قراءة كتاب History of Kershaw's Brigade With Complete Roll of Companies, Biographical Sketches, Incidents, Anecdotes, etc.

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‏اللغة: English
History of Kershaw's Brigade
With Complete Roll of Companies, Biographical Sketches, Incidents, Anecdotes, etc.

History of Kershaw's Brigade With Complete Roll of Companies, Biographical Sketches, Incidents, Anecdotes, etc.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 8

Sumter," and "war." While there was no spirit of bravado, or of courting of war, there was no disposition to shirk it. A strict guard was kept at all the wharves, or boat landings, to prevent any espionage on our movements or works. It will be well to say here, that no moment from the day of secession to the day the first gun was fired at Sumter, had been allowed to pass without overtures being made to the government at Washington for a peaceful solution of the momentous question. Every effort that tact or diplomacy could invent was resorted to, to have an amicable [19] adjustment. Commissioners had been sent to Washington, asking, urging, and almost begging to be allowed to leave the Union, now odious to the people of the State, without bloodshed. Commissioners of the North came to Charleston to treat for peace, but they demanded peace without any concessions, peace with submission, peace with all the chances of a servile war. Some few leaders at the North were willing to allow us the right, while none denied it. The leading journal at the North said: "Let the erring sisters depart in peace." But all of our overtures were rejected by the administration at Washington, and a policy of evasion, or dilly-dallying, was kept up by those in authority at the North. All the while active preparations were going on to coerce the State by force of arms. During this time other States seceded and joined South Carolina, and formed the "Confederate States of America," with Jefferson Davis as President, with the capital at Montgomery, Ala.

Being determined to reach my company, I boarded a steamer, bound for Morris' Island, intending, if possible, to avoid the guard. In this I was foiled. But after making several futile attempts, I fell in with an officer of the First South Carolina Regiment, who promised to pilot me over. On reaching the landing, at Cummings Point, I was to follow his lead, as he had a passport, but in going down the gang plank we were met by soldiers with crossed bayonets, demanding "passports." The officer, true to his word, passed me over, but then my trouble began. When I reached the shore I lost my sponsor, and began to make inquiries for my company. When it was discovered that there was a stranger in the camp without a passport, a corporal of the guards was called, I was placed under arrest, sent to the guardhouse, and remained in durance vile until Captain Walker came to release me. When I joined my company I found a few of my old school-mates, the others were strangers. Everything that met my eyes reminded me of war. Sentinels patrolled the beach; drums beat; soldiers marching and counter-marching; great cannons being drawn along the beach, hundreds of men pulling them by long ropes, or drawn by mule teams. Across the bay we could see on Sullivan's Island men and soldiers building and digging out foundations for forts. Morris' Island was lined from the lower point to the light house, with batteries of heavy guns. To the youthful eye of a Southerner, whose mind had been fired by Southern sentiment and literature of the day, by reading the stories of heroes [20] and soldiers in our old "Southern Reader," of the thrilling romances of Marion and his men, by William Gilmore Simms, this sight of war was enough to dazzle and startle to an enthusiasm that scarcely knew any bounds. The South were "hero worshipers." The stories of Washington and Putnam, of Valley Forge, of Trenton, of Bunker Hill, and Lexington never grew old, while men, women, and children never tired of reading of the storming of Mexico, the siege of Vera Cruz, the daring of the Southern troops at Molino del Rey.

My first duty as a soldier, I will never forget. I went with a detail to Steven's Iron Battery to build embrasures for the forts there. This was done by filling cotton bags the size of 50 pound flour sacks with sand, placing them one upon the top of the other at the opening where the mouths of cannons projected, to prevent the loose earth from falling down and filling in the openings. The sand was first put upon common wheel-barrows and rolled up single planks in a zig-zag way to the top of the fort, then placed in the sacks and laid in position. My turn came to use a barrow, while a comrade used the shovel for filling up. I had never worked a wheel-barrow in my life, and like most of my companions, had done but little work of any kind. But up I went the narrow zig-zag gangway, with a heavy loaded barrow of loose sand. I made the first plank all right, and the second, but when I undertook to reach the third plank on the angles, and about fifteen feet from the ground, my barrow rolled off, and down came sand, barrow, and myself to the ground below. I could have cried with shame and mortification, for my misfortune created much merriment for the good natured workers. But it mortified me to death to think I was not man enough to fill a soldier's place. My good coworker and brother soldier exchanged the shovel for the barrow with me, and then began the first day's work I had ever done of that kind. Hour after hour passed, and I used the shovel with a will. It looked as if night would never come. At times I thought I would have to sink to the earth from pure exhaustion, but my pride and youthful patriotism, animated by the acts of others, urged me on. Great blisters formed and bursted in my hand, beads of perspiration dripped from my brow, and towards night the blood began to show at the root of my fingers. But I was not by [21] myself; there were many others as tender as myself. Young men with wealthy parents, school and college boys, clerks and men of leisure, some who had never done a lick of manual labor in their lives, and would not have used a spade or shovel for any consideration, would have scoffed at the idea of doing the laborious work of men, were now toiling away with the farmer boys, the overseers' sons, the mechanics—all with a will—and filled with enthusiasm that nothing short of the most disinterested patriotism could have endured. There were men in companies raised in Columbia, Charleston, and other towns, who were as ignorant and as much strangers to manual labor as though they had been infants, toiling away with pick and shovel with as much glee as if they had been reared upon the farm or had been laborers in a mine.

Over about midway in the harbor stood grim old Sumter, from whose parapets giant guns frowned down upon us; while around the battlements the sentinels walked to and fro upon their beats. All this preparation and labor were to reduce the fort or prevent a reinforcement. Supplies had been cut off, only so much allowed as was needed for the garrison's daily consumption. With drill every two hours, guard duty, and working details, the soldiers had little time for rest or reflection. Bands of music enlivened the men while on drill, and cheered them while at work by martial and inspiring strains of "Lorena," "The Prairie Flower," "Dixie," and other Southern airs. Pickets walked the beach, every thirty paces, night and day; none were allowed to pass without a countersign or a permit. During the day small fishing smacks, their white sails bobbing up and down over the waves, dotted the bay; some going out over the bar at night with rockets and signals to watch for strangers coming from the seaward. Days and nights passed without cessation of active operations—all waiting anxiously the orders from Montgomery to reduce the fort.

General G.T. Beauregard, a citizen of Louisiana, resident of New Orleans, a veteran of the Mexican War, and a recent officer in the United States Engineering Corps, was appointed Brigadier General and placed in command of all the forces around Charleston. A great many troops from other States, which had also seceded and joined the [22] Confederacy, had come to South Carolina to aid in the capture of Sumter. General Beauregard was a great favorite with all the people, and the greatest confidence