When the far-away Boston bells were sounding nine, on the morning of Saturday, the sixteenth of July, we took our glorious Massachusetts General by the hand, and said to him, —
“Good bye. If you do not see us within ten days, you will know we have ‘gone up.’”
“If I do not see you within that time,” he replied, “I’ll demand you; and if they don’t produce you, body and soul, I’ll take two for one, — better men than you are, — and hang them higher than Haman. My hand on that. Good bye.”
At three o’clock on the afternoon of the same day, mounted on two raw-boned relics of Sheridan’s great raid, and armed with a letter to Jeff. Davis, a white cambric handkerchief tied to a short stick, and an honest face, — this last was the Colonel’s, — we rode up to the Rebel lines. A ragged, yellow-faced boy, with a carbine in one hand, and another white handkerchief tied to another short stick in the other, came out to meet us.
“Can you tell us, my man, where to find Judge Ould, the Exchange Commissioner?”
“Yas. Him and t’other ‘Change officers is over ter the plantation beyont Miss Grover’s. Ye’ll know it by its hevin’ nary door nur winder [the mansion, he meant]. They’s all busted in. Foller the bridle-path through the timber, and keep your rag a-fiyin’, fur our boys is thicker ‘n huckelberries in them woods, and they mought pop ye, ef they didn’t seed it.”
Thanking him, we turned our horses into the “timber,” and, galloping rapidly on, soon came in sight of the deserted plantation. Lolling on the grass, in the shade of the windowless mansion, we found the Confederate officials. They rose as we approached; and one of us said to the Judge, — a courteous, middle-aged gentleman, in a Panama hat, and a suit of spotless white drillings, —
“We are late, but it’s your fault. Your people fired at us down the river, and we had to turn back and come over-land.”
“You don’t suppose they saw your flag?”
“No. It was hidden by the trees; but a shot came uncomfortably near us. It struck the water, and ricochetted not three yards off. A little nearer, and it would have shortened me by a head, and the Colonel by two feet.”
“That would have been a sad thing for you; but a miss, you know, is as good as a mile,” said the Judge, evidently enjoying the “joke.”
“We hear Grant was in the boat that followed yours, and was struck while at dinner,” remarked Captain Hatch, the Judge’s Adjutant, — a gentleman, and about the best-looking man in the Confederacy.
“Indeed! Do you believe it?”
“I don’t know, of course”; and his looks asked for an answer. We gave none, for all such information is contraband. We might have told him that Grant, Butler, and Foster examined their position from Mrs. Grover’s house, — about four hundred yards distant, — two hours after the Rebel cannon-ball danced a break-down on the Lieutenant-General’s dinner-table.