Join Date: November 2, 1998
In the middle of the James River in Richmond, Virginia, is Belle Isle, an island used during the Civil War as a PoW camp. Here's an incident from Belle Isle:
During the first day of their sojurn on the island, Mayhorn observed a rebel lieutenant.. wearing a pair of magnificient boots... [H]e watched the officer, followed him from place to place, and haunted him like a shadow till night. When, at last, the officer retired, Mayhorn succeeded in hooking the boots and making off with them. Next morning, however, he began to grow ill at ease, lest the officer, missing his boots, discover the boots in his possession, and deal summarily with him... He, therefore, carried the boots to another part of the island, and sold them to one of the rebel sentinels for twenty dollars...
Meanwhile, the bereaved officer missed his dear boots, and took active measures to recover them, in the shpae of offering twenty dollars reward. Mayhorn heard of it and, seeking out the officer, he said: "Will you give me the reward if I tell you who has your boots?"
"Yes, certainly; why not?"
"I thought because I was a Yankee--"
Oh, that makes no sort of difference; tell me who has my boots... and here are twenty dollars;" and the officer produced a twenty-dollar Confederate note.
"Well," said Mayhorn, "I will point out the fellow who has your boots, but I don't want him to know who informed on him... He would kill me if-"
"Very well; he shall not see you. Come with me and point him out, and here is your money."
The unfortunate sentinel was on post at the time, and wearing the stolen boots, large as life.
"Yonder he is! He has them on!" exclaimed Mayhorn, as he led the officer to a point from which the sentinel could be seen.
"So he has!... The barefaced scoundrel... here, take your money - Oh, I'll fix him!... To steal my - and from an officer...."
"It's too bad," said Mayhorn, sympathizingly; and he thrust his twenty-dollar bill into his pocket, and sought a position from which he could see the - as he called it - fun.
The rebel officer approached the sentinel, who was walking his eat displaying his boots to the best advantage-his pantaloons thrust within the tops.
"You burglar!" exclaimed the officer savagely....
"What!" and the rebel sentinel expanded his optics to an incredible size....
"What have I done?"
"What have you done! Varlet, look at those boots!"
The sentinel surveyed his boots with evident pleasure; he began to think that the officer was jesting with him. Supposing this to be a piece of unpardonable impudence and reckless defiance, the officer grew violent.
"You infernal rascal! OFF WITH THOSE BOOTS!" he vociferated.
The sentinel now perceived that the officer was in earnest; and he asked:
"What do you mean, anyhow?"
"What do I mean! You d__d thief!... Those boots are mine! You stole 'em; you know you did!"
"They're my boots; I bought 'em."
"You lie! You didn't!"
"I did; I bought 'em off a Yankee."
"You lying scoundrel! I"ll- CORPORAL OF THE GUARD!..."
"Corporal," said the officer, "bring another man here, and put him in this one's place. He has stolen my boots, and he must be arrested...."
"I didn't steal the boots," persisted the hapless sentinel....
"Not a word, or I'll punch a hole right through you, you miserable scamp."
As the adverturous-some would suggest suicidal-Mayhorn was among those Union prisoners exchanged, it may be concluded that neither the wrongfully accused sentinel, nor the outraged officer, managed to deduce that the brazen Yankee had outwitted both of them and gained 40 dollars in the bargain. Unfortunately, Mayhorn's Confederate bills would be useless along "Robbers' Row," as the sutlers' area at Harrison's Landing was called.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!