Page images

STORY OF TWO BROTHERS. 271 the last. You would make her repudiate her own war-debt, and then pay the expenses of her own whipping. I tell you, this can't be done.” The threats of another rebellion, and of an extraordinarily large sea of blood, were not, I suppose, to be understood literally. This is the fiery Southron's metaphorical manner of expressing himself. Yet these men were perfectly sincere in their profession of sentiments which one would have expected to hear only from the lips of Rebels.

On the morning of Thursday, December 14th, I bid a joyful farewell to Chattanooga, which is by no means a delightful place to sojourn in, and took the train for Murfreesboro'. The weather was cold, and growing colder. Winter had come suddenly, and very much in earnest. Huge icicles hung from the water-tanks by the railroad. The frost, pushing its crystal shoots up out of the porous ground, looked like thick growths of fungus stalks. The rain and mist of the previous night were congealed upon the trees; and the Cumberland Mountains, as we passed them, appeared covered with forests of silver.

The country was uninteresting. Well-built farm-houses were not common; but log-huts, many of them without windows, predominated. These were inhabited by negroes and poor whites. I remember one family living in a box-car that had been run off the track. Another occupied a grotesque cabin having for a door the door of a car, set up endwise, marked conspicuously in letters reading from the zenith to the nadir, “ U. S. MILITARY R. R.” We passed occasionally cotton-fields, resembling at that season and in that climate fields of low black weeds, with here and there a bunch of cotton sticking to the dry leafy stalks.

Next me sat a gentleman from Iowa, whose history was a striking illustration of the difference between a slave State and a free State. He had just been to visit a brother living in Georgia. They were natives of North Carolina, from which State they emigrated in early manhood. He chose the NorthWest; his brother chose the South ; and they had now met for the first time since their separation.

“ To me,” said he, “it was a very sad meeting. Georgia is a hundred years behind Iowa. My brother has always been poor, and always will be poor. If I had to live as he does, I should think I had not the bare necessaries of life, not to speak of comforts. His children are growing up in ignorance. When I looked at them, and thought of my own children, — intelligent, cultivated, with their schools, their books, and magazines, and piano, - I was so much affected I could n't speak, and for a minute I'd have given anything if I had n't seen how he was situated. It is n't my merit, nor his fault, that there is so great a difference now, between us, who were so much alike when boys. If he had gone to Iowa, he would have done as well as I have. If I had gone to Georgia, I should have done as poorly as he has.”

He was the only Northern man in the car besides myself, — as was to be seen not only by the countenances of the other passengers, but also by the spirit of their conversation. Be hind us sat an ignorant brute, with his shirt bosom streaked with tobacco drizzle, who was saying in a loud, fierce tone, that “ we'd better kill off the balance of the niggers,” for he had “no use for 'em now they were free.” Others were talking about Congress and the President. One little boy four years old amused us all. He enjoyed the range of the car, and had made several acquaintances, some of whom, to plague him, called him Billy Yank. Great was the little fellow's indignation at this insult. “I a'n't Billy Yank! I'm Johnny Reb!” he insisted. As the teasing continued, he flew to his mother, who received him in her arms. “Yes, he is Johnny Reb! 80 he is !And his little heart was comforted.

At half-past three we reached Murfreesboro', having been nine hours travelling one hundred and nine miles. This I found about the average rate of speed on Southern roads. The trains run slow, and a great deal of time is lost at stopping-places. Once, when we were wooding up, I went out to learn what was keeping us so long, and saw two of the hands engaged in a scuffle, which the rest were watching with human interest. On another occasion the men had to bring A TENNESSEE MANSION.


wood out of the forest, none having been provided for the engine near the track.

Murfreesboro' is situated very near the centre of the State. It had in 1860 three thousand inhabitants. It has six churches, and not a decent hotel. Before the war it enjoyed the blessing of a University, a military institute, two female colleges, and two high-schools; all of which had been discontinued. It was also described to me as “a pretty, shady village, before the war.” But the trees had been cut away, leaving ugly stump-lots; and the country all around was laid desolate.

Knowing how wretched must be my accommodations at the only tavern then open to the public, General Hazen hospitably insisted on my removal to his head-quarters on the evening of iny arrival. I found him occupying a first-class Tennessee mansion on a hill just outside the town. The house was cru. ciform, with a spacious hall and staircase in the centre, opening into lofty wainscoted rooms above and below. The rich. ness of the dark panels, and the structural elegance of the apartments, were unexceptionable. But the occupants of these could never have known comfort in wintry weather. The house was built, like all southern houses, for a climate reputed mild, but liable to surprises of cruel and treacherous cold, against which the inhabitants make no provision. The General and I sat that evening talking over war times, with a huge fire roaring before us in the chimney, and roasting our faces, while the freezing blast blew upon our backs from irremediable crevices in the ill-jointed wainscots and casements. I slept that night in a particularly airy chamber, with a good fire striving faithfully to master the enemy, and found in the morning the contents of the water-pitcher, that stood in the room, fast frozen.

I was amused by the grimaces of the negro servant who came in to replenish the fire before I was up. He inquired if we had any colder weather than that in the North, and when I told him how I had seen iron pump-handles stick to a wet hand on a fine wintry morning, involving sometimes the sacrifice of epidermis before the teeth of the frost could be made to let go, he remarked excitedly, —

"I would n't let de iron git holt o' my hand! I hain't do skin to spar', mornin' like dis sher!”

As I sat at breakfast with the General, he told me of his official intercourse with the inhabitants, since he had been in command of the post. “ The most I have to do,” said he, “is to adjust difficulties between Union men and Rebels. There are many men living in this country who acted as scouts for our army, and who, when they wanted a horse to use in the service of the government, took it without much ceremony where they could find it. For acts of this kind the law-loving Rebels are now suing them for damages before the civil courts, and persecuting them in various ways, so that the military power has to interfere to protect them.”





AFTER breakfast in a large dining-room which no fuel could heat, we went and stood by the hearth, turning ourselves on our heels, as the earth turns on its axis, warming a hemisphere at a time, until the wintry condition of our bodies gave place to a feeling of spring, half sunshine and half chill ; then we clapped on our overcoats and mufflers; then two powerful war-horses of the General's came prancing to the door, ready bridled and saddled; and we mounted. A vigorous gallop across the outskirts of the town and out on the Nashville Pike set the sympathetic blood also on a gallop, and did for us what fire in a Tennessee mansion could not do. In ten minutes we were thoroughly warm, with the exception of one thumb in a glove which I wore, and an ear on the windward side of the General's rosy face.

Riding amid stump-fields, where beautiful forests had cast their broad shades before the war, we entered the area of the vast fortress constructed by the army of Rosecrans, lying at Murfreesboro' after the battle. This is the largest work of the kind in the United States. A parapet of earth three miles in circumference encloses a number of detached redoubts on commanding eminences. The encircled space is a mile in diameter. It contained all Rosecrans's storehouses, and was large enough to take in his entire army. It would require at least ten thousand troops to man its breastworks. The converging lines of the railroad and turnpike running to Nashville pass through it; and across the north front sweeps a bend „of Stone River. We found the stream partly frozen, chafing between abrupt rocky shores sheathed in ice.

« PreviousContinue »