A STORY OF THE WAR
WHEN Miss Theodosia Huntingdon, of Burlington, Vermont,
concluded to come South in 1870, she was moved by three
considerations. In the first place, her brother, John Huntingdon,
had become a citizen of Georgia-having astonished his
acquaintances by marrying a young lady, the male members of
whose family had achieved considerable distinction in the
Confederate army; in the second place, she was anxious to explore
a region which she almost unconsciously pictured to herself as
remote and semi-barbarous; and, in the third place, her friends had
persuaded her that to some extent she was an invalid. It was in
vain that she argued with herself as to the propriety of undertaking
the journey alone and unprotected, and she finally put an end to
inward and outward doubts by informing herself and her friends,
including John Huntingdon, her brother, who was practicing law in
Atlanta, that she had decided to visit the South.
When, therefore, on the 12th of October, 1870-the date is duly
recorded in one of Miss Theodosia's letters-she alighted from the
cars in Atlanta, in the midst of a great crowd, she fully expected to
find her brother waiting to receive her. The bells of several
locomotives were ringing, a number of trains were moving in and
out, and the porters and baggage-men were screaming and bawling
to such an extent that for several moments Miss Huntingdon was
considerably confused; so much so that she paused in the hope that
her brother would suddenly appear and rescue her from the smoke,
and dust, and din. At that moment some one touched her on the
arm, and she heard a strong, half-confident, half-apologetic voice
"Ain't dish yer Miss Doshy?"
Turning, Miss Theodosia saw at her side a tall, gray-haired negro.
Elaborating the incident afterward to her friends, she was pleased
to say that the appearance of the old man was somewhat
picturesque. He stood towering above her, his hat in one hand, a
carriage-whip in the other, and an expectant smile lighting up his
rugged face. She remembered a name her brother had often used in
his letters, and, with a woman's tact, she held out her hand, and
"Is this Uncle Remus?"
"Law, Miss Doshy! how you know de ole nigger? I know'd you by
de faver; but how you know me?" And then, without waiting for a
reply: "Miss Sally, she sick in bed, en Mars John, he bleedzd ter go
in de country, en dey tuck'n sont me. I know'd you de minnit I laid
eyes on you. Time I seed you, I say ter myse'f, 'I lay dar's Miss
Doshy,' en, sho nuff, dar you wuz. You ain't gun up yo' checks, is
you? Kaze I'll git de trunk sont up by de 'spress waggin."
The next moment Uncle Remus was elbowing his way
unceremoniously through the crowd, and in a very short time,
seated in the carriage driven by the old man, Miss Huntingdon was
whirling through the streets of Atlanta in the direcfion of her
brother's home. She took advantage of the opportunity to study the
old negro's face closely, her natural curiosity considerably
sharpened by a knowledge of the fact that Uncle Remus had
played an important part in her brother's history. The result of her
observation must have been satisfactory, for presently she laughed,
"Uncle Remus, you haven't told me how you knew me in that great
The old man chuckled, and gave the horses a gentle rap with the
"Who? Me! I know'd you by de faver. Dat boy er Mars John's is de
ve'y spit en immij un you. I'd a know'd you in New 'Leens, let lone
down dar in de kyar-shed."
This was Miss Theodosia's introduction to Uncle Remus. One
Sunday afternoon, a few weeks after her arrival, the family were
assembled in the piazza enjoying the mild weather. Mr.
Huntingdon was reading a newspaper; his wife was crooning softly
as she rocked the baby to sleep; and the little boy was endeavoring
to show his Aunt Dosia the outlines of Kenesaw Mountain
through the purple haze that hung like a wonderfully fashioned
curtain in the sky and almost obliterated the horizon. While they
were thus engaged, Uncle Remus came around the corner of the
house, talking to himself.
"Dey er too lazy ter wuk," he was saying, "en dey specks hones'
fokes fer ter stan' up en s'port um. I'm gwine down ter Putmon
County whar Mars Jeems is-dat's w'at I'm agwine ter do."
"What's the matter now, Uncle Remus?" inquired Mr. Huntingdon,
folding up his newspaper.
"Nuthin' 'tall, Mars John, 'ceppin deze yer sunshine niggers. Dey
begs my terbacker, en borrys my tools, en steals my vittles, en hit's
done come ter dat pass dat I gotter pack up en go. I'm agwine down
ter Putmon, dat's w'at."
Uncle Remus was accustomed to make this threat several times a
day, but upon this occasion it seemed to remind Mr. Huntingdon of
"Very well," he said, "I'll come around and help you pack up, but
before you go I want you to tell Sister here how you went to war
and fought for the Union. Remus was a famous warrior," he
continued, turning to Miss Theodosia; "he volunteered for one day,
and commanded an army of one. You know the story, but you have
never heard Remus's version."
Uncle Remus shuffled around in an awkward, embarrassed way,
scratched his head, and looked uncomfortable.
"Miss Doshy ain't got no time fer ter set dar an year de ole nigger
"Oh, yes, I have, Uncle Remus!" exclaimed the young lady; "plenty
The upshot of it was that, after many ridiculous protests, Uncle
Remus sat down on the steps, and proceeded to tell his story of the
war. Miss Theodosia listened with great interest, but throughout it
all she observed-and she was painfully conscious of the fact, as she
afterward admitted-that Uncle Rcmus spoke from the standpoint of
a Southerner, and with the air of one who expected his hearers to
thoroughly sympathize with him.
"Co'se," said Uncle Remus, addressing himself to Miss Theodosia,
"you ain't bin to Putmon, en you dunner whar de Brad Slaughter
place en Harmony Grove is, but Mars John en Miss Sally, dey bin
dar a time er two, en dey knows how de lan' lays. Well, den, it 'uz
right long in dere whar Mars Jeems lived, en whar he live now.
When de war come long he wuz livin' dere longer Ole Miss en
Miss Sally. Ole Miss 'uz his ma, en Miss Sally dar 'uz his sister. De
war come des like I tell you, en marters sorter rock along same like
dey allers did. Hit didn't strike me dat dey wuz enny war gwine on,
en ef I hadn't sorter miss de nabers, en seed fokes gwine outer de
way fer ter ax de news, I'd a 'lowed ter myse'f dat de war wuz 'way
off 'mong some yuther country. But all dis time de fuss wuz gwine
on, en Mars Jeems, he wuz des eatchin' fer ter put in. Ole Miss en
Miss Sally, dey tuck on so he didn't git off de fus' year, but bimeby
news come down dat times wuz gittin' putty hot, en Mars Jeems he
got up, he did, en say he gotter go, en go he did. He got a overseer
fer ter look atter de place, en he went en jined de army. En he 'uz a
fighter, too, mon, Mars Jeems wuz. Many's en many's de time,"
continued the old man, reflectively, "dat I hatter take'n bresh dat
boy on accounter his 'buzin' en beatin' dem yuther boys. He went
off dar fer ter fight, en he fit. Ole Miss useter call me up Sunday
en read w'at de papers say 'bout Mars Jeems, en it hope 'er up
mightly. I kin see 'er des like it 'uz yistiddy.
"'Remus,' sez she, 'dish yer's w'at de papers say 'bout my baby,' en
den she'd read out twel she couldn't read fer cryin'. Hit went on dis
way year in en year out, en dem wuz lonesome times, sho's you
bawn, Miss Doshy-lonesome times, sho. Hit got hotter en hotter in
de war, en lonesomer en mo' lonesomer at home, en bimeby 'long
come de conscrip' man, en he des everlas'nly scoop up Mars
Jeems's overseer. W'en dis come 'bout, ole Miss, she sont atter me
en say, sez she:
"'Remus, I ain't got nobody fer ter look arter de place but you,' sez
she, en den I up'n say, sez I:
"'Mistiss, you kin des 'pen' on de ole nigger.'
"I wuz ole den, Miss Doshy-let lone w'at I is now; en you better
b'leeve I bossed dem han's. I had dem niggers up en in de fier long
'fo' day, en de way dey did wuk wuz a caution. Ef dey didn't eat
der vittles dat season den I ain't name Remus. But dey wuz tuk
keer un. Dey had plenty er doze en plenty er grub, en dey wuz de
fattes' niggers in de settlement.
"Bimeby one day, Ole Miss, she call me up en say de Yankees
done gone en tuck Atlanty-dish yer ve'y town; den present'y I year
dey wuz a marchin' on down todes Putmon, en, lo en beholes one
day, de fus news I know'd, Mars Jeems he rid up wid a whole gang
er men. He des stop long nuff fer ter change hosses en snatch a
mouffle er sump'n ter eat, but 'fo' he rid off, he call me up en say,
"'Daddy'-all Ole Miss's chilluns call me daddy-'Daddy,' he say,
''pears like dere's gwineter be mighty rough times 'roun' yer. De
Yankees, dey er done got ter Madison en Mounticellar, en 'twon't
be many days 'fo' dey er down yer. 'Tain't likely dey'll pester
mother ner sister; but, daddy, ef de wus come ter de wus, I speck
you ter take keer un um,' sezee.
"Den I say, sez I: 'How long you bin knowin' me, Mars Jeems?' sez
"'S ence I wuz a baby,' sezee.
"'Well, den, Mars Jeems,' sez I, 'you know'd 'twa'nt no use fer ter ax
me ter take keer Ole Miss en Miss Sally.'
"Den he tuck'n squoze my han' en jump on de filly I bin savin' fer
'im, en rid off. One time he tu'n roun' en look like he wanter say
sump'n', but he des waf' his han'-so-en gallop on. I know'd den dat
trouble wuz brewin'. Nigger dat knows he's gwineter git thumped
kin sorter fix hisse'f, en I tuck'n fix up like de war wuz gwineter
come right in at de front gate. I tuck'n got all de cattle en hosses
tergedder en driv' um ter de fo'-mile place, en I tuck all de corn en
fodder en w'eat, en put um in a crib out dar in de woods; en I bilt
me a pen in de swamp, en dar I put de hogs. Den, w'en I fix all dis,
I put on my Sunday cloze en groun' my axe. Two whole days I
groun' dat axe. De grinestone wuz in sight er de gate en close ter
de big 'ouse, en dar I tuck my stan'.
"Bimeby one day, yer come de Yankees. Two un um come fus, en
den de whole face er de yeath swawm'd wid urn. De fus glimpse I
kotch un um, I tuck my axe en march inter Ole Miss settin'-room.
She done had de sidebode move in dar, en I wish I may drap ef
'twuzn't fa'rly blazin' wid silver-silver cups en silver sassers, silver
plates en silver dishes, silver mugs en silver pitchers. Look like ter
me dey wuz fixin' fer a weddin'. Dar sot Ole Miss des ez prim en
ez proud ez ef she own de whole county. Dis kinder hope me up,
kaze I done seed Ole Miss look dat away once befo' w'en de
overseer struck me in de face wid a w'ip. I sot down by de fier wid
my axe tween my knees. Dar we sot w'iles de Yankees ransack de
place. Miss Sally, dar, she got sorter restless, but Ole Miss didn't
skasely bat 'er eyes. Bimeby, we hear steps on de peazzer, en yer
come a couple er young fellers wid strops on der shoulders, en der
sodes a draggin' on de flo', en der spurrers a rattlin'. I won't say I
wuz skeer'd," said Uncle Remus, as though endeavoring to recall
something he failed to remember, "I won't say I wuz skeer'd, kaze I
wuzent; but I wuz took'n wid a mighty funny feelin' in de
naberhood er de gizzard. Dey wuz mighty perlite, dem young
chaps wuz; but Ole Miss, she never tu'n 'er head, en Miss Sally, she
look straight at de fier. Bimeby one un um see me, en he say,
"'Hello, ole man, w'at you doin' in yer?' sezee.
"'Well, boss,' sez I, 'I bin cuttin' some wood fer Ole Miss, en I des
stop fer ter worn my han's a little,' sez I.
"'Hit is cole, dat's a fack,' sezee.
"Wid dat I got up en tuck my stan' behime Ole Miss en Miss Sally,
en de man w'at speak, he went up en worn his han's. Fus thing you
know, he raise up sudden, en say, sezee:
"'W'at dat on yo' axe?'
"'Dat's de fier shinin' on it,' sez I.
"'Hit look like blood,' sezee, en den he laft.
"But, bless yo' soul, dat man wouldn't never laft dat day ef he'd
know'd de wukkins er Remus's mine. But dey didn't bodder nobody
ner tech nuthin', en bimeby dey put out. Well, de Yankees, dey kep'
passin' all de mawnin' en it look like ter me dey wuz a string un
um ten mile long. Den dey commence gittin' thinner en thinner, en
den atter w'ile we hear skummishin' in de naberhood er Armer's
fe'y, en Ole Miss low how dat wuz Wheeler's men makin' persoot.
Mars Jeems wuz wid dem Wheeler fellers, en I know'd ef dey wuz
dat close I wa'n't doin' no good settin' 'roun' de house toas'n my
shins at de fier, so I des tuck Mars Jeerns's rifle fum behime de do'
en put out ter look atter my stock.
"Seem like I ain't never see no raw day like dat, needer befo' ner
sence. Dey wa'n't no rain, but de wet des sifted down; mighty raw
day. De leaves on de groun' 'uz so wet dey don't make no fuss, en I
got in de woods, en w'enever I year de Yankees gwine by, I des
stop in my tracks en let um pass. I wuz stan'in' dat away in de aidge
er de woods lookin' out cross a clearin', w'en-piff!-out come a little
bunch er blue smoke fum de top er wunner dem big lonesome-
lookin' pines, en den-pow!
"Sez I ter myse'f, sez I: 'Honey, youer right on my route, en I'll des
see w'at kinder bird you got roostin' in you,' en w'iles I wuz a
lookin' out bus' de smoke-piff! en den-bang! Wid dat I des drapt
back inter de woods, en sorter skeerted 'roun' so's ter git de tree
'twixt' me en de road. I slid up putty close, en wadder you speck I
see? Des ez sho's youer settin' dar lissenin' dey wuz a live Yankee
up dar in dat tree, en he wuz a loadin' en a shootin' at de boys dez
ez cool es a cowcumber in de jew, en he had his hoss hitch out in
de bushes, kaze I year de creetur tromplin' 'roun'. He had a
spy-glass up dar, en w'iles I wuz a watchin' un 'im, he raise 'er up
en look thoo 'er, en den he lay 'er down en fix his gun fer ter shoot.
I had good eyes in dem days, ef I ain't got um now, en way up de
big road I see Mars Jeems a comm'. Hit wuz too fur fer ter see his
face, but I know'd 'im by de filly w'at I raise fer 'im, en she wuz a
prancin' like a school-gal. I know'd dat man wuz gwineter shoot
Mars Jeems ef he could, en dat wuz mo'n I could stan'. Manys en
manys de time dat I nuss dat boy, en hilt 'im in dese arms, en toted
'im on dis back, en w'en I see dat Yankee lay dat gun 'cross a lim'
en take aim at Mars Jeems I up wid my ole rifle, en shet my eyes
en let de man have all she had."
"Do you mean to say," exclaimed Miss Theodosia, indignantly,
"that you shot the Union soldier, when you knew he was fighting
for your freedom?"
"Co'se, I know all about dat," responded Uncle Remus, "en it sorter
made cole chills run up my back; but w'en I see dat man take aim,
en Mars Jeems gwine home ter Ole Miss en Miss Sally, I des
disremembered all 'bout freedom en lammed aloose. En den atter
dat, me en Miss Sally tuck en nuss de man. Right straight along. He
los' one arm in dat tree bizness, but me en Miss Sally we nuss 'im
en we nuss 'im twel he done got well. Des 'bout dat time I quit
nuss'n 'im, but Miss Sally she kep' on. She kep' on," continued
Uncle Remus, pointing to Mr. Huntingdon, "en now dar he is."
"But you cost him an arm," exclaimed Miss Theodosia.
"I gin 'im dem," said Uncle Remus, pointing to Mrs. Huntingdon,
"en I gin 'im deze"-holding up his own brawny arms. "En ef dem
ain't nuff fer enny man den I done los' de way."