Spinning wheel . Part of a collection used by the Hearne family in Greenville, NC (Pitt County). Likely used by Nina Harris Redditt and Belle Hearne Harris.


Hearne family spinning wheel, Pitt County, NC. NC Museum of History Collections.

Hearne family spinning wheel, Pitt County, NC. NC Museum of History Collections.

Source: North Carolina Museum of History, accession number 1987.111.28

Brief Report of the Services Rendered by the Freed People to the United States Army, in North Carolina, in the spring of 1862, after the battle of Newbern, by Vincent Colyer.  Printed in New York, 1864


“I commenced my work with the freed people of color, in North Carolina, at Roanoke Island, soon after the battle of the 8th of February, 1862, which resulted so gloriously for our country.”


Headquarters, Department of North Carolina.

Newbern, March 30, 1862

Mr. Vincent Colyer is hereby appointed Superintendent of the Poor, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

By Command of Major General Burnside
My first order from General Burnside under this appointment, was to employ as many negro men as I could get, up to the number of five thousand; to offer them eight dollars a month, one ration and clothes, to work on the building of forts.


Read more from Colyer’s report here: https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/13431

Sketch from Colyer's published report "Furney"

Sketch from Colyer’s published report, Colyer was also an artist.

The Ammunition Explosion at City Point

Fifty eight Yankees were killed and one hundred and twenty-six wounded by the ammunition explosion at City Point on the 9th instant. A correspondent of the New York Tribune, who witnessed it, says:

“Every frame house in the town was jarred by the concussion alone to the extent of having its inside plastering knocked off, beside other damages by missiles, & c. Against the houses and other obstructions near the wharf, and even upon the hill, hundreds, and perhaps thousands of broken twisted and splintered muskets, and such debris, lay in drifts, like straw drifted by the wind; and all over the ground for at least a quarter of a mile from the scene of the explosion, shell, solid shot, grape, canister, musket and Minnie balls, pieces of shells, nails, screws, bolts and bolt heads, and fragments of almost everything – wooden, iron and leaded – you can think of, are strewn and drifted like hail and chunk of ice immediately after a dreadful hail storm.

“Everywhere are seen the rents, dents, deep abrasions and scarred furrows of the iron and leaden storm. The thousandth part cannot be told.

“My first thought was that an ammunition car had exploded just ahead of the one I was on, and that it would be a little use to try to escape the storm that had gone up and would come down – that one was about as safe in one place as another; and oh! how it did rain and hail all the terrible instruments of war.

“It was not a railroad car, but the ammunition barge J.E. Kendrick, that had exploded from the careless handling of percussion shells or some other kind of ammunition, it is supposed. No one that was aboard of the boats remains to tell the tale of her destruction. The splinters that strew the river may be here, or they may be not. The section of the twisted ribs of a keel that lie in the most frequented part of the town, on the hill, two hundred yards distant, may be here, or they may belong to one of her disappeared consorts.

“you have read of eruptions of Vesuvius, such as buried Herculaneum and Pompeii. You have seen illustrations of them in the books. This must have been such an explosion as one of these, except that, instead of lava and dust and ashes, it rained over the circle of a mile, in whole packages and by piece-meal, everything you can imagine at a military depot. Entire boxes of fixed ammunition came down among the tents in the town, a quarter of a mile distant, and scarcely a tent, or home, or boat, can be found within the circle of a mile that is not riddled by shell, solid shot, or small ammunition.

“How many were blown in atoms into the river from the Kendrick, never to be heard of, is not known. The captain of the Kendrick is safe, having been absent at the time of the explosion on another boat. The other boats entirely destroyed and struck were the Gen Meade and the J.C. Campbell.

“The massive pine wharf in front of where these  boats lay, which was bolted down upon piles and sleepers of pine trees, is brushed aside for about a third of its length, as it had been made of the paper I write on, while the substantial plank warehouse, with massive beams, built for at least a quarter of a century, has been crushed nearly its entire length, as if it had been a lady’s band-box. The freight train that was just ready to start when the explosion happened, it shattered in nearly every car, though not past repair, and I have the uninteresting satisfaction of seeing where my remains would probably have lain on the heads of the whiskey barrels, if I had remained in the car I first occupied.

“The pine-board row, in where were the post office, Adams’ Express office, and a quartermaster’s office, were also crushed by the concussion and the heavier forces brought against it, like a band-box, but fortunately, or rather miraculously, none of its occupants were seriously injured.

“Various theories are afloat as to the cause of the explosion. Some say the careless handling of ammunitions; others, an old-time torpedo; some surmise a rebel spy in the matter; while others attribute the disaster to a rebel shell or shot from across the river.”

Source:  Fayetteville Observer, August 22, 1864 as found on www.ncecho.org.

The statistics of the various blockade running steam vessels, and their fate and fortunes, if fully set forth, would exhibit some curious facts. Some of those facts, of which we have been informed, shall now be mentioned; they will, to most readers, bring with them their own explanation. Seven or eight new steamers have been built at English dockyards, expressly to run the blockade; they were ordered, and afterwards equipped and manned, and the officers found for them, by and English firm styled Alexander Collie & Co.  On arriving at Bermuda they were transferred to a respectable Confederate firm, acting on behalf of the Confederate government: so that on arrival at Wilmington – if they had ever arrived there – they were to have been under the Confederate flag, and owned by Confederate owners; and were destined thereafter as regular blockade runners, half on government account and half on account of the Confederate firm. These vessels have all been lost; they were all, save one, lost on their very first voyage between Bermuda and Wilmington; and our readers may remember their ill fated names, the Venus, the Ceres, the Vesta, the Juno &c.  One of these, the Hebe, was lost, not on her first voyage, but on her second.

Now, at the very same time, there was running a most lucky and prosperous line of blockade breaking ships, belonging to that English firm of Collie & Co. The very house which was employed to order and equip vessels to run the blockade on account of our government, was also most extensively engaged in running the blockade on its own account. In other words, our government expected Mr. Alexander Collie to furnish them faithfully and bona fide with the means of competing with himself and driving him out of the most lucrative trade he ever had in his life. Accordingly their ships were all driven ashore, a total loss. But of Mr. Collie’s own vessels, the Hansa has made nine round voyages, paying for herself twenty times over; the Edith  and the Annie have made each three round voyages, and are now prosperously running; the Falcon has made tow round voyages; and the Flamingo has just come in successful in her first trip. One of Collie’s however, was lost; she is the Don; had made six prosperous round voyages, and then was run down at sea by the Yankees, and is now one of the blockading squadron herself.

The contrast thus presented is striking enough, but this is not all; the captains and officers found by Collie & Col for the Confederate vessels were all most particularly capable and experienced me; they always ran their ships safely through the blockading squadron – for if they had lost them to the Yankees they never could have got command of a vessel again; it was always on the coast, or in the very mouth of Cape Fear river, that those ships were run aground, and then usually burned up, both ship and cargo. Suspicions could not but arise after a while, even in the most simple hearts; and when the Vesta, about seven months ago, after successfully making her way through a blockading fleet in pursuit, and after she was safe out of their range and out of their sight, was wantonly run aground on the North Carolina and instantly burned by her captain, together with her cargo and the very baggage of passengers, enquiry was instigated before a court at Wilmington, and it was determined to examine the captain and first officer; but it was found that they, apprehending such enquiry, had left secretly and by night, and got about the Hansa (one of Collie’s ships), them weighing anchor for England. This captain was afterwards appointed captain of one of Collie’s own vessels. The first officer, also of the Vesta, had been, before that, an officer on board the Hebe¸ one of our unlucky Confederate blockade runners; and is now first officer of the Annie, one of Collie’s ­– The captain of the Hebe, when she was lost, is now commander of the more fortunate Hansa.

We learn further that Dudgen, of London, an extensive shipbuilder, constructed to the order Collie & Col. seven double screw vessels, all just alike; of these five were transferred to the Confederate firm (or Government) – all five lost; two were retained by Collie & Co – both still running.

The agent of the house of Collie at Wilmington has bee, during all these transactions, one Andrew, a Hebrew.

There are two other vessels, the Fanny and the Alice, not furnished and manned, as we were informed, by Collie & Co, which have the good luck to be commanded by Confederate Captains; they have each made seven round voyages. The State of North Carolina, also, in providing herself with vessels to run the blockade upon State accounts, made her own arrangements and employed her own officers; which is probably the reason of her good fortune in that business.

There is no other conceivable way of accounting for the facts above mentioned, than by suppositions that the judicious Collie & Co. employed captains and paid them, expressly to run ashore and destroy those vessels which were to enter into competitions with his own; and that as a further reward for that service, the officers who have lost Confederate ships are put on board Collie’s to carry them through safely. Many persons have speculated in vain upon the astonishing ill luck of the Confederate vessels, and have suggested that the Yankees had agents in Nassau and Bermuda to bribe captains and officers, so as to ensure the loss of certain ships. – That there was villainy somewhere was very apparent; and as usual the misfortunes of the Confederates may be traced this time also to that guileless simplicity with which they have entrusted their interests to those having another interest directly opposite to theirs. Many is the bale of precious cotton that has gone to England to pay for those ships and cargoes; the Coquette, the very last ship our Government had, is at last sold; and a pawky Scotchman has almost a monopoly of the foreign trade of the Confederate States. Collie & Co is at present one of the richest firms in England and it sees no good reason why this war should ever end.

Richmond Examiner.


Source: Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh), August 19, 1864 as found on www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

Saturday 20th August 1864

Matt & I cleaned upstairs today. We expected Sister Jane this evening. Mr. Henry went after her after dinner but Dora was sick & Mr. Nielson got home last night so her nor Eliza either came. It was dark when Mr. Henry & Pinck came. I have done several things today. I washed all the children & put on their clean clothes this evening. Gus is a little loose in his bowels.


Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

To clean mirrors

The greatest care should be taken in cleaning a mirror, to use only the softest articles least the glass should be scratched. It should first be dusted with a feather brush, then washed over with a sponge, dipped in spirits of wine, to remove the fly spots. After this, it should be dusted with powder blue in a thin muslin bag, and finally polished with an old silk handkerchief.


Source: Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh), August 19, 1864 as found on www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov


August 22, 1864

No mail since the 18th & yesterday came tidings of the cause of the failure which has perplexed us not a little. The enemy have again cut the Petersburg & Weldon R R at Reams’ Station 9 miles from Petersburg. Rumours of a similar disaster to both the Southside & the Danville Road, but we know not how to credit them. God knows how this state of uncertainty & ignorance distresses us! The cutting of the R R is always a preliminary to an advance on Grant’s part. He has been unusually active crossing & recrossing the James as a feint to throw dust into Gen Lee’s eyes, so as to conceal the point of his real attack, & like the cuttle fish muddy the water so as to make good his escape; so the next news (when we get it) will be stirring.

I have fallen into sad idle ways this summer, & in order to correct them take a hint from the Spectator & faithfully record the doings of one day and see how little — how absolutely little, do I effect. The first thing on leaving my chamber on Sat morning was the usual family prayers. Then seizing a stocking I darned a few runs whilst Mr E read the regular no of the Spectator with which we occupy ourselves whilst breakfast is brought in. Breakfast. Peeled a muskmelon & prepared it for pickling, dawdled about, put up a few seeds, & read a sermon on the death of Moses to Patty. Went to the Storeroom with Dolly & ordered dinner & had 2 barrels of flour packed. Darned a little more on Mr E’s stockings. At ½ past 9 father called me to chess — played until 12. Got the Luncheon & cut some water melons for the girls. As it was overcast & pleasant went into the garden, gathered the Musk melons, walked around the Flower Garden, peeped at my grapes, wound up my stroll at the “soltaire” where I had directed Fanny to bring my tea. Read the lessons for the day & did some other little devotional reading. Drank my tea, wrote my Journal, went to the house, arranged the fruit for Dessert, dressed for dinner, dined, talked to Mr E whilst he smoked his cigarrito, chatted with Patty, took up the interminable stocking, darned a little, when father proposed chess. Played for an hour & a half at least, seized the stocking again, put it down to commence Mattie’s straw Hat for her & to teach her how to sew the straw, & as a shower prevented my usual afternoon walk, at the stocking again until near dark. Arranged the waiters for tea with the girls assistance, lit the candles, & superintended the tea table. Ordered breakfast, finished the inevitable pr of socks, darned two pr for myself, went to my room & closed the day with a warm bath & the evening lessons.

Now what a little did I accomplish. True I had more of the servants work to superintend & execute myself on account of its being the midsummer Holidays & I had allowed Betsy & Fanny to go to the dinner at the Plantation & Madame Vinyard’s Confinement threw the stocking darning on me, but what did I that would entitle me to the sensation that “something accomplished — something done had earned a night’s repose”? I must do better for the future.

Vinyard made her appearance in the house today, her child Frances being four weeks old on Sat, so that my labours as a stocking darner are happily at an end. Will I substitute anything as useful in its place? One thing I must arm myself with — a double stock of patience, for Vinyard always a trial will be a double one after her months idleness.

The mail has just come in with details of the engagement of Tuesday at Deep Bottom. At one time the enemy had possession of a mile of our entrenchments, Grant having encassed 40,000 men on one point, but by slowly retreating & keeping a bold front we prevented their further advance until, reinforcements coming up, we drove them from our lines in confusion & with great slaughter. Sad to say we lost Maj Gen Girardy & Brig Gen Chambliss killed, which was not I fear compensated by the loss of their dancing Master Gen Ferero, who cut his last caper at Deep Bottom. Ferero’s death was a gain to them & a corresponding loss to us. Girardy & Chambliss were fine young officers & both leave wives & families of small children to mourn for them.

I referred above to the “Soltaire.” I have never described it. We have had a small house in the garden known to the rest of the world as a tool or root House privately fitted up, as a drawing room. A couch, two chairs, a table for writing, an ink stand, a portfolio, a vase of flowers, a shelf, a few books, & a broom constitute its whole furniture. Here Mr E & myself retire when we wish to be absolutely alone. When I find him in it before me I enter only on suffrance. It is a private place of whose very existence no one but ourselves know of & when we are wearied, out of sorts, or have some thing to do which demands quiet & seclusion we retire there & shut out family cares & with them all the rest of the world. It is so arranged that we can see out without being seen in turn & here have I taken my bible, prayer book, & Journal & with the perfume of sweet flowers around me I can daily read & lift up my heart in gratitude, better I fancy than I can in the house. Here, too, we make little appointments to meet at a certain hour & chat & spend the time at our ease. I come in & find some little evidence that he has been before me, a peach or a pear or a book left open at the page he has been reading, & I go out & leave a memento for him — a Rose, a vase of fresh flowers, a half written letter, & the air of secresy & seclusion with which we invest the time spent there gives it a double zest. It is like “Stolen fruit or bread eaten in secret.”

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html


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