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Charles Austin Fosdick, better known by his nom de plume Harry Castlemon, was a prolific writer of juvenile stories and novels, intended mainly for boys. Collection of 24 Works of Harry Castlemon________________________________________A Rebellion in DixieDon Gordon's Shooting-BoxElam Storm, The WolferFrank Among The RancherosFrank at Don Carlos' RanchoFrank Before VicksburgFrank in the MountainsFrank in the WoodsFrank Nelson in the ForecastleFrank on a Gun-BoatFrank on the Lower MississippiFrank on the PrairieFrank, the Young NaturalistGeorge at the FortGeorge at the WheelJulian MortimerMarcy The Blockade RunnerMarcy The RefugeeNo MossRodney The PartisanThe Boy TrapperThe First CaptureThe Haunted MineTrue To His Colors
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The Premium Complete Collection of Harry Castlemon
The Detailed Biography of Harry Castlemon
A Rebellion in Dixie
Don Gordon's Shooting-Box
Elam Storm, The Wolfer
Frank Among The Rancheros
Frank at Don Carlos' Rancho
Frank Before Vicksburg
Frank in the Mountains
Frank in the Woods
Frank Nelson in the Forecastle
Frank on a Gun-Boat
Frank on the Lower Mississippi
Frank on the Prairie
Frank, the Young Naturalist
George at the Fort
George at the Wheel
Marcy The Blockade Runner
Marcy The Refugee
Rodney The Partisan
The Boy Trapper
The First Capture
The Haunted Mine
True To His Colors
Charles Austin Fosdick (September 6, 1842 – August 22, 1915), better known by his nom de plume Harry Castlemon, was a prolific writer of juvenile stories and novels, intended mainly for boys. He was born in Randolph, New York, and received a high school diploma from Central High School in Buffalo, New York. He served in the Union Navy from 1862 to 1865, during the American Civil War, acting as the receiver and superintendent of coal for the Mississippi River Squadron.Fosdick had begun to write as a teenager, and drew on his experiences serving in the Navy in such early novels as Frank on a Gunboat (1864) and Frank on the Lower Mississippi (1867). He soon became the most-read author for boys in the post-Civil War era, the golden age of children's literature.
Fosdick once remarked that: "Boys don't like fine literature. What they want is adventure, and the more of it you can get in two-hundred-fifty pages of manuscript, the better fellow you are." Fosdick served up a lot of adventure in such popular book series as the Gunboat Series, the Rocky Mountain Series, the Roughing It Series, the Sportsman's Club Series, and The Steel Horse, or the Rambles of a Bicycle.He was "Uncle Charlie" to famed liberal Baptist minister, Harry Emerson Fosdick, whose writings reflected fondly on the time spent as a boy visiting Fosdick at his home in Westfield, New York.
Fosdick married Sarah Elizabeth Stoddard in 1873, and they spent most of their married life in Westfield.They are buried beside each other in the Westfield Cemetery.
Rebellion in Dixie
AUTHOR OF “THE GUNBOAT SERIES,” “THE HUNTER SERIES,”
“WAR SERIES,” ETC.
CONTENTS.CHAPTERPAGEI.In regard to the Rebellion,5II.The Convention,25III.“A Word in your Ear,”45IV.Carl Brings News,65V.Capturing a Wagon-train,88VI.The March Homeward,109VII.Breaking the Mule,129VIII.Rebels in the Rear,152IX.A Night Expedition,176X.Cale Wants a Mule,196XI.Mr. Dawson’s Strategy,220XII.The Rebels take Revenge,247XIII.Cale in Trouble,271XIV.Leon a Prisoner,294XV.A Friend in Need,315XVI.A Fight and its Results,338XVII.The Events of a Week,363XVIII.Coleman Proves his Honesty,384XIX.Conclusion,407
A REBELLION IN DIXIE.
CHAPTER I. IN REGARD TO THE REBELLION.
“Now, Leon, you will take in everybody. Don’t leave a single man out, for we want them all there at this convention.”
“Secessionists, as well as Union men?”
“Yes, of course. I had a talk with Nathan Knight, last night, and he says everybody must be informed of the fact. We are going to secede from the State of Mississippi and get up a government of our own, and he declares that everybody must be told of it.”
“I tell you, dad, we’ve got a mighty poor show. I suppose there are at least two thousand fighting men here—”
“Say fifteen hundred; and they are all good shots, too.”
“And Jeff Davis has called out a hundred 6thousand men. Where would we be if he would send that number of men after us?”
“He ain’t a-going to send no hundred thousand men after us. He has other work for them to do, and when the few he does send come here in search of us, he won’t find hide nor hair of a living man in the county.”
It was Mr. Sprague who spoke last, and his words were addressed to his son Leon. They, both of them, stood leaning on their horses, and were equipped for long rides in opposite directions. Just inside the gate was a woman leaning upon it; but, although she was a Southerner, she did not shed tears when she saw Leon and his father about to start on their perilous ride. For she knew that every step of the way would be harassed by danger, and if she saw either one of them after she bade them good-bye it would all be owing to fortunate manœuvres on their part rather than to any mismanagement on the part of the rebels. They were both known as strong Union men, and no doubt there were some of their neighbors who were determined that they should not fulfil their errand. It would 7be an easy matter to shoot them down and throw their bodies into the swamp, and no one would be the wiser for it.
Leon Sprague was sixteen years old, and had been a raftsman all his life. He had but little education but much common sense, for schools were something that did not hold a high place in Jones county. In fact there had been but one school in the county since he could remember, and some of the boys took charge of that, and conducted themselves in a manner that drove the teacher away. Leon was a fine specimen of a boy, as he stood there listening to his father’s instructions—tall beyond his years, and straight as one of the numerous pines that he had so often felled and rafted to Pascagoula bay. His countenance was frank and open—no one ever thought of doubting Leon’s word—but just now there was a scowl upon it as he listened to what his father had to say to him.
These people, the Spragues, were a little better off than most of those who followed their occupation, owning a nice little farm, four negroes, and a patch of timber-land from 8which they cut their logs and rafted them down to tide-water to furnish the masts for ocean-going vessels. His father and mother were simple-minded folks who thought they had everything that was worth living for, and they did not want to see the Government broken up on any pretext. The negro men worked the farm and their wives were busy in the house, which they kept as neat as a new pin. Just now the men had been butchering hogs in the woods, and were at work making hams and bacon of them. These negroes did not have an overseer—they did not know what it was. They went about their work bright and early, and when Saturday afternoon came they posted off to the nearest village to enjoy their half-holiday. They loved their master and mistress, and if anybody had offered them their freedom they would not have taken it.
In order that you may understand this story, boy reader, it is necessary that you should know something of the character of the inhabitants, and be able to bear in mind the nature of the country in which this Rebellion 9in Dixie took place, for it was as much of a rebellion as that in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Missouri, where men were shot and hanged for not believing as their neighbors did, and their houses were set on fire. They made up their minds at the start—as early as 1862—that they would not furnish any men for the Southern army; and, furthermore, they took good care to see that there was no drafting done in their county.
If you will take your atlas and turn to the map of Mississippi you will find Jones county in the southeastern part of the State, and about seventy-five miles north of Mobile, a port that was one of the last to be captured by the United States army. It comprised nearly twenty townships, the white population being 1482, a small chance, one would think, for people to live as they did for almost two years. The land was not fertile, “the entire region being made up of pine barrens and swamps, traversed by winding creeks, bordered by almost impenetrable thickets.” It was bounded on four sides by Jasper, Wayne, Perry and Covington counties, which were all 10loyal to the Confederacy, and it would seem that the people had undertaken an immense job to carry on a rebellion here in the face of such surroundings. The inhabitants were, almost to a man, opposed to the war. They were lumbermen, who earned a precarious living by cutting the pine trees and rafting them to tide-water, which at that time was found on Pascagoula bay. They had everything that lumbermen could ask for, and they did not think that any effort to cut themselves loose from the North would result in any glory to them. They could not get any more for their timber than they were getting now, and why should they consent to go into the army and fight for principles that they knew nothing about?
Of course, this county was divided against itself, as every other county was that laid claim to some Union and some Confederate inhabitants. There were men among them who had their all invested there, and they did not think these earnest people were pursuing the right course. These were the secessionists, but they were very careful about what 11they said, although they afterward found opportunities to put their ideas into practice. When General Lowery was sent with a strong force to crush out this rebellion he was met by a stubborn resistance, and some of these Confederates, who were seen and recognized by their Union neighbors, were afterward shot to pay them for the part they had carried out in conducting the enemy to their place of retreat. Taken altogether, it was such a thing as nobody had ever heard of before, but the way these lumbermen went about it proclaimed what manner of men they were. It seemed as if the Confederacy could run enough men in there to wipe out the Jones County Republic before they could have time to organize their army; but for all that the inhabitants were determined to go through with it. They held many a long talk with one another when they met on the road or in convention at Ellisville, and there wasn’t a man who was in favor of joining the Confederacy, the secessionists wisely keeping out of sight.
Things went on in this way for a year or more, during which the lumbermen talked 12amazingly, but did nothing. Finally Fort Sumter was fired upon, and afterward came the disastrous battle of Bull Run, and then the Confederates began to gain a little courage. They knew the South was going to whip, and these battles confirmed them in the belief; but the raftsmen did not believe it. In 1862, when the Confederate Congress passed the act of conscription, which compelled those liable to do military duty to serve in the army, the lumbermen grew in earnest, and a few of them got together in Ellisville and talked the matter over. The market for their logs had long ago been broken up, and some of them were beginning to feel the need of something to eat; and when one of their number proposed, more as a joke than anything else, that they should cast their fortunes with the Confederates, and so be able to go down to tide-water and get some provisions, the motion was hooted down in short order. There were not enough people there to hold a convention, and so the matter was postponed, some of the wealthy ones who owned horses being selected to ride about the county and 13inform every one that the matter had gone far enough—that they were going to hold a meeting and see what the lumbermen thought of taking the county out of the State of Mississippi. Leon and his father were two of those chosen, and they were just getting ready to start on their journey.
“I don’t know as I ought to send that boy out at all, Mary,” said Mr. Sprague, when he arrived at home that night after the convention had been decided upon. “I have never seen Leon in trouble and I don’t know how he will act; but the boys down to Ellisville seemed determined to let him go, and I never said a word about it.”
“I think you have seen Leon in trouble a half a dozen times,” said his wife, who was prompt to side with her son. “The time that Tom Howe came so near being smashed up with those logs down there in the bend—I guess he was in trouble then, wasn’t he?”
“But that was with logs; it wasn’t with men,” said Mr. Sprague. “Yes, Leon was pretty plucky that day, and when all the boys cheered him I didn’t say a word, although I 14had an awkward feeling of pride around my heart, I tell you.”
Leon and three or four other fellows of light build were frequently called upon to start a jam of logs which had filled up the stream so full that the timber could not move. A hasty glance at the jam would show them the log that was to blame for it, and armed with an ax and bare-footed the boys would leap upon the raft and go out to it. A few hasty blows would start the jam, and the timber rushing by with the speed of a lightning express train, the boys would make their way back to the shore, jumping from one log to another. Sometimes they did not get back without a ducking. On the occasion referred to Tom went out alone, and after he had been there some minutes without starting the jam, Leon was sent out to assist him. Two axes were better than one, and in a few minutes the timber was started. It came with a rush, too, but Tom was just a moment too late. The log upon which he had been chopping shot up into the air fully twenty feet, and when it came down it struck the log on which Tom 15was standing and soused him head over heels in the water; but before he went he felt somebody’s around him. It was Leon Sprague’s arm, for the latter struck the water almost as soon as he did. Leon came up a moment afterward with Tom hanging limp and lifeless in his arms, and heard the cheers of the “boys” ringing in his ears, but had to go down again to escape the onward rush of the logs which were coming toward him with almost railroad speed. By going down in this way and swimming lustily whenever the logs were far enough away to admit of it, Leon succeeded in landing about half a mile below, and hauling his senseless burden out on the bank. Tom could swim—there were few boys on the stream that could beat him at that—but when that log came down on him it well nigh knocked it all out. Leon’s father never said a word. He walked up and gave the boy’s hand a hearty shake, and that was the last of it. Leon had the opportunity of knowing, as soon as Tom came to himself, that he had made a life-long friend by his last half-hour’s operations.
16“Jeff Davis ain’t a going to send no hundred thousand men after us,” repeated Mr. Sprague, preparing to mount his horse. “He’ll send a few in here to break up this rebellion, and when they get here we’ll be in the woods out of sight. Kiss your mother, Leon, and let’s go. We have got a good ways to ride before night.”
“Now, Leon, be careful of yourself,” said his mother.
“You need have no fear of me,” said Leon, leaving his horse and going up to the gate. “I’ve got my revolver in my pocket all handy.”
“But remember that when you are riding along the road somebody can easily pick you off,” said Mrs. Sprague. “You know you are a Union boy.”
“Do you want me to make believe that I am--Confederate?”
“By no means. Stick to the Union. Good-bye.”
The farewells being said, father and son got upon their horses and rode away in opposite directions. Leon rode a high-stepping horse—he 17was fond of a good animal and he owned one of the very best in the county—but he allowed him to wander at his own gait, knowing that the horse would be tired enough when he returned home. As he rode along, thinking how foolish the people were to consider seriously the proposal to withdraw from the Union, he ran against a boy about his own age who, like himself, was journeying on horseback. He was a boy he did not like to see. He was awfully “stuck up,” and, furthermore, he was a rebel and did not hesitate to have his opinions known.
“Hello, Leon,” exclaimed Carl Swayne, for that was the boy’s name. “Where are you going this morning?”
“I am going around to see every man in this side of the county,” said Leon. “We are going to get up a convention on the 13th, and we want everybody there. The convention is going to be held at Ellisville.”
“By George! Has it come to that?” cried Carl, flourishing his riding-whip in the air. “What do you think you are going to do after you get to that convention?”
18“We are going to dissolve the Union existing between this county and the State of Mississippi.”
“Yes, I’ll bet you will. How long will it be before the Confederates will send men in here to whip you out? You must think you can stand against them.”
“I don’t think we can stand against anybody,” said Leon. “If the Confederates come in here we shall go into the woods.”
“Well, it won’t take me long to show them where you are,” said Carl, savagely. “I was talking with uncle about it last night, and he says you haven’t got but a few fighting men here, and that it is utterly preposterous for you to think of getting up a rebellion. I know one thing about it: you will all be hanged.”
“And I know another thing about it,” said Leon. “When it comes we’ll be in good company. Will you be down to our convention?”
“Not as anybody knows of,” replied Carl, with a laugh. “I’ll get somebody up here to put a stop to it.”
19“Well, I wouldn’t be too hasty about it. You may get hanged yourself.”
“Yes? I’d like to see the man living that can put a rope around my neck,” exclaimed Carl, hotly. “I’ve got more friends in this county than one would suppose. I’ll bet you wouldn’t be one of the first to do it.”
Leon picked up his reins and went on without answering this question. He saw that Carl was in a fair way to pick a quarrel with him, and he had no desire to keep up his end of it. Carl was hot-headed, and when he got mad, was apt to do and say some things that any boy of his age ought to have been ashamed of. He kept on down the road for a mile further, and finally turned into a broad carriage-way that led up to a neat little cottage that was surrounded by shade trees on all sides. This was the house of Mr. Smith—a crusty old bachelor who had always taken a deep interest in Leon. He was Union to the backbone, and if he could have had his way he would have made short work with all such fellows as Carl Swayne. He was sitting out on the porch indulging in a smoke.
20“Hallo, Leon,” he cried, as soon as he found out who the new-comer was. “Alight and hitch.”
“I can’t do it, Mr. Smith,” replied Leon. “I am bound to see every man in this part of the county, and that, you know, is a good long ride. We are going to hold a convention on the 13th, and we want you to come down to it.”
“Whew!” whistled Mr. Smith. “You bet I’ll be there. What are you going to do at that convention?”
Leon explained briefly, adding:
“I just now saw a fellow whom I asked to come down, and he positively declined. He says he will get somebody to put a stop to it.”
“That’s Carl Swayne,” said Mr. Smith, in a tone of disgust. “Say! I will give half my fortune if we can hang that fellow and his uncle to the nearest tree. They have been preaching up secessionists’ doctrines here till you can’t rest.”
“I think we can get the better of them after a while,” said Leon. “When did you get back?” he added, for Mr. Smith had been 21down to tide-water to see what was going on there. “Did you see or hear anything in Mobile?”
“I got back last night. There is nothing in Mobile except fortifications. I tell you it will require a big army to take that place. By the way, Leon, I want to see you some time all by yourself. Don’t let any one know you are coming here, but just come.”
“I’ll remember it, Mr. Smith. You won’t forget the convention? Good-by.”
“What in the world does the old fellow want to see me for?” soliloquized Leon. “And why couldn’t he have told me to-day as well as any other time? Well, it can’t be much, any way.”
Leon kept on his ride, and before night he was many miles from home. He took in every house he came to, Union as well as secessionist, and while the former greeted him cordially, the rebels had something to say to him that fairly took his breath away. If he hadn’t been the most even-tempered fellow in the world he would have got fighting mad. They all agreed as to one thing: They were 22going to see Leon hanged for carrying around the notice of that convention. His neighbors wouldn’t do it, but there would be plenty of Confederates in there after a while that would string the Union people up as fast as they could get to them. Leon had no idea that there were so many secessionists in the county as he found there when he came to ride through it, and he made up his mind to one thing, and that was, it was going to be pretty hard work to carry that county out of the State.
“But just wait until we get together and decide upon a constitution,” said Leon, as he rode along with his hands in his pockets and his eyes fastened upon the horn of his saddle. “Jeff Davis has long ago ordered all Union men out of the Confederacy, and what is there to hinder us from ordering all these rebels out? That’s an idea, and I will speak to father about it.”
Leon did not care to spend all night with such people as these, and so he kept on until he found a family whose sentiments agreed with his own, and there he laid by until 23morning. The head of this household had but recently come into the county, and Leon did not know him. When the latter rode up to the bars the man was chopping wood in front of a dilapidated shanty, but when he saw Leon approaching he dropped his axe, took long strides toward his door and turned around and faced him. The boy certainly thought he was acting in a very strange way, and for a moment didn’t know whether he was a Union man or a rebel.
“Good evening, sir,” said Leon, who thought he might as well settle the matter once for all. “Can I stay all night with you?”
“Who are you and where did you come from?” asked the man in reply.
“My name is Leon Sprague and I live in the other part of the county,” replied Leon. “I am a Union boy all over, and I came out to tell everybody—”
“Course we can keep you all night if that is the kind of a boy you are,” replied the man coming up to the bars. “Get off and turn your horse loose. I haven’t seen a Union boy before in a long while. I came from Tennessee.”
24“What are you doing down here?” asked Leon, as he led his horse over the bars.
“I came down here to get out of reach of the rebels, dog-gone ’em,” said the man in a passionate tone of voice. “You had just ought to see them up there. They have got their jails full, they are hanging men for burning bridges, and when I left home there was two or three thousand men going over the mountains into Kentucky. But I couldn’t go with them. The rebels cut me off, and as I was bound to go somewhere, I came on down here.”
Leon had by this time taken the saddle and bridle from his horse and turned him loose to get his own supper. Then he backed up against the fence and watched the man chopping his wood.
CHAPTER II. THE CONVENTION.
“What made you start for the house when you saw me coming up?” said Leon, as the man sank his axe deep into the log on which he was chopping and paused to moisten his hands.
“Because I thought you was a rebel. I reckoned there was more coming behind you, and I wanted to be pretty close to my rifle. I didn’t know that I had got into a community of Union folks down here.”
Leon was astonished to hear the man converse. He talked like an intelligent person, and the boy was glad to have him express an opinion, for it was so much better than his own that he resolved to profit by it.
“I don’t know that you got in among Union people,” said Leon, “for I have seen more rebels to-day than I thought there was 26in the county; but all the same there are some Union folks here. You might have gone further and fared worse.”
“So I believe. When you came up you said you were out to tell everybody something. What were you going to say?”
It didn’t take Leon more than two minutes to explain himself. The man listened with genuine amazement, and when the boy got through he seated himself on the log and rested his elbows on his knees.
“How are you going to take this county out?” said he. “You haven’t got men enough to do any fighting.”
“No, sir; but we are going to do the best we can with what we have got.”
“That’s plucky at any rate. I suppose that if the rebels come in here to capture you, you will take to the swamp.”
“Yes, sir. That’s just what we intend to do.”
“Well, sir, you can put my name down for that convention,” said the man, getting upon his feet and going to work upon his wood-pile. “I’ve got so down on the rebels that I am 27willing to do anything I can to bother them. I’ve got two brothers in jail up there now.”
“You said something about bridge burning,” said Leon, and he didn’t know whether he made a mistake or not. “Perhaps you had a hand in it.”
“Perhaps I did,” answered the man with a laugh. “And I tell you I had to dig out as soon as I got home. So you see I dare not go back there.”
“What’s the punishment?”
“Death,” answered the man. “And they don’t give you any time to say good-bye to your friends. They don’t even court-martial you, but string you up at once.”
The man said this in much the same tone that he would have asked for a drink of water. Leon was surprised that one who had passed through so many dangers as that man had could speak of it so indifferently. But then he looked like a man who would have been picked out of a crowd to engage in business of that kind. He was large and bony, the ease with which he handled his axe was surprising, but his face was one to attract anybody’s 28attention. It was a determined face—a face that wouldn’t back down for any obstacles. If the Union men in Tennessee were all like him, it was a wonder how the rebels got the start of them.
“I can’t give you as good a place here as I could at home,” said the man, as his wife came to the door and told him that supper was ready. “At home I have a commodious house, and you could have a room in it all to yourself. Here I have nothing but this little tumble-down shanty to go into. It leaks, but I will soon get the better of that. Molly, this young man is Union all over, and he has come down here to tell of a convention that is to be held at Ellisville to take this county out of the State. Whoever heard of such a thing? I am going to that meeting, sure pop.”
His wife was greatly surprised to listen to this, but she accepted the introduction to Leon, and forthwith proceeded to make him feel at home. There were two children, but they had been taught to behave, and did not try to shove themselves forward at all. Taken altogether, it was a comfortable meal, and before 29it was over Leon learned some things regarding this man that he wouldn’t have believed possible. He had come all the way through the rebel State of Mississippi by telling the people he met on the way that he was going to see some friends, and had, by chance, struck Jones county, the very place of all others he wanted to be.
“I must confess it was pretty pokerish, sometimes,” said the man. “The rebels had sent on a description of me as the man who helped burn their bridges, and now and then I had to get under the bundles of clothing and cover myself up there, leaving my wife to guide the horses. But I had my rifle all right, and it would have gone hard with the men who discovered me.”
The evening was passed in this way listening to the man’s stories, and when Leon went to bed in a dark corner of the room he told himself that he had got into a desperate scrape, and that he had got something to do in order to get out of it. He had never dreamed that men could be down on their neighbors in that way, and here this 30man had all he could do to keep from being shot.
“By George! I tell you we are in for it,” said Leon, pulling the blankets up over him, “and I don’t know how we are going to come out. There are rebels all around us, and if they are as bad down here as they are up in Tennessee there won’t one of us come through alive. But I am armed, and I’ll see that some of them get as good as they send.”
It was daylight when Leon awoke, and after washing his hands and face in a basin outside the door he stood in front of the fireplace, before which the woman was engaged in cooking the breakfast, and looked up at the man’s rifle, which hung on some wooden pegs over the mantel. It was an ordinary muzzle-loading thing, and didn’t look as though it had been the death of anybody.
“That rifle has been too much for half a dozen men,” said the woman.
“Why, how did that happen?” asked Leon.
“It happened when they came to burn us out,” answered the woman. “They came one 31night and tried to call Josiah to the door, but he would not go. He took his rifle down, but he wouldn’t shoot until they did, and as he is a good shot, he hit every time. The next day we had to move, for they came with a larger body of men.”
“There is one thing that makes me think you are in a bad place,” said Leon. “You are right here close to the river which separates the two counties, and if anybody makes a raid over here they will strike you, sure. I think if that convention is held you had better come down to our place. We have room enough there to stow you away.”
“Oh, thank you. Perhaps you had better speak to Josiah about it.”
Josiah was out attending to his horses and cow, and Leon went out to him. He looked at him with more respect than he did the night before, for, in addition to burning the bridges, he had “got the better” of half a dozen men. He bade Leon a hearty good-morning, but the boy noticed that all the while he kept talking to him he kept his eyes fastened on the woods. Probably it was from 32the force of habit. He agreed with Leon that they were in a bad place to meet raids, and promised that after the convention came off he would see what he could do. He didn’t want to trespass on anybody until he had to.
Breakfast over, Leon brought his horse to the door, put on his saddle and bridle and bid good-bye to the family from Tennessee, and rode off. He was two days more on his route, and on the third day he turned his horse toward home. He reached it without any mishap, and his mother was glad to see him, judging by the hug she gave him. His father had arrived the night before, but the stories he had to tell didn’t compare with Leon’s. Of course his mother was shocked when she learned that Josiah (Leon did not know what else to call him) had shot so many men before he left Tennessee, but she readily agreed to shelter his wife and children.
“I never thought to ask him his name,” said Leon, “but I will ask him down to the convention. He was dead in favor of it, and said he would be there. I tell you that man 33has passed through a heap. He couldn’t talk to me without running his eyes over the woods to see if there was anybody coming.”
On the next day but one was the time of the convention, and at an early hour Mr. Sprague and Leon mounted their horses and set out for Ellisville. On the way they picked up a good many more, both afoot and on horseback, and by the time they reached their destination they numbered fifty or more. They made their way at once to the church, and found themselves surrounded by a formidable body of men, all of whom were armed with rifles. There must have been a thousand men there, and there was not a secessionist to be seen in the party. Shortly afterward Nathan Knight arrived. He bid good-morning to the people right and left, and went into the church, whither he was followed by all the building would hold. Those who couldn’t get in raised the windows on the outside and settled themselves down to hear what was going to happen.
Nathan Knight was a large man, with gray whiskers and an eye that seemed to look right 34through you. But for all that his face was kindly, and if you got broken up in business and wanted help, Nathan Knight was the man to go to. He took his seat in the pulpit, just where he knew the folks would send him, took off his hat and drew his handkerchief across his forehead. His meeting was not conducted according to order, but those who were there understood it.
“Gentlemen will please come to order,” said he. “Are there any of us who are opposed to taking this county out of the State of Mississippi? If there is, let him now speak or hereafter hold his peace.”
Each man gazed into the face of his neighbor; but each one knew that the one he looked at was as much in favor of secession as he was himself. Finally, some one in the back part of the church called out:
“Nathan, there ain’t nary a rebel here.”
“I am glad to hear it,” said Mr. Knight. “But there are some around in the county, and you want to be careful how you deal with them. I will now appoint a committee of six to draw up a series of resolutions of secession. 35They will go over to the hotel and come back when they get done.”
Mr. Knight had evidently been thinking of this matter before for he appointed the committee without hesitation, and among them was the name of Mr. Sprague. They were all men who would not say a thing they did not mean, and as they were about to go out the president beckoned Mr. Sprague to his desk and placed a piece of paper in his hands.
“There’s some resolutions I drew up after thinking the matter over,” said he. “Perhaps it will serve as a model to you. You can amend them or leave them out entirely, as suits you best.”
When the committee had retired Mr. Knight got up, and for the next half-hour proceeded to arraign the Confederate States and praise the Union, his remarks calling forth loud and long-continued applause. He took the ground that it was a “geographical impossibility” to conquer Jones county, because, the inhabitants being lumbermen, it would be easy for them to slip into the woods, and when there nobody but a raftsman could find 36them. He kept his speech going until the committee were seen coming back. Mr. Sprague made his way to the desk, and amid the most impressive silence read the resolutions of secession as follows:
Whereas, The State of Mississippi has seen fit to withdraw from the Federal Union for reasons which appear justifiable;
And whereas, We, the citizens of Jones county, claim the same right, thinking our grievances are sufficient by reason of an unjust law passed by Congress of the Confederate States of America, forcing us to go to distant parts, etc., etc.;
Therefore be it resolved, That we sever the union heretofore existing between Jones county and the State of Mississippi, and proclaim our independence of said State and the Confederate States of America; and we solemnly call upon Almighty God to witness and bless such act.
When Mr. Sprague ceased reading, the applause which shook the building was long and loud. Not satisfied with that, some of the raftsmen fired off their guns, and for the next five or ten minutes it was impossible to do anything inside the church. By that time the excitement had somewhat died out, and 37then the president asked if there was any debate on the matter, but no one had anything to say. Knowing that those six men had the good of the county at heart, there was not one who had anything to say against them. Mr. Knight expressed himself pleased, and was about to announce that the resolutions were passed, when somebody on the outside of the building called out:
“Nathan, here’s a couple of rebels out here.”
“What are they doing out there?” asked the president, in surprise.
“I don’t know. They have just come up here. It looks to me like they were going to recruit.”
“Well, fetch them in here. Now, boys, not a word out of you. I will do the talking, and if you have any questions to ask, you can ask them; but don’t all talk at once.”
Mr. Knight settled back in his chair and the most profound silence ensued. Finally the crowd about the door gave way as the rebels and their escort approached, and the Confederates, seeing so many men standing there with their hats all off, courteously took 38off their own. They kept on until they got up to the desk, and then Mr. Knight drew up chairs for them to be seated.
“Now, gentlemen, what brought you up here?” asked the president.
“We came up here to recruit,” replied the ranking officer. “I am glad to see so many of you here, for it will save us the trouble of hunting you up.”
“Will you be kind enough to read that?” said Mr. Knight, unfolding the paper on which the resolutions were written and passing it over to the officer.
The official took the paper, and as he read his eyes opened with surprise. When he had got through with it he passed it over to his subordinate, and then turned and looked at the men near him. He was satisfied that there was not a man there who did not believe every word of those resolutions. The officer had nothing to fear now—he was the first recruiting official that ever came there—but after he got away he would not come back at any price.
“These are not all your men?” said he.
39“No, sir. We have not more than three hundred men, but these extra parties have come in with their families at odd times. And every man you see is a Union man.”
“My friend, you are making a great mistake,” began the officer.
“We are ready to stand by it, sir.”
“Do you suppose the Confederates will stand by and allow you to take this county out of the State, to be an odd sheep in the flock?” continued the officer. “The first thing you know you will be overrun with men, and you won’t have a house to go into.”
“What will we be doing all that time?”
“Oh, I suppose you will fight, but it won’t do you any good. The Confederates can send twenty thousand men in here.”
“We don’t care if they send forty thousand,” replied the president. “Whatever you send we’ll fight.”
The men who were crowded in the church and gathered about the windows couldn’t stand it any longer. They broke out into loud applause, which continued for some minutes. 40When they got through, the officer evidently thought they were in earnest.
“We have a thousand men here, and when we get into the swamp we are willing to meet five thousand,” continued Mr. Knight. “You can’t conquer us.”
“What will you do for grub?”
“We’ll steal it,” shouted one of the men; and the answer was so droll and corresponded so entirely with the thoughts of the men who were standing around, that the whole assembly burst into laughter. Even the enrolling officers joined in.
“I suppose you can do that, of course,” said he, “but supposing the escort is too strong to be successfully attacked?”
“We don’t borrow any trouble on that score,” said Mr. Knight. “We haven’t got all the men we are going to have. You see how they are coming in now. But you are interrupting us, and we shall have to bid you good-bye. You see very plainly that you can’t raise any men here for the Confederate army. Another thing we’ll tell you, you are the first to come in, and you will be the last to go out.”
41“Do you mean to say that you will kill any enrolling officers who come here?”
“That’s just what I mean to say. We don’t want them here.”
“Well,” said the official, rising to his feet, “we’ll go, but we won’t be the last officers to come in here. I will tell you that very plainly. You mustn’t think that the Confederates are going to allow you to have your own way in this matter. It beats anything I ever heard of.”
“We are aware of that, and that’s what makes us think we are going to go through with it. I will bid you good-bye, gentlemen.”
The men divided right and left to allow the rebels a chance to get out, and when they had passed out beyond the door the president proceeded to call the meeting to order.
“I am pleased with the way you obeyed my commands,” said Mr. Knight. “If you will obey as promptly as that, we are going to be hard to whip. The next thing is to elect a president.”
“I nominate Nathan Knight as president of the Jones County Confederacy,” shouted a man near the door.
42“We ought to have a ballot for that,” said Mr. Knight.
“We don’t need no ballot. It takes too much time. Can I get a second to that?”
He could and he did. It seemed as if every man in the house seconded the motion. Mr. Sprague put the vote before the house, and it was carried unanimously. Mr. Knight did not stop to make a speech, but said the next vote would be for vice-president, and Mr. Sprague was nominated.
“Hold on, there,” shouted a voice. “We don’t want Mr. Sprague for vice-president. We want him for secretary of war. If there is any man who can put us fellows where we can do the most good in a fight Mr. Sprague is the chap.”
And so it was all through the convention. There wasn’t a ballot taken for anything, and no man thought of declining an office. By four o’clock the work was all done, and then Mr. Knight thought of something else.
“There is one thing more that I want the convention to decide on,” said he. “It is a ticklish piece of business, but we have got 43to do it. Jeff Davis has been making things very uncomfortable for our fellows out there in the Confederacy by telling them that they have got to light out or go into the army; now, what’s to hinder us from doing the same thing? There are many rebels about here—”
“And I say let’s get rid of them,” said a voice. “I know one fellow who is going around all the time talking secession, and if the meeting says the word I’ll go to him and tell him he had better dig out. The county will be a heap happier if he ain’t in it.”
“Let’s all go in a body,” said another voice.
“That’s what I say,” said a chorus of half a dozen men.
“I think myself that would be the better way,” said the president. “If a lot of us get together and call upon a man, he will think we are in dead earnest. Give them time to take what they want, and then escort them out of the county. Don’t leave a rebel behind you. There being no further business, the convention stands adjourned, to meet again upon call.”
And where was Leon Sprague all this time? He was sitting in the front seat, where he 44could hear all that was going on. He felt proud when his father was elected secretary of war. He supposed, of course, that it was his business to post men in battle, but he learned better after a while. He was particularly anxious about escorting the rebels out of the county, and as soon as the convention adjourned he hurried out to find Tom Howe. As he was hurrying through the door, whom should he run against but Josiah—the “man who had seen a heap,” and who “got the best of half a dozen men.” He stood with his rifle hugged up close to him as if it were an old friend and he did not want to part from it.
CHAPTER III. “A WORD IN YOUR EAR.”
“Why, Josiah, I am glad to see you,” said Leon, advancing and shaking hands with the man. “The rebels haven’t raided you yet? Look here, what is your name? I forgot to ask you when I was up to your house.”
“Giddings—Josiah Giddings,” answered the man. “No, the rebels have not raided me yet, but I am mighty dubious about them.”
“Well, I want to make you acquainted with my father,” said Leon. “He will give your wife protection at his house. We have a negro cabin there that is much more comfortable than the one you live in now, for it doesn’t leak. And there is plenty of pasturage there for your horse and cow.”
Leon drew up alongside of Giddings and in a few minutes his father came out. The introduction was given, and after a few commonplace 46remarks Mr. Sprague inquired how he liked the resolutions.
“They ain’t strong enough,” said Giddings. “If you had two brothers in jail waiting for their death-warrant, I reckon you would put in more language than you did.”
“Where is that?” inquired Mr. Knight, who came out just at that moment.
“Up in Tennessee mountains. My brothers were engaged in bridge burning, and now they have got to suffer death for it.”
Leon waited just long enough to see that Giddings was in a fair way to make the acquaintance of the principal men of the county, and then hastened out to find Tom Howe. After looking all about, he discovered him sitting under the shade of an oak eating a lunch.
“Hallo, Leon; have some,” was the way in which he greeted the new-comer. “It’s mighty good, I tell you—chicken and apple pie.”
“A person to look at your lunch wouldn’t think that we Union fellows would be so hard up for grub,” said Leon, seating himself on the ground by Tom’s side. “You heard 47what that man said, in reply to the enrolling officer, that if we got short of provisions we would steal them? But I want to talk to you about driving those rebels away from here.”
“I know one who will get out of the county with once telling,” said Tom.
“Who is it?”
“That’s just the fellow I was thinking of,” said Leon, spitefully. “He told me the other day that if we ran into the swamp it would not take him long to show them where we were.”
“And he told me that he wished I had been smashed up in that jam while I was about it, for then there would be one Union man less in the world,” said Tom. “I’ll never forget him for that.”
“Well, you come around to the house early to-morrow morning, and we will go up and send him off. I see father is getting ready to go home, so I must go. So-long.”
Leon mounted his horse and started on a lope after his father, but when he came up with him he found him surrounded by a lot 48of men and boys who were talking loudly of the secession resolutions, finding no end of fault with the Confederate Government, and praising the Union.
“They won’t get me, no matter which way they turn,” said one of the men, who lived away off in the swamp. “I live two miles from everybody, and right there is where the fight is going to take place. The river in front of my house is so narrow that you can throw a stone across it anywhere, and for a mile above and below the house it spreads out into a swamp that they couldn’t get across to save their necks.”
“So you really think there is going to be a fight, do you?” inquired Mr. Sprague.
“Oh, sure. It’s just as that enrolling officer said. The Confederates ain’t a-going to leave us to be the black sheep in the flock. We are going to see some fun before we get through with this.”
That was the opinion of all the men, and they concluded, too, that the best place to hold the fight would be right there in front of this man’s house. “But I’ll tell you what’s a fact,” 49said Giddings, “you will have to look out for your wife and children. The rebels will make short work of them if they get hold of them.”
“The swamp is big,” said the man. “If they get out in there I will risk the rebels getting hold of them.”
Then men and boys dropped off one after the other when they came to the cross-roads that led to their homes, and by the time Mr. Sprague reached his home there were but few men besides Giddings left. The latter got off his horse at the gate and went in to take a view of the cabin in which Mr. Sprague told him he could live until the trouble was all over, and he straightway came to the conclusion that it was a much better house than the one he now occupied.
“You see there was nobody there to tell me that I could go into that house or I could stay out of it,” said Giddings. “It wasn’t occupied, and so I went into it, and sometimes when it rains you might just as well be outside. If it suits you, I will come here to-morrow.”
Mr. Sprague told him that the sooner he 50came the better; but Giddings declined an invitation to supper, because he knew his wife was waiting for him, so he got on his horse and rode off.
“It kinder runs in my mind that that man Giddings will be a good fellow to tie to,” said Mr. Sprague, as he drew his chair up to the table. “There’s no end to the way he hates the rebels, and it’s my opinion that when he shoots at them he will shoot to kill.”
“But do you really think there is going to be a fight?” inquired his wife. She asked this in a very indifferent manner, as if she did not care whether it came or not. She had got used to thinking of such things.
Mr. Sprague, by way of reply, told her all about the convention, and described to her the visit of the enrolling officers who had come up there to enlist men for the Confederate army.
“Did they get any?” inquired Mrs. Sprague.
“Not much. There were a thousand men there under arms, and that is rather more than two men want to handle. They know all about our plans, for Knight showed them the 51resolutions. Of course, they are going back to their headquarters, and are going to make a fuss about it.”
“I tell you it won’t be long now before we shall see some Confederate soldiers up here, and I wonder if I dare shoot at any of them?” said Leon. “If they will let me alone I believe I’ll let them alone.”
“How about those rebels that we are going to drive away from here to-morrow?” asked his father. “I think I have heard you say something pretty rough against Carl Swayne.”
“Well, that’s a different matter. Carl won’t let me alone, and I am determined that hereafter I am going to live in peace. He told Tom Howe that he wished he had been jammed up in that log heap, and I don’t like to have people talk that way.”
Early the next morning Mr. Sprague’s family were up and stirring. Leon was surprised when he looked at his father. There was a determined expression on his face, and the boy became aware that he was about to engage in an enterprise that promised at some future time to bring him no end of trouble. 52Leon took his cue from it, and from that time he was not so joyous as he had been. He took his revolver out, shot it at a mark, and then proceeded to load it very carefully. There was only a man and a boy and two women in the family he intended to send out of the county, and Leon could not understand that determined look on his father’s face. When he sat down at the breakfast-table he asked him about it.
“Father, you seem to think you are going to have a handful in sending that Swayne family away from among their friends,” said he. “What do you look for?”
“I don’t look for anything now,” said Mr. Sprague. “There will be a time when they will come back. Old man Swayne is a fighter, and it will stand us well in hand to get rid of him entirely.”
The conversation was dropped there, and they ate breakfast in silence. Before it was fairly ended the five men on whom Mr. Sprague was depending to assist him stepped up on the porch and came into the house. They were all invited to sit down and take 53another breakfast, but all declined, having broken their fast several hours before.
“You see, Mrs. Sprague, we got an order from the Secretary of War, and we’ve got to be on hand,” said one of the men. “It would not do to go back on anything he tells us.”
“I don’t know what they put me in for that office for,” said Mr. Sprague. “I don’t see that I have got anything to do.”
“Well, wait until it comes to fighting, and then you will find plenty to do. Now if you are all ready we’ll go on,” said the man, forgetting that he was giving orders to his superior officer. “We can’t get rid of that Swayne family any too quick. They’re all the time boasting and bragging of what they intend to do, and now we will give them a chance.”
Leon found opportunity to kiss his mother good-bye, and when he went out on the porch, where Tom Howe was sitting and waiting for him, they fell in behind the men, who shouldered their rifles and marched at a brisk pace toward Mr. Swayne’s house. There was no attempt at military movement, for there was not one in the party who knew anything 54about it, but they went ahead just as if they were going hog-hunting in the woods. In due time they came to a cross-roads which led down to Swayne’s house, and here they stopped, for there was something that drew their attention and angered them not a little. Before they left Ellisville, on the day of the convention, Mr. Knight had given several copies of the resolutions to men living in different parts of the county, with the request that they should nail them up on trees (there was no printing-press in the county), in order to give those who were not there timely notice of what they had done. The man who served this notice performed his duty, for the tacks were in the tree plain enough, but it hadn’t been able to do much good. The notice had been torn down and the pieces scattered about on the ground.
“Well, I do think in my soul!” began one of the men, “he wasn’t going to let anybody see it, was he?”
“Look here,” exclaimed Leon, who had grown wonderfully sharp sighted of late; “I know who did it. It was that miserable Carl 55Swayne. Do you not see his footprints here in the dust?”
“That’s so. Now what shall we do with him? Sprague, you are Secretary of War, and you ought to be able to say what shall be done with him. Knight never thought yesterday, when he gave out those resolutions, that somebody would go to work and pull them down.”
Meanwhile Leon had been busy gathering up the torn fragments of the resolution that were scattered around. When he got them together he compared them and saw they were all there.
“I’ll fix him,” said he. “And I’ll make him so sorry that he ever tore this down that he’ll go by a resolution the next time he sees it.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’ll make him write it over again and come here and put it up,” said Leon, savagely.
“That’s the idea,” said Tom Howe. “He pulled it down, and of course he must put it up. I’ll be close at your heels when you are doing it.”
Mr. Sprague said nothing, but Leon noticed 56that the look on his face got deeper than ever. He led the way at increased speed toward Swayne’s house, and in a few minutes turned through the carriageway and saw Mr. Swayne and his nephew, Carl, sitting on the front porch. They evidently grew alarmed at seeing them, for they arose from their chairs and held on to the backs of them.
“Good morning,” said Swayne, and his voice trembled and his hand shook as he hauled up some chairs for them to seat themselves. “I did not expect to see so many of you here this fine morning.”
“We have no time to sit down,” said Mr. Sprague, who was supposed to do all the talking. “You are a rebel, are you not?”
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