Fred Greenleaf was one of its wounded prisoners. Hilary cared for him and sought his exchange; but owing to some invisible wire-pulling by Flora Valcour, done while with equal privacy she showed the captive much graciousness, he was still in the Parish Prison, New Orleans, in February, ’62, when the book was about to be made, though recovered of wounds and prison ills and twice or thrice out on his parole, after dusk and in civilian’s dress, at Callender House.
The Callenders had heard the combat’s proud story often, of course, not only from battery lads bringing home dead comrades, or coming to get well of their own hurts, or never to get well of them, but also from gold-sleeved, gray-breasted new suitors of Anna (over-staying their furloughs), whom she kept from tenderer themes by sprightly queries that never tired and constantly brought forth what seemed totally unsought mentions of the battery. And she had gathered the tale from Greenleaf as well. Constance, to scandalized intimates, marvelled at her sister’s tolerance of his outrageous version; but Miranda remembered how easy it is to bear with patience (on any matter but one) a rejected lover who has remained faithful, and Flora, to grandma, smiled contentedly.
Anna’s own private version (sum of all), though never written even in her diary, was illustrated, mind-pictured. Into her reveries had gradually come a tableau of the great field. Inaccurate it may have been, incomplete, even grotesquely unfair; but to her it was at least clear. Here—through the middle of her blue-skied, pensive contemplation, so to speak—flowed Bull Run. High above it, circling in eagle majesty under still, white clouds, the hungry buzzard, vainly as yet, scanned the green acres of meadow and wood merry with the lark, the thrush, the cardinal. Here she discerned the untried gray brigades—atom-small on nature’s face, but with Ewell, Early, Longstreet, and other such to lead them—holding the frequent fords, from Union Mills up to Lewis’s. Here near Mitchell’s, on a lonesome roadside, stood Kincaid’s Battery, fated there to stay for hours yet, in hateful idleness and a fierce July sun, watching white smoke-lines of crackling infantry multiply in the landscape or bursting shells make white smoke-rings in the bright air, and to listen helplessly to the boom, hurtle and boom of other artilleries and the far away cheering and counter-cheering of friend and foe. Yonder in the far east glimmered Centerville, its hitherward roads, already in the sabbath sunrise, full of brave bluecoats choking with Virginia dust and throwing away their hot blankets as they came. Here she made out Stone Bridge, guarded by a brigade called Jackson’s; here, crossing it east and west, the Warrenton turnpike, and yonder north of them that rise of dust above the trees which meant a flanking Federal column and crept westward as Evans watched it, toward Sudley Springs, ford, mill, and church, where already much blue infantry