"Well, do you think you would have been much 유흥알바 missed if you had been killed?"

"Maybe not, sah! A daid white man ain' much 230 use to dese yere sogers, let alone a daid niggah, but I'd 'a' missed mysef powerful, an' dat's de pint wid me."

Towards the last of January we had a season of warm, humid weather. Apparently the winter was over; the grass was springing on the swamp, green and luxurious, and the willows swelling into bud. There were no singing birds on the Blackwater as early as January 28, but the frogs were mightily exercised upon the coming of spring, and their nightly concerts took on a jubilant note.

One day I had a few moments' conversation with my husband about army affairs, and he remarked that our Southern soldiers were always restless unless they were in action. "They never can stand still in battle," he said; "they are willing to yell and charge the most desperate positions, but if they can't move forward, they must move backward. Stand still they cannot."

I thought I could perceive symptoms of restlessness on the part of their commander. Often in the middle of the night he would summon John, mount him, and send him to camp, a short distance away; and presently I would hear the tramp, tramp of the General's staff officers, coming to hold a council of war in his bedroom. On the 28th of January he confided to me that on the next day he would make a sally in the direction of the enemy. "He is getting entirely too impudent," said he; "I'm not strong enough to drive him out of the country, but he must keep his place."

I had just received a present of coffee. This was at 231 once roasted and ground. On the day of the march, fires were kindled under the great pots used at the "hog-killing time" (an era in the household) and many gallons of coffee were prepared. This was sweetened, and when our men paused near the house to form the line of march, the servants and little boys passed down the line with buckets of the steaming coffee, cups, dippers, and gourds. Every soldier had a good draught of comfort and cheer. The weather had suddenly changed. The great snow-storm that fell in a few days was gathering, the skies were lowering, and the horizon was dark and threatening.

After the men had marched away, I drove to the hospital tent and put myself at the disposal of the surgeon. We inspected the store of bandages and lint, and I was intrusted with the preparation of more.

"I ain' got no use for dis stuff," said my one female friend and companion, Charity, whom I pressed into service to help me pick lint. "'Pears like 'tain't good for nuthin' but to line a bird's nes'."

"It will be soft for the wound of a soldier," I said, "after he has fought the Yankees."

"I'll pick den; I'll tar up my onlies' apun ef he'll kill one."

"Oh, Charity!"

"Yas'm, I will dat! Huccome we all don' drive 'm out o' Suffolk? Der's lodes an lodes o' shoes an' stockin's, an' sugar an' cawfy in Suffolk! An' dese nasty Abolition Yankees got 'em all!"

"Those are not proper words for you to use," I 232 said. "What have you against the Northern people? They never did you harm."

"Dey ain't, ain't dey?" she replied, with feeling. "Huccome I'se got to go barfooted? Hit's scan'lous for a free gal to go barfooted, like she was so no 'count she couldn't git a par o' shoes fer herse'f."

"I'll ask the General to order a pair for you."

"Humph!" said Charity, scornfully; "you can't do nothin' wid dat Gen'al. Ain' I hear you baig an' baig 'im for a par o' slippers dat time he fristricated de boatload full? I ain' seen you git de slippers."

Charity was not the only one of the Nation's Wards who held the enemy in contempt. The special terms in which she designated them were in common use at the time. She had often heard them from the General's servant, John, who shared the opinions of the common soldier. Some of the expressions of the great men I knew in Washington were quite as offensive and not a bit less inelegant, although framed in better English. I never approved of "calling names," I had seen what comes of it; and I reproved John for teaching them to my little boys.

"No'm," said John, "I won't say nothin'; I'll just say the Yankees are mighty mean folks."

My first news from the General was cheering, but he would not return for a day or two. He must fly about the frontier a little in various directions to let the enemy know he was holding his own. His official report was as follows:— 233
"To Brigadier-General Colston, Petersburg, Va.

"Carrsville, Isle of Wight, January 30, 1863.

"General: This morning at 4 o'clock the enemy under Major-General Peck attacked me at Kelly's store, eight miles from Suffolk. After three hours' severe fighting we repulsed them at all points and held the field. Their force is represented by prisoners to be between ten and fifteen thousand. My loss in killed and wounded will not exceed fifty—no prisoners. I regret that Col. Poage is among the killed. We inflicted a heavy loss on the enemy.

"Roger A. Pryor, Brigadier-General Commanding."

On February 2 the General thus addressed his troops: "The Brigadier-General congratulates the troops of this command on the results of the recent combat.

"The enemy endeavored under cover of night to steal an inglorious victory by surprise, but he found us prepared at every point, and despite his superior numbers, greater than your own, in the proportion of five to one, he was signally repulsed and compelled to leave us in possession of the field.

"After silencing his guns and dispersing his infantry, you remained on the field from night until one o'clock, awaiting the renewal of the attack, but he did not again venture to encounter your terrible fire.

"When the disparity of force between the parties is considered, with the proximity of the enemy to his stronghold, and his facilities of reënforcements by railway, the result of the action of the 30th will be 234 accepted as a splendid illustration of your courage and good conduct."

One of the "enemy's" papers declared that our force was "three regiments of infantry, fourteen pieces of artillery, and about nine hundred cavalry."

The temptation to "lie under a mistake" was great in those days of possible disaffection, when soldiers had to believe in their cause in order to defend it. One of the newspaper correspondents of the enemy explained why we were not again attacked after the first fight. He said: "Some may inquire why we did not march forthwith to Carrsville and attack the rebels again. The reasons are obvious. Had he went [sic] to Carrsville Pryor would have had the advantage to cut off our retreat. The natives know every bypath and blind road through the woods and are ever ready to help the rebels to our detriment. Pryor can always cross the Blackwater on his floating bridge. It is prudent to allow an enemy to get well away from his stronghold the better to capture his guns and destroy his ammunition," etc.

Another paper declares he was heavily reënforced at Carrsville.

Another records: "The rebels have been very bold in this neighborhood. Pryor has been in the habit of crossing the Blackwater River whenever he wanted to. Our attacking him this time must have been a real surprise to him. We took a large number of prisoners!"

He continued the indulgence of this habit until spring, receiving from his countrymen unstinted 235 praise for his protection of that part of our state. While he could not utterly rout the invading army, he "held them very uneasy."

I was made rich by enthusiastic congratulations from our capital and from Petersburg. Agnes wrote from Richmond:—

"Have you seen the Enquirer? Of course this is very grand for you because this is your own little fight—all by yourself. In Richmond everybody says the General is to be promoted Major-General. When he is, I shall attach myself permanently to his staff. The life of inglorious idleness here is perfectly awful. If you suppose I don't long for a rich experience, you are mistaken. Give me the whole of it—victory, defeat, glory and misfortune, praise and even censure (so it be en plein air)—anything, everything, except stolid, purposeless, hopeless uselessness.