It tells—this book compiled largely from correspondence of persons well known to you and me—of the first “eight-days’ crawl” that conveyed the chaffing, chafing command up through Mississippi, across East Tennessee into southeast Virginia and so on through Lynchburg to lovely Richmond; tells how never a house was passed in town or country but handkerchiefs, neckerchiefs, snatched-off sunbonnets, and Confederate flags wafted them on. It tells of the uncounted railway stations where swarmed the girls in white muslin aprons and red-white-and-red bows, who waved them, in as they came, and unconsciously squinted and made faces at them in the intense sunlight. It tells how the maidens gave them dainties and sweet glances, and boutonnieres of tuberoses and violets, and bloodthirsty adjurations, and blarney for blarney; gave them seven wild well-believed rumors for as many impromptu canards, and in their soft plantation drawl asked which was the one paramount “ladies’ man,” and were assured by every lad of the hundred that it was himself. It tells how, having heard in advance that the more authentic one was black-haired, handsome, and overtowering, they singled out the drum-major, were set right only by the roaring laughter, and huddled backward like caged quails from Kincaid’s brazen smile, yet waved again as the train finally jogged on with the band playing from the roof of the rear car,—
“I’d offer thee this hand
If I could love thee less!”
To Anna that part seemed not so killingly funny or so very interesting, but she was not one of the book’s editors.
Two or three pages told of a week in camp just outside the Virginian capital, where by day, by night, on its rocky bed sang James river; of the business quarter, noisy with army wagons—“rattling o’er the stony street,” says the page; of colonels, generals, and statesmen by name—Hampton, Wigfall, the fiery Toombs, the knightly Lee, the wise Lamar; of such and such headquarters, of sentinelled warehouses, glowing ironworks, galloping aides-de-camp and couriers and arriving and departing columns, some as trig (almost) as Kincaid’s Battery, with their black servants following in grotesque herds along the sidewalks; and some rudely accoutred, shaggy, staring, dust-begrimed, in baggy butternut jeans, bearing flint-lock muskets and trudging round-shouldered after fifes and drums that squealed and boomed out the strains of their forgotten ancestors: “The Campbells are coming,” “Johnnie was a piper’s son,” or—
“My heart is ever turning back
To the girl I left behind me.”
“You should have seen the girls,” laughs the book.
But there were girls not of the mountains or sand-hills, whom also you should have seen, at battery manoeuvres or in the tulip-tree and maple shade of proud Franklin street, or in its rose-embowered homes by night; girls whom few could dance with, or even sit long beside in the honeysuckle vines of their porticos, without risk of acute heart trouble, testifies the callow volume. They treated every lad in the battery like a lieutenant, and the “ladies’ man” like a king. You should have seen him waltz them or in quadrille or cotillon swing, balance, and change them, their eyes brightening and feet quickening whenever the tune became—