Harry Castlemon.

A Rebellion in Dixie





The revulsion of feeling was so great that Leon staggered and would have fallen to the ground if Ballard had not ridden up and caught him by the collar.

Go in there quick before some one sees you! said Ballard, looking up and down the road as he spoke. I wouldnt hurt the hair of your head. Ive wanted to get with those Jones county people ever since I have been here, and now I have got a chance at last. Go into the woods quick as you can walk. Ill untie your hands in there.

Leon waited to hear no more, but dived straight into the bushes, and he never stopped until he had gone half a mile from the road. But fast as he went, Ballard was close behind him. When he stopped his captor dismounted and pulled a big bowie-knife from his boot. One blow was enough, and Leons arms were free.

Ballard, I never shall forget you! said Leon, and his voice was somewhat husky as he spoke. I have been wondering how I should get away, but I never thought that you would help me. You are a friend indeed. But first I want to know if you have anything to eat in your haversack? I havent had a bite since yesterday.

Ballard at once unslung his haversack, and while Leon was regaling himself on the corn-bread and bacon, which tasted wonderfully good to him, he told Leon how he happened to go into the service, while he knew that the South was going to be utterly impoverished. He owned a fine cattle-ranch in Texas, and when the Southern men around him began to talk of going into her service he found that he had to go, too, or run the risk of stretching hemp.

I didnt want to go for a long time, said Ballard, and when I found that my neighbors were all giving in their names, and began to look cross-eyed at me and make remarks that people who were not for us were against us, I saw it was high time I was doing something; so I got an Englishman to take care of my place, and here I am. I tell you, there is a lot of men in the rebel army that think just the same as I do.

Let them come over into our county and well treat them right, said Leon. Father says we will have at least ten thousand men by-and-by, and it is going to take more than double that number of men to whip us. Now, Ballard, I am much obliged to you for this breakfast, and I am now able to go on. Are you going to take your horse with you?

Oh, I couldnt think of going anywhere without that horse, said Ballard, hastily. Ill warrant that if the rebels went by within ten feet of us he wouldnt say a word.

Leon at once stepped out at his old pace, and Ballard kept close behind him. The woods were so thick that they couldnt stop to do much talking, and by the time it began to grow dark they were on the banks of the creek.

Now, we are half way home, said Leon. I would like to know just how that cavalry came out in attacking our men. Ive listened every once in a while, but I didnt hear any sound of rifles or carbines.

Probably they are too far away for us to hear them, said Ballard.

If your men will fight

Oh, they will fight, and there are some of them with us who have repeatedly declared that they wont take any prisoners. If they drive our men back to the swamp they are whipped, sure. By gracious! whats that? It sounds like a couple of horses coming through the woods.

Ballard took his horse by the bridle to hold his head down in case he wanted to call to them and listened intently. Soon the measured tread of the horses could be heard coming through the woods, and in a few minutes a couple of rebels appeared on the opposite bank of the creek and but a short distance above them. One of the Confederates had no hat on, his left arm was hanging loose by his side and his companion was holding him on his horse. They paused for a few moments, as if they didnt know what to do with the creek in front of them, and then the uninjured one urged the horses in, and in a few strokes of the hoofs they were safe across.

Ill tell you whats the matter with our side, said Ballard, as soon as the two rebels had disappeared in the bushes. We have been whipped!

Do you mean to say that our fellows have whipped the cavalry? inquired Leon, and he was surprised and delighted to hear it.

That is just what I mean. If the cavalry had been successful they would have kept to the road and taken some prisoners with them; but their being scattered in this way makes me think that they have been worsted. You saw that man who was being held on his horse? Well, he was wounded.

We have got to swim the creek before we can get over, said Leon. I am impatient to see how my father came out. Take off your clothes and hold them above your head. Ill carry your carbine for you.

Leon worked in earnest now, for his father had been in danger and he was not there to share it. In hardly less time than it takes to tell it he was on the other side of the bayou and pulling on his clothes. Ballard was not very far behind him, and seeing how impatient Leon was he donned his uniform with all possible haste, after which they struck out for Ellisville.

CHAPTER XVI
A FIGHT AND ITS RESULTS

Let us now return to the cavalrymen and see how they came out in their assault on the Union men who had been left to guard the bridge, and particularly to tell how Dan and Cale felt when they found themselves going back among those who would be sure to know them. Cale was frightened, and consequently he said nothing, but Dan was just scared enough to have plenty of talk in him.

Take that man up behind you, said Captain Cullom, addressing himself to one of the leading fours of his company.

Up you come with a jump, said the man, reaching down to catch Dan by the hand.

Oh, now, I tell you I dont want to get up there, said Dan. Those people at the bridge will surely know me, and Ill be tumbled off with the first volley you get.

Get on up there, said Captain Cullom, and he reached over as if he was going to draw his sword.

Give us your hand, said the man, getting impatient. Now throw your leg over the back of the horse. You are Southerner enough to do that.

Dan finally made out to get on the cavalrymans horse, but it was more the effects of the sword, which had leaped half-way out of its scabbard while the captain was talking to him. Cale was already seated behind his man, and in response to the adjutants order, Forward! they moved toward the bridge. Dan was more than half-inclined to cry when he found that he must go whether he wanted to or not, and the man he was with began to torment him.

Oh, they will give it to you if they catch you up there, said he, in a tone so low that the captain couldnt hear it. Say, Charlie, you remember what they done to those two fellows they caught down to Mobile?

Youre right, I do, replied the man thus addressed. They hung em up to the nearest tree.

What did they do that for? asked Dan.

Because they wanted to betray their friends into our hands, said the man.

But these aint friends of mine, replied Dan, Ive been down on them ever since I have been here.

No matter. You know what we will do to them if we catch them, and the others will serve you the same way. I would rather be in my boots than in yours.

But you are going to lick them, aint you?

Lick them? Of course we are. Thats what we are going up here for. Have you got any friends there?

Ive got a father and a mother.

Then they had better get out. Were going to sweep everything clean. There wont be hide nor hair left of a Union man to-night.

Now, if you will let me get off and go through the woods, said Dan, I can warn my relatives.

Cant do it, said the man, shaking his head. Didnt you hear what the captain said? If you were in the service you would know how to obey orders.

Silence in the ranks! commanded Captain Cullom, and this put a stop to all conversation between them, although Dan had many things that he wanted to say.

After this they rode along in a sort of a fox trot, but Dan noticed that they didnt take as much pains to go quietly as the squad had done the night before. By the time they got to the bend Dan was certain that the pickets had heard them and taken to the bushes, and when they got around it in plain view of the bridge there was not a sentinel in sight. But before they had gone many feet along the road a voice called out:

Halt! Who comes there?

Draw sabres and revolvers! shouted the colonel, and the order was repeated by the adjutant, who galloped back along the column and yelled out the command as he went. Forward! Charge!

In a second Dan was flying along the road faster than he had ever travelled on horseback before, and in another second the line was thrown into confusion by a discharge of rifles and carbines from the woods on each side of the bridge. The shots were well-aimed, too, for each man was sure of his mark. The colonel and his horse went down, and so did the two men who were carrying Dan and Cale double. The leading four were also badly cut up, and before the major could get up to command in place of his colonel a second discharge followed, which came within an ace of putting the column to a rout. Dan and Cale were on their feet as soon as they struck the ground, the former with his left arm hanging loose and the latter with a bullet-hole through both cheeks.

Ive got it now! Ive got it now! moaned Dan, and when he tried to raise his arm he saw that the lower part of it was useless.

And I, too! yelled Cale. Whats the matter with my face, Dan? I cant hardly talk.

But Dan wasnt staying around there to tell Cale what was the matter with his face. In fact he didnt think anything of his brother at all, for his thoughts were wrapped up in his own wound. He gazed at the fallen men who were scattered around him, heard the major issue some rapid orders, and then he, too, fell off his horse. The pickets were evidently going for the officers, and they made short work of them. Dan saw and heard all this and then made a desperate lunge for the bushes, and Cale was close at his heels when he got there.

Oh, my face! groaned Cale. I wish I knew what was the matter with it.

Do you think there is nobody killed but yourself? retorted Dan. Look at this arm. It dont hurt me so much, but it feels bruised, and you have got nothing but a bullet-hole through your cheeks.

By this time the column was under command of a captain, who had little difficulty in rallying them, and Dan heard a yell such as he had never heard before, the yell of charging cavalry, and he saw the body of men sweep on toward the bridge; but when they got there they saw the Union pickets far up the road. But they loaded their rifles as fast as they went, and when they turned around to fire at their pursuers some man was certain to go down. At last the captain who commanded the cavalry went over also, and this left Captain Cullom, who was the second in rank, in charge of the regiment.

Forward! he shouted at the top of his voice. They are going on ahead to arouse the other men, and we must overtake them before they get there.

Again that charging yell arose, and it was answered by yells equally as savage from the Union men, who turned and fired another volley at them. The ten miles that lay between them and Ellisville were quickly passed over, and by the time the pickets had arrived within sight of the camp there was not a man to be seen. The houses didnt look as though there was anybody around them, but when they came nearer they found that every window was filled with sharpshooters. The church, too, was used as a barricade, and as it stood broadside to the road we can imagine that it must have been hot work for that column of cavalry to have stood against it. As they came opposite the hotel the door opened and Mr. Knight and Mr. Sprague stepped out.

What is going on down the road? asked the former.

The rebs are coming! shouted half a dozen voices. They have got a whole regiment of cavalry with them. We haint lost a man.

You have done nobly, said Mr. Sprague. Go around behind the church-house and make your horses fast, and go in there. Be ready to shoot when you hear us.

This looks like a fight, said one of the pickets, as they made their way into the church. Boys, I laid out one traitor the first fire I had. It was that miserable Dan Newman.

And I made all haste to lay out the other one, chimed in a second. His brother, Cale Newman, was there, and Bob, here, shot the mans horse, and I took particular aim at his head. I know I hit him, but I did not fix him. I saw him get up and go into the bushes.

Here they come! said one of the sharp-shooters, who was keeping watch at one of the windows. There is lots of them, aint they?

Yes, but it is going to take more than they have got to get away with us, said one of the pickets. If ten men can throw a column like that into confusion, they wont stand long against the fire of five hundred.

Now, all you men who can get there at the window fire your one shot, and then fall back and give somebody else a chance, said the quartermaster the one who had refused to give Cale Newman a mule. In that way we can keep up a regular fusillade on them.

The Confederates came on, yelling as they went, and there was more than one man who took note of the fact that discipline was a great thing. All those in front were coming to their death, but not one was seen to flinch. The men in the church began to wonder if Mr. Sprague had forgotten how to shoot, his signal was so long delayed, and some of the most excitable ones yelled Fire! as the rebels came on, but the calm voice of their leader broke in with:

Steady there, men. Dont shoot until you have the word; and scarcely had he got the words out of his mouth when a rifle-shot came from the hotel across the way, and an instant afterward nearly a thousand rifles and carbines cracked in unison. The slaughter was fearful. The captain, who was leading the charge, fell with a dozen bullets in his person, and when the smoke cleared away so that they could see the effect of the shot, they found that the leading company had been dismounted, and their horses were running about as if they didnt know which way to go.

Now, you men at the window who have had a hand in this fall back, said the quartermaster; but nobody seemed to hear him. The men struggled to keep their places, and the men in the body of the church, finding that no opportunity was to be given them, opened the door and went out. Then the rebels got another volley, and it was almost as disastrous as the first. And this wasnt the worst of it. All the men came out from their hiding-places, from the hotel and from behind the trees that concealed them in the grove, and the surviving rebels, seeing nothing before them but a regiment of Union men who were backed by rifles that never missed, and more running up to join them, took to their heels and made the best of their time down the road.

Get on your horses and follow them! shouted Mr. Knight from the window of the hotel. Dont let one escape!

That was the way the rebels got scattered. The Union men pursued them on fresh horses; and some of them, seeing that their chances for escape were slim indeed, threw down their arms and surrendered, while the rest took off through the woods. That was the time that Leon and Ballard might have added some glory to their escape by capturing the two men who went across the creek, but the trouble was they didnt know how the thing had ended.

Now, if you think they were whipped we can go up the main road, said Leon. But I really shouldnt like to get so close to home and then have them jump onto me.

I shouldnt like it, either, said Ballard, with a laugh. I would be apt to fare worse than you would. But cant we go on and reconnoitre the ground? If we find some of your men there well be safe.

Let us try it, said Leon. Anything is better than walking through this thick underbrush.

Leon was not more than half a mile below the bridge, and before he had gone that distance he heard somebody talking in the road. He raised his hand to Ballard, and the latter at once took his horse by the head and forced it down. Leon held on, and after carefully feeling his way came upon several Union men who were gathered about a rebel who had been shot from his horse. One of the Union men he recognized as Bud McCoy, but who the others were he didnt know.

Halloo! there. You licked them, didnt you?

Well, Ill be dog-gone! exclaimed the man, as he turned about and saw Leon advancing upon him through the bushes. Where have you been? Your pap has been in a heap of worry about you.

And well he might be, said Leon. I have been a prisoner. Come on, Ballard; its all right.

The men all straightened up they were busy getting ready to remove the wounded rebel and presently saw Ballard coming through the woods leading his horse.

And heres the man who saved me, added Leon. Know him, boys. His name is Ballard. He was going to take me down to Mobile, but after he got out of sight of the rebels he asked me into the woods and gave me something to eat. How many of the Confederates did you kill?

But first, I want to know how you came to be taken prisoner? said Bud. Did you run onto the rebels before you knew it? The last time I saw you, you were up to old Newmans house.

No, I didnt run onto the rebels before I saw them, said Leon; and he knew the confession he was about to make would not meet the entire approval of Bud McCoy. One man made a prisoner of me.

Who was it?

Dan Newman.

And you had a revolver in your pocket?

Yes, but he got it away from me.

Dan Newman! Well, Ill be dog-gone! Before I would let a man like Dan Newman capture me

But, Bud, he threw me down when I didnt know he was near me, protested Leon, and when I turned over to see what had happened to me, there was my own revolver aimed straight at me.

Well, you will never have an opportunity to get even with him now, said Bud. He was shot right through the arm, and his brother got a bullet-hole through both cheeks.

Why, who did that? exclaimed Leon, who felt very much disappointed to hear it. He had always contended that no Newman could handle him, and now he would have to live with that shadow on his mind.

I dont know; some of the pickets did it, Tom Howe was almost as worked up as your father. Hes down there now, helping gather up the wounded rebels, said Bud, jerking his head down the road.

I hope Dan will get well, for I am bound to try my strength with him some day, said Leon. Has anybody here got a horse that I can ride?

Take that gray, said one of the men, I have got to carry this man to Ellisville, so I will have to walk.

Leon thanked him, unhitched the horse, swung himself upon his back and galloped across the bridge and down the road to the place where his two friends were at work. Tom and Dawson were surprised to see him, and while he was telling them the story he looked all around to find Dan and Cale. He wanted to see how badly hurt Dan was, for he believed, if they were to measure strength once more, that Dan would go under.

Theres one thing that happened about this business that you wont like, said Tom; and he spoke as though he was very much disheartened himself. Old man Smith was badly wounded during the fight.

Why, how did that happen? asked Leon in surprise.

Well, you must know that all the shooting that was done wasnt confined to our men, said Tom. The rebels rallied two or three times, and every time they poured in a volley.

But how did Mr. Smith get hit? Wasnt he under cover?

Yes; he was in the hotel with your father, but he came out. He was just getting all ready to fire when a bullet took him in the side and over he went.

Leon was very sorry to hear this. He remembered that Mr. Smith had told him particularly that he had something to say to him, and he had not been near him since. Perhaps if he went directly home he would get there in time to hear what he had to say. He didnt think it anything worth listening to, but he would show his good-will. While he was looking around at the dead and wounded Confederates lying there and he was really surprised when he saw what a havoc ten guns had made in the assaulting column he became aware that there was a man leaning on a rifle and keeping guard over several prisoners. Among them were Dan and Cale. Ones arm and the others face had been bandaged after a fashion, and they were waiting until the rebels were all gathered up, when they would go on to Ellisville and be placed under the care of the doctor. Leon gave his horse the rein and rode up and accosted Dan.

Well, old fellow, I am sorry to see you in this fix, said he.

Yes, no doubt you are glad of it, whined Dan, moving his wounded arm to a better place.

I am, really. I was in hopes that you and I would come together again, and I wanted you to see that you couldnt take me down as easy as you did before. You handled me as easy as though I wasnt there.





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