CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTORY.
A successful scout, or spy, is like a great poet in one respect: he is born, not made—subject to the requisition of the military genius of the time.
That I was not born to be hanged is a self-evident proposition. Whether I was a successful scout or not, the reader of these pages must determine.
It was my good fortune to have first seen the light under the shadow of one of the spurs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the beautiful Cumberland Valley, in the State of Pennsylvania, near Mason and Dixon's line.
This same locality is distinguished as the birthplace of President James Buchanan, and also that of Thomas A. Scott, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and its system, under whom I served. Mr. Scott used to say he had leased this position for ninety-nine years with twice the salary of the president of the United States.
My grandfather, who had been an officer in the Royal Navy, of Great Britain, served in the same ships with Lord Nelson, had after the manner of his class kept a record of his remarkable and thrilling services in the British Navy during the wars of that period.
The discovery of this, grandfather's diary—amongst other war papers—after his death, I may say, here, accounts in a manner for the spirit of adventure in my disposition. I come by it naturally, and following the precedent, submit this unpretending narrative, as another grandfather's diary.
It appears that during the embargo declared during the war between the United States and England in 1812, my grandfather was caught ashore, as it were, in America.
His brother, George, was in the service of the East India Company, as a judge advocate, and lived on the Island of Ceylon at that time. Desiring to reach this brother, by getting a vessel at New Orleans, he started to walk overland, through a hostile country, to the headwaters of the Ohio and Mississippi Valley at Pittsburgh, where he could get a canoe or boat.
It is a singular coincidence that this young English officer, in his scouting through an enemy's country, traversed substantially the very same ground—Winchester, Va., Harper's Ferry, Fredericksburg, etc.—that I, his youthful grandson, tramped over as a scout in another war half a century later.
It was while on this journey that he was taken sick, and during a long illness he was nursed back to life by my grandmother, whom he subsequently married, and there located as an American citizen.
He became the school-master of the community, and in course of time, Thomas A. Scott was one of his brightest but most troublesome scholars.
In the process of this evolution, I became a messenger boy and student of telegraphy in the office of Colonel Thos. A. Scott, who was then superintendent of railways at Pittsburgh.
In the same office, as a private clerk and telegrapher, was Mr. Andrew Carnegie, now widely known as a capitalist.
"Andy," as this distinguished philanthropist was then familiarly known, and myself were "boys together," and the reader is permitted to refer to him for—as he recently assured me, in his laughing and hearty manner—that he would give me a good endorsement, as one of his wild boys....