The Little Lady of Lagunitas
Richard Henry Savage
Part 4 out of 8
the southern line, and our forces will patrol Arizona. Mexico will
furnish us ports and supplies.
"Should the Northerners attempt to push troops over the plains,
we will attack them, in flank, from New Mexico. We can hold, thus,
New Mexico, Arizona, southern Utah, and all of California, by our
short line from El Paso to San Diego. We are covered on one flank
The able brethren are ready with many suggestions. Friendly spies
in the Department at Washington have announced the intended drawing
East of the regular garrisons. It is suggested that the forts, and
in fact the whole State, be seized while the troops are in transit.
Another proposes the fitting out of several swift armed steam
letters-of-marque from San Francisco, to capture the enormous Yankee
tonnage now between China, Cape Horn, Australia, and California.
The whaling fleet is the object of another. He advises sending a
heavily armed revenue cutter, when seized, to the Behring Sea to
destroy the spring whalers arriving from Honolulu too late for
any warning, from home, of the hostilities.
A number of active committees are appointed. One, of veteran
rangers, to select frontiersmen to stir up the Indians to attack
the northern overland mail stations. Another, to secretly confer
with the officers of the United States Mint, Custom-House, and
Sub-Treasury. Another, to socially engage the leading officers of
the army and navy, and win them over, or develop their real feelings.
Every man of mark in the State is listed and canvassed.
The "high priest" announces that the families of those detailed
for distant duty will be cared for by the general committee. Each
member receives the mystic tokens. Orders are issued to trace up
all stocks of arms and ammunition on the coast.
The seizure of the Panama Railroad, thus cutting off quick movement
of national troops, is discussed. Every man is ordered to send
in lists of trusty men as soon as mustered into the new mystery.
Convenient movements of brothers from town to town are planned
out. Only true sons of the sunny South are to be trusted.
In free converse, the duty of watching well-known Unionists is
enjoined upon all. Name by name, dangerous men of the North are
marked down for proscription or special action. "Removal," perhaps.
With wild cheers, the Knights of the Golden Circle receive the
news that the South is surely going out. The dream long dear to the
Southern heart! Any attempt of the senile Buchanan to reinforce
the garrisons of the national forts will be the signal for the
opening roar of the stolen guns. They know that the inauguration
of Lincoln on March 4, 1861, means war without debate. He dare not
abandon his trust. He will be welcomed with a shotted salute across
When the move "en masse" is made, the guests, warmed with wine and
full of enthusiasm, file away. Hardin and Valois sit late. The
splashing rain drenches the swaying trees of the Judge's hillside
Lists and papers of the principal men on both sides, data and
statistics of stock and military supplies, maps, and papers, are
looked at. The deep boom of the Cathedral bell, far below them,
beats midnight as the two friends sit plotting treason.
There is something mystical in the exact hour of midnight. The rich
note startles Hardin. Cold, haughty, crafty, and able, his devotion
to the South is that of the highest moral courage. It is not the
exultation which culminates rashly on the battle-field. These lurid
scenes are for younger heroes.
His necessary presence in the West, his age and rank, make him
invaluable, out of harness. His scheming brain is needed, not his
He pours out a glass of brandy, saying, "Valois, tell me of our
prospects here. You know the interior as well as any man in the
Maxime unburdens his mind. "Judge, I fear we are in danger of losing
this coast. I have looked over the social forces of the State. The
miners represent no principle. They will cut no figure on either
side. They would not be amenable to discipline. The Mexicans
certainly will not sympathize with us. We are regarded as the old
government party. The Black Republicans are the 'liberals.' The
natives have lost all, under us. We will find them fierce enemies.
We cannot undo the treatment of the Dons." Hardin gravely assents.
"Now, as to the struggle. Our people are enthusiastic and better
prepared. The nerve of the South will carry us to early victory.
The North thinks we do not mean fight. Our people may neglect to
rush troops from Texas over through Arizona. We should hold California
from the very first. I know the large cities are against us. The
Yankees control the shipping and have more money than we. We
should seize this coast, prey on the Pacific fleets, strike a telling
blow, and with Texan troops (who will be useless there) make sure
of the only gold-yielding regions of America. Texas is safe. We hold
the Gulf at New Orleans. Yankee gunboats cannot reach the shallow
Texas harbors. Unless we strike boldly now, the coast is lost forever.
If our people hold the Potomac, the Ohio, and the Missouri (after
a season's victories), without taking Cincinnati and Washington,
and securing this coast, we will go down, finally, when the North
wakes up. Its power is immense. If Europe recognizes us we are
safe. I fear this may not be."
"And you think the Northerners will fight," says Hardin.
"Judge," replies Valois, "you and I are alone. I tell you frankly
we underestimate the Yankees. From the first, on this coast we
have lost sympathy. They come back at us always. Broderick's death
shows us these men have nerve. "Valois continues: "That man is
greater dead than alive. I often think of his last words, 'They
have killed me because I was opposed to a corrupt administration
and the extension of slavery.'"
Hardin finishes his glass. "It seems strange that men like Broderick
and Terry, who sat on the bench of the Supreme Court (a senator and
a great jurist), should open the game. It was unlucky. It lost us
the Northern Democrats. We would have been better off if Dave Terry
had been killed. He would have been a dead hero. It would have
Valois shows that, in all the sectional duels and killings on the
coast, the South has steadily lost prestige. The victims were more
dangerous dead than alive. Gilbert, Ferguson, Broderick, and others
were costly sacrifices.
Hardin muses: "I think you are right, Maxime, in the main. Our
people are in the awkward position of fighting the Constitution,
and the old flag is a dead weight against us. We must take the
initiative in an unnecessary war. This Abe Lincoln is no mere
mad fool. I will send a messenger East, and urge that ten thousand
Texan cavalry be pushed right over to Arizona. We must seize the
coast. You are right! There is one obstacle, Valois, I cannot
"What is that?" says Maxime.
"It is Sidney Johnston's military honor," thoughtfully says
Hardin. "He is no man to be played with. He will not act till he
has left the old army regularly. He will wait his commission from
our confederacy. He will then resign and go East."
"It will be too late," cries Valois. "We will be forgotten, and so
"The worst is that the coast will stand neutral," says Hardin.
"Now, Judge," Valois firmly answers, "I have heard to-night talk of
running up the 'bear flag,' 'the lone star,' 'the palmetto banner,'
or 'the flag of the California Republic,' on the news of war. I
hope they will not do so rashly."
"Why?" says Hardin.
"I think they will swing under the new flags on the same pole,"
cries Valois, pacing the room. "If there is failure here, I shall
go East. Judge Valois offers me a Louisiana regiment. If this war
is fought out, I do not propose to live to see the Southern Cross
The Creole pauses before the Judge, who replies, "You must stay
here; we must get California out of the Union."
"If we do not, then the cause lies on Lone Mountain," says Valois,
pointing westward toward the spot where a tall shaft already bears
Hardin nods assent. "It was terrific, that appeal of Baker's," he
Both felt that Baker (now Senator from Oregon) would call up the mighty
shade of the New York leader. Neither could foresee the career of
the eulogist of Broderick, after his last matchless appeals to an
awakening North. That denunciation in the Senate sent the departing
Southern senators away, smarting under the scorpion whip of his
peerless invective. Baker was doomed to come home cold in death
from the red field of Ball's Bluff, and lie on the historic hill,
beside his murdered friend.
The plotters in the cold midnight hours then, the glow of feeling
fading away, say "Good-night." They part, looking out over twinkling
lights like the great camps soon to rise on Eastern plain and
river-bank. Will the flag of the South wave in TRIUMPH HERE? Ah!
Who can read the future?
Cut off from the East, the excited Californians burn in high fever.
The grim dice of fate are being cast. Slowly, the Northern pine and
Southern palm sway toward the crash of war. As yet only journals
hurl defiance at each other. Every day has its duties for Hardin
and Valois; they know that every regimental mess-room is canvassed;
each ship's ward-room is sounded; officers are flattered and won
over; woman lends her persuasive charms; high promised rank follows
the men who yield.
In these negotiations, no one dares to breed discontent among the
common soldiers and sailors. It is madness to hope to turn the steady
loyalty of the enlisted men. They are as true in both services as
the blue they wear. Nice distinctions begin at the epaulet. Hardin
and Valois are worn and thoughtful. The popular tide of feelings
is not for the South. Separation must be effective, to rouse
enthusiasm. The organization of the Knights of the Golden Circle
proceeds quickly, but events are quicker.
The seven States partly out of the Union; the yet unfinished ranks
of the Southern Confederacy; the baffling questions of compromise
with the claims and rights of the South to national property are
agitated. The incredulous folly of the North and the newspaper
sympathy of the great Northern cities drag the whole question of
war slowly along. In the West (a month later in news), the people
fondly believe the bonds of the Union will not be broken.
Many think the South will drop out quietly. Lincoln's policy is
utterly unknown. Distance has dulled the echo of the hostile guns
fired at the STAR OF THE WEST by armed traitors, on January 9, at
Jefferson Davis's shadowy Confederacy of the same fatal date is
regarded as only a temporary menace to the Union. The great border
States are not yet in line.
Paltering old President Buchanan has found no warrant to draw the
nation's sword in defence of the outraged flag.
Congress is a camp of warring enemies. Even the conspirators cling
to their comfortable chairs.
It is hard to realize, by the blue Pacific, that the flag is already
down. No one knows the fatal dead line between "State" and "Union."
So recruits come in slowly to the Knights of the Golden Circle,
in California. Secession is only a dark thunder-cloud, hanging
ominously in the sky. The red lightning of war lingers in its
Hardin, Valois, and the Knights toil to secure their ends. They
know not that their vigorous foes have sent trusted messengers
speeding eastward to secure the removal of General Albert Sidney
Johnston. There is a Union League digging under their works!
The four electoral votes of California cast for Lincoln tell him
the State is loyal. An accidental promotion of Governor Latham to
the Senate, places John G. Downey in the chair of California. If
not a "coercionist," he is certainly no "rebel." The leaders of
the Golden Circle feel that chivalry in the West is crushed, unless
saved by a "coup de main." McDougall is a war senator. Latham,
ruined by his prediction that California would go South or secede
alone, sinks into political obscurity. The revolution, due to David
Terry's bullet, brought men like Phelps, Sargent, T. W. Park, and
John Conness to the front. Other Free-State men see the victory
of their principles with joy. Sidney Johnston is the last hope of
the Southern leaders. The old soldier's resignation speeds eastward
on the pony express. Day by day, exciting news tells of the snapping
of cord after cord. Olden amity disappears in the East. The public
voice is heard.
The mantle of heroic Baker as a political leader falls upon the boy
preacher, Thomas Starr King. He boldly raises the song of freedom.
It is now no time to lurk in the rear. Men, hitherto silent; rally
around the flag.
The "Union League" grows fast, as the "Golden Circle" extends. All
over California, resolute men swear to stand by the flag. Stanford
and Low are earning their governorships. From pulpit and rostrum
the cry of secession is raised by Dr. Scott and the legal meteor
Edmund Randolph, now sickening to his death. Randolph, though
a son of Virginia, with, first, loyal impulses, sent despatches
to President Lincoln that California was to be turned over to the
South. He disclosed that Jefferson Davis had already sent Sidney
Johnston a Major-General's commission. Though he finally follows
the course of his native State, Randolph rendered priceless service
to the Union cause in the West. General Edward V. Sumner is already
secretly hurrying westward. He is met at Panama by the Unionist
messengers. They turn back with him. In every city and county
the Unionists and Southerners watch each other. While Johnston's
resignation flies eastward, Sumner is steaming up the Mexican coast,
unknown to the conspirators.
In the days of March and April, 1861, one excited man could have
plunged the Pacific Coast into civil warfare. All unconscious of
the deadly gun bellowing treason on April 12th at Charleston, as
the first shell burst over Sumter, the situation remained one of
anxious tension in California. The telegraph is not yet finished.
On April 19th, General Sumner arrived unexpectedly. He was informed of
local matters by the loyalists. General Sidney Johnston, astonished
and surprised, turned over his command at once. Without treasonable
attempt, he left the Golden Gate. When relieved, he was no longer
in the service. Speeding over the Colorado deserts to Texas, the
high-minded veteran rode out to don the new gray uniform, and to
die in the arms of an almost decisive victory at Shiloh.
Well might the South call that royal old soldier to lead its
hosts. Another half hour of Albert Sidney Johnston at Shiloh, and
the history of the United States might have been changed by his
unconquered sword. Lofty in his aims, adored by his subordinates,
he was a modern Marshal Ney. The Southern cypress took its darkest
tinge around his untimely grave. Sidney Johnston had all the sterling
qualities of Lee, and even a rarer magnetism of character.
Honor placed one fadeless wreath upon his tomb. He would not play
the ignoble part of a Twiggs or a Lynde. He offered a stainless
sword to the Bonnie Blue Flag.
The gravity of his farewell, the purity of his private character,
the affection of his personal friends, are tributes to the great
soldier. He nearly crushed the Union army in his tiger-like assault
at Shiloh. By universal consent, the ablest soldier of the "old
army," he was sacrificed to the waywardness of fate. Turns of
California was stunned by the rapidity of Sumner's grasp of the
reins of command. Before the Knights of the Golden Circle could move,
the control of the State and the coast was lost to them forever.
Forts and arsenals, towns and government depositories, navy-yards
and vessels, were guarded.
Following this action of Sumner, on May 10th the news of Sumter, and
the uprising of the North, burst upon friend and foe in California.
The loyal men rallied in indignation, overawing the Southern
element. The oath of fealty was renewed by thousands. California's
star was that day riveted in the flag. An outraged people deposed
Judge Hardy, who so feebly prosecuted the slayer of Broderick.
Every avenue was guarded. Conspiracy fled to back rooms and side
streets. Here were no Federal wrongs to redress. On the spot where
Broderick's body lay, under Baker's oratory, the multitude listened
to the awakened patriots of the West. The Pacific Coast was saved.
The madness of fools who fluttered a straggling "bear flag,"
"palmetto ensign," or "lone star," caused them to flee in terror.
Stanley, Lake, Crockett, Starr King, General Shields, and others,
echoed the pledges of their absent comrades in New York. Organization,
for the Union, followed. Even the maddest Confederate saw the only
way to serve the South was to sneak through the lines to Texas. The
telegraph was completed in October, 1861. The government had then
daily tidings from the loyal sentinels calling "All's well," on
fort and rampart, from San Juan Island to Fort Yuma.
Troops were offered everywhere. The only region in California
where secessionists were united was in San Joaquin.
While public discussion availed, Hardin and Valois listened
to Thornton, Crittenden, Morrison, Randolph, Dr. Scott, Weller,
Whitesides, Hoge, and Nugent. But the time for hope was past.
The golden sun had set for ever. Fifteen regiments of Californian
troops, in formation, were destined to hold the State. They guarded
the roads to Salt Lake and Arizona. The arsenals and strongholds
were secured. The chance of successful invasion from Texas vanished.
It was the crowning mistake of the first year of secession, not
to see the value of the Pacific Coast. From the first shot, the
Pacific Railroad became a war measure. The iron bands tied East
and West in a firm union.
Gwin's departure and Randolph's death added to the Southern
discomfiture. No course remained for rebels but to furtively join
the hosts of treason. Flight to the East.
In the wake of Sidney Johnston went many men of note. Garnett,
Cheatham, Brooks, Calhoun, Benham, Magruder, Phil Herbert, and
others, with Dan Showalter and David Terry, each fresh from the
deadly field of honor. Kewen, Weller, and others remained to be
silenced by arrest. All over the State a hegira commenced which ended
in final defeat. Many graves on the shallow-trenched battle-fields
were filled by the Californian exiles. Not in honor did these
devoted men and hundreds of their friends leave the golden hills.
Secretly they fled, lest their romantic quest might land them in
a military prison. Those unable to leave gave aid to the absent.
Sulking at home, they deserted court and mart to avoid personal
It was different with many of the warm-hearted Californian sons
of the South who were attached to the Union. Cut off in a distant
land, they held aloof from approving secession. Grateful for the
shelter of the peaceful land in which their hard-won homes were
made, it was only after actual war that the ties of blood carried
them away and ranged them under the Stars and Bars. When the
Southern ranks fell, in windrows, on the Peninsula, hundreds of
these manly Californians left to join their brethren. They had
clung to the Union till their States went out one by one. They sadly
sought the distant fields of action, and laid down their lives for
the now holy cause.
The attitude of these gallant men was noble. They scorned the
burrowing conspirators who dug below the foundations of the national
constitution. These schemers led the eager South into a needless
The holiest feelings of heredity dragged the Southerners who lingered
into war. It was a sacrifice of half of the splendid generation
which fought under the Southern Cross.
When broken ranks appealed for the absent, when invaded States and
drooping hopes aroused desperation, the last California contingents
braved the desert dangers. Indian attack and Federal capture were
defied, only to die for the South on its sacred soil. "Salut aux
braves!" The loyalists of California were restrained from disturbing
the safe tenure of the West by depleting the local Union forces.
Abraham Lincoln saw that the Pacific columns should do no more
than guard the territories adjacent. To hold the West and secure
the overland roads was their duty. To be ready to march to meet
an invasion or quell an uprising. This was wisdom.
But the country called for skilled soldiers and representative
men to join the great work of upholding the Union. A matchless
contingent of Union officers went East.
California had few arms-bearing young Americans to represent its
first ten years of State existence. But it returned to the national
government men identified with the Pacific Coast, who were destined
to be leaders of the Union hosts.
Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, Halleck, Hancock, Hooker, Keyes,
Naglee, Baker, Ord, Farragut (the blameless Nelson of America),
Canby, Fremont, Shields, McPherson, Stoneman, Stone, Porter, Boggs,
Sumner, Heintzelman, Lander, Buell, with other old residents of the
coast, drew the sword. Wool, Denver, Geary, and many more, whose
abilities had been perfected in the struggles of the West, took
Where the young were absent (by reason of the infancy of the
State), these men were returned to the government. They went with
a loyalty undimmed, in the prime of their powers. Even the graceful
McClellan was identified with the Pacific Railway survey. Around
the scenes of their early manhood, the halo of these loyal men
will ever linger, and gild the name of "Pioneer." It can never be
forgotten that without the stormy scenes of Western life, without
the knowledge of the great golden empire and the expansion of powers
due to their lessons on plain and prairie, many of these men would
have relapsed into easy mediocrity.
The completed telegraph, military extension of lines, and the active
Union League, secured California to the Union.
The gigantic game of war rolled its red pageantry over Eastern
fields. Bull Run fired the Southern heart. Hardin and Valois learned
the Southern Government would send a strong expedition to hold New
Mexico and Arizona. Local aid was arranged by the Knights of the
Golden Circle to, at last, seize California. It was so easy to whip
Yankees. The Knights were smiling.
At the risk of their lives, two Southern messengers reached San
Francisco. One by Panama. The other crossed Arizona and examined
the line of march. He rode, warning sympathizers to await the
Confederate flag, which now waved in triumph at Munson's Hill, in
plain sight of the guarded capitol.
Valois fears this Western raid may be too late. For the Navy
Department reinforces the Pacific fleet. Valois explains to Hardin
that his prophecy is being realized. The Confederates, with more
men than are needed, hold their lines of natural defence. The
fruits of Bull Run are lost. While letters by every steamer come
from Northern spies, Washington friends, and Southern associates,
the journals tell them of the deliberate preparation of the North
for a struggle to the death. The giant is waking up.
Valois mourns the madness of keeping the flower of the South inactive.
A rapid Northern invasion should humble the administration. The
ardent Texans should be thrown at once into California, leaving
New Mexico and Arizona for later occupation.
There is no reason why the attack should not be immediate. Under the
stimulus of Bull Run the entire Southern population of California
would flock to the new standard. Three months should see the Confederate
cavalry pasturing their steeds in the prairies of California.
The friends sicken at the delay, as weary months drag on. Sibley's
Texans should be now on the Gila. They have guides, leaders, scouts,
and spies from the Southern refugees pouring over the Gila. Every
golden day has its gloomy sunset. Hardin's brow furrows with deep
lines. His sagacity tells him that the time has passed for the
movement to succeed.
And he is right. Sibley wearies out the winter in Texas. The
magnet of Eastern fields of glory draws the fiery Texans across the
Mississippi. The Californian volunteers are arming and drilling.
They stream out to Salt Lake. They send the heavy column of General
Carleton toward El Paso.
The two chiefs of the Golden Circle are unaware of the destination
of Carleton. Loyalty has learned silence. There are no traitor
department clerks here, to furnish maps, plans, and duplicate
Canby in New Mexico, unknown to the secessionists of California,
aided by Kit Carson, gathers a force to strike Sibley in flank.
It is fatal to Californian conquest. Hardin and Valois learn of
the lethargy of the great Confederate army, flushed with success.
Sibley's dalliance at Fort Bliss continues.
The "army of New Mexico," on September 19, 1861, is only a few
hundreds of mounted rangers and Texan youth under feeble Sibley.
From the first, Jefferson Davis's old army jealousies and hatred
of able men of individuality, hamstring the Southern cause.
A narrow-minded man is Davis, the slave of inveterate prejudice.
With dashing Earl Van Dorn, sturdy Ben Ewell, and dozens of veteran
cavalry leaders at his service, knowing every foot of the road,
he could have thrown his Confederate column into California. Three
months after Sumter's fall, California should have been captured.
Davis allows an old martinet to ruin the Confederate cause in the
The operation is so easy, so natural, and so necessary, that
it looks like fatuity to neglect the golden months of the fall of
Especially fitted for bold dashes with a daring leader, the Texans
throw themselves, later, uselessly against the flaming redoubts
of Corinth. They are thrown into mangled heaps before Battery
Robinett, dying for the South. Their military recklessness has
never been surpassed in the red record of war.
Though gallant in the field, President Jefferson Davis, seated
on a throne of cotton, gazes across the seas for England's help.
He craves the aid of France. He allows narrow prejudice to blind
him to any part of the great issue, save the military pageantry of
his unequalled Virginian army. It is the flower of the South, and
moves only on the sacred soil of Virginia. Davis, restrained by
antipathies, haughty, and distant, is deaf to the thrilling calls
of the West for that dashing column. It would have gained him
California. Weakness of mind kept him from hurling his victorious
troops on Washington, or crossing the Ohio to divide the North while
yet unprepared. Active help could then be looked for from Northern
Democrats. But he masses the South in Virginia.
As winter wears on the movement of Carleton's and Canby's preparations
are disclosed by Southern friends, who run the gauntlet with these
Sibley lingered with leaden heels at Fort Bliss. The Confederate
riders are not across the Rio Grande. Valois grows heartsick.
Broken in hopes, wearied with plotting, mistrusted by the community,
Hardin knows the truth at last. The words, "Too late!" ring in his
It will be only some secret plot which can now hope to succeed in
Davis and Lee are wedded to Virginia. The haughty selfishness
of the "mother of presidents" demands that every interest of the
Confederacy shall give way to morbid State vanity. Virginia is to
be the graveyard of the gallant Southern generation in arms.
Every other pass may be left unguarded. The chivalry of the Stars
and Bars must crowd Virginia till their graves fill the land.
Unnecessarily strong, with a frontier defended by rivers, forests,
and chosen positions, it becomes Fortune's sport to huddle the
bulk of the Confederate forces into Lee's army.
It allows the Border, Gulf, and Western States to fall a prey to
the North. The story of Lee's ability has been told by an adoring
generation. The record of his cold military selfishness is shown
in the easy conquests of the heart of the South. Their natural
defenders were drafted to fill those superb legions, operating
under the eyes of Davis and controlled by the slightest wish of
Albert Sidney Johnston, Beauregard, and the fighting tactician,
Joe Johnston, were destined to feel how fatal was the military
favoritism of Jefferson Davis. Davis threw away Vicksburg, and
the Mississippi later, to please Lee. All for Virginia.
Stung with letters from Louisiana, reproaching him for inaction
while his brethren were meeting the Northern invaders, Valois
decides to go East. He will join the Southern defence. For it is
Directing Hardin to select a subordinate in his place, Valois returns
to Lagunitas. He must say farewell to loving wife and prattling
child. Too well known to be allowed to follow Showalter, Terry,
and their fellows over the Colorado desert, he must go to Guaymas
in Mexico. He can thus reach the Confederates at El Paso. From
thence it is easy to reach New Orleans. Then to the front. To the
Valois feels it would be useless for him to go via Panama. The
provost-marshal would hold him as a "known enemy."
With rage, Valois realizes a new commander makes latent treason
uncomfortable in California. He determines to reach El Paso, and
hurl the Texans on California. Should he fail, he heads a Louisiana
regiment. His heart tells him the war will be long and bloody.
Edmund Randolph's loyalty, at the outbreak, prevented the seizure
of California. Sibley's folly and Davis's indifference complete
the ruin of the Western plan of action.
"Hardin, hold the Knights together. I will see if I can stop a
Yankee bullet!" says Valois. He notifies Hardin that he intends to
make him sole trustee of his property in his absence.
Hardin's term on the bench has expired. Like other Southerners
debarred from taking the field, he gives aid to those who go. The
men who go leave hostages behind them. The friendship of years causes
Yalois to make him the adviser of his wife in property matters.
He makes him his own representative. "Thank Heaven!" cries Valois,
"my wife's property is safe. No taint from me can attach to her
birthright. It is her own by law."
Valois, at Lagunitas, unfolds to the sorrowing padre his departure
for the war. Safe in the bosom of the priest, this secret is a heavy
load. Valois gains his consent to remain in charge of Lagunitas. The
little girl begins to feebly walk. Her infant gaze cannot measure
Lovely Dolores Valois listens meekly to her husband's plans. Devoted
to Maxime, his will is her only law. The beautiful dark eyes are
tinged with a deeper lustre.
Busied with his affairs, Maxime thinks of the future as he handles
his papers. Fran‡ois Ribaut is the depositary of his wishes. Dolores
is as incapable as her child in business. Will God protect these
Valois wonders if he will return in defeat like Don Miguel. Poor
old Don! around his tomb the roses creep,--his gentle Juanita by
He hopes the armies of the West will carry the banner, now flying
from Gulf to border, into the North. There the legendary friends
of the South will hail it.
Alas! pent up in California, Maxime hears not the murmurs of the
Northern pines, breathing notes of war and defiance. The predictions
of the leaders of the conspiracy are fallacious. Aid and comfort
fail them abroad. North of Mason and Dixon's line the sympathizers
In his heart he only feels the tumult of the call to the field. It
is his pride of race. Tired, weary of the crosses of fortune, he
waits only to see the enemy's fires glittering from hill and cliff.
With all his successes, the West has never been his home. Looking
out on his far-sweeping alamedas, his thoughts turn fondly back
to his native land. He is "going home to Dixie."
"I'SE GWINE BACK TO DIXIE."--THE FORTUNES OF WAR.--VAL VERDE.
The last weeks of Maxime Valois' stay at Lagunitas drift away.
Old "Kaintuck" has plead in vain to go. He yields to Valois' orders
not to dream of going with him. His martial heart is fired, but
some one must watch the home. Padre Fran‡ois Ribaut has all the
documents of the family, the marriage, and birth of the infant heir.
He is custodian also of the will of Donna Dolores. She leaves her
family inheritance to her child, and failing her, to her husband.
The two representatives of the departing master know that Philip
Hardin will safely guide the legal management of the estate while
its chieftain is at the wars.
Donna Dolores and the priest accompany Valois to San Francisco. He
must leave quietly. He is liable to arrest. He takes the Mexican
steamer, as if for a temporary absence.
It costs Maxime Valois a keen pang of regret, as he rides the last
time over his superb domain. He looks around the plaza, and walks
alone through the well-remembered rooms. He takes his seat, with
a sigh, by his wife's side, as the carriage whirls him down the
avenues. The orange-trees are in bloom. The gardens show the rare
beauties of midland California. As far as the eye can reach, the
sparkle of lovely Lagunitas mirrors the clouds flaking the sapphire
sky. Valois fixes his eyes once more upon his happy home. Peace,
prosperity, progress, mining exploration, social development, all
smile through this great interior valley of the Golden State. No war
cloud has yet rolled past the "Rockies." It is the golden youth of
the commonwealth. The throbbing engine, clattering stamp, whirling
saw, and busy factory, show that the homemakers are moving on
apace, with giant strides. No fairer land to leave could tempt a
departing warrior. But even with a loved wife and his only child
beside him, the Southerner's heart "turns back to Dixie."
Passing rapidly through Stockton, where his old friends vainly
tempt him to say, publicly, good-by, he refrains. No one must know
his destination. No parting cup is drained.
In San Francisco, Philip Hardin, in presence of Valois' wife and
the padre, receives his powers of attorney and final directions.
Letters, remittances, and all communications are to be sent through
a house in Havana. The old New Orleans family of Valois is well
known there. Maxime will be able, by blockade-runners and travelling
messengers, to obtain his communications.
The only stranger in San Francisco who knows of Maxime's departure
is the old mining partner, Joe Woods. He is now a middle-aged man
of property and vigor. He comes from the interior to say adieu to
his friend. "Old times" cloud their eyes. But the parting is secret.
Federal spies throng the streets.
At the mail wharf the Mexican steamer, steam up, is ready for
departure. The last private news from the Texan border tells of
General Sibley's gathering forces. Provided with private despatches,
and bundles of contraband letters for the cut-off friends in the
South, Maxime Valois repairs to the steamer. Several returning
Texans and recruits for the Confederacy have arrived singly. They
will make an overland party from Guaymas, headed by Valois. Valois,
under the orders of the Golden Circle, has been charged with
important communications. Unknown to him, secret agents of the
government watch his departure. He has committed no overt act. He
goes to a neutral land.
The calm, passionless face of Padre Fran‡ois Ribaut shows a tear
trembling in his eye. He leads the weeping wife ashore from the
cabin. The last good-by was sacred by its silent sorrow. Valois'
father's heart was strangely thrilled when he kissed his baby
girl farewell, on leaving the little party. Even rebels have warm
Philip Hardin's stern features relax into some show of feeling as
Valois places his wife's hands in his. That mute adieu to lovely
Dolores moves him. "May God deal with you, Hardin, as you deal with
my wife and child," solemnly says Valois. The lips of Fran‡ois
Ribaut piously add "Amen. Amen."
Padre Francisco comes back to the boat. With French impulsiveness,
he throws himself in Valois' arms. He whispers a friend's blessing,
a priest's benediction.
The ORIZABA glides out past two or three watchful cruisers flying
the Stars and Stripes. The self-devoted Louisianian loses from sight
the little knot of dear ones on the wharf. He sees the flutter of
Dolores' handkerchief for the last time. On to Dixie! Going home!
Out on the bay, thronged with the ships of all nations, the steamer
glides. Its shores are covered with smiling villages. Happy homes
and growing cities crown the heights. Past grim Alcatraz, where
the star flag proudly floats on the Sumter-like citadel, the boat
slowly moves. It leaves the great metropolis of the West, spreading
over its sandy hills and creeping up now the far green valleys. It
slips safely through the sea-gates of the West, and past the grim
fort at the South Heads. There, casemate and barbette shelter the
shotted guns which speak only for the Union.
Valois' heart rises in his throat as the sentinel's bayonet glitters
in the sunlight. Loyal men are on the walls of the fort. Far away
on the Presidio grounds, he can see the blue regiments of Carleton's
troops, at exercise, wheel at drill. The sweeping line of a cavalry
battalion moves, their sabres flash as the lines dash on. These
men are now his foes. The tossing breakers of the bar throw their
spray high over bulwarks and guard. In grim determination he
watches the last American flag he ever will see in friendship, till
it fades away from sight. He has now taken the irrevocable step.
When he steps on Mexican soil, he will be "a man without a country."
Prudential reasons keep him aloof from his companions until Guaymas
is reached. Once ashore, the comrades openly unite. Without delay
the party plunges into the interior. Well armed, splendidly mounted,
they assume a semi-military discipline. The Mexicans are none too
friendly. Valois has abundant gold, as well as forty thousand
dollars in drafts on Havana, the proceeds of Lagunitas' future
returns advanced by Hardin.
Twenty days' march up the Yaqui Valley, through Arispe, where the
filibusters died with Spartan bravery, is a weary jaunt. But high
hopes buoy them up. Over mesa and gorge, past hacienda and Indian
settlement, they climb passes until the great mountains break away.
Crossing the muddy Rio Grande, Valois is greeted by old friends.
He sees the Confederate flag for the first time, floating over the
turbulent levies of Sibley, still at Fort Bliss.
Long and weary marches; dangers from bandit, Indian, and lurking
Mexican; regrets for the home circle at Lagunitas, make Maxime Valois
very grave. Individual sacrifices are not appreciated in war-time.
As he rides through the Confederate camp, his heart sinks. The
uncouth straggling plainsmen, without order or regular equipment,
recall to him his old enemies, the nomadic Mexican vaqueros.
There seems to be no supply train, artillery, or regular stores. These
are not the men who can overawe the compact California community.
Far gray rocky sandhills stretch along the Texan border. Over the
Rio Grande, rich mountain scenery delights the eye. It instantly
recalls to Valois the old Southern dream of taking the "Zona Libre."
Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nueva Leon were coveted as a crowning
trophy of the Mexican war. Dreams of olden days.
Received kindly by General Sibley, the Louisianian delivers his
letters, despatches, and messages. After rest and refreshment, he
is asked to join a council of war. There are fleet couriers, lately
arrived, who speak of Carleton's column being nearly ready to cross
the Colorado. When the General explains his plan of attacking the
Federal forces in New Mexico, and occupying Arizona, Valois hastens
to urge a forced march down to the fertile Gila. He trusts to Canby
timidly holding on to Fort Union and Fort Craig. Alas, Sibley's
place of recruiting and assembly has been ill chosen! The animals,
crowded on the bare plains, suffer for lack of forage. Recruits
are discouraged by the dreary surroundings. The effective strength
has not visibly increased in three months. The Texans are wayward.
A strong column, well organized, in the rich interior of Texas, full
of the early ardor of secession might have pushed on and reached
the Gila. But here is only a chafing body of undisciplined men.
They are united merely by political sentiment.
General Sibley urges Valois to accompany him in his forward march.
He offers him a staff position, promising to release him, then
to move to the eastward. Valois' knowledge of the frontier is
invaluable, and he cannot pass an enemy in arms. Maxime Valois,
with fiery energy, aids in urging the motley command forward. On
February 7, 1862, the wild brigade of invasion reaches the mesa near
Fort Craig. The "gray" and "blue" meet here in conflict, to decide
the fate of New Mexico and Arizona. Feeble skirmishing begins. On
the 2lst of February, the bitter conflict of Val Verde shows Valois
for the first time--alas, not the last!--the blood of brothers
mingled on a doubtful field. It is a horrid fight. A drawn battle.
Instead of pushing on to Arizona, deluded by reports of local aid,
Sibley straggles off to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Canby refits his
broken forces under the walls of strong Fort Union. Long before the
trifling affairs of Glorietta and Peralta, Valois, disgusted with
Sibley, is on his way east. He will join the Army of the West. His
heart sickens at the foolish incapacity of the border commander.
The Texan column melts away under Canby's resolute advance. The
few raiders, who have ridden down into Arizona and hoisted the
westernmost Confederate flag at Antelope Peak, are chased back
by Carleton's strong column. The boasted "military advance on
California" is at an end. Carleton's California column is well over
the Colorado. The barren fruits of Val Verde are only a few buried
guns of McRea's hard-fought battery. The gallantry of Colonel
Thos. P. Ochiltree, C.S.A., at Val Verde, under the modest rank of
"Captain," is the only remembered historic incident of that now
forgotten field. The First Regiment and one battalion of the Second
California Volunteer Cavalry, the Fifth California Infantry, and
a good battery hold Arizona firmly. The Second Battalion, Second
California Cavalry, the Fifth California Cavalry, and Third California
Infantry, under gallant General Pat Connor, keep Utah protected.
They lash the wild Indians into submission, and prevent any rising.
General Canby and Kit Carson's victorious troops keep New Mexico.
They cut the line of any possible Confederate advance. Only Sibley's
pompous report remains now to tell of the fate of his troops, who
literally disbanded or deserted. An inglorious failure attends the
dreaded Texan attack.
The news, travelling east and west, by fugitives, soon announce
the failure of this abortive attempt. The golden opportunity of
the fall of 1861 never returns.
The Confederate operations west of the Rio Grande were only
a miserable and ridiculous farce. Valois, leaving failure behind
him, learns on nearing the Louisiana line, that the proud Pelican
flag floats no longer over the Crescent City. It lies now helpless
under the guns of fearless Farragut's fleet. So he cannot even
revisit the home of his youth. Maxime Valois smuggles himself
across the Mississippi. He joins the Confederates under Van Dorn.
He is a soldier at last.
Here in the circling camps of the great Army of the West, Maxime
Valois joins the first Louisiana regiment he meets. He realizes
that the beloved Southern Confederacy has yet an unbeaten army. A
grand array. The tramp of solid legions makes him feel a soldier,
not a sneaking conspirator. He is no more a guerilla of the plains,
or a fugitive deserter of his adopted State.
The capture of New Orleans seals the Mississippi. The Confederacy
is cut in twain. It is positive now, the only help from the golden
West will be the arrival of parties of self-devoted men like
himself. They come in squads, bolting through Mexico or slipping
through Arizona. Some reach Panama and Havana, gaining the South by
blockade runners. He opens mail communication with Judge Hardin,
via Havana. He succeeds in exchanging views with the venerable
head of his house at New Orleans. It is all gloomy now. Old and
despondent, the New Orleans patriarch has sent his youthful son
away to Paris. Armand is too young to bear arms. He can only come
home and do a soldier's duty later. By family influence, Maxime
Valois finds himself soon a major in a Louisiana regiment. He wears
his gray uniform at the head of men already veterans. Shiloh's
disputed laurels are theirs. They are tigers who have tasted blood.
In the rapidly changing scenes of service, trusting to chance for
news of his family, Maxime Valois' whole nature is centred upon
the grave duties of his station. Southern victories are hailed
from the East. The victorious arms of the Confederacy roll back
McClellan's great force. Bruised, bleeding, and shattered from the
hard-fought fields of the Peninsula, the Unionists recoil. The
stars of the Southern Cross are high in hope's bright field. Though
Richmond is saved for the time, it is at a fearful cost. Malvern
Hill shakes to its base under the flaming cannon, ploughing the
ranks of the dauntless Confederates, as the Army of the Potomac
hurls back the confident legions of Lee, Johnston, and Jackson.
The Army of the Potomac is decimated. The bloody attrition of the
field begins to wear off these splendid lines which the South can
never replace. Losses like those of Pryor's Brigade, nine hundred
out of fifteen hundred in a single campaign, would appall any but
the grim Virginian soldiers. They are veterans now. They learn the
art of war in fields like Seven Pines and Fair Oaks. Even Pryor,
as chivalric in action as truculent in debate, now admits that the
Yankees will fight. Fredericksburg's butchery is a victory of note.
All the year the noise of battle rolls, while the Eastern war is
undecided, for the second Manassas and awful Antietam balance each
other. Maxime Valois feels the issue is lost. When the shock of
battle has been tried at Corinth, where lion-like Rosecrans conquers,
when the glow of the onset fades away, his heart sinks. He knows
that the iron-jointed men of the West are the peers of any race in
Ay! In the West it is fighting from the first. Donelson, Shiloh,
and Corinth lead up to the awful death shambles of Stone River,
Vicksburg, and Chickamauga. These are scenes to shake the nerve of
the very bravest.
Heading his troops on the march, watching the thousand baleful
fires of the enemy at night, when friend and foe go down in the
thundering crash of battle, Valois, amazed, asks himself, "Are
these sturdy foes the Northern mudsills?"
For, proud and dashing as the Louisiana Tigers and Texan Rangers
prove, steady and vindictive the rugged Mississippians, dogged and
undaunted the Georgians, fierce the Alabamans--the honest candor
of Valois tells him no human valor can excel the never-yielding
Western troops. Their iron courage honors the blue-clad men of Iowa,
Michigan, and the Lake States. No hired foreigners there; no helot
immigrants these men, whose glittering bayonets shine in the
lines of Corinth, as steadily as the spears of the old Tenth Roman
With unproclaimed chivalry and a readiness to meet the foe
which tells its own story, the Western men come on. Led by Grant,
Sherman, Rosecrans, Sheridan, Thomas, McPherson, and Logan, they
press steadily toward the heart of the Confederacy. The rosy dreams
of empire in the great West fade away. Farragut, Porter, and the
giant captain, Grant, cut off the Trans-Mississippi from active
military concert with the rest of the severed Confederacy.
To and fro rolls the red tide of war. Valois' soldierly face,
bronzed with service, shows only the steady devotion of the soldier.
He loves the cause--once dear in its promise--now sacred in its
hours of gloomy peril and incipient decadence. Gettysburg, Vicksburg,
and Port Hudson are terrible omens of a final day of gloom. Letters
from his wife, reports from Judge Hardin, and news from the Western
shores give him only vague hints of the future straggling efforts
on the Pacific. The only comforting tidings are that his wife and
child are well, by the peaceful shores of Lagunitas. The absence
of foreign aid, the lack of substantial support from the Northern
sympathizers, and the slight hold on the ocean of the new government,
dishearten him. The grim pressure everywhere of the Northern lines
tells Valois that the splendid chivalry of the Southern arms is
being forced surely backward. Sword in hand, his resolute mind
unshaken, the Louisianian follows the Stars and Bars, devoted and
never despairing. "Quand meme."
In the long silent days at Lagunitas, the patient wife learns
much from the cautious disclosures of Padre Francisco. Her soldier
husband's letters tell her the absent master of Lagunitas is
winning fame and honor in a dreadful conflict. It is only vaguely
understood by the simple Californian lady.
Her merry child is rapidly forgetting the self-exiled father. Under
the bowers of Lagunitas she romps in leafy alley and shady bower.
Judge Hardin, grave-faced, cautious, frugal of speech, visits the
domain several times. In conference with Padre Francisco and the
vigilant "Kaintuck," he adjusts the accumulating business affairs.
Riding over the billowing fields, mounting the grassy hills,
threading the matchless forests of uncut timber, he sees all. He
sits plotting and dreaming on the porch by the lake side. Thousands
of horses and cattle, now crossed and improved, are wealth wandering
at will on every side. Hardin's dark eyes grow eager and envious.
He gazes excitedly on this lordly domain. Suppose Valois should never
come back. This would be a royal heritage. He puts the maddening
thought away. Within a few miles, mill and flume tell of the tracing
down of golden quartz lodes. The pick breaks into the hitherto
undisturbed quartz ledges of Mariposa gold. Is there gold to be
found here, too? Perhaps.
Only an old prating priest, a simple woman, and an infant, between
him and these thousands of rich acres, should Valois be killed.
Philip Hardin becomes convinced of final defeat, as 1863 draws to
a close. The days of Gettysburg and Vicksburg ring the knell of
the Confederacy. Even the prestige of Chancellorsville, with its
sacred victory sealed with Stonewall Jackson's precious blood,
was lost in the vital blow delivered when the columns of Longstreet
and Pickett failed to carry the heights of Gettysburg.
The troops slain on that field could never be replaced. Boyhood
and old age, alone, were left to fill the vacant ranks. Settling
slowly down, the gloomy days of collapse approach.
While Lee skilfully faced the Army of the Potomac, and the Confederacy
was drained of men to hold the "sacred soil," the Western fields
were lit up by the fierce light of Grant and Sherman's genius. Like
destroying angels, seconded by Rosecrans, Thomas, and McPherson,
these great captains drew out of the smoke of battle, gigantic
figures towering above all their rivals.
Maxime Valois bitterly deplored the uselessness of the war in the
trans-Mississippi section of the Confederacy. It is too late for
any Western divisions to affect the downward course of the sacred
cause for which countless thousands have already died.
The Potomac armies of the Union, torn with the dissensions of
warring generals, wait for the days of the inscrutable Grant and
fiery Philip Sheridan. In the West, the eagle eye of Rosecrans
has caught the weakness of the unguarded roads to the heart of the
Stone River and Murfreesboro' tell of the wintry struggle to the
death for the open doors of Chattanooga. Though another shall wear
the laurels of victory, it is the proud boast of Rosecrans alone
to have divined the open joint in the enemy's harness. He points
the way to the sea for the irresistible Sherman. While the fearless
gray ranks thin day by day, in march and camp, Valois thinks often
of his distant home. Straggling letters from Philip Hardin tell
him of the vain efforts of the cowed secessionists of the Pacific
Coast. Loyal General George Wright holds the golden coast. Governor
and Legislature, Senators and Congressmen, are united. The press
and public sentiment are now a unit against disunion or separation.
Colonel Valois looked for some effective action of the Knights of
the Golden Circle on the Pacific. Alas, for the gallant exile!
Impending defeat renders the secret conspirators cautious. In the
cheering news that wife and child are well, still guarded by the
sagacious Padre Fran‡ois, Valois frets only over the consecutive
failures of Western conspiracy. Folly and fear make the Knights of
the Golden Circle a timid band. The "Stars and Stripes" wave now,
unchallenged, over Arizona and New Mexico. The Texans at Antelope
Peak never returned to carry the "Stars and Bars" across the
Colorado. Vain boasters!
While Bragg toils and plots to hurl himself on Rosecrans in the
awful day of Chickamauga, where thirty-five thousand dying and
wounded are offered up to the Moloch of Disunion, Valois bitterly
reads Hardin's account of the puerile efforts on the Pacific. It
is only boys' play.
All energy, every spark of daring seems to have left the men who,
secure in ease and fortune, live rich and unharassed in California.
Their Southern brethren in the ranks reel blindly in the bloody
mazes of battle, fighting in the field. A poor Confederate lieutenant
attempts a partisan expedition in the mountains of California. He
is promptly captured. The boyish plan is easily frustrated. Bands
of resolute marauders gather at Panama to attack the Californian
steamers, gold-laden. The vigilance of government agents baffles
them. The mail steamers are protected by rifle guns and bodies
of soldiers. Loyal officers protect passengers from any dash of
desperate men smuggled on board. Secret-service spies are scattered
over all the Western shores. Mails, telegraphs, express, and the
growing railway facilities, are in the hands of the government. It
is Southern defeat everywhere.
Valois sadly realizes the only help from the once enthusiastic
West is a few smuggled remittances. Here and there, some quixotic
volunteer makes his way in. An inspiring yell for Jeff Davis, from
a tipsy ranchero, or incautious pothouse orator, is all that the
Pacific Coast can offer.
The Confederate flag never sweeps westward to the blue Pacific,
and the stars and bars sink lower day by day. As the weakness of
American commerce is manifest on the sea, Colonel Valois forwards
despairing letters to California. He urges attacks from Mexico,
Japan, Panama, or the Sandwich Islands, on the defenceless ships
loaded with American gold and goods. Unheeded, alas! these last
appeals. Unfortunately, munitions of war are not to be obtained in
the Pacific. The American fleets, though poor and scattered, are
skilfully handled. Consuls and diplomats everywhere aid in detecting
the weakly laid plans of the would-be pirates.
Still Valois fumes, sword in hand, at the pusillanimity of the
Western sympathizers. They are rich and should be arming. Why do
they not strike one effective blow for the cause? One gun would sink
a lightly built Pacific liner, or bring its flag down. Millions
of gold are being exported to the East from the treasure fields
of the West. Though proud of the dauntless, ragged gray ranks he
loves, Valois feels that the West should organize a serious attack
on some unprotected Federal interest, to save the issue. But the
miserable failure of Sibley has discouraged Confederate Western
effort. The Confederate Californian grinds his teeth to think that
one resolute dash of the scattered tens of thousands lying in camp,
uselessly, in Arkansas and Texas, would even now secure California.
Even now, as the Confederate line of battle wastes away, desperate
Southern men dream of throwing themselves into Mexico as an
unwelcome, armed immigration. This blood is precious at home.
Stung by the taunts of Eastern friends, at last Philip Hardin and
his co-workers stir to some show of action.
Peacefully loading in San Francisco harbor for Mexico, a heavy schooner
is filled with the best attainable fittings for a piratical cruise.
The J.W. Chapman rises and falls at the wharves at half gun-shot from
the old U.S. frigate CYANE. Her battery could blow the schooner
into splinters, with one broadside. Tackle and gear load the
peaceful-looking cases of "alleged" heavy merchandise. Ammunition
and store of arms are smuggled on board. Mingling unsuspectedly
with the provost guard on the wharves, a determined crew succeed
in fitting out the boat. Her outward "Mexican voyage" is really an
intended descent on the treasure steamers.
Disguised as "heavy machinery," the rifled cannons are loaded.
When ready to slip out of the harbor, past the guard-boats, the
would-be pirate is suddenly seized. The vigilant Federal officials
have fathomed the design. Some one has babbled. Too much talk, or
too much whiskey.
Neatly conceived, well-planned, and all but executed, it was a bold
idea. To capture a heavy Panama steamer, gold-laden; to transfer
her passengers to the schooner, and land them in Mexico; and,
forcing the crew to direct the vessel, to lie in wait for the
second outgoing steamer, was a wise plan. They would then capture
the incoming steamer from Panama, and ravage the coast of California.
With several millions of treasure and three steamers, two of them
could be kept as cruisers of the Confederacy. They could rove over
the Pacific, unchallenged. Their speed would be their safety.
Mexican and South American ports would furnish coal and supplies.
The captured millions would make friends everywhere. The swift
steamers could baffle the antiquated U.S. war vessels on the
Pacific. A glorious raid over the Pacific would end in triumph in
India or China.
These were the efforts and measures urged by Valois and the anxious
Confederates of the East.
It was perfectly logical. It was absolutely easy to make an effective
diversion by sea. But some fool's tongue or spy's keen eye ruins
When, months after the seizure of the CHAPMAN, Valois learns of
this pitiful attempt, he curses the stupid conspirators. They had
not the brains to use a Mexican or Central American port for the
dark purposes of the piratical expedition. Ample funds, resolute
men, and an unprotected enemy would have been positive factors of
success. Money, they had in abundance. Madness and folly seem to
have ruled the half-hearted conspirators of California. An ALABAMA
or two on the Pacific would have been most destructive scourges of
the sea. The last days of opportunity glide by. The prosaic records
of the Federal Court in California tell of the evanescent fame of
Harpending, Greathouse, Rubery, Mason, Kent, and the other would-be
buccaneers. The "Golden Circle" is badly shattered.
Every inlet of the Pacific is watched, after the fiasco of the
Chapman. She lies at anchor, an ignoble prize to the sturdy old
Cyane. It is kismet.
Maxime Valois mourns over the failure of these last plans to save
the "cause." Heart-sick, he only wonders when a Yankee bullet will
end the throbbings of his unconquerable heart. All is dark.
He fears not for his wife and child. Their wealth is secured. He loses,
from day to day, the feelings which tied him once to California.
The infant heiress he hardly knows. His patient, soft-eyed Western
wife is now only a placid memory. Her gentle nature never roused
the inner fires of his passionate soul. Alien to the Pacific
Coast, a soldier of fortune, the ties into which he drifted were
the weavings of Fate. His warrior soul pours out its devotion in
the military oath to guard to the last the now ragged silken folds
of his regimental banner, the dear banner of Louisiana. The eyes
of the graceful Creole beauties who gave it are now wet with bitter
tears. Beloved men are dying vainly, day by day, under its sacred
folds. Even Beauty's spell is vain.
The wild oats are golden once more on the hills of Lagunitas; the
early summer breezes waft stray leaf and blossom over the glittering
lake in the Mariposa Mountains. Heading the tireless riflemen
of his command, Valois throws himself in desperation on the Union
lines at Chickamauga. Crashing volley, ringing "Napoleons," the
wild yell of the onset, the answering cheers of defiance, sound
faintly distant as Maxime Valois drops from his charger. He lies
seriously wounded in the wild rush of Bragg's devoted battalions.
He has got his "billet."
For months, tossing on a bed of pain, the Louisianian is a sacred
charge to his admiring comrades. Far in the hills of Georgia, the
wasted soldier chafes under his absence from the field. The beloved
silken heralds of victory are fluttering far away on the heights of
Missionary Ridge. His faded eye brightens, his hollow cheek flushes
when the glad tidings reach him of the environment of Rosecrans.
His own regiment is at the front. He prays that he may lead it,
when it heads the Confederate advance into Ohio. For now, after
Chickamauga's terrific shock, the tide of victory bears northward
the flag of his adoration. Months have passed since he received any
news of his Western domain. No letters from Donna Dolores gladden
him. Far away from the red hills of Georgia, in tenderness his
thoughts, chastened with illness, turn to the dark-eyed woman who
waits for him. She prays before the benignant face of the Blessed
Virgin for her warrior husband. Alas, in vain!
Silent is Hardin. No news comes from Padre Francisco. Nothing from
his wife. Valois trusts to the future. The increasing difficulty of
contraband mails, hunted blockade-runners, and Federal espionage,
cut off his home tidings.
His martial soul thrilled at the glories of Chickamauga, Valois
learns that California has shown its mettle on the fiercest field
of the West. Cheatham, Brooks, and fearless Terry have led to the
front the wild masses of Bragg's devoted soldiery. These sons of
California, like himself, were no mere carpet knights. On scattered
Eastern fields, old friends of the Pacific have drawn the sword
or gallantly died for Dixie. Garnett laid his life down at Rich
Mountain. Calhoun Benham was a hero of Shiloh. Wild Philip Herbert
manfully dies under the Stars and Bars on the Red River.
The stain of cold indifference is lifted by these and other
self-devoted soldiers who battle for the South.
With heavy sighs, the wounded colonel still mourns for the failure
to raise the Southern Cross in the West. Every day proves how
useless have been all efforts on the Pacific Coast. Virginia is
now the "man eater" of the Confederacy. Valois is haunted with the
knowledge that some one will retrace the path of Rosecrans. Some
genius will break through the open mountain-gates and cut the
Confederacy in twain. It is an awful suspense.
While waiting to join his command, he hungers for home news. Grant,
the indomitable champion of the North, hurls Bragg from Missionary
Ridge. Leaping on the trail of the great army, which for the first
time deserts its guns and flags, the blue-clad pursuers press
on toward Chattanooga. They grasp the iron gate of the South with
The "Silent Man of Destiny" is called East to measure swords with
stately Lee. He trains his Eastern legions for the last death-grapple.
On the path toward the sea, swinging out like huntsmen, the columns
of Sherman wind toward Atlanta. Bluff, impetuous, worldly wise,
genius inspired, Sherman rears day by day the pyramid of his
deathless fame. Confident and steady, bold and untiring, fierce
as a Hannibal, cunning as a panther, old Tecumseh bears down upon
the indefatigable Joe Johnston. Now comes a game worthy of the
immortal gods. It is played on bloody fields. The crafty antagonists
grapple in every cunning of the art of war. Rivers of human blood
make easy the way. The serpent of the Western army writhes itself
into the vitals of the torn and bleeding South. Everywhere the
resounding crash of arms. Alas, steadfast as Maxime Valois' nature
may be, tried his courage as his own battle blade, the roar of
battle from east to west tells him of the day of wrath! The yells
and groans of the trampled thousands of the Wilderness, are echoed
by the despairing chorus of the dying myriads of Kenesaw and
Dalton. A black pall hangs over a land given up to the butchery
of brothers. Mountain chains, misted in the blue smoke of battle,
rise unpityingly over heaps of unburied dead from the Potomac to
the Mississippi. Maxime Valois knows at last the penalty of the
fatal conspiracy. A sacrificed generation, ruined homes, and the
grim ploughshare of war rives the fairest fields of the Land of
Fearless and fate-defying, under ringing guns, crashing volley, and
sweeping charge, the Southern veterans only close up the devoted
gray ranks. They are thinning with every conflict, where Lee and
Johnston build the slim gray wall against the resistless blue sea
There is no pity in the pale moon. The cold, steady stars shine down
on the upturned faces of the South's best and bravest. No craven
blenching when the tattered Stars and Bars bear up in battle blast.
And yet the starry flag crowns mountain and rock. It sweeps through
blood-stained gorges and past battle-scarred defile. Onward,
ever southward. The two giant swordsmen reel in this duel of
desperation. Sherman and Johnston may not be withheld. The hour of
fate is beginning to knell the doom of the cause. Southern mothers
and wives have given up their unreturning brave as a costly sacrifice
on the altar of Baal. Valois, once more in command, a colonel now,
riding pale and desperate, before his men, sees their upturned
glances. The dauntless ranks, filing by, touch his heroic heart.
He fears, when Atlanta's refuge receives the beaten host, that
the end is nigh.
Bereft of news from his home, foreseeing the final collapse in
Virginia, assured that the sea is lost to the South, the colonel's
mood is daily sadder. His hungry eyes are wolfish in their steady
glare. Only a soldier now. His flag is his altar of daily sacrifice.
Port after port falls, foreign flatterers stand coldly aloof,
empty magazines and idle fields are significant signs of the end.
Useless cotton cannot be sent out or made available, priceless
though it be. The rich western Mississippi is now closed as a
supply line for the armies. The paper funds of the new nation are
mere tokens of unpaid promises, never to be redeemed.
Never to falter, not to shun the driving attacks of the pursuing
horse or grappling foot, to watch his battle-flag glittering in the
van, to lead, cheer, hope, inspire, and madly head his men, is the
second nature of Valois. He has sworn not to see his flag dishonored.
It never occurs to him to ask WHERE his creed came from. His blood
thrills with the passionate devotion which blots out any sense of
mere right and wrong. His motto is "For Dixie's Land to Death."
HOOD'S DAY.--PEACHTREE CREEK.--VALOIS' LAST TRUST.--DE GRESS'
BATTERY.--DEAD ON THE FIELD OF HONOR.
A lantern burns dimly before the tent of Colonel Valois on the night
of July 21, 1864. Within the lines of Atlanta there is commotion.
Myriad lights flicker on the hills. A desperate army at bay is
facing the enemy. Seven miles of armed environment mocks the caged
tigers behind these hard-held ramparts. Facing north and east,
the gladiators of the morrow lie on their arms, ready now for the
summons to fall in, for a wild rush on Sherman's pressing lines.
It is no holiday camp, with leafy bowers and lovely ladies straying
in the moonlight. No dallying and listening to Romeos in gray and
gold. No silver-throated bugles wake the night with "Lorena." No
soft refrain of the "Suwanee River" melts all the hearts. It is
not a gala evening, when "Maryland, my Maryland," rises in grand
appeal. The now national "Dixie" tells not of fields to be won.
It is a dark presage of the battle morrow. Behind grim redan and
salient, the footsore troops rest from the day's indecisive righting.
The foeman is not idle; all night long, rumbling trains and busy
movements tell that "Uncle Billy Sherman" never sleeps. His blue
octopus crawls and feels its way unceasingly. The ragged gray ranks,
whose guns are their only pride, whose motto is "Move by day; fight
always," are busy with the hum of preparation.
It is a month of horror. North and South stand aghast at the
unparalleled butchery of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania. The
awful truth that Grant has paved his bloody way to final victory
with one hundred thousand human bodies since he crossed the
Rapidan, makes the marrow cold in the bones of the very bravest.
Sixty thousand foes, forty thousand friends, are the astounding
death figures. As if the dark angel of death was not satisfied with
a carnage unheard of in modern times, Johnston, the old Marshal
Ney of the Confederacy, gives way, in command of the Southern army
covering Atlanta, to J.B. Hood. He is the Texan lion. Grizzled
Sherman laughs on the 18th of July, when his spies tell him Johnston
is relieved. "Replenish every caisson from the reserve parks;
distribute campaign ammunition," he says, briefly. "Hood would
assault me with a corporal's guard. He will fight by day or night.
I know him," Uncle Billy says.
The great Tecumseh feels a twinge as he whips out this verdict.
Hood's tactics are fearful. There are thousands of mute witnesses of
his own fatal rashness lying at Kenesaw, whose tongues are sealed
in death. On that sad clay, Sherman out-Hooded Hood. But the
blunt son of Ohio is right. He is a demi-god in intellect, and yet
he has the intuition of femininity. He has caught Hood's fighting
character at a glance.
There's no time to chaffer over the situation. McPherson, the pride
of the army, Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, and wary Schofield,
draw in the great Union forces. Gallant Howard is in this knightly
circle. "Black Jack" Logan, the "Harry Monmouth" of this coming
field, connects on the 19th. There has been hot work to-day. Firing
in Thomas's front tells the great strategist that Hood has tasted
Sherman knows how that mad Texan will throw his desperate men to
the front, in the snapping, ringing zone of fire and flame. Hooker
receives the shock of the onset, reinforced by heavy batteries, whose
blazing guns tear lightning-rent lanes through the Confederates.
Not a second to lose. The gray swarms are pouring on like mountain
Fighting sharp and hot, the Union lines reach the strong defences
of Peachtree Creek. Here Confederate Gilmer's engineering skill
has prepared ditch and fraise, abattis and chevaux-de-frise, with
yawning graves for the soon-forgotten brave.
McPherson, Schofield, Howard, Hooker, and Palmer are all in line,
deployed with strong reserves.
Anxious Sherman sends clouds of orderly officers and scouts, right
and left. Hood's defiant volleys die away. Will the rush come to-day?
No; the hours wear away. The night brings quiet along the lines.
Though a red harvest lies on the field, it is not the crowning
effort of the entire enemy. It is only a rattling day of uneasy,
But the awful morrow is to come. Sherman soon divines the difficulty
of fathoming the Texan's real designs. Hood is familiar with the
ground. Drawing back to the lines of Atlanta, Hood crouches for
a desperate spring. The ridges of the red clay hills, with little
valleys running to the Chattahoochee in the west, and Ocmulgee
in the east, cover his manoeuvres. Corn and cotton patches, with
thick forests between, lie along the extended front. A tangled
undergrowth masks the entire movements of the lurking enemy.
Tireless Sherman, expectant of some demoniac rush, learns that the
array before him is under Hood, Hardee, and the audacious cavalry
leader, Wheeler. Stewart's and Smith's Georgian levies are also in
Every disposition is made by the wary antagonists. Sherman,
eagle-eyed and prompt to join issue, gains a brief repose before
the gray of morning looses the fires of hell. McPherson, young and
brilliant, whose splendid star is in its zenith, firmly holds his
exposed lines along the railroad between two valleys. In his left
and rear, the forest throws out dark shades to cover friend and
foe. Between the waiting armies, petty murder stays its hands. The
stars sweep to the west, bringing the last morning to thousands.
They are now dreaming, perhaps, of the homes they will never see.
A thrill of nervous tension keeps a hundred thousand men in vague,
dumb expectancy. The coming shock will be terrible. No one can tell
As the worn Confederate sentinel drags up and down before the tent
of Colonel Valois, he can see the thoughtful veteran sitting, his
tired head resting on a wasted hand.
Spirit and high soul alone animate now the Louisiana colonel. Hope
has fled. Over his devoted head the sentinel stars swing, with
neither haste nor rest, toward the occident. They will shine on
Lagunitas, smiling, fringed with its primeval pines.
In her sleep, perhaps his little girl calls for him in vain. He is
doomed not to hear that childish voice again.
A bundle of letters, carelessly tossed down at head-quarters,
have been carried in his bosom during the day's scattering fight.
They are all old in their dates, and travel-worn in following the
shifting positions of his skeleton regiment. They bring him, at
last, nearly a year's news.
Suddenly he springs to his feet, and his voice is almost a shriek.
"Sentinel, call the corporal." In a moment, Valois, with quivering
lip, says, "Corporal, ask Major Peyton to be kind enough to join
me for a few moments."
When his field-officer approaches, anticipating some important
charge of duty, sword and revolver in hand, the ghastly face of
Valois alarms him.
"Colonel!" he cries. Valois motions him to be seated.
"Peyton," begins Valois, brokenly, "I am struck to the heart."
He is ashy pale. His head falls on his friend's bosom.
"My wife!" He needs not finish. The open letters tell the story.
It is death news.
The major clasps his friend's thin hands.
"Colonel, you must bear up. We are fallen on sad, sad days." His
voice fails him. "Remember to-morrow; we must stand for the South."
The chivalric Virginian's voice sounds hollow and strange. He sought
the regiment, won over by Valois' lofty courage and stern military
pride. To-morrow the army is to grapple and crush bold Sherman.
It will be a death struggle.
Yes, out of these walls, a thunderbolt, the heavy column, already
warned, was to seek the Union left, and strike a Stonewall Jackson
blow. Its march will be covered by the friendly woods. The keen-eyed
adjutants are already warning the captains of every detail of
the attack. Calm and unmoved, the gaunt centurions of the thinned
host accepted the honorable charges of the forlorn hope. Valois'
powder-seasoned fragment of the army was a "corps d'elite." Peyton
wondered, as he watched his suffering colonel, if either would see
another sparkling jewel-braided night.
The blow of Hood must be the hammer of Thor.
"To-morrow, yes, to-morrow," mechanically replied Valois. "I will
be on duty to-morrow."
"To-night, Peyton," he simply said, "I must suffer my last agony.
My poor Dolores! Gone--my wife."
The tears trickled through his fingers as he bowed his graceful
"And my little Isabel," he softly said; "she will be an orphan.
Will God protect that tender child? "Valois was talking to himself,
with his eyes fixed on the dark night-shadows hiding the Federal
lines. A stern, defiant gaze.
Peyton shivered with a nervous chill.
"Colonel, this must not be." In the silence of the brooding night,
it seems a ghastly call from another world, this message of death.
Valois proudly checks himself.
"Peyton, I have few friends left in this land now. I want you to
look these letters over." He hands him several letters from Hardin
and from the priest. With tender delicacy, his hands close on the
last words of affection from the gentle dark-eyed wife, who brought
him the great dowry of Lagunitas, and gave him his little Isabel.
Peyton reads the words, old in date but new in their crushing force
of sorrow to the husband. Resting on the stacked arms in front
of his tent, the colors of Louisiana and the silken shreds of the
Stars and Bars wait for the bugles of reveille calling again to
Dolores dying of sudden illness, cut off in her youthful prime, was
only able to receive the last rites of the Church, to smile fondly
in her last moments, as she kisses the picture of the absent soldier
of the Southern Cross. Fran‡ois Ribaut, the French gentleman, writes
a sad letter, with no formula of the priest. He knows Maxime Valois
is face to face with death, in these awful days of war. A costly
sacrifice on the altar of Southern rights may be his fate at any
It is to comfort, not admonish, to pledge every friendly office,
that the delicate-minded padre softens the blow. Later, the priest
writes of the lonely child, whose tender youth wards off the blow
of the rod of sorrow.
Philip Hardin's letter mainly refers to the important business
interests of the vast estate. The possibility of the orphanage of
Isabel occurs. He suggests the propriety of Colonel Valois' making
and forwarding a new will, and constituting a guardianship of the
young heiress. In gravest terms of friendship, he reminds Valois
to indicate his wishes as to the child, her nurture and education.
The fate of a soldier may overtake her surviving parent any day.
Other unimportant issues drop out of sight. Hardin has told of
the last attempt to fit out a schooner at a secluded lumber landing
in Santa Cruz County. They tried to smuggle on board a heavy
gun secretly transported there. An assemblage of desperate men,
gathering in the lonely woods, were destined to man the boat. By
accident, the Union League discovers the affair. Flight is forced
on the would-be pirates.
Valois' lip curls as he tells Peyton of the utter prostration of
the last Confederate hope beyond the Colorado. All vain and foolish
"I wish your advice, Major," he resumes. In brief summing up,
he gives Peyton the outline of his family history and his general
A final result of the hurried conclave is the hasty drawing up
of a will. It is made and duly witnessed. It makes Philip Hardin
guardian of the heiress and sole executor of his testament. His
newly descended property he leaves to the girl child, with directions
that she shall be sent to Paris. She is to be educated to the time
of her majority at the "Sacred Heart." There in that safe retreat,
where the world's storms cannot reach the defenceless child, he
feels she will be given the bearing and breeding of a Valois. She
must be fitted for her high fortunes.
He writes a fond letter to Father Francisco, to whom he leaves
a handsome legacy, ample to make him independent of all pecuniary
cares. He adjures that steadfast friend to shield his darling's
childhood, to follow and train her budding mind in its development.
He informs him of every disposition, and sends the tenderest thanks
for a self-devotion of years.
The farewell signature is affixed. Colonel Valois indites to Judge
Philip Hardin a letter of last requests. It is full of instructions
and earnest appeal. When all is done, he closes his letter. "I
send you every document suggested. My heart is sore. I can no longer
write. I will lead my regiment to-morrow in a desperate assault.
If I give my life for my country, Hardin, let my blood seal this
sacred bond between you and me. I leave you my motherless child.
May God deal with you and yours as you shall deal with the beloved
little one, whose face I shall never see.
"If I had a thousand lives I would lay them down for the flag which
may cover me to-morrow night. Old friend, remember a dying man's
trust in you and your honor."
When Peyton has finished reading these at Colonel Valois' request,
his eyes are moist. To-night the bronzed chief is as tender as a
woman. The dauntless soul, strong in battle scenes, is shaken with
the memories of a motherless little one. She must face the world
alone, God's mercy her only stay.
Colonel Valois, who has explained the isolation of the child, has
left his estate in remainder to the heirs of Judge Valois, of New
Old and tottering to his tomb is that veteran jurist. The
possible heir would be Armand, the boy student, cut off in Paris.
No home-comings now. The ports are all closed.
When all is prepared, Colonel Valois says tenderly: "Peyton, I
have some money left at Havana. I will endorse these drafts to you,
and give you a letter to the banker there. You can keep them for
me. I want you to ride into Atlanta and see these papers deposited.
Let there be made a special commission for their delivery to our
agent at Havana. Let them leave Atlanta at once. I want no failure
if Sherman storms the city. I will not be alive to see it."
Awed by the prophetic coolness of Valois' speech, Peyton sends for
his horse. He rides down to the town, where hundreds on hundreds
of wounded sufferers groan on every side. Thousands desperately
wait in the agony of suspense for the morrow's awful verdict. He
gallops past knots of reckless merry-makers who jest on the edge
of their graves. Henry Peyton bears the precious packet and delivers
it to an officer of the highest rank. He is on the eve of instant
departure for the sea-board. Cars and engines are crowded with the
frightened people, flying from the awful shock of Hood's impending
This solemn duty performed, the Major rejoins Colonel Valois at a
gallop. Lying on his couch, Valois' face brightens as he springs
from his rest. "It is well. I thank you," he simply says. He is
calm, even cheerful. The bonhomie of his race is manifest. "Major
Peyton," he says, pleasantly, "I would like you to remember the
matters of this evening. Should you live through this war the
South will be in wild disorder. I have referred to your kindness,
in my letter to Hardin and in a paper I have enclosed to him. It
is for my child. You will have a home at Lagunitas if you ever go
He discusses a few points of the movement of the morrow. There is
no extra solemnity in going under fire. They have lived in a zone
of fire since Sherman's pickets crossed the open, months ago. But
this supreme effort of Hood marks a solemn epoch. The great shops
and magazines of Atlanta, the railroad repair works, foundries and
arsenals, the geographical importance, studied fortifications, and
population to be protected, make the city a stronghold of ultimate
importance to the enfeebled South.
If the Northern bayonets force these last doors of Georgia, then
indeed the cause is desperate.
When midnight approached, Colonel Valois calmly bade his friend
"Good-night." Escorting him to his tent, he whispers, "Peyton, take
your coffee with me to-morrow. I will send for you."
Slumber wraps friend and foe alike. All too soon the gray dawn
points behind the hills. There is bustle and confusion. Shadowy
groups cluster around the waning fires long before daybreak. The
gladiators are falling into line. Softly, silently, day steals over
the eastern hills. Is it the sun of Austerlitz or of Waterloo?
Uneasy picket-firing ushers in the battle day. Colonel Valois and
Major Peyton share their frugal meal. The rattle of picket shots
grows into a steady, teasing firing. Well-instructed outpost officers
are carrying on this noisy mockery.
Massed behind the circling lines of Atlanta, within the radius of
a mile and a half, the peerless troops who DOUBT Hood's ability,
but who ADORE his dauntless bravery, are silently massed for the
The officers of Valois' regiment, summoned by the adjutant, receive
their Colonel's final instructions. His steady eye turns fondly on
the men who have been his comrades, friends, and devoted admirers.
"Gentlemen," he says, "we will have serious work to-day. I shall
expect you to remember what Georgia hopes from Louisiana."
Springing to his saddle, he doffs his cap as the head of the regiment
files by, in flank movement. The lithe step, steady swing, and
lightly poised arms proclaim matchless veterans. They know his
every gesture in the field. He is their idol.
As Peyton rides up, he whispers (for the colors have passed), "Henry,
if you lead the regiment out of this battle, I ask you never to
forget my last wishes." The two friends clasp hands silently. With
a bright smile, whose light lingers as he spurs past the springy
column, he takes the lead, falcon-eyed, riding down silently into
the gloomy forest-shades of death.
A heavy mass of troops, pushing out in swift march, works steadily
to the Union left, and gains its ground rapidly. The Seventeenth
Corps of Blair, struck in flank, give way. The Sixteenth Union
Corps of Dodge are quickly rushed up. The enemy are struck hard.
Crash and roar of battle rise now in deafening clamor. Away to
the unprotected Union rear ride the wild troopers of Wheeler. The
whole left of Sherman's troops are struck at disadvantage. They are
divided, or thrown back in confusion toward Decatur. The desperate
struggle sways to and fro till late in the day. With a rush of
Hood's lines, Murray's battery of regular artillery is captured.
The Stars and Bars sweep on in victory.
Onward press the Confederate masses in all the pride of early
victory. The Fifteenth Corps, under Morgan L. Smith, make a desperate
attempt to hold on at a strong line of rifle pits. The seething
gray flood rolls upon them and sends them staggering back four
hundred yards. Over two cut-off batteries, the deadly carnage smites
blue and gray alike. Charge and countercharge succeed in the mad
struggle for these guns. Neither side can use them until a final
wave shall sweep one set of madmen far away.
With desperate valor, Morgan L. Smith at last claims the prize. His
cheering troops send double canister from the regained batteries
into the gray columns of attack. General Sherman, at a deserted
house, where he has made his bivouac, paces the porch like a restless
tiger. The increasing firing on the left, tells him of this heavy
morning attack. A map spread on a table catches his eye from time
to time. The waiting crowd of orderlies and staff officers have,
one by one, dashed off to reform the lines or strengthen the left.
While the firing all along the line is everywhere ominous, the
roar on the left grows higher and higher. Out from the fatal woods
begin to stream weary squads of the wounded and stragglers. The
floating skulkers hover at the edge of the red tide of conflict.
Ha! A wounded aide dashes up with tidings of the ominous gap on the
left. That fearful sweep of Wheeler's cavalry to the rear is known
at last by the fires of burning trains. With a few brief words of
counsel, and a nod of his stately head, McPherson, the splendid
light of battle on his brow, gallops away to reform these broken
lines. The eye of the chief must animate his corps.
Hawk-eyed Sherman watches the glorious young general as he turns
into the forest. A grim look settles on the general's face. He runs
his eye over the map. As the tiger's approach is heralded by the
clatter of the meaner animals, so from out that forest the human
debris tell of Hood's battle hammer crashing down on that left "in
air." Is there yet time to reform a battle, now fighting itself in
sudden bloody encounters? All is at haphazard. A sigh of relief.
McPherson is there. His ready wit, splendid energy, and inspiring
presence are worth a thousand meaner souls, in the wild maelstrom
of that terrible July day.
Old Marshal Tecumseh, with unerring intuition, knows that the
creeping skirmishers have felt the whole left of his position. With
the interior lines and paths of the forest to aid, if anything has
gone wrong, if gap or lap has occurred, then on those unguarded
key-points and accidental openings, the desperate fighters of the
great Texan will throw their characteristic fierceness. Atlanta's
tall chimneys rise on the hills to the west. There, thousands, with
all at stake, listen to the rolling notes of this bloody battle.
High in the air, bursting shells with white puffs light up the
clouds of musketry smoke. Charging yells are borne down the wind,
with ringing answering cheers. The staccato notes of the snapping
Parrotts accentuate the battle's din.
Sherman, with cloudy brow, listens for some news of the imperilled
left wing. Is the iron army of the Tennessee to fail him now? Seven
miles of bayonets are in that great line, from left to right, headed
by McPherson, Schofield, and Thomas, the flower of the Union Army.
Looking forward to a battle outside Atlanta, a siege, or a flanking
bit of military chesswork, the great Union commander is dragged
now into a purely defensive battle. Where is McPherson?
Sherman has a quarter of an hour of horrible misgiving. He saw the
mad panic of the first Bull Run. He led the only compact body of
troops off that fatal field himself. It was his own brigade. In
his first-fought field, he showed the unshakable nerve of Macdonald
at Wagram. But he has also seen the fruits of the wild stampede
of McCook and Crittenden's divisions since at Chickamauga. It tore
the laurels from Rosecrans' brow. Is this to be a panic? Rosecrans'
defeat made Sherman the field-marshal of the West.
At Missionary Ridge, even the invincibles of the South fled their
lines in sudden impulse, giving up an almost impregnable position.
The haughty old artillerist, Braxton Bragg, was forced to officially
admit that stampede. He added a few dozen corpses to his disciplinary
"graveyards," "pour encourager les autres." Panic may attack even
the best army.
Is it panic now swelling on the breeze of this roaring fight? Fast
and far his hastily summoned messengers ride. To add a crowning
disaster to the confusion of the early morning death grapple, the
sun does not touch the meridian before a bleeding aide brings back
McPherson's riderless horse. Where is the general? Alas, where?
Dashing far ahead of his staff and orderlies, tearing from wood
to wood, to close in the fatal gap and reface his lines--a volley
from a squad of Hood's pickets drops the great corps commander,
McPherson, a mangled corpse, in the forest. No such individual loss
to either army has happened since Stonewall Jackson's untimely end
His rifled body is soon recovered. With super-human efforts it is
borne to the house in the clearing and laid at General Sherman's
Lightning flashes of wit traverse Sherman's brain. Every rebel
straggler is instantly searched as he is swept in. The invaluable
private papers of General McPherson, the secret orders, and campaign
plans are found in the haversack of one of the captured skirmishers.
These, at least, are safe.
With this blow, comes the news of the Seventeenth Corps being thrown
back, far out of its place, by the wild rush of Hood's braves. All
goes wrong. The day is lost.
Will it be a Bull Run?
No! The impetuous Logan tears along his lines. "Black Jack's"
swarthy face brings wild cheers from the men, who throw themselves
madly on the attacking lines, seeking vengeance. The Fifteenth
Corps' rifles are sounding shotted requiem salvos for their lost
leader. The Seventeenth holds on and connects. The Sixteenth Corps,
struck heavily in flank by the victorious Confederates, faces into
line of battle to the left. It grimly holds on, and pours in its
leaden hail. Smith's left flank doubled back, joining Leggett,
completes the reformed line. From high noon till the darkness of
the awful night, a general conflict rages along the whole front.
War in its grim horror.
Sherman, casting a wistful glance on the body of McPherson, stands
alert. He is as bristling as a wild boar at bay. Sherman at his
Is this their worst? No, for at four in the afternoon, a terrific
sally from Atlanta throws the very flower of the assailants on the
bloody knoll, evermore to be known as "Leggett's Hill." There is
madness and demoniac fury in the way those gray columns struggle
for that ridge.
In vain does Hood send out his bravest stormers to crown the
wished-for position of Leggett.
Sherman is as sure of Atlanta now, as if his eagles towered over
its domes. Drawing to the left the corps of Wood, massing Schofield
with twenty heavy guns playing on Hood's charging columns, Sherman
throws Wood, backed by John A. Logan's victorious veterans, on the
great body of the reeling assailants. The final blow has met its
stone wall, in the lines of Leggett. The blue takes up the offensive,
with wild cheers of triumph. They reach "Uncle Billy's" ears.
Some decisive stroke must cut the tangle of the involved forces.
When Hood sees that his devoted troops have not totally crushed the
Union left, when his columns reel back from Leggett's Hill, mere
fragments, he knows that even his dauntless men cannot be asked to
try again that fearful quest. It is checkmate!
But Wheeler is still careering in destruction around Sherman's rear
parks, and ravaging his supplies. Hood persists in his desperate
design to pierce the Union lines somewhere. He throws away his
last chance of keeping an army together. His fiery valor bade him
defend Atlanta from the OUTSIDE. He now sends a last thunderbolt
crashing on the Decatur road.
During the day Valois' regiment has been thrown in here and there.
The stern colonel gazes with pride on the seasoned fighters at
their grim work.
But it is after four when Colonel Valois is ordered to mass his
regiment, followed by the last reserve, and lead it to the front
in the supreme effort of this awful day. His enemy in front is a
Union battery, which has been a flail to the Southern army.
In dozens of encounters the four heavy twenty-pound Parrotts of De
Gress have been an object of the maddest attack. Superbly handled,
in the best equipment, its high power, long range, and dashing
energy have given to this battery the rank in the West, which John
Pelham's light artillery gained under Lee's eyes in Virginia. The
pride of Sherman's artillery is the famous battery of De Gress.
To-day it has been dealing out death incessantly, at half musket-range.
It has swept rank on rank of the foes away. Now, with the frenzy of
despair, General Hood sends a forlorn column to pierce the Union
lines, carry the road, and take those renowned guns. A lull betokens
the last rush.
Riding to the front, Colonel Valois reins up beside Major Peyton.
There is only time for a few last directions. A smile which haunts
Peyton for many a long day, flashes on Maxime Valois' stern lips.
He dashes on, waving his sword, and cries in his ringing voice,
"Come on, boys, for Louisiana!"
Springing like panthers into the open, the closed ranks bound toward
the fated guns at a dead run. Ha! There was a crashing salvo. Now,
it is load and fire at will. Right and left, fire pours in on the
guns, whose red flashes singe the very faces of the assailants.
Peyton's quick eye sees victory wavering. Dashing towards the
guns he cheers his men. As he nears the battery the Louisiana
color-bearer falls dead. Henry Peyton seizes the Pelican flag, and
dashes on over friends, dead and dying, as his frightened steed
races into the battery.
There, every horse is down. The guns are now silent. A knot of men,
with clubbed rammers, bayonet thrusts, and quick revolver shots,
fight for the smoking cannon. A cheer goes up. De Gress's guns are
taken. Peyton turns his head to catch a glimpse of Colonel Valois.
Grasping the star-spangled guidon of the battery with his bridle
hand, Valois cuts down its bearer.
A wild yell rises as a dozen rebel bayonets are plunged into a
defiant fugitive, for he has levelled his musket point-blank and
shot Valois through the heart.
The leader's frightened charger bounds madly to the front, and the
Louisiana colonel falls heavily to the ground.
Clasped in his clenched hands, the silken folds of the captured
battery flag are dyed with his blood. A dozen willing arms raise
the body, bearing it to one side, for the major, mindful of the
precious moments, yells to "swing the guns and pass the caissons."
In a minute, the heavy Parrotts of De Gress are pouring their
shrapnel into the faces of the Union troops, who are, three hundred
yards away, forming for a rush to recapture them.
As the cannon roar their defiance to the men who hold them dear,
Peyton bends over Maxime Valois. The heart is stilled forever.
With his stiffening fingers clutching his last trophy, the "Stars
and Stripes," there is the light of another world shining on the
face of the dead soldier of the Southern Cross. Before sending his
body to the rear, Henry Peyton draws from Valois' breast a packet
of letters. It is the last news from the loved wife he has rejoined
across the shadowy river. United in death. Childish Isabel is indeed
alone in the world. A rain of shrieking projectiles and bursting
shells tells of the coming counter-charge.
Drawing back the guns by hand to a cover for the infantry, and
rattling the caissons over a ridge to screen the ammunition boxes,
the shattered rebel ranks send volleys into the faces of the lines
of Schofield, now coming on at a run.
The captured Parrotts ring and scream. One over-heated gun of the
battery bursts, adding its horrors to the struggle. Logan's men are
leaping over the lines to right and left, bayoneting the gunners.
The Louisianians give way and drift to the rear. The evening shadows
drop over crest, wood, and vale. When the first stars are in the
skies Hood's shattered columns stream back into Atlanta. The three
guns of De Gress have changed hands again. Even the bursted piece
falls once more under the control of the despairing Union artillery
captain. He has left him neither men, horses, fittings, nor harness
available--only three dismantled guns and the wreck of his fourth
piece. But they are back again! Sherman's men with wildest shouts
crowd the field. They drive the broken remnants of the proud
morning array under the guns of the last lines of the doomed city.
Dare-devil Hood has failed. The desperate dash has cost ten thousand
priceless men. The brief command of the Texan fighter has wrecked
the invaluable army of which Joe Johnston was so mindful.
McPherson, who joined the subtlety of Stonewall to the superb bearing
of Sidney Johnston, a hero born, a warrior, and great captain to
be, lies under the stars in the silent chambers of the Howard House.
General Sherman, gazing on his noble features, calm in death,
silently mourns the man who was his right hand. Thomas, Schofield,
Howard, Logan, and Slocum stand beside the dead general. They bewail
the priceless sacrifice of Peachtree Creek.
In the doomed city of Atlanta, there is gloom and sadness. With
the fragments of the regiment which adored him, a shattered guard
of honor, watching over him with yet loaded guns, in charge of the
officers headed by Major Peyton, the body of Maxime Valois rests
within the Southern lines.
For the dear land of his birth he had abandoned the fair land of
his choice. With the captured banner of his country in his hand,
he died in the hour of a great personal triumph, "under the Stars
and Bars." Game to the last.
High-souled and devoted, the son of Louisiana never failed the call
of his kinsmen. He carried the purest principles to the altar of
Watching by the shell from which the dauntless spirit had fled in
battle and in storm, Henry Peyton feels bitterly that the fate of
Atlanta is sealed. He knows the crushing of their weak lines will
follow. He can picture Sherman's heavy columns taking city after
city, and marching toward the blue sea.
The end is approaching. A gloomier darkness than the night of the
last battle broods over the Virginian. With pious reverence, he
hastens to arrange the few personal matters of his chief. He knows
not the morrow. The active duties of command will soon take up
all his time. He must keep the beloved regiment together.
For, of the two or three companies left of a regiment "whose
bayonets were once a thousand," Henry Peyton is the colonel now.
A "barren honor," yet inexpressibly dear to him.
In the face of the enemy, within the lines held hard by the reorganizing
fragments of yesterday's host, the survivors bury the brave leader
who rode so long at their head. Clad in his faded gray, the colonel
lies peacefully awaiting the great Reveille.
When the sloping bayonets of the regiment glitter, for the last
time, over the ramparts their generous blood has stained in fight,
as the defeated troops move away, many a stout heart softens as
they feel they are leaving alone and to the foe the lost idol of
their rough worship.
Major Peyton preserves for the fatherless child the personal relics
of his departed friend. Before it is too late, he despatches them
to the coast, to be sent to Havana, to await Judge Hardin's orders
at the bankers'. The news of the fate of Colonel Valois, and the
last wishes of the dead Confederate, are imparted in a letter to
Judge Hardin by Peyton.
In the stern realities of the last retreat, fighting and marching,
after the winter snows have whitened the shot-torn fields around
Atlanta; sick of carnage and the now useless bloodshed, Colonel
Peyton leads his mere detachment to the final scene of the North
Carolina surrender. Grant's iron hand has closed upon Petersburg's
weakened lines. Sheridan's invincible riders, fresh from the
Shenandoah, have shattered the steadfast at Five Forks.
Gloomy days have fallen, also, on the cause in the West. The
despairing valor of the day at Franklin and the assault on Nashville
only needlessly add to. the reputation for frantic bravery
of the last of the magnificent Western armies of the Confederacy.
Everywhere there are signs of the inevitable end. With even the sad
news of Appomattox to show him that the great cause is irretrievably
lost, there are bitter tears in Henry Peyton's eyes when he sees
the flags of the army he has served with, lowered to great Sherman
in the last surrender.
The last order he will ever give to them turns out for surrender
the men whose reckless bravery has gilded a "Lost Cause" with a
romantic halo of fadeless glory. Peyton sadly sheathes the sword he
took from Maxime Valois' dead hands. Southward, he takes his way.
Virginia is now only a graveyard and one vast deserted battle-field.
The strangers' bayonets are shining at Richmond. He cannot revisit
the scenes of his boyhood. A craving seizes him for new scenes
and strange faces. He yearns to blot out the war from his memory.
He dreams of Mexico, Cuba, or the towering Andes of South America.
His heart is too full to linger near the scenes where the red
earth lies heaped over his brethren of the sword. Back to Atlanta
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