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Graham was right in his prediction that another night's rest would carry him far on the road to recovery; and he insisted, when Hilland called in the morning, that the major should remain in his accustomed chair at home, and listen to the remainder of the story. "My habit of life is so active," he said, "that a little change will do me good;" and so it was arranged. By leaning on Hilland's shoulder he was able to limp the short distance between the cottages; and he found that Grace had made every arrangement for his comfort on the piazza, where the major welcomed him with almost the eagerness of a child for whom an absorbing story is to be continued.
"You can't know how you interested us all last night," Grace began. "I never knew papa to be more gratified; and as for Warren, he could not sleep for excitement. Where did you learn to tell stories?"
"I was said to be very good at fiction when a boy, especially when I got into scrapes. But you can't expect in this garish light any such effects as I may have created last evening. It requires the mysterious power of night and other conditions to secure a glamour; and so you must look for the baldest prose to-day."
"Indeed, Graham, we scarcely know what to expect from you any more," Hilland remarked. "From being a quiet cynic philosopher, content to delve in old libraries like the typical bookworm, you become an indefatigable sportsman, horse-tamer, explorer of the remote parts of the earth, and last, and strangest, a newspaper correspondent who doesn't know that the place to see and write about battles is several miles in the rear. What will you do next?"
"My future will be redeemed from the faintest trace of eccentricity. I shall do what about a million other Americans will do eventually--go into the army."
"Ah! now you talk sense, and I am with you. I shall be ready to go as soon as you are well enough."
"I doubt it."
"Grace, what do you say to all this?" turning a troubled look upon the wife.
"I foresee that, like my mother, I am to be the wife of a soldier," she replied with a smile, while tears stood in her eyes. "I did not marry Warren to destroy his sense of manhood."
"You see, Graham, how it is. You also perceive what a knight I must be to be worthy of the lady I leave in bower."
"Yes; I see it all too well. But I must misquote Shakespeare to you, and 'charge you to stand on the order of your going;' and I think the rest of my story will prove that I have good reason for the charge."
"I should have been sorry," said the major, "to have had Grace marry a man who would consult only ease and safety in times like these. It will be awfully hard to have him go. But the time may soon come when it would be harder for Grace to have him stay; that is, if she is like her mother. But what's the use of looking at the gloomy side? I've been through a dozen battles; and here I am to plague the world yet. But now for the story. You left off, Mr. Graham, at the rout of the first Rebel line of battle."
"And this had not been attained," resumed Graham, "without serious loss to our side. Colonel Hunter, who commanded the Second Division, you remember, was so severely wounded by a shell that he had to leave the field early in the action. Colonel Slocum of one of the Rhode Island regiments was mortally wounded; and his major had his leg crushed by a cannon ball which at the same time killed his horse. Many others were wounded and must have had a hard time of it, poor fellows, that hot day. As for the dead that strewed the ground--their troubles were over."
"But not the troubles of those that loved them," said Grace, bitterly.
Graham turned hastily away. When a moment later he resumed his narrative, she noticed that his eyes were moist and his tones husky.
"Our heaviest loss was in the demoralization of some of the regiments engaged. They appeared to have so little cohesion that one feared all the time that they might crumble away into mere human atoms.
"The affair continually took on a larger aspect, as more troops became engaged. We had driven the Confederates down a gentle slope, across a small stream called Young's Branch, and up a hill beyond and to the south. This position was higher and stronger than any they had yet occupied. On the crest of the hill were two houses; and the enemy could be seen forming a line extending from one to the other. They were evidently receiving re-enforcements rapidly. I could see gray columns hastening forward and deploying; and I've no doubt that many of the fugitives were rallied beyond this line. Meanwhile, I was informed that Tyler's Division, left in the morning at Stone Bridge, had crossed the Run, in obedience to McDowell's orders, and were on the field at the left of our line. Such, as far as I could judge, was the position of affairs between twelve and one, although I can give you only my impressions. It appeared to me that our men were fighting well, gradually and steadily advancing, and closing in upon the enemy. Still, I cannot help feeling that if we had followed up our success by the determined charge of one brigade that would hold together, the hill might have been swept, and victory made certain.
"I had taken my position near Rickett's and Griffin's batteries on the right of our line, and decided to follow them up, not only because they were doing splendid work, but also for the reason that they would naturally be given commanding positions at vital points. By about two o'clock we had occupied the Warrenton Turnpike; and we justly felt that much had been gained. The Confederate lines between the two houses on the hill had given way; and from the sounds we heard, they must have been driven back also by a charge on our extreme left. Indeed, there was scarcely anything to be seen of the foe that thus far had been not only seen but felt.
"From a height near the batteries where I stood, the problem appeared somewhat clear to me. We had driven the enemy up and over a hill of considerable altitude, and across an uneven plateau, and they were undoubtedly in the woods beyond, a splendid position which commanded the entire open space over which we must advance to reach them. They were in cover; we should be in full view in all efforts to dislodge them. Their very reverses had secured for them a position worth half a dozen regiments; and I trembled as I thought of our raw militia advancing under conditions that would try the courage of veterans. You remember that if Washington, in the Revolution, could get his new recruits behind a rail-fence, they thought they were safe.
"Well, there was no help for it. The hill and plateau must be crossed under a pointblank fire, in order to reach the enemy, and that, too, by men who had been under arms since midnight, and the majority wearied by a long march under a blazing sun.
"About half-past two, when the assault began, a strange and ominous quiet rested on the field. As I have said, the enemy had disappeared. The men scarcely knew what to think of it; and in some a false confidence, speedily dispelled, was begotten. Rickett's battery was moved down across the valley to the top of a hill just beyond the residence owned and occupied by a Mrs. Henry. I followed and entered the house, already shattered by shot and shell, curious to know whether it was occupied, and by whom. Pitiful to relate, I found that Mrs. Henry was a widow and a helpless invalid. The poor woman was in mortal terror; and it was my hope to return and carry her to some place of safety, but the swift and deadly tide of war gave me no chance. [Footnote: Mrs. Henry, although confined to her bed, was wounded two or three times, and died soon afterward.]
"Ricketts' battery had scarcely unlimbered before death was busy among his cannoneers and even his horses. The enemy had the cover not only of the woods, but of a second growth of pines, which fringed them and completely concealed the Rebel sharpshooters. When a man fell, nothing could be seen but a puff of smoke. These little jets and wreaths of smoke half encircled us, and made but a phantom-like target for our people; and I think it speaks well for officers and men that they not only did their duty, but that Griffin's battery also came up, and that both batteries held their own against a terrific pointblank fire from the Rebel cannon, which certainly exceeded ours in number. The range was exceedingly short, and a more terrific artillery duel it would be hard to imagine. At the same time the more deadly little puffs of smoke continued; and men in every attitude of duty would suddenly throw up their hands and fall. The batteries had no business to be so exposed, and their supports were of no real service.
"I can give you an idea of what occurred at this point only; but, from the sounds I heard, there was very heavy fighting elsewhere, which I fear, however, was too spasmodic and ill-directed to accomplish the required ends. A heavy, persistent, concentrated attack, a swift push with the bayonet through the low pines and woods, would have saved the day. Perhaps our troops were not equal to it; and yet, poor fellows, they did braver things that were utterly useless.
"I still believe, however, all might have gone well, had it not been for a horrible mistake. I was not very far from Captain Griffin, and was watching his cool, effective superintendence of his guns, when suddenly I noticed a regiment in full view on our right advancing toward us. Griffin caught sight of it at the same moment, and seemed amazed. Were they Confederates or National? was the question to be decided instantly. They might be his own support. Doubtful and yet exceedingly apprehensive, he ordered his guns to be loaded with canister and trained upon this dubious force that had come into view like an apparition; but he still hesitated, restrained, doubtless, by the fearful thought of annihilating a Union regiment.
"'Captain,' said Major Barry, chief of artillery, 'they are your battery support.'
"'They are Confederates.' Griffin replied, intensely excited. 'As certain as the world, they are Confederates.'
"'No,' was the answer, 'I know they are your battery support.'
"I had ridden up within ear-shot, and levelled my glass upon them. 'Don't fire,' cried Griffin, and he spurred forward to satisfy himself.
"At the same moment the regiment, now within short range, by a sudden instantaneous act levelled their muskets at us. I saw we were doomed, and yet by some instinct tightened my rein while I dug my spurs into my horse. He reared instantly. I saw a line of fire, and then poor Mayburn fell upon me, quivered, and was dead. The body of a man broke my fall in such a way that I was not hurt. Indeed, at the moment I was chiefly conscious of intense anger and disgust. If Griffin had followed his instinct and destroyed that regiment, as he could have done by one discharge, the result of the whole battle might have been different. As it was, both his and Rickett's batteries were practically annihilated." [Footnote: Since the above was written Colonel Hasbrouck has given me an account of this crisis in the battle. He was sufficiently near to hear the conversation found in the text, and to enable me to supplement it by fuller details. Captain Griffin emphatically declared that no Union regiment could possibly come from that quarter, adding, "They are dressed in gray."
Major Barry with equal emphasis asserted that they were National troops, and unfortunately we had regiments in gray uniforms. Seeing that Captain Griffin was not convinced, he said peremptorily, "I command you not to fire on that regiment."
Of course this direct order ended the controversy, and Captain Griffin directed that his guns be shifted again toward the main body of the enemy, while he rode forward a little space to reconnoitre.
During all this fatal delay the Confederate regiment was approaching, marching by the flank, and so passed at one time within pointblank range of the guns that would scarcely have left a man upon his feet. The nature of their advance was foolhardy in the extreme, and at the time that Captain Griffin wished to fire they were practically helpless. A Virginia worm-fence was in their path, and so frightened, nervous, and excited were they that, instead of tearing it down, they began clambering over it until by weight and numbers it was trampled under foot.
They approached so near that the order to "fire low" was distinctly heard by our men as the Confederates went into battle-line formation.
The scene following their volley almost defies description. The horses attached to caissons not only tore down and through the ascending National battle-line, but Colonel--then Lieutenant--Hasbrouck saw several teams dash over the knoll toward the Confederate regiment, that opened ranks to let them pass. So novel were the scenes of war at that time that the Confederates were as much astonished as the members of the batteries left alive, and at first did not advance, although it was evident that there were, at the moment, none to oppose them. The storm of Rebel bullets had ranged so low that Lieutenant Hasbrouck and Captain Griffin owed their safety to the fact that they were mounted. The horses of both officers were wounded. On the way down the northern slope of the hill, with the few Union survivors, Captain Griffin met Major Barry, and in his intense anger and grief reproached him bitterly. The latter gloomily admitted that he had been mistaken.
Captain Ricketts was wounded, and the battle subsequently surged back and forth over his prostrate form, but eventually he was sent as a captive to Richmond.]
The major uttered an imprecation.
"I was pinned to the ground by the weight of my horse, but not so closely but that I could look around. The carnage had been frightful. But few were on their feet, and they in rapid motion to the rear. The horses left alive rushed down the hill with the caissons, spreading dismay, confusion, and disorder through the ascending line of battle. Our supporting regiment in the rear, that had been lying on their arms, sprang to their feet and stood like men paralyzed with horror; meanwhile, the Rebel regiment, re-enforced, was advancing rapidly on the disabled guns--their defenders lay beneath and around them--firing as they came. Our support gave them one ineffectual volley, then turned and fled."
Again the major relieved his mind in his characteristic way.
"But you, Alford?" cried Grace, leaning forward with clasped hands, while his aunt came and buried her face upon his shoulder. "Are you keeping your promise to live?" she whispered.
"Am I not here safe and sound?" he replied, cheerily. "Nothing much happened to me, Grace. When I saw the enemy was near, I merely doubled myself up under my horse, and was nothing to them but a dead Yankee. I was only somewhat trodden upon, as I told you, when the Confederates tried to turn the guns against our forces.
"I fear I am doing a wrong to the ladies by going into these sanguinary details."
"No," said the major, emphatically; "Mrs. Mayburn would have been a general had she been a man; and Grace has heard about battles all her life. It's a great deal better to understand from the start what this war means."
"I especially wished Hilland to hear the details of this battle as far as I saw them, for I think they contain lessons that may be of great service to him. That he would engage in the war was a foregone conclusion from the first; and with his means and ability he may take a very important part in it. But of this later.
"As I told you, I made the rather close acquaintance of your kin, Grace, and can testify that the 'fa' of their feet' was not 'fairy- like.' Before they could accomplish their purpose of turning the guns on our lines, I heard the rushing tramp of a multitude, with defiant shouts and yells. Rebels fell around me. The living left the guns, sought to form a line, but suddenly gave way in dire confusion, and fled to the cover from which they came. A moment later a body of our men surged like an advancing wave over the spot they had occupied.
"Now was my chance; and I reached up and seized the hand of a tall, burly Irishman. "What the divil du ye want?" he cried, and in his mad excitement was about to thrust me through for a Confederate.
"'Halt!' I thundered. The familiar word of command restrained him long enough for me to secure his attention. 'Would you kill a Union man?'"
"'Is it Union ye are? What yez doin' here, thin, widut a uniform?'
"I showed him my badge of correspondent, and explained briefly.
"Strange as it may seem to you, he uttered a loud, jolly laugh. 'Faix, an' it's a writer ye are. Ye'll be apt to git some memmyrandums the day that ye'll carry about wid ye till ye die, and that may be in about a minnit. I'll shtop long enough to give yez a lift, or yez hoss, rather;' and he seized poor Mayburn by the head. His excitement seemed to give him the strength of a giant, for in a moment I was released and stood erect.
"'Give me a musket,' I cried, 'and I'll stand by you.'
"'Bedad, hilp yersilf,' he replied, pushing forward. 'There's plenty o' fellers lyin' aroun' that has no use for them;' and he was lost in the confused advance.
"All this took place in less time than it takes to describe it, for events at that juncture were almost as swift as bullets. Lame as I was, I hobbled around briskly, and soon secured a good musket with a supply of cartridges. As with the rest, my blood was up--don't smile, Hilland: I had been pretty cool until the murderous discharge that killed my horse--and I was soon in the front line, firing with the rest.
"Excited as I was, I saw that our position was desperate, for a heavy force of Confederates was swarming toward us. I looked around and saw that part of our men were trying to drag off the guns. This seemed the more important work; and discretion also whispered that with my bruised foot I should be captured in five minutes unless I was further to the rear. So I took a pull at a gun; but we had made little progress before there was another great surging wave from the other direction, and our forces were swept down the hill again, I along with the rest. The confusion was fearful; the regiments with which I had been acting went all to pieces, and had no more organization than if they had been mixed up by a whirlwind.
"I was becoming too lame to walk, and found myself in a serious dilemma." "Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Hilland. "It was just becoming serious, eh?"
"Well, I didn't realize my lameness before; and as retreat was soon to be order of the day, there was little prospect of my doing my share. As I was trying to extricate myself from the shattered regiments, I saw a riderless horse plunging toward me. To seize his bridle and climb into the saddle was the work of a moment; and I felt that, unlike McDowell, I was still master of the situation. Working my out of the press and to our right, I saw that another charge for the guns by fresh troops was in progress. It seemed successful at first. The guns were retaken, but soon the same old story was repeated, and a corresponding rush from the other side swept our men back.
"Would you believe it, this capture and recapture occurred several times. A single regiment even would dash forward, and actually drive the Rebels back, only to lose a few moments later what they had gained. Never was there braver fighting, never worse tactics. The repeated successes of small bodies of troops proved that a compact battle line could have swept the ridge, and not only retaken the guns, but made them effective in the conflict. As it was, the two sides worried and tore each other like great dogs, governed merely by the impulse and instinct of fight. The batteries were the bone between them.
"This senseless, wasteful struggle could not go on forever. That it lasted as long as it did speaks volumes in favor of the material of which our future soldiers are to be made. As I rode slowly from the line and scene of actual battle, of which I had had enough, I became disheartened. We had men in plenty--there were thousands on every side--but in what condition! There was no appearance of fear among the men I saw at about four P.M. (I can only guess the time, for my watch had stopped), but abundant evidence of false confidence and still more of the indifference of men who feel they have done all that should be required of them and are utterly fagged out. Multitudes, both officers and privates, were lying and lounging around waiting for their comrades to finish the ball.
"For instance, I would ask a man to what regiment he belonged, and he would tell me.
"'Where is it?'
"'Hanged if I know. Saw a lot of the boys awhile ago.'
"Said an officer in answer to my inquiries, 'No; I don't know where the colonel is, and I don't care. After one of our charges we all adjourned like a town meeting. I'm played out; have been on my feet since one o'clock last night.'
"These instances were characteristic of the state of affairs in certain parts of the field that I visited. Plucky or conscientious fellows would join their comrades in the fight without caring what regiment they acted with; but the majority of the great disorganized mass did what they pleased, after the manner of a country fair, crowding in all instances around places where water could be obtained. Great numbers had thrown away their canteens and provisions, as too heavy to carry in the heat, or as impediments in action. Officers and men were mixed up promiscuously, hobnobbing and chaffing in a languid way, and talking over their experiences, as if they were neighbors at home. The most wonderful part of it all was that they had no sense of their danger and of the destruction they were inviting by their unsoldierly course.
"I tried to impress these dangers on one or two, but the reply was, 'Oh, hang it! The Rebs are as badly used up as we are. Don't you see things are growing more quiet? Give us a rest!'
"By this time I had worked my way well to my right, and was on a little eminence watching our line advance, wondering at the spirit with which the fight was still maintained. Indeed, I grew hopeful once more as I saw the good work that the regiments still intact were doing. There was much truth in the remark that the Rebels were used up also, unless they had reserves of which we knew nothing. At that time we had no idea that we had been fighting, not only Beauregard, but also Johnson from the Shenandoah.
"My hope was exceedingly intensified by the appearance of a long line of troops emerging from the woods on our flank and rear, for I never dreamed that they could be other than our own re-enforcements. Suddenly I caught sight of a flag which I had learned to know too well. The line halted a moment, muskets were levelled, and I found myself in a perfect storm of bullets. I assure you I made a rapid change of base, for when our line turned I should be between two fires. As it was, I was cut twice in this arm while galloping away. In a few moments a battery also opened upon our flank; and it became as certain as day that a large Confederate force from some quarter had been hurled upon the flank and rear of our exhausted forces. The belief that Johnson's army had arrived spread like wildfire. How absurd and crude it all seems now! We had been fighting Johnson from the first.
"All aggressive action on our part now ceased; and as if governed by one common impulse, the army began its retreat.
"Try to realize it. Our retirement was not ordered. There were thousands to whom no order could be given unless with a voice like a thunder peal. Indeed, one may say, the order was given by the thunder of that battery on our flank. It was heard throughout the field; and the army, acting as individuals or in detachments, decided to leave. To show how utterly bereft of guidance, control, and judgment were our forces, I have merely to say that each man started back by exactly the same route he had come, just as a horse would do, while right before them was the Warrenton Pike, a good, straight road direct to Centerville, which was distant but little over four miles.
"This disorganized, exhausted mob was as truly in just the fatal condition for the awful contagion we call 'panic' as it would have been from improper food and other causes, for some other epidemic. The Greeks, who always had a reason for everything, ascribed the nameless dread, the sudden and unaccountable fear, which bereaves men of manhood and reason, to the presence of a god. It is simply a latent human weakness, which certain conditions rarely fail to develop. They were all present at the close of that fatal day. I tell you frankly that I felt something of it myself, and at a time, too, when I knew I was not in the least immediate danger. To counteract it I turned and rode deliberately toward the enemy, and the emotion passed. I half believe, however, that if I had yielded, it would have carried me away like an attack of the plague. The moral of it all is, that the conditions of the disease should be guarded against.
"When it became evident that the army was uncontrollable and was leaving the field, I pressed my way to the vicinity of McDowell to see what he would do. What could he do? I never saw a man so overwhelmed with astonishment and anger. Almost to the last I believe he expected to win the day. He and his officers commanded, stormed, entreated. He might as well have tried to stop Niagara above the falls as that human tide. He sent orders in all directions for a general concentration at Centerville, and then with certain of his staff galloped away. I tried to follow, but was prevented by the interposing crowd.
"I then joined a detachment of regulars and marines, who marched quietly in prompt obedience of orders; and we made our way through the disorder like a steamer through the surging waves. All the treatises on discipline that were ever written would not have been so convincing as that little oasis of organization. They marched very slowly, and often halted to cover the retreat.
"I had now seen enough on the further bank of Bull Run, and resolved to push ahead as fast as my horse would walk to the eastern side. Moreover, my leg and wounds were becoming painful, and I was exceedingly weary. I naturally followed the route taken by Tyler's command in coming upon and returning from the field, and crossed Bull Run some distance above the Stone Bridge. The way was so impeded by fugitives that my progress was slow, but when I at last reached the Warrenton Turnpike and proceeded toward a wretched little stream called Cub Run, I witnessed a scene that beggars description.
"Throughout the entire day, and especially in the afternoon, vehicles of every description--supply wagons, ambulances, and the carriages of civilians--had been congregating in the Pike vicinity of Stone Bridge. When the news of the defeat reached this point, and the roar of cannon and musketry began to approach instead of recede, a general movement toward Centerville began. This soon degenerated into the wildest panic, and the road was speedily choked by storming, cursing, terror- stricken men, who in their furious haste, defeated their own efforts to escape. It was pitiful, it was shameful, to see ambulances full of the wounded shoved to one side and left by the cowardly thieves who had galloped away on the horses. It was one long scene of wreck and ruin, through which pressed a struggling, sweating, cursing throng. Horses with their traces cut, and carrying two and even three men, were urged on and over everybody that could not get out of the way. Everything was abandoned that would impede progress, and arms and property of all kinds were left as a rich harvest for the pursuing Confederates. Their cavalry, hovering near, like hawks eager for the prey, made dashes here and there, as opportunity offered.
"I picked my way through the woods rather than take my chances in the road, and so my progress was slow. To make matters tenfold worse, I found when I reached the road leading to the north through the 'Big Woods' that the head of the column that had come all the way around by Sudley's Ford, the route of the morning march, was mingling with the masses already thronging the Pike. The confusion, the selfish, remorseless scramble to get ahead, seemed as horrible as it could be; but imagine the condition of affairs when on reaching the vicinity of Cub Run we found that a Rebel battery had opened upon the bridge, our only visible means of crossing. A few moments later, from a little eminence, I saw a shot take effect on a team of horses; and a heavy caisson was overturned directly in the centre of the bridge, barring all advance, while the mass of soldiers, civilians, and nondescript army followers, thus detained under fire, became perfectly wild with terror. The caisson was soon removed, and the throng rushed on.
"I had become so heart-sick, disgusted, and weary of the whole thing, that my one impulse was to reach Centerville, where I supposed we should make a stand. As I was on the north side of the Pike, I skirted up the stream with a number of others until we found a place where we could scramble across, and soon after we passed within a brigade of our troops that were thrown across the road to check the probable pursuit of the enemy.
"On reaching Centerville, we found everything in the direst confusion. Colonel Miles, who commanded the reserves at that point, was unfit for the position, and had given orders that had imperilled the entire army. It was said that the troops which had come around by Sudley's ford had lost all their guns at Cub Run; and the fugitives arriving were demoralized to the last degree. Indeed, a large part of the army, without waiting for orders or paying heed to any one, continued their flight toward Washington. Holding the bridle of my horse, I lay down near headquarters to rest and to learn what would be done. A council of war was held, and as the result we were soon on the retreat again. The retreat, or panic-stricken flight rather, had, in fact, never ceased on the part of most of those who had been in the main battle. That they could keep up this desperate tramp was a remarkable example of human endurance when sustained by excitement, fear, or any strong emotion. The men who marched or fled on Sunday night had already been on their feet twenty-four hours, and the greater part of them had experienced the terrific strain of actual battle.
"My story has already been much too long. From the daily journals you have learned pretty accurately what occurred after we reached Centerville. Richardson's and Blenker's brigades made a quiet and orderly retreat when all danger to the main body was over. The sick and wounded were left behind with spoils enough to equip a good-sized Confederate army. I followed the headquarters escort, and eventually made my way into Washington in the drenching rain of Monday, and found the city crowded with fugitives to whom the loyal people were extending unbounded hospitality. I felt ill and feverish, and yielded to the impulse to reach home; and I never acted more wisely.
"Now you have the history of my first battle; and may I never see one like it again. And yet I believe the battle of Bull Run will become one of the most interesting studies of American history and character. On our side it was not directed by generals, according to the rules of war. It was fought by Northern men after their own fashion and according to their native genius; and I shall ever maintain that it was fought far better than could have been expected of militia who knew less of the practical science of war than of the philosophy of Plato.
"The moral of my story, Hilland, scarcely needs pointing; and it applies to us both. When we go, let us go as soldiers; and if we have only a corporal's command, let us lead soldiers. The grand Northern onset of which you have dreamed so long has been made. You have seen the result. You have the means and ability to equip and command a regiment. Infuse into it your own spirit; and at the same time make it a machine that will hold together as long as you have a man left."
"Graham," said Hilland, slowly and deliberately, "there is no resisting the logic of events. You have convinced me of my error, and I shall follow your advice."
"And, Grace," concluded Graham, "believe me, by so doing he adds tenfold to his chances of living to a good old age."
"Yes," she said, looking at him gratefully through tear-dimmed eyes. "You have convinced me of that also."
"Instead of rushing off to some out-of-the-way place or camp, he must spend months in recruiting and drilling his men; and you can be with him."
"Oh, Alford!" she exclaimed, "is that the heavenly logic of your long, terrible story?"
"It's the rational logic; you could not expect any other kind from me."
"Well, Graham," ejaculated the major, with a long sigh of relief, "I wouldn't have missed your account of the battle for a year's pay. And mark my words, young men, you may not live to see it, or I either, but the North will win in this fight. That's the fact that I'm convinced of in spite of the panic."
"The fact that I'm convinced of," said Mrs. Mayburn brusquely, mopping her eyes meanwhile, "is that Alford needs rest. I'm going to take him home at once." And the young man seconded her in spite of all protestations.
"Dear, vigilant old aunty," said Graham, when they were alone, "you know when I have reached the limit of endurance."
"Ah! Alford, Alford," moaned the poor woman, "I fear you are seeking death in this war."
He looked at her tenderly for a moment, and then said, "Hereafter I will try to take no greater risks than a soldier's duties require."
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