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The Star of Gettysburg A Story of Southern High Tide

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A youth sat upon a log by a clear stream in the Valley of Virginia, mending clothes.

He showed skill and rapidity in his homely task. A shining needle darted in and out of the gray cloth, and the rent that had seemed hopeless was being closed up with neatness and precision. No one derided him because he was engaged upon a task that was usually performed by women. The Army of Northern Virginia did its own sewing.

"Will the seam show much, Arthur?" asked Harry Kenton, who lay luxuriously upon the leafy ground beside the log.

"Very little when I finish," replied St. Clair, examining his work with a critical eye. "Of course I can't pass the uniform off as wholly new. It's been a long time since I've seen a new one in our army, but it will be a lot above the average."

"I admire your care of your clothes, Arthur, even if I can't quite imitate it. I've concluded that good clothes give a certain amount of moral courage, and if you get killed you make a much more decent body."

"But Arthur St. Clair, of Charleston, sir, has no intention of getting killed," said Happy Tom Langdon, who was also resting upon the earth. "He means after this war is over to go back to his native city, buy the most magnificent uniforms that were ever made, and tell the girls how Lee and Jackson turned to him for advice at the crisis of every great battle."

"We surely needed wisdom and everything else we could get at Antietam—leadership, tenacity and the willingness to die," said Dalton, the sober young Virginia Presbyterian. "Boys, we were in the deepest of holes there, and we had to lift ourselves out almost by our own boot straps."

Harry's face clouded. The field of Antietam often returned to him, almost as real and vivid as on that terrible day, when the dead lay heaped in masses around the Dunkard church and the Southern army called forth every ounce of courage and endurance for its very salvation.

"Antietam is a month away," he said, "and I still shudder at the name. We didn't think McClellan would come up and attack Lee while Jackson was away at Harper's Ferry, but he did. How did it happen? How did he know that our army was divided?"

"I've heard a strange story," said Dalton. "It's come through some Union prisoners we've taken. They say that McClellan found a copy of General Lee's orders in Frederick, and learned from them exactly where all our troops were and what they intended. Then, of course, he attacked."

"A strange tale, as you say, a most extraordinary chance," said Harry. "Do you think it's true, George?"

"I've no doubt it fell out that way. The same report comes from other sources."

"At any rate," said Happy Tom, "it gave us a chance to show how less than fifty thousand men could stand off nearly ninety thousand. Besides, we didn't lose any ground. We went over into Maryland to give the Marylanders a chance to rise for the South. They didn't rise worth a cent. I suppose we didn't get more than five hundred volunteers in that state. 'The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland, my Maryland,' and it can stay on thy shore, Maryland, my Maryland, if that's the way you treat us....