Col. Klunk's Resignation Accepted - Troops Pass from the Army of the Potomac to Grant - An Incident about Van and Tom - Capt. Bristor's Capture of Spy - Capt. Moffat's Capture of Gilmore's Men - Lieut. Blaney's Observation - An Incident Concerning Adjt. Caldwell - Mrs. Bengough a Prisoner - Her Story.
(178) Col. Klunk during the time the regiment was straggling about in the Cumberland Valley, sent in his resignation, upon the plea of sickness in his family, and while stationed at Martinsburg he received notice that it had been accepted. This left the regiment with Major Curtis as the only field officer with it, Lieut. Col. Northcott being still a prisoner.
(179) Our regiment remained on the Faulkner lawn until the 25th, when we moved our camp to the northwest side of the town, where the other troops were encamped. We stayed at Martinsburg about two and a half months. While we were here Quartermaster Gen. Meigs inspected the troops at this place. Also while at this place there was a grand parade and review of the troops on the occasion of the presentation of a flag to the First New York Cavalry. Col. McReynolds of that regiment making on that occasion a short speech.
(180) September 25th, fifty men of the regiment were detailed to cook rations for the troops passing from the Army of the Potomac to Gen. Grant's army at Chatanooga. The next day part of the Eleventh Corps passed through by rail going to join Grant. The. next day after that, Gen. Howard, commander of the Eleventh Corps, passed over the railroad following his troops. A salute was fired in his honor as he passed. One day later some more troops from the Army of the Potomac (part of the Twelfth Corps) followed on after the others.
(181) While we were at this point a considerable number of the boys of the Twelfth got furloughs. Pertinent to the subject of furloughs may be mentioned here an incident of the many illustrating the humors of camp life. There were two brothers in Company I, Van and Tom. While we were in Pennsylvania during Lee's invasion of that state, Van became sick and we left him behind on leaving there; and during our stay at Martinsburg Tom, not having heard from Van, and not knowing whether he was alive or not, became uneasy about him. So he made an application to get a furlough to go to hunt his brother up; but he failed to get it. Some days after this Tom, it seemed, had been in too close proximity to some fellow who had been looking on the wine, when it was red (or something of that kind) getting a sniff perhaps of his breath, and Tom's sensibilities were somewhat aroused. In this condition Tom got to thinking about the case of Van, and becoming somewhat desperate he said that he was going to apply again for a furlough to hunt him up. Adding that if he did not get one he would go anyhow. "I'm going by thunder," said he, "I don't care if the war stops!"
(182) It happened that Tom's second application failed. He thought better of it, and concluded that he would not go without a furlough and the war went on. It should be said that in due time Van returned to the regiment.
(183) Referring to a diary kept by one of the boys of the Twelfth, it is seen that a number of prisoners was captured "near North Mountain" on October 16th. These are doubtless the prisoners referred to by Maj. Bristor, then Captain of Company H, in the following account, after his first telling about the capture of a Rebel captain, a spy.
(184) I was in command of the post at Kearneysville, Jefferson county, West Virginia, for about two months during the summer and fall of '63. While in command at that post a loyal citizen came to my headquarters about 11 o'clock one night and informed me that the Rebel spy Capt. Anderson was at a farm house some three miles distant, and near Col. Porterfields house. I at once had sixteen of my men wake up, and called for two men to volunteer to go on a very hazardous expedition. To my surprise the entire sixteen volunteered to go. I was not very much surprised, however, for my men were always ready for duty when called upon.
(185) I selected two of the youngest of the Sixteenth, whose names I believe were James P. Murphy and William Watkins, I then started these two men directing them to follow the citizen to the house where Anderson was, about a mile beyond our outer pickets. The men were told by their guide that he thought Anderson was in a certain room. The two brave young soldiers carefully and quietly worked their way into the room, up to the bed where Anderson was sleeping, and demanded his surrender, before he knew a Union soldier of a soul was near him. They forbade his speaking a word above a low whisper, at the risk of his life. They took him out of the house without ever waking the family, and brought him to my quarters about 3 o'clock in the morning.
(186) When they awoke me I questioned the prisoner who was represented to me as a Rebel spy, and he claimed to be a private citizen from London county Virginia, and said that he was coming the next day to give himself up. I asked him why he would give himself up if he was a private citizen. He replied that he had got a Yankee suit from a friend and he thought that he had better come and tell me about it for fear that he might be taken for a spy or something.
(187) But he was identified by citizens of that county (Jefferson) as a spy, whose name was Anderson. I sent him to Martinsburg, and turned him over to Col. McReynolds, who was then in command at that point. He sent him to Fort McHenry where he (Anderson) was tried, and, I have been informed hanged.
(188) A few nights after this, one of the "Louisiana Tigers," who had been disbanded on account of their officers not being able to do anything with them, was strolling about through the country foraging and etc., and finally got caught in the dark, and when at a house near that of Col. Porterfield, in which neighborhood Maj. Gilmore was camped, he inquired the way to his camp. The lady being a Union woman, directed him right towards my camp. He came to my outerpickets, and one of them came into camp with him talking all the time as if he, the picket, was a Rebel. A corporal by the name of A. H. Hull, brought him in.
(189) As soon as the Rebel came to my quarters, everything being rather gloomy and dark, he thought he knew my voice, calling me Captain, taking me for a Rebel captain. I talked to him and asked him if he had not been lost, and he said he had and impressed his delight in getting back to camp, for he wanted to go the next night on that expedition to blow up Back Creek bridge "and send a lot of Yankees to hell," expecting by blowing up the bridge to cause the Baltimore and Ohio railroad train to pitch headlong into the creek, as it thundered along, with all on board unconscious of their danger, and thus cause great loss of life. I told him that I would see that he should go.
(190) This Rebel was somewhat intoxicated and gave the whole thing away. Just as I finished telling him that he should go along with the party, the 4 o'clock train from the east blew its whistle. The prisoner laughed, and said he knew he was in the hands of the Yankees, but thought he would see how much he could foot them or draw them on. I said, "all right my good fellow you have drawn us on and we shall draw Maj. Gilmore on."
(191) He told me during the conversation that Gilmore was to take thirty men and he was to be one of them and blow up Back Creek bridge. I placed him under close guard, and soon as daylight came I sent a message to Col. McReynolds giving him all the essential details of the foregoing account, and asked him to send a detachment of men sufficient to capture Gilmore's men; requesting him also to send an officer of the Twelfth West Virginia regiment in charge of the detachment; and if my memory serves me rightly, he sent Capt. Moffatt, of Company G.
(192) Our men got to the bridge about two hours before Gilmore's band came and were secreted or in ambush, when they arrived and began to drill holes in the abutments of the bridge. At this our men hollowered out, "What are you doing there, you Rebel sons of b---h's?" They surrendered to our men. The captures were four lieutenants, twenty-five men, and thirty-one horses. Major Gilmore it seems, had stayed at a neighboring house to get something to eat, and his orderly or adjutant was there also. So we captured all that were at the bridge. Lieut. Billings of Shepherdstown, W. Va., was one of the prisoners.
(193) The First New York Cavalry reported this capture, and their regiment got the credit of it, when not a man of that organization, except one, who went along as a messenger or orderly, was in the party making the capture.
(194) During the latter part of September going back a little, the Eighty-Seventh Pennsylvania, the One Hundred and Twenty-Second and the One Hundred and Twenty-Third Ohio regiments, at this point, were ordered to join the Army of the Potomac. The Eighty-Seventh had been in the same command with the Twelfth for about a year. There had always been a friendly feeling between the two regiments, so the night before the former left for the Army of the Potomac, some of the boys from it came over to bid our boys good-bye - and it was good-bye forever for some in either command.
(195) The election for governor of Ohio was soon to take place, and the Eighty-Seventh boys having learned that a considerable number of the above named Ohio troops, say a tenth, were going to vote for Valandigham for governor, were not at all pleased that they should do so. One of the Eighty-Seventh apparently having been indulging in a little strong drink, was especially vehement against those Ohio boys so disposed to vote. He threatened what the boys of his regiment would do in case they were to remain here, and those Ohio boys should so vote, not knowing that the Ohio troops alluded to were, as well as his own regiment ordered to the Army of the Potomac. He urged our boys to use violent means against any of the Ohio boys at this point, who should vote for Valandigham for governor. This hostility toward those disposed to vote for him, was because of his political cause with respect to the war and its prosecution.
(196) Our boys by this time had become substantially a unit in sentiment so far as the political war policy of the administration was concerned. All wrangling concerning it had ceased. And right here may be given a strikingly significant and truthful observation, made perhaps not far from this time, by Lieut. Blaney, of Company D, showing the rapid evolution of ideas, the swift progress and revolution of the sentiment of the time and more especially the potent virtue of the knock down argument, to which class of dispution, war preeminently belongs. Because of the justice, truth and significance of this remark, it should not be omitted from this record, imperfect though it must necessarily be.
(197) In conversation Lieut. Blaney observed: "I have noticed that our boys have never objected to the Emancipation proclamation since being in a battle." This remark was true, it is believed, without an exception.
(198) If the war had never come these soldiers many of them, would doubtless never have been convinced of the justifiableness of emancipation in that contingency. But being brought into battle, and thus required to do as best they might, what they could do to settle the issues involved by the knock down argument in its last and dire extremity - the employment of the bludgeon of war; and seeing their comrades falling around them, light quickly struck in on their minds with a telling force. The conversion was as sudden it seems, as that of Paul spoken of in the scriptures. They suddenly saw, in this death struggle, that anything that the enemy was opposed to; that whatever would tend to weaken or cripple him; that any means justified by civilized warfare to conquer the enemy they should favor and employ; and hence the prejudice, the tradition and the education of years were swept away as if by a flash of lightning, when the ordeal of battle came. There was no longer on the part of the boys any considerate regard for the interests of the enemy, nor any further objection to the emancipation of the negroes.
(199) Another incident of the war illustrating how fast men learned during the war, may as well as not be given here, although it occurred at a later period. Adjt. G. B. Caldwell, in a conversation one day regarding the employment of negroes as soldiers said: "When I went into the service at first I thought that it would be a humiliation and disgrace to me if I had to serve in an army where negro soldiers were employed;" but now, said he, "I have come to the conclusion that they have as good right to be killed as I."
(200) It is very probable that Adjt. Caldwell might have spent all his days, if the times had been peaceful, without ever having changed his views in regard to the matter of making soldiers of negroes, although he is a man of quick perception. But just as it is said of men in a drowning condition that all the events of their past lives come quickly before them; so in time of war and the peril of battle, mens minds are quickened, commonsense asserts itself and men perceive quickly the wisdom or unwisdom of that which in the piping times of peace, they would not see at all.
(201) On September 28th, we were paid two months' pay, this being $13 per month for the privates, or $26 for the two months. This was always a welcome event with the soldiers. They had money now to spend with the sutler; but their money did not go far in buying from him. Canned peaches were, if not just at this time, later in the war $1.25 and tomatoes $1.00 per can.
(202) While we were here at Martinsburg, the boys or many of them, who were taken as prisoners at Winchester, a few months before, were returned to the regiment, being ordered by the government to take up arms again, although they had been let out of prison only on parole, and not exchanged. This action was taken by the authorities at Washington in retaliation for the conduct of the Rebel authorities in putting the prisoners taken and paroled by Gen. Grant at Vicksburg, back into the field again, without their having been exchanged.
(203) While the boys of the Twelfth, who were captured at Winchester, were held as prisoners they were kept at Richmond, Va., and although they were not held long until they were paroled, their experience of prison life was not such as to invite another trial of it. In the language of the west they had "got all they wanted of it." Before any of our boys had ever been prisoners, some of them used sometimes to threaten, when it was difficult to get furloughs, that they would, when a chance offered allow themselves to be taken prisoners, expecting in that case to be soon paroled and then sent home from the camp, as paroled prisoners on furlough. But after the prisoners returned to the regiment, having had a taste of prison life among the Rebels, and related its hardships to their comrades there was no longer any talk among the boys of allowing themselves to be captured in order that they might in that way get a furlough.
(204) As before written Lieut. Bengough, of Company F, was killed in the battle of Winchester on Sunday, June 14th, 1863. Shortly after this his widow in company with another lady, went to Winchester to recover the body. The two women were arrested as spies. The interesting story of their capture and release, is thus related by the then Mrs. Beugough, now as then, living in Pittsburgh, leaving out her preliminary sketch of a trip from Fairmont, W. Va., to Pittsburgh in March, l863:
(205) Some months later, I learned of the death of my husband, Lieut. T. Beugough, who was killed during the three day fight at Winchester. F. P. Pierpont, Adjutant General of West Virginia, sent me a telegram to that effect and accompanied by my sister-in-law, Miss Celia Beugaugh, principal of the High School in Toledo and sister of the present pension agent at Pittsburgh, Harry Beugaugh, left Pittsburgh for Winchester to recover the body. My late husband had been a lieutenant under Gen. Milroy and during the battle the firing having ceased in his direction, being tired, he with his command lay down to rest; as he slept he was killed by a sharp-shooter.
(206) Arriving at the headquarters of Gen. Mulligan on New Creek, Va., we were assigned quarters in a big building, which we subsequently discovered was occupied as a barracks by the soldiers, and we awoke during the night to find the room filled with men. Celia was greatly excited, but I calmed her fears and tucking our heads under the quilt we weathered the storm until the soldiers filed out in the morning. Mulligan furnished us with a pass into the rebel lines, and assured us he had personal friends among the Confederates, who would see that we were properly treated.
(207) After walking a few miles night overtook us, and we put up at a house, the proprietor of which agreed to take us to Winchester for $20. In the morning we got into a buggy, I drove the horse he following on horse back to bring back the rig. It was a long hot ride, and with nothing to eat but cherries we were almost starved. Our escort would not approach the town nearer than three miles, he was afraid of losing his horses, so we footed it.
(208) I had been in Winchester before, and boarded at a house opposite the government corral, and we thought if we could find the place, we might be accomodated for the night. But alas, for human hopes, and happiness, we discovered there were many roads leading into Winchester; that we had lost our bearings and were at sea. What should we do? We dare not make inquiry, and it being about 7 o'clock in the evening we had to conclude quickly. Entering the town we found it full of rebel soldiers. They paid no attention to us, so we wandered about for some time without success. Finally we met a boy about 10 years old, and asked him the name of the street on which the corral was situated, "Where the Yanks used to keep their horses?" he interrogated, "Oh, that's away up yander" and pointing with his index finger out into the right he showed us the way. We were a long time finding the place, and when we did, how changed; the corral was tenantless, and the house we expected to lodge in presented a deserted appearance. With fear and trembling we knocked at the door and were admitted.
(209) The lady knew me, but was uncommunicative. She gave us lodging and a supper and breakfast of salt junk, for which we paid a fancy price. In the morning we pursued our mission. We found our way to the headquarters of Gen. R. E. Lee, who gave us a pass to the fortifications for the purpose of disinterring the body, and one to the hospital for a squad of our prisoners to rebury it in the cemetery. The General told us the body could not be shipped, as the railroad between Winchester and Martinsburg had been torn up.
(210) Having obtained the passes (which I still have in my possession) the General required us to report at his headquarters after our work had been accomplished - disobedience in this respect caused us much suffering and imprisonment in Castle Thunder, Richmond.
(211) We buried the body in the cemetery and went to our boarding house. It was evening and a sad one for us; our hostess had changed considerably since morning - she refused us anything to eat, saying there was nothing in the house. We had money, but were afraid to go out to purchase, so in lieu of anything better, we went outside and sat on the doorstep. We sat there for some time, when we observed a man across the street, close to the corral, dressed in surgeon's uniform. We thought he tried to arrest our attention, but were afraid to encourage him; he disappeared for a time around the corner, and as suddenly appeared this time on our side of the street and passing close, dropped a note, which we read in our room, by a light of a rag burning in a saucer of grease. He stated in the note that he was Lieut. McAdams of a Pennsylvania regiment, the number of which I cannot recall, that he was a prisoner, but not a surgeon, having borrowed the uniform in order to serve us; we were prisoners and would be treated as spies. "I will bring you tea and hard-tack from the hospital about 9 o'clock tonight." He kept his promise dropping the tea and crackers as he had the note. We never saw nor heard of McAdams since. He was a man between 30 and 35 years of age, heavy set, with sandy hair.
(212) Between 12 and 1 o'clock that night, we stole out of the house, climbed the back fence and made for the Romney Road. It has been said we should always hope for the best, and at the same time be prepared for whatever presents itself. When we found ourselves out in the open country terror seized us and brought us to a realization of the situation. The chill of the night, caused us to shiver, so we quickened our steps in the direction of the hill and the fort.
(213) We could see over the misty landscape, the Confederate flag floating proudly from its battlements. We knew the Romney Road lay back of the fort, so we climbed the hill, which was littered with the bodies of horses, mules, cannon balls and unexploded shells which had fallen on the soft hill side and lay in pockets made by the feet of the artillery horses in drawing Early's guns into position.
(214) The haze subsided and one constellation after another appeared - that bright luminary, the moon, waded her way through now and then gliding behind a cloud, leaving the stars on duty, there appearing with new lustre, covered the battle field with a silver sheet. All nature seemed to be opened to our eyes, and in harmony with the surroundings. The night was painfully quiet the only audible sound we heard, was the lullaby sung by a little stream that meandered down the hill - the night birds were silent, and we fancied we could hear the dripping of the dew. We seemed to wander in a charmed atmosphere, and would not have been surprised if Mab and her Peri's had come forth.
(215) A little to the left stood the guns like so many sentinels with their yawning black mouths - we intended to pass them but they looked so devilish that we were afraid and took the longest route to avoid them. We passed the fort and descended the hill, often looking back to see if the guns were following. The moon neared the shore of the sky; the shadows deepened and Celia declared the trees were walking, she being a good elocutionist declaimed - "Night showeth knowledge unto night. There is no speech nor language, their voice is not heard; yet their sound goeth forth to all generations."
(216) We sat down and huddled close together - we fancied a mythical presence and thought we saw forms coming out of the recesses of the mountains. The wind stirred the dying embers of distant camp fires into flame, and a lurid glare lit the heavens like a flash, and then all was dark. It was near morning and the soft faint streaks of daylight glimmered through the right. We arose and drew near the base of the hill - in the distance we could see the long, narrow but extremely picturesque Romney road, with its widely scattered, antiquated houses. We sat down behind a clump of bushes, and almost scared the lives out of a flock of birds - they flew out in the myriads, circling our heads in mingled confusion, chattering wildly, but soon flew away leaving us in possession of the field.
(217) As the day advanced, the sun rose penetrated the mist, dried our dewy clothes, and evoked from the flowers their morning fragrance; we strolled about gathering bunches of white and purple larkspur - as we culled we neared the road. We were on the lookout for pickets, when a rifle shot rang out clear and sharp, followed by other shots in quick succession; as they ricocheted in and out of the mountain passes, reverberated over the hills and through the valleys, we thought a whole regiment was firing. Then we heard the shrill but musical note of the bugle, and knew there was infantry and cavalry at a distance.
(218) We retraced our steps following a cow-path that wound round the hill, thinking to gain the road indirectly, but were mistaken, and taking a more direct route, found ourselves in the presence of three pickets, playing cards. We were not much surprised as they had been uppermost in our minds for we had wandered the hill all night to avoid them. With renewed courage, bonnets swinging on our aims and carrying our posies, we passed by acting as unconcerned as possible. We were not interrupted - at least we were on the Romney Road.
(219) We walked about five miles and being hungry approached a white house enclosed within an open fence with a long line of trees in front, loadened with blood-red cherries. This was the home of Betty Jenkins, a pleasant faced motherly woman of about 40 years. She welcomed us, and we examined a large wheel that stood in front of the mantel, with a hank of white yarn around it, there was a smaller one in the corner, which was used for spinning. These wheels were a novelty to us, and we exhibited so much ignorance as to their use, that Betty became suspicious.
(220) When we told her we were northern women, she was nearly frightened out of her wits and was afraid to give us any help. We told her we were almost starved; she then told us to go up stairs to a retired room and she would find food. Betty managed to get us a good meal and we remained there that night. With the first glimmer of dawn we were on deck. Betty prepared breakfast, and we all three parted crying.
(221) When we were at a distance from the house, we looked back, and there stood Betty, leaning over the gate, shading her eyes with her hand waving farewell. Dear, friendly Betty, we never heard of her again. The beauty of the morning raised our spirits, the fresh and invigorating air gave us strength. The sun rose in all his majesty and gilded the mountain ranges. In the distance we saw glittering water walled around by hills. The scenery was surpassing in grandeur and sublimity. The trees were full of buds, and their liquid notes filled the air; spotted lizards and little squirrels ran along the fence rails; brown rabbits scurried across the meadows; the partridge called "Bob White;" and the perfume of the honey-suckle scented the air. The fields were covered with wild flowers, tall red poke-berry stalks ornamented the fence comers, and berry bushes were white with blossom. The ravines were covered with dark velvety moss, and silver streams of murmuring water ran zig-zag through clumps of willows.
(222) We had walked about 12 miles, when we met a man riding on a big bay horse, lank and lean, with a bulged out pair of saddle bags - he seemed friendly but we paid no attention. As we rounded a bend in the road we heard dogs barking at no great distance, and knew we were near a farm house. The house was situated below the level of the road, with a running stream in front, the bosom of which was covered with ducks, geese and goslings. We descended the long stairway leading down from the pike, and entered the house. There we found a very old man and a tall woman, the latter playing deaf and dumb, afraid to say anything to strangers. We asked for food; the old man brought out a piece of table linen, in which he tied up meat, bread and cheese. Our Evangelist carried the bundle to the top of the steps, and told us how far and what way we must go before we would meet Mulligan's scouts.
(224) Turning off the road, we sat on a log and ate ravenously. Resuming our journey we found our commisary stores a burden and threw them away. The heat was oppressive and the dust suffocating, so we tried off the high way and sought the cool forest, but we were afraid of snakes and the sharp twigs cut our blistered and swollen feet. We tried to wear our shoes but could not. We clambered over rocks, logs and low thick brush, which made it tiresome, and again were forced to take the high way. We limped painfully while we tramped, ankle deep in dust, under a burning sun.
(225) We waded the north and south branches of the Potomac. The water was low but transparent, and the river bed stony. We amused ourselves, while laving our blistered feet, gathering beautiful stones of many colors, which we afterwards threw away - they grew burdensome. Twice we came to where roads or paths converged, and were at a loss to know which one to take, but Celia, remembered the scriptural injunction that the straight path was the right path - therefore we turned neither to the right nor to the left.
(226) We saw a house in the distance and a few matronly cows and sheep in a field, whose acquaintance we tried to make, but they would have none of it, and throwing their tails in the air ran off bellowing - the poor frightened sheep scattered and hid in the bushes. We entered the house and found an old man plaiting a straw hat and a woman making cherry pies. They had little to say, but gave us milk and pie. The pie had neither shortening nor sugar - the top crust was burned while the bottom was dough. We drank the milk and went on.
(227) About 3 o'clock we encountered a heavy rain storm, accompanied with thunder and vivid lightning, and were wet through, but fortunately the storm did not continue long and the sun coming out in all his heat, soon dried our clothes. We were, now about 18 miles from Winchester, four miles from the Cacapon bridge and nine miles from Mulligan. We hobbled along as best we could for about two miles, when we came to a house on the roadside, enclosed by a dilapidated fence. A pump and wooden drinking trough stood in front, but there was no appearance of horses having quenched their thirst at the trough for some time, the ground being unbroken around it. A clucking hen strutted noisily about, and a tribe of guineas set up a fearful cry of alarm, as we approached. A man and woman were hanging over the garden gate quietly chatting, but as soon as they saw us, they seemed alarmed, particularly the woman. She eyed us carefully and impudently whispering something to her companion. We noticed the agitation and felt uneasy.
(228) We had walked about 20 miles but the meanderings of the road added a greater distance. It was late in the day, and the absence of cattle and fowl noticeable. We anticipated trouble and shied into the woods. We did not make much headway on account of the dense growth of trees, but we persevered and at last came to the Cacapon water. We made a detour and found a tree fallen across the stream. It was high from the water and Celia could not cross it. I coaxed and entreated, but all to no purpose. The river was full of water snakes and the banks lined with villainous looking frogs. We found fault with each other, and Celia resisting my entreaties, blamed me for the escapade, and she quoted scripture to fit the crime, for she was full of texts - "He that cometh not in by the door, but climeth up some other way, the same is a thief, and robber." I saw the point and we laughed and crossed the bridge.
(229) We were 22 miles from Winchester, and five miles from Mulligan scouts. We had proceeded about 50 yards on the other side of the bridge, when we were halted by a handsome young cavalry officer, Lieut. Bell, nephew of Gen. Bell of the C. S. A. He touched his cap and accosted us - "Good evening ladies, have you got a pass?" Travel-stained foot-sore, faces blistered, hungry and utterly wretched, we hung our heads, but gave no answer - we were too miserable.
(230) The daylight faded slowly, the night grew chilly and the wind stirred the bending grass. The setting sun shot slanting spikes from the golden west, through the trees and across the road. The cavalry horse stood at a distance pawing the dust, and clanking his equipments, every now and then lifting his head with a majestic air, looked toward his rider, who stood with bowed head rubbing the buttons up and down with his fingers, which adorned the front of his cavalry jacket. It was June - the sun had set the shadows deepened, and the katy-dids had almost ceased their rasping.
(231) There we three stood, in tile gloom of approaching night, with no sound to break the silence, except the lonely quavering notes of the forest birds. Bats flitted to and fro and circled our heads - the owl hooted, and fire flies lit the ravines. We buried our feet in the dust that he might not see their nakedness, and with heart-rending sobs, cried as we had never cried before. We were captured and we knew that meant on to Richmond.
(232) Lieut Bell told us we had been arrested as spies by order of Gen. R. E. Lee. We begged we should not be made walk back, for we thought we would have to tramp the whole road over again. He assured us such would not be the case, that he would take us to a house in the woods, owned by a Mrs. Smith, where Miss Bell, his sister, would search us. Having walked about half a mile, we came to a defile in the mountains, which rose very high on either side, with an opening at the top large enough to see a patch of sky, studded with misty stars. Our captor told us these mountains were covered with perpetual snow and ice. In this gap lived Mrs. Smith, with whom we were to remain for the night:
(233) The house was two storied, painted white, and backed close to the mountain. The windows were vine covered and here and there a glimmer of light shone through making the green look greener. Opposite the house and on the other side of the gap, close to what had once been a barn, stood a lot unsheltered wagons, buggies and stage coaches in a dilapidated condition.
(234) At the sound of approaching foot steps Mrs. Smith appeared in the door, with a grease-saucer light, and behind her an old aunty, with her head bound up in a yellow bandana. Dinah was greatly agitated when she saw us approach in the shadows, and throwing up her hands exclaimed. "Fo de lord, misses, dey is de Yanks!" We knew my aunties remarks, we had been anticipated.
(235) Mrs. Smith was a neat little dark-eyed woman, with hair and complexion to match her eyes. She wore a gray flannel dress of her own weaving, cotton material being out of the question. She was greatly impoverished, and told us her husband used to run a line of stages, but the Yanks had taken their horses - there was not a man about the place, they were in the Confederate Army; that auntie and she had rolled the snow into big balls during the winter, and dumped them into, the ice house - that ice water was the only luxury she had. We drank some of it and were refreshed. After supper we were assigned to a comfortable room, with a good bed in it, of which we stood in need. In the morning we were furnished with water and other necessary toilet articles. After making ourselves presentable we wet a lot of letters in the basin and rubbed them into pulp, that they might not be found in our possession, when Miss Bell would search us - we mixed the pulp with wood ashes on the hearth, until all trace was obliterated. We were searched, but nothing was found upon our person. We got the letters from wounded Union soldiers in the Winchester hospital.
(236) Next morning after breakfast Lieut. Bell and a lot of troopers, made their appearance with a squeaky wagon, drawn by two half-starved mules. He apologized for the conveyance, saying nothing better could be had. After bidding good-bye to Mrs. Smith and Dinah we got into the wagon and were soon on our way back to Winchester. We had not proceeded far, when a wheel slid off, almost throwing us out of the wagon. Our driver with a hickory linck pin and some assistance, repaired the damage. We traveled all day and at night put up at an inn, where the roads divided in different tracks.
(237) Our cavalry picketed their horses in a field nearby, that they might eat grass, there being neither oats nor hay to give them. Our guard told us their horses were starving and had already become too weak for effective duty.
(238) After supper we were given a comfortable room furnished with an old-fashioned bed, decorated with high-colored hangings; a picture of Washington relieved the wall; three chairs, a rocker and a dragon-legged table completed the furnishment. A purple wistaria covered the window and climbed to the roof. Our guard slept on the soft side of the porch, first exacting a promise from us that we would not try to escape. We promised, and being as tired as they, slept the sleep of youth.
(239) In the morning, furnished with conveniences, we made our toilet, while our gallant cavalrymen made theirs at the horse trough. After a scanty meal of corn bred, rye coffee and sorghum molasses, the lady of the house announced all was in readiness for our departure. She bade us a friendly good-bye and we took the road again. We traveled slowly, and as we neared Winchester we found fence, bush, and tree limbs ornamented with old clothes, which had been taken from the battle field and dyed butter-nut. The scenery was not improved by the accession. Finally we reached Winchester and Gen. Lee's headquarters. The General was not in, but the room was filled with officers of all grades and rank. Uninvited we seated ourselves and listened to a tirade from Maj. Bridgeford on spies in particular and Yankee women in general. We were too miserable to reply. Celia reminded me that we were in the hands of the Philistines, and might as well hang our harps on the willows, for how could we sing in that strange land.
(240) We waited an hour or more, when we heard the clatter of horses hoofs outside, a dismount and Gen. Lee entered, tall, graceful, refined and haughty. Touching his cap and bidding us "good morning" he reprimanded us for our disobedience, ending with the announcement that we must go to prison. Major Bridgeford made out the necessary papers, Gen. Lee signed them, and then, on to Richmond, guarded by cavalry.
(241) We passed a hapless night and in the morning took the stage for Staunton, Va. We traveled up the Shenandoah Valley and saw Gen. Lee's whole army, as they marched down the Shenandoah, and on to Gettysburg.
(242) When we got hungry, our guard picked cherries for us, and begged slap-jacks and bonny-clabber from the surrounding farm houses, some of which we exchanged with a wounded rebel, riding on the top of the coach, for maple molasses.
(243) When we came to Mount Jackson, the coach stopped at a tavern, kept by a brother of the man, who shot Col. Ellsworth. It was a beautiful spot. The inn was old but picturesque, and built on a little rise. A couple of wide-spreading trees espaliered across its front. At the side of the house, a row of oleanders contracted their bloom with the green of the foliage, and a Cypress vine, trained on strings, covered the windows. A gourd vine clambered up and over the wood shed, almost concealing the door, and compelling, Julius, himself to double himself when he went in and out for wood. Our host was a long-jawed, dark-skinned man, and had little to say, but his wife made up for the deficiency. She flew at us in a rage, called us names and likened us to a lot of thieving Yankee soldiers, who she said, had stolen her chickens and robbed her onion bed. She refused us anything to eat, and said we should not sleep in her house that night. We made no answer, allowing her to have her way. We went out into the orchard and sat on a bench under an apple tree, where a robin perched on the top-most limb cheered us with his sweetest evening song.
(244) A genuine southern mammy with her kinky hair, plaited and tied in wads and knots, stood over a big iron kettle stirring soap. She looked askance at us, not daring to speak, but we knew by her actions that we had her sympathy. Having sat there about an hour, Mrs. Jackson remorseful and relenting asked us in to supper.
(245) When bed time came we were given a large square room (with a bare floor) lighted with a tallow dip. A low post bed, two chairs and a looking glass completed the furnishment, with the exception of two pictures, lacking resemblance to anything we ever saw, hung upon the whitewashed walls. In the morning we breakfasted and then set out for Staunton. It was a lovely day, the blossoms of summer and green of the foliage were very attractive. The beauty of the valley was beyond description, with its silvery pools and trickling streams, moss covered rocks and hedges of wild roses. The song birds whistled and thrilled, and the unceasing notes of the insect tribes filled the woods.
(246) At Staunton we were comfortably housed but had nothing to eat. We should have gone supperless to bed, but for the shrewdness of a colored chambermaid who, under pretense of making the bed, got into our room, and without a sign of recognition began to beat the pillows, spread the quilts and make a fuss generally. She attracted our attention by the unusual length of time it took her to perform the work. She gave us a significant look and passed out.
(247) The guard who paced up and down the hall way looked in to see if all was right, locked the door and we were alone for the night. We examined the bed and found about a dozen biscuits under the quilts and pillows, and a quart bucket full of tea under the bed.
(248) In the morning we informed our guard of the inhospitable treatment, and he sent the provost marshal to look after us. He immediately ordered the hotel keeper to bring us down to the table, which he did, but he took revenge by putting us at a little table in the centre of the dining room making us the cynosure of all eyes. When we had eaten Celia wrote with a piece of crayon, "Yankee Table" on our table, which was considered audacious by the regular boarders.
(249) Before leaving the hotel, we gave the chambermaid, who had befriended us, a $1 greenback, the ribbon off our hat and a pair of gloves. We traveled by rail from Staunton to Richmond. When the train stopped at different stations, we were almost suffocated by the crowd that scrambled up the sides of the car and poked their heads through the windows to see what Yankee women looked like.
(250) When we arrived at Richmond, we were obliged to walk some distance from the station to Castle Thunder, being followed by the curious of both sexes. We were taken into the Provost Marshal's office where we found the prison authorities selecting nine captains to be hung, in case the Federal government hanged Fitzhugh Lee. Capt. Rowand of the Virginia cavalry was one of them. The Captain came down with us, and when we entered the Provost Marshal's office, he was greeted by Maj. Turner of Libby prison, with the cheering announcement, "Well Captain you are just in time to draw your death out." Whether he drew it or not, we do not know, for we were marched out into a tunnel-like passage and up a rickety pair of stairs into a cell, 12 by 15 feet, with no furnishment. There was one window of many small panes, with a large sill, which we used for a seat.
(251) Maj. Alexander, commander of the prison, frequently cautioned us to keep our heads inside the window for fear we might be shot. There were other women prisoners in the Castle, but they were waiting to be sent through on the next truce boat, there being no charges against them. Among them was Mrs. Surgeon McCandless, of Morgantown, W. Va.
(252) We were searched by an old white headed man, whom the prisoners called "Anti-Christ;" he did not take our money some $75 or $80. We afterwards heard the old man was hungy. With the Wirtz gang.
(253) An order came from the Confederate authorities to send the other women home. Major Alexander told them to be ready to leave early next morning at the same time asking for the Bengough women. We answered to our names, when he informed us we were held as spies and would be forwarded to some place in South Carolina, for safe keeping. We cried bitterly when the other women left.
(254) Towards evening the Major bettered our condition; he sent us a mattress, pillows and covering, and two colored women to wait upon us. We slept little that night, feeling horribly alone. The moonlight flooded the room; we got up and looked out over the James river; we wondered what our friends were doing at home, if they thought of us, and if we should ever see them again. We asked permission to burn the gas all night, and it was granted. Then the lapse of time had its effect, and we adjusted our lives to suit the situation.
(256) The food we got was not nourishing. It consisted of bread and coffee made of porched rye. We paid $14 in green backs for a pound of tea. It was poor in quality, but we preferred it to the rye.
(256) A Chaplain visited us every day, and always left Bibles. We asked him if he could not find some other literature; in a few days he returned bringing a beautifully illustrated volume of "Don Quixote." He must have given us up for lost souls for he never came again. We read the book over and over-criticized it and quarreled over the criticisms.
(257) One day we saw a long line of rebel soldiers driving a large drove of cattle along Cary street; each soldier had a hoop-skirt about his neck, and everything conceivable in shoes, dry goods, and notions tied to each hoop. Then we learned the battle of Gettysburg had been fought, and the captured cattle belonged to Pennsylvania. After that our fare was varied with fresh beef - once we got a dried apple pie, baked without shortening, on a saucer, but it tasted better than any pie we had ever eaten before or since.
(258) Shortly after the hoop-skirt brigade had passed, about 1,000 Yankee prisoners were marched up the same street and housed in an old building opposite Castle Thunder. They were given meat and bread. One of the men after eating his meat threw the bone out on the pavement, the guard instantly fired into the crowd, taking the arm off a fine looking man, without provocation. We saw him carried to the hospital on a stretcher, the blood streaming through canvas on to the pavement. John Brown, of Allegheny, present post commander of 128, was among that crowd of prisoners.
(259) We received frequent visits from people of note. Our greenbacks were borrowed to show to Jeff Davis, Gov. Wise, Judah P. Benjamin and Maj. Turner -they were promptly returned.
(260) One day Maj. Alexander told us he had been ordered to go on active duty. He was a sea captain and had been put in charge of the prison on account of having and his leg broken. When the war broke out the Major run a cargo of ammunition into a rebel post, instead of turning it over to Uncle Sam. He was imprisoned for it in Fort Lafayette, where he broke his leg by jumping from aport hole; he finally got into the Confederate lines and was placed in command of Castle Thunder. The Major told us there was to be a clearance of prisoners and said, "I should like to have you both put on the exchange list, Gen. Winder, called "Hog" Winder by the prisoners, gives a feast tonight, and before the festivities are over he will be in a very moist condition. Now, if we can give him the exchange list at this juncture, he will sign it without reading and you shall be ready for the truce boat in the morning." The scheme was a success, and we slept none that night. About 2 o'clock in the morning 1,000 of our prisoners were marched from Libby en route for City Point and hatted in front of the Castle. While they stood there Lotta Gilmore, a southern girl, imprisoned in Castle Thunder, sang the "Moon Behind the Hill," and was answered by one of the prisoners in line who sang, "When This Cruel War Is Over." We encored the minstrel, and asked what name and regiment. He called out "Massachusetts," and we replied "Pennsylvania," and immediately received three rousing cheers.
(261) Lotta Gilmore was imprisoned because her lover bad counterfeited Confederate currency - he had shown the money to her, but she refused to testify against him, and was imprisoned for contempt of court.
(262) Bell Boyd, of rebel spy fame, visited the prison dressed in male attire, and was introduced as Lieut. Warry.
(263) There was, a Col. Dunham of some New York regiment, imprisoned opposite to our cell, but at a distance. We could see him through the chinks in the board partition. We sent him a note written on one of the fly leaves of "Don Quixote," and gave Washington, the colored hunch-back one dollar to deliver it; he rolled it in his shirt sleeve, and when he swept Dunham's cell, gave it to him. Dunham left Richmond the same morning we did.
(264) About 3 o'clock in the morning Maj. Alexander made his appearance, we had not retired that night, and told us to make ready, as soon as possible to take the train for City Point. We made ourselves as presentable as our limited wardrobe would allow, but realized that we were laughing stocks. Celia's hat was faded and battered and out of shape; mine had been gray, but now it was no color at all, and without a particle of trimming, having given the ribbon to the colored chambermaid at Staunton. Our shoes, bearing the name of "Schmertz Pittsburg" were down at the heel and out at the sides; our stockings minus feet, and our hands bare; we had traded our last pair of gloves for a piece of pie. Our faces resembled boiled lobster in color, never having recovered from the tramp along the Romney Road, nor the long ride up the Shenandoah.
(265) The colored women brought us four fresh laundried skirts. We each took one giving the others to the women, and a $2 greenback apiece. We wrote good-bye to the Chaplain on the fly leaf of "Don Quixote," also thanked him for the book and the comfort it had given us. We inscribed a farewell stanza of our own composition, (Celia composing one half and I the other) in Major Alexander's log book, placing both books with care on the window sill - that seat we had so often sat upon and looked out on the James, in our loneliness. We bade the colored women an affectionate adieu, for they had comforted us to the best of their ability, and we were attached to them, then passed down the dark and gruesome rickety prison stairs, out into the culvert, and freedom. When the fresh morning air wafted over our faces, we staggered against the wall - we were dreadfully weak, but visions of home and friends gave us renewed strength and we soon revived.
(266) Maj. Alexander escorted us to the train, bidding us good-bye, and gave us a letter to be delivered at City Point, where an exchange of prisoners took place. We embarked on a U. S. vessel, and sailed down the Chesapeake. We passed Hampton Roads, and Fortress Monroe and saw the masts of the sunken Cumberland, above the water, in Hampton Roads.
(267) We landed at Annapolis, stopping at a hotel there about a week, boarding being furnished us without price, and thence to Baltimore.
(268) The morning after our arrival in that city, we started out to deliver Alexander's letter. We were instructed how to find the man; given a description of him, and told to give him the letter and ask no questions. We were to remain in the place designated until we found a man answering the description in the middle store of a block on a certain street. We went to the place and paced back and forth through the store, asking no questions; finally when about to despair, we noticed a man answering the description in every respect, seated on a chair on the edge of the pavement, in front of the store. He was evidently a Hebrew. We delivered the letter and the man took it, read it attentively, changed color several times, but made no comment. He finally wrote a brief epistle and handed it to us and directed us to present it at a certain place. We did so and at the place were given transportation to Pittsburg. We stopped for refreshments at different places, and nowhere were we asked for money for services rendered.
(269) We arrived at the Union depot in December, before Christmas, and reached home by a round-about route; we did not care to face the public in our city, as we were ashamed of our appearance. We sent no word that we were coming, but walked in unannounced. Father and mother were panic-stricken and could not believe their own eyes. Our friends and neighbors, for miles around came to see us and ask questions. The "fatted calf" was killed and a general rejoicing took place. We were the lionesses of the day. Once again in Pittsburg, I received work as a compositor at Haven's under James M. McEwen.
(270) Two years after leaving Richmond, Alexander walked into Haven's care worn and penniless. He said he had been included in the sentence against Wirtz, but had escaped. I had a difficult time in getting Mr. McEwen to make peculiar promises, before I should introduce Alexander; finally he promised, and the introduction took place. A look of astonishment overspread his face when he found out who his new acquaintance was, but they were "Masons" and Alexander was introduced, during his stay in Pittsburg, to other members of that order, and found means to get to England. In the meantime amnesty being granted, he came back to the states, and resumed his former calling.
LOTTIE BEUGOUGH M'CAFFREY.