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“If I can't have a drink of water, I must die.” Mrs. Culp, who had taken refuge in the cellar, — for the house was now between the two fires, — said, “ I will go to the spring and get you some water."
It was then nearly dark. As she was returning with the water, a bullet whizzed past her. It was fired by a sharpshooter on our own side, who had mistaken her for one of the advancing Rebels. Greatly frightened, she hurried home, bringing the water safely. One poor soldier was made eternally grateful by this courageous, womanly deed. A few days later the sharpshooter came to the house and learned that it was a ministering angel in the guise of a woman he had shot at. Great, also, must have been his gratitude for the veil of darkness which caused him to miss his aim.
Shortly after the battle, sad tales were told of the cruel inhospitality shown to the wounded Union troops by the people of Gettysburg. Many of these stories were doubtless true ; but they were true only of the more brutal of the Rebel sympathizers. The Union men threw open their hearts and their houses to the wounded. One afternoon I met a soldier on Cemetery Hill, who was in the battle; and who, being at Harrisburg for a few days, had taken advantage of an excursion train to come over and revisit the scene of that terrible experience. Getting into conversation, we walked down the hill together. As we were approaching a double house with high wooden steps, he pointed out the farther one, and said,
“Saturday morning, after the fight, I got a piece of bread at that house. A man stood on the steps and gave each of our fellows a piece. We were hungry as bears, and it was a godsend. I should like to see that man and thank him.”
Just then the man himself appeared at the door. We went over, and I introduced the soldier, who, with tears in his eyes, • expressed his gratitude for that act of Christian charity. - “Yes," said the man, when reminded of the circumstance,
“ we did what we could. We baked bread here night and day to give to every hungry soldier who wanted it. We sent away our own children, to make room for the wounded soldiers, and for days our house was a hospital.”
THE HARVEST OF BULLETS.
83 Instances of this kind are not few. Let them be remembered to the honor of Gettysburg.
Of the magnitude of a battle fought so desperately during three days, by armies numbering not far from two hundred thousand men, no adequate conception can be formed. One or two facts may help to give a faint idea of it. Mr. Culp's meadow, below Cemetery Hill,-a lot of near twenty acres,– was so thickly strown with Rebel dead, that Mr. Culp declared he “could have walked across it without putting foot upon the ground.” Upwards of three hundred Confederates were buried in that fair field in one hole. On Mr. Gwynn's farm, below Round Top, near five hundred sons of the South lie promiscuously heaped in one huge sepulchre. Of the quantities of iron, of the wagon-loads of arms, knapsacks, haversacks, and clothing, which strewed the country, no estimate can be made. Government set a guard over these, and for weeks officials were busy in gathering together all the more valuable spoils. The harvest of bullets was left for the citizens to glean. Many of the poorer people did a thriving business picking up these missiles of death, and selling them to dealers; two of whom alone sent to Baltimore fifty tons of lead collected in this way from the battle-field.
A REMINISCENCE OF CHAMBERSBURG.
FRIDAY afternoon, August 18th, I left Gettysburg for Chambersburg, by stage, over a rough turnpike, which had been broken to pieces by Lee's artillery and army wagons two years before, and had not since been repaired. We traversed a sleepy-looking wheat and corn country,
“Wherein it seemèd always afternoon," so little stir was there, so few signs of life and enterprise were visible. Crossing the Blue Ridge, we passed through a more busy land later in the day, and entered the pleasant suburbs of Chambersburg at sunset.
The few scattered residences east of the railroad were soon passed, however, and we came upon scenes which quickly reminded us that we had entered a doomed and desolated place. On every side were the skeletons of houses burned by the Rebels but a little more than a year before. We looked across their roofless and broken walls, and through the sightless windows, at the red sunset sky. They stared at us with their empty eye-sockets, and yawned at us with their fanged and jagged jaws. Dead shade-trees stood solemn in the dusk beside the dead, deserted streets. In places, the work of rebuilding had been vigorously commenced; and the streets were to be traversed only by narrow paths between piles of old brick saved from the ruins, stacks of new brick, beds of mortar, and heaps of sand.
Our driver took us to a new hotel erected on the ruins of an old one. The landlord, eager to talk upon the exciting subject, told me his story while supper was preparing.
“I had jeest bought the hotel that stood where this does, and paid eight thousand dollars for it. I had laid out two thousand dollars fitting it up. All the rooms had been new papered and furnished, and there was three hundred dollars' worth of carpets in the house not put down yet, when the Rebels they jeest come in and burnt it all up.”
This was spoken with a look and tone which showed what a real and terrible thing the disaster was to this man, far different from the trifle it appears on paper. I found everybody full of talk on this great and absorbing topic. On the night of July 29th, 1864, the Rebel cavalry appeared before the town. Some artillery boys went out with a field-piece to frighten them, and fired a few shots. That kept the raiders at bay till morning; for they had come, not to fight, but to destroy; and it was ticklish advancing in the dark, with the suggestive field-piece flashing at them. The next morning, . however, quite early, before the alarmed inhabitants had thought of breakfast, they entered, — the field-piece keeping judiciously out of sight. They had come with General Early's orders to burn the town, in retaliation for General Hunter's spoliation of the Shenandoah Valley. That they would commit so great a crime was hardly to be credited; for what Hunter had done towards destroying that granary of the Confederacy had been done as a military necessity, and there was no such excuse for burning Chambersburg. It seemed a folly as well as a crime ; for, with our armies occupying the South, and continually acquiring new districts and cities, it was in their power, had they been equally barbarous, to take up and carry on this game of retaliation until the whole South should have become as Sodom.
Chambersburg had suffered from repeated Rebel raids, but it had escaped serious damage, and the people were inclined to jeer at those neighboring towns which had been terrified into paying heavy ransoms to the marauders. But now its time had come. The Confederate leaders demanded of the authorities one hundred thousand dollars in gold, or five hundred thousand dollars in United States currency ; promising that
if the money was not forthcoming in fifteen minutes, the torch would be applied. I know not whether it was possible to raise so great a sum in so short a time. At all events, it was not raised.
Then suddenly from all parts of the town went up a cry of horror and dismay. The infernal work had begun. The town was fired in a hundred places at once. A house was entered, a can of kerosene emptied on a bed, and in an instant up went a burst of flame. Extensive plundering was done. Citizens were told that if they would give their money their houses would be spared. The money was in many instances promptly given, when their houses were as promptly fired.
Such a wail of women and children, fleeing for life from their flaming houses, has been seldom heard. Down the hardened cheeks of old men who could scarce remember that they had ever wept, the tears ran in streams. In the terrible confusion nothing was saved. In many houses money, which had been carefully put away, was abandoned and burned. The heat of the flames was fearful. Citizens who described those scenes to me considered it miraculous that in the midst of so great terror and excitement, with the town in flames on all sides at once, not a life was lost.
The part of the town east of the railroad is said to have been saved by the presence of mind and greatness of spirit of a heroic lady. As her house was about to be fired, she appealed to a cavalry captain, and, showing him the throngs of weeping and wailing women and children seeking refuge in the cut through which the railroad passes, said to him, with solemn emphasis, —
“In the day of judgment, sir, you will see that sight again; then, sir, you will have this to answer for!”
The captain was touched. “ It is contrary to orders," said he, “but this thing shall be stopped.” And he stationed a guard along the track to prevent further destruction of the city in that direction.
The homeless citizens crowded to a hill and watched from its