Read JUVENILIA AND OTHER PAPERS: STEVENSON AT PLAY - WAR CORRESPONDENCE FROM STEVENSON’S NOTE-BOOK of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Vol 22, free online book, by Andrew Lang., on ReadCentral.com.

GLENDARULE TIMES. ­10th. Scarlet. ­“The advance of the enemy continues along three lines, a light column moving from Tahema on Grierson, and the main body concentrating on Garrard from the Savannah and Yallobally roads.  Garrard and Grierson have both been evacuated.  A small force, without artillery, is alone in the neighbourhood of Cinnabar, and some of that has fallen back on Glentower by the pass.  The brave artillery remains in front of Scarlet, and was reinforced this morning with some ammunition.  All day infantry has been moving eastward on Sandusky.  The greatest depression prevails.”

Editorial Comment. ­General Stevenson may, or may not, be a capable commander.  It would be unjust to pronounce in the meantime.  Still, the attempt to seize Mar was disastrously miscalculated, and, as we all know, the column has fallen back on Sandusky with cruel loss.  Nor is it possible to deny that the attempt to hold Grierson, and keep an army in the west, was idle.  Our correspondent at Scarlet mentions the passage of troops moving eastward through that place, and the retreat of another column on Glentower.  These are the last wrecks of that Army of the West, from which great things were once expected.  With the exception of the Yolo column, which is without guns, all our forces are now concentrated in the province of Sandusky; Blue Mountain Province is particularly deserted, and nothing has been done to check, even for an hour, the advance of our numerous and well-appointed foes.

11th. Scarlet. ­The horse-artillery returned through Scarlet on the Glendarule road; hideous confusion reigns; were the enemy to fall upon us now, the best opinions regard our position as hopeless.  Authentic news has been received of the desertion of Cinnabar.

Sandusky. ­The enemy has again appeared, threatening Mar, and the column moving to the relief of the Yolo column has stopped in its advance in consequence.  General Stevenson moved out a column with artillery, and crushed a flanking party of the enemy’s great centre army on Scarlet, Garrard, and Savannah road; no loss was sustained on our side; the enemy’s loss is officially calculated at four hundred killed or wounded.

Scarlet. ­At last the moment has arrived.  The enemy, with a strong column of horse and horse-artillery, occupied Grierson this morning.  This, with his Army of the Centre moving steadily forward upon Garrard, places all the troops in and around this place in imminent danger of being entirely cut off, or being forced to retreat before overwhelming forces across the Blue Mountains, a course, according to all military men, involving the total destruction of General Potty’s force.  Piffle’s whole corps, with the heavy artillery, continued its descent on the left bank of the Sandusky river, while Potty, dashing through Scarlet at the hand-gallop, and among the cheers of the populace, moved off along the Grierson road, collecting infantry as he moved, and riding himself at the head of the horse-artillery.

NOTE. ­General Potty was an airy, amiable, affected creature, the very soul of bravery and levity.  He had risen rapidly by virtue of his pleasing manners; but his application was small, and he lacked self-reliance at the Council Board.  Piffle called him a parrot; he returned the compliment by calling Piffle “the hundred-weight of bricks.”  They were scarce on speaking terms.

Half an hour after, he had driven the fore-guard of the enemy out of Grierson without the loss of a trooper on our side; the enemy’s loss is reckoned at 1,600 men.  I telegraph at this juncture before returning to the field.  So far the work is done; Potty has behaved nobly.  But he remains isolated by the retreat of Piffle, with a large force in front, and another large force advancing on his unprotected flank.

Editorial Comment. ­We have been successful in two skirmishes, but the situation is felt to be critical, and is by some supposed to be desperate.  Stevenson’s skirmish on the 11th did not check the advance of the Army of the Centre; it is impossible to predict the result of Potty’s success before Grierson.  The Yolo column appears to meet with no resistance; but it is terribly committed, and is, it must be remembered, quite helpless for offensive purposes, without the co-operation of Stevenson from Sandusky.  How that can be managed, while the enemy hold the pass behind Mar, is more than we can see.  Some shrewd, but perhaps too hopeful, critics perceive a deep policy in the inactivity of our troops about Sandusky, and believe that Stevenson is luring on the cautious Osbourne to his ruin.  We will hope so; but this does not explain Piffle’s senseless counter-marchings around Scarlet, nor the horribly outflanked and unsupported position of Potty on the line of the Cinnabar river.  If General Osbourne were a child, we might hope for the best; there is no doubt that he has been careless about Mar and Yolo, and that he was yesterday only saved from a serious disaster by a fluke, and the imperfection of our scout system; but the situation to the west and centre wears a different complexion; there his steady, well-combined advance, carrying all before him, contrasts most favourably with the timid and divided counsels of our Stevensons, Piffles, and Pottys.

YALLOBALLY RECORD. ­“That incompetent shuffler, General Osbourne, has again put his foot into it.  Blundering into Grierson with a lot of unsupported horse, he has got exactly what he deserved.  The whole command was crushed by that wide-awake fellow, Potty, and a lot of guns and ammunition lie ignominiously deserted on our own side of the river.  All this through mere chuckle-headed incompetence and the neglect of the most elementary precautions, within a day’s march of two magnificent armies, either of which, under any sane, soldierly man, is capable of marching right through to Glendarule.

“This is the last scandal.  Yesterday, it was a whole regiment cut off between the Garrard road and the Sandusky river, and cut off without firing or being able to fire a single shot in self-defence.  It is an open secret that the men behind Mar are starving, and that the whole east and the city of Savannah were within a day of being deserted.  How long is this disorganisation to go on?  How long is that bloated bondholder to go prancing round on horseback, wall-eyed and muddle-headed, while his men are starved and butchered, and the forces of this great country are at the mercy of clever rogues like Potty, or respectable mediocrities like Stevenson?”

General Piffle’s force was, I learn, attacked this morning from across the river by the whole weight of the enemy’s centre.  Supports were being hurried forward.  Ammunition was scarce.  A feeling of anxiety, not unmixed with hope, is the rule.

Noon. ­I am now back in Scarlet, as being more central to both actions now raging, one along the line of the Sandusky between General Piffle and the Army of the Centre, the other toward Grierson between Potty and the corps of Generals Green and Lafayette.  News has come from both quarters.  Piffle, who was at one time thought to be overwhelmed, has held his ground on the Sandusky highroad; and by last advices his whole supports had come into line, and he hoped, by a last effort, to carry the day.  His losses have been severe; they are estimated at 2,600 killed and wounded; but it appears from the reports of captives that the enemy’s losses must amount to 3,000 at least.  The fate of the engagement still trembles in the balance.  From the battle at Grierson, the news is both encouraging and melancholy.  The enemy has once more been driven across the rivers, and even some distance behind the town of Grierson itself on the Tahema road; he has certainly lost 2,400 men, principally horse; but he has succeeded in carrying off his guns and ammunition in the face of our attack, and his immense reserves are close at hand.  Both Green and Lafayette are sent wounded to the rear; it is unknown who now commands their column.  These successes, necessary as they were felt to be, were somewhat dearly purchased.  Two thousand six hundred men are hors de combat; and the chivalrous Potty is himself seriously hurt.  This has cast a shade of anxiety over our triumph; and though the light column is still pushing its advantage under Lieutenant-General Pipes, it is felt that nothing but a complete success of the main body under Piffle can secure us from the danger of complete investment.

14th. Scarlet. ­The engagement ended last night by the complete evacuation of Grierson.  Pipes cleared the whole country about that town in splendid style, and the army encamped on the field of battle; sadly reduced indeed, but victorious for the moment.  The enemy, since their first appearance at Grierson, have lost 4,400 men, and have been beaten decisively back.  There is now not a man on our side of the Sandusky; and our loss of 2,600 is serious indeed, but, seeing how much has been accomplished, not excessive.  The enemy’s horse was cut to pieces.

Piffle slept on the ground that he had held all day.  In the afternoon he had once more driven back the head of the enemy’s columns, inflicting a further loss of 3,200 killed and wounded at the lowest computation; but the enemy’s camp-fires can still be plainly made out with a field-glass, in the same position as the night before.  This is scarcely to be called success, although it is certainly not failure.

Sandusky. ­All quiet at Sandusky; the army has fallen back into the city, and large reserves are still massed behind.

Editorial Comment. ­The battle of Grierson is a distinct success; the enemy, with a heavy loss, have been beaten back to their own side.  As to the vital engagement on the Sandusky and the heavy fighting before Yolo, it is plain that we must wait for further news of both.  In neither case has any decided advantage crowned our arms, and if we are to judge by the expressions of the commander-in-chief to our Sandusky correspondent, the course of the former still leaves room for the most serious apprehensions.  General Potty, we are glad to assure our readers, will be once more in the saddle before many days.  It is an odd coincidence that all the principal commanders in the battle of Grierson were at one period or another of the day carried to the rear; and that none of the three is seriously hurt.  Green and Lafayette were shot down, it appears, within a few moments of each other.  It was reported that they had been having high words as to the reckless advance over the Sandusky, each charging the blame upon the other; but it seems certain that the fault was Lafayette’s, who was in chief command, and was present in Grierson itself at the time of the fatal manoeuvre.  The result would have been crushing, had not General Potty been left for some hours utterly without ammunition; Commissary Scuttlebutt is loudly blamed.  To-morrow’s news is everywhere awaited with an eagerness approaching to agony.

15th. Scarlet. ­Late last night, orders reached General Pipes to fall back on this place, where his reserves were diverted to support Piffle, hard-pressed on the Sandusky.  This morning the manoeuvre was effected in good order, the enemy following us through Grierson and capturing one hundred prisoners.  The battle was resumed on the Sandusky with the same fury; and it is still raging as I write.  The enemy’s Army of the Centre is commanded, as we learn from stragglers, by General Napoleon; they boast of large supports arriving, both from Savannah and Tahema directions.  The slaughter is something appalling; the whole of Potty’s infantry corps has marched to support Piffle; and as we have now no more men within a day’s ride, it is feared the enemy may yet manage to carry Garrard and command the line of the river.

Sandusky. ­This morning, General Stevenson marched out of town to the southward on the Savannah and Sandusky road.  It was fully expected that he would have mounted the Sandusky river to support Piffle and engage the enemy’s Army of the Centre on the flank; and the present manoeuvre is loudly criticised.  Not only is the integrity of the line of the Sandusky ventured, but Stevenson’s own force is now engaged in a most awkward country, with a difficult bridge in front.  To add, if possible, to our anxiety, it is reported that General Delafield, in yesterday’s engagement, lost 3,200 men, killed and wounded.  He held his ground, however, and by the last advices had killed 800 and taken 1,400 prisoners, with which he had fallen back again on Yolo itself.  This retrogression, it seems, is in accordance with his original orders:  he was either to hold Yolo, or if possible advance on Savannah via Brierly.  This last he judged unwise, so that he was obliged to cling to Yolo itself.  This also is seriously criticised in the best-informed circles.  Osbourne himself is reported to be in Savannah.

YALLOBALLY RECORD. ­“We have never concealed our opinion that Osbourne was a bummer and a scallywag; but the entire collapse of his campaign beats the worst that we imagined possible.  We have received, at the same moment, news of Green and Lafayette’s column being beaten ignominiously back again across the Sandusky river and out of Grierson, a place on our own side; and next of the appearance of a large body of troops at Yolo, in the very heart of this great land, where they seem to have played the very devil, taking prisoners by the hundred and marching with arrogant footsteps on the sacred soil of the province of Savannah.  General Napoleon, the only commander who has not yet disgraced himself, still fights an uphill battle in the centre, inflicting terrific losses and upholding the honour of his country single-handed.  The infamous Osbourne is shaking in his spectacles at Savannah.  He was roundly taken to task by a public-spirited reporter, and babbled meaningless excuses; he did not know, he said, that the force now falling in on us at Yolo was so large.  It was his business to know.  What is he paid for?  That force has been ten days at least turning the east of the Mar Mountains, a week at least on our own side of the frontier.  Where were Osbourne’s wits?  Will it be believed, the column at Lone Bluff is again short of ammunition?  This old man of the sea, whom all the world knows to be an ass and whom we can prove to be a coward, is apparently a peculator also.  If we were to die to-morrow, the word Osbourne would be found engraven backside foremost on our hearts.”

Note. The Tergiversation of the Army of the West. ­The delay of the Army of the West, and the timorous counsels of Green and Lafayette, were the salvation of Potty, Pipes, and Piffle.  This is the third time we hear of this great army crossing the river.  It never should have left hold.  Lafayette had an overwhelming force at his back; and with a little firmness, a little obstinacy even, he might have swallowed up the thin lines opposed to him.  On this day, the 16th, when we hear of his leaving Grierson for the third time, his headquarters should have been in Scarlet, and his guns should have enfiladed the weak posts of Piffle.

Sandusky.  Noon. ­Great gloom here.  As everyone predicted, Stevenson has already lost 600 men in the marshes at the mouth of the Sandusky, men simply sacrificed.  His wilful conduct in not mounting the river, following on his melancholy defeat before Mar, and his long and fatal hesitation as to the Armies of the West and Centre, fill up the measure of his incapacity.  His uncontrolled temper and undisguised incivility, not only to the Press, but to fellow-soldiers of the stamp of Piffle, have alienated from him even the sympathy that sometimes improperly consoles demerit.

Editorial. ­We leave our correspondents to speak for themselves, reserving our judgment with a heavy heart.  Piffle has the sympathy of the nation.

Scarlet. 9 P.M. ­The attack has ceased.  Napoleon is moving off southward.  Our fellows smartly pursued and cut off 1,600 men; in spreading along the other side of the Sandusky they fell on a flanking column of the enemy’s Army of the West and sent it to the right-about with a loss of 800 left upon the field.  This shows how perilously near to a junction these two formidable armies were, and should increase our joy at Napoleon’s retreat.  That movement is variously explained, but many suppose it is due to some advance from Sandusky.

Sandusky.8 P.M. ­Stevenson this afternoon occupied the angle between the Glendarule and the Sandusky; his guns command the Garrard and Savannah highroad, the only line of retreat for General Napoleon’s guns, and he has already hopelessly defeated and scattered a strong body of supports advancing from Savannah to the aid of that commander.  The enemy lost 1,600 men; it is thought that this success and Stevenson’s present position involve the complete destruction or the surrender of the enemy’s Army of the Centre.  The enemy have retired from the passes behind Mar; but it is thought they have moved too late to save Savannah.  Pleasant news from Colonel Delafield, who, with a loss of 600, has destroyed thrice that number of the enemy before Yolo.

17th. Scarlet. ­The enemy turned last night, inflicting losses on the combined forces of Generals Pipes and Piffle, amounting together to 1,600 men.  But his retreat still continues, harassed by our cavalry and guns.  The rest of the troops out of Cinnabar have arrived, via Glentower, at the foot of the Blue Mountains.  Everyone is in high spirits.  Potty has resumed command of his division; I met him half an hour ago at lunch, when he expressed himself delighted with the campaign.

Sandusky. ­A great victory must be announced.  Today Stevenson passed the Sandusky, and occupied the right bank of the Glendarule and the country in front of Savannah.  General Napoleon, in full retreat upon that place, found himself cut off, and, after a desperate struggle, in which 2,600 fell, surrendered with 6,000 men.  The wrecks of his army are scattered far and wide, and his guns are lying deserted on the Garrard road.  At the very moment while Napoleon was surrendering his sword to General Stevenson, the head of our colours cut off 1,400 men before Savannah, which was under the fire of our guns, and destroyed a convoy on the Mar and Savannah highroad.  This completes the picture; the enemy have now only one bridge over the Glendarule not swept by our artillery.  Delafield has had another partial success; with a loss of 1,000 he has cut off 1,200 and made 400 prisoners, but a strong force ts reported on the Yolo and Yallobally road, which, by placing him between two fires, may soon render his hold on the Yolo untenable.

Note. ­General Napoleon.  His real name was Clamborough.  The son of a well-known linen-draper in Yolo, he was educated at the military college of Savannah.  His chief fault was an overwhelming vanity, which betrayed itself in his unfortunate assumption of a pseudonym, and in the gorgeous Oriental costumes by which he rendered himself conspicuous and absurd.  He received early warning of Stevenson’s advance from Sandusky, but refused to be advised, and did not begin to retreat until his army was already circumvented.  A characteristic anecdote is told of the surrender.  “General,” said Napoleon to his captor, “you have to-day immortalised your name.”  “Sir,” returned Stevenson, whose brutality of manner was already proverbial, “if you had taken as much trouble to direct your army as your tailor to make your clothes, our positions might have been reversed.”

Editorial Comment. ­Unlike many others, we have never lost confidence in General Stevenson; indeed, as our readers may remember, we have always upheld him as a capable, even a great commander.  Some little ruffle at Scarlet did occur, but it was, no doubt, chargeable to the hasty Potty; and now, by one of the finest manoeuvres on record, the head general of our victorious armies has justified our most hopeful prophecies and aspirations.  There is not, perhaps, an officer in the army who would not have chosen the obvious and indecisive move up the Sandusky, which even our correspondent, able as he is, referred to with apparent approval.  Had Stevenson done that, the brave enemy who chooses to call himself Napoleon might have been defeated twelve hours earlier, and there would have been less sacrifice of life in the divisions of Potty and the ignorant Piffle.  But the enemy’s retreat would not have been cut off; his general would not now have been a prisoner in our camp, nor should our cannon, advanced boldly into the country of our foes, thunder against the gates of Savannah and cut off the supplies from the army behind Mar.  A glance at the map will show the authority of our position; not a loaf of bread, not an ounce of powder can reach Savannah or the enemy’s Army of the East, but it must run the gauntlet of our guns.  And this is the result produced by the turning movement at Yolo, General Stevenson’s long inactivity in Sandusky, and his advance at last, the one right movement and in the one possible direction.

YALLOBALLY RECORD. ­“The humbug who had the folly and indecency to pick up the name of Napoleon second-hand at a sale of old pledges, has been thrashed and is a prisoner.  Except the Army of the West, and the division on the Mar road, which is commanded by an old woman, we have nothing on foot but scattered, ragamuffin regiments.  Savannah is under fire; that will teach Osbourne to skulk in cities instead of going to the front with the poor devils whom he butchers by his ignorance and starves with his peculations.  What we want to know is, when is Osbourne to be shot?”

Note. ­The Record editor, a man of the name of McGuffog, was subsequently hanged by order of General Osbourne.  Public opinion endorsed this act of severity.  My great-uncle, Mr. Phelim Settle, was present and saw him with the nightcap on and a file of his journals around his neck; when he was turned off, the applause, according to Mr. Settle, was deafening.  He was a man, as the extracts prove, not without a kind of vulgar talent.

YALLOBALLY EVENING HERALD. ­“It would be idle to disguise the fact that the retreat of our Army of the Centre, and the accidental capture of the accomplished soldier whose modesty conceals itself under the pseudonym of Napoleon, have created a slight though baseless feeling of alarm in this city.  Nearer the field the troops are quite steady, the inhabitants enthusiastic, and the loyal and indefatigable Osbourne multiplies his bodily presence.  The events of yesterday were much exaggerated by some papers, and the publication of one rowdy sheet, suspected of receiving pay from the enemy, has been suspended by an order from headquarters.  Our Army of the West still advances triumphantly unresisted into the heart of the enemy’s country; the force at Yolo, which is a mere handful and quite without artillery, will probably be rooted out to-morrow.  Addresses and congratulations pour in to General Osbourne; subscriptions to the great testimonial Osbourne statue are received at the Herald office every day between the hours of 10 and 4.”

ABSTRACT OF SIX DAYS’ FIGHTING, FROM THE 19TH TO THE 24TH, FROM THE GLENDARULE TIMES SATURDAY SPECIAL. ­“This week has been, on the whole, unimportant; there are few changes in the aspect of the field of war, and perhaps the most striking fact is the collapse of Colonel Delafield’s Yolo column.  Fourteen hundred killed and eighteen hundred prisoners is assuredly a serious consideration for our small army; yet the good done by that expedition is not wiped away by the present defeat; large reinforcements of troops and much ammunition have been directed into the far east, and the city of Savannah and the enemy’s forces in the pass have thus been left without support.  Delafield himself has reached Mar, now in our hands, and the cavalry and stores of the expedition, all safe, are close behind him.  Yolo is a name that will never be forgotten.  Our forces are now thus disposed:  Potty, with the brave artillery, lies behind the south-east shoulder of the Blue Mountains, on the Sandusky and Samuel City road; Piffle, with the Army of the Centre, has fallen back into Sandusky itself; while Stevenson still holds the same position across the Sandusky river, his advance to which will constitute his chief claim to celebrity.  Savannah was bombarded from the 18th to the 20th, inclusive; 4,000 men fell in its defence.  Osbourne himself, directing operations, was seriously wounded and sent to Yallobally; and on the evening of the 20th the city surrendered, only 600 men being found within its walls.  A heavy contribution was raised:  but the general himself, fearing to expose his communications, remains in the same position and has not even occupied the fallen city.

“In the meantime the army from the pass has been slowly drawing down to the support of Savannah, suffering cruelly at every step.  Yesterday (24th) Mar was occupied by a corps of our infantry, who fell on the rear of the retreating enemy, inflicting heavy loss.”

NOTE. ­Retreat of the Mar column.  The army which so long and so usefully held the passes behind Mar, over the neck of Long Bluff, did not begin to retreat until the enemy had already occupied Mar and begun to engage their outposts.  Supplies had already been cut off by the advanced position of Stevenson.  The men were short of bread.  The roads were heavy; the horses starving.  The rear of the column was continually and disastrously engaged with the enemy pouring after.  It is perhaps the saddest chapter in the history of the war.  My grandmother, Mrs. Hankey (née Pillworthy), then a young girl on a mountain farm on the line of the retreat, distinctly remembers giving a soda biscuit, which was greedily received, to Colonel Diggory Jacks, then in command of our division, and lending him an umbrella, which was never returned.  This incident, trivial as it may be thought, emphatically depicts the destitution of our brave soldiers.

In the meantime, in the west, the enemy are slowly passing the rivers and advancing with their main body on Scarlet, and with a single corps on Glentower.  Cinnabar was occupied on the 21st in the morning, and a heavy contribution raised.  The situation may thus be stated:  In the centre we are the sole arbiters, commanding the roads and holding a position which can only be described as authoritative.  In the east, Delafield’s corps has been destroyed; but the enemy’s army of the pass, on the other hand, is in a critical position and may, in the course of a few days or so, be forced to lay down its arms.  In the west, nothing as yet is decided, and the movement through the Glentower Pass somewhat hampers General Potty’s position.

The comparative losses during these days are very encouraging, and compare pleasingly with the cost of the early part of the campaign.  The enemy have lost 12,800 men, killed, wounded, and prisoners, as against 4,800 on our side.

YALLOBALLY HERALD. ­Interview from General Osbourne with a special reporter. ­“I met the wounded hero some miles out of Yallobally, still working, even as he walked, and surrounded by messengers from every quarter.  After the usual salutations, he inquired what paper I represented, and received the name of the Herald with satisfaction.  ‘It is a decent paper,’ he said.  ’It does not seek to obstruct a general in the exercise of his discretion.’  He spoke hopefully of the west and east, and explained that the collapse of our centre was not so serious as might have been imagined.  ‘It is unfortunate,’ he said, ’but if Green succeeds in his double advance on Glendarule, and if our army can continue to keep up even the show of resistance in the province of Savannah, Stevenson dare not advance upon the capital; that would expose his communications too seriously for such a cautious and often cowardly commander.  I call him cowardly,’ he added, ’even in the face of the desperate Yolo expedition, for you see he is withdrawing all along the west, and Green, though now in the heart of his country, encounters no resistance.’  The General hopes soon to recover; his wound, though annoying, presents no character of gravity.”

NOTE. ­General Osbourne’s perfect sincerity is doubtful.  He must have known that Green was hopelessly short of ammunition.  “Unfortunate,” as an epithet describing the collapse of the Army of the Centre, is perhaps without parallel in military criticism.  It was not unfortunate, it was ruinous.  Stevenson was a man of uneven character, whom his own successes rendered timid; this timidity it was that delayed the end; but the war was really over when General Napoleon surrendered his sword on the afternoon of the 17th.