Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/61
Memoir of Gen, O. B, Wheat, 53
General Wheat went with him. The old hero would fain have per- suaded him to remain there for the rest of his life as his adopted son. But being now in the fullest flush of a matured manhood, he could not be content with a life of inglorious ease ; and as the world was just then beginning to resound with the name and exploits of Gari- baldi, General Wheat determined to gratify a long-cherished wish to visit Europe, now become doubly attractive by the rapid march of events in the historic changes of governments and peoples. He landed in England and joined a party of congenial spirits who were going to Italy for the purpose of tendering their services to Gari- baldi.
They stopped a few days in Paris, and General Wheat had a most informal, but also a most agreeable exchange of salutations ^hh no less a personage than the Empress Eugenie herself. Having driven to the Bois de Boulogne she had alighted from her carriage, and, followed by her ladies in waiting, was walking leisurely down a shaded avenue, when General Wheat, arm in arm with an English officer, came suddenly before the Empress. His friend, from the impulse of his national sentiment that no one may pfesume to come unannounced and without previous permission into the presence of royalty, turned instantly and beat a hasty retreat. Not so the Gene - ral, who, believing that his reverent salutation to the woman would not be resented by the Empress, tendered his homage by expressive look and gesture, and the lovely Eugenie promptly acknowledged it by a bright smile and a gracious inclination of the head. It would make a pretty picture that interchange of grave, sweet courtesies* For General Wheat was a man of as noble and commanding pres- ence, as she of queenly grace and beauty. Over six feet in height, and finely formed, he had a dignified carriage and a polished ease of manner and address.
General Wheat's reception by Garibaldi was in every way gratify- ing — a hearty welcome and the offer of a position on his staff. Promptly accepting it, he engaged at once in active service ; and in several engagements which quickly followed, his dash and gallantry were the frequent theme of the army correspondents of the English press.
The troubles at home, however, gave another sudden turn to his career. As soon as he heard of the secession of the Southern States from the Federal government, he hastened back to England and took the first steamer for New York. His friend. General Scott, urged him to fight again under the old flag, promising his influence