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pages, that I had four hundred and fifty feet, or one hundred and fifty yards, of the most brilliant and beautiful golden silk I had ever seen.


During all this operation the spider had remained perfectly quiet, but finally put an end to my proceedings by grasping the line with the tip of one of her hind legs so that it snapped. was tired, however, and contented my self with the quantity already obtained, which now formed a raised band of gold upon the quill. This specimen is now in my possession, but has been removed from the quill to ascertain its weight, which is one third of a grain.

It is worthy of notice, perhaps, that in all this was involved no new fact, but only a happy deduction from one known ages ago; namely, that a spider, when dropping, leaves her line attached, and so allows it to be drawn from her body. Nothing was more natural than to simply reverse the position of the fixed point, and, instead of letting the spider go away from the end of her line, to take the end of her line away from her. So natural, indeed, did it seem, that my gratification at having been (as was then supposed) the first to do it was, on reflection, mixed with surprise that no one had ever thought of it before, and I am very glad to find that at least four individuals have, within the last century, pulled silk out of a spider, though of these only one, whose researches I hope to make known, regarded the matter as anything more than a curious experiment.

I had never before seen such a spider, nor even paid attention to any geometrical species; though one large black and yellow variety is, or used to be, common enough in our fields at the North. Neither had I ever heard of such a method of obtaining silk. But though my first specimen was not preserved, and a second was never seen on Folly Island, yet I was so impressed with its size and brilliant colors, and especially with the curious brushes of black hairs on its legs, that when, during the following summer, another officer described

to me a great spider which was very common on Long Island, where he was stationed, I knew it was the same, and told him what I had done the year before, adding that I was sure something would come of it in time.

With leisure and many spiders at his command, this officer improved upon my suggestion, by substituting for my quill turned in the fingers a wooden cylinder worked by a crank, and by securing, at a proper distance, (between pins, I think,) one or more spiders, whose threads were guided between pins upon the cylinder. He thus produced more of the silk, winding it upon rings of hard rubber so as to make very pretty ornaments. With this simple machine I wound the silk in two grooves cut on a ring of hard rubber and parallel except at one point, where they crossed so as to form a kind of signet. Another officer now suggested and put in operation still another improvement, in the shape of the "gear-drill-stock" of our armorer's chest. This, being a machine for drilling iron, was rough in its construction and uneven in its action, but, having cog-wheels, a rapid and nearly steady motion could be given to its shaft. To this shaft he attached a little cross of rubber, and covered it with silk, which was of a silver-white color instead of golden-yellow, as in other cases. The difference in color was then supposed to depend upon individual peculiarities, but the true explanation will be given farther on. With this gear-drill-stock, upon a larger ring, one inch in diameter and three eighths of an inch in width, in a groove upon its periphery one fourth of an inch in width, and across the sides of the ring in two directions, I wound three thousand four hundred and eighty-four yards, or nearly two miles, of silk. The length was estimated by accurately determining the different dimensions of the ring where wound upon, and multiplying by this the number of revolutions of the cylinder per minute (170), and this product again by the number of minutes of actual winding (285), deducting from the gross time of winding

(about nine hours) each moment of stoppage for any cause.

This was late in the fall of 1864, and, our specimens being sent home, further experiments, and even thoughts upon the subject, were prevented by the expedition against the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, and the many changes of station that followed the disastrous battle of Honey Hill. But, when I was at the North in February, 1865, a friend expressed to me his confident belief that this new silken product could be made of practical utility, and advised me to make inquiries on the subject. So. before presenting it to the scientific societies, I tested the strength of the silk by attaching to a fixed point one end of a thread one four-thousandth of an inch in diameter, and tying the other end upon the arm of an accurate balance: weights were then dropped in to the amount of fifty-four grains before the line was broken. By a calculation from this, a solid bar of spider's silk, one inch in diameter, would sustain a weight of more than seventy tons; while a similar bar of steel will sustain only fifty-six, and one of iron twentyeight tons. The specimens were then exhibited to Professors Wyman, Agassiz, and Cooke, of Harvard University, to all of whom the species of spider was unknown, though Professor Wyman has since found a single specimen among some insects collected at the South; while to them as well as to the silk-manufacturers the idea of reeling silk directly from a living insect was entirely new. The latter, of course, wished to see a quantity of it before pronouncing upon its usefulness. So most of my furlough was spent in making arrangements for securing a number of the spiders, and reeling their silk during the coming summer. These comprised six light wooden boxes with sliding fronts, each eighteen inches wide and high and one foot deep, and containing six tin trays one above another, each of which, again, held twenty-four square paper boxes two and a half inches in diameter, and with lids closed by an elastic. Into these the spiders

were to be put for transportation. Then I had made a costly machine for reeling the silk, which, however, proved of no practical value.

In March, with these and other real or fancied adjuvants, (some of which proved even less useful and trustworthy than the machine,) but, above all, with a determination to put this matter to the test of actual experiment, I rejoined the regiment at Charleston, which had just fallen into our hands. It was not until April, however, that we were so situated that I could make any attempt to get spiders. Of course it was not expected that the full-grown ones should be found at that season, but the eggs or young should be abundant where the spiders had been in the summer.

Before recounting my adventures in pursuit of my spinster friends, it may be well to say a few words of the locality which they inhabited.

Charleston stands upon the extremity of a narrow peninsula, between the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers. Charleston Harbor, supplied by these and some smaller streams, lies between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island on the northeast, and James and Morris Islands on the southwest. One cannot but be struck with the resemblance, so great as to be almost symmetrical, between the two sides of the harbor. Mt. Pleasant and James Island are quite high land, high at least for the coast of South Carolina,-and are sep

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arated from the mainland, the one by the Wando River, the other by Wappoo Creek; while Sullivan's Island, where stand Fort Moultrie and other Rebel batteries, corresponds almost precisely to Morris Island, both being low and sandy, and being, as it were, bent inland from the sea, with sharp points looking toward the city, their convex shores forming a rounded entrance to the harbor. Extending southward from Morris Island, and separated from it by Lighthouse Inlet, is Folly Island; and in exact correspondence to the latter, north of Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by Breach Inlet, is a similar sand-ridge called Long Island. But now occurs a difference; for while between Long and Sullivan's Islands and Christ's Church Parish is an immense salt marsh intersected by creeks, but presenting an unbroken surface, in the midst of the corresponding marsh between Morris and Folly Islands and James Island is a group of low wooded islands, the largest of which lies opposite the upper or north end of Folly Island. To this no name is given on the maps, nor is it even distinguished from the marsh. It is, however, completely surrounded by water; and, though this is in the form of creeks neither wide nor deep, yet the peculiar softness of the mud, and the absence of any landing-place except upon the side toward Folly Island, render it almost inaccessible.

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To this narrow strip of land, not three miles in length, was given the name of Long Island, — perhaps by our own troops, who knew nothing of an island of the same name north of the harbor; and in case it is found that no other name belongs to it, we may properly avoid a confusion, and christen it Spider Island, in honor of the remarkable insects for whose especial benefit it seems to have been made, and which, with the exception of the mosquitoes, are its sole inhabitants.

As was said, the first spider was found on Folly Island on the 19th of August, 1863: it was also the last there seen. During the summer of

1864, many were found on Long Island (so called); and when, in the spring of 1865, our regiment was encamped on James Island near Wappoo Creek, it was toward Long Island that all my attention, so far as concerned spiders, was directed.

But first, as a bit of collateral history, and to show how easily and how far one may go astray when one of the links in the chain of argument is only an inference, let me relate that, while riding over James Island, I observed upon trees and bushes numbers of small brown bags, from half an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, pearshaped, and suspended by strong silken cords. The bags themselves were made of a finer silk so closely woven as to resemble brown paper, and, when opened, were found to contain a mass of loose silk filled with young spiders to the number of five hundred or more. In certain localities, especially in a swampy field just outside the first line of Rebel works, they were quite abundant. I had soon collected about four hundred of them, which, by a moderate estimate, contained two hundred thousand little spiders,- quite enough, I thought, with which to commence operations. But one hot day in June I placed them all on a tray in the sun. I was called away, and on my return found my one fifth of a million young spiders dead, — baked to death.


Prior to this catastrophe, however, I had become convinced that these were not the spiders I sought. Indeed, my only reasons for thinking they might be were, first, the abundance of these cocoons in a locality so near Long Island; and, second, my own great desire that they should prove the spiders I wanted. The young spiders, it is true, did not at all resemble their supposed progenitors, as to either shape, or color, or markings; yet all of these evidently changed during growth, and would not of themselves disprove the relationship.

One day in April, however, a cocoon was found in a tree on James Island, of a very different appearance from the

others. It was of loose texture, and, instead of being pear-shaped, was hemispherical in form, and attached by its flat surface to the lower side of a leaf. This also contained young spiders, a little larger and a little brighter in color than the others, but really bearing no resemblance to the full-grown spiders of Long Island. This single cocoon formed the entering wedge of doubt, and soon it was clear that the only means of proof lay on Long Island itself.

But how was this to be reached? Easily enough while we were upon Folly Island and could row through the creeks to a wharf on the east side of Long Island. But now the case was altered; for between James and Long Islands was the immense marsh already mentioned, intersected by creeks, and composed of mud practically without bottom, and ranging from eighteen to twenty-three feet in depth by actual measurement. Around or over or through this marsh it was necessary to go, in order to reach Long Island, the home of the spiders.

I could easily occupy the rest of my allotted space in recounting my various attempts to reach this El Dorado, which my fancy, excited by every delay, stocked with innumerable cocoons of the kind already found so abundantly on James Island. These I expected would furnish thousands of spiders, the care of which, with the reeling of their silk, would give employment to all the freed people in South Carolina,

for even then the poor creatures were finding their way to the coast. And perhaps, I thought, some day, the Sea-Island silk may be as famous as the choice SeaIsland cotton. This hope I still cherish, together with the belief that, under certain conditions, the spiders may also be reared at the North.

After riding miles and miles in all directions in search of the readiest point of attack; after having once engaged a row-boat to go around through Stono River and meet me at the nearest point of land, on which occasion I dismounted to give my horse a better

chance of getting over a bad place in the road, and the ungrateful beast left me in the lurch and went home much faster than he came, while I, being now half-way, walked on through the marsh, and had the pleasure of sitting on a log in a pouring rain for an hour, with Long Island just on the other side of a creek over which no boat came to carry me,—after this and other disappointments, I at last made sure by going in the boat myself, and so finally reached the island. But now, to my discomfiture, after a most careful search, I saw only two or three cocoons of the kind I looked for, while the others, of loose texture, were quite abundant, and doubtless would have been found in still greater numbers but for their always being under leaves, and often at a considerable height. It was probable now that these latter cocoons contained the spiders, and that the former were a different species.

The regiment now removed to the interior of the State, and while there occurred the coup de soleil above mentioned. We remained at Orangeburg until the middle of August, and then, being stationed at Mt. Pleasant, I again made raids for spiders. Upon James Island, in the localities where during the spring the cocoons were abundant, I found many large geometrical spiders, all of one kind, but not of the kind I sought. They were bad-tempered, and their legs were so short and strong that it was not easy to handle them, while their silk was of a light, and not brilliant, yellow.

My first attempt upon Long Island was made by leaving Charleston in a boat, which, after touching at Sumter, landed me at Fort Johnson. Here I was joined by a sergeant and corporal of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, and we walked across to a little settlement of freed people not far from Secessionville, where a boat and crew were engaged. It would be tedious to relate how, after sticking on invisible oysterbeds and mud-flats, and losing our way among the creeks, at two o'clock we found ourselves about one hundred.

yards from the north end of the island; and how, since it was too late to try to reach the wharf on the east side, even had we been sure of the way, the two Fifty-fourth boys and myself got out of the boat and essayed to cross upon the marsh. Such a marsh! We have marshes at the North, but they are as dry land in comparison. I had seen them at the South, had stepped upon and into them, but never one like this. It was clear mud, as soft as mud could be and not run like the water that covered it at high tide. Even the tall rushes wore an unsteady look; and the few oysters upon its surface evidently required all their balancing powers to lie upon their flat sides and avoid sinking edgewise into the oozy depths. In we sank, over ankles, at the first step, and deeper and deeper till we took a second; for our only safety lay in pushing down the rushes with the inside of one foot and treading upon them, till the other could be withdrawn from its yielding bed, and a spot selected for the next step forward. I say selected, for even this mud was more firm than a hole in it filled with water and treacherously concealed by a few rushes. A misstep into one of these pitfalls brought me to my knees, and wellnigh compelled me to call for help; but a sudden and determined spring, and a friendly bunch of rushes beyond, spared me that mortification. When two thirds of the way across, and while thinking we should soon reach dry land, we came upon the edge of a creek, not wide, it is true, but with soft, slimy, sloping sides, (for banks they could not properly be called,) and no one knew how many feet of mud beneath its sluggish stream. Under ordinary circumstances I might have sounded a retreat; but, remembering that there was twice as much mud behind as before us, and feeling ourselves sinking slowly but surely in our tracks, we slid down the sides into the water. This received our bodies to the waist, the mud our legs to the knees; but we struggled through, and, after another terrible thirty yards of mud, reached

Long Island. Leaving my faithful companions to rest, I struck off down the east side of the island, and soon found spiders in plenty. Stopping at the wharf, and returning upon the west side, I counted one hundred spiders in less than an hour. This was only a voyage of discovery, but I could not resist the temptation to capture one big fellow and put it in my hat, which, with the edges brought together, I was forced to carry in my teeth, for one hand was required to break down the webs stretched across my path, and the other to do battle in vain with the thousands of mosquitoes, of huge size and bloody intent, besetting me on every side. What with the extreme heat and my previous fatigue, and the dread lest my captive should escape and revenge herself upon my face while I was avoiding the nets of her friends, and the relentless attacks of their smaller but more venomous associates, it was the most uncomfortable walk imaginable. To complete my misery, the path led me out upon the marsh where I could see nothing of the boat or my companions, and whence, to reach them, I had to walk across the head of the island. Excepting the dreaded recrossing of the mud, I hardly remember how we made our way back; but by one means and another I finally reached Charleston at nine o'clock, about as disreputable-looking a medical man as ever

was seen.

However, all this was soon forgotten, and, being now assured of the presence of the spiders in their former haunts, on the 30th of August, 1865, I organized a new expedition, which was to proceed entirely by water, and which consisted of a sail-boat and crew of picked volunteers. Leaving Mt. Pleasant in the morning, we crossed the harbor, and were soon lost in the meanderings of the creeks behind Morris Island. Lost is appropriate, for, once in these creeks, you know nothing, you see and hear nothing, and, if you change your course, must do so by mere guess. But the most annoying thing is, after an apparent advance of a quarter of a mile,

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