Beverley Tucker.

The partisan leader: a novel, and an apocalypse of the origin and struggles of the southern confederacy online

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Online LibraryBeverley TuckerThe partisan leader: a novel, and an apocalypse of the origin and struggles of the southern confederacy → online text (page 19 of 22)
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u It is, indeed," replied Mason j "but as he is not only a Yankee,
but obviously BO, he could nOt have made Douglas believe that he wat
an influential inhabitant of Bedford, a native -of the county, and a
sealous stickler for the sovereignty of Virginia."

'' You give your Captain Douglas credit for a great deal of sagacity "


** And not without reason," said Mason. " His plans, and his man-
ner* of conducting them, all show it. His intelligence appears to be
always correct and ready, and his devices for the concealment of his
own schemes arc commonly impenetrable. It is clear, from many cir-
cumstances, that he has agents who pass throtigh the country unsus-
pected ; and I should not be surprised if Cottle had fallen in with one
of them. I have no doubt that Douglas will be found at Jo.ies's Ford
on the day appointed ; but my life upon it, instead of coming there to
be surprised, he proposes to come there to surprise you."

" Surprise me !" said Trevor, scornfully.

" ~b have no apprehension that he will surprise you," said Mason,
" because I am sure you will take all proper precaution. I merely
mean to say that he will attempt it."

"And be punished for his presumption," said Trevor. "As to pre-
caution, I must use it, to be sure, supcrflous as it may be against a set
of inexperienced militia."

"Of one sort of experience," said Mason, "and that not the
important, they have bad more than we. They have tasted danger
more than once; and their skill in the use of the rifle is such as meli
who live with the weapon in their bands, and they alone, can be expect-
ed to acquire."

u I hope to bring in some of them as prisoners," said Trevor, "and
then we shall see how that is. I will pit a dozen of our sharp-shooters
against .a dozen of them, my horse to yours."

" T am not in the habit of betting," replied Mason, smiling quietly ;
" but, in this case, I dare say I may do it innocently, as the offence will
hardly reach beyond intention ; so I take your bet."

" How do you mean ?" asked Trevor, sharply.

" T mean," said Mason, " that I am not very sure that you will take
a dozen of them." .

"Not sure !" exclaimed Trevor; "how can they escape me ?"

" I don't profess to understand their craft," .-aid MaiOD ; " but they
arc hard to catch. Tn short, Colonel Trevor, my instructions rcquiro
me to afford you all the information I have acquired here. Tt is there-
fore my duty, even without question from you, to assure you that you
arc in the midst of a disaffected country, and that you are going against
an enemy not to be despised, and auion

Knowing thesi things, and invited by you to advise whit is to I
in this affair, my advice is to march your whole disposable force to the
appointed place, using i v. ry ] n caution t • guard against surpri
might be as well to anticipate Donglas, bo far at least as to und
the ground, and to occupy it before the day."

I s '*. Til.

•• And - • li-
no means. Cottfi will have been made avail. il
to draw him down from the mountains You neither

: advantage. B ii it 1 cannot cosily make my

self in. ur minds arc occupied with different I

iuI the trap set for Douglas, and I am thinking
In- snare lie has laid For you. Depend upon it. Colonel !
that tl. . of eatohing a Tartar, may be illustrated by catching

the river lulls. He may be caught ; ami yet, neither
conic away urn- 1 t you come. ' itinued Mason, ••when 1

in<[uiroil of this Captain Cottle about the nature of the greaad #t the
Fiord, behold, he had not taken notice of it! hut, on cm-.- examination,
by finding what lie did not .see, I am satisfied that there is no low
ground, nor chared land at the place ; that the bilk conic sheer down

to the river, and, by almost necessary oonseqaeaee, that the road leads

through a deep defile. The choice of such a place confirms my su-pi-
don o[ Douglas's plan, and affords the means to counterwork, it. If we
occupy the strong points of the ground, ami he'coiues with only such a
body of men a.s Cottle expects, we take him without effusion of blood.

■ in force, our position will give as all tin advantage he

: and, trust me, in that case we -hall ha\e need of them.*'
•• X< 1 ./ of./-// nut h/, i against irregular* .'" drawled Tr< i ingly,

and emphasizing .very word.

"Our discipline and exj are of little consequence," Bind Ma-

son, u if we do not use tin in. One use of them is to know how to take
advantages. '*

u Be it 00," said Trevor j lt I shall seek none. A fair field and a
-ky are all I a.-k ; and 1 shall he careful to take no measure which
may alarm this mountain wolf, and drive him hack to his den before I
can come up with him."

These words were hardly spoken when the Orderly announced that

.u.t of dragOOM had ju-t returned from a BOOUtiog party with

important intelligence, and had come to make his report to the Colonel.

What this WOS the reader will inf. r, when told that he was the uon-

eommissioned officer on whom had d. rolved tin' command of the four

men who had escaped with him from Jones's Ford. His information
confirmed M uspioions, and might have served as a damper to

the flattering anticipations Of a man less sanguine than Colonel Trevor.
Its only effect on him was to sharpen his eagerness for the expected ren-
contre. Vet the 8< rgeant, when (puestioned, frankly admitted that his
party had not heen out-numbered. Hut it was clear that their design
had been, by some means, disclosed to Douglas; and his advantage had


been the result of judicious dispositions, and the skill of his men in
the use of that most terrible of all weapons.

But all this abated nothing of Colonel Trevor's contempt for a foe
unskilled in the manual exercise, ignorant of the grand manoeuvres,
and dressed in buckskin. Every attempt on the part of Col. Mason to
bring him to listen to reason proved fruitless. Indeed the conversation
occasionally took such a turn as to crcnto a doubt in the mind of that
gentleman, whether to press his advice any farther might not make it
difficult to reconcile with his own self-respect the deference which he
knew to be due to his commander. He therefore determined to receive
and execute in silence all orders which might be given, and leave the
event to Providence.

Tin: PARTI !'ER.


dreadful far ilieir ire
Than theirs, who, scorning danger's i
In i iger niood to battle ca tne ;

Their valor, like litflii .niii',

A fierce, but fading lire !

if length from his trpul adviser, Col. Trevor was

the uninterrupted enjoyment of hia anticipated triumph: He

i to tread on air, and, with ;i Bashing eye, and Bpread nostrils, to

look forward to the glories, and snuff uji the carnage of th< i \\ ected

fight. Such was hi.> impatience for the adventure, that, in the ■

!' upticipation, he gave.n hi to the necc ssary preparations.

li c for th< bo in readi-

. h, with a supply of cartridg itions suitable to


mher at length arrived, and the troops took
uji the line of march. As they issued in glittering rank fn m ;!

. tri Colonel, proudly mounted on his stately
charg . him If in the gateway o^the house, where he had

taken up his quarters, and received their passing salute. The portico
house \\:: ' with female figures; tin- win re clus-

tered with fair faces; Ihe noble oak-trees in the yard were hung with
garlands, in toki loyalty of tin 1 household, and of anticipated

triumph in his assured victory. Hut tin 1 Colonel bow nothing of this.
His eye saw not the waving of handkerchiefs, liis car heard not the
uing in (inn.-, of music from rosy lij>s. He heard
only :'■ iid clanging bugle j he saw nothing but

ti pings of his well-drained troops as they marched by;

an- 1 then, hie eye, 1" llowing them, dwelt with delight upon their pio-

WOUnd along the slope, of the hill, and

I I idge. Ueyond this, imagination presented ob-

F rest — the tattle field, the tumult of the strife,

!i. the pursuit, the carnage, the vanquished leader led in chains
loot of tin- throne, the gracious smile of approving majesty, and
the rich rewards of successful valor. These things he saw; but saw
i. ! the gaunt figure of his host, who stood mar, his strong features


and manly person illy sorting with the abject part he condemned him-
self to act. He sought in vain to catch the eye of the excited com-
mander, desirous, in his parting words, to convey some expression of
loyalty and zeal. Colonel Trevor marked him not, and, as the rear of
the column was about to pass, put spurs to his horse, and galloped t<>
the front.

At this point of my story, I must crave the indulgence of the
reader, while I introduce my humble self to his notice. A native of
South Carolina, and the heir of a goodly inheritance, which, during a
long minority, had been at nurse in the nanus of an honest and pru-
dent guardian, T was just of age, the master of a handsome income,
and of a large sum of money in hand. Having a taste for military
life, my guardian had procured me. a situation in the military academy,
which had been established by the State, as a counterpoise to that in-
stitution at which the Federal Government had taught so many of our
southern youths to whet their swords against the only sovereignty to
which they owed allegiance. My proficiency had been seen, and gave
entire satisfaction to my teachers. I had imbibed political opin-
ions which made me a zealous advocate for the rights of the
States, and a strenuous asscrter of the unalienable independence of
South Carolina. "When, in compliance with the request of Mr. 1> — ,
enquiry had been made for a young man qualified and disposed to aid
3'oung Trevor in his enterprise, I had been selected for that purpose.
I was invited to Columbia, made acquainted with the plans of the in-
surgents in Virginia, ami provided with letters to my future com-
mander. Journeying to A r irginia by the route that he had purai
on the evening of the first day of November I entered the valley de-
scribed in the first chapter. I soon encountered a crowd of men,
filled the road and the yard of a house contiguous to it. There were
wagons, horses, and arms ; and the men, moving quietly but bu
seemed all earnestly engaged in some important preparation,

I was presently stopped, courteously though peremptorily : and hav-
ing expressed a wish to sec Captain Douglas, w is conducted to the
house. There, pen in hand, and busily engaged in writing, sat a young
man of small stature and slight figure. Though quite htndsoo
was nothing remarkable in his features, but a bright gray eye, of calm,
thoughtful and searching expression, strongly contrasted «with the dark
brown, curling hair that clustered over his brow.

Ueing accosted by my conductor, he raised his head — when I si
forward, and ' in) my led' i ''• glanced hastily to the signa-

ture of the first h^ Oj I read it leisurely, and looking at me

With A beaming countc anc hand. "You arc welcome,

1C»0 TH: \n LBADBBi

sir/' said he, u welcome to danger's hour. In the morning pre march
on an expedition which may decide the fate of the campaign. My

ementfl must excuse my seeming neglect of you this eveni
But lit me make yon known to your future comradi

Then taming to :i lair haired youth, already known to the reader as
Arthur Trevor, he introduced him as his mother's son. I was then
made acquainted with Schwartz and Witt, and several others. Among
the number were a Jew young men from the lower counties, of irood
families and education, who, in this crisis, had left their hnines to en-
in this expedition. These, like their leader, had all learned to

mmodate themselves to the fashions of tliat wild country, and it*
wilder climate, and especially to their own wild life. Each individual
was dn BSi d. from top to toe, in leather, no otherwise differing from the

- of tin rudest mountaineer, than in neatness, and a certain easy
grace, and air of fashion, which no dress can entirely eonceal. Tn any
i!i' ss, in any company, under any circumstances, Douglas Tr< vor would
have been recognised as a gentleman.

I hardly remember how T fared, or how I passed the night

! •,<• somewhat better than most others j but 1 took

to Bhow that 1 was content to eat I could g< t, and U) lodge

as I might.

At 'daylight wc were on the road. Hut little attention was paid to
order. No enemy was near, and nobody was inclined to desert. There
was theretoic no necessity for harassing men and hoi-,.-, by forcing
tlieiu m keep in rank.-. Bach man rode where, and with whom lie
pleaeed, except thai a few were directed to keep near the wagons, not
so much to -uard as to aasial in ease of need It is impossible to con-
ceive a military array with less of the •< pomp and circumstance id'
tVir." The horses wire, for the DXOSl part, substantial, and in suhstan-
tial order. Their equipments were of the rudest Bort. Hough-bridles .
and pack-saddles wera most ooinmoas The only arms were the rifle,
knife, and tomahawk, with their appropriate accompaniments of pow-
der horn, charger, and pouch. Doaglas, indeed, had a Bword, and the

i,w Babrcs taken from the dragoons had hcen distributed anion- the

principal men. But they were all too wise to encumber their persons
with these weapons, which might have been troublesome in their mode
of warfare. A Btrong loop of thick leather, stitched to the .skirt of
the saddle, in front of the left knee, received the sword, the hilt of
which stood up above the pummel. Two or three of the saddles were
of the Spanish fashion, the horn of which served to BUpport any trifle
the rider might wUh to hang on it. Douglas, in particular, curried,


in this way, a leather case, containing his writing materials, and serv-
ing as a tablet for writing on horseback.

But rude as these equipments were, yet to one acquainted with the
object of the expedition, there was an appearance of efficiency in the
whole which gave the corps a truly formidable aspect. The perfect
order of the arms, the strong, though rude dress of the men, their
sinewy frames, their sunburnt faces; and, above all, the serious and
resolved expression of countenance which generally prevailed, were
tokens which none but a martinet would overlook.

As yet no duty had been assigned to nic, so that I was perfectly
disengaged. It was not until we had rode several miles, that Douglas «
found leisure to converse with me. He then joined me, accompanied
by Schwartz, to whom, in my presence, he explained my situation.
Schwartz heard him with thoughtful attention, and then said — " It is
all mighty well, sir, if Mr. Sidney will only just take it right. You
sec, sir," continued he, addressing me, " there an't no officers among
us, and we only just call the Captain so for short. If he was a Cap-
tain or a Gineral it would not make much odds, because these fellows
just go for what is right and hard fighting; and him they believe in,
him they mind. But as to who is first and who is second, that's neither
here nor there. I have not a doubt that you are the sort of a man
we want ; but all that we can do, is to give you a fair chance to let the
men sec it. The Captain can be asking your advice, now and then,
and I and Witt will do the same, and when they see that, they will
begin to find out what yo^are. And then, you see, sir, when once we
get to fighting, a man is never in such a flurry himself, but what he
can see who knows what he is about, and who does not. So, by the
time we have had a Bkrimmage or two, the men will know all about
you ; and whenever the Captain is out of the way, they will all be look-
ing to you to know what to do; just in the way of giving \nur
opinion, mind ; but, a/ler n while, it will get to bo orders. And then,
if any thing happens to the Captain, and Wilt and I don't sec cans.-
to change oar mind, why, we only just have to follow you, and the
men they follow us, and all will go straight. So you must just make
yourself easy and keep quiet. We'll tell you when to speak, and
after ;: while you'll find yourself second in command h'Torc you know

I had no difficulty in acknowledging the reasonableness of these
ideas, though i' reemed a new thing, to find a man possessing the influ-
ence and authority of Schwactz, dc vising means to transfer them to
another. Bui he knew, and the cvenl showed that I J;t, that

thore wore some duties of a commander for which he was not fit; and


■ there were other tl hieh ;■• cl

third of N
Gordon! On the way wo had received frequent
. and h< n I larger n inforccn <

whole Dumber could not hi much, if at all, short of a thou-

sand nun.

Meantimi ime in, from whom wc learned that the saim day

had been fix 1 for the march of the troops from Lynchl urg. It fol-
lowed thai we had abundance of time for our preparations. It >o hap-
» pened, that they had not learned the name of. the new commander •
but it wm understood that a reinforcement had arrived, and that nearlj
the whole disposable force was on the maroh. This included a troop
nf dragoons and a company bf artillery, with two pieces of cannon, in
addition to a full regiment of infantry, am' one battalion of another.

Having ascertained his force, and fixed on those on whom he could
rely to understand and i xecute his plans, Douglas proceeded to n
temporary organisation, suited to the occasion. The men were dh
into corps, to each of which a post was provisionally assigned, I
ooeui i< 1 aa soon as the approach of the enemy should be annoui

near the bead of the defile, and just above tl first
angle next the top of tl"' asci nt, « n i barricadi

similar I Iready described. ] on each side, to the

foot of the hills, at steep, rocky, and impracticable points. It was

I Bg enongh for t\v< nty men to man its flrc-nty loop holes, and as it

rsached above their heads, they wen quite concealed. An lnu
men were allotted to this post, who were ranged five deep behind the
barricade, and instructed to fire in turn, each man falling back to the
rear to n ' he had < ] his piece.

Others were distributed along tl of the hills over-

looking the road, and directed to seek out hiding-places behind r<
tret i, and bushes. These men wen ander the immediate orders of in-
dividuals selected for the occasion, but a( ached to the command of
Witt, who was stationed at the l'.irii- r.

About a hundred were placed in ambush in the month of the ravine,
jm-t below the road, on the north rid ■ ol the river, under Sch warts.
Th< '1 picked men— our stead i b( and harp-shooters —

who w< I there for the purpose of attacking and carrying the

guns of the enemy at the* water's edge.

Douglas himself, at the head of the res' of bis corps, prepared to
occupy the road On the north side of the river, to bring 00 the action.
These were divided into two equal bodies, and the whole ranged in


platoons, at open order, across the road. Of the two battalions, as they
may he called, the foremost was placed under my command. The
other Douglas commanded in person. My orders were to post my
headmost platoon just at the bend of the road, on the top of the hill
where it turns to the right. They were instructed to fire ad limitum,
each man choosing and making sure of his mark, and then to file away
by the right, and, taking to their heels, to run down to the river, cross
it, and dispose themselves on the other bank, so as most effectually to
gall the enemy, should he attempt to cross. Each platoon, in succes-
sion, was to march up to the same ground, and, having fired, to execute
the same manoeuvre. The remaining column, under Douglas, were to
stand their ground until the enemy should come in view on the top of
the hill, and then to fall back fighting, and cross under cover of those
who should have passed before. But the best account of what waf
ordered will be gathered from what was done.


el bv ■




The triumph ami the vanity,

The rapture of the Mrife ;
The earthquake vo >ry.

To thee the breath of life ;
All quelled : — Dark spirit, what must be
Xne madness "i thy memory?

WHILE these arrangements were in progress, scouts were hourly
arriving. The country being altogether friendly, they were readily
provided with fresh horses ; and, before the enemy were half way
from Lynchburg, we were fully apprised of their number, equipments,
and order of march, l'irst earns a Bquadroo of dragoons ; then a light
•ompacTj then Treyor's regiment, about five hundred strong j then a
company of artillery ; then one battalion of Mason's regiment, oon-
iisting of aon> thing more than two hundred nun ; the whole followed
by a lew light troops, by way of rear-iruurd. The whole might amount
to a thousand men, well appointed and prepared at all points for effi-
cient action.

On the morning of the fifth of November the men were ordered to
betake themselves to their allotted posts; and Douglas, having visited
each, and seen that all was right, and rightly understood, addressed
himself to his particular command, When every man is an officer,
each must be told individually beforehand what is expected from him
Panic apart, they will be apt to fulfil such instructions, and will light
with the terrible efficiency of individual animosity. Hence the formida-
ble character of partisan warfare.

At IcngjJi the enemy made their appearance. Clinging to the idea
' niglas, Col. Trevor sent forward no advance, but deter-
mined cs>h< .mg the whole strength of his corps to bear upon him at
once. If he employed any scouts, they were either unfaithful, or were
not permitted to approach near enough to learn any thing of the posi
tion or movements of Douglas. The consequence was, that Col. Trevor
received the first intimation of his presence from a sharp firing in
front, which sent his horse to the right-about and back to the rear.
Pressing forward, he immediately ordered his sharp-shooters to disperse
am? *ike positions to gall us, while he pushed on his solid column of


heavy infantry. The reception prepared for thera was such as he had
not dreamed of.. His men fell like leaves in autumn — and, as fast a>
one platoon of the mountaineers discharged their pieces, another was
on the same ground to pour in again that terrible fire, of which the
martinets of the regular service have so inadequate an idea. Instead
of the deep-mouthed peal of muskets, discharged simultaneously, there
is the sharp, short crack of rifle after rifle, fired by men no one of
whom touches the trigger until he sees precisely where his ball is to
go. The effect was suitable to the cause; but yet the steady infantry
pressed on',

' : Each stepping where his comrade stood,"

to form an unbroken front, in order to charge with the bayonet.

Suddenly the firing ceased, and, behold, their enemy seemed to
have fled from the expected charge. The fact was, that my last pla-
toon, having fired, had withdrawn like their predecessors, and wen-
running at full speed after their companions, down the hill and aero?-
the river. At the water's edge, I stopped and joined Schwartz in his
ambush. It had been arranged that I should do this ; because, in case
wc should be so fortunate as to seize the cannon, my skill as an artil-
lerist might be of great use. Meantime, my men having crossed over,
dispersed themselves along the bank, the face of the hills, and ae:
the road, to cover the retreat of those who remained.

The regulars had necessarily spent a few moments in repairing the
wreck of their shattered column before they advanced. They then
moved forward, but, before they turned the angle of the road, most of
my men were across the river. At the same time, the column under
the immediate command of Douglas was seen drawn up in the road,
near the foot of the hill, with the rear resting on the water's edge. As
the enemy advanced the front platoon fired, faced to the right, and
filing along the flank of the column, entered the river, and crossed just
below the ford. They next filed to the left in the same way, and
crossed above the ford. In this manner the whole column disappeared,
one platoon ,after another, while their fire was answered by a roar of
musketry, which, being discharged from the higher ground, did more
harm to those on the farther bank of the river than to the nearer ene-
my. At length the last platoon was withdrawn, and the regular*

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Online LibraryBeverley TuckerThe partisan leader: a novel, and an apocalypse of the origin and struggles of the southern confederacy → online text (page 19 of 22)