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The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 online

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himself was captured with a considerable number of his men; and the
delay of the 3d brigade, giving the enemy the full advantage of his
superiority in numbers, enabled him to cross the Martinsburg road in
pursuit, and cause the remaining part of the command to separate into
two parts, one of which, under the commanding general, made its way to
Harper's Ferry; and the other, pushed too far to the left, was compelled
to retreat upon Hancock, and thence into Pennsylvania. The first of
these divisions pursued the Martinsburg road beyond the field of battle,
and diverged thence through fields and by-roads to Harper's Ferry. The
3d brigade, with the exception of the 1st New York Cavalry, left the
Martinsburg road before reaching the position of the enemy, and, by
making a detour back toward Winchester, effected its escape to
Charlestown, not, however, without a considerable loss of men captured
by the enemy.

It has been ascertained, from prisoners since taken by our army, that
the rebel force thus encountered at the junction of the Martinsburg and
Summit Point roads, on the morning of the 15th June, had then just
reached this position; and at the time when General Elliott drove the
enemy from their guns, Johnson and his staff were nearly surrounded,
between the 1st and 2d brigades of General Milroy's forces, and were in
imminent danger of being captured. If the 3d brigade had taken part in
the action, in obedience to the orders given, doubtless this important
capture might have been made; and the retreat, which has been pronounced
a disastrous failure, would have been crowned with brilliant success.
Upon such events, often hang the fortunes of men and armies!

But notwithstanding the derangement of plans, and the want of
coöperation in conducting this retreat, the result was by no means so
disastrous as has been generally supposed. Out of 6,900 effective men
who marched from Winchester, a little more than 6,000 escaped the enemy,
and although scattered in different directions, were found to be on duty
when recently the subject was investigated by order of Major-General
Schenck.

Most extravagant representations have been made as to the loss of stores
and ammunition by this evacuation. But the inquiry has established that
a large part of the wagons had been previously sent away in safety, that
very few stores were on hand, and that the ammunition was nearly
exhausted. The horses were all taken on the retreat, and notwithstanding
some confusion and disorder among the teamsters, were mostly saved to
the Government. The guns left in the fortifications, and the empty
wagons, constituted the principal loss; and these, in comparison with
amounts of public property which during the war have been abandoned at
many other places, without comment or complaint, were truly
insignificant.

In estimating this affair, it cannot be fairly characterized as either
disgraceful or particularly disastrous. The movements of Lee's army were
wholly unknown in advance either to General Schenck, or to the
General-in-chief of the army. The little force at Winchester, without
any warning, was called upon to encounter the advance of Lee's army in
overwhelming numbers. Without at first knowing or suspecting the
character of the enemy, General Milroy held this gathering force at bay
and in check for three days; and when finally surrounded and compelled
to cut his way out, did so with a loss of less than one thousand of his
effective men, of which number the killed and wounded were
inconsiderable. It is known from our paroled officers, that during the
investment and retreat, the enemy lost at least three hundred killed,
and seven hundred wounded, while our casualties were not one fourth of
that number.

Lee's army having escaped the army of the Potomac, was on its way to
Pennsylvania. This check and delay of its onward march was important in
its results. It was the first obstacle met by the invading host. It
served to reveal the movements and the concealed purpose of the enemy,
and enabled our army to pursue and counteract his designs. Had there
been no such obstacle, the rebel army would have swept on unopposed into
Maryland, and would have had three, or at least two more days of
unobstructed license to revel in the spoils he sought. He might have
reached Harrisburg, if such was his intention; and, at all events, he
would have plundered and destroyed in a single day, far more than was
lost at Winchester.

In the course of his testimony, General Schenck did not hesitate to say,
that if he had been left to his own judgment in the control of the
forces within his department, he would have concentrated them all at
Winchester, with the view to meet and check the contemplated advance of
Lee's rebel army, until the Army of the Potomac could have come forward
to his relief. Undoubtedly this disposition of his command would have
had a controlling influence on the rebel campaign of last summer, in
Maryland and Pennsylvania. The movements of both armies would have been
materially changed, and the result must have been modified accordingly.
The invasion of the loyal States might have been altogether prevented,
or it might have been rendered even more disastrous. Speculations of
this kind as to movements which could have been made, are not of much
value, inasmuch as they cannot alter the irrevocable past. Military
operations are subject to so many contingencies, that it is impossible
to conjecture with any certainty what results might have followed a
different plan of campaign. Yet there could be no improvement in
military science, and no benefit from disastrous experience, unless the
errors of any particular movement may be pointed out and freely
criticized. If General Schenck's idea had been adopted, and preparation
made at Winchester to meet the advance of Lee's army, the movements of
the Army of the Potomac would have been conformed to that arrangement,
with coöperation between the scattered forces of the Middle Department
and those under command of General Hooker. The campaign would have been
in some measure under our control; whereas, in the actual circumstances,
the enemy passed without opposition, except at Winchester, into Maryland
and Pennsylvania, and selected his own field of operations. It was most
fortunate, though almost fortuitous, so far as our army was concerned,
that it had the good fortune to be posted as it was in the neighborhood
of Gettysburg, with Cemetery Hill as the centre of our line. General
Meade has all the credit and honor of having made the best disposition
of his army, and carried it into the engagement with all the advantages
of that magnificent position. But the selection of the battle ground was
not the result of any strategy on our part. Doubtless the enemy's
ignorance of the topography enabled Meade to occupy the favorable ground
which gave him the great victory in Pennsylvania.

Both Major-Generals Schenck and Milroy are volunteer officers, raised
from civil life to their present high position. The former has
heretofore been mostly known as a politician of the Whig school, long a
member of the national House of Representatives, and therein connected
with the navy rather than the army. He has again been returned to
Congress by his district in Ohio, and it is understood that he will soon
leave his position in the army, carrying his honorable wounds into
another field of service, where his usefulness to his country in this
great crisis will not be diminished.

General Milroy has had the advantage of a military education, and has
had much of that experience and training which are necessary to make an
accomplished soldier. He graduated at the University of Norwich,
Vermont - the same that sent from its academic halls the gallant and
lamented General Lander, who died at an early period of the war.
Whatever may be the character of that institution as a military school,
under the shadow of the great reputation of West Point, it has at least
the merit of having imparted to these two of its graduates an
enthusiastic love for the profession of a soldier, and a perfect
readiness, in a good cause, to meet its privations and dangers. At the
commencement of the Mexican war, General Milroy raised a company in his
native State of Indiana, and commanded it in the field until the
expiration of its term of service. He was even more prompt in
preparation for the present rebellion. Anticipating its occurrence, some
time before its commencement, he undertook the organization of a company
at Rensselaer, Indiana; and, in spite of the ridicule of such an
undertaking, he persevered, and presented his company, one of the first
to respond to the President's earliest call for volunteers. Thus
entering the service as a captain, he has rapidly risen through the
intermediate grades to his present position. He is not yet forty-eight,
though his perfectly white hair would seem to indicate a greater age.
But his red beard and whiskers contrast strongly with the snow on his
head, and, together with a flashing bluish-gray eye, indicate the
energetic and ardent temperament of unconquerable youth. Though not
large in person, he is tall and erect, with a fine, soldierly form. His
address is quick, and nervous to such a degree as to deprive him of even
the ordinary fluency of speech. His want of words to express the
thoughts that evidently burn within him, together with a remarkable
diffidence among strangers, renders him incapable of making an
impression, at first, proportionate to his real merit. He has, however,
always enjoyed great popularity among his men, commanding their entire
confidence, and has never failed to endear himself to his intimate
companions. His heart has been earnestly with the Union, in the work of
its preservation, from the beginning of the war; and whatever may be the
disposition of the authorities toward him, his strong convictions and
his active temperament will hardly permit him to remain idle during the
deadly peril of the nation.




THE TWO SOUTHERN MOTHERS.


Heard you not the din of battle,
Cannon's roar, and musket's rattle,
Clash of sword, and shriek of shell,
Victor's shot, and vanquished's yell?

Saw you not yon scene of slaughter,
Human blood poured out like water;
Northern valor, Southern pride,
Stern resolve on either side?

Cheering on his flagging men,
Rallying to the charge again,
Comes a bullet, charged with grief,
Strikes the brave Confederate chief.

Down he falls, amid the strife,
Horses trampling out his life:
Scarce can his retreating force
Find and save his mangled corpse.

Home they bore him to his mother -
He was all she had - none other:
Woful mother! who can borrow
Words to paint her frantic sorrow?

As she mourned her slaughtered brave,
Came and spake her aged slave,
Came, and spake with solemn brow:
'Missis, we is even, now.

'I had ten, and you had one;
Now we're even - all are gone:
Not one left to bury either -
Slave and mistress mourn together.

'_Every one of mine you sold_ -
Now your own lies stark and cold:
To the just Avenger bow -
Missis! I forgive you _now_.'

Thus she spoke, that sable mother;
Shuddering, quailed and crouched the other.
Yea! although it tarry long,
PAYMENT SHALL BE MADE FOR WRONG!




DIARY OF FRANCES KRASINSKA;

OR, LIFE IN POLAND DURING THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.


Friday, _January 3d_.

My patience, or rather my impatience, has not been exposed to any very
severe trial: I have seen the prince royal twice. He recognized me; how
childish I was to doubt it? Why should I think him less skilful than
myself; and under what dress could I mistake him?

On New Year's day, just as I was writing in my journal, the palatine
came into my room, and said: 'Fanny, you have surpassed my expectations;
you have been perfect in everything; your dress, and still more your
manners, at the ball, have charmed every one; you have pleased
universally, and even persons of the highest rank. I have just returned
from court, where, with the senators and ministers, we presented our
homage to his royal majesty: his royal highness the Duke of Courland
took me aside to tell me that he had never seen anything comparable to
you. 'Were it not for the court etiquette,' added he, 'which forces me
to pass the first day of the year with the king my father, I should go
in person to present my congratulations to Mademoiselle Frances
Krasinska.'

When I heard these words spoken by the prince palatine, I thought my
heart would burst within my bosom. The prince was kind enough to seem as
if he had not noticed my confusion, and left me alone with my joy, my
delirium, my wild fancies.... I was not then mistaken: the prince royal
will come to see me. Yes; the prince palatine told me so; he has never
seen anything comparable to me. This phrase haunts my memory like a
delicious strain of melody.

Dinner was soon after announced. I was gay - out of myself; the princess
scolded me. After dinner we went out to make visits, and found no one at
home: everybody was out, offering the congratulations proper to the
season. Friends and acquaintances met in the street, and all said to one
another: 'I was just going,' or 'I have just been to see you.' The
carriages crossed and jostled one another in the streets, and a halt was
ordered whenever it was possible to recognize friends amid the crowd,
when cards were reciprocally exchanged.

When the night came, the footmen lighted the carriage lamps, and boys
ran before with torches; all these lights, vehicles, and liveries made
up a charming spectacle - so gay and animated! There were a few
accidents, but, God be praised, nothing happened to us. It was late when
we returned, and I was very tired: I soon fell asleep, but my sleep was
no rest. I dreamed, I pondered, and I saw the future.... How many
things, how much weakness, and how much strength may exist in a woman's
teeming brain!

The next day, precisely at twelve o'clock, after having made my toilet
for the day, I went to the reception room, where the princess was
already seated; I had just commenced to work at my embroidery, when a
chamberlain entered hastily, and cried aloud: 'His royal highness the
Duke of Courland.' The princess rose precipitately to receive him in the
antechamber. At first I thought I would retire; but curiosity, or some
feeling, I know not what, overcame my fear, and I remained. He entered,
approached my workstand, and asked after my health. Notwithstanding my
embarrassment, I replied with considerable self-possession. He took a
seat near my frame, and seemed interested in my work. I had so strong a
desire to appear calm that I succeeded in threading a fine needle with
my heavy silk; but God knows how I trembled....

The prince royal praised my skill, and found opportunities of saying
many kind and flattering things to me, although he spoke much more to
the princess than to myself; he remained about half an hour. I now know
that my dress did not change me in his eyes. As he left he told me he
hoped to see me this evening at the ball given by the French ambassador,
Marquis d'Argenson.

Ah! Barbara's wedding was nothing compared to the _fêtes_ in Warsaw:
there was as much luxury and magnificence, but the exquisite grace and
chivalric courtesy here universal were wanting.

The country may try as it will, it is always a mere parody on the city:
in the city, all are nearly alike; all are equally polished, and equally
amiable; no one is permitted to speak tiresome truths; the compliments
are all ready made, and people only differ in their mode of speaking
them. From this general rule I must except the prince royal; his
language has another coloring, and his graceful speeches have an air of
inspiration.

But he could not say much to me at the Marquis d'Argenson's ball. I was
no longer a Virgin of the Sun, and etiquette is much more rigid at a
dress ball than at a fancy ball; besides, all the women near us tried to
hear what he was saying to me, which displeased me exceedingly; such
curiosity is disgusting in persons of high rank.

The princess is in an excellent humor; the prince royal danced only with
her last evening; that is, she is the only lady advanced in years who
had that honor. The prince palatine is kinder than ever; he asks no
questions and offers me no advice. I am awaiting my sister's arrival
with the greatest impatience; how many things I will have to tell her!

It is not yet a week since I left school, and the time seems to me ages
long: so many events and such divers impressions crowd a lifetime into a
few days! New emotions have given birth to a new nature; my dreams as a
young girl have been surpassed, or rather have become a serious reality.


Sunday, _January 5th_.

Would any one believe it? During the whole of yesterday I thought
neither of balls, nor of fêtes, not even of the prince royal himself: my
mind was exclusively filled with my sister. She came sooner than had
been expected, and was taken ill immediately after her arrival. The
princess was sent for, and hastened to Barbara to remain all day. I
desired to accompany her, but was not permitted. Until midnight I was in
a horrible state of uneasiness; I sent to three churches to have masses
said. Finally, at one o'clock, the princess returned; she told me that
Barbara was doing well, and had given birth to a daughter. This morning
I begged the princess to permit me to visit my sister, but she replied
that I could not do so, as it was not proper for a young girl to visit a
lady in Barbara's situation. There was nothing to be said, and so I must
wait.

The starost called here for a moment; he seemed very, very happy. They
say the little one is charming, red and white, and so plump; she is to
be called Angelica, to please our mother, who is so named. Oh! if I
could only see the dear child! I have all the honor of being an aunt,
without any of the pleasure.

The prince royal sent to congratulate the princess upon the birth of the
little girl, and he was kind enough to inquire after me by the same
messenger.


Wednesday, _January 8th_.

My sister improves daily, but she does not yet leave her bed. I have
seen the prince royal but once this week; he had gone hunting with the
king; but yesterday he amply indemnified us by making us a visit of at
least an hour. How good he must be! how tenderly he loves his father!
and when he spoke of his mother, his eyes were wet with tears. He seems
excellently well disposed toward the Poles; I do not think, so far as I
can judge, that a more noble and energetic soul could anywhere be found.
All that I had heard of him, all that I had written in my journal, is
the most exact truth. He is even far above all the praises bestowed upon
him; no one could describe the tone of his voice, his smile, or the
expression of his eye, so filled with deep and noble thought; I am not
at all surprised at the empress's predilection for him. He has already
succeeded in winning the attachment of his people in Courland; he is
seen once, and he pleases; again, and he is loved.... I believe that
were the king to die, he would be proclaimed king of Poland.

Ah, well! this prince, so much beloved, has distinguished me highly; I
can no longer doubt that I am pleasing to him; certain words have
confirmed the eloquence of his eyes.... Yes, indeed, I may be quite
sure, since even the prince palatine himself has told me so.

I believe that the princess takes a malicious pleasure in spoiling all
my happiness; she said to-day, at table, with quite an indifferent air,
that the prince royal had already been much pleased with many women, and
that, for him, the last was always the most beautiful.... How childish I
am, to torment myself thus! Am I the only beauty in the world? The
Starostine Wessel, Madame Potocka, and the Princess Sapieha are far more
beautiful than I, and then they understand how to add grace to their
beauty, while I am entirely devoid of the knowledge of any kind of art.
Yet, the prince royal assures me, that is my greatest charm.
Nevertheless, my color seems pale beside the brilliancy of those
ladies; their cheeks are rose tinted, and always rose tinted, while my
color varies according to my emotions. Madame Potocka was charming at
the French ambassador's ball; the prince royal danced with her twice,
and no one could avoid remarking her. But, in truth, what more can I
desire? My whole ambition was to see him, and to be noticed by him
during a few moments; my wishes have been gratified, and yet I long for
more, still more.... The heart has, then, infinite faculties for
ceaseless longing.


Sunday, _January 12th_.

Now I ought to be completely happy. Last Thursday, at the Prince
Czartoryski's ball, the prince royal danced with me alone. He came the
day before to make us a visit, and yesterday, he sent his aid-de-camp to
invite us to a representation of the Italian opera Semiramide, which is
to take place at the court.

During the whole time of the play, the prince paid attention to no one
but myself. I was presented to the king, who gave me a most gracious
reception; he asked me for my parents, and especially for my mother. The
starost came to announce that the prince had concluded to stand
godfather to his daughter, and that he had chosen me for godmother.... I
will then hold the child at the baptismal font with the prince, and then
I shall be of the same rank with himself. The will of God be done! The
ceremony will take place with great solemnity in the cathedral church of
St. John. Several other baptisms were to have taken place upon the same
day, but they will be postponed through respect for the prince. The
first society of Warsaw will be present at the ceremony; every one will
speak of it, and certainly the _Polish Courier_ will chronicle this
important news. What will Madame Strumle and all the young ladies at the
school say? What will my parents, and all our court at Maleszow say?
What will our little Matthias say?

Oh! that Matthias! How often I think of him! He is responsible for all
my torments, and all my uneasiness; without him, my reason would never
have abandoned me, nor would such wild hopes have sprung up within my
heart.

Scarcely one moment have I been able to rejoice over the approaching
ceremony; the princess has just told me that marriage is forbidden
between persons who have stood together as godfather and godmother at a
baptism; I shuddered as I listened! Great God! what can all this mean? I
no longer know myself. All within my soul is confusion and disorder: my
own thoughts terrify me; I pass alternately from joy to sorrow;
delicious hopes smile upon me, and then I am overwhelmed by a strange
presentiment of coming sorrow. I am in a state of continual agitation: I
tremble, and long to quit the world, and then again feel drawn toward it
by bonds so sweet and so strong....

At least I shall soon once more see my sister. That meeting will afford
me a really happy moment; true consolation is to be found in sweet and
confiding affections. After the ceremony, we will go to my sister's; she
is doing remarkably well; she sits up, but cannot yet leave her room.


Wednesday, _January 15th_.

The baptism took place yesterday, and I saw my sister. How charming she
is! She has grown paler and somewhat thinner. She is, as she always was,
good like an angel; and she is so happy! The prince royal quite insisted
that my name should be given to the little one, but Barbara would not
agree to that; she said that we owed the preference to our mother's
name. He has, however, obtained a promise from her that her second
daughter shall be named Frances.

The little one is lovely, but red as a crab; she cried during the whole
time of the ceremony: they say that is a good sign, and that she will
probably live to grow up. God grant it, for I love her already. I was
so embarrassed, I had not the least idea how I ought to hold her in the
church. My hands failed me; the prince royal aided me most kindly; how
good he is!

I was as much surprised as pleased at finding myself standing before the
altar at his side, in the presence of so numerous an assemblage, and at
seeing my name inscribed on a great book with his: the prophecies of our
little Matthias will doubtless receive no further fulfilment.

Every one congratulates me upon the honor I have had. The prince royal
has redoubled his kindness to me since the ceremony; his manner is more
familiar; and he calls me now, 'My pretty gossip:' when he speaks of the
child, he says, 'our Angelica.' He has made the most magnificent


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Online LibraryVariousThe Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 → online text (page 2 of 20)