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Notwithstanding his military title, Colonel Homer Passford was not a soldier, though he had once been a sort of honorary head of a regiment of militia. His brother, Captain Horatio Passford, Christy's father, was a millionaire in the tenth degree. More than twenty years before the war he had assisted Homer to all the money he required to buy a plantation in Alabama, near Mobile, where he had prospered exceedingly, though his possessions had never been a tenth part of those of his wealthy brother.
Homer had married in the South, and was the father of a son and daughter, now approaching their maturity, and Corny, the son, was a soldier in the Confederate army. The most affectionate relations had always subsisted between the two families; and before the war the Bellevite had always visited Glenfield, the plantation of the colonel, at least twice a year.
225 Florry Passford, the captain's daughter, being somewhat out of health, had passed the winter before the beginning of the war at Glenfield, and was there when the enemy's guns opened upon Fort Sumter. Captain Passford had not supposed that his brother in Alabama would take part with the South in the Rebellion, and with great difficulty and risk he had gone to Glenfield in the Bellevite, for the purpose of conveying his daughter to his home at Bonnydale on the Hudson, not doubting that Homer and his family would be his passengers on the return to the North.
He was entirely mistaken in regard to the political sentiments of the colonel, and found that he was one of the most devoted and determined advocates of the Southern cause. The southern brother did not conceal his opinions, and it was plain enough to the captain that he was entirely sincere, and believed with all his mind, heart, and soul, that it was his religious, moral, and social duty to espouse what he called his country's cause; and he had done so with all his influence and his fortune. He had even gone so far in his devotion to his duty as he understood it, as to attempt to hand over the Bellevite, though she was not in 226 Mobile Bay on a warlike mission, to the new government of the South, and had taken part personally in an expedition extended to capture her.
The steam-yacht had been armed at the Bermudas, and fought her way out of the bay; and on her return to New York her owner presented her to the Government of the United States. She had done good service, and Christy had begun his brilliant career as a naval officer in the capacity of a midshipman on board of her. In spite of the hostile political attitude of the brothers to each other, the same affectionate relations had continued between the two families, for each of them believed that social and family ties should not interfere with his patriotic duty to his country.
The commander of the Confederate forces at Hilton Head—one of the highest-toned and most estimable gentlemen one could find in the North or the South—informed the author that his own brother was in command of one of the Federal ships that were bombarding his works. While Commodore Wilkes, of Mason and Slidell memory, was capturing the Southern representatives who had to be given up, his son was in the Confederate navy, and then or later was casting guns 227 at Charlotte for the use of the South: and the writer never met a more reasonable and kindly man. Fortunately our two brothers were not called upon to confront each other as foes on the battlefield or on the sea, though both of them would have done their duty in such positions.
The last time Christy had seen his Uncle Homer was when he was captured on board of the Dornoch with Captain Rombold, as he was endeavoring to obtain a passage to England as a Confederate agent for the purchase of suitable vessels to prey upon the mercantile marine of the United States. He and the commander of the Tallahatchie had been exchanged at about the same time; and they had proceeded to Nassau, where they embarked for England in a cotton steamer. There they had purchased and fitted out the Trafalgar; for the agent's drafts, in which the last of his fortune had been absorbed, could not be made available to his captors. Colonel Passford had an interview with Captain Rombold after Gill had brought his trunk on board; and it was a very sad occasion to the planter, if not to the naval officer. They had not had an opportunity to consider the disaster that had overtaken the Confederate steamer, which had 228 promised such favorable results for their cause; for the commander had been entirely occupied till he received his wound, and even then he had attended to his duties, for, as before suggested, he was a "last ditch" man. He was not fighting for the South as a mere hireling; for he had married a Southern wife, and she had enlisted all his sympathies in the cause of her people.
"I suppose we have nothing more to hope for, Captain Rombold; and we can only put our trust in the All-Wise and the All-Powerful, who never forsakes his children when they are fighting for right and justice," said Colonel Passford, after he had condoled with the commander on his wounded condition.
"We shall come out all right in the end, Colonel; don't be so cast down," replied the captain.
"I raised the money by mortgaging my plantation and what other property I had left for all the money I could get upon it to a wealthy Englishman, the one who came to Mobile with us from Nassau, to obtain the cargoes for this steamer. I had borrowed all I could before that for the purchase of the Trafalgar; and if the current does not 229 change in our favor soon, I shall be a beggar," added the colonel bitterly.
"The tide will turn, my good friend; and it would have turned before now if all the planters had been as self-sacrificing as you have," said the captain.
"Cotton and gold are about the same thing just now; and with the large cargo on board of the West Wind, which I induced my friends to contribute to the good cause, and that in the hold of the Tallahatchie, I was confident that I could purc............
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