Posts Tagged ‘Richmond’

July 14, 1864

Today came the first mail which we have had from Richmond for three weeks & a day! The mail bag was “a sight for sair ‘een” with its late lean sides puffed out with the accumulated issues of three dailies & several weekly newspapers besides letters and pamphlets. The assembled family sat down & such reading, talking, comparing of notes, & “did you see this?” “listen here,” “could you beleive it,” & “well! we have been out of the world, just think of this, & we never to have heard it.” Sometime two reading at the same time made a pleasant Bable which will not soon be forgotten. In the midst of it who should come in but Mr Dunlop of Petersburg! & the budget of news brought by him added to the overwhelming accumulations of the past three weeks have well nigh bewildered me.

In the first place Early is in Maryland! He has gained a signal victory at Monocacy Crk, cut the communication between Washington & Baltimore & thrown both cities into a panic. Hagerstown in flames behind him. He has orders to spare nothing which can sustain or support our army & it is hoped that permission to retaliate some little of the horrors endured by us has been given him. Lincoln clamours for more troops; 100 days men are being rapidly pressed on from New York & New England. Yankee accounts say that Early captured supplies at Martinsburg sufficient for a campaign. Sigel is reported killed, but that is, too, bad news for us. Rather let him live to blunder a little longer. New York is in a ferment — a quarrel between the civil and Military authorities. It seems that the suppression of the Journal of Commerce & the World mentioned sometime ago was by order of Gen Dix, whereupon a civil process was entered upon by the proprietors of the papers & Maj Gen Dix summoned into Court, which summons he refused to obey, alleging his responsibility to a Military court alone, whereon Gov Seymour declared that the supremacy of the Law should & would be asserted & called out 200,000 militia to compel the recreant Gen to admit the jurisdiction of the Civil Arm. There the matter stands.

Vallandigham remains unmolested at Dayton, makes speeches as he lists, & openly defies Mr Lincoln to meddle with him. But the saddest part of the news to us is the treatment our people in Va have met with from the hands of these bands of scoundrels under Sheridan, Kautz, Wilson, & Hunter. Butler sent out a foraging party into the Northern Neck, Negroes under a white officer. Details of the outrage of twenty five ladies by that band alone have been filed in Richmond! One was! — but my pen shrinks from the recital. Many are dead & some with a far less happy fate live shreiking maniacs or sunk in hopeless misery. Hunter’s men were, if any, only a little behind in the commission of such deeds. From the Valley & about Lynchburg the recital of his brutalities would make a fiend blush. The papers are filled with letters from women of refinement & education detailing treatment which they have received themselves & hinting at conduct to others, in their knoledge, too dreadful to be written. Robbery, murder, & plunder is so common that it almost ceases to excite remark. The papers are filled with advertisements of stolen property, negroes, books, silver, & clothing recaptured by Hampton & Fitz Hugh Lee from the infamous wretches. The names & marks on a quantity of silver taken in Wilson’s own private ambulance are given, & the owners requested to come forward & claim it, & notices of coupons, certificates of stock, registered Bonds, notes, evidences of indebtednesses, etc., stolen by them are so common that we scarcely notice them. Whilst one reads the catalogue of horrors it seems more like a recital of the conduct of the Sepoys in India than that of a nation nominally at least Christian!

Sad to relate the Alabama, our pride & our hope has been sunk off Cherburgh by the Kearseage, a Yankee sloop of War. The A. was just in from a long cruise, was not in fighting trim, & it seems an excess of gallantry in her to go out & attack her well appointed adversary, but there are intimations that she was only allowed three days provision by the hospitable French & I suppose Semmes knew that a battle was inevitable, so he put on all steam & tho far inferior to the Yankee both in the power of his machinery and the calibre of his guns, entered with spirit into the unequal contest. His men fought until the water ran into the muzzles of their guns! & even after all hope was over refused to allow the Flag to be struck, determining to go down rather than be captured & Capt Semmes was forced to draw his Revolver & insist on his order to lower the flag being obeyed. The gallant Yankee fired five times upon her whilst the White flag was waving at her peak! As she went down her men sprang overboard & were rescued by the boats of the Kerseage & those of an English yatch, the Deer Hound, belonging to Mr John Lancaster who on seeing the Alabama steam out of Port followed her to see the engagement. Semmes was picked up by one of her boats, concealed underneath some sails in the bottom of the boat, & with eleven other officers & some of the men safely landed at Southampton. Not a vestige of the Alabama fell into the hands of the Victors! Everything went down & she has left only her fame behind her. Not a vestige did I say? I mistake. She has left an ugly remembrance in the shape of an unexploded five inch shell which passed through the stern posts of the Kerseage & lies a sleeping Lion amongst her timbers not to be disturbed [illegible] great risk of destroying his bed. So we may yet hear of the revenge of the Alabama. Like Sampson she may yet crush her enemy. Semmes is already taking steps to get a new & better vessel in England & we may soon hear of him as a further scourge to Yankee commerce.

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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In Richmond they are killing dogs at the rate of about 100 per day, and sending their hides to the tannery. This saves the food they consume and turns the animals to good account.


Source: Fayetteville Observer, July 11, 1864 as found on www.ncecho.org


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July 2, 1864

Still without direct news from Richmond or Petersburg. The severe battle reported to have taken place last Friday a week ago was undecisive, yet we lost, sad to say, 400 prisoners. Gen Fitz Lee has driven Kautz from the Danville road & is said to be in pursuit of him. Hampton has had “adoe,” as the Morte d’Arthur has it, with a party of raiders, whether the same or not we cannot tell at Stoney Crk — & repulsed them. The Scotland Neck Rifles were engaged, lost some, killed, wounded, & captured. Amongst the two last is Dr Hugh Davis, a man whom Mr E liked & trusted & in the last category is the Col of the Regt, Col John Baker, he on whose account Gen French behaved so unhandsomely to Mr E. Ah! Mrs E! I fear me you glorify yourself with the thought that had your husband been there he would not have been captured! True Madam, but then he might have been killed! So instead of self-exultation, be thankful that God has spared you the suffering & anxiety now endured by Mrs Baker.

Hunter is retreating as fast as whip & spur can aid him before Early. No time now for foraging & “living off the country.” Sauve qui peut & the Devil take the hindmost is the order of the day. He was overhauled near Salem & lost besides killed & wounded 200 prisoners. The road is strewed with his dead horses & cast off equipments — arms, caissons, & even cannon. He finds the road by Liberty “a hard one to travel.” “All quiet around Petersburg & plenty of prisoners” is our last account from there, but all our news comes from passengers who walk to Stoney Crk, so that it is both old & uncertain when it reaches us, & news like a egg should be fresh to make it valuable. Grant boasted that he would eat his 4th of July dinner in Richmond. God grant he may do so & in “the Hotel de Libby” to boot with attendants a plenty in the shape of Confederate soldiers to see that he wants for nothing of the privileges usually accorded to a prisoner of war! Hunter with usual Yankee barbarity shelled the town of Lexington without notice & on entering sent a squad of men to Ex Gov Letcher’s house & summoning Mrs L, gave her ten minutes to remove such things as she wished to preserve from the house & occupied five minutes of the ten telling her what things she was to leave untouched. So that five minutes was all three Ladies had to save wardrobe, provisions, & bedding. The savages, they cannot understand & are incapable of being made to appreciate the sublime lesson taught them last summer by Gen Lee in his march through Penn! — a spectacle, however, at which one day the civilized world will stand in amazed admiration, amazed that an army burning under the sense of such wrongs & outrages on their own homes could yet leave unmolested the homes of their enemies when in their power, & this, & deeds worse than this, is the return we get for it!


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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Camp near Orange CH Va

April 16, 1864

My dearest Corrie:

After along time your first came to hand last evening, which was gladly received and read as in days past. I can assure you it gave me more of a contented mind, the name at the end if no name on paper always looks charming to the one of your choice. Through a note from Capt. Parks at Richmond gave us the pleasing intelligence that Father had to a great extent recovered from his illness; we first heard through a letter to Logan he was very sick, which caused great uneasiness as I very much fear at some time on of those sudden attacks will take him away, for the last few months he has had several as you are aware. I staid with Mat the night after I left home, arrived at Richmond Saturday morning, went to the Hospital where brother died and found on the books his death recorded 28th Dec., I inquired where his remains rested, was told at Oakwood Cemetery 2 ½ miles distant as I had business to attend I did not go out. I was told that he was neatly buried in a raised lid coffin and that the grave was marked. I asked if his remains could be easily removed which was replied to in the affirmative, said if I could see him I would recognize him as the body by that time had not decayed any. I wrote to father to send someone after them, I don’t know what he concluded to do as I haven’t had an answer.

I tried to get brother’s effects but could not as the proper heir has to make oath before a magistrate that he is such then have the County Court clerk’s signature and seal before anything can be obtained; after he fills the blank I sent him, and gives me a power of attorney, with both I can get his effects and money due, otherwise I cannot.

Have you subscribed for the Confederate? If you have not let me know and I will send it to you. Do you get the Presbyterian? I subscribed for it. Do you and Puss want either of the Richmond literary papers? Our regiment is in good health and spirits. There is no possible chance for me to get a furlough this spring as Walker has been trying to get off ever since I came back. Genl. Lee’s order is “there will be no more furloughs as the exigencies of the times will not admit of it.”  Tom, Bill, Pinck, Log and all of our boys are in good health. Give my love to all.

Write soon and often to

Your devoted



Sources: Mike and Carol Lawing, eds., My Dearest Friend: The Civil War Correspondence of Cornelia McGimsey and Lewis Warlick (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2000). Original collections of the papers are in the Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.

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March 8, 1864

News last night which makes the blood of all true hearted Confederates boil in their veins at this new instance of Yankee wickedness & meanness. Lieut Pollard Comdg Company H of the 9th Va Cavelry, aided by some Home guards & a small detachment from Lieut Col Robbin’s Command, followed a large party of the Yankee Cavalry, harrassing their rear all day Wednesday, crossing the Mattapony after them. The Enemy under Col Dahlgreen’s command took the fork of the road leading to Walkertown when Lieut Pollard, hastily dividing his force, left a small body in pursuit & taking the other fork succeeding in a circuit, & having been joined by the forces above named, appeared on their front about eleven at night; Dahlgren ordered a charge — & in the act was shot through the head. A fight then ensued in which he took 90 prisoners, 35 negroes, & 150 horses & the rest of the enemy dispersed in the darkness in wild flight through the woods. On Col Dahlgren’s person was found memoranda & orders disclosing a most diabolical plan in which, God be praised, he was defeated. He was to cross to the South side of the James about thirty miles above Richmond with one Squadron, keeping the other on the North side, signalling each other as they went. That on the South side was to seize the bridges at Richmond, release the prisoners on Belle Isle, arming them from waggons which they carried loaded with small arms for the purpose & supplying them with oakum balls soaked in tar with which they were all well provided for the purpose of destroying the city by fire.

The North side party was to destroy the Arsenal etc. at Bellona & the two Squadrons making a junction in the city were to seize Mr Davis & his Cabinet, hang them immediately, join the prisoners in setting the city on fire, & by daybreak be across the Pamunky in full retreat, leaving murder, rapine, & a city in ashes behind them. But God ordained otherwise. A negroe whom they seized for a guide brought them, doubtless in good faith to them, to a point on the James where he told them they could cross; but the River being higher than he was aware of, when they reached the place, they were unable to do so, whereupon they instantly hanged him. This, however, disconcerted their plans and meeting with a stouter resistance than they thought, they were forced to retreat without so much as entering Richmond. Are our enemies civilized? Do they even profess the doctrines of Christ? What sort of a return is this for the way our troops acted towards them in their last summer’s campaign into Penn? We respected all private rights, horses only excepted, & not one private dwelling in ashes marked the footsteps of our army. One only was molested & that by three men, Mississippians, who had all of them had their own houses burned by the enemy & their wives & children driven out homeless. They dared not burn it in retaliation, for they feared the smoke would betray them & that Gen Lee in stern justice would visit on them the penalty of a violated Order, so they only hacked & hewed the furniture to peices, & tell me how many thousand of our Southern homes have been thus and worse treated? Blood thirsty tho it appears, our Government ought to adopt a different course with men captured on such an expedition. It is not regular warfare & they are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war. It is mockery to insist that they are. Dahlgren is the son of the Commodore now in command before Charleston. The one aids in the infamous attempt to destroy a whole city & to hurry thousands of non-combattants incapable of resistance to a dreadful death. The other is even worse; at the head of a gang of picked ruffians armed with fire balls, his deliberate purpose is to turn loose upon innocent women a mixed multitude, a mob of prisoners, without even the show of an authority to command them, with orders to pillage, burn, destroy, murder; in short, do all that their evil passions prompt them, whilst he himself a commissioned officer of the U S hangs without trial the heads of a Government whose meanest soldier his Government has admitted to the rights of a belligerant. Talk of Punic Faith no more! hence forth let it be “Yankee faith,” Like father like son. Dahlgren and Kilpatrick’s paths are marked with desolation…

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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March 5, 1864

Saturday — Have had a busy week, having been since Tuesday out at Hascosea gardening. I have used the scissors & prunning knife so much that my hand is actually sore & so disfigured with scratches that it makes me laugh to look at it. Went on Friday to attend to poor Tom’s grave. I had a rustic cross of cedar made for the head stone which will I hope before the summer is over be covered with ivy and had the grave itself covered with ivy, thinking that better than turf. I carried some evergreens but found that they would interfere with the general plan of the Cemetery, so gave them to Mrs Smith to be used at her discretion. I found her there superintending some workmen engaged in preparing the earth for placing a fine collection of evergreens which Mr Cheshire was to bring in the afternoon. Went to see Mrs Spruill, poor woman, & had a rapid canter home & found Mr E engaged in plans for the capture of Cumbo, Hoody Manuel, & some white men who are lurking about Mr. Johnston’s & father’s plantation. Today he had quite a levee in the dining room at Hascosea & came home to Looking Glass “a toute bride”  to meet some other (Northampton) men here & tonight he is off posting guards & looking about for them.

We missed several mails whilst out at Hascosea & stirring times indeed has the Confederacy passed through. On the 29th Gen Lee telegraphed from Orange Court House that the enemy’s Cavalry were moving on both his flanks, that one column had gone in the direction of Fredericks’ Hall on the Central Road & the other in that of Charlottsville. On this all the defences available were brought into action. The Richmond Clerks (Government) were called out & measures taken to intercept the marauders, for such only are they to be termed, for their object seemed to be only negroes and horses, their errand to burn & to steal. They divided themselves into several parties, each seeming to vie with the other, Kilpatrick in command, he the prince of theives! But I beg Gen Butler’s pardon! No one can out rank him in that line. One division pursued almost the same route as that taken by the Raiders last summer, through Goochland, past Hanover, & thence across the Pamunky. They burned Mr Morson’s house, barn, & outhouse, sacking & plundering as they listed & then going to his neighbor and brother in law Sec Seddon’s,  they burned his barns and provisions, only leaving the residence. One troop came within 2½ miles of Richmond, to the house of Mr John Young, & ordered dinner & there remained for two or three hours, making their band (a fine one) play for them. They were, contrary to the usual custom very polite & did no damage but made fine speeches to the ladies, & apologized for taking the mules & horses Mr Y being from home, fortunately for him, at the time.

This, (Kilpatrick’s) Division, came down to Battery no 9 of the Richmond Defences & threw several shells at long range at it, but none of them came close enough to do any damage save to Mother Earth who received them in [her] bosom — Iron seed which I hope will be repaid with interest by her children! At night Gen Hampton with the 1st N C Cav & a portion of another Regt surprised & drove them from their camp in great confusion; he was too weak to follow, they having 3500 men. This was at Atlee’s Station. Gen H took many prisoners & horses. During Tuesday night one hundred & thirty eight prisoners were brought in representing twelve Regts of Cav. They had beside two Brigades of light Artillery, but it were long to follow the track of each party, the same tale is stamped in the pathway of all. Col Bradley Johnson repulsed them at Hanover. Maj Beckham with his Horse Artillery drove them back when within two miles of Charlottesville.

The account sums up on our side The Insult!! several Mills burned, many negroes, mules, & horses captured, private dwellings burned, provisions destroyed, women & children frightened, Capt Ellery of the Richmond Bat killed, & several men slightly wounded; on theirs — their failure to take Richmond!! between three & four hundred men captured including several officers from Lieut Col down, two or three hundred killed, & many severely wounded & left at houses on the way, several peices of field artillery, many mules & horses, eighty or a hundred horse accoutrements, McClellan saddles, etc., captured, their horses thoroughly jaded & broken down so that they are unfit for service, & their men (mostly Dutch) demoralized & dispersed. So say Journal, on whose side is the balance?

Gen Finnegans’ victory in Florida appears much more important than we had supposed. It seems it was intended by the Yankees to take possession of the State or such portion of it as should enable them to claim that it cast its vote for them in the Presidential Election. They landed at Jacksonville & came on unmolested to Ocean Ponds (on old maps called Alligator) where Finnegan met them with a small body of Georgians & Floridians, about one third their own number. They put two Regts of Black troops in their van, driving them on at the point of the bayonette. They were met by the 19th Georg. & the slaughter was terrific; carnage such as even this bloody war has rarely witnessed. As we advanced they retreated & for miles the earth was strewed with dead negroes. Then came the whites — & spite of their immense odds — 10,000 to 3,500 — so dreadful was the onslaught that they broke & fled. There was more dead on the field than Confederates in action. We lost sixty only killed & between six and seven hundred wounded mostly, however, slightly so, the negroes shooting wild & the Yankees occupied hiding behind & driving them on. At the last accounts the scattered remnants of the Yankee force was running to their “Gun Boats.” Sherman’s late advance upon Polk’s lines seems to have been intended as a ruse to draw troops from Johnston. A heavy advance has been made from Chattanooga upon Dalton & from all that we can learn from prisoners & Yankee papers Johnston was expected to “fall back,” but he did not come up to their expectations, when Grant not wishing to bring on a general engagement “fell back” — disappointed himself. Long-street is making some movements in West Tennessee which the papers grow eloquent in entreating us not to despond at. “It all means well, tho he seems to retire,” may-be-so, but we will wait until we learn more. The seige of Charleston flags & the Yankee Press is sick of it & says it ought to be abandoned “Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.”  They now pronounce their famous “Greek Fire” a humbug, “attended with more danger to the projectors than to the projected against.” No wisdom like that gained by experience, O most sapient Yankee nation.

Mosby has performed a brilliant exploit; promotion, it seems, has not spoiled him. He attacked a body of the enemy one hundred & eighty strong, routed them, killing fifteen, wounding many more, capturing seventy with horses, arms, equipments, etc., with a loss to himself of one killed, 4 slightly wounded; & on the 26th near Upperville with 60 men he attacked 250 of the enemy’s Cavalry who retreated before him leaving six (one Captain) dead on the field and one Lieut & seven Privates in Mosby’s hands. The number of their wounded was so great that they impressed waggons to carry them & the road was strewn with equipments, arms, Haversacks, etc. His own loss, two wounded. but I preserve Gen Stuarts official dispatch D.

Whilst in the garden at Hascosea clipping & prunning on Tuesday or Wednesday, suddenly came through the still air the boom of cannon. Conjectures were vain, but in due course of time came the tidings that we were attacking a Gunboat on the Chowan & that after disabling we were proceeding to take possession when three more came to the rescue & tho we kept up the action injuring more of them, yet were eventually forced to retire. Ransom’s Brigade it was in action. Col Clarke was I suppose there.

Today March the 5th the first Peach bloom (the Honey Peach) expanded at Hascosea & driving home I found the Plums also struggling into blossom. Am quite excited by a new method of sticking evergreen cuttings, given me by Mrs Smith yesterday, i. e., in Peat, black wet sour looking stuff. I should think it would need all the lime in the Confederacy to make it available for the purposes of vegetation, but she showed me the results & I came home with a handful of rare & choice cuttings which she gave me & put them down according to her instructions, choosing a Northern exposure & building a shelter of Pine bushes over them & next fall ‘nous verrons.’ Chatted with Mr E of my Arboretum which, when the war is over and nails are cheap so that I can enclose it, I am going to have. I do not think I will admit a deciduous tree & but few shrubs. Tho Mad de Stael does call Evergreen the “devil de la nature,” I like them. Have had the girls to dine with me twice, once here on Monday & again on Wednesday at Hascosea, and am as busy as these thorn pricked fingers will let me be netting them some fancy nets for their hair. Nannie is well informed, pleasant & lady like, has a good address & does her parents much credit. But I am sleepy, near twelve o’clock & no Mr E. I wish the Yankees had old Hoody Manuel, & Cumbo, too, for that matter.

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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February 9, 1864

On Saturday evening the enemy in heavy force crossed the Rapid Anne at three fords, Morton’s, Raccoon, & Barnet’s, the last three miles only from Orange Court House. At two they were repulsed, but at Barnets heavy firing on Sunday morning denoted some action, so says the Examiner. This movement of Meade’s, he goes on to say, is supposed to be intended merely to engage Lee’s attention & to cover movements on the Peninsula. Information given by a deserter has warned the authorities that an advance on Richmond from that quarter was in anticipation & accordingly at nine o’clock on Saturday night a demonstration in heavy force was made and our pickets at Bottom’s Bridge driven in. The alarm was given in Richmond and all the available force marched out to meet them. The second class militia was ordered out & a thousand rumours flew wildly through the streets. A large force of the enemy consisting of three Brigades of infantry, four Regiments of Cavalry, & twelve peices of Artillery are massed at Barhamsville & advancing in the direction of Talleysville. Gen Wade Hampton at Hamilton’s Crossing telegraphs “that the enemy are advancing.” Everything indicates a renewal of McClellan’s attack through the swamps of the Chickahominy.

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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