Meanwhile, in the far west, the young writer named Samuel Clemens had reached Virginia City, Nevada, and tried his luck as a gold miner in one of the mining camps on the outskirts of the city. The work had been exhausting and He was still-hard pressed to come up with enough to pay for his room and board. With very little of his money left, he began to look around for a more suitable employment.
Looking around the city, he spied the office of the Territorial Enterprise. As he approached the building, he saw a sign in the window which read “Reporter wanted.” Entering, he reached through the back of the window, took the sign and handed it to the man behind the desk.
“Well, young fellah,” the man said, “I suppose you're applying for th' job.”
“That I am, Sir,” Sam boldly replied.
“Well, sonny, have you ever worked at a newspaper before?”
“I can't say that I have” Sam answered. “But I'm a good writer—I have a way with words—always have-- and I'd like the chance to prove it.”
“Well, sonny, the newspaper business can be pretty demanding.”
“I don't mind that. I'm sure I'll be up to it if you just give me a chance.”
The man looked the young writer over for a few minutes, then sighed and said, “Well, okay, Son. Write me up a story about this city and turn it in to me tomorrow. We'll see how good you are with words.”
“Oh, thank you, Sir, you won't regret it.”
“By the way,” the man asked, as Sam was turning to leave, “what's your name?”
“It's Samuel Clemens, Sir.”
The old man scratched his head. “--By Samuel Clemens--No, that just don't seem to have the right ring to it. Out here you need a name with some color to it.”
“Well, I could change my name,” Sam replied.
“But what would you change it to?”
“I don't know yet. But I'll sure think about it.”
He figured the local saloon would be as good a place as any to soak up some local color. Although the building across the street sat back slightly from the road, he could read the lettering across its top. It read “GOLD HILL HOTEL & SALOON.”
(Source: Flicker Commons / Brent Cooper: https://bit.ly/2JRt9NM
Exiting the office, he then walked across the street and up the short dirt path that led to the Saloon. He entered, ordered a drink and sat down quietly at one of the corner tables to observe. Sure enough in a little while, as was wont to happen then in western saloons, a fight broke out. He decided that this would be his story. He would talk to parties on both sides of the fighting and go from there.
Since both sides blamed the other for starting the fight, he had the devil's own time sorting out the truth, but he finally managed to come to a reasonable conclusion as to what actually had happened.
By morning he had quite an interesting story written. But when he started to write the byline, he remembered what the newspaper owner had said. He thought and thought and couldn't come up with a colorful name. He was tired and so he lay down and quickly fell to sleep. He dreamed that he was back on the Mississippi River on a paddle boat. As the boat was heading out to sea, he could hear the captain calling out the depths of the water. “Mark one, Mark Twain, Mark Thrice...” That was it! He awakened with a start and a stunning realization that his new pen name would be Mark Twain.
He was soon writing stories regularly for the paper and, in his spare time, Mark Twain had begun work on a travelogue called Roughing it.
Henry tried to get his mind off of how much he missed Fanny and Charles by working on his new book. Several ideas regarding the setting and format had been on his mind ever since his visit to the wayside inn six months ago, but he'd never gotten around to writing any more than just a few preliminary sketches. The book would be a collection of poetry, including “Paul Revere's Ride” and several others, strung together with a theme about people at the wayside inn. He jotted down a few rough character sketches of people who would be at the inn, but then he found it hard to concentrate further, as the thoughts of Fanny and Charles kept coming back. He did miss them, but more than that, he was worried about Charles getting hurt. Then he had an idea. Perhaps it would not be such a risk if Charles was an officer. And surely Charles was officer material. Charles would surely do better as an officer. He decided that he would contact his friends in the government to see what they could do.
Thus, the first week of April 1863 found Henry sitting across the desk from his good friend, Senator Charles Sumner.
“It's good to see you again, Henry. What can I do for you?” asked the Senator with a broad smile.
“It's good to see you too, Senator.” Henry hesitated a moment and then added, “Well, it's about my son, Charles.”
“Oh, yes, how is the lad?”
“He's fine. He went and enlisted in the Army of the Potomac.”
“Well, you must be proud of him.”
“I am, Senator, but if you help me, I could be prouder.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you think you could pull some strings so-to-speak to have him commissioned as an officer?”
“I'll do my best, Henry.”
“Thank you, Senator,” said Henry, getting up. “Anything you can do will be appreciated.”
He then went to see Governor John Andrew. The response was the same. “I'll do my best.” He thought he'd better try one more person, so he planned to call on Dr. Edward B. Dalton medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps the next day.
Dr. Dalton sat behind his huge desk and beckoned for Henry to sit down. “Well, Henry, what brings you here?”
“It's about my son, Private. Charles A. Longfellow,” said Henry, seating himself.
“Oh, you mean Lieutenant Charles A. Longfellow?”
A look of joyous surprise came over Henry's face. “Oh! Then, he got his commission?”
“He did indeed—Just this week, as matter of fact. If anyone deserved it, he certainly did. He's a bright young lad. He'll make a great officer.”
Henry breathed a sigh of relief. “Then he probably wouldn't be too close to the actual fighting?”
“Well, we can't guarantee that. Some officers like to be close to their men. Some even prefer to lead the charge in battle.”
“At any rate, I'm thankful he's an officer. He'll fare better than just being an ordinary soldier.”
“That he will. Yet, I'm surprised he didn't write you about it.”
“I suppose he was too excited.”
He was excited indeed to be a Lieutenant. He was assigned to
(Lt. Charles Longfellow (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Flikr/TradingCardsNPS)
Company "G" of the 1st Massachusetts Calvary, serving under Major General Joseph Hooker and issued his own horse, saber, pistol, uniform and other items. He had never ridden a horse before, but he soon got the hang of it. But learning to shoot from horseback was another matter.
On April 27th, they crossed the Rappahannock River. He led his regiment across, riding his trusty steed. They sang “Rally Round the Flag” as they trudged through the murky water.
Each regiment took up a different position surrounding Chancellorsville. His regiment set up camp on the far Eastern side of the river and was ordered to only guard the supply wagons and awaited further orders. He was discouraged by this but, then after a week of boring guard duty, the orders to engage the enemy finally came. Major General Hooker himself, a tall, husky man, smoking a big cigar, visited his encampment, and, after the usual salutes, said, “Longfellow, tomorrow, you will take your regiment to the Northeastern outskirts of Chancellorsville and attack Lee's flank there.”
He could hardly sleep that night, in anticipation of the next day's battle. It would be his first time leading his regiment into battle and he was scared as well as excited. He knew that he must not let on that he was scared. To his men, he must seem to be a veritable tower of strength. He tried mustering up all the courage he could, but he was still scared. Yet his zeal for the cause outweighed his fright. So he knew that the next morning he would present a calm cool exterior. He knew he could do it. He soon dozed off to sleep.
The next day found him astride his trusty steed, leading his men valiantly to the scene of battle. Since he was not yet proficient at shooting from horseback, when they reached the battlefield, he dismounted and tied his horse to a tree, leading his men forward on foot toward the enemy. Gazing across the field, past the enemy, forces, he noticed the other regiments approaching from other directions, all of them on horseback. But then he focused his attention on his regiment and the task at hand. As he boldly moved forward, beckoning for his regiment to follow, he was aware of the sound of constant rifle fire merging with the sound of the bugle and the drum. Perhaps it was the adrenaline kicking in, but, once he got into it, all thoughts of fear, though still present, seem to be pushed to the back of his mind as he led the men forward. The Confederates also moved forward, towards him. He watched and tried to gage when the two units would be within firing range of each other. If he missed it by a minute, the other side would get the advantage of firing first. His heart was in his throat. Then, he realized this was it. At just the right moment, he gave the order to fire. The Confederates returned fire.
For a while, it seemed as if the battle would end up a draw, but he soon began to realize that he was losing too many men and ordered his men to pull back. The enemy followed suit and he soon realized that he could do nothing else but tell the bugler to sound retreat.
His heart sank and his shoulders drooped as he led his men back to the outskirts of the field and mounted his horse again. Having mounted, he surveyed the field and noticed the other union regiments also withdrawing. Since Lee's army was quite a bit smaller, Hooker had thought that by surrounding Lee on every side, this campaign would end in an easy victory, but instead, due to Lee's brilliant strategy of splitting his forces, the entire campaign was lost.
He was so discouraged, he almost wanted to quit. But when they returned to camp, Major General Hooker addressed the entire company. “Men you did well out there today. I'm proud of you, even though we did meet with defeat. I had thought this would be an easy campaign to win, but Lee outsmarted us. But don't worry, men. We'll get him next time. Don't let today's defeat discourage you. There'll be better days ahead.” Yes, he thought to himself, surely there will be better days ahead. He lived for the day when he would lead his men to victory. But that day was not to come.
Battle of Chancellorsville (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
His regiment was moved back to their previous position and ordered to continue with their guard duty and to await further orders. It was there that one sunny June morning he awakened with a pain in his abdomen, a slight headache, and a slightly sick feeling. As they fell out for morning roll call, the Major noticed that he was slouching. “What's wrong, Lieutenant Longfellow? Are you weak today, Sir?” he asked.
“I'm sorry, Sir, but I don't feel well at all this morning.”
“Are you sick, Lieutenant?”
“I believe I am, Sir.”
“Well, report to the clinic at once.”
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