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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Strange True Stories of Louisiana.

XV.

GIBRALTAR FALLS.

July 4th, 1863.—­It is evening.  All is still.  Silence and night are once more united.  I can sit at the table in the parlor and write.  Two candles are lighted.  I would like a dozen.  We have had wheat supper and wheat bread once more.  H. is leaning back in the rocking-chair; he says: 

“G., it seems to me I can hear the silence, and feel it too.  It wraps me like a soft garment; how else can I express this peace?”

But I must write the history of the last twenty-four hours.  About five yesterday afternoon, Mr. J., H.’s assistant, who, having no wife to keep him in, dodges about at every change and brings us the news, came to H. and said: 

“Mr. L., you must both come to our cave to-night.  I hear that to-night the shelling is to surpass anything yet.  An assault will be made in front and rear.  You know we have a double cave; there is room for you in mine, and mother and sister will make a place for Mrs. L. Come right up; the ball will open about seven.”

We got ready, shut up the house, told Martha to go to the church again if she preferred it to the cellar, and walked up to Mr. J.’s.  When supper was eaten, all secure, and the ladies in their cave night toilet, it was just six, and we crossed the street to the cave opposite.  As I crossed a mighty shell flew screaming over my head.  It was the last thrown into Vicksburg.  We lay on our pallets waiting for the expected roar, but no sound came except the chatter from the neighboring caves, and at last we dropped asleep.  I woke at dawn stiff.  A draught from the funnel-shaped opening had been blowing on me all night.  Every one was expressing surprise at the quiet.  We started for home and met the editor of the “Daily Citizen.”  H. said: 

“This is strangely quiet, Mr. L.”

“Ah, sir,” shaking his head gloomily, “I’m afraid the last shell has been thrown into Vicksburg.”

“Why do you fear so?”

“It is surrender.  At six last evening a man went down to the river and blew a truce signal; the shelling stopped at once.”

When I entered the kitchen a soldier was there waiting for the bowl of scrapings. (They took turns for it.)

“Good-morning, madam,” he said; “we won’t bother you much longer.  We can’t thank you enough for letting us come, for getting this soup boiled has helped some of us to keep alive, but now all this is over.”

“Is it true about the surrender?”

“Yes; we have had no official notice, but they are paroling out at the lines now, and the men in Vicksburg will never forgive Pemberton.  An old granny!  A child would have known better than to shut men up in this cursed trap to starve to death like useless vermin.”  His eyes flashed with an insane fire as he spoke.  “Haven’t I seen my friends carted out three or four in a box, that had died of starvation!  Nothing else, madam!  Starved to death because we had a fool for a general.”

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