Scouts and Spies of the Civil War

By William Gilmore Beymer; Howard Pyle | Go to book overview
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Bowie

A man lay prone in the dust of a sunlit road—dying. Above the red sumac bushes at the roadside there yet lingered the telltale smoke fast melting into the grayer blue of the autumn haze. The narrow road curved and curved again; it was between the two curves that the man lay—dying. A scant quarter of a mile away, around the first bend, a small party of men in gray—his men—were shouting and laughing, calling from one to another humorous details of the fight. For they had just repulsed an attack of four to one, and the enemy had fled, terror-struck—made ridiculous—at the first volley, leaving behind their horses, their arms, and their honor. As the men saddled their horses and led them down the steep knollside—down which they had so lately charged—they laughed and shouted boisterously; perhaps he heard them, for he was sitting now, beyond the bend—still in the middle of the road—with his torn face in his hands.

Beyond the man in the road, beyond the second bend, there ran two men, gray-clad; they were running forward, one at each side of the road, long-barreled revolvers in each hand swinging here and there toward every stirring leaf, every rustling bough. As they ran they stooped and peered through each opening in the tangled undergrowth, down every woodland aisle; in their red, sweat-bathed faces there was savage anger, and in their eyes dull grief and pain. The man who was a little ahead at last stopped and faced about. “We might as well go back, he said.

They holstered their revolvers, and, stride for stride, retraced their steps in silence. As they reached the bend, they sprang forward with

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