Scouts and Spies of the North and South
By William Gilmore Beymer

"He was the bravest man I ever knew: General Kil­patrick also used to say that of him. But he will not talk about himself—so you may not get what you want; but come up and try." That was in the letter that sent me all the miles to see John Landegon.

He did not believe in getting into the papers—he said—and all that sort of thing; people would say, "Here's an­other old vet lying about the war"—more of that sort; he hadn't got into print, and he wouldn't now.

We led him on—or tried to—Captain Northrop and I.

"John, do you remember anything about the six Con­federates you and one of the boys captured in a barn? What about that?" And old John Landegon, with never a smile, answered, dryly:

"I was there. That was in the spring of '62, and soon after that we broke camp and marched to—"

Campaigns and dates, and the movements of armies and of corps—but never an "I" in it all, and he would have it so. Evening came—the hours I had looked for-. ward to all the long, profitless afternoon; but it seemed it was to bring only more dates, and the proper spelling of the names of officers long forgotten and long dead. Through it all, like a tortuous river-bed, empty, bone-dry, there ran his modest estimate of his service:

"I enlisted for three months in the First Regiment,

Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company D, and there I got a little notoriety cheap. How? Oh, I got a pris­oner; and so I was detailed as a headquarters scout under General Tyler; and because of that, when I re-enlisted in Company C of the Second Regiment, New York Volunteer Cavalry—better known as the 'Harris Light '—I was once more detailed as a scout, this time under Colonel Judson Kilpatrick. That was in the spring of '61, and I served with him until—" Discour­aged, I threw the note-book down, and said that I had done. There were hours to wait until the train should come and carry my ruined note-book and myself away. The time dragged; we smoked, and talked in a desultory way, and then some chance idle word impelled John Landegon to tell me his stories.

It was as though an unexpected current had carried him out of his depth, and the tide had caught him and swept him back through nearly fifty years, until he rode again in the great war. And I was with him as though I rode at his side. Sentences were whole scenes; words were sensations, emotions. He had gone back into it—was living it over again, and he had taken me along.

There was the dry griminess of dust rising in clouds from the parched Virginia roads; . . . there was the acrid smell of sweating horses and of men. .. creak of rain-soaked saddles . . . the loneliness of wind in the trees at night along dark-flowing rivers; his words brought the shimmer of heat above unfenced, untended fields . . . brought the feel of cool gray aisles in forests of Georgia pine . . . stiffened bandages . . . pungent whiffs of blue-white powder-smoke . . . the confusion and absorption of men fighting at close range—fighting to kill.

It was such a simple, boyish beginning that he made! A story to be told with chuckles, to be' listened to with smiles. So like those early, lost-to-memory days of the great war—the days when war was a pastime, a summer muster to end with a skirmish and a hoorah; the days when the first volunteers had not yet made the first veterans, and "Black-horse Cavalry," "masked bat­teries," and the "Louisiana Tigers" were specters that stalked round each camp-fire; the days before men had seen their comrades die.

They would not enlist John Landegon. He was too young, too thin, too poor food for powder. And so he saw the company of heroes march away in triumph from the little Connecticut village; they left him raging and grieving behind. He went to Waterbury; they were raising a company there. Would they enlist him? No, they would not. But the rush of the first enthusiasts slackened, applications became less frequent; the captain fumed—before he could get his company into the field the war would be over and done—would the quota never fill! The last few enlistments came in, hours apart, and the whole country-side fretted for the honor of the town—all but Landegon; each hour was bringing nearer to him his chance. At last they took him; he was under age and looked it; he had not the necessary parental consent, he was not even from Waterbury—but they took him; and it was thus that he went to war.

"Camp" was at Vienna, Virginia, a few miles out from Alexandria; it was just "camp "—not more. The army that was to be was then but companies of individuals, groups of neighbors, friends. The welding of war had not yet begun. Rumor was the one excitement of the dragging weeks; camp life palled; the three-months period of enlistment was nearly past.

Time after time Landegon was passed over when picket and scouting detachments were detailed. At last he went to the captain — a stout, fussy, kindly little man.

"Captain," he said, "I want to go out with the scout­ing party; I can scout as good as any of them." The captain shook his head.

"I can't do that, John." Then, kind and confidential, he went on: "You see, it's this way: those fellows are all prominent citizens back in Waterbury, and they've got to have a chance. Waterbury expects a lot from some of us; the fellows have got to have something to write home; the papers up in our town have got to tell about our citizens doin' things, and scoutin' is the nearest to fightin' that there is just now."

Landegon protested earnestly that his town expected just as much of him.

"Oh, nothin' much is expected of you, John—you're too young." Then, with finality, "This war is nearly over; I got to give our citizens a chance."

"Scouting" consisted of a solemn, impressive march by ten or a dozen prominent citizens along the front of the camp, half a mile or so in advance of the pickets; but it was a deed filled with fine thrills.

Between the two camps—Federal and Confederate—there stretched four miles of no man's land, filled with all the terrors that go hand in hand with untried ground. But John Landegon found it to be a land of woods and fields and low, rolling hills—a land empty of friend or foe. He had gone out into it alone many times before he begged of the stout captain the privilege of making the dignified scouting. Something of latent daring, some restlessness within him, had sent him stealing out beyond the pickets time after time to wander among the hills. He says he wanted to see a Confederate before he went home again! Sometimes he wandered far enough to see long black lines creeping along the side of a distant hill; but they never seemed to be coming his way, so he would go back to the camp, content and silent.

The day after he was rejected from the official scout he wandered out farther than ever before, driven per­haps a little by pique, a little resentful, a little sullen, maybe. At last he turned to go back. He had kept to the woods, and now among the trees he caught a glimpse of moving gray. He leaped behind a tree, and stood there trembling with excitement and, he says, with fear. Once he stole a look, and as quickly dodged behind again; the glimpse had shown him a man in full uniform—a very new, very elegant uniform—a hat turned jauntily up on the side, and with a highly polished musket lying across his arm. The young blade of the Confederacy was returning from some lone-hand scout of his own. Landegon pressed close against the bark of the tree and humbly prayed that the man might change his course; he came straight on. Behind lay the Confederate army‑ he could not run; from in front advanced the very devil of a fighter, one that would never surrender (camp-fire authority for that! "They'll never surrender; we'll just have to mow them down"). He would have to mow this one down; would have to kill him. He had never even seen a man die. Somehow it had never seemed that war would be like this. The man was almost to the tree.

He would have to mow him down; he would have to—he leaped out, leveling his musket as he sprang. "Sur-ren-der!” he screamed.

The brightly polished Confederate musket fell to the ground; the hands waved, beseeching to be seen. "I surrender!" screamed the gray-clad youth, in reply.

John Landegon says the reaction almost made him giddy, and he wanted to dance and yell. But he warily picked up the musket, and he marched the unhappy man the three long miles back to the camp. And on that march, in his elation, he evolved the philosophy that was to carry him to such distinction through the war: "The other fellow is just as much afraid of me—maybe more." I should like to have seen that home-coming! I think I can see it now: the prisoner stumbling in front; lank John Landegon stalking like Death behind; men running from regiments a mile away to see the captor and his prize.

"And after that," said he, in his dry, shy way, "I was the big fellow; I went on all the scoutings that were made." Waterbury claimed him for its own.

That philosophy did not always hold good. It was a rank failure at Bull Run. He climbed a tree there, and it was not philosophy that brought him down. The battle had been fought and lost. Long, late afternoon shadows lay heavy on the trampled, bloody grass; shadows from west and south, toward north and east, blighting the path, pointing the way to Washington.

In that portion of the field where Landegon was when the battle ended, he says that there seemed no cause to hurry away. The Confederates were in plain sight on the distant hillsides, but came no nearer, content to shell the fugitives from afar. Some distance back, he came upon a church, about which a score of abandoned, plunging cavalry horses were tied. He was plodding past, when an officer rushed to him.

"Take a horse!" the officer was urging all who were passing; many ran close by and never turned their heads; men were running everywhere.

"Take a horse! take a horse!" the officer kept calling, as they passed. "The rebels 'II get them if you don't." He was a thrifty soul. Landegon stopped; he selected one, and tied his gun to the saddle, then galloped for the rear. The officer was still querulously calling, "Take a horse! take a horse!" as he rode away.

There came a great crowd, running. From behind them at the blocked ford—where they had been headed by some Confederate cavalry—there came the turmoil of fighting, mob-like fighting, so different from a battle's roar. Those who were running had been behind, or had broken away, and now, the forefront of the rout, came running, sheep-like, back in panic over the way they had just, in panic, gone. Some were running stolidly, mechan­ically, as though stiff with fear; others, plunging; others, running profitlessly—shoulders forward, elbows stiffly back, and ghastly, sweatless faces upturned to the blind­ing sky; of these, their mouths were gaping open like banked fishes sucking at the air. There was little sound save the pounding of the footfalls on the sun-baked Virginia fields. Cries of terror could have added nothing to the horror; the very sight of such is contagion of the plague—Panic.

Landegon slid from his horse, and, without untying his gun, turned and ran. The mob was scattering, each seeking his own hiding-place; Landegon ran for the woods. He says that just then he feared nothing so much as cap­ture—death was not so dread.

He ran into a tree, staggered back, then began in frantic haste to climb it; if only they would not come till he could reach the top ! Among the slender branches he screened himself with leaves, and clung there swaying in the wind, like some strange arboreal animal. In the great, hot dome of the sky there was no sign of the dark­ness whose coming should save him; through the maze of branches and the fluttering leaves beneath him he could see the earth, still sun-flecked and wholly light. Suddenly he began to scramble down. On the instant with his elated thought, "They'll never take me here," had come, "There's never a chance to be taken—I'll be shot. They'll not be able to resist the temptation to see me tumble from so high." It sent him sliding and swing­ing and dropping from branch to branch until he reached the ground and threw himself into a thicket.

It was a long, hard road from the top of the tree to the position of Sheridan's chief scout. What happened during that journey I shall never know; he was not telling me the history of his career, remember. What he told were just incidents plucked from here and there—a half-dozen days out of the thousand days and nights of his service.

I wanted him to tell me more about his work as scout—the messages he had carried, the information he had obtained.

"I can't do that," he said. "Why? because I don't remember it—how could I? I couldn't keep copies of despatches, and I can't remember the verbal messages‑now. Landegon, take this to General So-and-so over back of Such-a-place.' Maybe I wouldn't ever know what was in the message, even though the result of an engagement had been decided by it; maybe it was in cipher; maybe I didn't care what was in it. My business was to get it there. Perhaps it was only such a message as an aide-de-camp would have been sent with if he could have kept in our lines while delivering it. But here's the thing: us scouts risked our lives to deliver those messages. We did it sometimes every day ; sometimes only once every week. If we got caught we got hanged, or maybe only shot; if we got through without any close call that was out of the ordinary—like losing our chum or our horse, or something like that—why, then, that was just part of a day's work, and by next week we wouldn't remember anything about it except the roads we had been on and the fords crossed and the lay of the hills and ravines.

"Information, the same way. 'See if you can find out when Magruder is going to move '—something o' that sort. And I'd go out through the country between the lines—in just as much danger from our own scoutin' parties, mind, as from the enemy—and I would get through their pickets and mix in with any I'd find, and when I got what I wanted to know I'd come back and report.

"Maybe there would be a fight that day or the next, and maybe my report had something to do with it, but I wouldn't know that for sure. Like as not I wouldn't be able to see that my report had any attention paid to it. So why should I remember now about such things? But here's a letter that I'm going to let you read; I don't want you to think us scouts risked our necks for just nothing those days—even if we can't remember what reports we made forty-five years ago!"

He hesitated a moment, then drew from its envelope a single worn sheet. It was written from the Metro­politan Hotel, New York, under date of April 20, 1869. The contents were intimately personal, but there is this much which seems by right to belong in the pages that are to record John Landegon's service:

. , . From the first time you reported to me as scout in 1861 until the close of the war I had frequent occasion to acknowledge your distinguished services, and I know of no man who has manifested more devotion to the cause of the Union or braved greater dangers than your­self. At Fredericksburg, on the Rapidan, and in the Shenandoah Valley, you displayed great courage and enterprise in obtaining within the enemy's lines intelligence of his intended movements, and I can freely say that much of the success of my cavalry, in the campaign of General Sherman from Savannah to the surrender of Johnson's army, was owing to the information obtained by you for me as scout and spy. . . .


When I had done, I looked with new eyes at the man whom General Judson Kilpatrick had freely accredited with much of the success of the brilliant cavalry cam­paign of the Carolinas.

It was characteristic of John Landegon at such a time to force an abrupt change of subject.

"I mind one report I made," he said. "My first report to General Sheridan. I'd been out for three days—some­where in the enemy's lines, I don't remember where, or why—and when I came in to report to the General I thought it would be my last report. 'Well,' he says, `what did you find? 'Nothin',' I answered—just that. `By Gee!' he yelled, and he jumped up from his chair. `That's the best report I ever heard a scout make!' I thought he was mad and just making fun of me, and I stood still and didn't say anything. He walked close up to me. 'Do you know why I think so much of that "nothin' " of yours? It's because you didn't think you had to make up a lot of lies for fear I'd think you hadn't been working. If you saw "nothin' " in three days, that means there was nothing to see, and that's the one thing I wanted to know!'

"I remembered that little talk of General Sheridan's, and it helped me all the rest of the war. I never exag­gerated anything, and soon they got to count on what I said. Well"—abruptly, as though he had again said too much—"there was only twice after that day I climbed the tree that I was as bad scared. There was often enough that I'd think: 'Well, by Gee! if ever I get back safe from this fool scout I'll never go out again. I'll go back to my regiment, I'll stand guard, do picket, I will clean camp'—more of that sort—'but I'm darned if I go in gray out of the lines.' But I would get in all right, and loaf around a few days and watch the other boys work, and then I'd get restless or think of the big money, and then the order would come and out I'd go—like as not into worse than before. The next time I was so badly scared was the night after I had been shot. I was Sheri­dan's chief scout then, but when I got shot I was with Meade's scouts of the Army of the Potomac. I'd been sent to General Meade with despatches—I'll tell you about that.

"After we left General Sheridan at Ground Squirrel Bridge, on the South Anna—this was Sheridan's raid around Lee in May, '64—Patrick Myers, my best scout, and I rode around the flank of the Confederate cavalry where they were fighting with our rear guard. They had been fighting the rear guard ever since we had got in the rear of Lee's lines on the 9th. This day I'm telling you of was the 10th—late afternoon of the 10th—the day before Yellow Tavern, where Jeb Stuart fell, six miles from Richmond. We missed that fight.

"The country was so rough that, to make time, we swung into the road behind the Confederate cavalry, and ordered the stragglers forward to their regiments. Y' see, I was in the full uniform of a Confederate officer, and Patrick Myers was my orderly; we kept hurrying the stragglers forward, and all the time we were getting farther to the rear. It was the best fun I ever had!" It was the pinnacle of a jest. Landegon chuckled as he told of it; I chuckled as I heard. It seemed a jest in the telling; since then I have set it down as one of the shrewd­est, coolest deeds that men have done.

They stopped at dark at a farm-house and asked for something to eat. The owner of the house was too old to go to war; he gave them a good meal, and gladly as­sented to put them up for as much of the night as they could remain. After the meal they all sat about the table talking. In some way they misunderstood their host—something he said; they believed him to be a Union sympathizer who, because of their gray uniforms, dared not come out and say that he was against the South.

"We're not Confederates," one of them blurted out; "we are Union soldiers." The old man rose from his chair.

"Ye lied to me," he said.

They both sprang, startled, to their feet at his sudden movement, and it must have been a dramatic moment as they faced each other across the lamp-lit table—the scouts with their hands on their revolvers, the white-bearded old man majestic in his indignation.

"I've given you food and offered you bed: and you have lied to me! You yourselves say that you have been telling me lies all the evenin' ! I wouldn't have you sleep in my barn. It isn't which side you're on; ye lied to me!"

He drove them from his house by the sheer weight of his scorn. They sulkily rode away; but in the stillness of the night they heard a horse, hard ridden, leave the farm­house, and they rode aside into the woods and waited. Presently a troop of Confederate cavalry swept by on the road they had just been on.

It was night of the next day—the 11th—when they got through the Confederate pickets and struck the Mattapony River some miles below the Army of the Potomac.

They stripped, and put their clothes on a bit of board, which they pushed before them as they swam the river; it was storming fiercely; in the dark the rain lashed the river into pale foam.

They made their painful way through the tangled thickets, now dazed by the lightning, now blinded by the streaming rain. Federal pickets made them prisoners, and finally, to their insistence, yielded and took them under guard to General Grant—to Grant, though they asked to be taken to Meade.

I wish that Landegon had told me more of that meet­ing; I wish that I had asked.

It was the night before that battle which was to sur­pass in its terrors all others of those terrible days of the Second Wilderness and Spottsylvania Court-house—the battle of the "Bloody Angle."

Of the meeting I learned only that Grant thanked them and praised them for bringing the message through Lee's army. Then Landegon swung off into a vehement panegyric of the great leader; it was as though he had lowered a curtain; I was left with but a dim-seen picture of the lantern-lighted tent ; the Grant of my own imagina­tion, bending low to smooth out and read by the flicker­ing light a crumpled despatch . .. two dripping, gray-clad soldiers—just that, and an intruding consciousness of the confused beating of the rain outside.

This is the despatch that they had borne through the Confederate armies:


Commanding Army of the Potomac.


I turned the enemy's right and got into their rear. Did not meet sufficient of cavalry to stop me. Destroyed from eight to ten miles of Orange Railroad, two locomotives, three trains, and a large amount of supplies. The enemy were making a depot of supplies at Beaver Dam. Since I got into their rear there has been great excitement among the inhabitants and with the army. The citizens report that Lee is beaten. Their cavalry has attempted to annoy my rear and flank, but have been run off. I expect to fight their cavalry south of the South Anna River. I have no forage. Started with half rations for one day, and have found none yet. Have recaptured five hundred men, two colonels.

I am, General, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

P. H. SHERIDAN, Major-General, Commanding.

He brought out a big book, and his long, thin fingers fluttered the pages till he had found the place he sought; I watched him in surprise. He handed me the book, open.

"There!" he said. "That won't surprise you like it did me the first time I saw it!"

"Scouts and Guides with the Army of the Potomac," I read under the picture.

"I bought that book about a year ago, and I was looking through it, and all of a sudden, by Gee ! there was I! I got shot the very next day after the picture was taken —the only one I had taken during the war—and I hadn't thought about the photograph from that day until I looked out at myself after all these years. I had just about forgotten what sort of a young fellow I was those days." He commenced a chuckle of infinite amusement that ended in a sigh. He took the book gently from me and closed it, shutting away the boy that had been. For a moment his thin fingers fumbled the white beard. "That was a long time ago," he said. Then, abruptly, "The next day I made my last scout'in Virginia."

Eleven of Meade's scouts, together with Landegon and Myers, were sent out to learn if Lee was being reinforced from the south. If, by the time the Army of the Potomac scouts were ready to return, Sheridan had not been met, then Landegon and Myers were to go on until they found him. Had he and Myers gone to Sheridan, the whole trip would have gone the way of a day's work; but, in­stead, every incident of the day is fixed sharp and clear in his memory; the De Jarnett's, where they stopped to get feed for their horses, and where they were "given" wine; the "contraband," who showed them a blind ford of the Mattapony, where Landegon and Knight (Meade's chief scout) crossed to interview the lonely figure on the distant hillcrest, whom they took to be a vedette, until the man, not knowing of his danger, unconsciously saved himself by raising a huge cotton umbrella that showed him to be a planter overseeing the hands at work in his fields.

They turned to ride back to their men, awaiting them on the river's bank, when there suddenly came out of a lane a man and a girl, who stared at them in surprise.

"Have you seen any troops come by ?" the scouts asked, politely: It was the girl who answered:

"Oh, yes! More than I ever saw before at one time! South Carolina soldiers. How many? Why, they would reach from there to there!" The space indicated a brigade of four regiments. It was the information they had come out to gain; Knight was elated at the ease with which it had been obtained.

"We're Yankees!" he 'suddenly said. The girl looked at Landegon's gray uniform, at Knight's wheat-straw hat, his coat—purpled by the rain and sun; she laughed.

"About as much Yankees as we are!" she said.

"We are Yankees!" they sternly told her. Her eyes grew wide with fear.

"You shall not—I—you will not take the Doctor- my husband?" she pleaded.

They reassured her—they would only take dinner, and pay for it, they said. But she still was very much afraid. Landegon waved a handkerchief, and the rest of the scouts came up at a gallop from the river. Young Doctor Dew and his wife fled in terror. The scouts shouted with laughter, and trotted after them to the house, where presently they had dinner. Trivial little details, these, but I dare say such things stick in a man's mind if he is shot that day.

They rode to Penola Station. not more than d mile away, and there lay the parting of the ways: Landegon and Myers must start south to find Sheridan, Knight and his scouts go back to the army of Grant and Meade.

A small band of Confederates dashed out of a cross­road, fired a bravado volley at them, and galloped away.

"Let's have a fight!" one of the scouts yelled, "before you fellows leave." In a moment they were riding hard after the Confederates, shouting and yelling like frolicking boys.

Landegon says he had the best horse of them all. As a brave man and a modest should, he lays it to the horse; I lay it to the man who rode. He drew farther and farther ahead; the road, grew choked with dust that rose all about them like smoke-filled fog. The fleeing Confed­erates had been reinforced, had turned, and were corning back. In the dust Landegon flashed full tilt into them before he found what he had done. Horses reared and backed and shied; there was a tangle and confusion that sent up blinding clouds in which no man knew friend from foe. Landegon whirled his horse about and fired a revolver in a man's face, and then some one shot him, and his paralyzed hand dropped his pistol, and the whole thing grew confused. He knows that one man followed him, shooting at him at every bound; and when his re­volver was empty, the man rose in his stirrups and threw the pistol whirling over and over, and it struck him, barrel end on; it seemed to break his spine.

He knows something of two of his scouts riding one on either side holding him in his saddle; and then all he knew was that he was back at Doctor Dew's under a tree in the yard, and all his men had gone; and he was quite sure that very soon he would be found and hanged.  He told this to the Dews, and they took his gray clothes and buried them in the garden; but still he knew that very soon he would certainly be hanged.

He says that he had once before nearly gone by the rope route, and it was the memory of that other time that now filled him with such fear.

He thought that his men might have made some ar­rangement to take him away; he found afterward that they had stood off the reinforced Confederates until he had been gotten out of sight on his way to the Dews; then they had ridden for the safety of the Union lines. They had been sure, from his wound, that Landegon was to die; but they promised the Dews that they would come back for him in a few days. When they came he was gone.

The afternoon waned; the young doctor had managed to get him into the house; they wanted to put him to bed up-stairs, but he would not have it so; he begged to be left in the hall. It was a long, straight hall through the house; at one end the front door, at the other the back. He felt that unless the house were surrounded he had some chance there for his life. Yet when the time did come he was without the strength to raise himself from the couch. The night had grown threadbare gray and old before they came; he had known all along that they would come, yet when he heard the feet on the gravel walk he was more afraid than he thought he could ever be. The Dews had gone to their room for a little rest; Landegon lay alone in the long, black hall—alone, listen­ing to the footsteps coming nearer; he heard them reach the door. He raised himself on one elbow—it was as far as he could go. The angry knocks on the door sounded like thunder; without waiting for a reply, the door was burst open by a booted foot, and a man stood for a moment black against the graying sky.

"Does any one live in this house?" he roared. Landegon fell back limp and helpless; he answered almost hysterically, "Yes, Jack, I do!"

It was Jack Williams, one of his own scouts with Sheridan—a comrade from the "Harris Light," his own old regiment.

Sheridan was coming back that way; Williams had been sent ahead to find out about the roads, and he had stopped at the house to inquire his way. Within a few hours Landegon was in an ambulance, riding in safety in the midst of ten thousand blue-clad men.

He smoked for a time in silence, and I sought to set him talking again. "You said you were nearly hanged once—?" He shook his head and frowned slightly, but said nothing.

"When was it ?" I persisted.

"May 12, '62," he answered, dryly. He lay back in his big chair, with his eyes closed as though to shut out something he did not care to see. For a long time neither of us spoke; suddenly he opened his eyes and sat sharply forward in the chair.

"Do you know that there are nights even yet when I dream of that day? Do you know—but of course you don't! Well, you've got me to thinking of it again, and I might as well tell you, even of that, too.

"There was a cavalry skirmish a couple of miles from Massaponax Church—about twelve or fifteen miles south of Fredericksburg; it was going hard against us, and I was sent back to bring up help. I was about half-way to the church when I saw a lot of dust, and I rode harder —thinking, you understand, it was the advance of some of our troops; there was so much dust that I rode right into them before I found that they were Confederates that had got round our flank and were coming up behind our men. It was just a scouting party . .. more coming, I learned. There wasn't a chance to get away, or even to fight; they had never made any mistake about me . . . grabbed me the minute I got in reach. I was in my gray uniform, mind! They were in a hurry, but they said they had time to hang me. They just hauled off to the roadside and said they would have a trial, anyway—that they always tried the men they hanged. So they got up a drumhead court that wasn't any more a court than is our talking here. There was a lot of laughing and joking-the rest of the men all sitting around on the grass at the side of the road, holding their horses by the bridles to let them graze; some of the men smoked their pipes—it was all good fun for them.

"Back around the hills I could hear the popping of the carbines of the men of my regiment-that I'd left not half an hour before.

"I didn't get five minutes of trial; they asked me again where I'd been going, and I told them again—lying the best I knew—that I was only a camp servant . . . it had got too hot for me up there at the front, and I was scared, and getting back to the camp where I belonged.

"Some one yelled, 'He's a spy; look at his clothes.'

"And I turned on him and says: 'I'm no spy. I'm just a servant, an' these 's all the clothes I have—I don't get a uniform; I got to wear just what I can find '—all that sort of thing. Anyway, if I wasn't a spy, one of 'em said, I was a 'damned Yankee, that had stole the clothes off some pore dead Confederate soldier.' And they all said: 'That's so, all right! Stole 'em off some pore dead soldier. He had ought to be hung!'

" The president of the court got up and said, 'You're guilty, Yank, and it is the sentence o' this court that we hang you by the neck until you're dead.'

"They all laughed at that, and got up and stood around to see me get hung. We all moved over a hundred yards or so to a tree, and some one started to climb up with a rope—they had a rope, all right—and then some one said `they'd ought to have some grease for the rope—noose wouldn't slip good without the rope was greased,' and one of the men was sent riding hard across the fields to a farm-house to get some. They got the rope tied to a limb, then they kept showing me the noose . . . telling me how I'd dance on air-they weren't going to tie my hands and feet, they said; and they danced and waved their hands to show me how I'd do.

"These weren't guerrillas; they were regularly enlisted men. But it was '62, mind, and they were a lot more bitter in those days than they were later in the war; but I never did see, before or after, such ones as these.

"I had been scared nearly to death up till then, but when they got to talking like that I got mad—they might hang me, all right, but they weren't going to torture me that way before I died. I tried to pull away from the fel­lows holding me, and I cursed them all, and called them murderers and cowards, and I told them I'd fight any three of them—any five—any number at once, if they would give me my saber and pistol, but that I wouldn't be hung.

"Just then the man with the grease got back; he'd only been able to get some butter! 'Don't waste good butter hanging a damn Yankee; string him up without greasing the rope, and be quick about it,' some one said.

"So they dragged and lifted me onto a horse, and led it under the limb, and they put the noose around my neck. I didn't see anything or think anything from the time I got put on the horse, and I didn't see that some of them were standing in a little party off to one side. Just then one stepped out and said that I was not to be hung; that I was a brave man; and it wasn't so much that they didn't want me to be hanged, but the other fellows weren't going to do it; I was as much their prisoner as I was theirs—that they hadn't any of them been se­lected for the court . . . more of that sort of thing (they were from two regiments—do you understand?) ; and that they had decided to send me back to the main column and have me tried right! Some of the fellows drew their revolvers, and some got on their horses, and it looked as if there was going to be a fight right there. But they talked it over—with me sitting on the horse, and the rope around my neck all the time—and finally decided that they would send me on.

"They took the rope off, and I began to get some of my senses back, and I saw that the man who was to take me forward was a great, surly-looking devil—one of them that had been so anxious to hang me; he was standing talking to his officer, and they looked over at me, and he kind of smiled and nodded his head; I knew right there that he meant to kill me on the way—was getting ordered to just then.

"We started—he and I—and the others rode away.

The whole business hadn't taken more than twenty min­utes, but it was a month to me. They wouldn't give me a horse; the fellow rode, but I had to run along at the horse's head. The horse he rode was one of the biggest I ever saw—when it walked I had to trot, and when he rode at a trot I had to run. I had lost my hat, and the sun hurt my head, and the dust choked and blinded me; I was so sick and weak—mind you, the reaction from such fear is a sickening thing—that I staggered as I ran, and the fellow kept leanin' over and prodding me with his saber to make me go faster; that began to make me mad when I got conscious of it, and I felt my strength coming back again.

"I kept on the off side of the horse, so that he would have to cut across with his saber instead of down, when the time came for me to try to run. I can see that road now—long and straight, with the unfenced fields sloping down to the road on either side, and sumac bushes along where the fences had been before the war; ahead, the road ran like a tunnel into a big woods that looked all hazy and blue. Beyond the woods a little way was Massaponax Church; I made up my mind that what was to be would take place in that woods, and I sort of felt that the Confederate had made up his mind to end it in the woods, too.

" Just then he called to me: 'Halt, Yank! Till I tighten the girth—saddle's slippin'!"

"He was dismounting—you know, of course, how a man gets off a horse? his left foot in the stirrup, and swings his right leg back over the horse—for just a second his back was toward me, and at that moment he dropped his drawn saber to the ground. . . . He died right there!

"My three years' term of enlistment was just about up before I got out of the hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island-that time I got shot and left at the Dews', remember?"

There was scarcely a moment's pause in his story; he seemed to be hurrying on to efface something from his mind and mine. I scarcely heard his words; I could see nothing but the sprawling figure that lay like a blot under a pall of slowly settling dust in a long, straight, sunlit road—a road that ran like a tunnel into a great woods all blue with haze.

"Sheridan was a few miles west of Harper's Ferry when I found him "—so the story was going on when I heard it again-"and when I walked up to his tent he ran out and put his hand on my shoulder—impulsive, like he always was—and he said: `Landegon! I'm glad you're back! I've got a lot of work for you to do!' And then I told him that I wasn't coming back to him—that I was through. Ye see, Sheridan was now in command in the Shenandoah Valley, and he had reorganized the scouts, and put them on a strictly military footing, with Major H. H. Young in command.

"Then, too, General Kilpatrick—whose chief scout I had been for two years before Sheridan had got me to go with him-and Captain Northrop here, who now was `Kil's' chief scout, had both written for me to come to them; they were with General Sherman down in Georgia, and I had made up my mind to go. Sheridan was very angry-said something about deserting in the face of the enemy-more of that sort of thing-and turned and walked away from me. I never saw General Sheridan again.

"I did not march to the sea. General Sherman, with `Kil in command of his cavalry, was at Savannah before I joined him there. What?—tell you of the 'most im­portant, most dangerous' work I did in the war? It wasn't in the war-it was after the war was done!"

He told of a period which history has so abridged that it is now well-nigh lost to men's minds—a time that is dwarfed by the war just past, that is overshadowed by the black period of reconstruction that was to come. Peace had been declared. But the great, all-wise Lincoln was dead. The one hand which could have beckoned and led the turbulent victors home, which would, have reached out to, guide and guard the broken, gloomy South, was gone. There were weeks in the South when anarchy reigned.

For days before there came the inevitable end to the Confederacy, men-bitter, broken-hearted men, who fore­saw the swift coming of that end—had deserted the South­ern armies, in order that they might never desert their Cause. In twos and threes and little bands they streamed through the country, swearing to commence, from the mountains, a guerrilla warfare that should not end until they died.

Others With less high principles joined them on the way; men who had abandoned all and lost all to the war were now abandoned by the war, and they stood bewil­dered by the double loss; they had nowhere to turn but to the weapons in their hands; they, too, fled for the mountains.

From the Northern armies, chiefly those in the Middle South, hundreds deserted. Men who would never have deserted in the face of the enemy, now, dreading months of inactivity before being mustered out, or for the first time permitting the longing for home to come between them and discipline, stole out between the considerate pickets and, with their arms in their hands for protec­tion on the way, began the long journey.

From the armies of both sides, the dissolute and the vicious, the discouraged and unreconciled, fled from peace as from a pest; armed, skilled in war, calloused to war's horrors, they swarmed out over the country and turned it into hell.

Truculent bands going north met sullen parties coming south, and they fought for the sheer love of fighting. There was no discipline anywhere; worse, there was the license and liberty that came as a reaction from the sudden removal of strict military law. From simple foraging, in order to live, it was but a step to pillage and murder.

Men who under good officers had fought bravely in the ranks now turned cowardly assassins—became com­mon cutthroats and thieves. For them there was now no North or South; by twos and threes they joined them­selves to partyless bands of marauders that turned aside for nothing but more powerful bands. Dejected, paroled Confederates, making their best way south to their ruined homes; buoyant Federal deserters going north—blue or gray, it was all one to these bandits; they robbed and killed on every hand.

And into this land of lurking, ignominious death, John Landegon, alone, except for little black Ben, rode for three hundred terrible miles.

The distracted Federal government, at last heeding the persistent rumors of organized guerrilla bands in the Blue Ridge, demanded authentic information, and Lan­degon was chosen by Kilpatrick to find out the truth.

In the tent with General Kilpatrick when he gave Landegon the order was a negro boy whom Landegon had picked up        or, rather, who had picked up Landegon —at Barnsville, South Carolina. He had pleaded to be taken North; and Landegon, unable to care for him him­self, had taken him to Kilpatrick, whose body-servant he had become. But the boy's admiration for Landegon had never swerved; he heard the order that was to send Landegon away from him—out of his life—and he sprang forward, and with all the abandon of his emotional race he begged and pleaded to be taken along.

"Doan leave me, Marse Landegon," he cried. "Y' saaid y' would take me when yo' went Norf, an' now you're goin' to leave little Ben, an' I'll never see yo' agaain. Take me with yo', Marse Landegon—take me Norf with yo'!"

General Kilpatrick nodded.

"Take him, John; you're to go as a Confederate officer returning to Maryland—it will be a good thing for your story to have your servant along."

That night the two rode out of Lexington on their way to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There followed days of steady riding over and around and between mountains—always mountains.

Now for miles along some wind-swept range crest from which on either hand it seemed that the whole world had wrinkled itself into endless chains upon chains of moun­tains. Now through some valley—scarce a rift in the heaped-up, tree-clad walls. Nights when they slept under the stars, solemn, lonely nights, such as come only in a waste of mountains; nights when the boy sobbed in his sleep from the loneliness, and from homesickness for his "cousins," and for the South he was leaving behind.

For the most part Landegon's skill and watchfulness kept them out of grave peril, but there was once when they nearly met the end. Darkness was coming on, and they had obviously mistaken the road; the road they were on led up and ever up the mountain-side, until they were above the evening mists of the valley. They passed a barn, and a few yards farther, topping a steep rise, came suddenly upon a house close by the roadside. On the porch and in the yard were a dozen men, waiting, with their guns across their arms; to have hesitated or to have turned to run would have meant certain death. There were several faded blue uniforms among the butternut and gray; it was one of the cutthroat bands. Landegon rode forward to the fence; he asked for supper; the men avariciously eyed the fine horses, and half a dozen lounged down to the fence and gathered round him. He dis­mounted coolly and asked for a lantern that he might find feed for the horses. It completely disarmed the sus­picions of the men; one of them brought the lantern and walked beside Landegon down the road toward the barn. At the top of the steep grade he struck down the man, and he and Ben rode for their lives—the drop in the road saved them from the volley that passed over their heads.

They had trouble in Maryland at a ferry, but they braved it down; and at last the futile ride game to an end; futile, for there was nothing found, no organized resist­ance to the Union. The war was over.

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