The flowers ran riot in our garden, fresh fruits and vegetables,
fresh fish, and all the luxuries of that marvellous climate, were
brought to our door.
A comfortable Government steamboat plied between San Francisco
and its harbor posts, and the distance was not great - only three
quarters of an hour. So we had a taste of the social life of that
fascinating city, and could enjoy the theatres also.
On the Island, we had music and dancing, as it was the
headquarters of the regiment. Mrs. Kautz, so brilliant and gay,
held grand court here - receptions, military functions, lawn
tennis, bright uniforms, were the order of the day. And that
incomparable climate! How I revelled in it! When the fog rolled
in from the Golden Gate, and enveloped the great city of Saint
Francis in its cold vapors, the Island of the Angels lay warm and
bright in the sunshine.
The old Spaniards named it well, and the old Nantucket whalers
who sailed around Cape Horn on their way to the Ar'tic, away back
in the eighteen twenties, used to put in near there for water,
and were well familiar with its bright shores, before it was
touched by man's handiwork.
Was there ever such an emerald green as adorned those hills which
sloped down to the bay? Could anything equal the fields of golden
escholzchia which lay there in the sunshine? Or the blue masses
of "baby-eye," which opened in the mornings and held up their
pretty cups to catch the dew?
Was this a real Paradise?
It surely seemed so to us; and, as if Nature had not done enough,
the Fates stepped in and sent all the agreeable young officers of
the regiment there, to help us enjoy the heavenly spot.
There was Terrett, the handsome and aristocratic young
Baltimorean, one of the finest men I ever saw in uniform; and
Richardson, the stalwart Texan, and many others, with whom we
danced and played tennis, and altogether there was so much to do
and to enjoy that Time rushed by and we knew only that we were
happy, and enchanted with Life.
Did any uniform ever equal that of the infantry in those days?
The dark blue, heavily braided "blouse," the white stripe on the
light blue trousers, the jaunty cap? And then, the straight backs
and the slim lines of those youthful figures! It seems to me any
woman who was not an Egyptian mummy would feel her heart thrill
and her blood tingle at the sight of them.
Indians and deserts and Ehrenberg did not exist for me any more.
My girlhood seemed to have returned, and I enjoyed everything
with the keenest zest.
My old friend Charley Bailey, who had married for his second wife
a most accomplished young San Francisco girl, lived next door to
General and Mrs. Kautz entertained so hospitably,and were so
beloved by all. Together Mrs. Kautz and I read the German
classics, and went to the German theatre; and by and by a very
celebrated player, Friedrich Haase, from the Royal Theatre of
Berlin, came to San Francisco. We never missed a performance, and
when his tour was over, Mrs. Kautz gave a lawn party at Angel
Island for him and a few of the members of his company. It was
charming. I well remember how the sun shone that day, and, as we
strolled up from the boat with them, Frau Haase stopped, looked
at the blue sky, the lovely clouds, the green slopes of the
Island and said: "Mein Gott! Frau Summerhayes, was ist das fur
ein Paradies! Warum haben Sie uns nicht gesagt, Sie wohnten im
So, with music and German speech, and strolls to the North and to
the South Batteries, that wonderful and never to-be-forgotten day
with the great Friedrich Haase came to an end.
The months flew by, and the second winter found us still there;
we heard rumors of Indian troubles in Arizona, and at last the
orders came. The officers packed away their evening clothes in
camphor and had their campaign clothes put out to air, and got
their mess-chests in order, and the post was alive with
preparations for the field. All the families were to stay behind.
The most famous Indian renegade was to be hunted down, and
serious fighting was looked for.
At last all was ready, and the day was fixed for the departure of
The winter rains had set in, and the skies were grey, as the
command marched down to the boat.
The officers and soldiers were in their campaign clothes; the
latter had their blanket-rolls and haversacks slung over their
shoulders, and their tin cups, which hung from the haversacks,
rattled and jingled as they marched down in even columns of four,
over the wet and grassy slopes of the parade ground, where so
short a time before all had been glitter and sunshine.
I realized then perhaps for the first time what the uniform
really stood for; that every man who wore it, was going out to
fight - that they held their lives as nothing. The glitter was all
gone; nothing but sad reality remained.
The officers' wives and the soldiers' wives followed the troops
to the dock. The soldiers marched single file over the gang-plank
of the boat, the officers said good-bye, the shrill whistle of
the "General McPherson" sounded - and they were off. We leaned
back against the coal-sheds, and soldiers' and officers' wives
alike all wept together.
And now a season of gloom came upon us. The skies were dull and
murky and the rain poured down.