Read THE GIN: CHAPTER II of The Bishop of Cottontown A Story of the Southern Cotton Mills , free online book, by John Trotwood Moore, on ReadCentral.com.

THE REAL HEROES

The real heroes of the war have not been decorated yet. They have not even been pensioned, for many of them lie in forgotten graves, and those who do not are not the kind to clamor for honors or emoluments.

On the last Great Day, what a strange awakening for decorations there will be, if such be in store for the just and the brave: Private soldiers, blue and gray, arising from neglected graves with tattered clothes and unmarked brows. Scouts who rode, with stolid faces set, into Death’s grim door and died knowing they went out unremembered. Spies, hung like common thieves at the end of a rope hung, though the bravest of the brave.

Privates, freezing, starving, wounded, dying, unloved, unsoothed, unpitied giving their life with a last smile in the joy of martyrdom. Women, North, whose silent tears for husbands who never came back and sons who died of shell and fever, make a tiara around the head of our reunited country. Women, South, glorious Rachels, weeping for children who are not and with brave hearts working amid desolate homes, the star and inspiration of a rebuilded land. Slaves, faithfully guarding and working while their masters went to the front, filling the granaries that the war might go on faithful to their trust though its success meant their slavery faithful and true.

O Southland of mine, be gentle, be just to these simple people, for they also were faithful.

Among the heroic things the four years of the American Civil War brought out, the story of Captain Thomas Travis deserves to rank with the greatest of them.

The love of Thomas Travis for the preacher-overseer was the result of a life of devotion on the part of the old man for the boy he had reared. Orphaned as he was early in life, Thomas Travis looked up to the overseer of his grandfather’s plantation as a model of all that was great and good.

Tom and Alice, on the neighboring plantations ran wild over the place and rode their ponies always on the track of the overseer. He taught them to ride, to trap the rabbit, to boat on the beautiful river. He knew the birds and the trees and all the wild things of Nature, and Tom and Alice were his children.

As they grew up before him, it became the dream of the preacher-overseer to see his two pets married. Imagine his sorrow when the war fell like a thunderbolt out of a harvest sky and, among the thousand of other wrecked dreams, went the dream of the overseer.

The rest is soon told: After the battle of Shiloh, Hillard Watts, Chief of Johnston’s scouts, was captured and sent to Camp Chase. Scarcely had he arrived before orders came that twelve prisoners should be shot, by lot, in retaliation for the same number of Federal prisoners which had been executed, it was said, unjustly, by Confederates. The overseer drew one of the black balls. Then happened one of those acts of heroism which now and then occur, perhaps, to redeem war of the base and bloody.

On the morning before the execution, at daylight, Thomas Travis arrived and made arrangements to save his friend at the risk of his own life and reputation. It was a desperate chance and he acted quickly. For Hillard Watts went out a free man dressed in the blue uniform of the Captain of Artillery.

The interposition of the great-hearted Lincoln alone saved the young officer from being shot.

The yellow military order bearing the words of the martyred President is preserved to-day in the library of The Gaffs:

I present this young man as a Christmas gift to my old friend, his grandsire, Colonel Jeremiah Travis. The man who could fight his guns as he did at Shiloh, and could offer to die for a friend, is good enough to receive pardon, for anything he may have done or may do, from

“A. LINCOLN.”

Afterwards came Franklin and the news that Captain Tom had been killed.