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American History Stories, Volume IV by  Mara L. Pratt


 

 

THE MOCK FUNERAL

All sorts of ways were invented to carry help across from Maryland to the Confederate states; and you may be sure the officers had to keep their eyes wide open day and night.

One day, on a train, as innocent a looking thing as a lunch basket with a sandwich and a doughnut plainly in [94] sight, was found to be filled with bright brass buttons, on their way to ornament the Confederate soldiers' coats.

But one of the strangest plots for carrying help was by means of funeral processions. One day a very sober looking procession started out from Baltimore over the Long Bridge, into Virginia.

Everything appeared all right. There was the hearse with the coffin within; then came the carriages, their curtains closely drawn to hide the mourners from the people on the streets; the drivers all looked solemn as owls, and to all appearances, it was a very respectable looking funeral procession.

The first sentry at the Bridge, feeling that a funeral procession, of all things, should be allowed to go on its sad way without being interfered with, let it pass—although, as he said afterwards, it did flash across his mind that even this might be but another Confederate scheme.

The next sentry on the route, was not so easily fooled. Perhaps he had learned that even funeral processions in those times were suspicious. Stepping forward as the hearse approached, he called "Halt!"

Instantly he caught a look upon the driver's face that told him that something was wrong.

"Open the hearse!" demanded the sentry. The hearse was opened and the coffin dragged out. But by this time, the mourners in the carriages had learned that their plot [95] was discovered; and when the sentry turned to look at them, they were scrambling out of their carriages, and running back to the city just as fast as ever they could go.

On opening the coffin, it was found packed full of muskets, which at that time would have been very acceptable to the Confederate army.

One of the ways the Confederates in Maryland had of getting messages across the river, was by means of kites and balloons. When kites were used, they were made of oiled silk, that the rain might not spoil them, nor the water, should they chance to fall into the river. The bobs of the kites were made of letters and newspapers, fastened on just as you boys fasten the bobs to your kites to-day.

When the wind was in the right direction, these kites were sent up, their strings cut, and across the river they would fly, falling somewhere on the Virginia shore. Some one was always on the watch for these kites; and when the wind turned, back would come the kite laden with letters and papers from the South.


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