The romance of "The Aid-De-Camp" was written during the fall of 1862, more for the purpose of beguiling a season of weariness than with the expectation of presenting it to the public. It was originally published in "The Magnolia Weekly" and turned out to be the greatest success of its author and one of the most prominent belles-lettres of that time.
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A Romance Of The War.
James D. Mccabe, Jr.
The Aide-de-Camp, James D. McCabe Jr.
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
The romance of "THE AIDE-DE-CAMP," was written during the fall of 1862, more for the purpose of beguiling a season of weariness than with the expectation of presenting it to the public. It was originally published in "The Magnolia Weekly," and the great success with which is met there has encouraged the Author to attempt a re-publication, this time in its present form.
It is now offered to the public with the hope that it may meet with new friends and additional success.
RICHMOND, VA., 10th of August, 1863.
IT was growing dark, and the evening was very cold. The lamps were lit, and the streets were filled with an eager throng hurrying homeward--Baltimore always presents a busy scene at dark, as people of all classes and ages throng its streets, returning from their daily avocations. The merchant and the mechanic, the professional man and the street laborer, the idler and the man of business, the millionaire and the beggar, the sewing girl and the lady of fashion, representatives of all classes, colors and nations under the sun, fill the streets, hurrying on as if their lives depended upon their speed; jostling each other unceremoniously, and filling the air with the sound of their voices. I have often stood upon the street at the hour of twilight, and watched the scene before me with intense interest. One sees human nature in all its forms, on the thoroughfares of Baltimore at this hour.
This evening, the fourth of March, 1861, the streets were more crowded than usual. A dense throng poured through Howard and Liberty streets, into the great highway, Baltimore street, and mingling with the groups already there, filled it to its utmost capacity. The crowd which came in from the Washington Depot, was exceedingly merry, and loud and repeated shouts rose upon the air. There could be heard the shrill nasal twanged voice of the Yankee, and the coarse rough slang of the Western man. Around the Camden street Depot all was bustle and confusion. The large building was black with people, and the long trains, which were constantly arriving from Washington, discharged their passengers and swelled the crowd.
It had been a gala day in Washington, and those people were returning from witnessing the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States. Fanaticism and sectional hate had succeeded in forcing an uncouth barbarian into the chair of Washington, and the greatest Republic upon which the sun ever shone, was tottering to its fall.
Moving on silently and moodily through the throng, as it hurried from the depot, was a young man, whose appearance was so striking that one could not help pausing to notice him. He was of medium height and very slightly framed. He was dressed in a plain suit of black, buttoned closely up to the throat, and he wore carelessly a drab slouched hat. His features were irregular, but striking. There was a firm, grave expression about the mouth, but the keen gray eyes shone with a merry and mischievous twinkle. One felt at a glance that he was far above the average order of men--that he was born for distinction. The gentleman was Mr. Edward Marshall, a young Virginian, who had been for several years a member of the Baltimore Bar. He was twenty-seven years old, and was one of the most distinguished young lawyers of the city. His irreproachable character commanded universal respect, and his influence was very great.
Mr. Marshall had just returned from witnessing the inauguration, and was silently and earnestly reflecting upon what he had seen and heard that day. He passed on with the crowd up Liberty to Baltimore street, and then pausing almost unconsciously, gazed at the throng, as it hurried on, filling the air with its shouts and laughter.
"Aye! laugh on, ye besotted fools," he exclaimed bitterly. "Your fanatical blindness has ruined the country."
He turned away, and was about to continue his walk up Liberty street, when a hand was laid upon his shoulder, and a hearty voice exclaimed:
"Well, Edward, my friend, so you have gotten back. Come with me, and tell me all about the inauguration."
The speaker was an elderly gentleman with a frank, open face, and a cordial, winning air. Mr. Marshall recognized him, and took his hand affectionately.
"You startled me, Mr. Worthington," said he. "I have just returned, and am in no condition to go home with you."
"Nonsense!" said Mr. Worthington, laughing good humouredly, and taking the young man's arm. "Nonsense. You must go with me. Mary will think that the Abolitionists have made off with you, if I don't bring you with me. Come! I will take no excuse."
And the old gentleman bent his steps northward, leading the young man, who seemed to follow very willingly in spite of his alleged unfitness to do so. After a little twisting and turning, they reached Cathedral street, and paused before a large mansion. They ascended the steps, and before Mr. Worthington could apply his latch key, the door was thrown open. A pair of soft white arms were twined around his neck, his lips were pressed by a dainty little mouth, and a musical voice murmured:
"Welcome, Papa! How naughty to stay out so late."
"There! there!" cried Mr. Worthington, laughingly, as he returned the salute, and passed into the hall, "don't choke me, Mary. Here's a young rascal behind me, who is waiting to come in for his share."
The young lady blushed, and turned to Mr. Marshall, who was standing by the door, which he had closed.
"I did not see you before," she said, holding out her hand.
The old gentleman passed into the parlor, but the young people lingered in the hall. When they entered the parlor there was a bright color on Miss Worthington's cheeks and a happy smile played around Mr. Marshall's lips.
A bright fire was burning in the grate, and by it, in a comfortable arm chair, Mrs. Worthington was sitting. She greeted the young man very cordially. Mr. Worthington had seated himself by his wife, and had drawn a paper from his pocket, and was unfolding it, while he held his feet to the fire.
"Now, sir," said he, turning to Marshall; "make yourself as agreeable as possible to the ladies, while I look over my 'Herald.' Remember, not a word about what you saw in Washington until after supper."
He then opened his paper, and was soon busily engaged in poring over the long black columns of news.
Mr. Worthington was a firm believer in the "New York Herald." His uniform good temper was seriously ruffled, and his enjoyment of his supper greatly disturbed, if he failed to receive it in time to peruse it before tea. After the cares and business of the day were over, it was his chief delight to seat himself by the side of his wife and read the "Herald" until supper was ready. "That Herald" interfered with many of Mrs. Worthington's plans for pleasant chit-chats with her husband before tea. I think there are many wives in the South who are thankful that there is no longer a "Herald" to call their liege lords' attention away from themselves, and who remember it only as an unwelcome visitor.
Mr. Marshall, whether in obedience to Mr. Worthington's injunction, or the dictates of his own heart, I know not, turned his attention to the ladies, and soon a very sprightly and interesting conversation sprang up between them. Mr. Worthington would occasionally look up and join in it for a moment, and then would he again be wrapped up in the contents of his paper.
Soon supper was announced, and a fifth party was added to the group. He was Mr. Charles Worthington, the only son and heir of Mr. Nicholas Worthington. He was a young man of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, and in all respects worthy of the name before.
After supper a visitor came in--Mr. William Harris, one of the most prominent citizens of Baltimore.
When the family and their guests were seated around the parlor fire. Mr. Harris exclaimed abruptly, turning to his host:
"Well, Worthington, we are in for it. King Abe is crowned and throned at last."
"Yes," replied Mr. Worthington, smiling. "But I do not envy him.
"Wait six months and you will envy him less;" said Mr. Harris, gloomily. "There is only one course left for us to pursue--the Border States must secede, and cast their lot with their Southern sisters."
"But Lincoln may be more conservative than you now anticipate." said Mr. Worthington, who was unwilling to give up the Union, while a hope of preserving it remained.
Mr. Harris was a thorough Secessionist. He shook his head incredulously, and then asked:
"Have you heard anything from the Inaugural?"
"Marshall heard it," said Mr. Worthington, turning to the young man. "Come, Edward," he added, "give us an account of what you saw and he heard."
All eyes were turned upon Mr. Marshall, who began quietly:
"I went over to Washington last night, in order to avoid the crowd, which I knew would be on the the trains this morning. I spent the night with a friend--and this morning went out upon the street very early. The first thing that attracted my attention was a company of soldiers stationed on the Avenue. I walked on and saw another detachment, and finally discovered that there was scarcely a square of the street that was not guarded by United States Regulars. The tops of house along the Avenue were lined with riflemen, and detachments of artillery were stationed at various points throughout the city. Happening to know the officer in command of one of these detachments, I approached him, and asked the cause of this extraordinary display of force. He told me that fears were entertained of an attack on the city, or an attempt to assassinate the President elect. General Scott had deemed it best to prepare for the worst. It seems that the officials feared that they would not be able to inaugurate Lincoln without the presence of Federal bayonets. Once, during the day, I was standing by General Scott, who was constantly receiving messages from all parts of the city; and I heard him exclaim, in a tone of great relief:
"Everything is going on peaceably--thank God Almighty for it."
"The old reprobate," exclaimed Mr. Harris, vehemently. "But pardon me for interrupting you. Go on."
"The Inauguration passed off quietly. Lincoln was escorted to the Capital by a strong guard of cavalry, and was surrounded by troops during the Inaugural ceremony. The whole affair wore an aspect of force which was painful, and I am afraid it was indicative of the future policy of the new Administration."
"But what of the Inaugural? What did he say?" asked Mr. Harris, impatiently.
"I hardly know how to answer you, sir," replied Marshall, hesitatingly. "The Address was so ambiguous and unsatisfactory that I am sure no two persons will construe it alike. He said that he will take care that the laws are faithfully executed in all the States. He added, that in doing this there will be no occasion for bloodshed or strife, unless it shall be forced upon the national authority. He will hold the forts, and places belonging to the Government, and he will collect the revenue. I confess that I do not like his address. I think it is intended to deceive and trick the South. I think he means to try to force the seceded States back into the Union."
Mr. Harris smiled scornfully, and Mr. Worthington gazed earnestly into the fire, while Marshall continued:
"As for myself, I have been greatly influenced by it. All of my doubts have been dispelled. What I have this day seen and heard in Washington, has made me a thorough Secessionist."
"Good! I like that!" cried Mr. Harris, seizing his hand.
"I fear that you are right," said Mr. Worthington, sadly. "But God knows that my love for the South is not weakened by my devotion to the Union. I love them both, and never desire to see them separated if it can be avoided."
"But it cannot be avoided, my dear friend," said Mr. Harris. "You must be one of us. Your true place is among the Southern-rights men of Maryland."
"Wait," replied his host; "and if I am more fully convinced of that, I will go over to you. But not now." Then turning to Marshall, he asked, "Who are in the Cabinet?"
"Seward is Secretary of State, and Chase of the Treasury--the others I do not remember."
"Seward and Chase--bad men, bad men," exclaimed Mr. Worthington, shaking his head disapprovingly. "I am afraid they mean war."
"Yes, and a bitter war, too," said Mr. Harris. "But tell me," he continued, addressing Marshall, "did you see the Confederate Commissioners, and what did they say of the condition of affairs?"
"I saw Mr. Forsythe this morning. He says that he and Mr. Crawford will wait for a few days before presenting their credentials, in order to give the new administration time to complete its necessary arrangements. He seems to anticipate some trouble, and fears that the Federal Government will not recognise the claims of his Government to independence. I have not seen him since the Inauguration, but I am sure that Lincoln's address must have strengthened his fears."
There was a pause. Suddenly Mr. Harris asked:
"What will Virginia do?"
"Leave the Union, sir, as soon as she is satisfied that it is her duty to do so," replied Marshall.
If she were out, Maryland could go at once," said Mr. Harris, musingly. "I would give worlds if Maryland had a Governor who could be trusted."
"But surely, Harris, Governor Hicks is a true man," said Mr. Worthington.
"I do not think so," replied Mr. Harris, firmly. "He refuses to convene the Legislature, because that body will summon a Convention, and he does not believe that the people desire it. He knows this to be false. From all parts of the State the people are demanding a Convention, and he is daily importuned to allow us to hold one. No, sir, he knows that we are for the South, and he has us in his power. But for the injury that it would do the cause, I would propose hanging Hicks to-morrow."
"You are too violent," said Mr. Worthington, with a sigh.
Mr. Harris was an ardent Southern-rights man. He felt the justice of the Southern cause, he knew the popular sympathy with the South that existed in Maryland, and he was anxious that the people should have an opportunity of expressing their will. He felt outraged by, and indignant at the conduct of the Governor, which was slowly but surely betraying the State into the hands of the Federal Government.
Mr. Worthington was one of those conditional Union men who were then to be met with all over the South. He loved the South, and he felt deeply the wrongs that had been done to it; but he loved the Union also, and he did not wish to see it destroyed while a hope remained of the South receiving justice in it. Failing in his efforts to save the Union, he was for immediate and final alliance with the Confederate States.
Mr. Marshall had been a conservative Southern man. He had justified the course of the Southern States, while he had not been averse to a re-construction of the Union. But now Lincoln's inaugural had made him an unconditional Secessionist. The ladies had been silent, but not uninterested listeners to the foregoing conversation. Soon it turned upon other subjects, and in a short time Mr. Harris took his leave. Young Mr. Worthington had an engagement, and Mr. and Mrs. Worthington took their departure from the parlor, and the young people were left alone.
Miss Mary Worthington was, like most of the women of Baltimore, small and beautifully formed. She was a lovely girl, with a fair and smiling face, and large and merry blue eyes. She was only twenty years old. She had been engaged to Marshall for six months, and in six months more she was to become his wife. She was a noble, whole-souled girl, and she was proud for her choice. Well might she have been so. There were few men in Baltimore more worthy, in every respect, of a woman's love than Edward Marshall.
It is not my purpose to make public what passed between the lovers after the old folks left the parlor. I have no right to do so. Such scenes should be kept sacred from prying eyes. Though privileged to remain, and hear and see all that occurred, I know that a third party is always in the way in such cases. Therefore I will follow the example of the old folks, and will retire and close the door behind me.
I OPENED this narration with incidents which occurred on the evening succeeding the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln for purposes of convenience. The position and the condition of the country are too well known to the reader to require more than a brief review of them.
The secession of the State of South Carolina had severed the bonds of the Union, and, one by one, the other Cotton States had followed her example, until seven States which embodied the great agricultural wealth of the country, had gone out from the Union. These States had confederated in a new Government, had created a new nation, and had assumed all rights and privileges of an independent Government. The Confederate States had begun their career with a flattering prospect for success Commissioners had been sent to Europe to obtain from Foreign Powers the recognition of their independence and separate nationality. Other Commissioners had been sent to Washington to treat with the Federal Government upon terms compatible with the dignity and interests of both nations. It was the sincere desire of the new Government to avoid hostilities with the old, and the Commissioners who had been sent to Washington were empowered to treat with the old Government upon the most liberal and honorable terms. From all parts of the country the Federal Government was urged to receive and treat with the Commissioners, who reached Washington about the first of March.
The Confederate Government had been formed during the administration of President Buchanan. The United States pursued a weak and vacillating course. Mr. Buchanan seemed embarrassed. His position was certainly trying, and it would have been well for the country had an abler and a better man filled it.
When the State of South Carolina seceded, the United States held Forts Moultrie and Sumter in the harbor of Charleston. A pledge was given by the United States Government that its military status in that State should not be changed. The State then refrained from making any hostile demonstration upon the Federal forces who held its principal harbor.
On Christmas day, Major Robert Anderson, the commandant of the Federal troops, dined with the authorities of Charleston, and lulled to rest their suspicions of foul play, if indeed they entertained any. On the night of the 26th of December, 1860, he evacuated Fort Moultrie and threw himself into Fort Sumter, an unfinished work, but one of great strength, built on an artificial island in the harbor. He set fire to the work that he evacuated, spiked its guns, and removed everything that he could transport to Fort Sumter. The next day--the 27th--this was discovered, and Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney were seized and occupied by the State troops. The fire was extinguished at Fort Moultrie, and soon afterwards the damage was repaired and the Fort made stronger than ever. It was expected that the conduct of Major Anderson, which was in direct violation of the pledge given by the United States would be disapproved by his Government; but Mr. Buchanan not only refused to order him to return to Fort Moultrie, but approved his conduct and sustained him in it.
Warned by this breach of faith, the State of South Carolina seized upon all the property of the Federal Government within its limits, causing a strict account of it to be taken, in order that at the proper time a settlement might be made with the Federal Government. The surrender of Fort Sumter was demanded; the demand being refused, the State collected troops in the harbor, and proceeded to make other preparations to reduce the hostile position. After the formation of the Confederacy the troops were transferred to the Confederate Government, and the works extended. The command was conferred upon Brigadier General Beauregard of the Confederate army. After the occupation of Fort Sumter by Major Anderson, his Government was desirous of supplying him with provisions and ammunition and of reinforcing the garrison with fresh troops. South Carolina very properly refused her consent to this, and the Federal Government resolved to relieve the Fort at all hazards. In January the steamer "Star of the West" was sent to the relief of Major Anderson, but was driven back by the South Carolina batteries.
The only places in the Confederate States held by Federal troops were Forts Sumter and Pickens--the former in Charleston harbor, the latter on Santa Rosa Island in Pensacola Bay, Florida. The troops assembled for the reduction of the latter Fort were commanded by Brigadier General Bragg.
The administration of Mr. Buchanan had been urged to evacuate these Forts, and thus remove all cause for hostilities. This the President declined doing, but gave a pledge that the United States would do nothing to bring about a collision between the opposing forces, if the South would not force it upon them. Had he withdrawn his troops from the Southern forts, he would have removed the great evil which momentarily threatened to bring about a war: and it is possible that the war might have been averted. But he had not the moral courage to do this. He was afraid to brave the storm which such a course would have raised for the time in the North; so he contented himself with promising to refrain from inaugurating any hostile measures, if the Southern States would do likewise. He doubtless hoped to throw all the weight and responsibility of the matter upon the incoming Administration. The Border Slave States had held aloof from their more Southern sisters. They sympathized deeply with them, but wished to exhaust all remedies before leaving the Union. Already they had tried one expedient--the Peace Congress--and this, owing to Northern obstinacy, had proved to be a failure. They were looking about them for some new remedy. Such was the condition of affairs when Lincoln went into power. The country was quivering with the agonies of dismemberment. The new President had it in his power, by pursuing a wise and prudent course, to avoid a war, and to restore harmony to a great degree to the country. He had only to evacuate the Forts, listen to the proposals of the Confederate Commissioners, and if they were compatible with the dignity and interest of his country, to entertain them favorably, and to treat with the new nation upon terms of amity and good will. Such a course would have involved no sacrifice of dignity or interest upon the part of the Federal Government. The history of the times will support me in this assertion.
The Commissioners from the Confederate States arrived in Washington about the first of March. After waiting a few days, in order to allow the new Administration time to complete the necessary arrangements which would occupy its time upon its first entrance to power, they addressed a letter to the Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, setting forth the objects of their mission, and requesting an interview with President Lincoln. Mr. Seward did not receive them officially, but promised a reply at his earliest convenience, and encouraged them to hope that peace and good will might prevail between the two nations, and that the objects of their mission would be successful. He delayed his answer. Judge Campbell, of the Supreme Court of the United States, consented to act as a medium of communication between the Commissioners and Mr. Seward. On the 15th of March Mr. Seward assured Justice Campbell that he felt sure that Fort Sumter would be evacuated "within the next five days," and that "no measure changing the existing status prejudicially to the Southern Confederate States," was then contemplated. Thus the Commissioners were amused and detained, while the Federal Government was working silently but rapidly. The five days passed away, but the Fort was not evacuated. Throughout the North extensive military and naval preparations were begun and carried on with great energy. They attracted the attention and excited the alarm of the Commissioners. Justice Campbell mentioned this alarm to Mr. Seward, and received from him the following answer: "Faith as to Sumter fully kept; wait and see."This was the 7th of April. On the same day, a large fleet, with troops and military supplies, sailed from New York for the South. On the 8th of April, Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, was informed that Fort Sumter would be reinforced and provisioned at all hazards. This information, together with the answer of the Federal Secretary of State, dated nearly a month back, declining to receive or treat with them, was conveyed to the Commissioners after the message had been sent to the Governor of South Carolina. The perfidy of the Federal Government was fully evident, even to the dullest comprehension, and the Commissioners immediately took their departure from Washington.
Having anticipated events somewhat, I must now go back for a brief period. Mr. Marshall had watched the course of events with an anxious eye. He feared that war was inevitable. He distrusted the protestations of Lincoln and his Cabinet.
The extraordinary military preparations at the North alarmed him seriously. He saw at once that they were destined for the relief of Fort Sumter. They could not be meant for anything else, for there was no occasion for them elsewhere. Early in April he found it necessary for him to visit Charleston, whither business of importance called him. After parting with his friends, and promising a speedy return, he set out on his journey. He had been furnished by prominent citizens of Maryland with letters to Governor Pickens and General Beauregard, and other distinguished persons in South Carolina. He reached Washington on the morning of the 6th of April.
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