Press enter after choosing selection

Under Fire

Under Fire image
Parent Issue
Day
24
Month
July
Year
1885
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

A Trae Border Story of the War. Some time before the war a Presbyterian clorjjyiuan from New Hampshiro went South, with li is family, for tho benelit of his health. Ho purI chiised a little farm iu Virginia, about three miles from Washington, D. C, access to which was had by the way of Georgetown anti the Aquaduct I Bridge. He gradually failed in health, j however, and died, leaving a widow - i : Mrs. Gayes- and two gírls and two i : boys. At the breaking out of the war i iu1881, Mrs. Gayes and hor eider duughter, who was about tiftoon years ' : of ago, took a dcoided stand in favor of the Union cause. It required not a little moral courage to do this; but thero was no element of fear in tho make-up of any momber of tho fainily. ! At first their homo was withln the Confedérate lines, and communication j with Washington was very difficult I and hazardous. Mrs. Gayes was ridiculed, and sometimos tbreatened, but it availed nothing. After the Confedérate lines were driven back a few miles in 1861, fortii neations were constructed around : Washington for the protection of the : National Capital. They cousisted of a chain of forts arranged in nearly a circle. The line crossod the Potomac j near Chain Bridge, above Georgei town, extending t heneo down to Arlington Heiglus and some distance below, recrossing the river about half ! way between Long Bridge and Alex1 andria, and so on around until the oir! file was complete. Within this line, ! and about a mile and a half from Fort Smith, sitnated on a little eniinanoe. ' was Mr.". Gayes' modest home, I tected now from tho enomy, but suffering more, perhaps, 'from her , friends. Many regiments were en; camped near by; and little bv little her tiiuber and fences and stock and crops disappeared, until there was soaroely anything left savo the houso and tho land. liven the cook sloye was missing one morninr. Vei'y i i quently at night she was aroused by the beViting of "the long roll," the shquting of words of command, and ; the traniping of regiments as they swiftly formeel in line of batlle to meet : the expnoted enemy. On such oocasions all the tnombers of tho family would hastily dress, secure about their persons what valuables they had, and patiently wait. Diu'ing all these trying years she and herdaughter wero devoted friends of the Union canse, and their willing hands were untiring in doing soincthing for the soldiers, It was a midsunnner morning in 1864. Out in the lield and over in tho city it was seorching hot. But in Mrs. 1 Gayes' house, protected as it was from tiio raya of tho sun by the abundant follage of the great oaks which surrounded it, the heat was not I oppressive. Jlrs. Gayes was in the sntiug room reading a papor. The clder tlaughtcr was in Washington. Charfey, the eider son -who then near twelve ycars of age, was playinar with the dog on theporch. Itwás a peaoeful. quiet pictuio of Virginia country lifc Suddenly there carne a loud, whistlin?, screaming sound, followed by a terrific explosión directly over the house. "Why!" Mrs. Gayes, as she started from her seat, "what a heavy clap of - " thunder, she was about to say, but tho uumistakable humming, twanging soumis which folio wed closo upon the explosión, with the falling of leaves and broken branches trom the trees, told hor it was a shell from some heavy gun. "Is it possiblo the rebels are making an attack?" shé said. The children uow came running iu from their play, and oueof them criod out, "Oh, mamma! the lightning has struck the trees." Mrs. Gayes went out on the porch and looked and lister.cd, but nothing unusual could be seen or heard. "It was a aheü," said she. "I exI peet a gun at one of the forts went on; ae-. identally." "Well," said Charley, "when they load their gun,s I wish they'd point (hom toward Kichmond. They ought to be ashamcd of themsnlves. " "I don't think we shall be troubled any more," said the mother as she returned to tho sitting-room, followed by the Children. She had but just resumed her Seat whou another shell buried ilso.lf in the earth a few roda from the house and burst, throwing up clouds of dust and dirt. "What pan it tneanP" said Mrs. Gayes. "I know what it nieaus, mamma!" cried Charley. That New Vork regiment which has just been sent over to ■ I Fort Srnilh has put up a target in our field, and the fellows are tinng at t. I wish l was a general l'd put every one of them in tho funrd house!" Tho boy was riglil in his surmise, and n a few moments another missile thrown irom one of the huge i siege guns with which tho fort was arined, ílruck, a quarter of a mile away, and oame bouiuling or pitochoting toward tho house, striking the ground at short intervals in its mad eonrse, sometbjng as a stone when ' thrown violcntly upon Ihe water skips along tho surface. Wílh a shriek like a demon il plunged through tho don. dc-ilroying ewrvthing in its path, I li led tlie air with dust, gave two or i three inore skips and serceches, and fiinally burst over near the road. Mrs. Gayes turned pale. "Come down into the echar with me, all of you," she aaid; ana they ' obeyed with alacrity. After she had (uietfid Eliza, the negro sarvant, who was ni terna tely praying to "de good I.ord" and to "Missui (aves" to save her. she said: "Charley, you must run up to Mr. Pierson'a fust as fast as you can, and I ask hiin to ro around to the fort and have the uring stopped. And you remain at Mr. Pierson's until I sond for vou. Don't come back. You are not ifraid to go, are you?" "No, mamma, I'm uot afraid," answered the bravo littlo fellow as he clasped his inother's hand a little tighter. "I knew you would not be; and uow as soon as the next shell comes I want you to go." When it came she kisscd hun and Sftid, "Now my brave boy, run!" Sho would gladly have gono herself, but she thought it botter to remain tbilt she might be with the othor two children in case the house should be Btrnck and burned. It cost her a Btrugffle to send her sou forth on suc h a perilous errand, and her face was very pale as sho kisscd him. Away spoii Cliarley through t lic garden j glflnqjjng wit wonder at the great lurrowK tho sholls had plougned, i ! i ir. bed the fonco and started to run willi all his mighi loward Mr. i ■ t-'in's houso. which was half a milo i'ist:a-.t. Ho had üoarcóly left the garden fc'r.co, howowr, uiien another hIioII i'h:ui! ti'arin;.': tliruuli the shrub, i l'ory !:- had ji al pas-od and burst : eíoíu to t;f I)oum. 'hg moiber's fa stood still for au instaat - and there was causo for it. One of tho flying fragments struck poor Charley and ho feil to tho ground with a cry of "Oh, mamma!" Down in the cellar the : mother heard the cry of her woundod boy, nnd in a moment sho was Í ing by his side. lt troa a sad sight for j a mother to look upon. The cruel ! piece of ron with its riigged edges liad suipped a great piece of flesh i'rom the back of his nnkle upward, completcly ie. ver Ing the cord and i ing hare the Done. He was lyiug upon his face, nud the blood was already ' Í staining tho green grass whero he had fallen. Speaking words of encourajiI ment, she removed hia shoo and the ! ! fragment of stoeking, and hastily i bound up the wonnd with 8trips torn from her clothing. In this way she ' Btaunched the Üow of blood and quieteil his fears, through sho conld '. not allnviato his pain. "Now, Charley, I must go up to Mr. ; Pierson's myseif, for a shell may i strike the houso, and then Mary and Robby will be burned. l'll put you bohind that tree, and you will not be ! in ïnuch danger." "But you'll run, mamma, won't youP" And the tears triokled down Charloy's oheeks, though he tried very hard to keep tliem baok. The troe i was i large ohestnut, and its generous ; trunk affordod a pretty umple protection against the shells, two of which huil struck near by while Mrs. Gayes was binding up the wound. Arrivmg ! at Mr. Pierson's, she dispatohed him in great hatte to the fort, while she, , with swift feet, returned to Charley. Becky ana Berty Pierson, agod teen and eighteen, with true girlish heroism, returned with her notwithstanding the burstiug shells. On the way they passod several negroes sheltered benind stumps and stones, and llrs. Gayes vainly begged them to low her and assist in the removal of tht' wounded boy. They found Charley behind the troe, ancihc said, "Oh, mamma! I'm so glad you'vo como baok." He could not walk at all, and j ho was weak from pain and loss of j blood. So his mother and the two girls carrled him in thoir arms as best they could. Down the hill, half j ed by the smoke and stunned by tho ; awful explosiona, slowly moved tho st range processiou. They waded the llttle strearn in the hollow, stopping a moment to bathe Charley'a face and hands, and carried their burden up tne hill to Mr. Pierson's house. By this time Mr. Pierson had reached the fort, and the liring ceased. The other chüdren wero sent for, and in a few momenta the regimental Burafeon and hospital steward carne galloping down toexpi-ess their sorrow at what had happened and to render assistance. The surgeon's proffered services were most gladly accepted. When he was ready to examine the wound, the mother said: "Now, Charley. it will hurt yon to have the wound' dressed; but it must be done; and you must try and bear it. It will soon be over." "l'll try," said Charley, "if you'll be surO, mamma, and not lot mv leg becutoff." Sho pressed hiru to her heart, ind assured him with loving words that there was no occasion for so serlous an operation. "Sing to me, mamma! Sinsr to me!" "Why, Charley- I- I- Wt believe I can sing now," shü faltered. "You must, mamma, you must! Please sine; to me just the same ti yon al way s do and l'll keep awful stil]." And lie roached up and put his arms ploadinglj around her neck. Thero was a silenoe in the room as the little sulïerer porsisted in his strange ! quest. '1 hen tho mother closed her eyes and tried to slng. Her voica wa tremulous at íirst, but by a mighty efFort ehe expelled from her mind every thought save the remera bi anee of her love for her wounded child; and ; she was soon able to sing to him aimost as sweetly and softly as if in her j own quiet home. The boy's arms gradually relaxed and he lay back again quietly upon the blood-stained bed with his hoad re.it ing half upon his pillovv and half upon his mother's lap. His eyes were closed, and his ' pallid faco had lost something of the roundness and fullnoss whioh marked it in the morning. Tho mother was bending over him with one of his hands in hers. Ou the other sido of tho bed sat Berty Pierson fannmg Charley'i face. At the foot atood tho ! surgeon and tho steward. Clustered around the room were half a dozen neighbors looking on with sympathetie, uwe-stricken faces. When the mother began to softly j ging the song she Knew he loved, there ; wae a solemn hush in the room, and every eye was filled with tea. Even the rough, old surgeon, as he out a way j the bloody bandagos, was seen to urn ' away his hoad and hastily draw his sleeve aeross hia eyes a nuraber of ! times; and tho steward was hardly : able to distinguish his instrument. ! Under the sootHing effect of his : er's voice the boy allowod tho wound : to bo drossed and the cruel stitches to ! be taken. Later in tho day he dropped asleep and awoke considerably freshed. He was nncomplaining ; through it all; aud the fortitude with j which he boro his sufl'erings exeited ; the ad mira tion of every one. In the eool of the uveniüg Charley was taken homo ia an ambulance, sent for that purpose from the fort. The offloers aid eVurything in their power to atono for the suiTering they had so carelessly but unintentionally causod. The surgeon and his assistants attended him tenderly aud carefully until ho was wéll. The surgeon oftered to procuro his mother a pension, but Mrs. Gayes declined, sayiriir th:it lm was too thaokful that her boy wns alivc to think of asking aid from tho Government. Charley was soon able to walk with the aid of crutohos, but could nol dispense with their use for manv inondJis. .Mrs. Gayón, now an ugod woiuan, loves to toll of those perilous times. One of her daughters, u lady of rare quftllttes, lili one of tlie highest positious allowed to her sex in the (iovernnient departments in Washington. Shtí has in her littlo oabinet at home the vory piece of shell wMcÉ did its cruel work that day. lt is rusty, and when picked u was blood stained. Charley is a fforist and brings his flowers regularly to one of the Washington markets." Ho limps a littlo and wffl always hnve cause to remember the summer morning when the New York regiment iu Fort Smith

Article

Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat