Which Dilates Upon The Military Mind As Affected By Southern Experience; Shows How A Deserving Southern Unionist Was Fearfully And Wonderfully Tried By Mackerel Court-Martial; And Explains How Captain Munchausen, Being Reconstructed, Sent Greetings To The United States Of America And Terminated This Eventful History.
Chipmunk Court House, June 30,1868.
To the military mind, withdrawn from contemplation of the ensanguined field through a spy-glass, and informed upon application that there are no immediate vacancies in the Custom House,-there is nothing more profoundly interesting than the spectacle of a superior people gradually rising from their first unmitigated astonishment at defeat, and rapidly regaining their original largeness of impressive shirt-collar. The military mind, I say, in its few instances of not being called immediately after a war to illuminate the office of Governor or Secretary of State, finds a weird fascination in this development of a high-toned characteristic of superior blood, and has been known upon certain garrison occasions to grovel ecstatically before so much renewed immensity of aspect. The mechanical effects of martial discipline, and some remembrance of having tended a restaurant in earlier life, frequently conduce to make the American Military mind exquisitely sensitive to that peremptory demand for an attached waiter which continually effulges from a dress-coat mien sufficiently overbearing; and many a brass-buttoned brigadier of our invincible army has paused, as commandant, in some refined Southern town of his conquest, only to fall a prostrate valet before the large-sized demeanor of its most insulting and respectable citizens.
These reflections coursed pleasantly through my mind, and caused me to wink knowingly with my mind's eye, as I stood in the little encampment, on the lawn of the chateau, and listened to the talk of our reconstructing National troops. There was one Mackerel cheerfully trying the range of his gun, by firing a few experimental bullets at a member of the freed-negro race on an adjacent fence; and, just as the redeemed freedman put down his hoe-cake on a post to see what was in his hat, he turned immediately to another Mackerel, and says he, -
" It's naygurs, the like of him convenient to the fince, that they kape us here to purtect, whin the war's over intire-ly. An, sure, why couldn't they lave the black cray-tures to the gintleman that ouns them, and lave us to go home an' vote?"
The other Mackerel stopped dealing out rations to the aged seneschal, who had just come with a basket for the Munchausen family-breakfast, and says he, -
" Why, Antonio, nobody ouns them now. They're free, and will be a comin' and takin' the bread out of our mouths next".
Antonio only paused a moment, to kick the seneschal, and says he, -
" It's bate them I would, if I was the gintleman, and then see if it's us white min that would interfere. Ah, but it's the rale gintleman he is, up at the house yonder; an' I've not seen the like of him since I came over. He doesn't be spakin' to common folks the like of us, at all, sure; and that was the way with Lord Dunlaff when I tinded his horses at home".
I turned from the spot, musingly, my boy, and it occurred to me that there is possibly a greater capacity for popular influence in cheek than in mouth.
But why lingers my pen around these beautiful incidents, like a bee around flowers, when the stern duty of the historian requires it to skip all the fragrant poetry of human nature, and make note only of its scents-less pros and cons ? Why dallies my forgetful quill with what may be termed foreign phlox, when it should be busy with something closely approximate to its native goose?
Let Themis - Titanic Goddess, as Hesiod would have her - shrink to the dimensions of a little girl with a " chignon, " and hide her increased head, while I relate to an excited universe the details of Captain Villiam Brown's court-martial-inquest, in the case of a Southern Union man of Chipmunk, accused of having remarked, that he cared not what others might say, but, as for him, give him liberty or give him death.
It did not appear that this observation had any particular application to anything excessively national; in fact, the said observation was believed by some to have been merely a quotation from Patrick Henry, and having reference solely to a question of African choice between emancipation and freedom; but Villiam at once convened a Mackerel court-martial in the back kitchen, with an intelligent Mackerel for Judge Advocate; and when the prisoner was brought in with his counsel, Villiam frowned majestically upon him from the mangle, and says he, -
"Prisoner at the refrigerator, you are arraigned on a charge of having uttered incendiary words, and are here to take your trial for better or worse. Have you any reason to show why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon you ? "
Here the counsel for the defence arose hastily from a wash-tub, and says he, -
"Now this is really -"
"Silence, sarah!" says Villiam, sternly, "and don't try to bully this court, which knows more about law," says Villiam, emphatically, "than ever you read of in Story. You musn't try any of your bullying here, sarah!"
The counsel for the defence merely wished to state -
The Judge Advocate suggested that it was scarcely worth while to heed this wretched man's miserable drivel; but if the convicted traitor at the refrigerator would not at once confess himself guilty of arson against the government, the witnesses must appear.
Therefore, J. Smith, being duly sworn, testified that he had known the prisoner at the refrigerator for some time, and always believed him to be a fiend in human form; had frequently supposed him to be a brute in human shape, and remembered he had once asked a man at a deaf and dumb asylum if he did not think so too. Could not tell precisely the hour on each day when he had spoken of the accused as a demon in human habiliments, but thought it was every hour; the prisoner had owed him four dollars and a half for three years.