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left of the road was seen a small house, from which floated the yellow flag, a symbol of small-pox. It is needless to say a wide berth was given this place by a quick movement to the right.
Just before reaching the top of the incline a member of the Fayette artillery fell in with a ward of the nation," and wishing to learn something, if possible, as to the status of things at or around the town, plied him with a few questions.
Boss, you'ns going to that town?”
"Don't know; may try it. Why do you want to know?" With a smile, he replied: "You'ns can't get there."
"Why not?" was asked. "Yes, sir," he answered.
"Is it heavily fortified?"
Being asked to describe it, from his description the questioner much preferred turning his face toward old Virginia, and his back upon the town, than to be one of the number in making the attempt to capture it.
This description was as follows: "That around the town was a ditch fifteen feet deep, and as many, if not more, wide; that on the approach of an enemy, this could be quickly filled with water. The breastworks, which were of the most improved kind, and running. up on a line with the inside of the ditch, were mounted with heavy pieces of ordnance. Not being supplied with necessary appliances for crossing such a ditch, or scaling such a wall of sand, it was well known that, even though the breastworks might be reached, and the soldiery get into the ditch, there was not a scintilla of hope for their escape. Therefore, was it wonderful that the men, on learning such a state of affairs, much preferred turning back than advancing?”
It was not known whether the old darkey told the truth or not; but, however that may be, before the Confederates could get in full view of the town, a puff of smoke was seen to rise, and ere the sound of the gun reached the ears of the soldiers a heavy shot whizzed over their heads, the same seeming to warn the boys in gray not to approach any nearer.
And they didn't either. There was a sudden halt, and not many minutes elapsed when the command to countermarch was given, the Southern soldiers retraced their steps, recrossed the railroad, and
went into camp among the stumps which they had left but a short while ago. Remarkable as it may seem, yet nevertheless it is true, that while they remained in that section they were not molested or harassed by the enemy.
As night approached there was a heavy guard mounted around the camp, and the men, feeling perfectly secure, wrapped themselves in their blankets, stretched themselves out on old Mother Earth, and soon fell asleep and enjoyed that which was so much needed to the body, a night of refreshing slumber. The camp was aroused early the next morning, and the men being greatly refreshed from the labor and fatigue of the day before, started in to prepare their breakfast from such stores as were provided by the commissary department.
During the morning the general commanding had learned from some source that at a block-house at the junction of the Washing and New Berne roads, a place called Beech Grove, there was a section of artillery, and the Confederates being between them and New Berne, there was no chance for them to get to that town. Here an opportunity presented itself to get something as a trophy, beyond the capture of Colonel Fellows, his Adjutant, and his orderly, for the trip to that section. And it will be noted further on, that it was something beyond the ordinary, the extraordinary, that took place, and which was not down on the programme.
The general commanding was determined to have that section of the artillery, and to that end orders were hastily given to the Fayette Artillery, Stribling's Battery, and the 30th Virginia regiment of infantry, to prepare to march. In a short time all was in readiness, and the commands moved. The march was in a different direction, and on a different road from that which they had moved in on the day before. Having covered but a short distance from the camp, the infantry was directed to take the woods on the right and left of the road, while the artillery was compelled to traverse that thoroughfare. After marching several miles, the artillery reached an open country on the right, which proved to be a very large farm. There was a large farm house, and to reach this they had to march down a wide lawn. Before the turn into this lawn was made, ahead of them was seen a fort; soldiers were observed walking about in it, and, as the Fayette Artillery turned to the right, driving down the lawn just mentioned, with their broadside to the fort, men were seen to rush to the guns in the fort, and it was then realized that an enemy was in sight. As the Fayette Artillery drove through the lawn, not a
shot was fired from the fort, and we continued on, finally reaching the field, and obtaining a strategic position.
Before a gun could be fired, however, a man was seen to emerge from the fort, bearing aloft a flag of truce. Lieutenant Clopton and Sergeant-Major Fleming went out to meet the bearer of the flag, quickly followed by several non-commissioned officers and privates. On our men's reaching the fort, the officer in command made a formal surrender. The main stipulation (verbal, and being agreed to verbally) was that the officers should retain their side-arms.
In a conversation with one of the Federal artillerists he was asked: "Why did you not fire on that artillery company as it drove through the lawn?"
"We were preparing to fire," he answered; "but really did not know what to do."
"Why was that?" he was asked.
"Well, we thought it might be men coming to relieve us."
"But don't you think they took a peculiar route to reach the fort?" he was asked.
"True; but we did not realize that fact until it was too late." "But did you not note the red caps worn by the men?" was the rejoinder. (Some of the Fayette Company wore red caps.)
To which he replied: "Yes; we noticed the red caps, but some of our men had got to wear them, and other caps, as well."
After the articles of surrender had been agreed to, Lieutenant Clopton commanded members of his company who were present to mount the horses and drive the captured guns to camp, and there were no members of that company prouder than these. The guns
3 inch steel rifles—a few days afterward were presented to the company by General George E. Pickett, and they were held on to until after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee, at Appomattox, when they were spiked and cut down just across the river at Lynchburg, on the Staunton road.
Not long after the fort surrendered, about half a dozen of the infantry performed a daring and hazardous feat, which probably was not excelled during the war. They were out in the woods and ran out to a company of the boys in blue. It was no time to show the white feather, and our boys became as brave and fearless as Caesars. One of them ordered the company to ground arms and surrender, at the same time giving orders to some one unseen, to tell Captain
to order up Company A at once. The blue-coats quickly grounded their arms, and surrendered to these six men. derly sergeant also gave up his book, and on examining it, it was found out that some of these men were deserters from the Confederate army, the roll-book showing the name of the company and regiment to which they belonged, the date of their desertion, and of their enlistment in the Federal service.
Now the Confederates had pillaged the block fort and secured blue coats and tall hats worn by the Federals, and they had the appearace of being Yankees, for there was no difference in the uniform they had on and that worn by their prisoners. They were tramping down the road toward the camp, while General Corse and staff were riding toward the fort. The two parties soon came into full view of each other, and the General remarked: "We are in for it now." He believed that he had ridden right into the hands of the enemy, and there was nothing to do but surrender.
The Confederate guard seemed to note the disturbed condition of the General, for they assured him they were friends.
Who are you?" he asked.
"We are Southerners, General, with prisoners."
What are you doing with that blue uniform on?" he asked. "We captured it at the fort," they answered.
Get to the camp," said the General, "and as soon as you reach there take it off."
The General and staff turned and went back with the guard and their prisoners, which reassured the Confederates, for they trembled lest the prisoners should suddenly turn on them, wrest their guns from their hands, make the guards prisoners, and then make their way to New Berne through the woods.
The next day found the infantry and artillery on their return march, arriving safely at Kinston, where a stop was made for some time, as a serious business demanded the attention of the general officer, General Pickett having assumed command.
A week or two after the army's arrival at Kinston, a court-martial was convened to try the deserters, and the verdict was they should be hung. The jail was near the Neuse river, and back of it lay a flat country. On this plateau was erected a large scaffold of rude material, and around it was built a platform with triggers, with ropes attached. The fatal day arrived, the military was marched to the
scaffold, and men detailed to pull the ropes and thus spring the triggers. Twenty-five men were placed on the platform at one time, the noose adjusted around their necks, their heads covered with corn sacks in lieu of the black caps, which could not be obtained, the command given, the ropes were pulled, the triggers sprung, and twenty-five men launched into eternity. This was followed later by five other executions, and then two, the latter being brothers, of the same build and stature, about six feet tall and well-built. They were baptized in the Neuse river, taken to the jail to change their clothing, and from thence to the scaffold, where they paid the penalty of cruel war's demand.
After all this was over, back to old Virginia was the command, and the arrival was made in time.
JUDAH P. BENJAMIN.
Sketch of the Life of this Remarkable Man.
HIS CAREER AS A CONFEDERATE.
An Anecdote of Him Told by Dr. Hoge-His Capacity for Hard Work. His Flight from Richmond at the Close of the War.
(H. T. Ezekiel in the Jewish South, December, 1897.)
One of if not the most unique personage connected with the government of the Southern Confederacy was Judah P. Benjamin, a Jew, as signified by his name.
Although this gentleman was one of the foremost lawyers of his day, a prominent United States Senator, at various times AttorneyGeneral, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State of the Confederacy, and more latterly a Queen's Counsel in England, no history of his life has as yet been written. Such a work is now in course of preparation in England, and it was a request for data in connection. therewith that led in part to the writing of this sketch.
Judah Phillips Benjamin was the son of English parents, and was born in 1811. His mother and father were on their way from England to New Orleans. Arriving off the mouth of the Mississippi river, it was found to be blockaded by British men-of-war, so their ves