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The Romance Of War

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[emma francés benedict in Outing.l It was in the winter of 1863. There was a hill in the nctivity of the war. The Army of the Potomac was sunk Injflorlously In the mud. It was mired t tlie hubsoflts artillery wheeK Taking advmitage of tliWropportunitli'S, ts BOldlen swarmcd the Nortli on brief viaits to home and trieuds. Upon tlie eve of his return to duty, it occurred to one youngr warrior that the present was a most convenient season in which to soleuinlze a marriage engagement; an idt'a quickly cted upon. Bidding adieu to his newly made wife, the youthful benedict returning, reporteil in camp, in a stnte of combiiied joy and tnisery. It was an anoiiialous wedding journey, taken in sections, the bride following a fortoight later, under the escort of a brother olilcer, rejoinlng her soldierhusband in camp, neur Falmouth, Ya. The drive' in an army ambulance was the first experience of camp llfe. Fancy a long, rude, canvas-topped wagon, devoid of spriugs, or perhapi ufe had rendered tliem useless, with narrow side benches covered with enameled leather on which the mangled brave were presumed to repose as 01 tlie oft-quoted "bed of roses,'1 and be cirried to that liome of luxury, the hospital. Over a worn-out corduroy tlie ambulance cliopped and jolted In a break-neck fashion. The road was coraposed of logs laid closely sule by tide, except where tliey hadelipped apart or been crushed by heavy wbeelu, leaving an aperture like a trap where the leg of many a valuable horse was brokeu. One wheel down, three wheels np, into one pitch hole, then into another, it required the skill of marinen to trim the uiigainly vehicle. It was the twilight of a winter'a day wlien the young woman arrlved at Bos cobel, the manor house, wheie comfortablequartersliad been asáijjued. 8upper cougisted of an oily liquid contained in two yellow earthei bowls, "deslccated soup," to be piirtakers of with the aid of two heavy metal spoons. There was a chunk of bread on a tin plate, soine bnked beans, "liard tack" and army coflVc. 'Twas thus the newly-united pair began life as one, suppiug together froni the empty plate, and sipping tor'ther from the one tin cup provided. She generously refused her share in the luxury of army life, dessicated soup, but he, who had been at home regarded as an epicurlan, swallowed both portions with gusto. It takes time to cultívate a craving for camp luxuries. Ejisteuce in an ordinary farmliouse, soon palled upon the fancies of a soldier' wife and she' naturally longed for the romance and experieuce of lite in a tent. As lier "llj{e lord" had now been commissioned a captain and chief of división staff, with head quartera at a considerable distance, It was determined to remove thither, and accordingly they, witü their small stock of chattels, were transterred to a new scène. Two of these wall tents had been pluced end to end, witli the intervening canvas rollad up in curtalu fashion, and then flrmly laced together, thus formiiifi two coiivenlent comfortable apaitments. Offlcers and privates had scoured the couutry around in their efF-irts to secure comforts for their unusual visitwr. Sutlers contributed their preclous paekitigcaüe, lnvaluable for flúor, two or three gallant men brought a clierry table from some Soulherner home and had transponed it with difficulty a distance of twenty miles. A Jersey General SeULOU UI UOUipiHUClILO VT1LI1 a 1UAUIIUU3 clmir ingenlously sawed f rom a burrel and supplied witli a coyered hay cushion. Souie oue, with artiaiic eye, had decorated tlie sloping cauvn9 wliicli fonned tlie ceiling with draperiea of the niitionul flag. A chilvalrou soul denied liis body the comfort of a little sheet-iron stove, wliii-h he donated to the cause, a stove with a pipe wliicli pierced the 91de of the tent, aud, it must be confessed, wlieezed and whirli-d back the sinoke.dislressingly, on a windy day. A hospital Burgeon tendered a neat íittle iron bedstead with comfortable iiiütreases. Indeed, itseemeil a revival of the oldfashioned game of "Wht will you give an oíd bachelor to go to kci'pinir house with " A traveling trunk covered with a ayly hued slüiwl was transformed into a tete-a-tete, and a strip of rajf carpetins; beSKeJ or blOOghf brought from an impoverished F. F. V. furnished comfort under foot. A sword and scabbard adorned the side of the tent, beside which hung a paper of pins, a hand mirror and such other odd notions as could be attachcd to the canvas walls. A long, low wooden bench, supporting a tin basin and a wooden waler-bucket, constituted the toilet table and ita appurtenances. A rope, extendintr along the ridiicpole at top, served as a wardrobe, over which to suspend clothing; and all these homely contrivances were made to appear attractive, owing to the feminine ingenuity with which they were arranged. The routine of camp life quickly grew familiar - the music of the reveille, the bealing of tattoo and the melancholy strains of taps, the ceremODies of dress parade and the mounting of the guard. I ne lime wats uuuiieu un mui ponüence, witli books, with games, and with formal or leas ceremonicms calis from offlcers and from otlier ladies, also vlsitors in distaiit camps. There seemed to be no end to the recítala of thrillinií escapes from grim death upon the battle fleld. Three or four sociable surgeous were accustomed to bring along tlieir camp-stools and loved to rehearse tlieir blood-curdling experiences, whlch are still shlveringly remcmbered. At ni-rht tliere always the iiiusic of trlee clubs, or the sad solo ot' sonie liome-slck soldier, potirlug out h8 sorrow in the war songs of tlieday- 'We're Tenting To-night on the Old Camp Ground," "When this Cruel War is O'er" and "John lirown's Body" beinj? the favoritics. The iniisic often took the forra of a serenade, sometimes the harmony of a tine brass bunc thrilled the evening air, and after, n midniftht couid be heard tlie peculiarly startllOK bray of the mules tied in the iiel(íbborinjí corráis. Occasionally, sub stantial dlnners were exchanged, the tables well supplled with "lian nel cakes camp hash, hot biscuit, apple tart, mtnc pie and once in n white ï""81' beefsteak Uut luxurious edibles were regarded as sacritice of romance to a coinmon gratlli catión of the appetite. On the opposite bank of the Kappa hannock river, in plain siglit, whs Ui dreadful enemy. He certainly did no look theu "as bad as he was painted. The boy in gray were clieerfully shout ing and Jesting with the boys in blue Uk so many school urchius loóse for a recess the pickeU oa eitlier side beiug for th nonce on tlie most amicable tenii9. Dur ing a favorable breeze a tlny boat woul cros to Dlxie laden with a newipaper. erh:ips, and ut chance of wind, wou!d eturu i Yankee-land witli a snrill cargo f tobáceo. Notwithstandlng this exhange of civillties, Johnny Reb would asily take umbrage at curioaity when xhiblted beliind a Yankee field-glass, nd quickly his jealousy would fly a warnlng shot in the direction of the spyiisj eyes. Ofttlraes was wat'ted across the arrow river the nioiirnful strains of a uneral dirge, as some poor fellow was Hi-ried to his last resting place. Aml very day the formidable eurthworks of ie eneniy were rUing before the eye. Upon the "sacred soil" there feil a ïeavy snow of veritable Northen birth, whioh, however, did not stay. The caplin'-i wlfe sat close to the littl t stove, Isenchanted. Was this a promise of nocking-birds, and oleander blossoms? captain himself lay on his back, dislirinir wiili his heels the mass of snow vhich hnd accumulated and sagged down he canvas roof of their domiclle, when p to the entrance of their tented village auntily pranced a quartet of spirited lorses attached to a rude elcd, formed of tie box of a supply wagon, its wheels relaced with smooth runners fashioned rom the branches of trees, its rough manls gaily liued with bliinkets. The mprovised sled was occupied by a few of ie merrlest, funloving offleers who had alled to induce the captain and his wife o join thein on their " lark." "They loped," they sald, "to cali upon every ,ul y within visitlng distance and treat ir to a good old-fashioned Yankee sleigh ide." The party started, the fun and laughter nd songs uegan; the horses ente red into lie spirit of the liour and capered threatningly. "Merrily we glide alonsr, glide long, glide along," when, as niight have een expecied, the sleigh was overturned, nd all did 'glide along" into a pasty ompound of mud and slush. Nothing aunted, the conveyance was righted, tie blankets we rearranged, the excited ïorses quieted and the journey resumed, ut witli like result. One more experiment, and the female element of the );irty, sufflciently amused, extricated herelf trom a treaclieroiis mud-hole into which slic had landed and resolved to wait at a neigtiborhood farm-house until wheeled vehicle could be secured for ïer return. March came in upronriously, as much t home as in the frozen North. A nlntily inscribed card of invitatlon was eceived to a tea-pnrty, to be given at the leadquarters of the courlly General Sickles for the purpose of meeting soially with General Joseph Hookcr, who ïad recently assumed eommand of the rmy of the Potomac. There were presnt a goodly company, consistingof eight adies, their escorts, and thirteen promnent generáis, whose ñames have since ecome illustrious. The event of the vening was when the lnciies begnlled the popular general into a remóte comer and eniorselessly robbed Mm of his hair, which was afterwiirds converted into uiinature drums and dangled trom their watcli chains, or wa9 woven into fineer and ear-rings and proudly preserved u uementocs of a famous man. Again the hospitalily of General Sickles was extended - on this occasion to meet and uoch with the President and Mrs. Lincoln, the President being at the front to confer with his generala and to review lis army. It is a ruemory preciouslv cherlshed that the gentle, fatlierly feelng oveiflowing the heart of the great nan, caused him for a moment to drop he un lirs of state to Interest himself in he happiness ol an obscure, uniinportaiit woiuan. And she never firgot the day when she " ate salí'1 with President Lincoln. T'ie nerve of the heroic young woman wlio would ffo to the wars was so otten iiri-ly ic-n-d, fulfilling predlctions of the 'I told you so's" of propliets. It was customary for the captain to be aroused at hII hours of the niffht by orderliei O-om the outpost9 with dupatches, whicli first passed ttie inspecllon of thls 8taff olticer. One night when all were quieily sleeping, carne a tcratch, scratch, acratch, scratch, on the outer flap of the canvas tent. Fingernails were made to do the duty of door pulls or electric knobs. The CHtain explained to nis wife. "The diípatcht-8 report the enemy apjroaching in full forcé. I must go to the {eneral. Don't worry over whatever nay huppen. If there is any serious trouble you can nnd shelter in the cellar )f the gencral's headquarters. But don't worry" Did ever a woman ccase from "worry" jecause slie was bidden not to? It was comparatively e.isy to obey while there was occupatlon, but in a few minutes 't . [i:ir:it ions for a hurried departure werecomplcted, and then caroe the trial of waiting in silence. Descriptions of battie fury aroee in her mind. Slie sat down and tried to quiet her anxieties by the reflection that this was one of the expected emertrencies. She was not to show the "white t'eather" again. A fateful quiet reigned over the camp - the oalm before the storm. There were moment! of awful suspense ! Then she disoerned the slow, measured tread of the sentry as he paced upoii hls beat before lier tmils. She sharpened her heariu; for thu noise of distant attack. Tbere carne a rumbling sound, a low muttering at flr8t. Slie knew ita meanln?, the "louj; roll" whicli sumnioned an army to its feet. In a moment the cmp had aroused from its lethargy. It was ulive! Lijíhts danced here and there, and now could be heard the low distinct tones of command. Tramp, tramp went the resolute feet outside. Now &he could distinguiah the voice of her own husband. If only he could be spared participation in the coming battle, and, with her, take refuge, in tliat hpltaj cellar 1 Why, what was she, a soldier'a wife? and then he himself came in - to buckle on hls sword? No- to yawn stupidly and go to bed. At daylight a second dlspatch announced "All quit on the picket line." And all thls disturba'nce had been produced by the ineanderings of some stray cow, mistaken iu the darknesa for the enemy by the disordered visión of a picket. Notwithatanding these freqnently groundlesa fears, there were occasions when real danser impendt'd and was unconaciously experienced, a8, for instance, when the p-i-ng, p-i-ng of bullets whizzed closely by and over her tents where she sat nnconcernedly rcading while the air was filled with thelr shrill shrieks. This danger did not proceed from the blood-thirsty enemy either, but from the carlessing lirlnif of a squad of neljchboiinj: men, discharging and clenning their mukets in the adjoining field. Again, when her clothing became ignited from the red-hot surface of her little 8heet-lron stove and enveloped her In a fíame, a tire which did not emanate from the enemy's guns. The season was gtlll further enllvened by a most unusual event in the annals of military Ufe- the celobratlon ol a ding In tlie camp of the Seventh New Jersey Regiment. Tuis event furnisbed occasion tor general rojolcing. Leaves of absence being now more sparingly granted, the application of a certalu offlrer was "returned disapuroved." His nuptiitl arrangements in Washington were thus interrupted, but the disappointment was bravely endured as betits a eoldier. The sytnpHthies of his colonel nul brotlier oftlcers becoming aroused m invitdtion was extended by them to the bride-elect and lier friends to soletnnize the union appropriately within the LJnion lines, and to accept the hopitaliies of the regimental camp. To everyjody's delight the Invitation was very eensibly accepted, and Immediately the camp was alive with preparation, in n whtch the soldiers of every rank participated. Tlie viliage of tents was transtormed into a bower of a beauty. The enthusia9tic soldiers luid arched their streets and wreathed their tents with 'arlands of evergreens; flags and banïers waved a welcome, and every Inch of metal on sword and musket shone to lts shinie8t degree. As the Iiour arrived for the performance of the ceremony the regiment was drawn up in a liollow sqnnre, in the centre ot which an altar had been majestically formed of drums and cannon-balls and draped with tlie jeautiful American colors. The visiting adies, accompimi'.'d ty their escorts, and bllowed by prominent offtcers, preceded Ik.' bridal retinuc and arranged them selvcs before the improvised altar. A nind of mu9ic bnrst into the inspiring straiiia of "Hail to the Chlef" as General [iooker head of the army, spproacned, and was adroitly changed to Mendelssohn's march, when the wedding party assumed poRition bcfore the regimcntal chaplain. Amid this pomp and ceremony of the occasion there was soniething absurdly incongruous. A Southern sun shiiiing brightly, auggesting warmth, a Northern wind lilowing viciously and cold. A ahivering bride in robes of lleecy, transparent white, and a party of tuests in dark woolens and warm furs. [t was a s}rinbol of future unity betweeu the Nui Ui and South. A wedding breakfast was hospitably endered by the regiment, and the following day the festivities were continued at Boscobel, with General Sickles once more as host. There the general disilayi'd a miraculoua skill iu entertainnent, in a place and at a time when entertainment might seem impossible. His rare taste in decoration had caused the old house to burst into beauty. Evergreen festooned the wlndows and doors, draperies ot' red, white and blue atreained out iu gorgeousness. and soft lights :winkled froiu improvised chandeliers. These chandeliers were ingeniously constructed of evergreen branches, on which ¦iiiiniiijr hands liad tastened tlie glistening points of bayoneta, wbich pierced and BU)orted illuminating canilles. The ladles oontributed most of the tlio gay ribbons in their posseasion, red, blue and an occusioDttl green one, indistinguhhable trom the blue candlelight. These IlntU'icil trom wreaths and garlands, or wlierever lliey could be effectually disposed. Then there was a wonderful sup Ier, piesided over by Frenen artista who had transporto! a supply of delicacles, from Washington to wiiich every one was welcome, and later in the gray of the early morning a second banquet of game and wine to the ladies and to fayored otfleers. Dancing was indulged in upon tlie broad veranda of the old mansion, and never was the old Virginia reel more heartily enjoyed. A hospital tent closely adjoined the porch, and in it was installed a famous band of musiclans There was, as at tlie wedding, a strange diversity of attire among the gueats, the bride ht-rself and her maldsbelng conventioually arrayed, the men of the party in the dres9 suits of civilians, the ladies of the camp in extremely quiet style of dark merinos and sombretinted gloves, with an occusinnal bright ribbon enlivening the costume, or a borrowed military sash, worn like a baldiic from one shoulder to the waist. Then there were the offleers of every grade in bnlliant epaulets, gold lace and rows of buttons. Ou that tiight there was a jolifleation without st int. It may have teemed a mockeiy to the hostsof noble fellows outside, within the kuowledge of all this merriment, soldiers who were warming themsclves by lonely campflres or pacing their dreary watch, guardiug the festivity in wliich they had no pirt. But there was wisdom overlooking all, as was confessed when It wis subsequently understood that in that very hour an attack from the enemy was anticipated. Guards had been redoubled, extra precaution had been taken. The commander-lnchief congratulated himself that his officers were assembled where they might be sent without dclay to a place of comparative safety. There was indeed soinething in the occasion suggesting the lines of Byron's "Night Before Waterloo." As the spring approached and the condition of the ronds improved, a suspicion grew that the army was about to emerge from its winter quarters. Leavea of absence grew more and more infrequent. It became even impossible for a brigade or a ilivisiun commander to obtaiu leave for a day's run up to Washington. The ladies were summoned and reauestod to lililíes i M ni ni ni i nini .umi iiTijiunuii lu elect nu escort to accompany thein beyond tlie nrmy linea, iind to prevent all favorlisni tlie escort must not be a imirrieil man. Sagaclous general 1 A special 9teamer had been preparad to convoy tlie party up the river. A dav or so later tin: train which was to bear them to the lunding carried away from Falmouth station a sorrowful little company of wives. It was a dreary morning, tlie rain splashed upon their faces and dlsguised tlie tearg which they lieroically strove to conceal. There was a flutter of white liandkerchiefs, a waving of blue caps and tlie winter's expedente of one wiunaii in the ariny of the Potomac was endeil.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News