and wounded soldiers sighing for their homes. As long as we could sit on the runway plank in the middle of the car-roof we felt fairly safe; but, as the two brakemen were giving a continuous performance of running back and forth to put on or loosen the brakes, we spent most of the night holding on to this plank to keep from spilling off as we rocked and bumped along at a six-miles-an-hour rate. It took us eighteen hours to reach Danville, a run of about


Page 305

one hundred and ten miles. During most of the night a cold, drizzly rainfall made it unnecessary to be on the lookout for the shower of sparks which the wheezing, dilapidated old wood-burning locomotive was ejecting and which fell on us as scorching cinders.

        At Danville we sat down to a table and ate a real dinner for the first time in nearly two years. The bill was thirty dollars for two; but, as we had hot corn-bread and sorghum molasses for dessert, we were content.

        Our next transfer point was Salisbury, North Carolina, and here I made a lucky strike. Among the books I had read and laughed over in our home library was one entitled Major Jones's Courtship. It so happened that the author of this book was commissary and general factotum of transportation here, and when I told him how much his work was prized at home, and in a general and quite fair way for an acquaintance just forming showed familiarity with it by appropriate quotations, my friend and I were forwarded without unnecessary delay, plus two days' rations.

        The railroad gave out near the South Carolina line--and nearly everything else except the kindness of heart and the courage of the women and the few cripples and old men who lived in the swath of desolation cut by General Sherman, who said war was hell and realized his definition. My friend and I trudged along on foot day after day, making anywhere from ten to twenty miles a day, eating what those noble people gave us, and sleeping on their porches or in the empty corn-cribs or stables. We were too fresh from Camp Morton to venture into the beds of civilization. The chief article of diet all along this route was "lye-hominy," and with it we fared very well. The weather was getting warmer, and after a number of days we reached Washington,


Page 306

in Wilkes County, and again found railroad transportation.

        The latest news I had from my parents was that our home had been burned, and that they and my two sisters had found refuge in Lee County, Georgia, near Wooten Station, on the Macon& Southwestern Railroad. At Macon we slept, or tried to sleep, on shuck pallets arranged in the basement of the town-hall for transient Confederate soldiers. There were more reasons than one for sitting up--swarms of them-- and one excellent reason for sitting still, since the place was so dark that he who ventured forth never knew over whom he would fall at the next step. Somewhere in the long period of darkness there occurred a ludicrous incident which caused a great deal of merriment to forty-eight of the fifty unfortunate mortals who were wishing it were day. One veteran, who had scratched himself into a frenzy, couldn't hold in any longer, and, being convinced at two o'clock in the morning that the President of the Southern Confederacy was responsible for all our woes, growled out savagely, "G-- d-- Jeff Davis, anyhow!" While I did not approve of the language or condone the sentiment, far from getting angry over the explosion of disloyalty, I thought it something to laugh at. There was present, however, down toward the far end of the room, a man who took a different view, for he shouted, "I can whip any d-- traitor who curses President Davis!" Although neither could see the other, each started in the general direction of his unknown antagonist, and, of course, fell over the man and the pallet next to him. In the general confusion which ensued forty-eight of us, who were grateful for anything that promised merriment, voted the fight a draw and laughed the other two into good-humor. At the peep of day my bunk-mate


Page 307

and I sought the station and boarded the first train for Wooten Station, where we arrived in the afternoon.

        We drove the three miles to the plantation, and surprised my mother and the home folks, who had not heard from me for a long time. It was to me the one never-to-be-forgotten home-coming.

        Without consultation with the new arrivals a wash-tub of hot water, soap, towels, and two complete changes of clothing were provided in one of the outhouses from which we emerged wearing misfit suits belonging to my father and my sister's husband. While this remote corner of Georgia had been drawn on heavily for supplies, it was so far removed from the scene of hostilities that there remained a plentiful supply of all the necessaries of life, and these my companion and I enjoyed to the fullest.

        By the time my furlough expired the war was practically over, although we had not yet heard of Lee's surrender nor of Lincoln's assassination. Deeming it my duty to report to my regiment, supposed to be in front of Wilson in middle Alabama, I started thither, reaching Macon, Georgia, on the 20th, just as Wilson's riders came into the outskirts of the city. Seeing a company of Georgia State troops in line near the railroad-station, I joined them. We were told to march into the breastworks. We had not proceeded far when we were halted by an officer, who said he had orders from General Howell Cobb to surrender Macon and its garrison to the Federal commander. I remarked to the militia officer in charge of the company to which I had attached myself that I did not consider that General Cobb had any authority over me, as I belonged to General Forrest's corps, adding that I had just come out of a Northern Prison and would rather die than go back, and intended to


Page 308

try to escape. He was a plucky young man, and he said at once, "If it's as bad as that I'll go with you." The Union cavalry by this time were galloping toward us, and stray shots were heard as he and I ran across the street in front of the Brown House, then the leading hotel in Macon, and dodged into the Southwestern Railroad station. Through this we hastened at our best speed and ran out along the track across the open stretch to the palmetto thickets in the Ocmulgee bottoms. We were not the only fugitives, and as we sped across the open space for four or five hundred yards there was a scattering fusillade. I did not hear any bullets whizzing our way, and doubt very much whether any of the shots were aimed at us.

        It was now getting quite dark, and we continued along the edge of the brake, bearing south. About ten o'clock we approached a camp-fire, and, crawling toward it, came near enough to recognize Federals around it. Passing around them, we came to the track of the Southwestern Railroad and continued down that to a point twelve miles beyond Macon, where we slept the rest of the night. At daylight we continued to follow the track, and about noon my comrade and I saw a man walking toward us. As he came near I noticed he was young, not more than twenty-five, and dressed in citizen's clothes. His face, neck, and hands were tanned very brown, and when I greeted him and he replied I detected at once his Northern accent and suspected he was an escaping prisoner from Andersonville, which camp was located on this road a few miles farther south. I warned him he was our prisoner, and he broke down, crying, "For God's sake, don't take me back to that place!" The young officer and I were deeply touched by his plea, and we felt that we would not be doing an act of


Page 309

disloyalty by paroling this young fellow and letting him go on to his comrades in Macon, which place we told him he could reach by dark if he kept up a stiff pace. We took him to a house, wrote out a parole, which he swore to and signed, and we copied. I gave him twenty dollars in Confederate money and a small piece of corn-bread. I wrote out and gave him the name and address of a relation in Illinois, to whom I requested him to write when he arrived at his home in Connecticut. He was the most grateful human being, I think, I ever saw. At Fort Valley we caught a train which had ventured that far toward Macon, and our walking ended. I reached the plantation next day. The war was over, and my career as a solider had ended.

JOHN JONES

        An experience of my prison life proved to me the truth of the maxim that "misery makes strange bedfellows." The misery of Camp Morton brought me in contact with a man for whom I formed a deep and lasting friendship, and yet one whose identity was never revealed. I have no doubt that my small stature, boyish appearance, and generally pitiable condition appealed to his sympathy. I had been seriously ill with pneumonia, complicated with an attack of measles, and was just convalescent enough to be discharged from the hospital and sent back to one of the cold, uncomfortable, and desolate cattle-sheds in which we were partially sheltered, and which only by military courtesy were called barracks. I was the "small boy" of the prison yard, as I had been of the regiment, and I remember how long it seemed to me before I "grew up." On one occasion a good-hearted lady in a surprised way asked me if I was a soldier,


Page 310

and when I told her I was she said, "Well, you ought to be at home with your mother."

        I was alone, walking up and down the inclosure not only for exercise but to keep warm, when a fellow-prisoner whom I had never before observed fell in by my side, and, with the very truthful remark, "You look hungry," handed me two warm biscuits which he took out of his coat pocket. As I hadn't seen a biscuit in a very long while, my expression must have told him that I was not only gratified but surprised; and when I asked him where he got them he said, "I'm head cook in the hospital kitchen." My new acquaintance was fully ten years my senior, of ordinary height, well built, and of erect, military carriage. Despite our miserable and unclean surroundings he was noticeably neat in appearance. Handsome of face, he possessed that to me always attractive and comparatively rare combination dark-blue eyes and a fair complexion with very black hair, eyebrows, and mustache. There was that indefinable something about his expression which told one that despite the quiet dignity which was in evidence as he spoke it would be best not to tread on his toes unless by accident. He told me his name was John Jones and that his home was in northern Arkansas. He was too resourceful to spend a cold and hungry winter in an overcrowded prison-shed and had found a soft berth in the hospital kitchen, which he retained as long as he stayed in Camp Morton.

        Had I been a younger brother he could not have shown a greater solicitude or have watched over me with more tender care. In the hours which did not demand his presence at his duties we would walk together, or when I was laid up, which was much of the time, he would sit with me and wait on me, seemingly without a thought for himself. When,


Page 311

in February, 1865, five hundred "hopeless invalids" were called off for parole to be sent South, and I was of the number, he and I asked that he be included as a hospital nurse to wait on the more helpless invalids; and we came away together. From Richmond he accompanied me to the refugee home of my parents in southwest Georgia. Much of this wearisome journey was made on foot, and the spring rains made the walking bad and the streams deep, and through these my devoted comrade waded with me astride his back, as if I were a child to be kept from a wetting. The joy of our arrival in the home of cleanliness and peace and plenty is mentioned elsewhere. After resting and recuperating some two or three weeks, he told me he intended to make his way across the Mississippi to visit his home, from which he had not heard for several years.

        As we were parting he said: "When the time comes, if I reach home safely, I will write you my real name and tell you why I have been under an assumed name for the last three years. I can tell you this much, that you may know there was nothing of dishonor in what I did. Soon after the Union army occupied our section of northern Arkansas one of their officers was guilty of a gross insult to one of my sisters, and I shot him dead. I was outlawed, of course, and escaped to the South and volunteered under the name by which you knew me in prison."

        From some point in Mississippi he wrote that he was having great difficulty in getting across the river, which had overflowed the lowlands and was twelve miles wide. He declared that he would try to make his way across, and that he was just starting to make the attempt alone in a small canoe. That was the last from my faithful comrade and friend. To pick one's way through a maze of tree-tops and


Page 312

driftwood, through ten miles of dead water without a channel or landmark to steer by, was a hopeless task; and I have never doubted, since after the reconstruction period he failed to write or visit me, that he perished in the daring venture.


Page 313

XXI
AFTER THE WAR

        WHEN the prison tunnel in which I was interested was near completion, on the day before the attempt to escape was to be made I removed the heel of one boot, and with my knife made a cavity in the thick leather large enough to hold a ten and a five dollar greenback bill, which my aunt who came to visit me while I was in the hospital with pneumonia had given me. The bills were folded or crumpled into the smallest possible bulk, which for better protection was enveloped in a bit of letter-paper, and the heel nailed again in place. When the attempt failed I had no need of the money, and I allowed it to remain undisturbed until I reached home some four months later. When the war ended a month thereafter this was the sum total of current funds in our immediate family.

        All the railroads in the South which could be operated were taken over and run by the United States government, which gave our family transportation to Decatur, Alabama, by train and thence up the Tennessee by steamboat to where Guntersville had been. With the exception of half a dozen dwellings, which were spared because they sheltered the sick or wounded too feeble to be removed, the village had disappeared. Nothing but tumble-down walls and a mass of brick debris was left of our home. The nearest shelter which could be obtained was in a log house on Sand


Page 314

Mountain, five miles from town, and in this my parents found a temporary abode. We were not wholly unprepared for the scene of desolation about us. As we came west on the train nothing but lonesome-looking chimneys remained of the villages and farm-houses. They were suggestive of tombstones in a graveyard. Bridgeport, Stevenson, Bellefonte, Scotsboro, Larkinsville, Woodville, Paint Rock--in fact, every town in northern Alabama to and including Decatur (except Huntsville, which, being used as headquarters, had been spared)--had been wiped out by the war policy of starvation by fire. Farm-houses, gins, fences, and cattle were gone. From a hilltop in the farming district a few miles from New Market I counted the chimneys of the houses of six different plantations which had been destroyed. About the fireplaces of some of these, small huts of poles had been erected for temporary shelter.

        Northern Alabama had paid dearly for the devotion of her people to the cause of the South. Nowhere in the Confederacy had such ruin been wrought, save in the path of desolation along which the march to the sea was made, or perhaps in the valley of Virginia, in obedience to the order to leave it so desolate that "a crow flying over would have to carry its rations." Our county of Marshall had suffered in a double sense, being overrun for the last year and a half of the war by bands of marauders who robbed the defenseless people of the little the two armies had left. The story of their forays would make a bloody record. The narration of one tragedy which was enacted on a small island in the Tennessee River may give an idea of the awful conditions which prevailed. Buck Island was then almost wholly covered with dense cane. Hither five men, non-combatants, had fled for a hiding-place, and had taken with them the


Page 315

few cattle which had escaped impressment. In the depths of the cane-brake they had constructed a pole cabin for shelter. A Confederate soldier named C. L. Hardcastle, 1 wounded and on furlough, a relation or friend and neighbor, slipping in to visit his family, came to stay all night with the refugees. Toward morning they were aroused from sleep to find their cabin surrounded and themselves in the hands of the notorious Ben Harris and his band, who had learned of their retreat and had come for their cattle. Being a far-sighted man and well known to the Rodens and their guest, Harris gave them five minutes for prayer, after which he made them stand in a row along the riverbank, and, to make sure of a clean job, with his six-shooter he put a bullet through the hearts of five of the six and thought he had done the same with the sixth man. This man was Hardcastle, who told me that as Harris came down the line, placing the muzzle close to the left side of the chest of each victim as he fired, he made up his mind to drop quickly a little before he was shot, which he did, and the ball missed a vital spot. Feigning death, he was dragged with the other five bodies and thrown into the river, the current of which washed them down-stream as they were sinking. Holding his breath, he floated under some driftwood lodged against a fallen tree and concealed himself behind a log. The bullet had struck a rib and taken a superficial course. When the murderers walked off to round up the cattle he crawled out and into the cane, and in this way made this marvelous escape from death. I knew the men who were killed.

        The war experiences of the home people were, however,
1 This man, a respected citizen, still survives (1914), at Margerum, in Jackson County, Alabama. The details of this gruesome tragedy I had from him.


Page 316

not wholly tragic. There were occasional glimpses of the serio-comic in which the comical features predominated. Our natures are such that we love to turn away from sad things and forget them by laughing when we may. One of these experiences was Uncle Dan's retreat from Guntersville when the Union batteries first shelled this unfortunate village. Another, as the sheriff related it, was his narrow escape from the Fourth Ohio Cavalry when in 1862 it dashed into the town early one morning, to the surprise of everybody; but I have yet to tell how two young lads belonging to the same company surprised and captured themselves in the streets of their native village in 1864.

        The two actors were playmates of mine who were old enough to see service as "Home Guards" the last year or two of the war. They told it on themselves to me, and it was witnessed by several residents. During all of 1864 and the spring of 1865 Marshall County was the scene of active hostilities, not only between scouting parties of regular soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies, but between bands of Tory marauders, who paraded in Federal uniforms, and small squads of Confederate Home Guards under partisan leaders. Some few of the Tories had been Union men all along, but were wise enough to keep discreetly quiet until the Federals occupied the country. Most of them were poor whites who had dodged conscription by hiding out in the mountains near their cabins when the Confederates were in control, and came into view as soon as the Federals appeared. Some few were deserters from our army, but all were united now in their love of country by the cohesive strength of a desire to plunder the helpless. As these men of the two sides had known one another before the war, it may be imagined that what is described as "feeling" ran


Page 317

about as "high" between them as it could run. Toward the last it was considered a waste of time to surrender, even if cornered without hope of escape. The recognized practice was to sell out as dearly as possible and keep shooting as long as a trigger could be pulled.

        Ben Harris had led off in a practice of extermination which put Cromwell to the blush. The conqueror of Ireland knocked only every tenth prisoner on the head, but Captain Ben overlooked none, and just to be sure that no detail was omitted he was his own executioner. I have told of the six he stood up in a row and shot on Buck Island, and there were others. When the Home Guards caught up with the Tories, their former neighbors, and any survived the immediate collision by throwing up their hands, they were carried by what was known as "the Short Road to Gadsden." One hour was considered time enough for the guards to make the seventy-two-mile trip to this particular Gadsden and return.

        On the day in question Bent Adams, from a commanding eminence, scanned the valley and saw hanging on the clothes-line in his mother's yard something white, which signal meant "the town is clear." Had it been red or blue, Bent would have rested content upon the distant heights. As it was, he rode into the village, and, sitting on his horse (for in those perilous days nobody dismounted in town), was conversing with his mother at the gate. Tom Anderson, a member of Bent's squad, had from another hill also read the signals, and he cautiously rode into the suburbs. Having been successful as scouts, these two enterprising youths had acquired and, as it was a frosty morning, were wearing each a warm, very blue Yankee overcoat. As Tom's horse turned the corner of Main Street, some three


Page 318

hundred yards off, and he saw a lone Yankee or Tory--he wasn't sure which--in the road ahead of him his first impulse was to turn and run; but Bent was too quick for him and ran first. Neither of these two men was a coward, but the circumstances fully justified what Sheriff James Swiverly called "quick action" and the practice of that discretion which ancient Falstaff declared to be "the better part of valor." Bent didn't know how many more Yankees were coming round the corner following their leader, and felt sure it was better to gain the other side of the Long Bridge, a mile away, and find out there than to take the foolish risk of allowing a whole squad to get right on him at full speed before he started. Therefore he wheeled and ran as fast as his steed could go.

        Seeing only one Yankee or Tory, and that one running away, Tom changed his mind and tactics simultaneously, and, whipping out his six-shooter, he stuck the spurs to his charger and began pursuit. For half a mile down Main Street the two horsemen sped, the women and children leaning out of the windows, not certain whether it was a fight or a horse-race. Tom's mount was so much superior to Bent's that by the time the latter was checking up to make a safe turn around the corner at Cornwell's store to get into the straight reach of roadway leading to the bridge the pursuer was near enough to begin to empty his army pistol at the fugitive, who, to avoid being hit, was now lying as flat on his horse's neck as his anatomy could be applied. Having made the turn with safety, Bent ventured to glance back, and, seeing only a single pursuer who had already expended four of his six shots without effect while his own battery was as yet intact, took his pistol out of the holster and eased up on his speed, determined to settle accounts at


Page 319

close quarters. A few moments later, pulling the reins and wheeling suddenly about, he was in the act of firing into Tom's chest at close range when Thomas, recognizing his chum, yelled out as loud and distinctly as he could shape the sentence, "Don't shoot, Bent; it's me!" and Bent, not yet lowering his weapon, replied: "Tom, you d-- fool! I've a great notion to blow your brains out, anyhow."

        A distressing feature of the situation in our section was that the returning soldiers reached home too late to plant a crop; and, as the fields were uncultivated in 1864, the country was destitute of the simplest necessities of life. My father had built a small room or shed, taking advantage of the fireplace and chimney of his former office, and began to re-establish his law practice, coming to town three days of each week. As the courts had not been reopened, he had little or no law business, but he had many calls for help to which he was sorrowfully unable to respond. In the adjoining counties of Blount and De Kalb the same distressing conditions prevailed, and finally he was told that one or two persons had died of starvation. Within six hours he was on the way north to procure supplies. At Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and elsewhere he told of the distress and suffering of our section, and the generous people of those cities came nobly to the rescue. Train-loads of commissary supplies and clothing were forwarded by the Louisville& Nashville Railroad without charge for transportation. He established relief stations in each of the three counties of Marshall, Blount, and De Kalb, and there was no more starvation. The crops of 1866 came to the rescue, and the days of hunger and extreme poverty in the Valley of the Tennessee were of the past.

        Meanwhile, I had found employment as superintendent


Page 320

of a large cotton plantation in Franklin County, where at a salary of fifty dollars a month I remained for eighteen months, living happily as a member of a refined family and the trusted agent of a generous and appreciative employer. I had hoped the active, out-of-door life of a planter might enable me to rally from the effects of the long illness in prison; but a cough, which followed the complication of pneumonia with measles, still held on. Reluctantly I resigned my position and sought a healthier environment in my father's new home on the dry, elevated plateau of Sand Mountain, a spur of the Appalachian Range. With a splendid saddle-horse and a waterproof outfit that defied the most inclement weather I lived out of doors for a year in the rare atmosphere of this salubrious region, buying and selling cattle and produce. In 1867 I began the study of medicine, matriculating in the Medical Department of the University of Louisville for the session ending March, 1868, and for the same period the following session, graduating in 1869.

        In the four years which had elapsed since the soldiers of the Confederacy had returned to their homes, laboring for the support of their families and the rehabilitation of their country, there was being attempted by the leaders of the radical wing of the Republican party then in power the perpetration of the most monstrous political crime in the records of history. The infamy which is associated with the partition of Poland sinks into insignificance when compared to that which justly attaches to the effort to hold in subjection to an alien negro race, but a few months before in bondage, the white people of the South, the former owners of these freedmen.

        Keeping alive the bitterness which a long and bloody


Page 321

civil war had engendered, under the adroit leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, Ben Wade, and James G. Blaine, this immortal triumvirate of "Wavers of the Bloody Shirt" so played upon the fears and prejudices of the electorate of the North as to maintain themselves in power for years and to secure in the national Congress legislation favorable to their schemes.

        To the freed slaves the franchise was given without restrictions. The only qualification was color and a certificate of slavery. The best white people of the South were not allowed to vote. My father was disfranchised, while Peyton, one of our former slaves, who still lived with us, performing the same service he had done before he was freed, announced himself as a candidate for the legislature! A company of negro troops garrisoned my native town where my parents and sisters were living, and another was stationed in Tuscumbia, the county-seat of Franklin, where I was working.

        Backed by these soldiers--for the Southern states were partitioned off in military districts--elections were held, and the state and county governments were handed over to a horde of adventurers, the "carpet-baggers," who, hailing from all quarters of the earth where many of them had neither local habitation nor name, swarmed into the country; to the "scalawags," the unrecognized and unprincipled "down and out" white natives; and last, but not least, to the negroes, their easily handled tools, stunned almost to irresponsibility by the suddenness of their advancement and pitifully drunk with power. Small wonder that for a while this combination ran riot with the South. The situation was fitly described by the negro who said, "De bottom rail's on top now."1


1 It is gratifying to record that among the number who had seen actual service in the Union army, and who in the spirit of adventure came into the South at this period, seeking political preferment, were a few who soon realized the injustice and impracticability of "Reconstruction" as formulated by the heartless conspiracy at Washington. Abandoning the politics which favored negro supremacy, they identified themselves with the material development of the South. Captain Elliott, who came to my native village in command of the negro garrison, made his home there and died after many years, loved and respected by all. Lieutenant-Colonel H. C. Warmoth, of General McClernand's staff, who became Governor of Louisiana, is now one of the largest planters in that state and closely identified with its development.

Page 322

        At first the ex-Confederates were submissive and silent. They looked on at the strange happenings with sadness and amazement, and later with indignation, as they realized that the safety of their wives and children was endangered. The awakening came when the carpet-baggers and scalawags undertook to effect the military organization of the freedmen in the various counties and states. It was then that there sprang into existence, almost in a single night, throughout the southern country that weird invisible army whose weapon was Terror. The Ku-Klux Klan in its origin was composed of the best citizens of the South, principally young men, many of whom had grown up while the war was going on, but led by the veteran soldiers of the Confederacy.

        The history of my own county will suffice to illustrate the method of the Klan. The negroes were meeting at night in the suburbs of Guntersville, where they were harangued and drilled by a carpet-bagger who had had himself elected to some profitable office. Within a fortnight an ex-lieutenant of my company and an ex-captain of the Army of Northern Virginia, without reproach both as soldiers and citizens, disguised with masks and gowns, late at night, at the muzzle of a pistol arrested this man, conducted him into the woods a mile from the village, stripped him to the waist, and thrashed him with hickory switches until he


Page 323

begged for mercy. They then told him that if he was in the county at sunset of the next day he would never get beyond its limits alive. They didn't have to kill him, but they would have done it had he not left, never to be heard of again. The leading negroes were called to the doors of their cabins at dead of night by mounted and masked men who in sepulchral tones told them that the ghosts of the dead from the battle-fields were wandering back to warn them to beware of strangers and stay at home on election days. In extreme cases, in which danger of recognition involved arrest and punishment (for Congress was quick to enact rigid laws against the Klan), notice was sent to the Klan of an adjoining county, and these rode over at night to carry out the wishes of their brothers, who could establish thus readily the essential alibi. Terrifying the negro until he withdrew from politics was not the work of a month or of a year, but it went on with grim determination and ultimate success. With the progress of the movement the white interlopers read the writing on the wall, fled the country, and the native whites of the South came again into their own.

        This organization originated in 1866 in or near Pulaski, in Giles County, Tennessee. Thence it spread, swift as a prairie-fire, over the entire South. The head man, whose power was absolute and whose orders had to be obeyed without regard to consequences, was known as the Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire. Immediately under him were his ten Genii. There was a Grand Dragon of the Realm and his eight Hydras, and other mysterious subdivisions of authority. They had printed and scattered over the country at night placards setting forth the object of the Klan: "To protect the weak, the innocent, and the


Page 324

defenseless from the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal; to aid the oppressed, to relieve suffering, and especially to help the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers."

        A writer in the American Encyclopedia said: "Its decrees were far more potent and its power more dreaded than that of the visible commonwealth, which it either dominated or terrorized." It is estimated that its membership numbered at one period half a million. By 1869 its mission of scaring the negro away from the influence of and political association with the adventurers and carpet-baggers was accomplished, and it was then disbanded and dispersed as quietly and as mysteriously as it had come.

        Nothing could better illustrate the malice and brutality which had free license in this unhappy period than the riveting of irons upon the ankles of Jefferson Davis, ex-President of the Confederate States. A man of noble character, his whole life as soldier and statesmen above reproach, of delicate physique and in ill health, securely locked in a double casemate in Fortress Monroe, and so strongly guarded that escape (had he contemplated it) was hopeless, was thrown to the floor and held forcibly by soldiers under the orders of Charles A. Dana and Nelson A. Miles, while iron anklets chained together were riveted by blacksmiths on his legs. Read Mr. Dana's description of the prison written to Secretary Stanton:

        The arrangements for the security of the prisoners seem to me as complete as could be desired. Each one occupies the inner room of a casemate; the window is heavily barred. A sentry stands within before each of the doors leading into the outer room. Two other sentries stand outside of these doors. An officer is also constantly on duty in the outer room, whose duty is to see the prisoners every fifteen minutes. The outer door of all is locked on the outside, and the key is kept exclusively


Page 325

by the general officer of the guard. Two sentries are also stationed without that door, and a strong line of sentries cuts off all access to the vicinity of the casemates. Another line is stationed on the parapet overhead, and a third line is posted across the moat on the counterscarps opposite the place of confinement. The casemates on each side and between those occupied by the prisoners (Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay) are used as guard-rooms, and soldiers are always there. A lamp is constantly kept burning in each of the rooms. . . . Before leaving Fortress Monroe on May 22d I made out for General Miles the order. . . . "Brevet Major-General Miles is hereby authorized and directed to place manacles and fetters upon the hands and feet of Jefferson Davis and Clement C. Clay, Jr., whenever he may think it advisable in order to render their imprisonment more secure. By order of the Secretary of War.

C. A. DANA,
Assistant Secretary of War."

This order was General Miles's authority for placing fetters on Davis a day or two later, when he found it necessary to change the inner doors of the casemate, which were light wooden ones without locks. While these doors were being changed for grated ones anklets were placed on Davis. They did not prevent his walking, but did prevent any attempt to jump past the guard, and they also prevented him from running. As soon as the doors were changed (it required three days, I think) the anklets were removed.

        This equivocation does little credit to the head or heart of the scholarly Assistant Secretary of War. His description above given shows that changing a wooden door for a grated door was no excuse for this brutal act. There were still two grated doors heavily barred between the prisoner and the prison-yard; then three lines of sentinels, and, above all, the inside of a great fortress surrounded by a wide, deep moat, and soldiers and guards everywhere.

        Nor were the irons removed because the new grated doors were in place. They were removed on the protest of Dr. Craven, the United States Army Surgeon called to attend the sick prisoner. "You believe it, then, a medical necessity?" asked General Miles. "I do, most earnestly," replied the doctor; and the manacles were then removed.


Page 326

        No less a personage than the Secretary of the Treasury, Hugh McCulloch, visited Mr. Davis at Fortress Monroe, and he publicly stated in his Men and Measures of Half a Century that he had for a time been barbarously treated. Despite the high position of the one and the record of gallantry as a soldier of the other Charles A. Dana and Nelson A. Miles cannot escape the judgment of posterity that at least on this occasion they shrank from the dimensions of human beings.


Page 327

XXII
A MEDICAL STUDENT IN 1867--THREE YEARS IN ARKANSAS--STEAMBOATING AND CONTRACTING

        THE medical department of the university I attended was in 1867 one of the oldest and deservedly best known of the medical colleges in the United States. The course of study and the standard of requirements then prevailing at this school may be taken as typical of medical education in the United States at that period. There was no preliminary or entrance examination. Any white male who could read and write and who had mastered the rudiments of English was eligible. Neither Latin nor Greek was essential.

        The requirements for graduation were a satisfactory examination at the end of two college terms of seven months each. The division of subjects was: anatomy, physiology, surgery, medicine, obstetrics, chemistry, and materia medica. Anatomy was thoroughly taught, and the didactic course was supplemented by dissecting-room work of a high class. While material was not over-abundant, there not then being the same liberal construction of the law relating to the disposition of the unclaimed dead which now prevails, the activity of our dissecting-room janitor kept us in a sufficient quantity of cadavers. How he got them we did not know, and it probably was just as well that no inquiry was instituted. His name was Peter. Students inclined


Page 328

to disrespect spoke of him as "old Pete," but those who had been brought up under the influence of the Westminster Confession baptized him "St. Peter," the rock upon which our anatomical church was founded, and to whom it was said the keys of Cave Hill Cemetery had been given. In physiology there were no laboratory exercises; no practical demonstrations of the living structures and of the functions of the normal organs.

        The teaching of surgery and medicine was almost wholly didactic. When an operative clinic was given the students witnessed it at such distance from the subject and with so many interruptions of vision that it was impossible to follow closely the details of technique, without which the lesson of a demonstration is valueless. Not once in my two college years did I enter the ward of a hospital or receive instruction by the bedside of a patient.

        This is not in the least a reflection upon our teachers, but upon the system then in vogue. The greatest names in medicine in our country had been or then were associated with this institution. In the lectures on medicine we were told that the cause of malarial and yellow fever was a miasm emanating from decaying vegetable matter subjected to a temperature of from eighty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit for about thirty days, and that those who slept upon the ground floors of buildings suffered most, while those who occupied the second, third, and higher floors escaped the baneful effects in the direct ratio of their elevation. The same comparison was used in the discourse upon yellow fever, citing the fact that in the Louisville epidemic few, if any, persons sleeping upon the upper floors of houses were affected. Knowing as we do now that the mosquito is not prone to fly high, that he infests the lower floors of houses,


Page 329

seldom reaching the third or fourth floor, we can understand readily the error in etiology on the part of our professor of medicine. The teaching of obstetrics was entirely didactic. In my two terms of study I examined only one gynecological case, while in chemistry and materia medica the instruction was in the lecture-room to the whole class instead of with working sections in the laboratory, and there was no course of study in microscopy or urinary analysis.

        I was graduated in the spring of 1869. I had been looking forward to the day when I should receive my diploma and start out on my career as a practising physician and surgeon; but I can never forget the sinking feeling that came over me when I unfolded this sacred document in the privacy of my own room and realized how little I knew and how incompetent I was to undertake the care of those in the distress of sickness or accident. However, like Macbeth, who was so far advanced in blood that it was as easy to go ahead as to recede, I felt I might just as well do as my predecessors had done and let the world take its chances.

        The possessor of a pair of doctor's saddle-bags, which held two rows of medicine-bottles, diminutive apothecary scales for weighing dosage, two forceps for extracting teeth, and a small minor surgical operating set of instruments, and last, but not least, a tin sign, I rented an office in my home town of Guntersville, Alabama, and after dark one night in March, 1869, I tacked my sign to "the outer wall." 1 It was the irony of fate that my first call was obstetrical. If there was anything in the world I didn't want it was this kind of a case; but I didn't have the courage to back out.
1 The rest of this quotation from "Macbeth" could not apply to my practice. "The cry is still, They come!"


Page 330

I thanked God it was a normal labor, for I had nothing to do but tie and cut the umbilical cord and tell the mother it was a boy. A strapping young farmer with lobar pneumonia came next, and he survived. For my first surgical operation I rode twenty-three miles and back the same day. My preceptor, an ex-army surgeon, gave the chloroform, and looked on as I dissected out some sort of tumor from the shoulder-blade of an elderly lady, whose resistance enabled us to register it as successful.

        As we were starting home the appreciative and grateful husband told us he didn't have any money, but, pointing to his apple orchard, then in bloom, said he had a "still," and would send us a barrel of apple-brandy in the fall. He kept his word, and I realized twenty dollars for my share.

        Then came my Waterloo in a case of diabetes mellitus which progressed rapidly to a fatal termination. I cannot describe my feelings nor measure the depth of my depression and despair as I watched this patient die. I was overwhelmed with the conviction that I was unfit to take the grave responsibility of the life and health and happiness of those who might be willing to place themselves under my care. I needed a clinical and laboratory training under teachers of experience, and I determined to give up my practice until I could secure this training. That night, two months after I had tacked it up, I took my sign down and put it in my trunk, where it reposed for several years.

        Three of these years were spent in Arkansas, whither I had gone to earn the money needed to go to New York or Europe for postgraduate study. Having learned that a railroad contractor with whom I was acquainted was lootking for a superintendent of one of his enterprises in Arkansas, I applied for the position, and was employed at a salary of


Page 331

seventy-five dollars a month, with the understanding that either of us could cancel the engagement at the expiration of three months. My destination was the head of navigation on Little Red River, a tributary of White River. At Memphis I boarded a palatial side-wheel steamboat engaged in this trade. The cuisine was excellent, the rooms and beds were clean and comfortable. There could not have been a more delightful mode of travel than by the steamboats which plied the Mississippi and its tributaries at that period.

        When we turned from the Mississippi into the mouth of White River there was no sign of land. What the river-men call the "June rise" was on. A winding sheet of water, margined by the tree-tops of the impenetrable forests on either side, was the channel, and up this for nearly fifty miles we steamed before the first land was seen. Above this point the water was "in banks," and the crookedness of this stream was noticeable. In one of these countless bends or loops the cutting of a canal seventy-five feet long would shorten navigation by five miles.

        In carrying on our contract we had in use a stanch sternwheel steamboat and a number of barges for towing stone from the quarries to De Vall's Bluff, where the railroad bridge was being built. On these frequent trips I spent practically all of my time in the pilot-house, learning to steer the boat and making sketches of the river in its various windings, studying the location of snags, "sawyers," and other hindrances to navigation, as well as noting the course of the currents in different parts of the stream. In three months I had learned how to handle the boat, even with the heavy tow descending the White River, which, by reason of its narrow and tortuous course, required more


Page 332

than ordinary care in handling a boat with heavy barges lashed to its side and in front, around these short bends, many of which were complicated with the presence of snags or trunks of trees which had fallen in from the banks and were partly submerged. Later on my acquaintance with the river and practical knowledge in handling a steamboat was of considerable value, as I became the master of this boat and barges and stood my watch regularly as a pilot, saving a monthly expenditure of one hundred and fifty dollars, the salary then in vogue.

        We discovered and opened a magnificent sandstone quarry on Upper White, in Independence County, about fifteen miles above Jacksonport by land and twice this distance by the winding river. This stone formation lies in strata varying from one foot to three feet in thickness, and so true (or level) that not infrequently the block could be squared to one of its undressed and untouched surfaces. Much of it had, running in a general direction with the seams, beautiful wavy tracings of red and yellow and blue, which produced a striking effect on the finished product. One block I quarried and transported the one hundred and twenty miles by barge to Augusta, which was used in my jail contract for the lintel over the main doorway of entrance, was eighteen inches wide, two feet high, and ten feet in length. As it was for a jail door, I was in doubt for a while whether to inscribe on it the line from Dante, "Who enters here leaves hope behind," or the name of the builder and date. But vanitas vanitatum!--when I left Arkansas those who went to jail and could read saw over that door in bold letters, "Wyeth--1872."

        This busy life was enjoyable, and I found no little interest in the association with my employees, who were of


Page 333

several nationalities and at least two colors. For six days of each week I had breakfast by lamplight in order to have every one up and ready for work by the time it was light enough to see. We took an hour from twelve to one for dinner and resting, and then kept going until dark. I worked (manual labor) by the side of my men, and learned not only to quarry and cut stone, but took a turn nearly every day at the forge, and became sufficiently expert in tempering the steel "chisels and points." Barney, my good-natured Irish blacksmith, used to give me the directions, "From a cherry-red to a sky-blue, and then chill it," which, being interpreted means that the cutting-edge of the steel implement after it is properly shaped on the anvil should be heated, not to a white-heat, but to a bright red, like a half-ripe cherry, then held just touching the cooling water until it assumes a sky-blue shade; and at that moment immersed so it would hold that color. These hardy, fine fellows never gave me any trouble or concern, excepting when on rare occasions "inspiring bold John Barleycorn" did for them what it did for Tam o' Shanter. I showed them every kindly consideration, whether sick or well, but very occasionally when alcoholism got the best of any I was compelled to be firm, or maybe severe.

        One Sunday a wildly drunken stone-cutter tried to stab a fellow-workman, who ran to me for help. His pursuer would not listen to reason, but turned on me. As he raised his hand to stab me I was fortunate enough to knock him senseless with a piece of flooring-plank which lay convenient to hand.

        As good-luck would have it, we were isolated from drink, for it was fifteen miles to Jacksonport, the nearest saloon town, and during our busiest period in this quarry the river


Page 334

was so low that the steamboats were not running. Usually I walked to town on Saturday afternoon, much of the distance along a trail through dense cane-brake, returning with the weekly mail for all hands and reaching camp by dinner-time of Sunday. The "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" was populous in comparison with this path that I tracked so often on foot, with a wall of cane on either side so thick one could not see a dozen yards to right or left. There w just one lone settler's cabin on the fifteen-mile trip.

        On one of these Saturday-afternoon trips to the post-office at Jacksonport I concluded to go by the river route, the distance being fully twice as great on account of the crooked stream. As the water was too low for the steamboats, I started alone about noon in a small skiff, and paddled steadily, hoping to reach town by supper-time. Night came on, however, when I was some ten miles from my destination, and, seeing a light on the shore, I landed, to find myself in the camp of some loggers, and a very tough-looking lot of fellows they were. Had I suspected who they were before I reached the shore I would have kept well out in the stream and gone on supperless without attracting their attention, for the men who engaged in lumbering in those lonely outfits in the vast cypress-brakes of the White River country right after the war belonged very frequently to that reckless and roving class who had civil or military histories that were better unwritten.

        Nothing was left, however, but to bluff it through; so I tied my boat and walked up to the crowd near the fire, where they were just commencing supper, greeted all hands in hail-fellow-well-met fashion, and made myself at home.

        They gave me generously of the good, substantial food they had--coffee and corn-bread and fish fried in bacon grease--


Page 335

for, as at my camp twenty miles farther up the stream, this beautiful Upper White River provided their main article of diet. When I got ready to leave, the head man, who would not accept the proffer of payment, told me that if I cared to stay all night they could furnish me with a blanket. I thanked him, said "Good-by," got in my boat, and soon drifted out of sight into the black night and the silence. With the exception of the occasional splash of some fish leaping out of the water either in play or more probably in the panic of trying to keep from being eaten by some larger fellow, or the lonely screech of an owl, the deep, impressive stillness of the river and the wilderness was unbroken. As this section of Upper White was in my run as the pilot of the Converse, when the water was "in stage,"1 notwithstanding the darkness, I knew it like a book. I had made drawings of every bend and bar and snag, marked each place of danger, even for night work, by the breaks or inequalities of the timber-lines on either bank; for even in the darkest nights the tree-top lines stand out a black, well-defined silhouette against the lighter background of the sky. I felt very much at home, for this river was to me as a friend, and the solitude was not unwelcome. That exquisite line of Byron came to my mind then, as many a time before and since--

Nor deem it solitude to be alone.

        I knew there were seven miles of slow water with a current of about two miles an hour to the head of Music Shoals, three miles above Jacksonport, and that when I reached the chutes I would have all the excitement and exhilaration any one could wish for in guiding my small craft over those
1 Deep enough to carry the boat over the shoals.


Page 336

bars and swirls and falls; so I laid my oar across the skiff, nestled down comfortably, and floated on dreamily with the tide. Had I been sleepy I would not have yielded to the desire, for I knew full well if I should happen to be asleep when my skiff shot into the rapids I would get a ducking or a drowning, either of which would be objectionable. I could keep awake, but was unable to throw my memory cells out of commission, and, naturally, my thoughts were of the river upon which I was being borne and of this particular "reach." 1 And then there there flashed into my mind a ghastly picture registered about a year previous, when, bowling along up-stream on my swift steamboat the Converse, as we swept round this bend I saw from the pilothouse, perched on some object floating on the surface, one of those huge, red-beaked, bare-necked, and repulsive buzzards so common in this part of the South. It was evidently carrion upon which he was feasting, and he was so hungry and intent on gorging himself that he only flapped his great wings and flew away when the prow of our boat was nearly upon him. To my horror, as I leaned over the side of the pilot-house above the hurricane-deck to see what kind of dead material it was, I recognized the swollen body of a man.

        Just as this lugubrious picture was floating--as floated the dead man--through my mind, I became conscious that another craft was in the river; for coming behind me I distinctly heard the rhythmical stroke of a paddle, such is used to propel the light shells or dugouts from which the expert lumbermen in the overflow fell with axes the giant cypress-trees, taking advantage of the high water to
1 Rivermen use many strange expressions. A straight piece of river is called a "stretch." A "reach" may be slightly curved. A "bend" is a bit of river sweeping more or less abruptly around a "point" or tongue of land, etc., etc.


Page 337

get above the trumpet-like and faulty expansion of these queer trees, which extends from ten to fifteen feet above the ground. 1 I suppose the thought of the dead man had set me to speculating on the possibility of danger, and now I began to wonder what any one else but myself could be doing on this lonely stretch of river at this hour of the night. Then, as I recognized a double stroke with paddles and appreciated the fact that whatever it was it was coming rapidly, I thought at once of the hard faces I had seen around the loggers' camp-fire, and that possibly a brace of them had judged that a man who sported a gold watch and chain was really worth while. In any event, I made up my mind that I didn't want company for any part of the remainder of my journey that night, so I picked up my oar and quietly guided my boat close in to shore, where, under the black shadow of a dense willow-tree which leaned over the river, I was safely out of the possibility of being seen. Without a sound save the almost noiseless stroke of the paddles as they glided swiftly by, the invisible craft went on. I gave them half an hour of leeway, and then drifted on with the current. It was midnight when my skiff shot into the first or upper rapid of Music Shoals, through which, at from six to eight miles an hour and with equal rapidity through the other two, my light craft glided into the still waters at the Jacksonport wharf.

        In these years immediately following the Civil War not only was the river full of delicious fish--bass, buffalo-perch, blue catfish, and other eatable varieties--but the woods
1 These shells, usually made from the ash-tree, vary in length from twelve to twenty feet. The smaller craft can bear only one man, and he must sit or kneel, or, if very expert, stand in the center. Some of these lumbermen are so skilful that they stand erect in their canoes, which are not anchored or tied, and fell these giant trees.


Page 338

abounded in all sorts of wild birds and animals, which had increased greatly during the four years they were free from being hunted while the men were off in the army. I have never heard a weirder sound than the howl of a pack of wolves--presumably hungry--when they would venture at night near our camp. Deer were so plentiful that any excursion into the brush of the uplands or second bottoms would start up a herd of from six to a dozen. I killed with my Colt army pistol on one occasion a fine buck as he ran right through our camp. They seemed to avoid the lowlands or cane-brakes, and for good reason: the cane grew so thick they could not jump or run through it.

        It is difficult to imagine anything more suggestive of helplessness and loneliness than one of these vast and seemingly endless stretches of cane, with now and then an open slash full of tall and stately cypress-trees, with their thousands of "knees," or dwarfed, stump-like roots, sticking up in the air from two to four feet high. These cypress-knees were to me always suggestive of the tombstones in a neglected graveyard.

        Near the mouth of Little Red River an accident to the machinery compelled me to tie the Converse to the bank for an hour or two, until the engineer could repair the break. For at least ten miles on either side stretched the practically impenetrable wilderness of cane. Just where we happened to land a small ravine, the outlet to a cypress-swamp, opened into White River. As it was the dry season, this ravine offered an open trail to the interior; so, taking my ever-ready six-shooter, I started out alone on a tour of exploration. After going about a mile, with the cane growing so dense to the very edge of the ravine on either side that a man could not get through it at any point without


Page 339

worming his way flat on the ground, it opened abruptly into a vast and comparatively open forest of giant cypress-trees. Many of these were over a hundred feet high, with not a limb to mar the beauty and symmetry of their trunks until near the very top, where the branches spread out not unlike an open parasol. A number of eagles' nests were built in their tops, and the shrill screams of these birds and the occasional flute-like notes of a heron perched on one of the "knees" were the only sounds. Coming to a low place where the ground was not yet thoroughly dried, I was attracted by a print which had the toe-marks of a human foot. As the heel was missing, I realized at once that it was the new-made track of a big black bear--and then it suddenly occurred to me that the engineer had had time to repair his machinery and I had better hurry back to the boat. Not far from this neighborhood I passed in the river an old native hunter who had in his dugout three bears he had killed that morning.

        This overflow cane-brake land was considered worthless when I lived in Arkansas (1869-1872), and on one occasion at a public sale for taxes at Augusta I bought on a venture some eight thousand acres in one body, the price ranging from twelve to fifteen cents an acre. The land was the property of ex-President Jefferson Davis and a Mr. Coxe, who, I believe, was his brother-in-law. The law specified that if not redeemed within two years the sheriff could make a perfect title to the buyer for taxes. Three days before the expiration of the time the owners redeemed their lands by paying double the amount I had paid for the property. I was told in 1908, while on a brief visit to Arkansas, that these lands had been sold in recent years at twenty-five dollars an acre. When cane can be used for


Page 340

making paper or for any commercial purpose the overflow lands of the South will be of great value.

        From my perch up in the pilot-house of my steamboat I have witnessed more than once the thrilling panorama of a burning cane-brake. After a prolonged drought, when the leaves wither and are as dry as paper, cane will burn almost as fiercely as the grass on the Western prairies, though not nearly so rapidly. The roar of the blaze and the million explosions of the joints is the best imitation of the rifle-fire in a great battle I have ever heard. It is simply deafening. This variety of cane has from six to twenty cavities or joints, each of which is a short, closed cylinder containing a certain quantity of moisture. As this becomes heated it expands and "blows up the boiler," as Jack, my old, faithful engineer, expressed it.

        After a year and a half as superintendent I became associated with my employer in a contract to erect some public buildings for Woodruff County, which undertaking was carried out successfully and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. The county authorities and the citizens were so desirous of having these buildings completed at the earliest possible date that they offered a bonus of one thousand dollars if they were turned over for use three months ahead of the date specified in the contract. A prolonged low stage of water in Upper White River prevented our bringing out the last barge-load of stone essential to the completion of the work. After a long and anxious wait a telegram informed me that a four-foot rise was on its way down from the Ozark Mountains, and I repaired to Jacksonport, an important shipping-point thirty miles below the location of our quarry, and there arranged with a New Orleans steamboat to bring out my cargo. It was ten


Page 341

o'clock of a bitter cold, sleety night in February when I started on horseback overland to reach the quarry by daylight in order to have the barge loaded and ready by noon, when the Seminole was due on the return trip, and this was my last and only chance.

        I have good reason to remember that ride. Next to the ride around Lebanon with Morgan on the Christmas raid in the blizzard which overwhelmed us in 1862, this was the coldest ride I have had and the longest night I ever experienced. It was very dark, alternately sleeting and snowing. I had to ferry over Black River where it empties into White. The ferryman lived on the far side; and, although in addition to hallooing with all my lung-power I fired my pistol several times at his cabin, I had no response, and I was compelled to go six miles farther up this stream to where I knew the man who kept the ferry lived on my side. At daylight I was at my destination, and was ready when the friendly steamboat took me in tow. By the first of May, 1872, my contract was finished, and I received the extra one thousand dollars, which, with other earnings, enabled me to resume my medical studies in New York City.

        I had lost three years out of my professional career, which was a great loss, but I had gained in business experience and profited by the larger view of life which my necessities had forced upon me. I shall never cease to be appreciative of the kindly consideration with which I was treated by the generous people of Arkansas of every political shade and in every condition of society. The wealthy citizens of Augusta proffered and gave me financial aid in the prosecution of my work, and, although during my sojourn the bitter and relentless political war between the carpet-baggers and the native whites was going on, the partisans


Page 342

of both sides, realizing that mine was in the nature of a public position, vied with one another in helping me. It may be that my training as a pilot had suggested that the best water was near the middle of the river, and then I have never forgotten that trite quotation from the Æneid, "medio tutissimus ibis." In any event, I sailed safely between Scylla and Charybdis and furled my canvas in the harbor of the metropolis, my future home. This is all so far back in the past it would seem that it ought to be forgotten or lost in the rush and confusion and worry of this modern life that knows not peace; but the fascination of the river holds me to this day, and I live it over in my dreams, awake as well as asleep.

        On my way to the East I traveled three days by steamboat from Little Rock on the Arkansas River up this--at that time-- shallow and difficult stream to Fort Smith, on the border of the Indian Territory. Wishing to get a glimpse of this region, I took the Overland stage to Muscogee, to which station the Missouri, Kansas& Texas Railroad had just been completed. The huge Concord stage drawn by four horses left Fort Smith about eight o'clock in the morning with eleven passengers inside. I was up in the front with the driver. We were soon reeling off mile after mile through the prairies of the Indian Nation, which at that season of the year were richly carpeted with the flowers and grass of the early summer. We changed horses every twelve or fifteen miles, taking our meals at eating-stations kept by "civilized" Indians, and about dark of the first day crossed a wide stream where it emptied into the Arkansas. The darkness of the night made no difference to our Jehu, for he and the horses seemed to know every foot of the way.


Page 343

        About two o'clock in the morning we heard the rumble of distant thunder, and in the course of half an hour or so we drove into a terrific wind and rain storm accompanied by thunder and lightning in regular wild Western fashion. The horses could not face it, and bolted from the trail, turning so suddenly that only the skill of the driver prevented the coach from being upset. The vivid lightning and the crashing thunder added to their fright, and, in the language of Little Breeches, they ran "hell-to-split" over the prairie. The driver and I tugged at the reins with all our might, and he put his weight on the brake; but for a while nothing could hold them down. It was an exciting moment for one passenger. I learned afterward that those inside had no idea of what was going on with us and the team, as the curtains were fastened down and most of the insiders were asleep. The Jehu shouted to me that the situation was dangerous, as we had left the trail, and that at any minute the horses might plunge into a sluice or gully and wreck the stage. He begged me to clamber down to the double tree and loosen the traces of the wheel-horses. I did not look favorably upon such an undertaking, but nothing else seemed to be left to save us from disaster; so I took the chances and finally unhitched the traces. The two lead-horses were not powerful enough to run with the whole load, and the driver soon pulled them to a stop. We then rested quietly until the storm blew over, and the stars came out as if nothing had happened.

        I recall vividly the myriads of fireflies which the rainfall seemed to have moistened into life. The prairies sparkled with their tiny flashlights until the flowers and blades of grass were clearly outlined, while above through the rarefied atmosphere in the aftermath of the storm the stars seemed


Page 344

to be only just beyond our reach. This brilliant picture of heaven and earth lasted until the dawn put out all these lesser lights, and soon the whistle of the locomotive at the terminus told us we were near Muscogee.

        We found it a city of tents. There was only one frame house, the hotel, a one-story shanty built of undressed boards and primitive in every particular. In June, 1909, thirty-seven years later, I revisited this spot and found a rich and prosperous city of about forty thousand inhabitants.

        And now, in closing this chapter of my life in hospitable Arkansas, I venture to tell my catfish story. From the time of Jonah to the present date men who narrate their fishing experiences have run the risk of being elected to the Ananias Society. I have incurred danger too often in my checkered career and escaped too luckily to be deterred now from relating the following incident, which is told exactly as it occurred. As incredible as it may seem, I landed three catfish at one time with a single hook and line. While engaged in building the county jail at Augusta, and in towing the barges laden with the huge blocks of sandstone from the quarry on Upper White River to De Vall's Bluff, I relied largely for the meat diet of my employees on the excellent fish which were then abundant. It was our custom to stretch a stout trot-line across this stream, tying to this short lines, each with a suitable hook attached, about three feet apart. The hooks were baited properly at sundown, and early in the morning the line was "run" and the fish were taken off by a man in a skiff. On one of these hooks of rather large size I placed as a tempting bait a small catfish about five inches long. That he might be swallowed easily, the stiff side-fins were chopped off and the hook was carried trough the tail.


Page 345

        In running the line next morning, a number of fish of ordinary size were taken off, and as the big hook was approached I knew by the way the line was being whipped about that a fish of unusual size had been caught. When I came near enough I saw a tremendous catfish fastened to this particular short line. Projecting from its mouth there was at least six inches of the tail of another fish of the same species. When I realized that the small fish with which I had baited this hook was not altogether more than five inches long, my surprise may be imagined. Meanwhile, I slid the fingers of one hand beneath the gills of the large fish and hauled it into the boat. I then noticed, projecting through the abdominal wall of this fish, the point of the strong lateral fin of the one whose tail was sticking out of the monster's mouth.

        The mystery was then solved. There were three fish in this peculiar combination. The little fellow with the hook had been swallowed by the second fish, which was fully fourteen inches in length. The third had swallowed the second, head foremost, for about three-fourths of its length. It is a peculiarity of the anterior lateral fins of this species of fish that they can be folded back flat against the body, but when brought forward they are so hinged that they stop abruptly at a right angle to the axis of the body.

        No doubt when the huge fish discovered it could not swim away with its victim, an effort was made to disgorge, but in doing this the powerful sharp lateral fins expanded and hopelessly impaled him. To satisfy my curiosity I opened the stomach of the second fish, and there, with the hook, I found the macerated remains of the bait. Captain Joe Glover was in the boat with me when the catch was made. Some twenty-five years later this good friend, whom I had


Page 346

not seen since our Arkansas days, was master of a steamboat in the Tennessee River trade. When we met we naturally began to talk over old times in the West, and he asked me if I had ever ventured to relate our fish story. I replied that I had told it only to some intimate friends who would take my word that it was true. He then said: "You were wise to exercise discretion, for I lost my reputation for veracity by telling of that experience exactly as it occurred to a lot of drummers who were traveling with me. It was a cold night, and we were sitting around the stove in the forward cabin. When I finished they all got up and went out to get some fresh air; and there, after a consultation, they baptized me as 'Catfish Glover, the brother of Jonah and friend of Ananias'!"


Page 347

XXIII
AT BELLEVUE MEDICAL COLLEGE--WORK IN THE DISSECTING-ROOM--ASSISTANT DEMONSTRATOR AND PROSECTOR TO THE CHAIR OF ANATOMY--BEGINNING OF THE PRIZE ESSAYS IN SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY--THE STUDY OF GREEK, GERMAN, AND FRENCH--1872 TO 1878

        WHEN I arrived in New York City in October, 1872, I made a careful survey of the three medical schools--viz., the College of Physicians and Surgeons, at Twenty-third Street and Fourth Avenue; University Medical College, at Twenty-sixth Street and East River; and Bellevue Hospital Medical College, within the inclosure of the great hospital, the name of which it bore. To my great surprise and disappointment, there were no special courses for graduates; and, as clinical experience and practical anatomy were the chief attractions for me, I selected Bellevue College as offering the best advantages, and matriculated there in November, 1872. Attending the lectures in only three branches--surgery, medicine, and obstetrics--I graduated, taking the ad eundem degree in March, 1873. The rest of my time was devoted to the clinics in surgery in the hospital and chiefly to dissecting. In order to become adept with either hand I worked unremittingly with my left hand until I became ambidextrous, and in all my active career this has been of inestimable value.

        Not only every surgeon, but every human being should be made ambidextrous. It is of vital importance to


Page 348

remember this in the training of infants and children. The use of the preferred member (usually the right) should be discouraged and the opposite hand and arm encouraged until both are fully useful. By no other method can the human brain be brought to its full efficiency.

        While at Louisville I had devoted most of my time to the study of practical anatomy, and now at Bellevue, with an inexhaustible supply of material, I saw the opportunity for which I had longed. The demonstrator of anatomy was Edward G. Janeway, and I missed no chance to be of service to him, as he had no regular assistant. The students, when he was over-busy or absent, soon got into the habit of coming to me for demonstrations, especially of the more complicated regions and organs. As the brain was considered the most difficult of all, I devoted a great deal of careful study to it. Among those who had gathered around the table at which I was seated on the occasion of one of these demonstrations I happened to notice a middle-aged gentleman of distinguished appearance who seemed to be more than ordinarily interested. As we were leaving the college he joined me, and together we walked up Twenty-seventh Street to near Lexington Avenue. He wanted to know where I came from and what plans I had for the future; and I told him I had come to New York to stay, and my main object at that time was to earn a living. He stopped in front of a very handsome brick house, and in a way which bespoke his sincerity as well as his kindness of heart said: "This is my home. My wife and I live here. We will be glad to have you live with us. You can pay for your board by tutoring me as your private medical student." I could not accept his generous offer; but he was for three years my private pupil until he took the degree of M.D. at Bellevue.


Page 349

He was already a graduate in arts, divinity, and law. A minister in the Presbyterian Church, he had been President of the University at Fulton, Missouri. When the war broke out, because of his strong Southern sympathy, he was arrested and given the alternative of a residence on parole within the limits of New York City or banishment to Europe or a prison. He chose the former.

        With no pulpit and no source of revenue, his great mind found its activity in invention, and the well-known instrument to register in type by telegraphy the quotations of stocks and bonds--"the ticker," now in universal use--was the result; and from this he received an ample fortune. In later years he accepted the presidency of the University of Missouri, and in the course of time retired, and is now (1914), at a very advanced age, still in the full possession of his faculties, residing in Washington City. I was proud to be associated with this great and good man as his teacher in medicine, and grateful for the affectionate friendship he proved for me when I was a stranger in a strange land. When my Prize Essays on the Arteries was published, in 1879, the volume was dedicated to "Samuel Spahr Laws, A.M., D.D., LL.D., M.D."

        During the winter of 1872 and '73 I made a dissection of a child of ten years, a dried preparation, arranged in the standing posture, with the muscles, arteries, veins, and nerves stained in appropriate colors. It fell under the eye of the professor of anatomy, Alpheus B. Crosby, a genial, gifted gentleman and the most popular lecturer at Bellevue. It led to an acquaintance and a warm friendship, which continued to the day of his untimely death in 1878. In 1874, a vacancy occurring, he appointed me as prosector to the chair of anatomy. A year previous, within a month


Page 350

of my graduation at Bellevue, Dr. E. G. Janeway had offered me and I had accepted the position of assistant demonstrator of anatomy, and he and I made all the demonstrations and did all the practical teachings of the dissecting-room for one session. A year later Dr. Joseph D. Bryant was made an assistant demonstrator, and, Dr. Janeway retiring from the active work, we ran the dissecting-room and organized what was known as the "faculty quiz," although the faculty had nothing to do with it. Dr. Bryan and I divided subjects equally and covered the entire range of medicine and surgery. It was considered, and was, at least numerically, the most successful quiz ever known up to that period in New York. We had in one session ninety-six pupils, and we were both fully appreciative of the handsome and much needed revenue which our college association yielded.

        I began the study of pathology in 1875, under Dr. Janeway, in his laboratory and as his assistant at autopsies in the morgue. I believe this was the first laboratory established in New York. It occupied a part of the old Wood Museum over the morgue. With such a fascinating subject, and the new world which the microscope revealed, it was a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with this enthusiastic teacher. No one could be with him as intimately as I was and not catch the contagion. In our set every one was working under pressure. There were no loafers or shirkers. The fault, if it were one, was overwork. By way of illustration, I recall one very busy in July or August when a great many bodies were being brought in dead from sunstroke. We had made six examinations of the brain in these cases--and sawing off the top of the skull in order to examine and remove this organ


Page 351

with the least possible injury is no light task, especially in sunstroke weather. It was nearly dark, and I was tired, and Dr. Janeway should have been, when the grim old keeper of the morgue approached us and said, " 'Nother sunstroke." I couldn't give in first, and he wouldn't, for he said quietly, after I had read in his expression that there was no escape, "Wyeth, we might as well take a look at it," and I proceeded to saw off the top of another cranium.

        The New York Pathological Society was the first scientific organization I joined in New York City, and for many years I rarely missed a meeting in that dingy basement of the old College of Physicians and Surgeons at Twenty-third Street and Fourth Avenue. It was a great privilege to be brought in contact with the members of this society, for they taught me more than I could have learned elsewhere. It was here that I first became acquainted with the great and good Dr. Abraham Jacobi, and laid the foundation of a lasting and affectionate friendship.

        As I had quit college at the end of my freshman year, and had never studied Greek, feeling now the need of at least a rudimentary knowledge of this language, I secured as instructor Mr. Virginius Dabney, a graduate of the University of Virginia, and will always be grateful to him for the patience he showed a not too apt pupil. I had studied French, and could read it satisfactorily. In the effort to learn to speak it, or at least to understand it when spoken, I took table board with a Parisian family resident in New York and remained with them for four years. Meal-time was the only opportunity for this, as all my other hours were occupied. Later with a tutor I undertook the study of German, and devoted as much time as I could afford to the grammar and in translations, and with a German family


Page 352

repeated my French boarding-house experience of four years. This training was of inestimable value to me when in 1881 I was appointed visiting surgeon to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where very many patients could speak no other language than German. For a number of years I subscribed for and read consistently the Gazette des Hôpitaux and Centralblatt für Chirurgie, and bought the leading books on surgery and pathology in the French and German languages. To have access to all the dissecting material I could use was of incalculable value, and I not only utilized it for teaching purposes, but for scientific investigations.

        In one of his always instructive clinics in the great amphitheater in Bellevue Hospital Professor Stephen Smith called attention to the fact that in Syme's amputation at the ankle, as practised, there frequently occurred a sloughing of the posterior flap. In order to discover the cause of this I made a series of dissections (eighty-seven in all) of the ankle-joint and its blood-supply, which were embodied in an "Essay upon the Surgical Anatomy of the Tibio-tarsal Region, with special regard to Amputations at the Ankle-joint." This essay received in 1876 the annual prize of one hundred dollars offered by Professor James R. Wood to the Alumni Association of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College for "the best essay on any subject connected with surgical pathology or operative surgery." In this same period I began my work upon the carotid arteries which led to an important contribution to practical surgery--viz., the ligation of the external carotid artery.

        In a lecture upon the surgery of the neck Professor Frank Hamilton, one of the greatest surgeons of his day, author of a work on fractures and dislocations, which was the leading book on this subject during his lifetime, said


Page 353

that the branches of this artery were so irregular in origin and arrangement, and often so close together, that a ligature should never be applied to it, and he added that it seemed to be an exception to the general law of development of the arterial system in man. His teaching, which was strictly in accordance with the accepted methods of that time, was that the common carotid should be tied for all lesions in the distribution of the external branch. I heard this with great surprise, for if I had one absolutely fixed conviction it was that there could be no exceptions to the great law of development which, to my mind, was part of the harmony of the universe. There might be here and there abnormalities due to accident or to faulty arrangements and malnutrition of the blastodermic cells; but these were of the individual, and not general. I went away from the lecture saying, "It can't be so, and I must prove it." This was in 1875, and between this date and 1878 I made one hundred and twenty-one dissections of the human neck with especial regard to the origin of the branches given off from this vessel. Careful measurements with pointers and rule were made of the distance of every branch from the bifurcation of the common trunk and from one another. The demonstration was complete, that these vessels obeyed a law as fixed as that of the other arteries, and that the external branch could and should be tied, and that the common trunk should never be ligated on account of a lesion in the distribution of the external carotid. Going further into the literature of the surgery of the neck and tabulating all reported cases up to that date, I showed that in the entire history the external carotid had been tied only sixty-nine times, and the death-rate in these cases was only four and one-half per cent., while in seven hundred and eighty-nine cases in which the


Page 354

common trunk had been ligated the death-rate was forty-one per cent.

        While at this work in this same region I extended my investigations to the subclavian and innominate arteries, and embodied the entire work in one essay which was offered in competition for one of the two prizes to be given by the American Medical Association at the meeting at Buffalo in 1878. The report of the committee was as follows:

        Your committee to determine the merits of the prize essays would respectfully report: That they have had three separate papers submitted to their inspection. Two of these papers present subjects of very great interest and show original research, but are too imperfect in the estimation of the committee to command a prize. The remaining paper, in the judgment of your committee, is fully up to the requirements. Indeed, the paper is so elaborate as to fill a large space in the volumes of the Transactions of the Association. The paper should be considered as two, and not as one. The analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of operation on the carotid artery, and the careful and minute measurements of the artery and its branches in one hundred and twenty-one subjects, showing the range of variation and the percentage of the same, followed by inferences, bold and original, naturally constitute a paper complete in itself. Another one on the same plan, with reference to the innominate and subclavian, being an analysis of three hundred cases, and the observation of fifty-two subjects, is presented to us in such a manner that we may consider the whole as one prize, or they may compete for both.

        Your committee believe that both prizes should be awarded to the two essays by one person. The motto is, "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis."

R. M. MOORE, Chairman,
THOS. LOTHROP,
H. R. HOPKINS,
W. W. MINER.

BUFFALO, NEW YORK, June 6, 1878
.

        These essays were printed by the association and widely distributed, and the demonstration accepted by surgical writers and operators throughout the world. To the date


Page 355

of publication of these essays there was not a work in surgery in the English, French, or German languages which did not condemn the operation I now insisted upon. Within five years from that date the operation was so generally accepted that no other was advised. The death-rate now is practically nil.

        About the time the award was to be made I sailed for Europe, and had no word of the success or failure of my work until two or three weeks later, when, while in a public reading-room in London, I happened to see a paragraph in the New York Times stating that both prizes had been awarded to me. This was my first great triumph, for I knew I had overthrown an old procedure based on a false hypothesis, and had established a new and safer method. It has already saved many lives, and it will continue to do so as long as time endures. The old operation cut off the direct blood-supply and nutrition to one-half of the brain, interfering with its function until a collateral circulation could be established; the new one left the nutrition of this vital organ unimpaired. Although the text-books on surgery gave credit to the author for several years after the essays were published by the American Medical Association, strange as it may appear, my name is no longer associated with this operation.

        Dr. Henry B. Sands, Professor of Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, then by common consent our leading surgeon, to whom personally I was unknown, with a generous appreciation which touched me deeply, called at my office and spoke in terms of highest commendation of this work. Every year as long as he lived he devoted one or two lectures to this subject, and later did me the very great honor to nominate me for the position


Page 356

of visiting surgeon to Bellevue Hospital. I was greatly impressed by this offer; and when he said that as professor of surgery he had the privilege of a nomination to Bellevue Hospital in the service allotted to his college, I replied that I would be very grateful for the appointment, but as there were a number of ambitious and competent young surgeons already connected with the college who wanted this position, and as I was an outsider, I thought it doubtful if the faculty would elect me. To this he answered in his quick, direct way: "That's their business. It's my duty to nominate the best man I know for the place, and if they don't choose to elect him it will not be my fault." I was defeated; but the nomination, coming from such a man and in the way it did, was a great compliment.

        Several months after the essays were made public, I remember on one rainy night Dr. Herman Knapp, who had been professor of ophthalmology--I think at Heidelberg-- and was now recognized as the head of this specialty in America, called at my office, 44 West 27th Street, and as he walked in pulled from beneath his raincoat a volume, and, opening it, said, "I thought you would be pleased to see how your work is being received in Germany," adding, when I remonstrated with him for coming out in such a storm, that the book had just come, and he wanted me to see it. It was, if I remember correctly, Sattler and Graefe's Handbuch or Archiv für Ophthalmologie. I could never be unmindful of such thoughtfulness and kindness from this great and good man.

        Professor Lewis A. Sayre was in 1872, and for many years thereafter, the leading orthopedic surgeon of America. I have always credited him with being the founder of this specialty. Mentally and physically he was a man of large


Page 357

proportions and of convincing personality. In his lectures, believing what he taught to be true, he threw into his subject an earnestness and an enthusiasm which either carried conviction or made you go away feeling profoundly sorry that it didn't. The perspiration would stand in beads upon his fine, broad forehead, and in those moments devoted to denunciation of any who dared to oppose his theories his eyes would light up with the piercing keenness of an eagle's, and, moving to and fro with surprising agility in one so portly, he would pound with his powerful arm and fist the table or railing, or patient, or anything that came in the way. No student who loved a rare treat ever willingly missed a lecture by this able, genial, warm-hearted, and eccentric surgeon. I made his acquaintance soon after I came to New York, and he was more than kind to me. Later he placed his two eldest sons as private pupils with me, and went so far as to offer in return for my work as his assistant a room and office in his beautiful Fifth Avenue residence. His contributions to surgery are valuable and lasting, and make him a benefactor of mankind. His enthusiasm and devotion to science knew no bounds, which may possibly be inferred from a personal experience which I narrate, not without some misgiving as to its propriety.

        A celebrated negro minstrel, whose tall stature, slender proportions, and unusually lengthy extremities were cleverly exaggerated by a wonderful make-up, and who had long entertained theater-goers by his grotesque performances, died suddenly. He was a great favorite of mine, and I had observed a very remarkable and unnatural mobility of the right arm, which he could twist and bend in so many usually impossible directions that it occurred to me he must have another ball-and-socket joint in this member elsewhere than


Page 358

at the shoulder. Very early one morning Dr. Sayre call at my office, and in his usual earnest way said: "Wyeth, --- --- died last night. Fifteen years ago he consulted me in regard to his arm, and I found an ununited fracture of the humerus communicating with the elbow, and such free and abnormal motion in all directions that I asked, and he promised me, that when he died I should have the bones at the elbow. I want you to help me get them."

        It was agreed that I should be introduced as an embalmer; and, securing the outfit for injecting the arteries with preservative fluids at the college, we arrived at the dead man's home. With a face expressive of the most profound sympathy and a voice trembling with emotion, he spoke to the family of his departed friend and patient, telling them that the last time he had treated him--he called him by his familiar name--he had exacted a promise that should he die first the doctor would see that he was not buried without being embalmed. He had called now to fulfil that promise, and had brought to do the work the most experienced embalmer in New York, and I was introduced. In this case the artery selected was the right brachial near the elbow, and when the operation was completed the lower four inches of the humerus and as much of the ulna and radius below the joint were reposing in the embalmer's inside pocket, and three small sticks of kindling pine represented the absent bones. Natura vacuum abhorret. There had been a transverse fracture of the humerus just above the elbow, and the lower fragment had broken in two in the middle. The interesting feature was that a new joint had formed, practically a ball and socket, with a new capsular ligament and new cartilage on the broken ends of the bones!


Page 359

        The night following this interesting experience I had a dream which developed into one of the most realistic and frightful nightmares I have ever experienced. I had only a few evenings before witnessed a performance by this actor, and on that occasion he wore shoes several inches longer than his foot. As he walked or danced the unfilled tips were made to flap loudly on the floor. His white cotton jacket was too short by a foot, and the baggy trousers stopped just below the knee, bringing into view his long, thin shanks covered with black stockings. He wore a wig so arranged that when, depicting fright, he touched a spring his hair would stand on end, stiff and erect as broom-straws, and upon the center of the top of his head reposed a diminutive Dunlap silk hat which would have adorned and not been too large for an organ-grinder's monkey.

        I dreamed that some one was coming up the stairway toward the room in which I was sleeping. The steps were slow and deliberate, and intended to be noiseless, but I recognized as each foot touched the riser a peculiar flap of the shoe, and then I was seized with the frightful conviction that the dead man was coming for me. I tried to get up and go to the door, to be sure it was locked, but could not move. I heard the key turn, and saw distinctly the slowly widening crack of the opening door, through which appeared the blackened face and hair on end and tiny stove-pipe hat, and as I groaned for help he lifted one foot with the long shoe just as I had seen him do at the theater when he would place this member on Dan Bryant's shoulder, draw him toward himself, and say triumphantly, "I got you now!" As he said this to me the door flew open, and he jumped on my chest and danced a double back step which ended by his swinging the sole of that long shoe slowly and deliberately


Page 360

over my mouth and nose, until, to save myself from suffocation, I made one final, desperate effort to wake up, and found myself rolling to the floor.

        Dreaming is to me a strange and inexplicable mental process. Some of these images or impressions, which our will does not conjure up and cannot control, and which appear to be absolutely foreign to our waking brain-action, we fail to register and they are forgotten, while others, as the one just detailed, remain indelibly printed in our memory cells and come back over and over again in our waking hours. It is the same with the dream or delirium in disease. When at eighteen I was very ill in prison with pneumonia I was told during convalescence that I had been out of my head, which I knew already, for when I became conscious I remembered vividly, as I still do, this wild, disordered dream: I was on a train, the day was hot, the water gave out, and after what seemed an interminable run we stopped by the side of a high bluff from the side of which, at a point inaccessible except by crawling along a gradually narrowing ledge, so high that it was sure death to fall, a stream of cool, crystal water was trickling. The ledge gave out before I could reach the spring, and I was moaning over the disappointment and evidently asking for water, when some one put a tin-cupful in my hand and held my head up while I emptied it. Reason came back with this, and that dream of delirium was indelibly registered. It is as clear in my memory cells at this time (forty-nine years later) as it was then.

        While on the subject of dreams I must commit myself to another conviction--namely, that in our waking hours our brains register impressions of which at the time we fail to be conscious, and which become recognizable images or


Page 361

pictures either while asleep or upon wakening after (probably a restful and refreshing) slumber. I know this has been my experience, and it has led me to accept the theory of the subconscious mind. I first noticed this mental process when as a youth I undertook to train my mind to be quick in memorizing. My first long task was the third canto of "Childe Harold." The Spenserian measure, the evenly sustained beauty and rhythm, and the deep feeling which pervades this (to me) most attractive poem in our language, naturally led to its preference. I committed to memory this canto of about nine hundred lines, and recited it publicly on one or two occasions. While engaged in this task I noticed that not infrequently when in the late afternoon or evening I would read over some unlearned stanzas, which I could not remember, I would awaken the next morning and could recite them word for word. Incidentally, in experimenting I found that from 10 to 12 A.M., just about the time that the breakfast digestion process was finished, was the period when I could memorize with greatest facility.

        Another interesting personal experience comes to my mind. In 1902 a boy was brought to me from Cuba with a condition of the forearm which gave me a great deal of trouble to understand. This case is given with others in another book as an original contribution to surgery. For four or five days I thought over the history of his injury and the resulting inability to rotate the radius around the ulna--in other words, to turn his hand over. About three in the morning I awoke with a perfectly clear conception of the cause of the inability; and I removed it by operation that morning. I was so afraid I would forget it if I fell asleep again that I made a note of it at once.

        The study of anatomy, both human and comparative,


Page 362

had for me a great fascination, so much so that at one time I believe I would have devoted my life to it had I had an independent income. And yet I recall with what horror I first smelt and saw the inside of a dissecting-room. This soon gave way; for I saw how wonderful was the structure of the human body, and how essential to a satisfactory and successful understanding and treatment of disease and injury was a practical knowledge of each organ, or part, in relation to the whole. But for the situation of Bellevue as a workshop, and the associations which gave me free access to the morgue and one of the largest dissecting-rooms in New York, I could never have secured the material to use in successfully carrying out my investigations. As it was, I had at one period, and for quite a while, to resort to the "underground" method of investigation.

        Connected with the old morgue there was a large, square room used for storing great stocks of the plain-plank coffins in which the unclaimed dead were carried away to the potter's field. From the center of the ceiling hung an unused gas-chandelier. There were two windows, and the single door which opened into the morgue. I arranged with the keeper to cover the windows with thick cloth and stack the coffins in such a way that a good-sized room was secured, to which entrance could be had without being suspected, and in which I could work night and day without being interrupted. With the help of my good friend the keeper I used this cave with great satisfaction for two years, until I had completed my work, and no one ever knew it beyond the two most interested. These dissections were usually made after ten o'clock, when my official duties were over and the college had closed for the night.

        Not infrequently I became so interested in the subject


Page 363

under investigation that I forgot about time or became so tired or sleepy I simply had to quit. I rarely went to bed before twelve or one o'clock, and sometimes later. On one occasion I fell asleep and received such a shock when I awoke that I never forgot it. Late one stormy night the keeper had gone home and I was the only living thing left except the rats, which were often too companionable, with coffins all about and anywhere from twenty-five to fifty cadavers in reach. I was dissecting the right axilla or armpit, the arm stretched out at a right angle to the body, and a block beneath the shoulder-blades, which let the subject's head drop backward. My arm was resting on the dead man's chest, and as I fell asleep the weight of my head and upper portion of the body rested on my arm and upon the ribs of the cadaver. These being elastic, and the lungs the same, gradually and noiselessly the residual air was pressed out of the lungs. When I awoke, startled at the idea of falling asleep under such conditions, as I raised my head I suddenly took the pressure from his chest. The elastic ribs came back at once to their former position, and in doing this created a vacuum in the lungs, into which the air rushed through the subject's larynx, producing a wheezing or gurgling sound, just as one does who inspires violently when half strangled after drinking and getting a few drops of water in the windpipe.

        In the condition of mind which prevailed at that instant I thought the man was not dead! The lugubrious part of this experience did not end here. In my hurry I put on my overcoat, for a winter snow-storm was raging, and without going into the large room to light the gas-jet over the door of exit I turned out my chandelier and found myself without matches and in thick darkness. Nothing was left but


Page 364

to grope my way through coffins and cadavers and along the wall until I found the door-knob and went out into the storm. It was a weird experience.

        In these years of strenuous labor I made one grave mistake, and I bring it out here in the hope that it may serve as a warning to other struggling and ambitious beginners. I worked too much and took little or no recreation, and did not pay the strict attention to sleep and diet which is essential. I doubt if I averaged six hours in bed out of every twenty-four for the first six years of my residence in New York. My one dissipation was the theater on Saturday night, when the college was closed. If there was an hour free from some duty I walked for exercise in the beautiful Central Park. It never occurred to me to waste time at cards or billiards or other games of amusement, and I had never contracted the use of tobacco or alcohol.

        In fact, I do not think a physician should ever smoke or drink. In 1876 I broke down with a serious illness, which was diagnosed as perityphlitis, but which I now know was appendicitis. Dr. Reginald Fitz had not opened the eyes of the profession to this disease with his classical paper, nor had Dr. Simon Baruch, a leader in medicine, yet laid mankind under never-ending obligation by his recognition of and insistence upon the necessity of immediate operation. The only operation in my case was the insertion of an exploring needle through the abdominal wall deeply into the indurated mass, a procedure more dangerous than operation, and by no means painless. No suppuration was discovered, and at the end of two weeks the abscess discharged into the cæcum. Here followed a slow convalescence, a phlebitis with permanent occlusion of the left popliteal vein, which


Page 365

accident I have since observed on this, the opposite side to the appendix, in a number of instances. I was incapacitated for nearly twelve months by reason of this illness, and in 1877 resigned my connection with Bellevue Hospital Medical College.


Page 366

XXIV
LONDON--PARIS--BERLIN--VIENNA--DR. J. MARION SIMS--MT. SINAI HOSPITAL--TEXT-BOOK ON SURGERY-- PRESIDENT NEW YORK PATHOLOGICAL SOCIETY-- BLOODLESS AMPUTATION OF THE SHOULDER AND HIP JOINTS--VICE-PRESIDENT AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION--LIFE OF FORREST

        I VISITED Europe early in 1878 in order to study the methods of teaching in the great medical centers there. I had been dreaming of inaugurating a new system of medical education in America, and had my plans made out. They will be given in that part of this volume relating to the founding of the Polyclinic. The year before going abroad I had made the acquaintance of Dr. J. Marion Sims. He had laid the foundation of his great reputation in Montgomery, Alabama, where he had known my father, who as a young man was then a member of the state legislature. When I arrived in Paris he was residing there, and I called to pay my respects and was cordially received. The next morning he came to my hotel to show me the Medical Record, which he had just received and which contained my "Prize Essays." Had I been his own son he could not have been more appreciative and encouraging in what he said to me then; and from that day to the day this great pioneer in surgery died I was bound to him by the ties of an affectionate friendship. He gave me a most delightful dinner, at which I met for the first time his youngest daughter,


Page 367

named Florence Nightingale, for the noble woman whose life of unselfish devotion to humanity naturally won for her the admiration and respect of Marion Sims.

        There happened to be present at this dinner a member of the suite or staff of the then Prince of Wales, Edward. He was a renegade Irishman, and, as usual with the Irish who go eastward from Erin, he was more English than the natives of Albion. He entertained us with what his Prince did on Mondays and Tuesdays and other days, and how he did it, seemingly oblivious of the fact that all the rest of us were Americans who cared no more for his princes and dukes and lords and ladies than we did for the king of the Cannibal Islands--in fact, not so much.

        My Americanism may be prejudiced and narrow, but the idea of preferment by inheritance and not by personal merit and achievement has the same effect on me as a red rag is said to have upon a certain male quadruped. Moreover, at school and later I had learned something about the way the British had treated our people during the Revolutionary War and in 1812: how they had incited the Indians and Tories to massacre and pillage; how at Fort Mims, near my own home, some three hundred helpless women and children had been butchered without mercy as late as 1813, while we were at war in protest against England's outrageous and unlawful impressment of our people in her service; how, encouraging the traffic in slaves, her rulers had permitted, against the protest of the colonists, the importation of African slaves and the establishment of slavery in America; how they had shocked mankind by blowing the bodies of their condemned subjects in India from the mouths of cannon; and how, for commercial reasons, they had forced the opium trade upon protesting, helpless China. All this


Page 368

and a lot more, when the rhapsodist of Albion stopped long enough to catch his breath, I recited, not giving him a chance to get a word in edgewise until I had run the gamut of my indictment of the "mother country." Then some one asked some one else if they had "ever seen a rabbit," which was a signal to change the conversation, and peace was declared.

        When I made my dinner-call upon the hostess and her husband, I said: "Dr. Sims, I fear I presumed too far on the hospitality of your home in what I said to your Irish-English guest; but I lost control and boiled over." He put a hand on either shoulder as we were standing, his handsome face expressing not only forgiveness but approbation as he replied: "Wyeth, I never enjoyed a raking over the coals more than the one you gave that conceited fellow. Had it not been at my own table I would have done it myself."

        When two years later in New York Dr. Sims passed through the terrible ordeal of a double pleuro-pneumonia, I stayed for fifteen nights by his bedside or lay upon a sofa in easy call of the suffering patient. As is common with doctors, he was a bad patient. I had been directed by Doctors Loomis and Janeway that no morphine should be administered if it could possibly be avoided. On one or two occasions, when he was suffering intensely, a small quantity had been given with gratifying effect to the patient. He insisted at one time that I should give him a hypodermic. I remonstrated mildly, telling him his condition was such that it was very dangerous to take it, and that I had positive instructions not to give him any that night. He raised such a clamor that at last I said: "Well, if you will have it, you must; but you must relieve me of all responsibility." He


Page 369

answered: "All right; I'll do it." Having anticipated such a demand, I had already loaded a syringe with pure water, and took the bottle of Magendie's solution, and went through the form of filling it with the proper quantity.

        I stuck the needle into the patient's arm, injected the contents of the syringe, put everything away, went back to my sofa, lay down, and pretended to be asleep. He was quiet for five or ten minutes, then became somewhat restless; and soon after I heard him call, and walked around to the side of his bed. "How much Magendie did you give me?" he whispered. "Six minims," I replied. Without taking his eyes from mine he pointed his finger at me and said, quickly, "Wyeth, that's a lie, and you know it!" I am sure it was one of those white lies which will never be recorded against me, and I have every reason to know, after his convalescence and recovery, he had entirely forgiven me.

        Marion Sims died on November 13, 1883. Early in 1882 he had returned to Paris and revisited New York in August, 1883. In the interval between August and the day of his death in November I saw him frequently. A day or two before he died he came into the parlor of his residence, complaining that his heart beat very fast whenever he went up-stairs. I remarked that he was unnecessarily apprehensive, since Loomis and all the diagnosticians had excluded any organic heart lesion. He replied: "It doesn't matter what they say; this heart trouble will kill me yet." He had intended to return to Europe on November 8th, and had purchased tickets for himself and family on a steamer sailing that day. He was, however, prevailed on to remain over to do an important operation, which he did


Page 370

on November 12th. He returned home about eleven on that night and went to his bed. It was his custom to keep pieces of white cardboard by his bedside and a lead-pencil convenient, so that at any time in the night when a thought occurred to him that he wished to record he could do so without making a light. He was thus engaged when, in an instant, without an expression of pain, his heart ceased to beat. Truly nature crowned his career with the greatest of all possible blessings--a painless death.

        In that most fascinating book, The Story of My Life, Dr. Sims says that thirteen was always a lucky number with him. He was born in 1813; on the 13th of the month he graduated from college; he left his South Carolina home to practise in Alabama on the 13th; arrived in New York City on the 13th; and it was on November 13, 1883, at fifteen minutes past three o'clock that he died.

        It is safe to say that Marion Sims attained the highest position ever achieved in the history of our profession. His reputation as a surgeon was so world-wide that in any capital, in any country within the domain of civilization, he could command at any time a lucrative practice. In New York, London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, and St. Petersburg he found himself everywhere sought after, not only by the patients he could benefit, but by the leading members of his own profession, who were anxious to pay tribute to his wonderful genius.

        From the brilliant triumph of that memorable clinic at La Charité in 1862, Dr. Sims went forth to the professional conquest of Europe. The journals of the day heralded his advent, and the gates of the capitals of kingdoms were


Page 370a

Illustration

STATUE OF DR. J. MARION SIMS, BRYANT PARK, NEW YORK


Page 371

thrown open to his coming. From place to place he journeyed, healing the afflicted and teaching others to heal. Kings of the realm of science vied with one another to do him honor, kings and rulers of nations were proud to confer upon him the highest decorations in their power. Upon the base of the pedestal which his statue in Bryant Park overlooks, the physicians of our time and of all time may read with encouragement the epitome of his life.

        Justly held as the father of gynecology, his genius knew none of the limitations of specialization, and in my opinion his most notable contribution to science is his paper on "The Careful Aseptic Invasion of the Peritoneal Cavity, Not Only for the Arrest of Hemorrhage, the Suture of Intestinal Wounds, and the Cleansing of the Peritoneal Cavity, but for all Intra-peritoneal Conditions," read before the New York Academy of Medicine, October 6, 1881. It marked the dawn of an era, and was the real starting-point in the new surgery of the abdominal cavity.

        While in Paris in 1878 I submitted my scheme of a combined three years' pregraduate and two years' postgraduate medical school to Dr. Sims, and it met with his full approval. He said if he were younger he would join with me in the effort to establish it.

        There was unveiled in Bryant Park, New York City, in 1894, a statue in bronze of this immortal man. It stands erect and proud, a life-like image of the great teacher, the spontaneous gift from his brothers in the profession throughout the civilized world, and from many of the unfortunate beings his genius and skill had benefited. In brief yet comprehensive phraseology the inscription tells the story of his career:


Page 372

J. MARION SIMS, M.D., LL.D.

        BORN IN SOUTH CAROLINA, 1813
DIED IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1883

        SURGEON AND PHILANTHROPIST

        FOUNDER OF THE WOMAN'S HOSPITAL OF THE
STATE OF NEW YORK

        HIS BRILLIANT ACHIEVEMENTS CARRIED THE
FAME OF AMERICAN SURGERY THROUGHOUT
THE CIVILIZED WORLD

        IN RECOGNITION OF HIS SERVICES IN THE
CAUSE OF SCIENCE AND MANKIND HE RECEIVED
THE HIGHEST HONORS IN THE GIFT OF HIS
COUNTRYMEN AND DECORATIONS FROM THE
GOVERNMENTS OF FRANCE, PORTUGAL, SPAIN,
BELGIUM, AND ITALY

        On the reverse:

        PRESENTED
TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK
BY
HIS PROFESSIONAL FRIENDS, LOVING PATIENTS,
AND MANY ADMIRERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

        Marion Sims possessed a striking personality. Notwithstanding his long and bitter struggle with poverty and for professional recognition, and in his early days for health and life itself, time had dealt gently with his form and face, whereon nature had set in unmistakable lines the stamp of


Page 373

greatness. Although he had rounded well the years allotted by the Psalmist, his step was still quick and firm, his carriage erect, dignified, and graceful. The frosts of age had not tinged the rich abundance of his dark-brown hair, which fell straight back from off the massive forehead, for the ever-active brain and the deep-seated, searching eyes of brown asked always for the light. The brows were arched and unusually heavy and prominent; the nose beautifully proportioned and of Grecian type; the mouth well shaped, lips usually compressed, which, with the prominent chin, bespoke courage and firmness of purpose. His face was oval, clean-shaven, and smooth, and the usual expression was of almost womanly sweetness; yet it was quick to vary in harmony with whatever emotion was predominant. Away from preoccupation and in the home life, his expression and actions were almost boyish. He never seemed to have forgotten that he was once a boy, and he would throw himself into a household frolic with all the abandon of his early days. He was courageous to a degree; and, although he rarely lost control of his temper, yet he was at times imperious and aggressive. When occasion demanded he was a good fighter, and fought his enemies with right good will; but he was quick to forgive. As was said of him by a gifted orator, he possessed qualities ideal in the make-up of a truly great surgeon--"the brain of an Apollo, the heart of a lion, the eye of an eagle, and the hand of a woman."

        If generosity be a fault, it was his besetting sin, and that was all the sin of which I deemed him capable.

        Toward the higher and purer civilization the progress of man is slow. As yet the shadows of barbarism linger about him. His heroes are the destroyers, the Cæsars and Napoleons,


Page 374

who covered the earth with ruin and buried beneath it countless lives sacrificed upon the altar of personal ambition. But the time must come when those whose genius and works give life and health and happiness to the world will be first in the heart of man. In this purer temple of fame, along with such names as Jenner, Ephraim McDowell, Morton, Lister, Pasteur, Walter Reed, Koch, Gorgas, Lazear, and Ricketts, generations yet unborn shall read the name of Marion Sims.

        I had received in 1877 an appointment as visiting surgeon to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a small institution well managed by a society of Sisters of Charity, and in 1882 I was made visiting surgeon to Mt. Sinai Hospital, then on Lexington Avenue between Sixty-sixth and Sixty-seventh streets, one of the largest, best-managed, and most useful of the many great philanthropies of New York City. The directors were all Hebrews, and, although liberal and nonsectarian as to those admitted, naturally the great majority of the patients were Jews, and many of these were the poorest of poor immigrants newly arrived from Russia, Poland, and Germany.

        My colleague at the Polyclinic, Dr. A. G. Gerster--a brilliant, ambitious, and exceedingly competent lecturer and surgeon--and I divided the surgical service at Mt. Sinai, and by our united efforts added very much to the attractiveness of the clinics. During our first term a salary was paid to the house surgeon, as it was difficult to induce the better class of young men to serve in this capacity for the full term. We took our Polyclinic students there in great numbers, built up a large clientele, and the next year there were a half-dozen eager applicants for every vacancy on the interne staff. The number of visitors became so


Page 375

large that the directors gave us a new and extra large operating-room and met all our demands with their wonted liberality.

        Fully one-half of these patients spoke the German language, and I found the four years I had devoted to this great language with a tutor and boarding with a family of educated Germans had not been spent in vain. A large proportion of the Jews from Poland and Russia spoke a mixed German, something of which I "picked up." In a suit for damages for injury in an elevator accident I was subpoenaed, as I had treated the plaintiff in the hospital. The jury could not understand his very broken English. His German proved just as unsatisfactory; for there were two intelligent native Germans on the jury who told the judge they could not understand him. I asked permission to speak to him, asked him to describe the accident in the mixed Mt. Sinai patois, which he did. The judge then had me sworn in as interpreter, and I translated his testimony to the jury in English and German, much to the joy of the plaintiff, for he received a verdict. I had great sympathy with these unfortunate people, for they were submissive, patient, and very grateful, and, as far as I could judge, law-abiding.

        In all my sixteen years' service in this hospital I recall but one outlaw, and my experience with him was interesting enough to justify narration. He came into the service with a fistulous opening in the abdominal wall, which he stated had been caused by falling against a sharp spike. During his convalescence the patient next to him happened to be reading the Police Gazette, in which there was a picture of a burglar who had escaped from a prison hospital, where he was being treated for a bullet-shot wound received while


Page 376

robbing a silk-store. Beneath the photograph was printed, "Sheeny Mike, the Great Silk Burglar." The patient looked over at his nearest neighbor, handed him the Gazette, and said, "This fellow looks like you." The answer was, "Yes, there is some resemblance," and he quietly returned the paper. In a few minutes he sauntered to the bath-room in the rear of the ward, from which a back stairway led to the street, and that was the last the hospital knew of "Sheeny Mike." Meanwhile the newspapers mentioned the fact that he had escaped, and stated that a reward of five thousand dollars was offered for his apprehension.

        A month or two later I happened one afternoon to be in a cross-town car going from the Desbrosses Street Ferry to the Bowery, when Mike, well-dressed, as is usual with gentlemen of leisure, boarded the car, recognized and took his seat by me, and we conversed during a ride of several blocks about his health and the operation at the hospital and the weather, but never a word about the Boston silk business or the five thousand dollars' reward. Had he run away when he saw me I possibly might have followed him and caused his arrest; but when he trusted me so implicitly I could not be unmindful of his confidence. He was arrested later in Jacksonville, Florida, where, according to the newspapers, he was running an extensive merchandise business, and, I think, died in the penitentiary.

        I had some interesting experiences with several patients who were beyond the law, and recall two who were arrested for complicity in the great Northampton bank robbery. One of these was found guilty, and made a daring escape from prison.

        With the success of the Polyclinic, and the intimate personal acquaintance it brought with practising physicians from


Page 377

all parts of the country, together with the practical experience gained from the extensive surgical service at Mt. Sinai and elsewhere, my private practice grew more and more remunerative. I now gave up all medical cases and confined my work entirely to the practice and teaching of surgery. In 1884 an agent of the publishing firm of D. Appleton& Co. called upon me with a proposition to write a text-book on surgery for that firm; but we failed to agree on terms. I was very desirous of writing such a book, for much of the work I had already done was directly in that line. I insisted on a new style of illustration in colors which was more than ordinarily expensive, and told the Appletons it was not worth while to bring out a new book unless it could be made more attractive than any other book on surgery.

        The cost was thought to be too great, and for the time being the matter rested there as far as they were concerned; but I went on with the surgery without saying a word to any one, for I felt that I would find a publisher. The next fall the Appleton agent came back and said, "Well, what about the surgery?" I replied, "Nothing, unless your firm will give me carte blanche on illustrations," and, to my delight, he said: "All right; I am authorized to close the contract now. Can you do it in a year?" I said, "In less time, if you are in a hurry." We signed the contract, and then I told him the book was written, and I could give him the manuscript as fast as he wanted it. As I had anticipated, the beautiful illustrations in three colors, which had never before been used in a text-book on this subject, proved very attractive. I was to be at no expense and to receive ten per cent. of the gross sales, which for the various editions amounted to between two and three hundred thousand dollars.


Page 378

        The actual cash profits of authorship, especially in scientific books, are rarely large; but the enhancement of professional reputation is always a valuable asset, more gratifying than the mere accumulation of money; and a successful book always brings this reward. The large sale of this volume, together with the prize essays, widely distributed through the American Medical Association, widened the circle of personal as well as professional acquaintanceship and added to my practice. I had been, however, in 1885, and again in 1886, elected to the presidency of the New York Pathological Society, and it was about this period that the professorship of surgery in the great medical college at New Orleans, which Dr. T. G. Richardson had so long and successfully held, was offered to me. It was a great temptation to go "back home," but my heart was in the work of building up the Polyclinic as a great postgraduate medical school.

        I wish I could impress upon every young member of our profession the importance of pathology, for it is the foundation of a successful career and practice. A true conception of this subject combines the laboratory with the postmortem-room. As I look back now I realize that practically every active member of this society at the time of which I write was then or became later famous in medicine. There was E. G. Janeway (I nicknamed him "ejus generis"), the indefatigable worker, close observer, conscientiously studying his cases, and, when death occurred, reaping the full benefit of his successes or failures in diagnosis and treatment by a minute examination of the organs involved. He became one of the greatest diagnosticians in medicine the profession has ever known. To every beginner in medicine asking, "How may I succeed?" I would say, "Study the career of Edward G. Janeway and try to follow it."


Page 379

        That I should admire and respect him was inevitable from our close association; and for the watchful, brotherly care he gave me through the long and weary months of a painful and desperate illness I owe the grateful tribute of friendship. Abraham Jacobi, the Nestor of American Medicine, as I write this page, full of years and of honors well deserved, then as now and for ever famous, was always in attendance. And there, too, was his gifted wife, Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, whose knowledge of pathology was so thorough, whose range of the literature was so wide, and whose criticism was so keen, fearless, and just that in our discussions we felt it prudent to shun the field of speculation and to walk strictly in the path of demonstrated facts. Of this group also was my fellow-student at college and soon thereafter my teacher in advanced pathology, William H. Welch, whose transcendent genius for research has made him facile princeps among American pathologists. When my increasing labors pressed me so for time that I could no longer work in his laboratory, I equipped my own in my office, and two evenings of each week this enthusiastic and generous friend came to help me in the efforts to keep in touch with the latest developments in the science in which he was master. Louis Elsberg and John H. Ripley, both justly renowned, were among this group, as was L. Emmet Holt, the eminent pediatrist of the present date.

        Soon after my return from Europe in 1878 the frightful epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Memphis, causing panic and flight for all who could escape, and anxiety, suffering, or death for those who could not run away, or who, like the doctors of that city, remained at their posts. Thinking it our duty to offer our services to our own afflicted people, my old Confederate comrade, Dr. William M. Polk,


Page 380

and I telegraphed to Dr. John H. Erskine that we would go to Memphis if he thought we could be made useful. To our great relief, Dr. Erskine, who had been a medical director in the Army of Tennessee, replied: "Don't come. You would be down with fever in two weeks, and would add to our anxieties." He died of the fever in this epidemic.


Page 381

XXV
THE TENNESSEE& COOSA--HOW I FINANCED A RAILROAD AND SAVED A FORTUNE FOR A FRIEND--REVISIT MY ALMA MATER-- WRITE THE LIFE OF FORREST

        THERE is an old adage that a man who is "Jack of all trades is good at none." I had been brought up with the idea that a boy and man should learn something of any and every trade, if it were practicable, and by the time I went to college I was fairly expert with the tools and implements, and at home with the handy experiences which were part of the life of a pioneer agricultural community. When in 1874 I tacked my sign to the door of 226 Fifth Avenue as a surgeon of the metropolis, in the center of rich and fashionable New York City (for the old Fifth Avenue Hotel, at Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth streets and Broadway, and the famous Hotel Brunswick, at Twenty-sixth Street and Fifth Avenue, were just across the street from my office), I had hoped and believed that henceforth until I could sit down quietly as an old man and write my "Occupations of a Retired Life" my lines were cast for naught but surgery. I had been Jack of many trades, and now I was trying to be good at least at one. I had been farmer and woodsman, soldier for three years, superintendent of a large cotton plantation, cattle-buyer, medical student for two years, and pilot for the same length of time on a steamboat in the White River country of Arkansas, contracted for and built


Page 382

public buildings for Woodruff County in that state, speculated in lands, ran a telegraph office as operator, etc., and now it came about that I had to interrupt the even tenor of my professional career to finance and build a railroad. Like much more of what has been written in these pages, it reads like romance, yet I have learned that truth is stranger than fiction, and this is the plain story of the Tennessee& Coosa Railroad.

        My father had founded Guntersville, the county-seat of Marshall County, Alabama, in 1848. He had dreamed of building up there, at the south bend of the Tennessee, a great commercial community. As part of his plan while a member of the state legislature he had secured the charter of a railroad to connect the navigable waters of the Tennessee and Coosa rivers, and ultimately to make it a link in a great through railroad transit line. It may not be out of place to tell here how very near he came to the realization of his dream. When in later years the great through system from Memphis, via Atlanta, to the Atlantic Ocean at Charleston and Savannah was being projected my father brought his influence to bear to have that railroad run from Decatur to Guntersville, and thence direct to Atlanta, cutting Chattanooga entirely out. The conflict of interests between the two routes became so sharp that at last the governors of the five states through which the road was surveyed--Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina--appointed each three commissioners to determine the route. When the fifteen commissioners met they elected as chairman Mr. Sam Tate, of Memphis. Seven voted for the Guntersville and seven for the Chattanooga route, and Sam Tate's single vote decided in favor of Chattanooga and made it the great railroad center of the middle South. Had


Page 383

he voted the other way our family would have been one of the wealthiest in our state.

        Notwithstanding this set-back, work on the Tennessee& Coosa Railroad, thirty-six miles in length, from Guntersville to Gadsden, had been pushed, and when it was stopped in 1861 on account of the Civil War it was well on to completion. The chief contractor and builder of this road was Mr. Hugh Carlisle, a British subject residing in Alabama, to whom my eldest sister had been married in 1861. In settlement with the company this gentleman had received as part payment a block of stock, which with other purchases gave him control and ultimately entire ownership of this franchise and property. This stock represented not only the very considerable amount of money involved in construction, but a claim to a large and valuable grant of public lands contiguous to the road-bed, which were, however, subject to litigation for forfeiture. In the effort to complete the work he had begun the owner became financially embarrassed. The four years' war and the ten years of plunder by the reconstruction carpet-bag government after peace was declared had paralyzed all public enterprises, and in this period so much of the work had been destroyed by the elements that it was almost like building the road anew. Before he was half-way through, his means had been exhausted, and in a time of money stringency and panic he was unable to borrow the amount needed to save him from utter financial ruin. In his extremity he and my sister turned to me as their last hope. With their distressing letter came a copy of the sheriff's printed notice of sale under judgment, and I had to act quickly, for I could not sit still and see those so near and dear to me lose all they possessed without an effort to save them.


Page 384

        Unfortunately, I did not have the money required, and I knew only one human being to whom I could turn for help. I went at once to the late David J. Garth, one of the noblest of men, who, successful in affairs, had then retired from business. I had had the great good fortune to be employed as his family physician soon after I came to New York, and we had already formed a strong and lasting friendship. I laid the case before him, and asked him to lend me the money needed. It was to me then a very large sum. When he asked me what collateral I had to offer, I told him none but his faith in my integrity and ability. To this astonishing proposition he smilingly replied, "I reckon you'll have to have it." That afternoon, with a package of bonds under his arm, he and I presented ourselves to Mr. Case, cashier of the Second National Bank, then located at Twenty-third Street and Fifth Avenue, and I took the train that night for Alabama with a certified check to my order.

        For the first and, I may add, for the last time in my life, with but one exception, I was now in debt, and the situation was not agreeable. My father had impressed me early with the importance of owing no man. On one occasion, having effected an arrangement with the keeper of a candy-shop, whereby when temporarily short of cash I could satisfy a craving for sweets and pay the bill at my convenience, I offered father a share. As he placed it in his mouth he asked me how much I had paid for it, and when I replied I had bought it on credit he spat it out, handed me back the remainder, and, after reproving me quite severely for such reprehensible conduct he gave me the amount to cancel my indebtedness; and from that day to this, with the exception of borrowing this money to save a friend, I have owed no man.


Page 385

        When I arrived at Attalla, and went carefully into the matter of the impending sale, I became convinced that certain very radical changes were essential, and, determining upon these, I made it a sine qua non that all the stock and complete control of the entire property should be legally turned over to me by transfer on the company's books. This being done, I satisfied the judgment and became the owner of a railroad. I had heard the story of the man who took an elephant as security for a loan, and who ever after had a great deal more of elephant than he wanted. During many a wakeful hour for the next twelvemonth I gave that man my sympathy. I went at once to my dear father, who was still president of this road, and said: "This failure of the old company as at present organized has naturally caused a want of confidence in its ability to finance and build the railroad. A change is necessary. I want you to resign and let me elect a new board, to include some New York capitalists and men of influence in the place where we will have to go for money."

        He agreed with me heartily, called a meeting, resigned, and the new board went into office at once. One year and two months thereafter, in an office in Wall Street, after paying off every indebtedness and returning to my good friend the loan at the Second National Bank, I turned over all the remainder to Mr. Carlisle. In the final settlement with the purchaser, Major John W. Thomas, President of the Nashville, Chattanooga& St. Louis Railway Co., I secured the transfer of the land claim to the former owner, my sister's husband, the legality of whose title was ultimately confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. The property (not including the railroad and its franchise) which was thus saved is now valued at, and is


Page 386

well worth, a million dollars. The happiness it gave me to carry this transaction to a satisfactory issue more than compensated for the worry and anxiety and loss of time from my professional work which it involved, for all of which I received no direct compensation.

        It is said that revenge is sweet and that time will bring the opportunity to all who wait. Many years after this incident was closed my dear old friend Mr. Garth became in his turn temporarily embarrassed in a large real-estate deal in Westchester County. He naturally came to borrow from me, and this time I smiled and said, "I reckon you'll have to have it." He lived to be very nearly ninety years old, and at his death, in 1912, left an ample fortune. As a token of his love for me he added a codicil to his will in favor of the Polyclinic Hospital.


        In 1890 I attended the International Surgical Congress in Berlin, and incidentally revisited Carlsbad, the most attractive watering-place and "cure" I have ever seen. I recall little of the congress as far as its scientific work was concerned, but can never forget an incident in the vast dining-hall, where between five hundred and a thousand surgeons were feasting. Professors W. W. Keen, John B. Roberts, Robert F. Weir, and I were seated together at one of the large tables, our neighbors being seemingly from all the other nations of the civilized world. As the bands played the various national airs the representatives of the country in evidence would, as soon as the music ceased, show their patriotic approval by hand-clapping or bravos or a series of huzzas, none of which seemed to me sufficiently enthusiastic or demonstrative. Keen was naturally anxious with the rest of our four to get ahead of our


Page 387

foreign brethren, and we agreed that when the "Star-spangled Banner" was rendered, as the last strain floated away in the air we would stand in our chairs and give them the rebel yell. Keen and Weir had both served in the Union army during the War, and heard that indescribable wild Comanche chorus which was the vocal part of the Southern onslaught, and which, like


                         The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
                         Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes,

        fitted in effectively with the rolling kettle-drum sound of thousands of rifles at work, and with the accompaniment of the short, explosive booms of artillery. Roberts, who would have heard it in war-times had he been old enough, said he would follow. When the moment came the inspiring music had caught the audience and they were ripe for our demonstration, for when we stood up so conspicuously in our chairs, wildly waving our napkins and yelling that awful yell, our neighbors climbed into theirs, took up the chorus, and the whole throng went mad about it and wouldn't stop until the "Star-spangled Banner" and the rebel yell had received three encores. I felt as if the Southern Confederacy had again saved the Union.

        In 1890 I made public my operations for the "Bloodless Amputation at the Hip-joint," which created quite a stir in the surgical world. Nine years before the author of the principal text-book in use in American colleges said that amputation at the hip was "properly regarded as the greatest operation in surgery." The death-rate in the Civil War was ninety-three per cent., and in civil practice after the War from forty to fifty of every hundred died. The method introduced by me, and generally accepted by surgeons the


Page 388

world over, has reduced the mortality to between six and eight per cent. I received a number of invitations to demonstrate the operation publicly, and this was done in the amphitheater of the Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia in 1891, by Professor W. W. Keen and myself, before the largest gathering I had ever seen at a surgical clinic. In reporting this case this eminent surgeon said, "It was reserved for an American surgeon to devise what is undoubtedly the best method, and, in fact, that which I think we can now call the only method of hemostasis in amputation at the hip-joint."

        In the Annals of Surgery for September, 1895, Dr. John F. Erdmann reports eighteen hip-joint amputations done in seven of the leading hospitals in New York City within ten years. Seven of these were done by my method, and all recovered, while the death-rate in the remaining cases by the other method was over seventy-two per cent. My "Bloodless Amputation at the Shoulder-joint" had been made public in 1889. In that year a colored woman came to my clinic, her trouble being a malignant growth (sarcoma) of the shoulder, requiring amputation at this joint. The tumor was situated so near the joint that I was afraid she would bleed to death or run great risk if I followed any of the older methods of amputation. It then occurred to me that I could use the cumulative pressure of a section of elastic rubber tubing over the shoulder-blade and collarbone, and occlude all the vessels going to and from the arm. As the shoulder-joint would represent the end of a truncated cone, when the bone was removed and the arm amputated, the tube, if not held in place, would roll off in the direction of least resistance. I then thought of transfixion with the two mattress-needles to hold it in place. The arm was


Page 389

emptied of blood by the Esmarch bandage, and, with the above method carried out, the operation was practically bloodless, and the patient recovered. While doing this the idea of disarticulation at the hip came into my mind, and in a few months an Episcopal minister from Alabama came to me with a sarcoma of the thigh, requiring amputation at the hip, and the method worked perfectly.

        This discovery spread my reputation more than anything else I had done, and yet in my opinion the good it has accomplished and will accomplish in the years to come does not compare with the ligation of the external carotid artery, an operation which my prize essays established in 1878. I felt much gratification in the fact that these innovations were made from the Polyclinic. The operation was made public at the meeting of the American Medical Association in Nashville in 1890, and in October of that year I made the demonstration in the amphitheater in which I heard my first lecture as a medical student. I went thither to deliver by invitation an address on medical education before the Mississippi Valley Medical Association, which met that year in Louisville. I had not visited my alma mater since my graduation, twenty-one years before, and the reception given me in this hospitable city was more than I had hoped for. I met on the occasion of this visit the renowned Colonel Henry Watterson, editor of the Courier Journal, one of the most entertaining and delightful gentlemen it has ever been my good fortune to know. My old teacher, Professor David Yandell, held a reception at his beautiful residence. The crowd soon filled the house and overflowed into a large marquee in the grounds. I had not seen the host since I was graduated in 1869, and several fellow-alumni suggested that we play a trick on the dear old surgeon, who, we might


Page 390

have known, "was not born in the night-time." I took my place in the line filing up to shake hands, and if necessary be introduced, the others in the conspiracy standing near enough to hear our conversation. I did not give him my name as I took his hand, and he said, "You have the advantage of me," to which I replied, "Professor, I am Jim Smith, one of your old pupils from Breathitt County" (said to be the county in Kentucky where every one makes and executes his own law). But we were hoist on our own petard, for in an instant his handsome face lit up as he put his arms around me and said, loud enough to shock everybody about us: "No, you're not. By God, you're John!"

        Among the classmates who laughed loudest at the failure of our ruse was Dr. Sam Manly, and I recalled to those present an incident which occurred in 1869, in which he had deservedly met discomfiture. We were calling on the professors to pay our respects before leaving for our homes. The teacher in physiology, one of the most scholarly and dignified members of the faculty, was so very deaf he could not hear without using a trumpet--and this he did not adjust for the ordinary exchange of civilities, such as saying "good-by." As we stood around the sideboard (for this was in Kentucky), glass in hand to drink his health, Sam, intending to excite our mirth and embarrass us at the expense of the dear old deaf professor, and without any thought of disrespect, said, "Here's at you, you bald-headed old vacuum!" Before we could even smile at his impertinence, the polite host replied, bowing and touching Sam's glass with his, "The same to you, sir, the same to you!"

        The Century Magazine published in 1891 the narrative of my life as a prisoner of war, and it stirred up a hornet's nest among the bloody-shirt politicians, who had no idea of


Page 391

admitting that there was a moral to the legend of the shield which had two sides. The article was written as an historical contribution in the spirit of reconciliation, and it contained nothing that I did not know to be true and susceptible of proof. At one time feeling ran so high on this account that I had to forego an address upon a scientific topic I had agreed to make at the invitation of the Indiana State Medical Association at Indianapolis. Happily, the facts as set forth were established and accepted; and at a subsequent meeting of this association I was their guest and was presented by its members with a beautiful and valued memorial.

        There was published in Harper's Magazine, in 1892, my article on the "Struggle for Oregon," written chiefly from the diary of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, a cousin of my father's. In 1831-36 this brave and enterprising man, foreseeing the future of the Oregon country, the ownership of which was then in dispute, fitted out at his own expense an expedition which he led across the continent, having sent a ship-load of supplies around "the Horn." This ship was wrecked; a number of the men with him were killed by Indians; others died or deserted; and he reached his destination the sole survivor. He made the return trip with two Indian guides, wintered in the Big Horn Mountains, and in the spring, in a boat made of buffalo-hides, moving only by night through the vast territory of the Blackfeet and Sioux Indians, reached civilization. Nothing daunted, he organized a second expedition, which he established where now stands the great city of Portland. He died too early to see the realization of his great dream, but his was the soul of the pioneer; he was of my father's family and kind, and I felt I owed it to him to have history record that he was of that brave and


Page 392

enterprising few who opened the doors of the great Northwest to his countrymen.

        At the Milwaukee meeting of the American Medical Association in 1893 I was elected first vice-president. At one of the sessions, after the reading of a paper on appendicitis by the distinguished Professor Nicholas Senn, as I was not on the printed programme for the discussion, the chairman did not call upon me, much to my satisfaction, as I had arrived late and had not heard the entire paper. There were many of my former pupils and other friends present, and these began to call for me by name. As I did not respond, a strapping big fellow from Chicago, justly eminent in the domain of urology but less so elsewhere, arose and held forth on appendicitis. It so happened that I had taken a seat by a lady member, and when my Chicago substitute finished and sat down she remarked to me "If that's the best Dr. Wyeth can do, he'd better have kept still." I replied, "I think so, too." However, I was not allowed to "sit still," and when I sat down after saying that I had unfortunately not heard the paper and did not feel competent to discuss it, my new-found friend and I became better acquainted.

        I began in 1895 my Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest. From the beginning of the war he had been my hero, just as Marion was of the Revolution. I read with avidity of his great exploits, his hand-to-hand combats at Monterey, his refusal to surrender, and the escape of his entire command at Fort Donelson, when all could have marched away had they been as determined and fearless as he; of Shiloh, where he rode in among Sherman's infantry, who jabbed bayonets at him and his bold troopers and shot him through and through as he sabered them right


Page 393

and left; of his capture of everybody and everything at Murfreesboro; the swarth of destruction he cut in Grant's rear in west Tennessee during Christmas of 1862-63; and the pursuit and capture of Straight's raiders, probably the most wonderful feat of the Civil War.

        When I enlisted in his old regiment the men who had served with him never ceased to sing his praise, and I watched closely his marvelous career until the war was over. When I learned of his great poverty in early life; of his many struggles to support his widowed mother and a large family of children, of which he was the eldest; that he was wholly uneducated; that he had enlisted in the war as a private with a musket on his shoulder and had come out of it as lieutenant-general, the second highest rank in the Confederate army, I made a vow that, should he not be placed right in history by the time I was fifty years old, I would undertake to do it. It was now 1895, Forrest was dead, and had not had justice done him, and I kept my promise. I bought an extensive library of war literature, including every volume of the official records of both the Union and Confederate armies, and these I gleaned as I could find leisure from a very busy life.

        I hit upon a plan of gathering information which worked out very satisfactorily. Along the left edge of a sheet of paper about twenty inches square was printed in a two-inch column a condensed sketch of Forrest and his operations. A full set of these was mailed to every officer and private who had been with him, whose name and address I could obtain, and to Union officers as well. I requested all to fill in the blank spaces with such facts as they were personally cognizant of. These were filed away, and carefully scrutinized and tested by comparison with and reference to the


Page 394

official reports of both sides, made at the time and forwarded to their respective departments. The volume was brought out in 1899, and rounded up a very busy period for the author. It so happened that a new edition of my Surgery was called for by the Appletons, while the Harpers were hurrying the Forrest into print. Meanwhile, I was running my private hospital and practice and attending to the exacting duties of senior professor of surgery and manager of the Polyclinic. Like Sancho Panza, who blessed the man who invented sleep, I blessed the discoverer of the stenographer. For a while I kept three of these indispensable agents at work, one with the Surgery, another on the Forrest, and a third for miscellaneous correspondence; and, fortunately, I brought both books out on time.


Page 395

XXVI
THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION--THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK--THE NEW YORK STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

        CERTAIN influential members of the Medical Society of the State of New York, a society whose charter dated back almost to colonial days, taking exception in 1880 to the code of ethics of the American Medical Association--an organization of which each state society was a component--brought about the secession of the state from the national body. Thereupon other members, equally influential but somewhat less numerous, believing that the best interests of the profession and the public would be served by keeping in affiliation with and helping to build up a stronger organization throughout the United States, withdrew from the society and formed themselves into the New York State Medical Association.

        The two hostile camps created an unfortunate situation. The regular medical profession, in its warfare against quackery and ignorance and malpractice, needed to be a solid body with a united front. For twenty years in the Empire State it was as a divided house, and, although it did not fall, it was leaning over so far that the enemies of progress in medical affairs smiled in their sleeves at the tottering structure. The only redeeming feature of this deplorable situation was that the doctors at variance were acting from conviction


Page 396

and had no axes to grind. It was the old, old story of the shield with its two sides, and the difficulty was to induce the tilting knights of the spatula and scalpel to study carefully the other side. There was not a time in all this unhappy controversy over questions of ethics when a compromise could not have been effected. The code of ethics was a sort of medical family Bible, setting forth some very strict rules of conduct, all of which even those who stood out for them didn't always follow. There was a middle and a safe way, and it fell to my lot to be of service in finding the path which led to a united profession.

        I was intensely loyal to the American Medical Association. From the beginning of my medical career I realized that it was only by building up a national association, which would not only be strong numerically, but by attracting to its membership the men of attainment and influence, would be strong politically, that the much-needed reforms could be effected. I had joined the state association at the start, attended the meetings, taken part in the scientific sessions, but had never held any office or taken any part in its management. To my surprise, while this body was holding its meeting in New York City in the fall of 1900, Dr. E. Elliot Harris, prominent in its affairs, called on me with a proffer for the nomination for the presidency. I saw at once the opportunity to attempt to reunite the profession in the state, and I told Harris that I would accept the office if I could be assured by those influential in the organization that they would help to bring about a compromise with the society, which might result in a reunion with the members of both bodies in the national association. They held a meeting, gave me this assurance, and I was elected president.


Page 397

        Relying upon the integrity, loyalty, and the extraordinary ability of Dr. Harris, I met him several times, and we finally formulated a plan which we proceeded to carry out. Our first move was the inauguration of an active campaign for increasing the membership of the association, and in doing this we organized new bodies in counties where none had existed. Meetings were held all over the state, attractive papers were read by our most eminent men, and a great many new members were obtained. In two counties we won over to the association the regular society organizations. When the movement was at its height I called on the leaders of the society and found them ready to listen to our overtures. While this was pending the profession throughout the United States, having learned of what was being attempted in the Empire State, showed their approval by electing me President of the American Medical Association at the St. Paul meeting in June, 1901, and at the request of the New York delegation the next annual meeting of the national organization was held at Saratoga in 1902. To this meeting all the members of the society were invited, and the work of fraternization went bravely on. Among the prominent physicians of the state who lent invaluable aid at this juncture was my friend and former partner in the college quiz, Professor Joseph D. Bryant. In order finally to complete the fusion certain legal steps became necessary. Dr. Bryant, already prominent in public as well as professional affairs, took charge, and with his usual tact and skill carried the reunion to a successful conclusion.

        The American Medical Association has become the largest and most powerful medical organization in the world. It represents more than one hundred thousand practitioners in the United States, has not only a working organization


Page 398

in every state and territory, but in every congressional district and in nearly every county. It publishes a weekly journal, which has a wide circulation, and in addition possesses large means in property and money. Its labors have resulted in the elevation of the standard of requirements, not only for entering a medical college, but for graduation and practice, and it has done much to uncommercialize medical education by compelling every college to come into the control of a recognized university. Coupled with the honors received from my fellow-members of the profession came, in 1902, an honorary degree of LL.D from the university of my native state, and a vote of appreciation jointly to Dr. J. Marion Sims and myself by its legislature.


Page 399

XXVII
ITALY AND THE GREAT ST. BERNARD--THE BONAPARTE TRAlL--MARENGO

        TO Naples in 1904 by way of the Azores and Gibraltar was one of the most restful and enjoyable sea trips I have made. On the fourteenth day out we landed in this dirtiest and most interesting of European cities. Vesuvius, the most accessible of active volcanoes, is an awe-inspiring demonstration of the tremendous heat-energy which--like the rolled steel of a boiler--the earth's crust is holding in. Now and then in some thin, weaker spot the shell gives way, and the lava and other products of combustion boil up from the depths. Where once was a level plain a huge truncated cone now lifts its summit four thousand feet above the sea. No one who stands upon the edge of that frightful hole in the ground can ever forget it. It is so large in circumference that a forty-acre field could be dropped flat into it, and so deep that the eye cannot measure down to the red-hot lake of lava which is boiling and hissing and smoking, and through which at frequent intervals explosions occur which shake the mountain to its base and shoot far above the crater vast quantities of pumice-stone and ashes. It was one of these outbreaks in A.D. 79 that buried Herculaneum, five or six miles from the crater, far beneath the outpouring lava, and smothered Pompeii, still farther away, for ages under a shower of ashes from thirty to forty feet deep.


Page 400

        A few years after my visit the streets and housetops of Naples, ten miles distant, were so covered with ashes that the roofs had to be swept from time to time to keep the accumulating weight from crushing them in. These titanic eruptions or explosions have been due, as I believe, to the sudden influx of vast quantities of water through fissures communicating with the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

        In going toward the crater on the cog-wheel railway I made at least one very interesting observation. Near the top, running here and there in the ashes and cinders or dust, I noticed a number of small lizards not unlike those so common in northern Alabama. As their habitat was fully three-quarters of a mile above the limit of vegetation, I was wondering how they subsisted. When we left the car and began the climb to the crater on foot or by the chair-bearers I noticed lying in the warm ashes a number of insects, lady-bugs, potato-bugs, and one or two larger insects very much like our June-bugs of the South. Some were dead, others still living; and one of these we caught and kept alive for several days and brought home. These accounted for the presence of the little salamanders who found here their prey, not only easily caught, but more or less cooked.

        When the volcano fires one of its big charges the immense volume of hot gases, etc., shooting upward a mile or more in height creates a powerful suction into which the air around the side and base of the mountain is drawn. These various insects disporting themselves on the wing among the rich vegetation on the lower mountainside are caught in the suction of this mælstrom, and when partially asphyxiated, or killed by the gas or heat, they fold their small wings and drop in the ashes, where their coming is awaited by the lizards.


Page 401

        In the museum at Pompeii the most interesting exhibit contained a number of crude surgical instruments, one of which was of a shape to suggest the famous Sims speculum. Others were so suggestive of torture that I was thankful that I practised surgery in the age of anesthesias.

        In Naples I made note of two things which are not mentioned in my books of travel. One was the absence of bits in the horses' mouths. Attached to a strong headstall was a heavy band of leather which went around the nose and lower jaw just above the corners of the mouth. Fastened to this, and projecting about six inches on either side, was an iron spike with a ring at the tip, and the bridle-rein or driving-line was attached to this. It answered every purpose, and is a humane substitute for the cruel metal bit which we in America employ without mercy. The other was a clever demonstration of the value of the conservation of energy. On a two-wheeled cart, drawn by a diminutive donkey, led by a diminutive youth, was arranged a stall, and snugly fitted into this stood a huge, fine cow being hauled on the rounds to her patrons. The water in the milk bought by a Neapolitan housewife is there only per vias naturales, for she stands by and watches the youth as he transfers his energies from the donkey's head to the cow's tail, and squats squarely behind to milk between the legs. This is the millionaire's milk-wagon. The goats furnish the others. Passing along one of the alleys, I followed one of these milk-dealers playing away on his woodland reed and driving a small flock of goats. When we overtook the procession it had halted, and the goatherd and a woman were in a violent altercation over half a glass of milk, she swearing she would never pay for the inch of foam on top, and he calling the Virgin Mary to witness that that foam was milk!


Page 402

        It was not until I had traveled for a month or two in Italy that I understood why so many of her brown-tanned sons were willing to exile themselves from such a beautiful country. They were looking for work, for Italy is the land of holidays. The judgment of the Americans in our party was that in Naples none but foreigners went to bed at night. The natives slept all day and twanged stringed instruments and sang melodious nocturnes and other arias until dawn. In their charming language that verse in the twentieth chapter of Exodus which reads, "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work," has found no place.

        From the early days of youth, when I read and read again in my favorite Childe Harold:


                         Oh, Rome! my country, city of the soul;
                         The orphans of the heart must turn to Thee,
                         Lone Mother of dead Empires!

        I longed to see the Rome of Byron. When I came away the city of the soul was a phantom city, a mirage, a nightmare. I saw and still see that marvelous sculpture, "The Gladiator," the eternal protest of the human heart against the thousands "butchered to make a Roman holiday." I saw the wild beasts crouching and springing on their helpless victims in the arena, while the vast crowd of civilized savages looked down from the amphitheater of the Coliseum, untouched by pity at the awful scene; I saw trailing in chains in the dust of Cæsar's triumphal chariot the brave, the noble, the vanquished but still unconquered Vincengetorix, and then great Cæsar himself stabbed in the back by his trusted friends! This was Rome's boasted civilization--the quintessence of cruelty, the refinement of barbarism. Her history is written in blood.

        From Pisa, Rapallo, Milano, Venice, and the lakes we


Page 402a

Illustration

A CHAMOIS ON GUARD
A snap-shot taken by the author, from the Bonaparte Trail, over the Great St. Bernard Pass


Page 403

wandered to Novara, a quaint and most attractive old city, so far out of the beaten path of travel that few Americans discover it. I would not have known of it but for my study of Bonaparte's campaign, for this was one of his towns, and I had come to lead an expedition of my own over the Alps by the Great St. Bernard Pass, the route the First Consul followed when he came down in the rear of the Austrians and fought the battle of Marengo.

        There was train-passage to Ivrea, at the mouth of the Valley of Aosta, and up this valley to the village with the same name. At Aosta the two routes from the Rhone Valley, one by the Little, the other by the Great St. Bernard Pass, unite. Over the former Hannibal came with his train of elephants in October, two thousand years before Bonaparte marched down the other in May, 1800. Half-way up the Alps we drove by wagon to the hamlet of San Remy, where the road then ended, and there we bivouacked for the night. The next day, with six mules and a guide to lead each animal along the trail, our party reached the Hospice just at dark.1

        On the way up, rounding one of the many short turns in the wide path upon the precipitous point of a crag, standing out in sharp outline against the sky, as fixed and as motionless as if cast in bronze, was a mountain-goat or chamois, evidently on sentry duty. Scattered among the boulders in the distance, his mates were browsing on the scant Alpine vegetation. We snapped him with our kodak before he leaped down and disappeared.


1 The Swiss government many years ago completed an excellent wagon-road from the Rhone Valley to the Hospice. The Italian government has gradually extended the wagon-road from Aosta northward, the terminal now being at St. Remy. At immense expense this government was building a magnificent wagon-road from St. Remy to the Hospice, which was to be open for conveyances in 1905. Both governments have planted in several places great mines of dynamite to make this route impassable if need be.

Page 404

        As we approached the highest point of the Great St. Bernard we came upon a second custom-house, which belongs to the Swiss government. The sun was just setting when we rounded a bend in the trail and came suddenly upon the lake, which belongs to the monastery, and across this beautiful body of clear water appeared the great white Hospice, from which a pack of huge St. Bernard dogs came bounding over the rocks, barking as deeply and fiercely as if they intended to devour us rather than offer us the welcome and rescue which legends say they are accustomed to make. The myth of the St. Bernard dog with the little cask of wine tied about his neck fades away like many others of its kind when one gets close to the facts. In stormy weather now the pious pilgrim on his or her way to the holy city can find shelter in one of the numerous telephone booths along the route, and do without the dogs by ringing up "Central."

        Though the Hospice of the Brothers of St. Bernard is for many days and all of the nights of the year a cold and cheerless place, the welcome of these devout priests is none the less warm. They greet you when you come, give you without charge shelter and food, and take no note of your going. In the chapel of the monastery there is an iron chest, or alms-box, of generous size, in which those who accept their hospitality may of their own accord and unseen drop their contributions to the support of this noble charity; and while many of the poor who make this pilgrimage on foot accept food and shelter as a charity, I cannot but believe that practically all who pass this way and have means give enough to make up for the shortcomings of the less fortunate. In any event, from this or other sources the Hospice and the brothers are supported, and they prosper and have prospered for hundreds of years.


Page 405

        Sunk in the wall of this chapel is a tablet (basso-relievo) which represents the death-scene of Desaix, the real hero of Marengo, who upon that memorable day saved Bonaparte from seemingly irretrievable disaster and, falling in the moment of victory with a bullet in his heart, made the Empire possible to Napoleon.

        As one enters the Hospice one reads, in a most conspicuous place, in bold, gilt letters on a slab of black marble, this apotheosis: "Napoleoni Primo Francorum Imperatori Semper Augusto Republicoe Volescanoe Restauratori Semper Optimo Egyptico Bis Italico Semper Invicto. In Monte Jovis et Sempronii Semper Memorando Republica Volesioe Grata II Decembris MDCCCIV."1

        In a spacious room near by one of the priests showed us the library and museum, in which among other subjects of interest are numerous relics of the Temple of Jupiter, built upon this spot by Julius and Augustus Cæsar, destined to stand as a pagan shelter for wayfarers for a thousand years, and then to be razed and replaced by a Christian Hospice, in which pilgrims to Rome and other wanderers might rest, and from this room I learned the history of Bernard de Menthon, later St. Bernard. Born in 923 A.D., son of a peer of France, educated for a worldly and ambitious career, he was, by his parents, contracted in marriage to a beautiful, wealthy, and accomplished daughter of a noble family. Having determined to devote his life to the church, he fled across the Alps in order to escape this marriage and hid himself in Aosta. Here, in the ministration of his priesthood,
1 I venture this clumsy translation: "The grateful Republic of Valais to Napoleon the First, Ever Majestic Emperor of the French, Ever Most Excellent Rebuilder of the Republic of Valais, Ever Unvanquished Conqueror of Egypt and Twice of Italy, Ever to be borne in mind on the Mountain of Jupiter and of Sempronius. December 11, 1804."


Page 406

he became acquainted with the depredations of the robber bands that infested the mountain-passes, exacting tribute from rich pilgrims and practising cruel and often fatal torture upon those too poor to secure their ransom. Against these the brave and pious Bernard led a successful crusade, destroying the Temple of Jupiter, erecting in its stead the Hospice, which to this day bears his name. After his death at Novara, in 1007, in his eighty-fourth year, he was buried there, then canonized; and in 1123 his body was exhumed and his bones and teeth divided among various churches as venerable relics.

        All this and much more, not omitting a recital of the miracles done either by the living or in the name of the dead and sainted Bernard--of plague of grasshoppers stayed; of floods made to recede; of storms abated, epidemics arrested; of the judgment of fire visited upon the wicked; of devils cast out; of the deaf made to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame made to walk; of one much younger and yet as sonless as Sarah, for whom hope deferred had made the heart sick, and for whom the holy man interceded, not altogether in vain, although he was not spared to witness the fruition of his work, for this Isaac came not into the world until after the holy man had left it; and of other miracles, forty-six in all, equally wonderful--until the hour was late, and the good brothers, seeing we were tired and sleepy pilgrims, showed us their best rooms, which they assured us the Prince of Wales had once occupied, and in their clean and cold--oh, so cold!--beds we slept the sleep of the just, undisturbed by dreams of miracles or of princes and kings, of marching hosts, of cannon dragged in hollowed trees, or of the barking of the St. Bernard dogs, until at six o'clock our courier banged upon the door to announce that breakfast


Page 407

was ready, the carriage waiting to convey us to Martigny in the Rhone Valley, and that it would take us seven hours to catch the east-bound train for Zermatt.

        This excursion along the Bonaparte trail, and a study of the grand Italian campaign which practically ended at Marengo, dispelled more than one boyhood illusion. Reading Abbott's Napoleon, one is led to believe this crossing of the Alps with an army was one of the most difficult and dangerous feats in human history, scarcely possible to any except a Hannibal and a Bonaparte! The truth is, there was not a single natural obstacle which was not easily and safely overcome, and there was no excuse for losing a man or a wheel if ordinary care was exercised.

        From Martigny, on the banks of the Rhone in Switzerland (which Napoleon used as his base of supplies), to Ivrea, in the valley of Piedmont, is approximately ninety miles.1 To the Hospice on the summit of the Great St. Bernard notch is thirty miles, and for the greater part of the way there was then a good wagon-road. For about six miles on either side of the notch, or pass, there was a trail from four to six feet in width, in many places too narrow for the passage of wagons, but under ordinary precautions at the season when these troops marched over, late in May, 1800, perfectly safe for the transportation of men and materials of war. The ascent from Martigny along the valley of the Dranse to Orsières is not more than one hundred feet to the mile. Thence to Liddes, five miles farther up, the grade is nearly three hundred feet to the mile, while from this point to the summit of the Great St. Bernard it is a little over three hundred and forty feet to the mile. As far as the
1 Martigny is 1,560 feet above the level of the sea, and at its highest point the Great St. Bernard pass is 8,108 feet.


Page 408

ascent was concerned this section gave the French army the greatest difficulty. With all of this, however, Napoleon had practically nothing to do, since Lannes, leading the advance column, had passed over and into Italy before Napoleon joined the army, and everything was in readiness for the rapid passage of the main column. It was Gassendi, inspector of ordnance, who conceived the idea of placing the cannon on sleds and hollowed-out logs, which the men and animals dragged along the narrower parts of the trail. The most precipitous part of the old Napoleon trail is that which is still used and leads from the Hospice to San Remy, about five miles away, the descent being about six hundred feet to the mile. From San Remy to Aosta, thirteen miles, it becomes more gradual and is not more than two hundred and fifty feet to the mile, and in 1800 it was wide enough for the transportation of wagons and artillery.

        As an example of the exaggerated accounts of this passage the following is quoted: "During the summer this passage is not much less difficult and dangerous. At about two hundred paces below the convent is situated a lake, the depth of which is not known, and which is scarcely ever thawed. The snow collects there in heaps, and covers in such a manner the frozen surface of these passages that travelers often slide under it without being able to avoid it. This happened to the Consul more than once while he was coming to join us." The author describes in one place how admirably Napoleon performed the remarkable feat of sliding two hundred feet down the side of the mountain on the seat of his trousers. Further he says: "The cold upon this mountain is excessive, even in the middle of summer. No herb or green leaf to offer a pleasing verdure. In summer as well as in winter many people perish among these almost


Page 409

inaccessible rocks. At the time we crossed them the chapel was filled with dead bodies which the dogs had discovered under the snow"!

        When I was there the lake was not only free from ice, but it was as clear and transparent as any lake in the tropics. While the sun was shining the weather was so excessively warm that walking up the mountain brought up memories of Broadway in June. The monks in the monastery keep a large herd of cows, which in this season are driven to graze on the slopes within sight. The sound of the bells of these cows could be heard all through the night from the Hospice.

        Bourrienne, secretary to Bonaparte, says: "I never left him for a moment during the ascent. We encountered no personal danger and escaped with no other inconvenience than excessive fatigue. The rapid descent greatly amused us."

        Two thousand years earlier, Hannibal, with an army greater than Napoleon's, with much cavalry and a transportation train of elephants, in October (a season of the year so cold that he was snowed in and could not move for three days) made the passage of the Little St. Bernard, the route over which joins the Bonaparte trail in the valley of Aosta. It is known that the armies of Rome often traversed this route centuries before the rule of Constantine, who as early as 339 A.D. expended much time and treasure in improving it as a thoroughfare. One hundred years later Attila led his horde of Magyars over this pass when he descended to the gates of Rome. In 773 Bernard, uncle of Charlemagne, marched his troops over into Italy, and in 1515 Francis I. passed this way with his army. Even in the Italian campaigns of 1798 and 1799 the French and Austrian armies


Page 410

used this trail, and it is an illustration of the methods employed by Bonaparte to exaggerate the importance of his own achievements, that at the same time he was following Lannes over the Great St. Bernard Pass four of his lieutenants were performing feats of the same character equal to if not more difficult than his. Turreau, with five thousand men, passed over the Alps by the Mont Cenis route, standing off and eluding a guard of an equal number of Austrians who attempted to check him at the head of the valley of the Dora Riparia; Chabran, following the route of Hannibal, crossed the Little St. Bernard with five thousand men, and made good his junction with Napoleon at Aosta before the latter at Fort Bard met the only opposition to his advance; Moncey, with fifteen thousand men, passed over the St. Gotthard, while a fourth column under Bethencourt forced its way over the Simplon, beating off at Bellinzona ten thousand Austrians sent to check his descent into Piedmont.

        The column under the First Consul, forty-five thousand strong, was held at bay for four days by five hundred Austrians who defended Fort Bard, a delay which subsequent events proved unnecessary, and might have proved disastrous had an able and energetic general been in command of the Austrian army, for Melas was fully cognizant of the movements of the French troops across the Alps. Unable to dislodge the Austrians, the entire French army passed unmolested over a side-path across Mont Albaredo, a spur of the Italian Alps which juts out and almost closes the valley of the Dora Baltea at Fort Bard, while the artillery and wagon-train passed at night along the highway immediately below the fort, which is perched high up on the precipice. Notwithstanding the much-vaunted precaution


Page 411

of wrapping straw around the wagon-wheels, the Austrians had full knowledge of this movement in the darkness, but from their elevated position could not bring their guns to bear upon the train. The fort did not surrender until June 1st, after the entire French army had passed beyond and had captured Ivrea at the mouth of the Piedmont Valley.

        Napoleon Bonaparte was not only a great soldier, but a great politician, and above all an actor. His often expressed conviction was that to hold and move the masses one must appeal to the imagination. With wonderful tact he had emerged unscathed from the dangers of the French Revolution to find himself in 1800 in the center of the world's stage, playing with consummate skill the leading rôle in a great and tragic epoch. No one better than he and perhaps his gifted brother Lucien realized that he was now at the crisis of his career, and not the least important part of the programme of empire was the concealment of his mistakes and failures and the exaggeration of his successful achievements. The press agent at Paris was almost as important as the soldier in the field, and Lucien proved himself an adept. The echoes of the marvelous campaign of 1796-97 were never for a moment permitted to die out. The expedition to Egypt appealed to the imagination. Its whole conception was a mistake; its execution, as far as Napoleon was concerned, nothing but a series of blunders, and yet so carefully concealed or skilfully glossed over that the general-in-chief, who, without order from his government and with entire disregard of every honorable sentiment or soldierly regard for his comrades, had deserted and slipped away from them at night, was hailed as the hero of the hour at Paris and welcomed as a conqueror. In the light of the facts, which now are open to all, it almost challenges belief.


Page 412

The only brilliant incident of this Egyptian campaign was Kléber's victory at Heliopolis, after Bonaparte's defeat at Acre and the disastrous retreat across the desert. With thirteen thousand men, the remnant of the troops left in Egypt, he defeated Youssef Pasha with a greatly superior force and practically destroyed his army. And surely his lucky star was over him at Marengo. If any general ever deserved defeat Napoleon Bonaparte deserved it at Marengo; and, what is more, he got it. That victory was won by Desaix and Kellermann, in spite of the blunders of their commander, who permitted himself to be surprised, all of his artillery but six pieces captured, and his army beaten and driven in panic from the field.

        On the 8th of June, six days before the battle, the French cavalry captured an Austrian courier with despatches which told of Massena's surrender at Genoa, and put Bonaparte in full possession of his enemy's plans. He knew that Ott, who had been conducting the siege of Genoa, had, soon after Massena's surrender, started June 6th to join Melas and Zach at Alesandria. Notwithstanding this information, instead of concentrating his army, he had left twenty-three thousand of his best troops so far away that they were practically unavailable in case of disaster. Even on the 13th of June, the day before he was attacked by Melas at Marengo, he had only the division of Victor on the field. Lannes was three miles away with his corps, while Desaix was at Novi, in the direction of Genoa.

        C. Petit, who was present, and who cannot be considered in any other light than an ardent worshiper at the shrine of Napoleon, says: "In short, at four o'clock in the afternoon, I have no hesitation in saying that in the line of five miles or more there did not stand six thousand infantry to


Page 413

their colors, and only six pieces of cannon could be made use of." At this time Napoleon was only saved from destruction by the timely arrival of the devoted Desaix, who, after a wonderfully rapid and fatiguing march with his corps, came on the field, and with the aid of the younger Kellermann, who still held his cavalry in hand, catching the Austrians in an unguarded moment when they deemed their victory so complete that nothing was left but to gather up the flying Frenchmen as they could overtake them, broke through the Austrian line by a desperate assault, overwhelmed one wing of their army, capturing a large number of prisoners, and causing a panic in the remainder which left Napoleon master of the field in one of the most surprising victories of his strange career. The Empire was possible after Marengo.

        Desaix, falling with a bullet through his heart in the moment of victory, was the last of the brilliant trio to whom, after Bonaparte, France might have looked for military leadership. Marceau had fallen at Coblenz, and Hoche had perished from disease.


Page 414

XXVIII
MIND-READING OR THOUGHT-TRANSFERENCE--THE VALUE OF SUGGESTION--CHRISTIAN SCIENCE--THE MIRACLES AT LOURDES--A MORMON EPISODE AND OTHER EXPERIENCES

        THE training of the physician teaches him to observe quickly and to "read between the lines." Consciously or unconsciously, a great many patients try to deceive themselves, and would deceive the doctor were he not capable of looking beyond the subjective symptoms. A single objective symptom, something seen or felt, is often of more value in arriving at a diagnosis than a whole history of the aches and pains and sensations submitted by the sufferers. Dr. S. Wier Mitchell once told me of an experience which illustrates this point. Spending a vacation on the Riviera, he was seated in a small park apart from the crowd; he had been pointed out, and was approached by a well-dressed stranger. The man wore a light overcoat which was unbuttoned, and as he came near the doctor observed in an inside pocket a cigar-case, from which projected the ends of a dozen cigars of a brand he smoked himself and knew to be very strong. The man said: "Dr. Mitchell, I have come all the way from America to consult you. I am a sick man, and--" Here the doctor interrupted him, saying, "Sit down, sit down, I believe you," and, feeling his pulse at the wrist for a few seconds, he continued: "Yes, you are a sick man; you are killing yourself with tobacco. How


Page 415

many cigars do you smoke in a day?" and to his confession that he smoked Henry Clays or some other strong cigar almost incessantly he added: "Give up tobacco, and you will be a well man." The patient was profoundly impressed with the doctor's quick reading of his pulse, believed in him, and was cured.

        One of my own experiences is somewhat akin to this. Spending the summer near New York, I made it the rule to be in my office in the city at a certain hour on two days of each week. As I was nearing my door I noticed a man a few feet ahead of me who turned to ring my bell. He had on a long frock-coat which fitted well and wore a soft felt hat. At first glance I took him to be from the South; but as he was pulling at the bell-knob, he having not yet seen me, I noticed on the rim of one ear a well-marked epithelioma, a form of cancer which occurs only after frostbite. I then placed him from the Northwest, for his coat and hat were not of the East. As I came up the stoop just behind him I said, "You want to see Dr. Wyeth?" He turned quickly and said, "Yes." I continued in an off-hand manner as I was getting my key into the lock and not looking toward him. "About that cancer?" He said, "Yes." "From the Northwest?" "Yes." "Nebraska or Iowa?" "Why? Iowa!" "What regiment did you serve in during the war?" (He had a small Grand Army button on the lapel of his coat collar.) "I was major of the Thirteenth Iowa." I said: "Well, you're an old Yank, and I'm an old Reb, and it's time for luncheon. There's nobody here but you and me and the cook. We'll have some tea and bread and butter, and talk over war-times." By this time we were standing within the hallway, and he said: "All right; but before we go any further I'd like to know


Page 416

how much you will charge me for the operation?" I told him; and then he exclaimed: "Well, my goodness! What kind of a man are you, anyway? You never saw me before in your life; you knew I was looking for you; knew what was the matter with me; knew what state I was from; knew I was in the Union army; and d--- me if you haven't named exactly the amount I made up my mind to pay for the operation."

        The only real guess I had to make was the last one, and I named the sum usually charged for a minor surgical operation, which, in all likelihood, the doctor who sent him to me told him I would charge. Fifteen years later I had my last letter from him, asking for a certificate of my findings in his case, as he wanted to take out life insurance. There was nothing of "thought-transference" or telepathy or "mind-reading" in all this; yet there is such a thing as the conveyance to and registration upon one mind of an impression or thought emanating from another mind. I have demonstrated this by experiments so carefully guarded that there is no doubt of the correctness of the fact. I explain it satisfactorily to myself in this way: The nerve trunks and their terminal branches (end-organs) in the superficial skin are capable of conducting the electric waves or current from the surface to the brain, and vice versa, and, when a circuit of several persons is made by holding hands, the current can be made to pass on and on from one through the other until it comes back again to the battery cells from which it was sent, thus completing the circuit. The same nerves conduct the sensations of touch, heat, cold, pain, etc., from the surface to the brain, where these senses are registered and appreciated. They also convey impulses from the brain (the battery) to the muscles.


Page 417

        Certain brains are capable of great powers of concentration-- that is, the individual possessing this quality of brain can eliminate all thought of other things and think fixedly and clearly of just one thing. Certain other brains, and these are very rarely met with, are capable of eliminating at least from their conscious mind for the time being every process of thought or cerebration, leaving the mind so blank and receptive that it may be compared to the sensitive photographic plate upon which an impression may be readily and quickly imprinted.

        I had read of this, but was desirous of testing it thoroughly before accepting it. One Sunday evening a party of friends were gathered at my house, and at my suggestion the following experiment was made: Six of us joined hands, forming a circle around a small table, one of the six being blindfolded. A card was laid on the table, and upon this object the other five of the circuit fixed their undivided attention. I was first blindfolded, but registered no impression, and two others were tried with negative results. The fourth person was a girl about sixteen years old, a granddaughter of Dr. J. Marion Sims, very intelligent and cultivated, mentally and physically sound, and, while not lacking in the tenderness of femininity, rather leaning toward athletics and the outdoor life. Some one placed the seven of hearts in the center of the table, and as soon as our eyes and thought were fixed intently on it, in a quick and startled tone she exclaimed: "Oh! I see the seven of dia--no; it's hearts!"

        I was about as much startled as she seemed to be, and tried other cards and then other objects, all of which she described. I had used only a single large silk handkerchief, and, although it completely obscured vision for me, I determined


Page 418

to make assurance sure by wadding one large kerchief for each eye and binding these down with a third broad napkin, and this method I tested on myself. Vision was impossible; and later, to satisfy the skeptical, I adopted other means of eliminating all possibilities of self-deception or collusion. I carried on these demonstrations or tests for some two years, and convinced every one who witnessed them, as I did myself, that thought-transference or the photographing of a visual impression from one brain upon the sensitive plate or subconscious mind (as I interpreted it) of another was a fact. One of my most satisfactory experiments was with the "sensitive" and myself. She, blindfolded and standing behind me, would touch my forehead very lightly with the tips of the fingers of both hands and describe accurately any object upon which I could fix my attention. I would quietly take my watch from the pocket, hold it so that my body intervened and look steadily at the hour and the minute hands, and she would tell me their relative positions correctly.

        I also observed that I could tell just when she would appreciate the object I had in mind. From the watch I would turn to a series of photographs, and she would indicate the one at which I was looking. On one occasion she succeeded in recording the object in mind with her fingers upon the forehead of a third person who in turn had her fingers on my forehead. I might select a single word from the page of a magazine, fix my mind on it, and she would read it aloud. The experiments have been entirely discontinued now for several years, and I do not know whether or not this peculiar condition of mind persists. Many of the so-called telepathic or spiritualistic phenomena may in this way be accounted for, just as I shall explain


Page 419

in the article on Right-Handedness why it is the mind occasionally registers a double impression of a single visual image. When this occurs the two halves of the brain are not working in unison; one half (usually the left), a little more alert, catches the impression a fraction of time ahead of the other--hence the confused image. What we call training the mind is nothing more than drilling the two halves of our brain to work thoroughly well together, not unlike the two horses of a well-trained team. And yet I have had otherwise sensible people tell me they were convinced that they had lived before because at times things happened which they had already seen!

        There is another queer phase of mind which probably every practitioner of experience has observed. I can illustrate it by the following case. A lady, the mother of several children, was brought to me on account of a lameness. Six years before she had been thrown from a carriage in a runaway accident, her knee severely and painfully sprained and she mentally impressed or shocked with the supposed gravity of the injury. After a few weeks in bed she went about on crutches, and for six years would not move from her chair without them. She had consulted doctors at home and abroad, and resented the suggestion that she could walk if she would. The joint was entirely normal, the muscles of the extremity slightly atrophied from want of exercise, but still able to support their part of the body and to be used. She was high-strung and hysterically inclined. I told her husband that she could get along without the crutches, but that we had to deal with a mental condition which would require special treatment, and he agreed to stand by me in anything I might undertake. After two days devoted to a most tedious and painstaking


Page 420

examination, with measurements all noted carefully, the lesion was at last discovered, to her immense relief; and with a dramatic climax, in which only the end could justify the means, I induced an acute hysterical cataclysm with partial collapse, in which the cure was dexterously effected; and I, the fraud triumphant, said in a commanding tone to her husband: "Now, break her crutches! She will never need them again!" And the leading-man played his rôle. She was overjoyed at my discovery and the miraculous cure, was on her feet at once, and in six days walked unaided to my office, over a mile distant.

        The miracles at Lourdes, and those effected by the sight of or touching sacred relics, and the cures by Christian Science, are of the same order. Some mental shock or excitation seems necessary to the dislodgment of a morbid impression and the re-establishment of the normal process of cerebration. The condition termed hypnotic is one of suspended consciousness, and under certain conditions can be used to advantage. In the presence of my class at the Polyclinic I removed a tumor two inches in diameter from the shoulder-blade of a physician with no anesthetic, general or local, and with no appreciation of pain. I told him very convincingly that I would not hurt him in the least, that I would deaden all sensation with cocaine. I injected three or four drops of a weak solution in a line about an inch long, and in cutting in the line my knife slipped and went fully a half inch away from the injected area. As he did not wince, I slapped him on the back, saying, "You feel no pain," and went ahead with an extensive dissection two inches in depth, making a wound at least six inches in circumference. The patient, evidently hypnotized by suggestion, assured me that at


Page 421

no time was he conscious that I was cutting into his back.

        A New York wag said it was not until he had watched New York society promenading past the "Flatiron Building" on a gusty day that he had learned how "fearfully and wonderfully women were made." He had evidently read Richardson's Beyond the Mississippi, and presumed I hadn't. That this description applies to certain mental attributes as well as to anatomical make-up the following incident may attest:

        Thirty years ago I received a letter from a doctor in Texas informing me that a man and his wife, owning a ranch in that state on which they had been living for several years, were coming to consult me in regard to the man's illness. I found he had an incurable disease of the liver. On one occasion when his wife, my assistant, and I were treating him the door of his room was suddenly opened by some one who did not knock, and a woman, neatly dressed, her face expressing great determination and excitement, started to walk in. Before she had made more than a single step, the wife, who evidently recognized her, sprang forward to meet her, caught her by the arm, and pushed her toward the door. As she did this I heard her say, in a suppressed tone, "Not now!" Of course my curiosity was aroused by this strange procedure; but, as it was none of my affair, I should never have referred to it had it ended there. I had, however, scarcely seated myself in my office after returning from this visit when some one was announced, and in walked the lady whose face I had a glimpse of a few minutes before.

        She told me this story, and it was true: "The man you are treating is my husband, whom I have for six years


Page 422

mourned as dead. His name is ---, and when he disappeared, as we had reason to believe by suicide or foul play, he was manager of the --- (mentioning the name of one of the leading metropolitan dailies). This morning I came to the city to do some shopping, and while at luncheon in a restaurant I was astonished to see enter and seat themselves my husband and this woman, whom I have known for years, and who also had been reported as having killed herself. They did not recognize me, and when they went out I followed them to their rooms, and when you came away I followed you here.

        "Six years ago the business of my husband's paper called him to St. Louis, where he was registered at the Planters' Hotel. A day or two later his hat and coat were picked up at the wharf there, his effects were left at the hotel, and the newspapers published his disappearance and suicide in the Mississippi. From that day until to-day I believed him dead. The woman with him is the wife of another man. She and her husband lived in our village, and, while my husband and I were acquainted with them, I had not the slightest suspicion of an improper relation. I knew that she had no children, and that she and her husband did not get on any too well together. Soon after my husband was reported dead this woman's shawl and hat were picked up on a pier on the East River, and her husband received a despairing note, informing him of her resolution to end her life."

        I told the woman her husband could only live a few weeks, and she then went to see him, and a reconciliation took place, not only between the man and his wife, but between the two women. He lived about the number of weeks I had guessed, and these two women took turns day and


Page 423

night nursing and watching over him with affectionate devotion. When he was dying, and I left the room feeling very much like "a looker-on in Vienna," each was holding a hand and both were crying. In apotheosis, in my mind's eye, I saw looking down (or up) on this pathetic scene the smiling visages of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. And while borrowing from the storehouse of Avon, why not write here those original words of the immortal Dogberry: "God help us! it is a world to see!"

        In the list of tragedies another comes into mind, and it is one I love to remember. A woman of about thirty, modestly and fashionably dressed in black, whose handsome face and bearing bespoke good breeding and proper bringing up, without any sort of introduction, asked me to place her in a training-school for nurses. From the appearance of her hands, which were small and white, I inferred that she had not been accustomed to work, and several costly rings suggested that it was not absolutely necessary. Her accent was of the South; and, while she was evidently desirous of not revealing her identity, the fact that she had come to me for aid or advice convinced me that she had lived among my friends. I realized that she was in dead earnest, and there was that indescribable something about her which told me she was a good woman. I explained to her the hard life she was planning and urged her not to go into it unless she was ready to give up everything else and devote her entire time to it. She had considered all this and was ready.

        A fortnight later I called by the hospital and saw her in the uniform of a probationer, freshening up a bath-room in which she had just finished bathing a patient. She seemed happy, and the superintendent said she was an indefatigable


Page 424

worker and gave promise of making an excellent nurse. Meanwhile, she had told me her story. It was tragic and pathetic, in that she was the innocent victim of the devotion of another man than her husband, and the circumstances were such that she was seemingly guilty and had been so judged in her native village. I knew her husband and her people, and the man who had paid for his infatuation with his life had been one of my most brilliant pupils. He was the leading physician of his section, and had married the most intimate friend of my fledgeling nurse. His wife died after a long illness, through which her friend nursed her day in and out. The village gossips thought she was too much at the doctor's home, and that the doctor was more attentive and demonstrative of his appreciation of another man's wife than Mrs. Grundy's code of ethics prescribed.

        Her brother came under the spell of this gossip. A week or two after the funeral the doctor, who had driven in his buggy to her husband's home, asked her to go with him to the cemetery to place some flowers on the new grave. As he drove back to her gate, without a word of warning this brother shot the doctor dead so instantly that he spoke not a word. The sister, horrified at the deed, denounced her brother as a cowardly murderer. The law of gossip cleared the murderer and divorced the wife and mother; for the dead man's will was read in court, and he had left his money to his wife's friend! That settled every doubt. She had lost reputation, husband, children, friends. Nobody stood by her and believed in her excepting her mother and the writer of these memoirs, and he told her that if she was true to her high purpose of showing by a life of devotion to duty that she was worthy of the husband's love


Page 425

which she had lost he would come back to her and bring her babies with him.

        She made a great nurse, and when a town in New York was panic-stricken by an epidemic of typhoid, she went there like a "Sister Seraphine," and labored for months and won a host of friends. The news of all this found its way back to the village in Texas; and presently she came into my office radiant over a letter from her mother, saying he husband had consented to let her see her children again. While she was on this visit to her own, one of those ill winds which blows good to some came on in the shape of another epidemic of typhoid, and she took charge. She wrote me:

        "I am working night and day, and my own people are believing in me again. Those who would not speak to me when I came back are taking me to their homes." Within a year my wife and I were invited to her wedding to her husband, and the two children were bridesmaids; and some years later we were invited to the wedding of one of the daughters by the happy parents and asked to bring our children and stay a month!

        I could tire my readers with these queer recitals, but will add here only the following two: Three lads grew to manhood in a small Mississippi town; were schoolmates, playmates, and friends. One of these came to man's estate with good habits, steady purpose, and the promise of a useful career. The other two drifted as idlers into dissipation and went rapidly on the downward way.

        As Joseph Cook was closing his store late one night his two acquaintances with drawn pistols robbed him and his safe, pocketed all the cash, and then they told him they were going to leave the country for good, and he must go


Page 426

with them a few miles on the way to insure their getting a good start. A mile or two from the village, arriving at a point where the road led by a slash or shallow swamp, they conducted him through this some two hundred yards from the roadway, where the water was from three to four inches in depth, and where the swamp-grass was tall enough to hide a dead man, and there they put five thirty-eight-caliber bullets into his body. The next to the last shot broke his lower jaw, and as he spun half around from the force of the impact a fifth bullet went in at his backbone, cut the spinal cord in two, and he dropped limp into the water. Fortunately (or unfortunately), he fell on his back, his head resting on a tuft of grass, which kept the water from strangling him to suffocation. They stood over him for a few minutes, placed a hand on his chest to be sure of their work (while he with wonderful resolution held his breath), and then these conscienceless villains went to their homes and went to bed!

        Only two of the wounds had done serious injury. The one through the spine had produced complete paralysis below the middle of the back, but people can live a long time with paralysis. The wound of the jaw was bleeding profusely. It was August and warm, and Cook was in his shirtsleeves when shot. Convinced that he would not live till daylight, he took of the blood in his mouth and with his finger-tip wrote on his shirt-front, "Jim Smith shot me." When the news of the robbery and disappearance spread through the village scouting parties followed the roads and scoured the woods in all directions, and about nine o'clock of the next day some one from the roadway heard groans off in the slash, and took Cook out, still alive. A few months later his brother, Dr. Cook, of Hattiesburg, Mississippi,


Page 427

came with him to my hospital. The bullet lodged in the mouth was removed, and, cutting away the bones, I extracted some bits of lead from the spinal cord; but this had been completely divided, and his cure was impossible. He died thirteen months after he was shot. The murderers were immediately arrested, and, unfortunately, were not lynched. The law of Mississippi did not recognize as a murder a death unless it took place within twelve months of the date of the act which caused it. The maximum penalty was twenty years in the penitentiary, and this worthy pair escaped within two years and were never recaptured. But,


                         What exile from himself can flee
                         To zones though more and more remote?
                         Still, still pursues where'er I be
                         The blight of life, the demon, Thought!

        The following extraordinary coincidence relates to the case of the late Captain John M. Sloane, of Pontotoc, Mississippi. In 1890 I received a letter from Captain Sloane. At the battle of Chickamauga, in September, 1863, a piece of shell or canister had torn away his chin and a good part of the lower jaw, laying open the larynx, or windpipe, and the oesophagus, or gullet, and from that day he had lived on liquid or semi-liquid nourishment, carried into the stomach through a tube introduced into the fistulous opening of the gullet. From his description and a photograph I was convinced nothing could be done which would justify the expense of a trip to New York. As a matter of curiosity, I wrote to a doctor friend for information. Captain Sloane's record as a soldier and citizen was excellent, but by reason of his mutilation he had had a hard time to make a living. His wife had died; he was trying to support himself and an invalid daughter by clerking in a grocery store, but was


Page 428

really in distress. The doctor stated in answer to a further inquiry that he believed the old soldier and the daughter could make a living if they had a modest capital to establish a small grocery business. I wrote to the mayor of Pontotoc that if the citizens there would raise a certain sum I would raise as much from friends in New York, and this was done, and the captain and his daughter were very happy in their new venture.

        In 1896 there was to be a dedication of the Chickamauga National Park, and all the surviving veterans of both armies who took part in that battle were invited to a fraternal reunion. General Wheeler had requested me to go there and locate the marker for the shaft it was proposed to erect to show where our command had operated, and I wrote to the captain at Pontotoc, who agreed to meet me in Chattanooga at a time and place named. In the enormous crowd and great confusion which prevailed, I failed to find the old soldier, and with a doctor friend I drove in his buggy to the battle-field, some ten miles away. At noon we reached Crawfish Spring for luncheon. The doctor's wife had prepared a generous basket, and as we were arranging its contents in a shady nook close by the spring I observed two men in Federal uniform who were seated near by. In the spirit of the occasion I went up to them and said: "Boys, you look hungry. Won't you come over here and share our luncheon with us?" Seeing we had an abundance for all and meant what we said, they accepted.

        One of these men was a Mr. S. S. Rich, then of Moberly, Missouri; the other was from Indiana, but his name escapes me. Rich was originally from Kentucky, and had served in a famous Union brigade from that state. Naturally, as we sat there our thoughts and conversation turned back to


Page 429

the thrilling scenes we had witnessed on those three great days in September, 1863, during which this bloody battle had lasted. I had fallen asleep the Sunday night after the battle closed right by this spring within a few feet of where we now were, and was only awakened by the hot sun shining in my face. I told them the story of the dead man I found sitting up against a tree in a dense thicket not far away and of my speaking to him, thinking he was only wounded and alive. Then Mr. Rich remarked: "I saw the most remarkable wound in this fight that I ever came across. In one of our charges, passing over the line the Confederates had occupied, I trod over a man whose jaw and throat were torn away, and the blood and froth were flowing from the opening. He seemed to be choking to death in his own blood, and I stopped, caught him by the arm, and dragged him a few yards and left him so that his head and neck hung down over the root of a tree, and went on." I asked him if he knew what troops composed this part of the Confederate line, and he said: "Yes; we captured some of Lowery's Mississippi regiment right there."

        I had in my pocket a photograph of Captain Sloane and his graphic description of where, when, and how he was wounded, and in it he had stated that some one had dragged and placed him so the blood would not strangle him as he lay helpless. As he belonged to Lowery's regiment and received this very unusual wound at that time and place, I knew I was talking to the Union soldier who, even in the hurry and excitement of one of the bloodiest battles in history, had been humane and thoughtful enough to do a kindly act to a helpless enemy. I pulled out the picture, showed it to him, and asked him to read the letter. When he finished it he said: "My God! That's the man." The Indiana


Page 430

man remarked: "Why, that must be the man I saw in the train coming down here. He was showing us how he took a drink by placing a tube in the open place in his throat and pouring the water into a funnel."

        The brave old captain died a few years later. He and I had never met. I had met the man, however, to whom he really owed the prolongation of his life.

        After all, the world is not so large, as these various experiences in my own life attest; and since it deals with that sentiment of brotherhood which should prevail in our relations one with another in my profession, I shall add this minor incident.

        As I was returning from one of my visits to my old home in Alabama there boarded the train at Knoxville a distinguished-looking gentleman who was given the section adjoining mine. Seeing him reading a book on appendicitis by Dr. George Fowler, of Brooklyn, I concluded he must be a surgeon, and in the spirit of fellowship which permits familiarity among doctors I said, "You are a doctor?" He looked up rather rebukingly and replied: "You are mistaken; I am not." I continued, "Then you have appendicitis." In some surprise he said: "Well, yes; I have." My next remark was: "You are on the right track to get cured. The author of that book is one of the best surgeons in the world, and you can do no better than to go to him." To this he said: "Thank you. That may be true, but I'm going to another surgeon in New York City, a Dr. John A. Wyeth." At this I took a card from my case and handed it to him, and he exclaimed, "This seems like Providence!" It turned out lucky in more ways than one. Several weeks after this Dr. Fowler came to dine with us, and in the course of conversation he remarked: "Mrs. Wyeth, I have a good


Page 431

story to tell you on the doctor. My cousin, who was coming North on the Southern Railway, happened to be seated near him in the Pullman car at Knoxville when, hearing my name, he pricked up his ears and overheard a passenger who, he found out, was Dr. Wyeth, trying to persuade another passenger who had appendicitis to come to me for operation. My cousin said, 'Cousin George, isn't it rather unusual for such a thing as that to happen in your profession?' and I replied: 'It isn't any too common; but it can happen.' " I thought again of what a little world it is. It had not occurred to me that my friend would ever know of this accidental meeting nearly a thousand miles from New York.


Page 432

XXIX
RIGHT-HANDEDNESS, OR DEXTRAL PREFERENCE IN MAN--ALSO SOME SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE VALUE OF ENFORCED AMBIDEXTERITY

        IN our village school in Alabama the boys and girls were together. Before the village grew to be a town--when it was still "the Settlement," and there were not more than a couple of dozen children big enough to go to school--we all sat together on the benches in the one-room log cabin with its huge fireplace, its single door, and one slit of a window, made by sawing out six feet of two logs. Each day we took our places in the order in which we arrived. When civilization began to overtake us our parents built a new school-house out of planks. It was the first frame house I had ever seen, and it was so large and fine-looking we children used to gaze at it in wonder. There was room enough inside to put four of the old log cabins under the new roof; so we moved into it, tore the old thing down, and cut it up for firewood. How natural it is to cut an old thing down and use it for firewood! The new house had done away with the fireplace, for cast-iron stoves were coming into fashion.

        The teacher no longer blew a horn or shouted to call us in, but tapped a great big bell. One night two "big boys"--real smart boys--played a trick on him. They climbed to the belfry and greased the bell with tallow, and, as it


Page 433

wouldn't ring the next morning, everybody was late at school. I have often thought of how startled the good teacher must have felt when he pulled the rope that time, and instead of the usual reverberating clang there came to his ears from on high the dead, cracked-pot sound of a tallowed bell! When the scholars found out what had happened we all laughed; but it was a short laugh. When the bell wouldn't ring nothing else was left but to look up the old horn and blow the assembly. The Day of Judgment will not be more solemn than this day was for the boys, who were lined up presently to be catechized. Of course, the girls were not under suspicion. They took their seats on their side of the school-room and looked on with especial sympathy, each for the boy she liked best[.]

        The teacher, whose expression suggested the dark cloud which rolls up as the advance-guard of a cyclone, took down from over the blackboard a well-seasoned six-foot hickory withe and remarked: "Boys, I have no means of knowing who greased the bell. Some one or more of you are guilty, and unless the culprit owns up I'm bound to get him, for I'm going to thrash all of you." Just as we were wishing we had put on two pairs of trousers and padded our backs, two heroes stepped out of line and said they did it and they were very sorry, and they looked it. Then the good teacher replaced the hickory and told them if they would scrape the tallow off and chop wood and build the fires for two weeks he would let them off. The bell rang out the next morning as if nothing had happened, and for a fortnight at least the school-house was warm.

        Civilization also took our benches, upon which we had sat and squirmed and slid so long that they were as smooth and as sleek as ice, and so comfortable, and gave us single


Page 434

seats and desks, the boys ranged in long rows on one side and the girls on the other. It seemed a long way across to where our sweethearts sat, but somehow or other we managed to elude the watchful eye of the teacher--there was never more than one--and established a wireless system of communication which antedated Marconi.

        But the time for real enjoyment was the half-hour allowed for recess or play in the middle of the morning session. The school-house was built on the backbone of a high ridge which overlooked the village. At recess one side of the ridge was the girl's playground; the other was for the boys. We were not allowed on their side, and of course they could not overstep the bounds of modesty and cross over to us. I wonder if our teacher forgot that there was a summit to that ridge, a place where the two sides came together, a medio tutissimus ibis, as Virgil puts it? If he did, we didn't. The law of natural selection was more inexorable than the law of gravitation; for all of us boys and girls alike gravitated uphill and found a common playground and worlds of that glorious fun and frolic which are the essence of existence in that period of adolescence when Nature is asking the question, "What next?" On top of this ridge, one day when I was twelve years old, I came face to face with the question of ambidexterity.

        I had a sweetheart, and her name was "Mugg." Can you imagine in all the category of names one more suggestive of ugliness--I am almost tempted to say of "Muggliness?" But "Mugg" was only her nickname. It was short for Margaret, and she was the prettiest girl in school--to me. On this eventful day, as soon as we had rushed out of our prison-house and disappeared from the teacher's vision in the thick foliage of our respective hillsides, we


Page 435

scrambled to our common playground in the summit woods. Our play on this occasion was bending the tough young hickory saplings down to near the ground and seating our sweethearts and ourselves on them as "ridey-horses." Mugg was so much prettier than any other boy's sweetheart that I determined she should have the biggest and the highest "ridey-horse" of all. I had not then learned of the huge Trojan horse which brought disaster to Ilium.

        There stood in our grove a slender, graceful, tight-bark hickory sapling, toughest of all tough timber, bending but never breaking, towering fully thirty feet to its topmost bifurcation. There was no other like it, as there was no other girl like Mugg. I made up my mind I would bend it to the ground and she should have it; and to the top I climbed, twisted the terminal twigs around my hands and wrists, and swung boldly out into space toward the ground. I had struck the wrong hickory. Alas! had this been the only time! Instead of swooping to the earth in a long, graceful curve, amid the plaudits of an admiring throng, with an occasional glance at Mugg and her approving smile, as I had anticipated, I bent that obstinate sapling not more than three feet from the top in fish-hook shape, and there I dangled, helpless and hopeless, almost as much so as if I had had a noose about my neck and was hanging from a gibbet. As the sense of failure and chagrin flashed over me then I would gladly have exchanged for the exitus lethalis of the hangman. But this was not to be. I could not clamber back, and the arc of the circle described by the bending tree-top had a diameter beyond the swing of my wildly gyrating feet.

        I suggested with earnestness and feeling that half a dozen boys climb up and add sufficient weight to bring


Page 436

us all down in safety together; but the responses were negative. One of my rivals thought I looked so much better where I was than on the ground that I had better stay up there. Another informed me--and the remark was entirely original, and from the giggle which floated up to my height must have been considered witty at their level--that if I would only let go the ground would catch me. It did. On the way down, slashing through the limbs, I struck one which, as in some of those confusing problems in fractions, changed the numerator into the denominator and landed me head foremost, with the right hand thrust out to catch the brunt of the fall--and here is where dextral preference comes in.

        Had I been ambidextrous--which is a paradox, for I could scarcely have two right hands--I would have extended both anterior extremities, and, dividing their combined resistance to body weight and momentum, would have escaped a Colles's fracture of the radius at the right wrist. Our home doctor called it a sprain, and there was no reposition, or "setting." The subsequent pain and inconvenience were so severe and prolonged that I acquired the habit of using the left hand and arm, and in the course of years I became fairly ambidextrous. Appreciating the value of ambidexterity in surgery, for several years while studying and teaching anatomy, I worked almost wholly with the left hand, until, in performing an operation, whichever member was more convenient or useful I used without thought as to whether it was right or left.

        Man is the only one-sided animal. A careful study of apes has convinced me that they have no manual preference. I could narrate many interesting experiences with those near-human creatures which at least amused and instructed


Page 437

me, and might you, but time and space forbid all but one. This is it:

        To the Sixty-fourth Street Zoo, when my good friend, Mr. Conkling, was curator, there was presented a very vicious, imperious, and combative black monkey from (I think) Brazil. His much-used tail was very long, fully as long as his body; and I never saw any of the tribe which did so much business with that part of its anatomy as this lively fellow. He was turned loose in the big cage, in which there was already a general assortment of different kinds of monkeys. Having never seen anything just like the newcomer, the original tenants with agile unanimity sprang, jumped, or clambered to the loftiest, most remote and inaccessible portions of the cage, glanced downward, and chattered away as if they, too, were on the tower of Babel. The Brazilian, from his resting-place on the floor, was not long in completing an inventory of stock before he began to have fun. He chased, chewed, and spanked everything in that cage until it looked as if he would die laughing, while the others, tired out and scared half to death, were clinging to the bars at the roof and panting like lizards in August. His final stunt was to carry the smaller ones to the greatest height and drop them to the floor; and then the keeper intervened and placed the black Amazonian all by himself in another cage immediately adjoining.

        It took the others several days to recover from the panic, and for a week or two whenever he approached the partition bars his neighbors found much to interest them at the other end of their abode.

        Time is said to bring its revenges, and Talleyrand (or some one probably not so smart) is said to have said that "All things are possible to those who wait"--and this without


Page 438

reference to tips. At all events, in an unfortunate moment the long black tail found itself projected between the bars and a good long way within the general monkey cage next door, while he who owned it slept. Now, monkeys have a language. There is no doubt about this in my mind, for I have observed them closely and with great interest. One major monkey who had suffered much, both in body and spirit, at the hands and teeth of this interloper, stealthily approached the sleeping Saul, grabbed the nethermost tip of the infringing tail between his teeth, reinforced his grip with the clutch of both hands, and pulled away vigorously until the butt-end of his enemy was firmly jammed against the partition bars. Verb sap! The other monkeys fell on him in showers, and as many as could took hold, and the denizen of the upper Amazon was theirs, or at least a good long part of him. When his cries brought help, all the hairs of his caudal extremity were off, and a half-dozen of his distant cousins were chewing on all that was left down to the bones. With his raw tail looking like an Essex Street show-window sausage to which the mice had found access, he was the most forlorn and dejected creature I have ever seen.

        I have never seen in any animal, even those which move about wholly or in part on their posterior or inferior extremities, as the kangaroo or the various members of the bird or fowl kingdom, any demonstration of preference for one side more than the other.

        The genus homo is strongly one-sided and right-sided. There are several hundred of these to one left-handed. What is the reason? Is it custom, with the added influence of heredity, or is there an anatomical cause? Let us begin at the beginning and try to interpret the meaning or the


Page 439

intent of the great Law. In the earliest recognizable formative period of the human embryo, the cells are arranged in rows and layers on each side of, and equal in number and size, and parallel with a central perpendicular line--the line of fusion or union, where the two halves, the right and the left--merge into the one body. The cells which form the two halves or hemispheres of the brain are balanced on the two sides, and traveling downward we find the two eyes, the two fused halves of the nose, the cheeks, ears, two halves of the tongue, the jaws, the thyroid bodies of the neck, the bones, arms and legs, lungs, kidneys, and all the organs in pairs, each balancing the other.

        May we not venture from this to opine that the purpose of creation was the perfect balance of power and of function between the two halves which were to fuse into a unit being?

        Studying still more closely the process of growth in the earlier stages, we find further justification of this conclusion in the development of the heart and the circulatory system. Now, if the two halves of the body are to be equally efficient they must of necessity be equally well nourished, and the blood is the great conveyer and distributer of nutrition. In the embryo the heart itself, made up of two halves, hangs like a plummet in the middle line, and springing from its base are a right and a left aortic arch, the two curving downward in beautiful symmetry to unite below in one common conduit or aorta. Could this anatomical arrangement persist, is it not fair to presume that each half of the brain and each upper extremity would receive an equal share of nutrition, or a proportion so nearly equal that one side would not declare itself superior to or independent of the other? We know, however, that it does not persist. Within


Page 440

the first few months of intra-uterine development the heart is gradually and permanently changed from a perpendicular to an oblique position, and from its normal central place well over into the left side of the chest. As this is occurring, one of the two original aortic arches is thrown out of use and ultimately withers up into a useless cord. The aortic arch which persists is twisted semispirally on itself, with such disarrangement of the heart and the great vessels passing upward to the brain and the upper extremities that the right arm gets more blood than the left, while the left half of the brain--that half from which emanate the motor impulses to the right side of the body--receives a larger supply of nutrition than its fellow. What has caused this disarrangement?

        Dividing the chest from the abdomen is a transverse, and in the embryo a rectangular, partition known as the diaphragm. In contact with the under, or abdominal, surface of this partition is the spleen on the left, and its opposing or balancing organ, the liver, on the other side. In the process of evolution under, in all probability, changed conditions of ingestion demanding increase of function, the liver has become enormously enlarged, until, instead of being equal in size and weight with the spleen, it is from five to seven times as large and heavy. In finding room for itself it has encroached upon the right side of the chest, and has not only taken up the room for, but has robbed this lung of one lobe. Not satisfied with this act of vandalism, it has shoved the heart far over to the left side and thrown the circulatory apparatus for the upper part of the body out of plumb. No doubt the wag who said the intruder should be divided into three parts because he was "all gall" had a prevision of my theory of the hepatic cause of dextral


Page 441

preference in man. When I was making a study of this subject, in 1878 and 1879, I weighed the two halves of a number of brains and found that in a very large proportion of cases the left half was heavier than the right.

        The very much more extensive investigations of the Marylebone Hospital in England confirm this fact. Bichat long ago concluded that the specific gravity of the gray matter--the thought and motion originating element of the brain--of the left half was greater than that of the right. That the two halves are different is evident in comparison with the brain of animals. In examining the brain of the monkey I was struck with the perfect symmetry of the various right and left convolutions, a condition which is not present in the brain of man. The result of all this is that the two halves of our brains are not always working actively in harmony to produce the full complement of brain efficiency. In right-handed persons the left half is in general more alert and active. In moments of more or less complete or partial mental inertia, as not infrequently occurs when the blood is flooding the digestive apparatus soon after eating, certain visual impressions will be caught by the more alert half--the left--before the right half gets the registration. The complete mental impression can occur only then; and while only an infinitesimal fraction of time may have transpired between the partial and complete registration, there is a confused or double image. This has led persons who are over-spiritually inclined or superstitious to the supposition that they had witnessed the same scene or occurrence under exactly the same conditions at some other time, perhaps in some other existence. Had both halves of the brain been acting together this could not have occurred.


Page 442

        The two halves of the brain may be compared to the two horses of a team. If they are well matched and trained, they move off and pull together smoothly and satisfactorily. If one horse is drowsy or a laggard, the other gets away first, and his fellow follows in a clumsy and jerky effort to catch up and pull his share of the load. What we know as training the mind is intended to develop these two halves of our brains into a well-trained and alert working team. When in the course of my investigations this simple, and to me satisfactory, explanation of a phenomenon that I had often experienced came to me, I was overjoyed and was under the impression that I had made a great discovery. I made it known to the two leading professors of physiology in New York, and they accepted it and congratulated me. Later, to my great disappointment, I learned that an English investigator had advanced the identical theory. Sic transit gloria mundi.

        That we often fail to use both sides of our brain is proved beyond doubt by a number of cases of aphasia, or the loss of the power of framing thoughts into words, in which cases on post-mortem examination the disease has been actually located in the speech center on the left side. Although the same convolution and an identical gray matter was intact on the right side, the patient could never learn to use that center.

        In my opinion ambidexterity should be made an important feature of the training of a child. It should be begun at birth and followed up persistently. Children of strong hereditary tendency to use the right hand to the neglect of the left should be made left-handed by compelling them to do with that hand all or most of the things a single hand is usually required to do. It is very advisable that they


Page 443

practise writing with both hands, and speak and pronounce the words as formed. They will then of necessity be exercising and developing for use the speech and word center of the side from which the motor and thought impulses are originating. It is remarkable how thoroughly one may overcome habits of heredity and become expert by the persistent use of a once discarded or slightly used member. A friend who by inheritance and practice was intensely right-handed had in his twentieth year his right arm shot away at Chancellorsville. He learned to write as legibly and rapidly with his left hand as he had written with the preferred member, and became one of the most famous shotgun experts in the South, loading and firing his gun without assistance.

        This experience, and my own and many others', proves that notwithstanding the displacement of the heart the loss of the balance of power between the two sides is not so great that it cannot be overcome by persistent effort. I had very little trouble in making my youngest boy decidedly left-handed. There was the usual insistence and preference for the dextral member, and heredity asserted itself, for as far back as we could trace his ancestry on both sides there was not an exception to dextral preference.

        It would be interesting to carry this theory into practice through several generations in order to observe how much greater brain efficiency might be developed. I prophesy that while the Wyethian brain of the future may not set the Thames on fire, it will easily surpass the Wyethian brain which is behind this feeble effort.


Page 444

XXX
OCCUPATIONS OF A RETIRED LIFE--BUILDING THE NEW POLYCLINIC HOSPITAL--PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF MEDICINE AND OF THE NEW YORK SOUTHERN SOCIETY--CHAIRMAN OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UNION LEAGUE CLUB, ETC.

        A MAN'S life may be likened to a ball of snow, which as a boy he starts from the hilltop. With each turn it grows larger and carries more weight; but the farther it goes the swifter it speeds, until control is lost, and nothing can stop it until it reaches the bottom. When a young man I read a novel entitled The Occupations of a Retired Life. It was the story of a man who had made a success of his career in the metropolis, and at sixty turned his back on the distractions of the city and the anxiety of affairs and found repose

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife.

        I had fully determined that when I reached that age I should give up my own and other people's anxieties and sorrows, as far as was humanly possible, and find rest and diversion in travel and in carrying out certain literary schemes of which I had long been dreaming. In one of Uncle Remus's stories, the little listener, brimming over with sympathy at the disaster which befell Bre'r Possum, who suffered for the sins of Bre'r Rabbit, asks why it is that the innocent should bear the burden of the guilty, and the


Page 445

old philosopher replies: "Lor', chile; de rain falls on de jess and de unjess dess de same, and tribberlation's waitin' right 'round de corner for de best of us!"

        Just as the time came for me to quit work I looked round the corner--and came face to face with the new Polyclinic. I have told of the failure of my effort in 1878 and '79 to establish in New York City an ideal Medical College with rigid requirements for admission, a three-year pregraduate and a two-year postgraduate course of study, and how in 1881 the postgraduate feature of this plan resolved itself into the Polyclinic, and how from year to year this prospered. It had now outgrown the facilities which had been originally provided, and its trustees and medical staff realized the demand and necessity for new and larger buildings, a greater diversity in clinical material, and a more complete laboratory equipment.

        It was at this juncture that an officer of New York City connected with its charities informed me that an ambulance and emergency service was badly needed for the West Side, and asked me to take the matter of building a new hospital there and of undertaking that service to our trustees for consideration. With a unanimity which presaged success the trustees and medical staff voted in favor of the undertaking. For more than twenty-five years the physicians connected with this institution had labored zealously for its development without remuneration, and had not only donated all its earnings to the improvement of its facilities for teaching, but from time to time had subscribed generously for this purpose from their private means. The idea of combining with our work as teachers this great humanitarian project aroused the enthusiasm of this devoted body of professional men and fired them and the trustees


Page 446

with unremitting zeal for its accomplishment. It so happened that I had won the esteem and friendship, and finally the sympathy, of a man whose genius for affairs was only second to his broad humanity and nobility of character. Several years before he had at my request become a member of the board of trustees, and as a trained business man had carefully informed himself not only of the philanthropic character of our work and the altruism of the medical staff, but--what was of very great value at this juncture--he found out that he was connected with a charity that was being conducted under business methods and was capable under judicious management of being self-supporting.

        On the morning after one of our meetings he called at my office and handed me a check for a large sum payable to myself. It was enough to buy a great plot for a great hospital. He expressed surprise when I told him I could not accept it. I said: "Mr. Clyde, I appreciate what this generous gift means. It is your vote of appreciation of the humanitarian side of our work, and of confidence in me and in my ability to perpetuate the ideals associated in your mind with the Polyclinic. I am not as positive as I would like to be that I can do this, and I ask you to hold this check until I can see my way more clearly."

        I called a meeting of our medical board, told them of possibilities of a realization of the new hospital and school building, and asked them to consent to a plan of reorganization which eliminated every suggestion of private interest and made of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital a public institution in its broadest sense, its scientific and medical affairs entirely under the control of it professional staff, its property and business management under the control of a board of trustees composed of business


Page 447

men responsible under the laws of the State of New York. Encouraged by the vote adopting the recommendation, I secured an option upon an ideal site in West Fiftieth Street, and two months later I submitted the perfected reorganization to my good friend. He does not know to this day what I read in the expression of his noble face as I went over the details of what our medical board had done. When I finished he said, "This is a great work," and as he spoke I knew my dream had come true. Instead of buying high-priced and noisy corner property, I bought twice as much in area for the same money in the middle of the block, and determined to build high for light, air, and freedom from noise and dust. All of this was an innovation in hospital construction, but it has proved a great attraction and a benefit.

        The plans were drawn by the architect to meet the wants which our combined experience of thirty years in the old building suggested as desirable. Mr. William P. Clyde's indispensable aid did not stop with his generous contribution of money, but at our earnest solicitation he burdened himself with the presidency of the trustees and became one of a building committee of three. Until the new enterprise was successfully launched he filled these offices in such a manner, and with such dignity and keen observance of the business proprieties, as to win from all the lasting esteem and gratitude which followed him to his retirement.

        While the preliminaries above narrated were going on there came to the Polyclinic another stroke of great good fortune, and to me the further evidences of the thoughtfulness and alertness of my friends. We needed still more money. When was there a time when a hospital did not need this great essential to philanthropy? Will there ever


Page 448

be a time when those who have it will have the good sense to bestow it where it will bring the greatest return of good? My telephone-bell rang one night at a late and unusual hour. I recognized the voice of a dear friend and colleague, Dr. D. Bryson Delavan. He said: "One of my former pupils has just left my office. He came to tell me that a relative, a lady of means, had expressed a willingness and desire to give a handsome sum of money to some deserving philanthropy. I have asked him to get in touch with you." By a strange coincidence a letter from Dr. J. W. Brannan, President of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals, brought me the same information in the morning's mail. I lost no time in getting in touch with the young practitioner, and went at once to Mr. Clyde, and he and I called upon the lady in question.

        Mr. Clyde had been her father's friend, and she worshiped the memory of her father, himself a leader among New York's great and philanthropic business men. In this interview I met one of the most remarkable women it has been my great good fortune to know, that rare kind of woman whose hand and heart work together in perfect unison. She listened to the history of the Polyclinic, made her own analysis, and most generously joined with Mr. Clyde in the noble purpose. With two such able and appreciative friends and champions as Mrs. Helen Hartley Jenkins and Mr. William P. Clyde the completion of the new building was made certain, and the perpetuation of a great educational and humanitarian enterprise assured. Many others contributed to this consummation, and deserve and have grateful appreciation; but as long as the scientific and practical training of physicians in this great school may add to the blessings of mankind, and as long as the thousands


Page 449

upon thousands who find there the means of relief, these two unselfish beings must be recorded as first among those who made it possible.

        Self-reliance begets optimism, and this develops that quality of hope which is said to spring "eternal in the human breast." I have always had an abiding faith in the ultimate triumph of a good cause. The only real setback to this conviction was the failure to establish the Southern Confederacy. For some no doubt excellent and satisfactory reason Providence ruled otherwise; but, being the son of a lawyer, in my heart of hearts I filed an exception. Now, the Polyclinic Hospital with its ambulance service differs from the Southern Confederacy in one important particular--viz., it is established. The great hospital was built by optimism, and so was the emergency service. We accepted the great responsibility for the City of New York and agreed to open it at a certain date in the near future--and this when we had not a single ambulance nor a hundred dollars toward the price of the three we required, and these must be automobiles, too! But my Presbyterian upbringing taught me that Faith might move a mountain, especially when giant powder was mixed with it. My dear father would have advised prayer without ceasing. My Spartan mother would have added, "Some prayer, but don't forget the powder."

        Very soon after accepting the service, as I was coming out of the Union League Club building in the late afternoon I overheard a friend, whom I had known quite intimately for many years, scolding the door-man for permitting his automobile to be sent away without first notifying him. As chairman of the executive committee of the club, desirous of keeping the peace and of shielding as well as I


Page 450

might a faithful servant, I made light of the oversight, and, going up to my really good-natured and generous friend, I said: "Don't worry over it, Costello. You can go home in my machine." He was placated enough to smile at this, and said: "I didn't know you had an automobile." I told him I had never been able to afford that luxury, when he said: "Well, you deserve to have one, and you ought to have it." My reply was, "I don't care so much about one for myself as for my hospital"; and then he said so quickly that it nearly took my breath, "Do you really need an ambulance?" Laying my hand over the region of the left fifth rib, I replied in an affectation of emotion which he saw through: "Go slowly, my old friend. I have heart disease." He handed me a big check the next afternoon, and I had one ambulance. I needed two more.

        A week later my old war-time comrade and loyal friend, Dr. William M. Polk (son of that General Leonidas Polk who gave his life to the South at Kenesaw Mountain), telephoned me that a patient of his wished to give a Packard automobile ambulance to some hospital, and he had recommended the Polyclinic. This machine came in good time, and with it a third, the gift of Mr. Joseph Milbank, another of the many wealthy and thoughtfully generous citizens of this great city, which with all of its rush and strain for achievement and (as many assert) for money, is ever ready with open hand and heart to help any cause known and shown to be worthy. Three hundred and sixty thousand people live within our ambulance district, and on one "field day" in 1913 we treated in the hospital forty-five accident cases.

        As a kind of postscript to the Polyclinic Hospital construction


Page 451

I must add an experience which goes to confirm the judgment of Robert Burns that

The best-laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley.

        If I have a soft spot in my heart for any particular race, it is for the negro. "Mack," the runaway slave my father bought, was my first friend. He cared for me as a child as tenderly as he afterward did for his own; and his wife, "Mammy Tildie," was next to our mother for my sisters and myself. No one who has not lived in this affectionate relationship to the best of that race can appreciate the feeling which prevailed. When I was planning this great hospital I determined to have two small, neat wards set apart for colored men and women, where they could be exclusive and away from the possibility of wounded sensibilities by reason of color and race prejudice. The very first patient admitted to the new hospital was a negro lad, who came accompanied by his father, who took the boy back home, refusing to let him go into a colored ward. I wrote the father, saying how sorry I was; that I was from the South and was naturally desirous of helping any member of his race. He wrote in reply that he might have known I was a Southerner, for nobody else but a man from that country would come up North building "Jim Crow" wards in a hospital!

        In 1906 I was elected, without opposition, President of the New York Academy of Medicine, to serve for two years, and re-elected in 1908, four years in all. In the sixty-five years of the Academy's history only five of its presidents had served for more than one term, and to the date of my second term sixteen years had elapsed since this extraordinary


Page 452

honor had been conferred. The presidency of the New York Academy of Medicine is, in my opinion, an office second to none in importance in medical affairs in the United States. While the great national organization, the American Medical Association, covers a wider field and deals in large measure with the most important scientific and technical problems in medicine and in working with equal zeal for the advancement of the profession and for the cause of humanity, it also deals largely with public affairs, and with what we must of necessity term "medical politics," and in this respect occupies a field entirely apart from the Academy which stands solely for medicine in its scientific aspect.

        From the day of its foundation the Academy has advanced steadily in its one fixed purpose--to become a center for scientific medicine, from whose rostrum the great discoveries which medical research is constantly making and the results of world-wide experience in the prevention and treatment of disease and injury may be first announced to its fellows and the profession, and through these to the world at large. It is, therefore, essential that the presiding officer should keep closely in touch with all that is progressive in our science and art and strive to give it expression through the Academy.

        The selection of men eminent in science not only in our own country, but from all over the civilized world, and the assignment of subjects for consideration in the various subdivisions of medicine is no light task, and it is wholly left to the presiding officer. In addition to the strictly medical programme for the profession the Academy has instituted a regular series of free public lectures, largely attended by the laity. In 1908 the limit of membership was reached, and


Page 453

there were so many applicants that the constitution was amended in order to extend the list, and it became necessary to enlarge the lecture-room and library facilities. A series of general meetings was held, speeches were made, great enthusiasm prevailed, and two hundred and twenty thousand dollars, the amount needed to purchase all the additional property required, was raised, bringing the actual value of the Academy's holdings to approximately three-quarters of a million dollars, and assuring the early completion of the new Academy. During my term of office the number of bound volumes in the library was 84,820, and there were 46,000 unbound publications. The weekly and monthly periodicals, printed in every civilized language, numbered 1520.

        While serving my first term of two years in the presidency of the Academy I was also elected President of the New York Southern Society, a very popular and influential social organization, made up of men who, coming from the Southern states, have made New York City their home. Life in a great city, where the struggle for existence and advancement is so exacting of the hours of daylight, has necessitated the formation of this and kindred societies, as the New England, made up of Yankees or their descendants; the St. Andrew's, composed exclusively of Scotchmen; the Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and many other such organizations, which hold meetings at frequent intervals and spend the evenings in delightful, friendly intercourse. It is like going home again to attend these dinners and receptions, to meet old comrades in arms, or college-mates, or their children, and hear the latest news, or talk over old times. As the presiding officer of each of these societies is usually invited formally as the guest of honor of all the


Page 454

others, any one who can live through these gastronomic and speechmaking tests sees a very interesting side of metropolitan life. I stood two years of it and enjoyed it, and give full credit for the physical ability to stand it to the reserve digestive energy stored up in my three years' experience in the Confederate army, during which period there was such complete gastro-intestinal repose. No one could pass through this particular experience and not be impressed with the fact of how little of the real progressive New York, the New York that is "doing things," was born within its limits.

        I recall one notable occasion when President Taft, who had just been elected, was the guest of the North Carolina Society. The president of this society was Walter H. Page, our present ambassador to England. As president of the Southern Society, to which the old North State Society belonged, I had the other place of honor, and sat during the dinner and evening next to Mr. Taft. As the presiding officer of the meeting was busy with his duties for most of the evening, it gave me an excellent opportunity to size up the President-elect of the United States, and I was very favorably impressed with Mr. Taft. A number of persons came to shake hands or speak to him in the course of the evening, and one was an old college chum. Leaning over me, he whispered loud enough for me to hear distinctly: "Bill! I guess this is the last time I can call you 'Bill' "--this was before the inauguration--"but it has to go now before you get into the White House." Before he could get the balance of what he had in mind framed into words the genial guest, holding on to his friend's hand, said: "Tom, the White House won't make any difference to you; and when you come there, if you dare to call me anything else than 'Bill,' I'll throw you through a window."


Page 455

        It is safe to say that no president ever tried harder to do his duty without regard to his personal interest than did Mr. Taft. It is just as safe to assert that none ever failed so signally to satisfy anybody. In the olden days down South, when any one was eminently successful and "swept the deck" in gambling on a horse-race or a chicken-fight, or on Colonel W. R. W. Cobb being elected to Congress, Uncle Dan, the negro oracle and commentator of our county, was wont to say, "He hit 'em a-comin' and a-gwine." The converse was true of President Taft, who missed everything both ways and ended his political career in a mudslinging contest with an opponent who not only owned a mill, but was ambidextrous besides. How much more dignified it would have been to take bravely the stab of Brutus under the dome of the Senate! It was the late Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts--and New Orleans--famous and infamous on one side and the other of Mason and Dixon's line, who, after having retired from one such contest so bespattered that his nearest relative could not have recognized him, said, "Never again will I throw mud with a man who owns a mill!"

        The only innovation I effected in the Southern Society was the foundation of a charity fund which under subsequent able administrations has grown to a very considerable sum. It was while active in the interests of this delightful organization that I made the acquaintance of a man from Virginia, then President of Princeton University, who impressed me profoundly with the belief in his great ability and prospective prominence. I was so taken with this idea that I called on a very intimate friend, the late William M. Laffan, Esq., whose ownership of the New York Sun, coupled with his wonderful ability as a writer and his inflexibility


Page 456

of purpose when he made up his mind that something should be done, gave him, in my opinion, a very great influence in public affairs. I asked him to dine with me and Woodrow Wilson, and said to him, "I want you to meet a man who is big enough to be the Democratic nominee for President." This was in 1907. With this in mind, and being nothing if not practical, Laffan suggested that I invite Mr. Thomas F. Ryan, another member of the Southern Society, whose successful ventures in the world of finance had brought him into great national prominence and made him a power in dictating the policy of the Democratic party. Mr. Wilson stayed at our home for the night, and it was to me a notable occasion, as I sat until one o'clock a close listener to the conversation of these three men, each facile princeps in his sphere. At a late hour Elihu Root, then Secretary of State, joined the party, and of course added to its brilliancy. As far as Woodrow Wilson in his relation to national affairs was concerned, "the pear was not yet ripe." He did not put it this way exactly, but his keen discernment told him the hour had not yet struck, for I heard him say to William M. Laffan that he was then so deeply interested in the affairs of Princeton University that any suggestion of his entering the field of politics was for the moment distasteful. His time was to come in 1912, and I had the honor to be chairman of the medical department of the campaign which resulted in his election.

        My membership in the Union League Club came about in rather a queer way. Immediately after the war and during the bitter years of the reconstruction period the politics of this strong organization seemed to me to be so radical and so unjust in sustaining the attitude of the "bloody-shirt-waving" wing of the Republican party toward


Page 457

the South that I could but feel a natural resentment. In the course of time the best men of this party saw the injustice of the reconstruction measures and repudiated them, and, with the long years of peace and reconciliation, practically all feelings of bitterness had disappeared. It so happened that I had a great many intimate personal friends in this club; and J. Henry Harper, Esq., of the well-known publishing firm of Harper& Brothers, asked me to let him nominate me for membership. This was done. As the time for voting on my candidacy came near it occurred to me that an ex-Confederate soldier, whose natural leaning and training had been about as far away from what the Union League Club represented as it could be, could never possibly be elected unless it were under a misapprehension.

        To make this impossible I wrote to Mr. Frank Montague, chairman of the committee on nominations, and to the president, Mr. Cornelius N. Bliss, to the effect that I had been reared in the South, and had served to the close of the war in the Confederate army, had never voted anything but a Democratic ballot until Mr. Bryan's heresies compelled me to vote for McKinley; that I had more friends in the Union League Club than any other in New York City; that it was the only club I wanted to be a member of, but however much I desired this I could not afford to come in under a misapprehension or with a political collar on. When my friends got news of this letter, most of them thought it best to withdraw my name, but Harry Harper said he would take the chance if I would; and, as I had a leaning toward taking chances, we stood pat. A friend who was present at the meeting of the committee told me that the chairman read the letter aloud, and remarked with a good deal of feeling that the Union League


Page 458

Club needed in its membership a Confederate soldier who could write such a letter, which sentiments the president indorsed, and I was unanimously elected. This ended the Civil War for the Union League and the new member.

        The most gratifying feature of this incident is that the members of this club seem to have conspired to show me every possible consideration, official and otherwise. As a token of their confidence I was placed upon the executive committee and chairman of this board in the management of the affairs of one of the strongest social and political organizations in America, of which nearly every President of the United States, from Lincoln down, has been a member. It goes without saying that I felt highly honored and fully appreciative of this great distinction. When the people of the South and the North get together and know one another they will forget that there was ever a Mason and Dixon's line.

        When the Club gave Mr. Taft a brilliant reception in 1911, I was made chairman of the committee of arrangements, and my first assistant was General McCook, one of the famous "fighting McCook" family of Ohio, at whom I had had the pleasure of shooting more than once, and by whom I had more than once been chased. On this occasion the General saluted me as his superior in rank and asked, "What are the orders from the old Rebel?" I said: "Fall in behind me, Yank--and it's not the first time, either; for it was a McCook that captured me." So, hand in hand, we ancient foemen walked up to pay our respects to the President of our United States.


Page 459

PART II


Page 461

I
FOUNDING THE POLYCLINIC

        THE founding of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital in 1881, which marked the introduction of systematic postgraduate medical instruction in America, was, if not the chief, at least an important factor in the great movement which, starting at that period, has revolutionized and carried to a degree approaching perfection the teaching and practice of medicine and surgery in the United States. The idea of establishing a postgraduate course of study came into my mind as a result of my own necessities. I was graduated in March, 1869, from the Medical Department of the University of Louisville, after attending two sessions of lectures of not quite seven months each.

        Recognized as one of the oldest and best-known of the medical colleges in the United States, the course of study and the standard of requirements then prevailing in that institution may be taken as typical of American methods at that period. There was no entrance examination. Any white male who had mastered the rudiments of English was eligible. Neither Latin nor Greek was essential. The division of subjects was: anatomy, physiology, surgery, medicine, obstetrics, chemistry, and materia medica. Anatomy was thoroughly taught in the lectures, supplemented by dissecting-room work of a high class. In physiology


Page 462

there were no laboratory exercises, no practical demonstrations of the living structures nor of the functions of the normal organs. The teaching of surgery, medicine, and obstetrics was almost wholly didactic. When an operative clinic was given it was witnessed at such a distance from the subject, with so much interruption of vision, that it was impossible to follow closely the details of technique, without which the lesson of a demonstration is valueless.

        Not once in my two years of study did I enter the wards of a hospital or receive instruction by the bedside of a patient. I witnessed one gynecological clinic and examined one obstetric patient. I did not witness or assist at a single case of delivery. Beyond the chemical analysis of urine for albumen and sugar and the litmus testing reaction I had no laboratory drilling, nor did I look through a microscope. In proof of my earnestness of purpose and close application, I may add that during the two years of study at this school I never attended a theater or place of idling or amusement, and when not in the lecture-room I was reading or dissecting.

        It was my good fortune to be graduated cum laude in March, 1869, and I began practice in my home village of Guntersville, Alabama, in April of that year. The experiment lasted through six weeks of the most trying and humiliating period of my life. In that time I performed one surgical operation, under the guidance of my good preceptor, Dr. James M. Jackson, an ex-army surgeon, treated a case of lobar pneumonia, attended one delivery, and finally a fatal case of diabetes mellitus. Upon the death of this patient I realized that I needed a thorough clinical and laboratory training, and could not conscientiously practise without it. The story of how the means to this end were secured


Page 462a

Illustration

POLYCLINIC MEDICAL SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL, 341-351 WEST FIFTIETH STREET, NEW YORK


Page 463

is told elsewhere. I came to New York City in 1872. To my surprise and disappointment, there was here no opportunity for the special instruction or training of a graduate, except by attending the lectures in common with undergraduates. As this was the best I could do, I took this course at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, and was graduated ad eundem in March, 1873. In April of that year I was appointed assistant demonstrator of anatomy in this college, where in this capacity and as prosector to the chair of anatomy and assistant to the professor of pathology I worked until 1877.

        I had never lost sight of the conviction brought home to me by my unfortunate experience, that the most perfect theoretical education could not properly prepare one for the practice of medicine and surgery unless supplemented by a thorough practical training, under expert guidance, at the bedside and in the operating-room and laboratory; and in 1877 I undertook to organize a school in which such training could be secured.

        The scheme then formulated required for admission a college degree, or an equivalent classical education, to be determined by a preliminary examination, and a five-year term of study, of which three years were to be in the undergraduate and two in the postgraduate or clinical department. I submitted this plan to a number of distinguished medical men--among whom were Doctors J. Marion Sims, Willard Parker, Frank H. Hamilton, and A. Jacobi. All of them gave it their hearty approval. On account of the long term of study and rigid requirements for admission it was realized that in competition with the short-term colleges such an institution could not be supported by student fees; and these eminent men, each of whom had


Page 464

treated me with marked personal consideration, insisted that an endowment sufficient to furnish an income which would assure the payment of current expenses was a sine qua non. For three years I tried without success to raise the amount deemed necessary, and finally in the early winter of 1881 I abandoned the undergraduate feature of the plan, and took up actively the organization of the Polyclinic as a postgraduate school. Meanwhile I had visited Europe and had studied the methods in vogue in London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna.

        The organization was begun in 1881, and the school was opened in East Thirty-fourth Street in 1882, with the following faculty and assignment of subjects:

  • Department of Dermatology--Dr. A. R. Robinson, Dr. E. B. Bronson.
  • Department of Gynecology--Dr. W. Gill Wylie, Dr. Paul F. Mundé.
  • Department of Diseases of Children--Dr. John H. Ripley, assisted by Dr. L. Emmet Holt, who succeeded him.
  • Department of Laryngology--Dr. Richard Brandeis, Dr. Louis Elsberg.
  • Department of Ophthalmology--Dr. David Webster, Dr. Emil Gruening.
  • Department of Medicine--Dr. James R. Leaming, Dr. E. Darwin Hudson.
  • Department of Neurology--Dr. Landon Carter Gray, assisted by Dr. M. Allen Starr.
  • Department of Surgery--Dr. J. A. Wyeth, Dr. A. G. Gerster.
  • Department of Orthopedic Surgery--Dr. V. P. Gibney.

        At the suggestion of Dr. Richard Brandeis, the foreign appellation of " Poliklinik" was changed to "Polyclinic," from

Illustration

[Word in Greek]

(many), and

Illustration

[Word in Greek]

(beds). From the day our doors were opened the success of postgraduate instruction was assured, and it has become a permanent feature of medical education. As before stated, it is based upon the recognized fact that no amount of theoretical teaching in an undergraduate college can turn out a thoroughly equipped practitioner.


Page 464a

        

Illustration

BUST PORTRAIT OF DR. JOHN A. WYETH, UNVEILED AT THE POLYCLINIC HOSPITAL, MAY 1, 1914


Page 465

        While a hospital interneship is an ideal method of postgraduate training, not more than ten to twenty per cent. of graduates can under present conditions be provided with such interneships. The remaining large majority must depend for their training upon a course of practical study under competent specialists in the various departments of medicine and surgery in a school which is part of a general hospital and dispensary, and provided with all the laboratory facilities for analytic work. The Polyclinic Hospital, with a capacity of three hundred beds, a walking clinic of between fifty thousand and one hundred thousand cases per year, has in addition an ambulance and emergency service covering a district in New York City which includes a population of three hundred and sixty thousand. The acute medical and surgical cases which are gathered up by this vast service are among the most interesting and useful features of its course of instruction.

        The entire course of study is divided into the following departments: Clinical medicine and physical diagnosis, diseases of the digestive system, diseases of children, diseases of the throat and nose and of the eye, diseases of the nervous system, general and orthopedic and neurological surgery, diseases of the rectum, genito-urinary surgery, diseases of the skin, diseases of women, obstetrics, radiology, electrotherapy, clinical microscopy, urinary analysis, practical histology, and pathology and bacteriology.

        In the department of internal medicine there is a special laboratory for instruction in the examination of stomach contents, alimentary discharges, and the various secretions and excretions. There is a special laboratory in the department of dermatology and in general medicine, while the main laboratory of biology is thoroughly equipped for a


Page 466

practical training of the practitioner in the use of the microscope and in chemical analysis and the study of the various reactions.

        The necessity of dividing the classes into small sections is recognized as the essential feature of thorough postgraduate training, so that those interested in any particular case may come in actual contact with the patients. To this end seven operating and three different medical clinical rooms are often utilized at the same hour. Realizing the greater value of prolonged and continuous attendance, a special course is arranged in which the practitioner resides within the hospital and serves on the assistant interne staff. To the date of this writing, in 1914, approximately twenty-five thousand graduates of medicine and surgery have attended the clinics and courses of study in this institution.


Page 467

II
LIGATION OF THE EXTERNAL CAROTID ARTERY

        MY Essays on the Surgical Anatomy and Surgery of the Common External and Internal Carotid Arteries, made public in 1878, established as an accepted operative procedure the ligation of the external carotid artery. Until that date every text-book on surgery in the English, French, or German language advised the application of the ligature to the common trunk, and not to the external carotid, in all lesions within the distribution of the external carotid artery. Within two years after the publication of these essays by the American Medical Association, the text-books and teachers of surgery had condemned the old operation and advised the new procedure.1 My attention was attracted to this subject by a statement made by my teacher in surgery, Professor Frank H. Hamilton, while I was a student in Bellevue Medical College. In advising the application of the ligature to the primitive carotid he gave as the reason that the external carotid artery differed from all the other arteries of body in the wide variations in origin and irregularity of the arrangement and distribution of its branches.

        Believing, as I did, that there could be no exception to the law of development, I undertook a careful study of this important vessel, in the course of which I made one hundred
1 Prominent among the great surgeons of his day, and among the first to appreciate the value of this operation, was the late Henry B. Sands, Professor of Surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Page 468

and twenty-one dissections of the surgical triangles of the neck, measuring accurately with rule and pointers the points of origin on the six regular branches--viz., the superior thyroid, lingual, and facial anteriorly, and the ascending pharyngeal, occipital, and auricular posteriorly, from the center of bifurcation of the common trunk and from one another. I proved that this vessel followed the general law of development; that the range of origin of each branch was so limited and the variations from the normal so slight as to offer no difficulty or danger to the application of a ligature at any point in the course of this artery.

        Extending my investigations into the surgical history of these vessels, I found that in the entire records of surgery, searched with great care, the external carotid artery alone had been tied for lesions within its distribution only sixty-seven times, with a mortality ratio of four and a half per cent. At the same time I tabulated seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of ligature of the common trunk, of which two hundred and fifty-one were for lesions in the distribution of the external carotid artery, and in every one of which this latter vessel might have been tied. One hundred and eight, or forty-three per cent., died.

        Extending these researches to the arch of the aorta, and the other great vessels springing from it, and desiring to test crucially the value of the conclusions arrived at, I entered into competition for the annual prize of the American Medical Association in 1878, and submitted my work as a single essay.

        As far as the carotid arteries are concerned, this was the conclusion reached at that period:

        The rate of mortality after the ligature of the common carotid artery was forty-one per cent.


Page 469

        After ligature of the external carotid the death-rate was four and a half per cent.

        There was but one conclusion: The common carotid should never be tied for a lesion of the external carotid or its branches when there is room enough between the lesions and the bifurcation of the primitive carotid to permit the ligature of the external carotid.

        I was led to this conclusion not only by the comparison of the analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of ligature of the common trunk, with the instances in which the external carotid had been tied, but also from the analysis of one hundred and twenty-one dissections of these vessels, made to determine the relations of these arteries and their branches to one another. I said at that time: "It would be a waste of time to cite the eminent authorities in surgery who advise the ligature of the common trunk instead of the external. The teaching and practice is almost universal. It is as wrong as it is general, as false as it is dangerous. It is forty-one per centum of deaths in the one to four and a half per centum in the other."

        The report of the committee on the prize essays was as follows:

        Your committee to determine the merits of prize essays would respectfully report: That they have had three separate papers submitted to their inspection. Two of these papers present subjects of very great interest, and show original research, but are too imperfect, in the estimation of the committee, to command a prize. The remaining paper, in the judgment of your committee, is fully up to the requirements. Indeed, the paper is so elaborate as to fill a large space in the volume of the Transactions of the Association. The paper should be considered as two, and not as one. The analysis of seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of operation on the carotid artery, and the careful and minute measurements of the artery and its branches in one hundred and twenty-one subjects, showing the range of variation and the percentage of the same,


Page 470

followed by inferences, bold and original, naturally constitutes a paper complete in itself. Another one on the same plan, with reference to the innominate and subclavian arteries, being an analysis of three hundred cases and the observation of fifty-two subjects, is presented to us in such a manner that we may consider the whole as one prize, or they may compete for both.

        Your committee believes that both prizes should be awarded to the two essays by one person. The motto is, "Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis."

E. M. MOORE, Chairman,
THOS. LOTHROP,
H. R. HOPKINS,
W. W. MINER.

BUFFALO, NEW YORK, June 6, 1878
.

        The publication and wide distribution of these investigations by the National Association added materially to the immediate general acceptance of the operation of ligation of the external carotid artery which now prevails. As an indication of the change of view which was brought about, the following is quoted from the American edition of Sir Thomas Bryant's Manual for the Practice of Surgery, from the chapter devoted to this subject:

        "In this connection the views of Dr. John A. Wyeth, of New York, deserve great attention; for, in his prize essays, presented to the American Medical Association in 1878, he has investigated the subject of ligation of the primitive carotid artery and its branches with such painstaking accuracy that his paper will deservedly become classical. He has collected and analyzed seven hundred and eighty-nine cases of ligation of the common carotid artery, ninety-one instances of ligation of the external and eighteen of ligation of the internal carotid. In addition he has given accurate measurements of the arteries in one hundred and twenty-one subjects, showing the range of variation and the position of branches. His inferences from this astonishing amount of research are at variance in some respects with the surgical teaching and practice of the day; but it would seem that the profession must be in the wrong rather than who has considered the subject in such a thorough and scientific manner."

        In the practice of to-day, under modern aseptic conditions,


Page 471

the death-rate after deligation of the external carotid artery is practically nil. I have tied it more than two hundred times without secondary hemorrhage or a fatality. In three instances the catgut ligature was applied in the crotch of bifurcation and included in its grasp the superior thyroid at its origin. 1


1 The following literature was recognized in the Original Essays: "Contributions to Practical Surgery," by Dr. George W. Norris, of Philadelphia; an admirable article by Dr. Charles Pilz, "Zur Ligatur der Arteria Carotis Communis"; "Ligature of the Common Carotid," by Professor James R. Wood; "Des Effets Produits sur l'Encéphale," etc., by Dr. J. Ehrmann; a "Prize Thesis on Ligature of the External Carotid Artery," by Dr. Landon R. Longworth; "Zur Ligatur der Arteria Carotis Externa, " by Dr. Madelung; "Medical and Surgical History of the War," by Dr. George A. Otis, U.S.A.; "Ligature of the Subclavian Artery," by Professor Willard Parker; "Über Unterbindungen und Aneurysm der Arteria Subclavia," by Wilhelm Koch; and a magnificent paper on "Subclavian Aneurism," by the lamented Alfred Poland.

Page 472

III
BLOODLESS AMPUTATION AT THE HIP-JOINT AND AT THE SHOULDER

        THE method of controlling hemorrhage in so formidable an operation as removal of the lower extremity by amputation and disarticulation at the coxo-femoral joint was devised by me, and first performed successfully upon a living subject at the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital in 1889. This case was reported in the New York Medical Record, and the procedure was the subject of a paper read at the meeting of the American Medical Association at Nashville, 1890.

        The History of Surgery contains a long list of ingenious methods in the effort to reduce the mortality of this operation, which for gunshot wounds in the American Civil War reached the high mortality ratio of ninety-three per cent., of which Professor John Ashurst in his great work on surgery wrote as late as 1881: "The removal of the lower limb at the coxo-femoral articulation may be properly regarded as the gravest operation that the surgeon is ever called upon to perform, and it is only within a comparatively recent period that it has been accepted as a justifiable procedure. The most pressing risk is that of hemorrhage."

        Dr. Walter Brashear, of Bardstown, Kentucky, in a case of compound fracture of the femur near the hip, in August, 1806, applied a constricting tourniquet to the limb just below


Page 473

the hip, amputated the soft parts six inches beyond, tying all the vessels while the tourniquet was in place, then dividing the bone at this level, and after all hemorrhage was controlled by the ligature he successfully enucleated the broken particles of the shaft, together with the head of the femur. The method of this pioneer attracted no attention, and was not cited in the text-books on surgery.

        The first real advance came with the introduction of Esmarch's elastic bandage. In the Lancet, 1883 (Volume 1, page 897), Jourdan-Lloyd described the following method: "A strip of black India-rubber bandage about two yards long is doubled and passed between the thighs, its center lying between the tuber ischii of the side to be operated on and the anus. The ends are drawn tight, one in front and one behind, to a point above the center of the iliac crest." By this method there was secured a fair degree of compression upon the external iliac artery.

        Trendelenburg endeavored to improve on this method by adding transfixion with a single strong mattress-needle which was passed in front of the neck of the femur and beneath the great vessels. A rubber cord in figure-of-eight fashion was carried over the ends in front, compressing only the anterior and most vascular portion of the flap. Fourneaux advised a figure-of-eight rubber spica, using the Esmarch bandage in practically the same manner as in the Jourdan-Lloyd method.

        Richard Volkmann endeavored to control hemorrhage by elastic circular constriction without needles. His three cases were reported in the Deutsche Klinik of 1868, but in each case a preliminary ligature of the femoral was done. That his method was not accepted is evident in the fact that neither in Billroth and Luecke's Deutsche Chirurgie, in the Handbuch


Page 474

der Chirurgie by Von Pitha, the works of Linhart, nor in the Centralblatt fur Chirurgie or Klinische Vortrage, of which Volkmann himself was an editor, is there any mention or description of this procedure. I had never read or heard of Volkmann's discarded operation until several years after my method had been made public and had been immediately and generally accepted by the profession.

        Operation: The patient, properly prepared, is placed with the sacrum resting upon the corner of the operating-table corresponding to the member to be removed. The sound limb and arms are wrapped with cotton batting and other parts of the body well protected from unnecessary loss of heat. The extremity to be amputated should be emptied of blood by elevation of the foot, aided by the Trendelenburg posture, and, when the conditions justify, the use of the Esmarch bandage. This may be applied commencing at the toes, and while forcing the blood into the trunk it should never come nearer than within twelve inches of the distal margin of the neoplasm or seat of disease. In cases of infection, where varicosities with possible thrombosis are present, and after injuries with extensive destruction, elevation and gravitation must be relied upon to carry the blood from the part to be removed into the body. While the member is elevated and the partial Trendelenburg position is still maintained, and before the Esmarch bandage is removed, when this has been employed, the rubber-tubing constrictor is applied. The object of this is the complete closure of every vessel above the level of the hip-joint, permitting the disarticulation to be completed and the vessels tied without hemorrhage and before the tourniquet is removed.

        To prevent the possibility of the tourniquet slipping, I employ two strong needles or skewers of steel about


Page 475

three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter and eight inches long. One is introduced one-quarter of an inch below the anterior superior spine of the ilium, and slightly to the inner or central side of this prominence, and is made to traverse superficially for about three inches the muscles and deep fascia on the outer side of the hip, emerging on a level with the point of entrance. The point of the second needle is thrust through the skin and tendon of origin of the adductor longus muscle half an inch below the crotch, the point emerging an inch below the tuber ischii. The points should be at once shielded with cork. No vessels or nerves are near or are endangered by these skewers. A mat or compress of sterile gauze about two inches thick and four inches square is laid over the femoro-iliac artery and vein near where they cross the brim of the pelvis, and over this a piece of strong rubber tubing, half an inch in diameter when unstretched and long enough when in position to go five or six times around the thigh, is now wound very tightly around and above the fixation needles and secured. If the Esmarch bandage has been employed, it is now removed.

        In the formation of the flaps the surgeon must be guided by the condition of the parts within the field of operation, and will modify the following method, which, when possible, I prefer: About six inches below the tourniquet a circular incision is made down to the muscles, and this is joined by a longitudinal incision commencing at the tourniquet and passing over the trochanter major. A cuff that includes everything down to the muscles is dissected off to near the level of the trochanter minor. At about this level the remaining soft parts, together with the vessels, are divided squarely down to the bone by a circular cut. At this stage of the operation the central ends of the divided femoral


Page 476

vessels are in plain view and should be tied with good-sized catgut. This done, the disarticulation is rapidly completed with knife or scissors, by lifting the muscular insertions from the trochanters and digital fossa, keeping very close to the bone and holding the soft parts away with retractors.

        The capsular ligament is now exposed and divided, and by forcible elevation, adduction, and rotation of the femur it is widely opened, the ligamentum teres ruptured, and the caput femoris dislocated. If properly conducted up to this point, not a drop of blood has escaped, except that which was in the limb below the constrictor when this was applied. The remaining vessels which require the ligature should now be sought for and secured. These are, first, the saphena vein, which, on account of its proximity to the main trunk, should be tied; the sciatic artery, which will be found near the stump of the sciatic nerve; the obturator, which is situated between the stump of the adductor brevis and magnus, usually about half-way from the center of the shaft of the femur to the inner side of the thigh, the vessel being on a level with the anterior surface of the femur; the descending branches of the external circumflex, two or three in number, usually found about an inch and a half outward and downward from the main femoral vessels beneath the rectus and in the substance of the cruræus and vastus externus. The descending branches of the internal circumflex are insignificant, and are usually found on the level of the femoral vessels in the substance of the adductor longus, and between it and the adductor brevis and pectinæus.

        In tying the larger femoral vessels I make it a rule to dissect both the superficial and deep femoral stumps back from one-half to three-quarters of an inch, so that I can apply the ligature behind any of their branches which may have


Page 477

been divided close to their points of origin, and I do not hesitate to include the large veins in the same ligature in order to save time. With the vessels I have mentioned quickly secured, there is really no necessity for even temporarily loosening the tourniquet. If the operator is not sure that he has found and securely placed the ligatures upon these larger vessels, it is a simple matter to loosen slowly the grasp of the tourniquet until the pulsation of the larger trunks is perceptible.

        In order to hasten the operation and stop the oozing I introduce a snug packing of sterile ribbon-gauze into the cavity of the acetabulum and the space between the muscles from which the bone has been removed, leaving one end of the gauze to pass between the flaps for the purpose of removal. With a long, half-carved Hagedorn-Fowler needle, armed with good-sized catgut, deep mattress sutures are passed through the stumps of the divided muscles in such a way that large masses of muscle are brought tightly together when these sutures are tied, including two to four inches in the grasp of each suture. The needle is not passed in the proximity of the large vessels or the sciatic nerve, but in all other directions the muscles are rapidly quilted together. This effectually and rapidly controls all oozing. The pins are now removed. Nothing remains but to close the flaps with silkworm gut sutures and apply a dressing of sterile gauze held snugly in place by a figure-of-eight bandage around the stump and the pelvis.

        The death-rate after amputation at the hip-joint by this method of hemostasis and asepsis is reduced now to about six per cent. in disease and twelve per cent. in traumatic cases.

        In the Annals of Surgery, September, 1895, Dr. John F.


Page 478

Erdmann reports that from January, 1884, to January, 1895 (the aseptic period), there were eighteen hip-joint amputations done in Bellevue, Roosevelt, St. Luke's, Mt. Sinai, Chambers Street, German, and Presbyterian hospitals in New York City, with eight deaths, a mortality of 44.4 per cent. Of the eighteen patients seven were operated on by my method as above given, and all recovered, leaving eight fatal cases in eleven amputations by other methods, a death-rate of 72.7 per cent. I do not claim that such a death-rate as this would follow other methods of operation; but I do insist that my method of hemostasis is so simple and generally applicable that it removes from the procedure all possible danger of operative hemorrhage.

        It was a matter of gratification to the author that by the leading surgeons of his time this method of hemostasis was generally accepted and practised. Of it Professor W. W. Keen in a report dated January, 1892, says:

        "It was reserved for an American surgeon to devise what is undoubtedly the best method, and, in fact, what I think we can now call the only method of hemostasis in amputation at the hip-joint." Dr. Charles McBurney, surgeon-in-chief of the Roosevelt Hospital, remarks, "No other appliance that has been suggested for the purpose could in any way compare in utility with that of Dr. Wyeth." Dr. J. S. Horsely, professor of surgery in the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond: "No more blood was lost than in an amputation through the thigh. It remained for Dr. Wyeth to so perfect this method as to make amputation practically a bloodless operation." Dr. Wm. F. Fluhrer, of New York, says, "As little blood was lost as in an ordinary amputation at the middle of the thigh."

        Being called upon early in 1889 to remove the upper


Page 479

extremity for a large sarcoma, which involved the head of the humerus and a portion of the scapula and which required removal of the soft parts as well as the acromion process of the scapula, I devised and practised successfully the following operation:

        The arm was emptied of blood in the same manner as outlined for the lower extremity. With the large skewer the skin, together with the substance of the pectoralis major muscle for about three inches, was transfixed about the same distance from the shoulder-joint. The second needle was passed through the tissues of the dorsum scapulæ at the same level and for the same distance. The rubber tube was now wound five or six times around the shoulder above these needles, making strong traction. The incision for the flap was made to conform to the conditions which were present. The ideal amputation here is a circular incision through the skin down to the deep fascia about four inches below the shoulder-joint. This should be dissected upward for one inch in the entire circumference of the arm, at which point the muscles, nerves, vessels, and all the soft tissues are divided down to the bones. A longitudinal incision is then made from the acromion directly downward, joining with the circular incision and dividing everything to the periosteum. From the bone the soft tissues are now lifted by dissection, the capsule divided, disarticulation performed, and the blood-vessels are tied. The tourniquet may at this stage be slightly loosened in order to be sure that no bleeding points are overlooked. The wound is then closed with silkworm gut sutures, leaving a good-sized ten-day catgut drain leading out from the most dependent angle into the dressing, which is held in place by a figure-of-eight bandage around the stump, neck, and chest.


Page 480

IV
THE TREATMENT OF VASCULAR TUMORS (ANGIOMATA) BY THE INJECTION INTO THEIR SUBSTANCE OF WATER AT A HIGH TEMPERATURE

        IN dealing in 1901 with a large congenital, vascular neoplasm ("venous angioma," or "cavernous nævus") of the right lower jaw, chin, and neck of a woman twenty years old, the removal of which by dissection had been twice attempted and abandoned (once by myself) on account of bleeding, I conceived the idea of coagulating the blood and lymph in the vessels involved by injecting into the general substance of the tumor water at a temperature sufficiently high to produce coagulation of these liquids, and yet not hot enough to destroy the normal fascia and integument. I reasoned that aseptic coagulation would do away with the excessive vascularity of the mass, and that the coagulated material would ultimately disappear by granular metamorphosis. The result was the fulfilment of every expectation.

        Under ether narcosis, on July 14, 1901, for the first time the following operation was successfully performed in the amphitheater of the New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital:

        The patient's face and body were thoroughly protected with a thick matting of sterile gauze, through which a hole was cut just large enough to permit the surface of the tumor to be seen. An all-metal-steel syringe, especially devised


Page 481

by me, and manufactured by the Kny-Scheerer Company, was filled with boiling water. Protecting my fingers with two pairs of gloves, the water was kept at the boiling-temperature up to the moment of injection by holding underneath the barrel of the syringe a large alcohol-lamp (when the larger syringes are used the Bunsen burner is preferable). A gauze mat was then held in front of the needle-point to prevent the escaping steam from scalding the exposed skin, and as it reached the surface of the tumor, the needle was projected through this and carried deeply into the substance of the mass. This precaution is very necessary.

        Carrying the needle to the deepest portion of the tumor, before beginning the injection, an assistant was directed to make digital compression over the external and internal jugular veins on that side to prevent the possibility of embolism. The hot water was now forced in, injecting about twenty minims at one point, withdrawing the syringe about one-half of an inch, and repeating this performance by reinserting the needle along parallel lines until the tumor was solidified. It should afford to the touch the elastic resistance of a hard-boiled egg from which the shell has been removed.

        In five minutes the compression over the jugulars was removed. Although the sense of heat was about as much as the hand could comfortably endure, the skin over the tumor did not slough, and the solidified mass underwent absorption. There was no pain after the patient became conscious and no elevation of body temperature. Two subsequent minor operations with local cocaine anesthesia were done in this case to coagulate small areas which had escaped the first injection.


Page 482

        I have now employed this method in a very considerable number of cases of venous angioma, and have succeeded in curing or arresting the growth of the neoplasm in every case, and, with the exception of an occasional slough on account of too great heat, without accident.

        In cases of arterial angioma (cirsoid aneurism) this method may be safely employed without the possibility of embolism. I have used it with gratifying results in two instances, and other surgeons have been equally successful. On account of the newness of the procedure I include here the report of a single case:

        Miss S. C., age twenty-seven, came under observation in January, 1902, on account of a large, pulsating tumor covering one-half of the left side of the scalp, and measuring five by six inches, with an elevation above the level of the normal scalp varying from one-half an inch to an inch. On the surface there were several large cicatrices which had resulted from attempts to strangulate it by ligature. Leading into this tumor were five arteries which could be distinctly seen pulsating with an increasing twisting movement as they approached a junction with the cork-screw-like vessels which composed the mass. Two of these came from the left temporal, one from the right temporal, and one from each occipital artery. It had grown rapidly within the last year. The operation above described was repeated in this instance with complete success. A unique feature of interest was an extensive edema which spread over the entire head and face, closing the eyes and extending half-way down the neck. Eleven years have passed, and this patient has remained entirely cured.

        In capillary angioma, or birthmark, usually seen in infants and young children, I have used this method in a large number


Page 483

of cases, but not with the success which has attended the treatment of the venous or arterial neoplasms.

        The abnormal epidermal covering of this type of nævus is non-resistant and sloughs as a result of the heat required to coagulate the liquids present. Great care is necessary to prevent scalding the contiguous normal skin. It is my rule to inject these small areas carefully with only a few minims, in this way to arrest the spread of the growth and then remove the resulting scar by excision and suture. When this method was made public before the surgical section of the American Medical Association in 1903 it was stated in the discussion which ensued that the principle of decreasing vascularity by coagulation of the contents of the vessels might be applied in the treatment of tumors of the thyroid. While I have had no personal experience in treating this form of neoplasm by this method, a number of successful cases have been reported by Dr. Miles F. Porter, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

        The following case describes a procedure I devised to prevent the possibilities of cerebral embolism by temporarily reversing the direction of the blood-current in the internal carotid artery:

        The patient, a mechanic of nineteen years, who, with the exception of the lesion here described, was in perfect physical condition, came under observation in the Polyclinic Hospital in 1907. Situated on the side of the neck in the line of the internal and external jugular veins, below the angle of the left jaw, was a vascular neoplasm which measured about three inches in two directions, and projected well beyond the level of the inferior maxilla, the tumor having a thickness of between two and three inches. It was of bluish color and without pulsation. By steady compression


Page 484

it could be practically emptied of blood and reduced almost to the natural level of the neck. When the pressure was released it filled rapidly and resumed its former size.

        On account of the intimate relation of this tumor to the common internal and external carotid arteries, the external and internal jugular veins, and the pneumogastric, sympathetic, facial, and spinal accessory nerves, I hesitated to employ the hot-water method for fear of causing an embolism in the jugular vein or the internal carotid artery or of injuring one or more of the nerves. An attempt to extirpate the mass was accompanied by such profuse hemorrhage that it was abandoned, and later I successfully carried out the following procedure:

        To prevent the possibility of pulmonic embolism the internal jugular was exposed near the clavicle and temporarily occluded by passing around it a large-sized catgut ligature, which was twisted and held firmly by an artery clamp. A similar ligature was then thrown around the common carotid artery at the same level, and this vessel was in like manner temporarily occluded. The object of this last ligature was to reverse the current of blood in the internal carotid of this side, for as soon as the normal flow from the heart to the brain was stopped by this ligature the current was of necessity supplied from the opposite internal carotid through the direct and free arterial anastomosis (the circle of Willis) between these two vessels. Under such conditions any embolism caused by the water would be swept downward and into the distribution of the external carotid, without danger to the integrity of the brain.

        The boiling water was then injected, and the mass became solid. I waited fifteen minutes to satisfy myself of the absence of coagulum in the internal jugular, which could


Page 485

readily have been recognized by the sense of touch. I then removed this ligature and that around the common carotid. There was no paralysis and no change in the pupils during or after the operation. The patient made an uninterrupted recovery, has been kept under observation, and now, after more than five years, is entirely well. There is no suggestion of a tumor or swelling in the neck, the two sides being symmetrical and normal.


Page 486

V
DEMONSTRATION BY EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES ON ANIMALS AND BY OPERATIONS ON HUMAN BEINGS OF THE PROCESS OF PERMANENT ARTERIAL OCCLUSION AFTER DELIGATION

        I PRESENTED to the New York Pathological Society, on April 26, 1882, a series of specimens which showed the results obtained by the use of broad animal ligatures applied to arteries in continuity. One of these specimens was the common carotid artery of a woman, which I tied in September, 1881, using the sciatic nerve of a calf which had been made asceptic by treatment in carbolic-acid solution. This tape-like ligature was not quite one-fourth of an inch in width. The artery was tied just tightly enough to arrest entirely the circulation without doing violence to the inner elastic layer. The patient died seven months after the operation from an intercurrent disease. The artery was completely occluded in the area compressed by the ligature, and its continuity was unbroken. There was a slight depression, one-fourth of an inch in width, which marked the exact location of the ligature, every other trace of which had disappeared.

        I presented at the same meeting the carotid and subclavian arteries of another patient, which I had tied with a broad ligature made of ox aorta after the method of Mr. Richard Barwell, of London. This operation had been done for the cure of aneurism of the ascending segment of the aorta, which operation had proved successful. The patient


Page 487

died one year later from entero-colitis. The occlusion of the arteries was complete, and the conditions the same as in the case first reported.

        I also presented the carotid artery of a large dog tied experimentally with the nerve ligature, similar to that used in the case of the woman above reported. The animal was killed five weeks later, and, as shown, the artery was completely occluded and the continuity of the inner layer seemingly unbroken.

        In another specimen the carotid artery of a horse was shown. In the application of this ligature, the lumen of the vessel was intentionally not entirely occluded, permitting a portion of the blood current to pass through. Mounted sections of these arteries showed active proliferation in all the normal cells of the arterial wall, most marked in the connective tissue group. THEY DEMONSTRATED THAT ARTERIAL OCCLUSION WAS THE DIRECT RESULT OF CELL PROLIFERATION AND THE RESULTING FIBRILLATION AND CONTRACTION OF THE NEW CELLS OF THE INFLAMMATORY PROCESS CAUSED BY THE TRAUMATISM OR IRRITATION OF THE CONSTRICTING BAND OR LIGATURE.1

        Scarpa had advanced the idea many years before that it was not necessary to constrict an artery with a ligature forcibly enough to break even the inner elastic layer. Jameson, of Baltimore, with this same idea in mind, had later recommended broad animal ligatures made of deer-tendon, but the fact that the clot was an accident of rather than a factor in arterial occlusion after the ligature, and that closure was due to cell proliferation, was now for the first time demonstrated.


1 Published in the transactions of the New York Pathological Society, 1882; Medical Record, July 22, 1882; and in Wyeth's Text-book on Surgery, 1887, p. 171.

Page 488

        When I found in the work of Ballance and Edmonds on Ligation in Continuity no mention of these researches, addressed to them a letter calling their attention to it, and received the following reply:

LONDON, ENGLAND, September 24, 1894
.

DEAR SIR,--

        We are much obliged for your kind letter with respect to our book. Its main conclusion is identical with that at which you had arrived long before. We congratulate you on the result of your ligations.

Yours very truly,

CHARLES A. BALLANCE,
WALTER EDMONDS.



Page 489

VI
CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY OF THE EFFECT OF STREPTOCOCCUS AND PYOGENIC INFECTION UPON SARCOMA

        JOSEPH PHILLIPS, twenty-eight years old, of Gainesville, Texas, came under my observation in 1884, with the following history:

        A year previous he had received a blow on the abdomen over the right iliac region, which was followed by induration and the development of a neoplasm. At the time of the examination the tumor was four by six inches in surface measurement and about three and one-half inches in thickness. On account of the involvement of the abdominal wall it was found impossible to remove it. A section extending almost entirely through the mass was excised, and examined by Dr. William H. Welch and two other competent pathologists. The diagnosis of each was spindle-cell sarcoma. Having noticed in a current medical periodical the report of a case of sarcoma said to have been cured by the direct injection into its substance of Fowler's solution of arsenic, I advised this treatment, and began with injections in two or more portions of the mass of from one to three minims of the solution, gradually increasing the quantity to as much as ten minims. These were repeated daily for four or five days, then every other day for about ten days. They became so painful that at the patient's request the treatment was discontinued.


Page 490

        The gradually increasing pain was occasioned no doubt by a pyogenic infection which had supervened in and near several of the punctures. This spread over the entire tumor, which became red and swollen, and pitted on pressure. The skin did not have the glazed or "stove-polish" appearance of erysipelas, but rather the look of a severe dermatitis. The infection proved to be in part pyogenic, and several incisions were necessary to permit the free discharge of pus. The patient suffered very considerably from the high temperatures due to aseptic absorption, but after a period of about two weeks the swelling began to diminish in size, and with this there was a general improvement in his condition. Four months later his physician, Dr. A. H. Conson, of Gainesville, informed me that the tumor had entirely disappeared. The patient regained his former condition of health and survived, without recurrence, eighteen years, and until a few days before his death from acute pneumonia was hale and hearty, his weight at that time being one hundred and seventy pounds.

        So far as I am able to learn this was the first known case of a cure of sarcoma by an infective process other than erysipelas, and this experience has since been confirmed in a number of instances, one of the most remarkable and instructive of which is the following:

        A man from Augusta, Georgia, aged thirty-five, consulted me in 1893 in regard to a large intra-abdominal tumor occupying the right hypochondriac region. He was anemic, greatly emaciated, and had the marked cachexia of a malignant growth. On account of ascites he had been tapped on three occasions, and I removed at one operation five gallons of fluid from the peritoneal cavity. With the collapse of the abdominal wall there was felt a hard, round,


Page 491

slightly movable tumor, four or five inches in diameter, which was exposed by a longitudinal incision of about six inches. To the touch the tumor was firm, slightly elastic, and occupied the space between the stomach and the liver, having developed from the gastro-hepatic omentum. It was of a reddish-brown color, and covered in front with a network of large vessels.

        On account of its vascularity and the feeble condition of the patient I did not venture to remove a section for microscopic examination, but from its location and microscopic appearance I have no doubt that it was a sarcoma. The edges of the abdominal incision were retracted so as to permit about one-third of the anterior surface of the mass to be delivered into the wound, while sterile gauze was inserted around the edges to secure adhesions and to prevent any general peritoneal infection from the exposed mass, which was now covered with loose gauze. Three days later this packing was removed, and the wound and the exposed surface of the tumor were permitted to become infected. Suppuration was soon established, the dressings were changed daily, and within two weeks' time there was a noticeable diminution in the size of the mass and an improvement in the patient's general condition. This wound was kept open and allowed to suppurate for about two months, at the end of which time, as well as I could estimate, the neoplasm had diminished about one-half its original size.

        After the wound healed the shrinkage continued, and six months after the operation it had disappeared. The patient's general health became better from day to day. Five years later I operated on him for hemorrhoids. A few years after his recovery he married, and is the father of a


Page 492

number of children, and to-day, after a lapse of more than twenty years, is in the enjoyment of excellent health. The ascites was evidently caused by direct pressure of the heavy tumor upon the portal vein. Its delivery into the wound and subsequent adhesions to the anterior abdominal wound lifted it and held it, leaving the vein free.

        There was admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in 1882, in the service of my colleague, Dr. A. G. Gerster, a young woman suffering with sarcoma of the leg, for which an amputation was made just below the knee. A recurrence took place, followed by a hip-joint disarticulation. The disease again appeared in the stump, developing rapidly into an extensive, cauliflower-like mass which became accidentally infected with erysipelas. This infection ran the usual course of erysipelas, during the progress of which the tumor began to diminish in size and eventually entirely disappeared. In 1907, more than twenty-five years after this experience, when this patient was last heard from, she was entirely well, and still actively engaged in her work as a school-teacher.

        The experiments of Fehleisen and others by direct infection with the streptococcus erysipelatis have confirmed the result in the case above narrated; but as far as I am able to inform myself the two cases here reported are the first on record in which a cure of sarcoma was effected by pyogenic infection, the one accidental, the other intentional.

        In a paper on the "Frequency of Recurrence of Sarcoma, with Special Reference to Amputation at the Hip-joint on Account of this Neoplasm," read before the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery in April, 1901, I submitted an analysis of the results in one hundred and ninety-one amputations at this joint, by my "bloodless method," on account of


Page 493

sarcoma chiefly affecting the femur, but in a few instances involving the other connective tissues of the thigh and the hip. I was profoundly impressed with the frequency of recurrence in remote organs. In the fifty-three recurring cases in which the histories were accepted as reliable the seat of metastasis was in the lung alone in twenty-three, lung and bronchi one, lung and pleura one, lung and abdomen one, pleura two, abdominal viscera three, liver one, abdomen and chest one, in the stump ten, stump and mesenteric glands one, stump and general metastasis one, stump and iliac-fossa one, lymphatic glands of groin one, sacro-iliac synchondrosis one, location not given four, and in one instance apoplexy was given as the cause of death.

        My conclusions were: first, that the cells or germs, prior to amputation, had been carried from the original focus of the disease, lodged in these various remote organs, and there awaited conditions favorable to their further proliferation; second, that after amputation (or extirpation of sarcoma) the patient should be subjected to the immunizing influence of a streptococcus and pyogenic infection. This I practise in all instances, and in a fair proportion with gratifying results. I rely so confidently upon the beneficial effects of this treatment that instead of amputating high up at the hip-joint, as I did formerly, I now divide the bone in the non-involved portion within six inches of the location of the tumor.

        The operation is done with the usual aseptic precautions, and the flaps sutured, leaving about one inch of an angle open, through which a twist of gauze half an inch thick is inserted, one end deep in the wound, the other protruding. At the end of the second week the gauze twist is replaced by another, which has been soaked in fresh culture of pyogenic


Page 494

streptococcus. The patient's temperature is kept at from 100° to 103° Fahrenheit for three weeks by reinfection when necessary. Then a rest for ten days, and a final reinfection practised for two more weeks, when the sinus is allowed to close.

        After removal of a sarcoma of the soft tissues the same method is followed.

        While in the present state of our knowledge a large proportion of cases of sarcoma will end fatally, without regard to the treatment instituted, every case, after removal of the original focus when possible (or without this in nonoperative cases), should be treated with the alternative of mixed infection with the pyogenic streptococcus cultures. That in a certain proportion of cases this injection destroys the cells or germs already deposited remote from the parent neoplasm and effects a permanent cure I have no doubt. A very considerable list of such cures in my own experience has emphasized this conviction.


Page 495

VII
THE SURGICAL ANATOMY AND SURGERY OF THE TIBIO-TARSAL ARTICULATION, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO A MODIFICATION OF SYME'S AMPUTATION 1

        PROFESSOR STEPHEN SMITH in his clinical lectures at Bellevue and in his Operative Surgery in 1874 stated that on account of sloughing of the inner-posterior flap after Syme's method of disarticulation at the ankle-joint as then performed, the necessity for reamputation was three per cent. greater than after any other amputation. In the effort to discover the cause of this sloughing I made eighty-seven dissections of the region involved, with special regard to the distribution of the blood-supply to the heel. It was demonstrated that the line of incision well back over the point of the heel as commonly advised and practised in this amputation divided the vessels so far back that the ligature occluded the recurrent branches which were essential to the nourishment of the flap. The modification advised was to carry the incision across the sole well forward, making a longer posterior and a shorter anterior flap.

        The modified procedure is as follows:

        With the foot held at an angle of ninety degrees to the
1 This essay was awarded the annual prize of one hundred dollars, offered by Professor James R. Wood, to the Alumni Association of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College for "The best essay on any subject connected with surgical pathology or operative surgery," February, 1876. The committee were Professors W. H. Van Buren, Austin Flint, Sr., and Alpheus B. Crosby.


Page 496

axis of the leg, place the thumb at the tip of one malleolus, and the index at the other, and from the center of the malleolus internus carry an incision directly across the sole of the foot to a point one-fourth of an inch anterior to the tip of the malleolus externus. This incision should divide all the tissues to the bones, and its perpendicular portion should descend in a direction slightly anterior to the axis of the tibia. The ends of this cut are united by a second, which arches sharply upward about on the line of section of the bones, and should also divide tendons and all intervening structures, opening into the joint. The foot should now be firmly grasped and extended, so as to make tense the anterior ligament of the ankle, which is easily divided. Carrying the knife to either side of the articular surfaces of the astragalus, the lateral ligaments are cut, and the joint thus widely exposed. An assistant now holds and depresses the foot, while the operator carefully dissects the tissues closely from the astragalus and calcaneum. Care should be taken not to bruise the flap by too great traction. In dissecting along the inner surface of the ankle the knife should be kept close to the bones, so that when the lesser process of the calcaneum is reached it will slide behind and under this process, passing between it and the flexor tendon and the vessels. If this precaution is not taken the arteries may be wounded and the nutrition of the flap seriously impaired.

        As the dissection proceeds the foot is further depressed, and the tendo Achillis separated from its insertion into the tuberosity of the calcaneum, in doing which care must be taken not to buttonhole the flap. The posterior portion of the os calcis may now be brought through the joint and the dissection continued in this direction or finished by


Page 497

working back along the under surface of this bone. After the foot is removed the flaps are lifted from the tibia and fibula until a section of these bones can be made just on the level of the anterior margin of the tibia. It is not necessary to remove the articular surface. The flaps should now be trimmed and fitted, and the vessels tied. As the sutures are applied it will be noticed that there is a redundancy of tissue in the long flap, leaving a cup-shaped cavity; but this can be thoroughly drained from the angles of the wound, and disappears when the stump is healed.


Page 498

VIII
TRANSPLANTING SKIN FROM THE ABDOMEN OR OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY TO THE HAND OR FOREARM--TRANSFERRING THE GRAFT BY THIS MEANS TO THE FACE, NECK, OR ELSEWHERE

        IN the case of a boy who had suffered a very severe burn on the wrist I devised an operation for the transplantation of skin (en masse), from the abdomen or other available parts of the body, which has given great satisfaction. As far as I have been able to inform myself it was a novel procedure. For a width of from two to three inches, and for the entire circumference of the wrist, the integument had been completely destroyed by the ignition of a celluloid cuff. The tendons were in general adherent to the dense cicatricial belt. This was entirely dissected away, freeing the flexor and extensor tendons and the nerves.

        To fill in this extensive deficiency a cuff of skin was taken from the abdomen. The forearm, flexed at ninety degrees, was laid across the belly in a position to insure the minimum of discomfort; and just beneath the location of the dissection at the wrist parallel perpendicular incisions as wide apart as the area to be covered by the graft were made through the skin and subcutaneous fat. Leaving both ends attached, this long band, or ribbon, of skin was dissected up, removing all the subcutaneous fat for the central two inches. Careful measurements were made to insure the proper width and length of the cuff.


Page 499

        The wound from which the flap was raised was closed at once by silk-worm gut sutures. When a wide area is uncovered it may be necessary to dissect subcutaneously on either side in order to approximate the edges without too great tension. The hand, resting upon a pad of dry sterile gauze, was then carried beneath the flap, the raw edges of which were carefully stitched to the edges of the skin upon the dorsum radii. A plaster-of-Paris dressing was applied to within two inches of the flap to immobolize the arm and forearm, and an aseptic dressing and adhesive plasters were utilized to hold the hand and wrist in proper position. The operator should be sure that there is no tension on the flap at any point.

        It is a wise precaution to have the hand held firmly by an assistant until the patient is entirely conscious, and to apply a light dressing, which permits of frequent inspections. On the tenth day this patient was again anesthetized, the flap divided near each attachment, and the stitches were inserted to complete the cuff. It was necessary to scrape off the excessive granulations on the wrist dissection and some of the subcutaneous fat on the flap, since the borrowed skin is apt to be too thick. The stubs were turned back and sutured in the angles of the wound on the abdomen from which they had been lifted. It requires about ten days to secure a safe union with the formation of new vessels between the flap and the tissues of the wrist sufficient to insure vitality.

        In one of the most difficult and interesting plastic operations I have ever performed this method of procedure met every requirement. All the integument of the back of the hand and each finger, including the five nails, had been scraped or torn off in the mangle of a laundry, leaving


Page 500

nothing but the bones and some frazzles of tendons. The skin on the palmar aspect of the hand and fingers was normal, but the four fingers were welded into one mass of adhesions with no interdigital spaces. All cicatricial tissue was removed by a tedious dissection, the fingers split apart, and the two central extensor tendons not destroyed were split, and the borrowed halves stitched to the terminal phalanx of the index and little finger, which had been entirely denuded. A great square sheet of skin large enough to roof over the entire dorsum of the hand and fingers was now lifted from the belly after the manner just described. This was so large that the underlying edges could be only partially approximated. The fingers were now stretched as wide apart as possible, and the blanket flap was closely sutured along the edge of the skin incision across the back of the hand or wrist. Stitches were inserted near the tips and on the two sides of each finger, to anchor them and the flap in place.

        On the tenth day the flap was cut loose, and the freshly divided edges were carefully stitched to the freshened edges of the incision along the outer, or radial, side of the thumb and the ulnar margin of the little finger. As much of the wound on the abdomen as possible was now closed by turning back the stubs of the flap. Ten days later the flap halfway between the thumb and the index finger and the little and ring fingers was split, and the edges stitched into proper place, and after the lapse of another ten days the two remaining fingers were treated in the same way. The result was remarkably satisfactory. The entire transplanted flap survived, each finger was perfectly covered, and a useful hand was secured.

        By this method a piece of skin of suitable dimensions may


Page 501

be temporarily grafted upon the back of the hand or wrist until its vitality in the new position is assured, then freed from the abdomen, thigh, or back, and carried to the face, neck, or wherever necessity may require. After being held in this position until the graft has taken, the remnant may be restored to its original location.


Page 502

IX
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE MOUTH, NASO-PHARYNX, AND ANTRUM MAXILLARIS

        IN the operation for the correction of complete harelip with cleft of the alveolus and hard palate, the flattening of the alænasi cannot be properly corrected without the formation of a normal maxillary or alveolar arch upon which the wings of the nostrils must be supported. In the majority of cases this wide gap in the alveolus in front can be filled by forcible fracture of the projecting intermaxillary bone, which is then carried into line with the normal alveolar arch and there sutured until osseous union is secured.

        In certain, fortunately rare and neglected, cases in which the intermaxillary bone is undeveloped the following procedure, which I have practised satisfactorily in two instances, may be carried out: The inner surface of the intermaxillary bone and the opposing surface of the receding alveolus of the other side are freshened by slicing off the mucous covering. Between two of the teeth on the short side a chisel is introduced and the bone freely divided upward. A wire or heavy silk cord is inserted in this fissure, and by strong traction the anterior portion of the superior maxilla is fractured and carried forward, where it is wired in contact with the opposite freshened surface.

        Removal of the Lower Jaw from Within the Mouth.--In the case of S. J., thirty-eight years of age, at the Mt. Sinai


Page 503

Hospital, on January 6, 1890, I removed one-half of the lower jaw, disarticulating at the temporo-maxillary joint by the following method:

        The orbicularis oris was widely dilated by four strong silk threads inserted equidistant and used as retractors. The bone was divided with the Gigli saw at the symphisis menti. As the disease was a simple necrosis, the periosteum was carefully raised, the insertion of the temporal muscle divided with the scissors, and the bone disarticulated by twisting, which ruptured the capsular ligament and prevented hemorrhage from the inferior dental artery. The wound was packed at once with sterile gauze, which was removed two days after the operation and not renewed. As soon as the operation was completed the teeth of the remaining half of the lower jaw were wired to those of the upper maxilla, preventing inward displacement, until the patient three weeks later was ready to be fitted with an artificial apparatus. This apparatus, made by a dentist, enabled the patient to keep the remaining teeth in line and to use them satisfactorily for purposes of mastication. A very satisfactory new bone filled the periosteal shell and prevented serious permanent deformity.

        This operation was original, but, as I discovered later, not novel. In looking over the papers of the late Dr. J. Marion Sims in the preparation of an address upon his life-work, I found that before chloroform or ether had been discovered he had performed this same operation, his case having been published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences for October, 1847. He had displayed the wonderful genius which characterized this great man by preliminary division of the inferior dental nerve, as it entered the canal in the lower jaw, "in order to render the operation


Page 504

painless. There are several considerations to recommend this operation in preference to the usual one with its extensive incisions. (1) There is no external mutilation. (2) As the third branch of the fifth pair of nerves was divided at the outset of the operation, its subsequent stages were comparatively free from pain. (3) As no important blood-vessels are cut, no ligatures are required. (4) There is no trouble with the after-treatment. (5) It is just as easy of performance as the old operation."

        A New Procedure for the Removal of Otherwise Inoperable Tumors from the Posterior Pharynx.--The following operation was performed on December 12, 1894, in the case of a man twenty years of age who was in extremis from a large neoplasm of the naso-pharynx and antrum maxillare, which caused frequent hemorrhages which had left him practically exsanguinated. The operation was witnessed by a number of distinguished surgeons and laryngologists, among them the late Drs. Henry D. Noyes, R. P. Lincoln, and Drs. J. B. Emerson, Robert C. Myles, and R. H. M. Dawbarn.

        As a precautionary measure a vein was opened in the arm in order to be ready for saline injection, which was later done by Dr. Dawbarn. An incision was made, beginning along the temporal ridge, two inches back of the outer angle of the orbit, following the temporal ridge to the edge of the orbital cavity, along the frontal process of the malar bone, curving parallel with and one-eighth of an inch from the orbital margin, until the point of the knife reached the infra-orbital foramen; then downward to the level of the ala nasi and outward through the cheek until the point of the knife neared the opening of Steno's duct.

        Hemorrhage was carefully stopped throughout the entire


Page 505

incision by pressure and by ligating with catgut the larger vessels which were divided. The soft parts were in no way dissected up from the bone, except when it became necessary to enter the orbital cavity in its outer half, where the tissues were carefully dissected away from the bone and the eye displaced toward the median line, until the anterior commissure of the spheno-maxillary fissure came into view. I then passed into this a keyhole saw with the teeth turned upward, and rapidly sawed through the junction of the malar with the frontal bone.

        The saw was then turned over, with the teeth directed downward; and, beginning at the same point, the floor of the orbital cavity was sawed through until the antrum of Highmore was bisected as far down as the level of the root of the teeth of that side. A hook was then placed in the outer angle of the orbit, and a quick, sharp jerk fractured the zygomatic process of the temporal bone, displacing the side of the face, completely exposing the antrum of Highmore, the zygomatic fossa, and the pterygo- and spheno-maxillary fissures. The hemorrhage was profuse, but was controlled by rapidly packing sponges into the wound and making firm compression. The pulse jumped from eighty to one hundred and forty, and the patient seemed about to expire in collapse. At this juncture one pint of saline solution, already prepared, and kept so hot that the hand could scarcely be borne in it with comfort (110° to 120° F.), was allowed to run into the vein.

        The heart rallied at once, and the pulse came down to eighty-five beats to the minute. The tumor was again exposed, and with a periosteal elevator lifted out of the antrum of Highmore, its attachments to the pterygoid process of the sphenoid bone being separated by removing


Page 506

the periosteum. By opening the patient's mouth and thus depressing the coronoid process of the inferior maxilla, the pterygomaxillary fissure and the zygomatic fossa were well exposed. The whole antrum was packed with a long wick of iodoform gauze, which was allowed to project at the anterior inferior angle of the wound. The bone, which had been temporarily displaced with the soft parts adherent, was then brought back into position and held there by stitching the soft parts along the line of incision. A bandage and compress were applied in order to maintain approximation. No sutures were inserted in the bones. The patient made an uninterrupted recovery. Nineteen years after the operation he is entirely well. The bones are united in their normal position; he has perfect use and function of the eyeball, and, although the filaments of the facial nerve were divided, he still has very fair motion of the orbicularis palpebrarum muscle. Disfigurement from the scar is insignificant.

        Besides the novelty of this procedure there are three points of interest. First, the character of the anesthetic, morphine being almost entirely relied upon. The amount of chloroform taken was only two drachms in an hour and forty minutes of narcosis. I have done a number of major operations about the respiratory tract with this combination of morphine and chloroform or morphine and ether, and in one instance of removal of the larynx I used nothing but morphine and obtained complete narcosis and anesthesia, the operation lasting an hour and thirty-two minutes. The patient remained perfectly quiescent during the operation, suffering no shock and with no memory of pain.

        The second important point is the value of transfusion with a salt solution to prevent collapse and shock under


Page 507

great and sudden loss of blood. During this operation five pints in all were allowed to run into the veins, and the blood became so thin that practically salt water ran out of the vessels in the line of the incision, showing the red corpuscles were almost exhausted; and yet we were able to make the patient's pulse drop from 130 and 140 to 80 or 90 beats per minute, full and strong, showing that the heart had plenty of volume to act upon and so did well.

        Finally, in the persistence of motion in the orbicular muscle of the lids after division of the branches of the seventh nerve.

        For the following study of the nervous distribution of the orbicularis palpebrarum I am indebted to Professor J. A. Bodine, of the New York Polyclinic:

        "The orbicular portion of the muscle is supplied solely by the facial nerve. This portion, however, is not necessary to the act of closing the eye. In fact, the palpebral portion is quite distinct from the orbicular, and its action is habitually involuntary. It receives nerve impulses from the sympathetic plexus around the cavernous sinus. In addition to the nerve fibers from the seventh, the upper lid may and does get motor impulse thus: the ophthalmic, or first, division of the fifth receives fibers from the fourth and third, and frequently from the sixth, prior to its division into nasal, frontal, and lachrymal. Some or all of these motor fibers may go with the lachrymal branch of the ophthalmic. After the lachrymal supplies the tear-gland it sends fibers to the upper lid. (Gray, page 760.)

        "The lachrymal not infrequently arises by two filaments, one from the ophthalmic and one from the sixth nerve; thus the upper lid would get motor impulse from the abducens (sixth).


Page 508

        "Again, if the ophthalmic has received motor fibers from the fourth, third, and sixth, as already stated, the supraorbital branch of the frontal nerve, which goes partly to the upper lid, would carry motor influence, and from this same (frontal) nerve the lower lid could be supplied through the infratrochlear.

        "Of course the act of lifting the lid depends upon the levator palpebræ supplied by the third nerve."

        Fortunately, so formidable an operation as the one just detailed will rarely be called for. The vast majority of neoplasms of the naso-pharynx can be successfully and satisfactorily reached through an incision directly into the antrum of Highmore.


Page 509

X
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE SURGERY OF THE BONES-- TRANSPLANTATION OF THE PROXIMAL END OF THE ULNA TO THE DISTAL END OF THE RADIUS IN AN UNUNITED COLLES' FRACTURE

        W. M. Y., at the age of nine, suffered a compound right Colles' fracture, which, becoming infected, resulted in nonunion, destruction of the epiphysis, and arrest of growth, with extensive atrophy of the proximal end of the radius.

        Six years later the right hand was deflected sharply toward the radial side, and, having no bony support, hung loose like a flail, and was practically useless. The ulna, continuing to grow, was slightly curved in the direction of the radius.

        Operation.--The end of the posterior surface of the distal fragment of the broken radius was freshened by section with a chisel, and the ulna divided with the Gigli saw on the same level. The tissues were separated from the bones anteriorly and posteriorly, and the cut surface of the longer (posterior) portion of the ulna was carried over and wired to the anterior fragment of the radius. The anterior extremity of the ulna was then dropped back, or overlapped one inch to compensate for the accidental shortening of the radius. The contiguous surfaces of the periosteum were lifted, and the bone chipped with the chisel in order to excite osteogenesis, and a silver wire-collar was thrown around


Page 510

the opposing sections to hold them firmly in contact. This manipulation carried the hand in a straight position, and at the same time brought the spindle-shaped atrophied posterior fragment of the radius in contact with the anterior fragment from which it had long been separated.

        Subsequent History.--Two years after the operation the radiograph showed perfect fusion between the two fragments of the ulna, and between the bone and the anterior fragment of the broken radius. It also shows the very remarkably improved condition of the proximal portion of the radius. This is no longer spindle-shaped, but, having reunited itself to the anterior fragment proper, it has very appreciably thickened as a result of its increased function.

        The hand has been restored to usefulness, and the arm has become strong, so that the lad can use it for practically any purpose. While supination and pronation have been lost, rotary movements at the shoulder and elbow have been acquired and have greatly lessened the inconvenience of the loss of rotation in the forearm.

        A letter received five years after the operation says, "The developments in the arm have been most remarkable and surprising."

        Green-stick Fracture of the Radius in the Posterior Third--Extreme Supination of the Posterior and Pronation of the Anterior Fragments--Union in this Position with Complete Loss of Pronation and Supination.--M. C., a Cuban lad, in a fall from a horizontal bar, had injured his forearm. There had been no treatment. The pain suffered at the time gradually disappeared, but when after three or four weeks he tried to use the arm it was discovered that the power of pronation and supination had been lost.

        An X-ray picture showed that there had been a fracture


Page 511

in the posterior third of the radius. As the two bones of the forearm were not in contact at any point, and as there was no muscular paralysis, interosseous union and injury to the nerves were eliminated. A careful study of this case convinced me that there had been a green-stick fracture without displacement of the fragments. The pronator radii teres, no longer opposed by the supinator brevis, had rotated the anterior fragment into complete pronation and fixed it there, while the supinator brevis, acting on the upper end, had rotated that fragment in an opposite direction and held it fixed until bony union at the point of fracture had taken place.

        Under ether the bone was divided at the point of fracture, the ends seized with lion-jaw forceps, and by forcible inward rotation for the upper and outward for the lower end the contracted muscles were divulsed. The ends were held in this corrected position, splints applied, and normal reunion secured with restoration of supination and pronation as complete as before the injury.

        Novel Procedure for Restoring the Anterior Extremity of the Radius.--T. A., a male about twenty-one years of age, in excellent general health, was operated on, November 15, 1890. A 38-caliber-pistol ball entered through the articular surface of the wrist, traversed and destroyed three inches of the carpal end of the radius. Some of the fragments were carried away and lost, while others were embedded in the contiguous muscles and under the skin. These were carefully removed, placed in a solution of warm mercuric chloride (1 to 3,000) and kept at about 100° Fahrenheit. A hole was drilled through the proximal end of the radius and the scaphoid and through each of the dozen fragments of the shattered bone, and these were threaded like beads on


Page 512

a silver wire secured first to the scaphoid and then to the radius above. All of these fragments survived and fused, and by their presence stimulated osteogenesis, and formed a new and useful radius.

        Fracture of the Hip in Childbirth.--January 26, 1887, I was called to see an infant just born. The accoucher in making traction by means of the fingers inserted into the flexures at the groin, in a case of breech presentation, in order to make a rapid delivery, had caused a fracture of the left femur immediately below the lesser trochanter. The fracture was very evident, for when extension was made on the leg the upper fragment projected forward, the end being felt just beneath the skin. The position of this fragment was evidently due to the still contracted condition of the psoas and iliacus muscles, since the thigh had as yet not been extended. The only position of the thigh which brought the fragments in line and in apposition was by flexing it firmly against the abdomen just as it had been in utero.

        In this position, with the leg at an angle of ninety degrees to the thigh, firm rolls of cotton batting were applied along the abdomen and on either side of the thigh. While extension was made, the lower portion of the chest, the entire abdomen, and the thigh were included in a plaster-of-Paris cuirass. The bandages did not encircle the thigh, but included it in the cast which surrounded the body. Plaster bandages were applied to the leg from the ankle to the knee. To secure complete immobility, these were incorporated into the general cuirass. The right leg was left free, and the plaster cut away so as to permit of the necessary attentions to the infant. Firm extension from the flexed knee in an upward direction was made until the plaster hardened.

        At the end of three weeks the dressing was removed, and


Page 513

union without deformity or shortening had resulted. This patient is now a well-developed woman twenty-six years old, and there is no difference in the length or functions of the two extremities.

        To the date of this experience I had not heard or read of this complication. Dr. Edgar Wilkinson, of Hamilton, Bermuda, writes me that he has met with a similar case and carried out with perfect success the exact treatment as given in my book on surgery.


Page 514

XI
HIP-JOINT DISEASE TREATED BY COMBINATION OF HUTCHINSON'S HIGH SHOE AND CRUTCHES AND SAYRE'S LONG EXTENSION SPLINT

        IN October, 1879, I treated my first case of hip-joint disease by adding to the excellent and well-known hip-joint apparatus of Professor Lewis A. Sayre the elevation of the shoe of the well foot and the use of crutches. This method swings the lame leg in the air free from any possible friction of the joint in the act of walking, and at the same time it is protected by the Sayre splint. I have used it in a number of cases with great satisfaction. In one of my later cases a boy of nine years recovered so thoroughly all the functions of the joint that he ran second in a five-mile Marathon race, defeating some twenty competitors. In all these cases of the tuberculous dyscrasia, tuberculin injections as now given at the Polyclinic should be employed.

TREATMENT OF CARIES OF THE LUMBAR SPINE BY CONTINUOUS EXTENSION 1

        Without suspension, as advised when the Sayre solid plaster-of-Paris jacket is applied, the patient stands erect. Over the tightly fitting knit undershirt, two jackets or zones of plaster of Paris are applied, the lower edge of the upper being just above, while the upper edge of the lower is just
1 Read before the New York County Medical Society, January 27, 1879.


Page 515

below the point of disease. The one catches over and rests on the hips, while the other meets the upward expansion of the chest and scapulæ. As the plaster bandages are setting, three zinc plates about two by four inches (perforated with numerous holes to make them fasten readily) are placed in each section of the jacket. To the center of each plate is securely riveted a flattened staple of iron. One of these is fastened over the spinal column above and below, one under each arm, and one directly underneath these over the hips. These plates are securely held in position by several turns of plaster bandage, passing alternately above and below the staples, which are left exposed. As soon as the jackets are firmly set the extension bars are applied.

        These bars consist of a shoulder at each end, and a solid section cut with cogs and grooves, which telescopes into a hollow section, with a key for lengthening or shortening, and a spring-catch to hold it fixed at any point. This is the exact mechanism used in Dr. Sayre's knee-joint splint. The shoulders are caught in the staples riveted to the immovable plates, and the requisite extension is secured by means of the key. In this way it can be graduated exactly, the weight of the upper half of the body being transferred from the diseased spinal column to the supporting bars anchored in the upper and lower segments of the jacket.

FEMORAL HERNIA. A NEW AND SUCCESSFUL METHOD OF OBLITERATING THE FEMORAL CANAL

        I have employed for many years the method of MacEwen of folding into a mass a portion of the sac of an inguinal hernia, and of holding it between the inner surface of the abdominal wall and the outer surface of the peritoneum


Page 516

lining that wall. This procedure entirely obliterates the hernial sac at its neck. As soon as I became acquainted with this procedure I began to use it in all my operations on the sac of a femoral hernia, until in 1903 I devised the following modification which I have used in every subsequent operation for femoral hernia; in each instance without recurrence, so far as I am able to inform myself.

        Instead of folding the sac over upon itself and holding it fixed between the layer of the peritoneum, which lines the abdominal wall in front and the muscle, I turn it completely outside in by the following method: After the hernial sac has been properly exposed, opened, and the reduction effected, it is cut off about one-half to three-fourths of an inch distal to the outer margin of the femoral canal, an the stump and neck of the sac is carefully separated by dry dissection from the femoral and iliac veins, and the other contiguous structures. A number two chromicized ten-day catgut suture twelve inches long is carried through one side of the sac near the edge and the suture tied. The nearly straight Hagedorn needle, four or five inches long and very slightly curved at the point, remains threaded with this catgut loop, while a second needle is attached to the free end and is used to fasten the suture in the ring of the sac exactly opposite the one first inserted.

        The index finger of the most convenient hand is now carried into the sac, through the canal into the peritoneal cavity, and a careful examination made by the touch to assure the operator that there are no adhesions near the internal orifice of the sac. The finger is then withdrawn, and the tip of the long needle, held firmly in the holder which clasps it near the eye, is buried or well depressed into the skin of the palmar surface of the end of the finger, which,


Page 517

serving as a guide, is then again carried into the sac and through the canal, the needle remaining steadily fixed until its point is placed safely against the inner surface of the abdominal peritoneum, where it is made to transfix this and the muscular wall, and is brought through the integument at a point an inch or more beyond the upper level of the internal femoral ring or mouth of the canal. Traction on the double catgut loop now turns the sac completely outside in, entirely obliterating it. It is held safely in position by tying the two ends of the divided loop over a pencil of gauze. I have found no difficulty in avoiding the spermatic cord or the inferior epigastric vessels.

        A class-room illustration of this technique is readily made by seizing and holding the edge of the coat-sleeve of one arm with the hand of that side, and then removing the coat, thus turning the sleeve completely inside out.

        The Author's Bandage Covering the Heel and Foot with a Single Roller.--This method of bandaging the entire foot with a single roller was devised in 1875. Begin by placing bits of absorbent cotton between the toes. Take a roller from two to two and a half inches wide, and about two yards long. Lay the end of the bandage parallel with the axis of the leg, half-way between the two malleoli in front, and carry the roller by the inner side to the heel, so that the middle of the bandage will be over the center of the heel's convexity, and on to the starting-point. Next, make another turn around the ankle, carrying the posterior edge of the bandage over the center of the turn that has just preceded it, and make one or two other turns in front of this until the heel is completely covered.

        The bandage is then carried around the heel in the same direction, so that its anterior border rests on the middle


Page 518

of the first turn, and the roller is carried from the fibular side of the heel across the dorsum of the foot to the tibial side of the great toe. It then travels under the bases of the toes to the little toe, making a couple of complete turns around the foot at this point, and when the roller has again reached the fibular side of the little toe it is made to cross the dorsum of the foot obliquely to the tibial side of the heel, keeping the lower edge of the bandage about a quarter of an inch above the bottom of the heel. Repeat this figure-of-eight turn until the entire foot is thoroughly concealed. It is best to cut with the scissors each turn of the roller about half through just when it crosses the front of the ankle, so that the accumulation of the bandage at this point may not interfere with the movements of the ankle-joint. The crossings of the figure-of-eight bandage on the dorsum of the foot should be kept a little to the fibular side of the median line.

        A Simple Device for the Prevention of Snoring.--Snoring is the noise caused in the act of breathing by the vibration or fluttering of the pendulous soft-palate or curtain which hangs down from the posterior margin of the roof of the mouth. It is possible for the air, which is being carried into the lungs in breathing, to pass not only through the nostrils--the natural and proper way--but through the mouth at the same time. If one will keep the lips closely compressed, and allow the air to pass in through the nostrils, it is practically impossible to snore. The same is true in a lesser degree if the nostrils are closed, and breathing is only through the mouth. The curtain will scarcely vibrate or flutter in a single current or stream of air; but when the mouth is open the two currents are rushing in, and the hanging curtain, caught between them, is thrown into audible vibration--and this is snoring.


Page 519

        It follows that any device which prevents the lower jaw during the relaxation of sleep from dropping down and thus opening the mouth will shut out the one unnatural current of air and prevent snoring.

        I devised an apparatus which consists of a simple cap fitting the head snugly; a cap of soft material fitting the chin; and a piece of elastic webbing tacked to the chin-piece and to the head-cap near the ears. The webbing can be made more or less tense as may be required to effect the closure of the mouth. It is so simple that any one can make it, and should recommend itself to those individuals who, in the toils of this unfortunate habit, are a nuisance to everybody except themselves.


Page 520

XII
VERSES

TO MY MOTHER


                         Deal gently with her, Time! these many years
                         Of life have brought more smiles with them than tears.
                         Lay not thy hand too harshly on her now,
                         But trace decline so slowly on her brow
                         That (like a sunset of the northern clime,
                         Where twilight lingers in the summer-time,
                         And fades at last into the silent night,
                         Ere one may note the passing of the light)
                         So may she pass--since 'tis the common lot--
                         As one who, resting, sleeps, and knows it not. From the Century Magazine, January, 1902.

MY SWEETHEART'S FACE


                         My kingdom is my sweetheart's face,
                         And these the boundaries I trace:
                         Northward her forehead fair;
                         Beyond a wilderness of auburn hair;
                         A rosy cheek to east and west;
                         Her little mouth,
                         The sunny south,
                         It is the south that I love best.


Page 520a

        

Illustration

MY SWEETHEART'S FACE


Page 521


                         Her eyes, two crystal lakes,
                         Rippling with light,
                         Caught from the sun by day,
                         The stars by night.
                         The dimples in
                         Her cheeks and chin
                         Are snares which Love hath set,
                         And I have fallen in! From Harper's Magazine, June, 1892. Printed by permission in A New Library of Poetry and Song by William Cullen Bryant, 1895.

TO A SOUTHERN BELLE MARRIED TO A FRENCH NOBLEMAN


                         Beneath the sky
                         Where you and I
                         Were born; where beauty grows,
                         Up from the sod
                         At touch of God
                         There sprang a stately rose.


                         It grew, and men in wonderment
                         Beheld the beauteous thing--
                         Alas! for Hope which wooing went.
                         And Love which sorrowing,
                         Learns that the flower it loves the best,
                         The one it guards the tenderest,
                         The hand of Fate transplants!
                         Our Southern rose
                         Now sweetly grows
                         Among the hills of France.


Page 522


                         Go search the gardens of Vendée
                         Which poets long have sung--
                         Go cull the flowers that blush the hills
                         Of Picardie among.
                         Land of romance!
                         Fair land of France!
                         With all your glorious flowers,
                         Lilies of old
                         And cloth of gold,
                         We needs must lend you ours!
                         Right well, I guess,
                         For loveliness,
                         For beauty in repose,
                         There is no lily in all France
                         Can match our Southern rose. 1882.

THE LETTER L
A CHARADE


                         I am not in the earth so fair,
                         Nor in the deep, deep sea;
                         Nor deem me with the powers of air--
                         They hold no place for me.


                         And yet 'tis strange if o'er the sea
                         You tread a foreign strand
                         You'll find, however quick you be,
                         I am the first to land.


                         I never yet was known in sin
                         But put an end to evil;


Page 523


                         Still for all this there had not been
                         Without me hell nor devil.


                         Now, if you fain would know my name,
                         Come read it on my vault;
                         Nor think, though I'm so much to blame,
                         I e'er was twice in fault. 1876.

TO A COQUETTE

        Lines written at the request of a friend, to a lady who had coquetted with him and had returned his letters, sending him his dismissal in verse.


                         Fair maid, thou art not fair, which paradox
                         Is truth although a seeming contradiction.
                         And since the truth, alas! thy sex most shocks,
                         I may accuse thee by rehearsing fiction.
                         The story's old. 'Tis of a jar or box
                         Which, under threat of lasting malediction
                         To all mankind, the gods had closed the lid.
                         All caskets else it was allowed to ope,
                         But, being woman, that which was forbid
                         Was just exactly what Pandora did.
                         The story's told. The keyless lock was raped
                         And all of evil that therein was hid,
                         Sorrow and Woe, Death and Despair escaped.
                         Frightened, she slammed the lid and shut in Hope.
                         But thou, more cruel, f air and yet not fair,
                         Let Hope escape and left for me Despair.


Page 524

DU BIST WIE EINE BLUME


                         Du bist wie eine Blume
                         So hold und schön und rein;
                         Ich schau' dich an und Wehmuth
                         Schleicht mir in's Herz hinein.


                         Mir ist, als ob ich die Hände
                         Auf's Haupt dir legen sollt',
                         Betend, dass Gott dich erhalte
                         So rein und schön und hold.

THOU ART AS A FLOWER
(TRANSLATION FROM HEINE)


                         As gentle, pure, and fair
                         As some sweet flower Thou art!
                         I look at Thee and sadness
                         Comes stealing through my heart.


                         And on Thy head I lay
                         My hands with this one prayer,
                         That God may ever keep Thee
                         So gentle, pure, and fair.

DAS HERZ


                         Zwei Kammern hat das Herz,
                         Drin wohnen
                         Die Freude und der Schmerz.


Page 525


                         Wacht Freude in der einen,
                         So schlummert
                         Der Schmerz still in der seinen.


                         O Freude, habe Acht!
                         Sprich leise
                         Dass nicht der Schmerz erwacht!

THE HEART
(TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF NEUMANN)


                         Two chambers has the heart,
                         And Sorrow
                         And Joy dwell there apart.


                         In this, when Joy awakes;
                         In that one,
                         Sorrow its slumber takes.


                         O Joy, thy vigil keep!
                         Speak gently
                         That Sorrow still may sleep.

TO L. E.


                         The rose is dead in June!
                         Untimely death
                         Came ere the summer's noon
                         Or autumn's breath
                         Had withered one fair, spotless leaf of those
                         Sweet charms which made her beauteous as a rose.


Page 526


                         Where was that pity, God,
                         Which watcheth all?--
                         The lilies of the field,
                         The sparrow's fall?
                         Was she not more than these? Or was it best
                         Heaven should reclaim the loved and loveliest?


                         Cypress and yew and Peace!