Incidents of his Manhood

Boyhood in Manhood—Tact and Thoroughness in Drilling Men—His First Scout—Canal Boat Companion turns up—Second Scout— The Turn of Battle—President Lincoln’s Verdict—Famous Sail up the Big Sandy—Overcomes the Rebel Captain—What Became of Brown—His Famous Ride Through a Shower of Bullets

A fitting close of this volume is a collection of incidents from Garfield’s public life, illustrative of the qualities we have traced in his early struggles for a livelihood and education. They will serve to establish, more fully if possible, the drift of our effort: viz., “The Boy is father of the man.”

The thoughtful consideration that he devoted to issues of importance, and the deep reverence for the Scriptures that was begotten in his soul by maternal training and the grace of God, appeared in the current of his thoughts and acts after he had determined to enter the army. He went to his home at night thinking of his dear mother and dearer wife and child, as well as the small property he should leave them if he laid down his life on the battle-field. Opening the Bible which his mother gave him, to see what it would say to him upon the subject, he read, and read, and every passage seemed like the voice of God, saying to him, “Go! Go!” Far into the night he thought and read, and read and thought, more and more satisfied that his decision was in the path of duty.

When he went into camp, to drill his regiment before joining the army, his thoroughness and systematic way of doing things, as well as his tact and use of carpenters’ tools, came into immediate use. He was ignorant of military tactics, and so he sat down first to the task of instructing himself before he undertook the instruction of his regiment. “Bringing his saw and jack-plane again into play, he fashioned companies, officers, and non-commissioned officers, out of maple blocks, and, with these wooden-headed troops, thoroughly mastered the infantry tactics in his quarters. Then he organized a school for the officers of his regiment, requiring thorough recitation in the tactics, and illustrating the manœuvres by the blocks he had prepared for his own instruction. This done, he instituted regimental, company, squad, skirmish, and bayonet drill, and kept his men at these exercises from six to eight hours a day, until it was universally admitted that no better drilled or disciplined regiment could be found in Ohio.”

His decision and force of character, so noticeable in his early life, were illustrated by the promptness and energy with which he met a singular disappointment on the day his regiment left Columbus for the seat of war. By some mistake or misunderstanding he had not reached the depôt when the train started. Coming up within five minutes, he remarked to the superintendent of the road, “I was never behind time before in my life, and I will not be now;” and he chartered an engine, was off in a few minutes, and overtook his regiment in less than one hour.

Colonel Garfield’s orders were, to open communication with Colonel Cranor, and form a junction with his forces, although his command did not number half that of the enemy. The first indispensable thing to be done was to find a trusty messenger, to bear despatches to Colonel Cranor. He must be a man who would die rather than betray his trust; for Colonel Cranor was a hundred miles away, and the messenger must go through a region inhabited by disloyal people, and infested by guerillas. He applied to Colonel Moore, of the Fourteenth Kentucky.

“Have you a man who will die rather than fail or betray us?”

“I think I have,” the Colonel replied, after a little reflection, “John Jordan.”

The man was called, a strong-looking fellow, tall and lean, with a squeaking voice, his speech the uncouth dialect of the mountains, where he was born and reared, subject to the hardest toil and privation. He knew much of nature, in whose lap he was dandled, but very little of books, except the “Course of Time” and the Bible. Some officers would have thought him too simple for a spy, or expert messenger; but Garfield read him in a minute—a rude, unlettered, trusty, Christian man.

Colonel Garfield wrote his despatch on tissue paper, rolled it into the form of a bullet, coated it with warm lead, and delivered it to Jordan. At the same time he provided him with a carbine, a brace of

  By PanEris using Melati.

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