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In the prologue to "The Princess," Tennyson makes one of the group of college mates assembled during the holiday season at Vivian Place find in an old chronicle the story of a brave woman whom a wild king besieged. But she armed "Her own fair head, and sallying through the gate, Had beat her foes with slaughter from the walls." When this story was read to the ladies present, one of the men asked: "Where lives there such a woman now?" To which  "Quick answer'd Lilia 'There are thousands now Such women, but convention beats them down.'"

On the first day of February, 1776, General McDonald, chief of the McDonald clan in the Cape Fear region, issued a proclamation, calling upon all true and loyal Highlanders to join his standard at Cross Creek, now Fayetteville, and prepare to assist General Clinton and Governor Martin in maintaining the king's authority in the province of North Carolina. About fifteen or sixteen hundred of them obeyed the summons. From Cross Creek they marched down the Cape Fear River until they came to Moore's creek, where they were met on February 27th by a Whig force about a thousand strong under the command of Richard Caswell, The following from a letter from Caswell to Cornelius Harnett shows the result of the meeting:

  "I have the pleasure to acquaint you that we had an engagement with the Tories, at Widow Moore's creek bridge, on the 27th current. Our army was about one thousand strong, consisting of the Newbern Battalion of Minute Men, the militia from Craven, Johnston, Dobbs and Wake, and a detachment of the Wilmington Battalion of Minute Men, which we found encamped at Moore's Creek the night before the battle, under the command of Colonel Lillington. The Tories by common report were three thousand, but General MacDonald, whom we have prisoner, says there were about fifteen or sixteen hundred; he was unwell that day and not in the battle. Captain McLeod, who seemed to be principal commander, and Captain John Campbell, are among the slain."

This was the first pitched battle of the Revolution won by the Whigs; the only victories of an earlier date being the capture of Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point on May 10, 1775. It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the victory. Besides the capture of about 900 prisoners and 2,000 stands of arms of which the Americans stood in great need, the crushing of the Tory spirit and the corresponding rise of the Whig spirit, meant untold strength to the cause of freedom.

But it is not the political nor the military result of this battle with which this story is to deal. With the foregoing as an introduction, it is interesting now to turn to the story of the heroine of Moore's creek, Mary Slocumb.

Mary Slocumb was the young wife of Ezekiel Slocumb, of Wayne County. He afterwards became a prominent member of the house of commons, serving in the session of 1812 to 1818. She was but yet a girl when her husband rode away from home to join Caswell in crushing McDonald and the enemies of liberty. The men of that section, more than eighty strong, rode away one calm Sunday morning, under the lead of Slocumb. Before the long ride was begun, his young wife went out with the colonel to inspect the men. She says that she looked at them well, and could see that every man meant mischief. No doubt it was a sturdy, stern and determined band that rode away that day to battle for their rights. These men rode away in high spirits, some to a glorious death, some to a glorious victory; none to defeat or dishonor.

It is easy to imagine what a long, lonely day the young wife had at home that quiet Sabbath day; it is easy to imagine where her thoughts were; it is easy to imagine how she concealed the anxiety of her heart under the assumed cheerfulness of her face. "I slept soundly and quietly that night," she says, "and worked hard all the next day; but I kept thinking where they had got to, how far, where and how many of the regulars and Tories they would meet; and I could not keep from that study."

Going to bed in this anxious state of mind, her sleep was disturbed by a terrible dream. She seemed to see lying on the ground, surrounded by the dead and wounded, a body, motionless, bloody, ghostly, wrapped in her husband's cloak. With a cry of alarm she sprang to her feet into the middle of the room. So vivid was the impression that it remained with her even after she awakened from sleep and in rushing forward to the place where the vision appeared, she ran into the side of the house. The light was dim; all around was quiet and peaceful, but her heart kept up a great commotion. "If ever I felt fear," she says, "it was at that moment." The more she reflected on the vision the more vivid and more fearful it became, until at last she could bear the suspense no longer and starting up she said aloud:

"I must go to him."

In the stable was her favorite and own particular horse, "as fleet and easy a nag as ever traveled." In an instant, leaving her baby and the house in the care of the nurse, she rushed out to the barn, saddled her mare, and in less time than it takes to tell it, was flying down the road at full speed.

The night air was cool; the spirit of the race was in the nag; and mile after mile was quickly left behind, as the sound of her rapidly falling hoofs fell clear and distinct in the quiet night air. All alone, urged onward by love and fear, this brave little woman swept on through the dark night, dashing over bridges, whirling through dark woods, flashing past farm houses, until when the sun began to appear in the east thirty miles lay between her and her quiet home. Shortly after sunrise she passed a group of women and children anxiously awaiting news from the troops. From these she learned the exact route taken by Caswell and with only a few minutes' stop she was again skimming over the ground. There was no flagging in her spirits, nor those of the mare. On the contrary, the excitement became more and more intense the nearer they got to the end of their journey. It seemed as if the woman had infused her spirits into the horse.

The sun was well up when a new excitement was added to the race--she heard a sound like thunder rolling and rumbling in the distance. She pulled her mare up suddenly. What was it? Though she had never heard the sound before, she knew it must be the roar of the cannon; and as she thought of what it meant, the blood coursed more rapidly than ever through her veins; she was more than ever impatient to be on the scene, and away she dashed again. But then a thought rushed into her mind that for a moment made her feel very foolish to be here so far away from home and child, on what might after all be but a fool's errand.

"What a fool I am," she thought. "My husband could not be dead last night, if the battle is only fighting now."

But she had come too far now to turn back and so she pressed on faster than before. As she drew nearer, she could hear the roar of the deadly muskets, the fatal rifles, and the triumphant shouts of the victors. But from which side did they come? Did those shouts mean the defeat of her husband; or did they mean his triumph? This was the most trying moment of all--this terrible suspense. If it was his victory, then he would rejoice to have her share his glory; if his defeat, then he would need her to soothe his sufferings; so on she pressed to share with him weal or woe. Crossing the Wilmington road a few hundred yards below the bridge, she saw a clump of trees under which were lying perhaps twenty wounded men. What was this she saw? Her blood froze in her veins; her heart leapt to her mouth, for there was the vision realized. The scene before her--she knew it as well as if she had seen it a thousand times; the spot, the trees, the position of the men, the groans of the wounded, and her sight fell upon a body lying in the midst of the group, her brain became dizzy, and the world seemed whirling around her at the rate of ten thousand miles a second--there lay a body, motionless, bloody, ghostly, wrapped in her husband's cloak. Her whole soul became centered in that one spot. "How I passed from my saddle to this place I never knew," she said afterwards; but in some way she succeeded in reaching the body, and mechanically uncovered the head. She saw before her an unrecognizable face crusted with dust and blood from a gash across the temple. What a relief to her aching heart was the strange voice which begged her for a drink of water! Her senses came back to her at once so she was able to minister to the sufferer's wants. She gave him a swallow as she held the drooping head in her lap; and with what remained of the water, bathed the dirt and gore from the face. From the ghastly crust came the pale face of one of her neighbors, Frank Cogdell. Under the gentle care of his nurse, he revived enough to speak, and when she attempted to dress the wound on the head, he managed to gasp out:

"It's not that; it's the hole in my leg that's killing me."

Lifting the wounded leg from the puddle of blood in which it lay she gently cut away the trousers and stockings and found a shot hole through the fleshy part of the limb. What nerve it must have taken for this young girl, unused to such work, alone, without help or advice, to go through with the painful ordeal. But she was of the stuff of which North Carolina moulds her heroes, and she did not flinch from her duty. Gathering a handful of heart leaves, the only thing in sight suitable for binding the wound, she tied these tight to the hole and the bleeding stopped. No sooner had she completed this pressing duty, than she turned to others of the unfortunate men who lay in pain and need and, as she says, "dressed the wounds of many a brave fellow who did good fighting long after that day." During all this time, the first anxiety for her husband relieved, she had not had time to make inquiries after him, but with true heroism devoted herself to the more pressing duties of the moment. While she was busily engaged in bringing home to these poor fellows the blessings of a woman's care, General Caswell rode up. With great surprise at seeing Mrs. Slocumb, he raised his hat and was about to address her with a compliment, when she interrupted him with the question:

"Where is my husband?"

"Where he ought to be, madam; in pursuit of the enemy. But pray, how came you here?"

"Oh," she replied, carelessly, "I thought you would need nurses as well as soldiers. See! I have dressed many of these good fellows." Then pointing to Frank Cogdell, she continued, "Here is one who would have died before any of you men could have helped him." As she spoke she lifted Frank's head in her arms and gave him a drink of water. When she raised her head, there before her stood her astonished husband, "as bloody as a butcher and as muddy as a ditcher."

"Why, Mary," he exclaimed, "what are you doing there, hugging Frank Cogdell, the greatest reprobate in the army?"

"I don't care," she cried. "Frank is a brave fellow, a good soldier and a true friend of congress."

"True, true, every word of it," exclaimed Caswell, who stood by much amused at the scene. "You are right, madam," with a bow that would have shamed Chesterfield himself.

Mrs. Slocumb says she could not tell her husband what had brought her there. "I was so happy," she says, "and so were all. It was a glorious victory; I came just at the height of the enjoyment. I knew my husband was surprised, but I could see that he was not displeased with me."

It was of course long into the night before the excitement subsided. The news spread like wild fire, and the Whigs all over the country heard it with rejoicing and thanksgiving; and everywhere the news of the victory was heard, went also the story of the heroine, her brave ride, her heaven-sent aid, her soothing care of the wounded and suffering. Many a soldier breathed a prayer of thanks for the vision which came to her and for her courageous response. But the prettiest side of the story is the simple and unaffected way in which she looked upon her act. Nothing of force or beauty can be added to her own simple and touching words about her return home. After staying in camp long enough to offer intercession in behalf of the unfortunate prisoners and to receive assurance from Caswell that they would be well treated, she prepared to start home. "In the middle of the night," she says simply, without thinking apparently of her course, "I again mounted my mare, and started home. Caswell and my husband wanted me to stay till next morning and they would send a party with me, but no! I wanted to see my child, and told them they could send no party that could keep up with me. What a happy ride I had back! and with what joy did I embrace my child as he ran to meet me!"

This is a story full of meaning and significance to him who loves his state; who admires her noble women, and brave men; who glories in her heroic deeds and great achievements. As long as the old North State can produce such women as Mary Slocumb, she need entertain no fears as to what her men will be.--R. D. W. CONNOR, Wilmington, N. C., _in American Monthly Magazine_.