On Mobile’s eastern side Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, her last defenses, were fighting forty thousand besiegers. Kincaid’s Battery was there, and there was heavy artillery, of course, but this time the “ladies’ men”—still so called—had field-guns, though but three. They could barely man that number. One was a unit of the original six lost “for them, not by them,” at Vicksburg, and lately recovered.
Would there were time for its story! The boys had been sent up the state to reinforce Forrest. Having one evening silenced an opposing battery, and stealing over in the night and bringing off its best gun, they had slept about “her” till dawn, but then had laughed, hurrahed, danced, and wept round her and fallen upon her black neck and kissed her big lips on finding her no other than their own old “Roaring Betsy.” She might have had a gentler welcome had not her lads just learned that while they slept the “ladies’ man” had arrived from Mobile with a bit of news glorious alike for him and them.
The same word reached New Orleans about the same date. Flora, returning from a call on Irby, brought it to her grandmother. In the middle of their sitting-room, with the worst done-for look yet, standing behind a frail chair whose back she gripped with both hands, she meditatively said—
“All privieuse statement’ ab-out that court-martial on the ’vacuation of Ford Powell are prim-ature. It has, with highez’ approval, acquit’ every one concern’ in it.” She raised the light chair to the limit of her reach and brought it down on another with a force that shivered both. Madame rushed for a door, but—“Stay!” amiably said the maiden. “Pick up the pieces—for me—eh? I’ll have to pick up the pieces of you some day—soon—I hope—mm?”
She took a book to a window seat, adding as she went, “Victorine. You’ve not heard ab-out that, neither? She’s biccome an orphan. Hmm! Also—the little beggar!—she’s—married. Yes. To Charles Valcour. My God! I wish I was a man.”
[Illustration: Music “Um, hmm, hmm, hmm, Mm, hmm, hmm, hmm—“]
“Leave the room!”
But these were closed incidents when those befell which two or three final pages linger to recount. The siege of Spanish Fort was the war’s last great battle. From March twenty-sixth to April the eighth it was deadly, implacable; the defense hot, defiant, audacious. On the night of the eighth the fort’s few hundred cannoneers spiked their heavy guns and, taking their light ones along, left it. They had fought fully aware that Richmond was already lost, and on the next day, a Sabbath, as Kincaid’s Battery trundled through the town while forty thousand women and children—with the Callenders and little Steve—wept, its boys knew their own going meant Mobile had fallen, though they knew not that in that very hour the obscure name of Appomattox was being made forever great in history.
“I reached Meridian,” writes their general, “refitted the ...field batteries and made ready to march across (country) and join General Joseph E. Johnston in Carolina. The tidings of Lee’s surrender soon came.... But ...the little army of Mobile remained steadfastly together, and in perfect order and discipline awaited the final issue of events.”