With Lee in Virginia by G. A. Henty
Chapter VI. Bull Run.
The next fortnight passed by without adventure. Hard as the work was, Vincent enjoyed it thoroughly. When on duty by day he was constantly on the move, riding through the forest, following country lanes, questioning every one he came across; and as the men always worked in pairs, there was no feeling of loneliness. Sometimes Ashley would draw together a score of troopers, and crossing the river in a ferryboat, would ride twenty miles north, and, dashing into quiet villages, astonish the inhabitants by the sight of the Confederate uniform. Then the villagers would be questioned as to the news that had reached them of the movement of the troops; the post office would be seized and the letters broken open; any useful information contained in them being noted. But in general questions were readily answered; for a considerable portion of the people of Maryland were strongly in favor of the South, and were only prevented from joining it by the strong force that held possession of Baltimore, and by the constant movement of Federal armies through the State. Vincent was often employed in carrying despatches from Major Ashley to Stuart, being selected for that duty as being the best mounted man in the troop. The direction was always a vague one. "Take this letter to Colonel Stuart, wherever he may be," and however early he started, Vincent thought himself fortunate if he carried out his mission before sunset; for Stuart's front covered over fifty miles of ground, and there was no saying where he might be. Sometimes after riding thirty or forty miles, and getting occasional news that Stuart had passed through ahead of him, he would learn from some outpost that the colonel had been there but ten minutes before, and had ridden off before he came, and then Vincent had to turn his horse and gallop back again, seldom succeeding in overtaking his active commander until the latter had halted for his supper at one or other of the villages where his men were stationed. Sometimes by good luck he came upon him earlier, and then, after reading the despatch, Stuart would, if he were riding in the direction where Ashley's command lay, bid him ride on with him, and would chat with him on terms of friendly intimacy about people they both knew at Richmond, or as to the details of his work, and sometimes they would sit down together under the shade of some trees, take out the contents of their haversacks, and share their dinners.
This is the second time I have had the best of this," the colonel laughed one day; "my beef is as hard as leather, and this cold chicken of yours is as plump and tender as one could wish to eat."
"I have my own boy, colonel, who looks after the ten of us stationed at Elmside, and I fancy that in the matter of cold rations he gives me an undue preference. He always hands me my haversack when I mount with a grin, and I quite understand that it is better I should ask no questions as to its contents."
"You are a lucky fellow," Stuart said. "My own servant is a good man, and would do anything for me; but my irregular hours are too much for him. He never knows when to expect me; and as he often finds that when I do return I have made a meal an hour before at one of the outposts, and do not want the food he has for hours been carefully keeping hot for me, it drives him almost to despair, and I have sometimes been obliged to eat rather than disappoint him. But he certainly has not a genius for cooking, and were it not that this riding gives one the appetite of a hunter, I should often have a good deal of difficulty in devouring the meat he puts into my haversack."
But the enemy were now really advancing, and on the 12th of June a trooper rode in from the extreme left, and handed to Vincent a despatch from Colonel Stuart.
"My orders were," he said, "that, if you were here, you were to carry this on at all speed to General Johnston. If not, some one else was to take it on."
"Any news?" Vincent asked, as aided by Dan he rapidly saddled Wildfire.
"Yes," the soldier said; "2,000 of the enemy have advanced up the Western side and have occupied Romney, and they say that all Patterson's force is on the move."
"So much the better," Vincent replied, as he jumped into the saddle. "We have been doing nothing long enough, and the sooner it comes the better."
It was a fifty-mile ride; but it was done in five hours, and at the end of that time Vincent dismounted in front of General Johnston's quarters.
"Is the general in?" he asked the sentry at the door.
"No, he is not in; but here he comes," the soldier replied, and two minutes later the general, accompanied by three or four officers, rode up.
Vincent saluted, and handed him the despatch. The general opened it and glanced at the contents.
"The storm is going to burst at last, gentlemen," he said to the officers. "Stuart writes me that 2,000 men, supposed to be the advance of McClellan's army, are at Romney, and that he hears Patterson is also advancing from Chambersburg on Williamsport. His despatch is dated this morning at nine o'clock. He writes from near Cumberland. No time has been lost, for that is eighty miles away, and it is but five o'clock now. How far have you brought this despatch, sir?"
"I have brought it from Elmside, general; twenty miles on the other side of Bath. A trooper brought it in just at midday, with orders for me to carry it on at once."
"That is good work," the general said. "You have ridden over fifty miles in five hours. You must be well mounted, sir."
"I do not think there is a better horse in the State," Vincent said, patting Wildfire's neck.
The general called an orderly.
"Let this man picket his horse with those of the staff," he said, "and see that it has forage at once. Take the man to the orderly's quarters, and see that he is well cared for."
Vincent saluted, and, leading Wildfire, followed the orderly. When he had had a meal, he strolled out to see what was going on. Evidently some movement was in contemplation. Officers were riding up or dashing off from the general's headquarters. Two or three regiments were seen marching down from the plateau on which they were encamped into the town. Bells rang and drums beat, and presently long trains of railway wagons, heavily laden, began to make their way across the bridge. Until next morning the movement continued unceasingly; by that time all the military stores and public property, together with as much private property belonging to inhabitants who had decided to forsake their homes for a time rather than to remain there when the town was occupied by the enemy, as could be carried on in the available wagons, had been taken across the bridge. A party of engineers, who had been all night hard at work, then set fire both to the railway bridge across the river and the public buildings in the town. The main body of troops had moved across in the evening. The rear-guard passed when all was in readiness for the destruction of the bridge.
General Johnston had been preparing for the movement for some time; he had foreseen that the position must be evacuated as soon as the enemy began to advance upon either of his flanks, and a considerable portion of his baggage and military stores had some time previously been sent into the interior of Virginia. The troops, formed up on the high grounds south of the river, looked in silence at the dense volumes of smoke rising. This was the reality of war. Hitherto their military work had been no more than that to which many of them were accustomed when called out with the militia of their State; but the scene of destruction on which they now gazed brought home to them that the struggle was a serious one-that it was war in its stern reality which had now begun.
The troops at once set off on their march, and at night bivouacked in the woods around Charlestown. The next day they pushed across the country and took up a position covering Winchester; and then the enemy, finding that Johnston's army was in front of them ready to dispute their advance, recrossed the river, and Johnston concentrated his force round Winchester.
Vincent joined his corps on the same afternoon that the infantry marched out from Harper's Ferry, the general sending him forward with despatches as soon as the troops had got into motion.
"You will find Colonel Stuart in front of the enemy; but more than that I cannot tell you."
This was quite enough for Vincent, who found the cavalry scouting close to Patterson's force, prepared to attack the enemy's cavalry should it advance to reconnoiter the country, and to blow up bridges across streams, fell trees, and take every possible measure to delay the advance of Patterson's army, in its attempt to push on toward Winchester before the arrival of General Johnston's force upon the scene.
"I am glad to see you back, Wingfield," Major Ashley said, as he rode up. "The colonel tells me that in the despatch he got last night from Johnston the general said that Stuart's information had reached in a remarkably short time, having been carried with great speed by the orderly in charge of the duty. We have scarcely been out of our saddles since you left. However, I think we have been of use, for we have been busy all round the enemy since we arrived here in the afternoon, and I fancy he must think us a good deal stronger than we are. At any rate, he has not pushed his cavalry forward at all; and, as you say Johnston will be up to-morrow afternoon. Winchester is safe anyhow."
After the Federals had recrossed the river, and Johnston had taken up his position round Winchester, the cavalry returned to their old work of scouting along the Potomac.
On the 20th of June movements of considerable bodies of the enemy were noticed; and Johnston at once despatched Jackson with his brigade to Martinsburg, with orders to send as much of the rolling-stock of the railroad as could be removed to Winchester, to destroy the rest, and to support Stuart's cavalry when they advanced. A number of locomotives were sent to Winchester along the highroad, drawn by teams of horses. Forty engines and 300 cars were burned or destroyed, and Jackson then advanced and took up his position on the road to Williamsport, the cavalry camp being a little in advance of him. This was pleasant for Vincent, as when off duty he spent his time with his friends and schoolfellows in Jackson's brigade.
On the 2d of July the scouts rode into camp with the news that a strong force was advancing from Williamsport. Jackson at once advanced with the 5th Virginia Infantry, numbering 380 men and one gun, while Stuart, with 100 cavalry, started to make a circuitous route, and harassed the flank and rear of the enemy. There was no intention on the part of Jackson of fighting a battle, his orders being merely to feel the enemy; whose strength was far too great to be withstood even had he brought his whole brigade into action, for they numbered three brigades of infantry, 500 cavalry, and some artillery.
For some hours the little Confederate force skirmished so boldly that they checked the advance of the enemy, whose general naturally supposed that he had before him the advanced guard of a strong force, and therefore moved forward with great caution. Then the Confederates, being threatened on both flanks by the masses of the Federals, fell back in good order. The loss was very trifling on either side, but the fact that so small a force had for hours checked the advance of an army greatly raised the spirits and confidence of the Confederates. Stuart's small cavalry force, coming down upon the enemy's rear, captured a good many prisoners-Colonel Stuart himself capturing forty-four infantry. Riding some distance ahead of his troop to find out the position of the enemy, he came upon a company of Federal infantry sitting down in a field, having no idea whatever that any Confederate force was in the neighborhood. Stuart did not hesitate a moment, but riding up to them shouted the order, "Throw down your arms, or you are all dead men." Believing themselves surrounded, the Federals threw down their arms, and when the Confederate cavalry came up were marched off as prisoners.
Jackson, on reaching his camp, struck his tents and sent them to the rear, and formed up his whole brigade in order of battle. The Federals, however, instead of attacking, continued their flank movement, and Jackson fell back through Martinsburg and halted for the night a mile beyond the town.
Next day he again retired, and was joined six miles further on by Johnston's whole force. For four days the little army held its position, prepared to give battle if the enemy advanced; but the Federals, though greatly superior in numbers, remained immovable at Martinsburg, and Johnston, to the great disgust of his troops, retired to Winchester. The soldiers were longing to meet the invaders in battle, but their general had to bear in mind that the force under his command might at any moment be urgently required to join the main Confederate army and aid in opposing the Northern advance upon Richmond.
Stuart's cavalry kept him constantly informed of the strength of the enemy gathering in his front. Making circuits round Martinsburg, they learned from the farmers what numbers of troops each day came along; and while the Federals knew nothing of the force opposed to them, and believed that it far outnumbered their own, General Johnston knew that Patterson's force numbered about 22,000 men, while he himself had been joined only by some 3,000 men since he arrived at Winchester.
On the 18th of July a telegram from the government at Richmond announced that the Federal grand army had driven in General Beauregard's pickets at Manassas, and had begun to advance, and Johnston was directed if possible to hasten to his assistance. A few earthworks had been thrown up at Winchester, and some guns mounted upon them, and the town was left under the protection of the local militia. Stuart's cavalry was posted in a long line across the country to prevent any news of the movement reaching the enemy. As soon as this was done the infantry, 8,300 strong, marched off. The troops were in high spirits now, for they knew that their long period of inactivity was over, and that, although ignorant when and where, they were on their march to meet the enemy.
They had no wagons or rations, the need for speed was too urgent even to permit of food being cooked. Without a halt they pressed forward steadily, and after two days' march, exhausted and half famished, they reached the Manassas Gap Railroad. There they were put into trains as fast as these could be prepared, and by noon on the 20th joined Beauregard at Manassas. The cavalry had performed their duty of preventing the news of the movement from reaching the enemy until the infantry were nearly a day's march away, and then Stuart reassembled his men and followed Johnston. Thus the Confederate plans had been completely successful. Over 30,000 of the enemy, instead of being in line of battle with the main army, were detained before Winchester, while the little Confederate force who had been facing them had reached Beauregard in time to take part in the approaching struggle.
In the North no doubt as to the power of the grand array to make its way to Richmond was entertained. The troops were armed with the best weapons obtainable, the artillery was numerous and excellent, the army was fed with every luxury, and so confident were the men of success that they regarded the whole affair in the light of a great picnic. The grand army numbered 55,000 men, with 9 regiments of cavalry and 49 rifle-guns. To oppose these, the Confederate force, after the arrival of Johnston's army, numbered 27,833 infantry, 35 smooth-bored guns, and 500 cavalry. Many of the infantry were armed only with shot-guns and old fowling-pieces, and the guns were small and ill-supplied with ammunition. There had been some sharp fighting on the 18th, and the Federal advance across the river of Bull Run had been sharply repulsed; therefore their generals determined, instead of making a direct attack on the 31st against the Confederate position, to take a wide sweep round, cross the river higher up, and falling upon the Confederate left flank, to crumple it up.
All night the Federal troops had marched, and at day-break on the 21st nearly 40,000 men were in position on the left flank of the Confederates. The latter were not taken by surprise when Stuart's cavalry brought in news of the Federal movement, and General Beauregard, instead of moving his troops toward the threatened point, sent orders to General Longstreet on the right to cross the river as soon as the battle began, and to fall upon the Federal flank and rear.
Had this movement been carried out, the destruction of the Federal army would have been complete; but by one of those unfortunate accidents which so frequently occur in war and upset the best laid plans, the order in some way never came to hand, and when late in the day the error was discovered it was too late to remedy it.
At eight o'clock in the morning two of the Federal divisions reached the river, and while one of them engaged the Confederate force stationed at the bridge, another crossed the river at a ford. Colonel Evans, who commanded the Confederate forces, which numbered but fifteen companies, left 200 men to continue to hold the bridge, while with 800 he hurried to oppose General Hunter's division, which had crossed at the ford.
This consisted of 16,000 infantry, with cavalry and artillery, and another division of equal force had crossed at the Red House ford higher up. To check so great a force with this handful of men seemed all but impossible; but Colonel Evans determined to hold his ground to the last, to enable his general to bring up reinforcements. His force consisted of men of South Carolina and Louisiana, and they contested every foot of the ground.
The regiment which formed the advance of the Federals charged, supported by an artillery fire, but was repulsed. As the heavy Federal line advanced, however, the Confederates were slowly but steadily pressed back, until General Bee, with four regiments and a battery of artillery, came up to their assistance. The newcomers threw themselves into the fight with great gallantry, and maintained their ground until almost annihilated by the fire of the enemy, who outnumbered them by five to one. As, fighting desperately, they fell back before Hunter's division, the Federals who had crossed at Red House Ford suddenly poured down and took them in flank.
Swept by a terrible musketry fire, these troops could no longer resist, and in spite of the efforts of their general, who rode among them imploring them to stand firm until aid arrived, they began to fall back. Neither entreaties nor commands were of avail; the troops had done all that they could, and broken and disheartened they retreated in great confusion. But at this moment, when all seemed lost, a line of glittering bayonets was seen coming over the hill behind, and the general, riding off in haste toward them, found Jackson advancing with the first brigade.
Unmoved by the rush of the fugitives of the brigades of Bee and Evans, Jackson moved steadily forward, and so firm and resolute was their demeanor, that Bee rode after his men, and pointing with his sword to the first brigade, shouted, "Look, there is Jackson standing like a stonewall" The general's words were repeated, and henceforth the brigade was known as the Stonewall Brigade, and their general by the nickname of Stonewall Jackson, by which he was ever afterward known. The greater part of the fugitives rallied, and took up their position on the right of Jackson, and the Federal forces, who were hurrying forward assured of victory, found themselves confronted suddenly by 2,000 bayonets. After a moment's pause they pressed forward again, the artillery preparing a way for them by a tremendous fire.
Jackson ordered his men to lie down until the enemy arrived within fifty yards, and then to charge with the bayonet. Just at this moment Generals Johnston and Beauregard arrived on the spot, and at once seeing the desperate nature of the situation, and the whole Federal army pressing forward against a single brigade, they did their best to prepare to meet the storm. First they galloped up and down the disordered lines of Bee, exhorting the men to stand firm; and seizing the colors of the 4th Alabama, Johnston led them forward and formed them up under fire.
Beauregard hurried up some reinforcements and formed them on the left of Jackson, and thus 6,500 infantry and artillery, and Stuart's two troops of cavalry, stood face to face with more than 20,000 infantry and seven troops of regular cavalry, behind whom at the lower fords were 35,000 men in reserve. While his men were lying down awaiting the attack, Jackson rode backward and forward in front of them as calm and as unconcerned to all appearance as if on the parade ground, and his quiet bravery greatly nerved and encouraged the young troops.
All at once the tremendous artillery fire of the enemy ceased, and their infantry came on in massive lines. The four Confederate guns poured in their fire and then withdrew behind the infantry. When the line came within fifty yards of him, Jackson gave the word, his men sprang to their feet, poured in a heavy volley, and then charged. A wild yell rose from both ranks as they closed, and then they were mingled in a desperate conflict. For a time all was in wild confusion, but the ardor and courage of Jackson's men prevailed, and they burst through the center of the Federal line.
Immediately Jackson had charged, Beauregard sent forward the rest of the troops, and for a time a tremendous struggle took place along the whole line. Generals Bee and Barlow fell mortally wounded at the head of their troops. General Hampton was wounded, and many of the colonels fell. So numerous were the Federals, that although Jackson had pierced their center, their masses drove back his flanks and threatened to surround him. With voice and example he cheered on his men to hold their ground, and the officers closed up their ranks as they were thinned by the enemy's fire, and for an hour the struggle continued without marked advantage on either side.
Jackson's calmness was unshaken even in the excitement of the fight. At one time an officer rode up to him from another portion of the field and exclaimed, "General, I think the day is going against us!" To which Jackson replied in his usual curt manner, "If you think so, sir, you had better not say anything about it."
The resolute stand of the Confederates enabled General Beauregard to bring up fresh troops, and he at last gave the word to advance.
Jackson's brigade rushed forward on receiving the order, burst through the Federals with whom they were engaged, and, supported by the reserves, drove the enemy from the plateau. But the Federals, still vastly superior in force, brought up the reserves, and prepared to renew the attack; but 1,700 fresh men of the army of the Shenandoah came upon the field of battle, Smith and Early brought up their division from the river, and the whole Southern line advanced at the charge, drove the enemy down the slopes and on toward the fords.
A panic seized them, and their regiments broke up and took to headlong flight, which soon became an utter rout. Many of them continued their flight for hours, and for a time the Federal army ceased to exist; and had the Confederates advanced, as Jackson desired that they should do, Washington would have fallen into their hands without a blow being struck in its defense.
This, the first great battle of the war, is sometimes known as the battle of Manassas, but more generally as Bull Run.
With the exception of one or two charges, the little body of Confederate horse did not take any part in the battle of Bull Run. Had they been aware of the utter stampede of the Northern troops, they could safely have pressed forward in hot pursuit as far as Washington, but being numerically so inferior to the Federal cavalry, and in ignorance that the Northern infantry had become a mere panic-stricken mob, it would have been imprudent in the extreme for such a handful of cavalry to undertake the pursuit of an army.
Many of the Confederates were of opinion that this decisive victory would be the end of the war, and that the North, seeing that the South was able as well as willing to defend the position it had taken up, would abandon the idea of coercing it into submission. This hope was speedily dissipated. The North was indeed alike astonished and disappointed at the defeat of their army by a greatly inferior force, but instead of abandoning the struggle, they set to work to retrieve the disaster, and to place in the field a force which would, they believed, prove irresistible.
Vincent Wingfield saw but little of the battle at Bull Run. As they were impatiently waiting the order to charge while the desperate conflict between Jackson's brigade and the enemy was at its fiercest, a shell from one of the Federal batteries burst a few yards in front of the troop, and one of the pieces striking Vincent on the side hurled him insensible from his horse. He was at once lifted and carried by Dan and some of the other men-servants, who had been told off for this duty, to the rear, where the surgeons were busily engaged in dressing the wounds of the men who straggled back from the front. While the conflict lasted those unable to walk lay where they fell, for no provision had at present been made for ambulance corps, and not a single man capable of firing a musket could be spared from the ranks. The tears were flowing copiously down Dan's cheeks as he stood by while the surgeons examined Vincent's wound.
"Is he dead, sah?" he sobbed as they lifted him up from his stooping position.
"Dead." the surgeon repeated. "Can't you see he is breathing, and did you not hear him groan when I examined his side? He is a long way from being a dead man yet. Some of his ribs are broken, and he has had a very nasty blow; but I do not think there is any cause for anxiety about him. Pour a little wine down his throat, and sprinkle his face with water. Raise his head and put a coat under it, and when he opens his eyes and begins to recover, don't let him move. Then you can cut up the side of his jacket and down the sleeve, so as to get it off that side altogether. Cut his shirt open, and bathe the wound with some water and bit of rag of any sort; it is not likely to bleed much. When it has stopped bleeding put a pad of linen upon it, and keep it wet. When we can spare time we will bandage it properly."
But it was not until late at night that the time could be spared for attending to Vincent; for the surgeons were overwhelmed with work, and the most serious cases were, as far as possible, first attended to. He had soon recovered consciousness. At first he looked with a feeling of bewilderment at Dan, who was copiously sprinkling his face with water, sobbing loudly while he did so. As soon as the negro perceived that his master had opened his eyes he gave a cry of delight.
"Tank de Lord, Marse Vincent; dis child tought you dead and gone for sure."
"What's the matter, Dan? What has happened?" Vincent said, trying to move, and then stopping suddenly with a cry of pain.
"You knocked off your horse, sah, wid one of de shells of dem cussed Yanks."
"Am I badly hurt, Dan?"
"Berry bad, sah; great piece of flesh pretty nigh as big as my hand come out ob your side, and doctor says some of de ribs broken. But de doctor not seem to make much ob it; he hard sort ob man dat. Say you get all right again. No time to tend to you now. Hurry away just as if you some poor white trash instead of Massa Wingfield ob de Orangery."
Vincent smiled faintly.
"It doesn't make much difference what a man is in a surgeon's eyes, Dan; the question is how badly he is hurt, and what can be done for him? Well, thank God it's no worse. Wildfire was not hurt, I hope?"
"No, sah; he is standing tied up by dat tree. Now, sah, de doctor say me cut your jacket off and have de wound."
"All right, Dan; but be a little careful with the water, you seem to be pretty near drowning me as it is. Just wipe my face and hair, and get the handkerchief from the pocket of my jacket, and open the shirt collar and put the handkerchief inside round my neck. How is the battle going on? The roar seems louder than ever."
Dan went forward to the crest a of slight rise of the ground whence he could look down upon the field of battle, and made haste to return.
"Can't see berry well, sah; too much smoke. But dey in de same place still."
"Look round, Dan, and see if there are any fresh troops coming up."
"Yes, sah; lot of men coming ober de hill behind."
"That's all right, Dan. Now you can see about this bathing my side."
As soon as the battle was over Major Ashley rode up to where Vincent and five or six of his comrades of the cavalry were lying wounded.
"How are you getting on, lads? Pretty well I hope?" he asked the surgeon as he dismounted.
"First rate, major," one of the men answered. "We all of us took a turn as soon as we heard that the Yanks were whipped."
"Yes, we have thrashed them handsomely," the major said. "Ah, Wingfield, I am glad to see you are alive. I thought when you fell it was all over with you."
"I am not much hurt, sir," Vincent replied. "A flesh wound and some ribs are broken, I hear; but they won't be long mending I hope."
"It's a nasty wound to look at," the major said, as Dan lifted the pad of wet linen. "But with youth and health you will soon get round it, never fear."
"Ah, my poor lad, yours is a worse case," he said as he bent over a young fellow who was lying a few paces from Vincent.
"It's all up with me, major," he replied faintly; "the doctor said he could do nothing for me. But I don't mind, now we have beaten them. You will send a line to the old people, major, won't you, and say I died doing my duty? I've got two brothers, and I expect they will send one on to take my place."
"I will write to them, my lad," the major said, "and tell them all about you." He could give the lad no false hopes, for already a gray shade was stealing over the white face, and the end was close at hand; in a few minutes he ceased to breathe.
Late in the evening the surgeons, having attended to more urgent cases, came round. Vincent's wound was now more carefully examined than before, but the result was the same. Three of the ribs were badly fractured, but there was no serious danger.
"You will want quiet and good nursing for some time, my lad," the principal surgeon said. "There will be a train of wounded going off for Richmond the first thing in the morning, and you shall go by it. You had better get a door, lads," he said to some of the troopers who had come across from the spot where the cavalry were bivouacked to see how their comrades were getting on, "and carry him down and put him in the train. One has just been sent off, and another will be made up at once, so that the wounded can be put in it as they are taken down. Now I will bandage the wound, and it will not want any more attention until you get home."
A wad of lint was placed upon the wound and bandaged tightly round the body.
"Remember you have got to he perfectly quiet, and not attempt to move till the bones have knit. I am afraid that they are badly fractured, and will require some time to heal up again."
A door was fetched from an out-house near, and Vincent and two of his comrades, who were also ordered to be sent to the rear, were one by one carried down to the nearest point on the railway, where a train stood ready to receive them, and they were then laid on the seats.
All night the wounded kept arriving, and by morning the train was packed as full as it would hold, and with two or three surgeons in charge started for Richmond. Dan was permitted to accompany the train, at Vincent's urgent request, in the character of doctor's assistant, and he went about distributing water to the wounded, and assisting the surgeons in moving such as required it.
It was night before the train reached Richmond. A number of people were at the station to receive it; for as soon as the news of the battle had been received, preparations had been made for the reception of the wounded, several public buildings had been converted into hospitals, and numbers of the citizens had come forward with offers to take one or more of the wounded into their houses. The streets were crowded with people, who were wild with joy at the news of the victory which, as they believed, had secured the State from any further fear of invasion. Numbers of willing hands were in readiness to carry the wounded on stretchers to the hospitals, where all the surgeons of the town were already waiting to attend upon them.
Vincent, at his own request, was only laid upon a bed, as he said that he would go home to be nursed the first thing in the morning. This being the case it was needless to put him to the pain and trouble of being undressed. Dan had started as soon as he saw his master carried into the hospital to take the news to the Orangery, being strictly charged by Vincent to make light of his injury, and on no account whatever to alarm them. He was to ask that the carriage should come to fetch him the first thing in the morning.
It was indeed but just daybreak when Mrs. Wingfield drove up to the hospital. Dan had been so severely cross-examined that he had been obliged to give an accurate account of Vincent's injury. There was bustle and movement even at that early hour, for another train of wounded had just arrived. As she entered the hospital she gave an exclamation of pleasure, for at the door were two gentlemen in conversation, one of whom was the doctor who had long attended the family at the Orangery.
"I am glad you are here, Dr. Mapleston; for I want your opinion before I move Vincent. Have you seen him?"
"No, Mrs. Wingfield; I did not know he was here. I have charge of one of the wards, and have not had time to see who are in the others. I sincerely hope Vincent is not seriously hurt."
"That's want I want to find out, doctor. His boy brought us news late last night that he was here. He said the doctors considered that he was not in any danger; but as it seems that he had three ribs broken and a deep flesh wound from the explosion of a shell, it seems to me that it must be serious."
"I will go up and see him at once, Mrs. Wingfield, and find out from the surgeon in charge of his ward exactly what is the matter with him." Dan led the way to the bed upon which Vincent was lying. He was only dozing, and opened his eyes as they came up.
"My poor boy," Mrs. Wingfield said, struggling with her tears at the sight of his pale face, "this is sad indeed."
"It is nothing very bad, mother," Vincent replied cheerfully; "nothing at all to fret about. The wound is nothing to the injuries of most of those here. I suppose, doctor, I can be moved at once?"
Doctor Mapleston felt his pulse.
"You are feverish, my lad; but perhaps the best thing for you would be to get you home while you can be moved. You will do far better there than here. But I must speak to the surgeon in charge of you first, and hear what he says."
"Yes, I think you can move him," the surgeon of the ward said. "He has got a nasty wound, and the ticket with him said that three ribs were badly fractured; but I made no examination, as he said he would be fetched the first thing this morning. I only put on a fresh dressing and bandaged it. The sooner you get him off the better, if he is to be moved. Fever is setting in, and he will probably be wandering by this evening. He will have a much better chance at home, with cool rooms and quiet and careful nursing, than he can have here; though there would be no lack of either comforts or nurses, for half the ladies in the town have volunteered for the work, and we have offers of all the medical comforts that could be required were the list of wounded ten times as large as it is."
A stretcher was brought in, and Vincent was lifted as gently as possible upon it. Then he was carried down-stairs and the stretcher placed in the carriage, which was a large open one, and afforded just sufficient length for it. Mrs. Wingfield took her seat beside him. Dan mounted the box beside the coachman.
"I will be out in an hour, Mrs. Wingfield," Dr. Mapleston said. "I have to go round the ward again, and will then drive out at once. Give him lemonade and cooling drinks; don't let him talk. Cut his clothes off him, and keep the room somewhat dark, but with a free current of air. I will bring out some medicine with me."
The carriage drove slowly to avoid shaking, and when they approached the house Mrs. Wingfield told Dan to jump down and come to the side of her carriage. Then she told him to run on as fast as he could ahead, and to tell her daughters not to meet them upon their arrival, and that all the servants were to be kept out of the way, except three men to carry Vincent upstairs. The lad was consequently got up to his room without any excitement, and was soon lying on his bed with a sheet thrown lightly over him.
"That is comfortable," he said, as his mother bathed his face and hands and smoothed his hair. "Where are the girls, mother?"
"They will come in to see you now, Vincent; but you are to keep quite quiet you know, and not to talk." The girls stole in and said a few words, and left him alone again with Mrs. Wingfield. He did not look to them so ill as they had expected, for there was a flush of fever on his cheeks. Dr. Mapleston arrived in another half-hour, examined and redressed the wound, and comforted Mrs. Wingfield with the assurance that there was nothing in it likely to prove dangerous to life.
"Our trouble will be rather with the effect of the shock than with the wound itself. He is very feverish now, and you must not be alarmed if by this evening he is delirious. You will give him this cooling draught every three hours; he can have anything in the way of cooling drinks he likes. If he begins to wander, put cloths dipped in cold water and wrung out on his head, and sponge his hands with water with a little eau de Cologne in it. If he seems very hot set one of the women to fan him, but don't let her go on if it seems to worry him. I will come round again at half past nine this evening and will make arrangements to pass the night here. We have telegrams saying that surgeons are coming from Charleston and many other places, so I can very well be spared."
When the doctor returned in the evening, he found, as he had anticipated, that Vincent was in a high state of fever. This continued four or five days, and then gradually passed off; and he woke up one morning perfectly conscious. His mother was sitting on a chair at the bedside.
"What o'clock is it, mother?" he asked. "Have I been asleep long?"
"Some time, dear," she answered gently; "but you must not talk. You are to take this draught and to go off to sleep again; when you wake you may ask any questions you like." She lifted the lad's head, gave him the draught and some cold tea, then darkened the room, and in a few minutes he was asleep again.