A young boy from Richmond, VA experiences of the war.
A BOY'S EXPERIENCE
CIVIL WAR 1860-1865
WITH COMPLIMENTS OF
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1904 by THOMAS HUGHES, the
author, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
During the Civil War.
My father, a skillful physician by profession, was by taste and inclination a controversal writer, a contributor to the newspapers, mixing up in the stir of the times. Before the Civil War his energy was devoted to a large and lucrative practice coupled with activities, social and political. At the opening of the struggle between the North and South his sympathies and associations ardently enlisted him in the fortunes of his native State, and he furthered by writing and personal work the adoption of the ordinance of secession which had been referred by the State Convention at Richmond to the Citizens of Virginia to adopt or reject. When the State seceded his ardent advocacy of the Southern cause and his labor in that behalf quickly brought him to the point of either taking the oath of allegiance as a loyal citizen of the United States or submitting to imprisonment. He declined the oath and was sent as a political prisoner in the spring of 1862 to Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio, where he remained for nine months, when a special exchange was secured for him. This latter event he owed to a personal circumstance, one of those matters he usually evidenced an aptitude to turn to account. It occurred thus: one day a number of prisoners recently captured were brought in, and he learned that shortly before, the command to which they had belonged had taken a number of Union prisoners, and among them a brother of Dr. Pancost of Philadelphia. My father who had pursued his medical studies at Philadelphia and had been a student under Dr. Pancost at the Jefferson Medical College wrote to his former instructor, telling him of his brother's capture and asking him to secure a special exchange of my father for his brother. This he accomplished and through friends my father was extended
permission to have his wife and three of his children accompany him by flag of truce through the lines to Richmond. Ample time was allowed him to arrange his affairs for this and he was further permitted to take unlimited baggage. Our route was to Baltimore, to Fortress Monroe, to City Point, Petersburg and Richmond. Baltimore was reached between three and four o'clock in the morning and upon the recommendation of a fellow passenger we sought quarters at the Eutaw House. This hotel, then as now at the northwest corner of Eutaw and Baltimore Streets, was found crowded and we located in the parlor until later in the day a room was assigned us overlooking the court on Eutaw Street. A circumstance to impress was the crowded condition of the pavement extending from Eutaw Street to Calvert far in excess of what now exists after the lapse of over forty years, thus indicating the inrush here as the border city of the Civil War. The day our trunks were to be examined Major Constable, the provost marshall of the city was a guest at a dinner party given by my father at Barnum's Hotel to which latter we had immediately removed, being told by our Baltimore friends that the Eutaw House was a hotel patronized by officers of the Northern army, whereas Barnum's was a Southern Hotel. On the day succeeding the search of our baggage we left our hotel where we had remained about two weeks preparing for the trip South, and were driven in a carriage to the wharf of the boat for Fortress Monroe. Some informality attending the baggage required us to return until the succeeding day. It appears that some official undertook to claim the baggage had not been examined, notwithstanding the red connecting tape with the seal of the provost marshall's ring in red wax at each end and it became necessary to have Major Constable straighten out the matter, which fixed us to leave the next evening. One of those heavy storms that occur on the Chesapeake Bay, with an alarm of fire on the boat were incidents of the trip, and General George H. Thomas of the Union Army who was
a passenger and my father became acquainted with the result that the former's influence was utilized to secure more pleasant accommodations on the flag of truce boat. The boats composing the flag of truce were three in number with only one, that carrying our family, carrying prisoners, all of whom were invalids, most of them suffering from wounds, some of them of a most frightful character. It seems unaccountable that those men in their condition should have been sent on a trip to occupy two days and two nights without either surgeon or nurses. My father was called upon to dress the wounds of several, one of whom markedly attracted my attention by the fact that his entire back seemed to have been shot away. Another, a young man about nineteen had his right arm and hand paralyzed. There were perhaps a hundred prisoners, all invalids. We started from Fortress Monroe in the morning and about dark reached Harrison's Landing where we anchored for the night, it being inexpedient to travel except by day when our mission as a flag of truce could be observed. The three boats being brought together the evening was spent by the crew of the centre boat giving a theatrical entertainment to which all were invited. The performance simple, but amusing, consisted of a man who was supposed to be ignorant but shrewd, being accosted by the questionable people of the city he was visiting, in an effort to both rob him and have fun with him. As it was purely original and played by people who were likely portraying personal experiences, it was both intensely real and intensely amusing. The next evening we reached City Point after dark and the following morning in looking out my state room window I was delighted and elated at seeing away up on the bank alongside a frame house a Confederate soldier with gun doing picket duty. So constantly had I been thrown with Union soldiers and had only seen Confederates as prisoners of war that to see a Confederate soldier free and in arms doing duty on Confederate soil was like a haven long sought for. The train of two
passenger coaches with an antiquated engine had brought down from Petersburg a large number of people evidently attracted by curiosity and a number collected on shore around the gang plank and exchanged newspapers with those on board the boats. The large quantity of baggage we carried quickly brought us trouble, for twelve trunks and a large chest for a family of two adults and three children at a time when one traveling by a flag of truce carried his baggage in his hand, excited suspicion and upon our arrival at Petersburg we were directed to there discontinue our trip to Richmond and my father was required to report daily to General Colston until his status as a loyal Southern citizen could be established. The Bollingbrook Hotel where we located was overflowing with Confederate officers, and after three days spent there and after word being sent from my father's friends among them his cousin Jefferson T. Marten, Confederate States Marshall for Virginia and Charles W. Russell of the Confederate House of Representatives that if Dr. Hughes was not loyal no one was, we were permitted to proceed to our destination. I was impressed with the conviction that Gen. Colston's action was merely from abundant caution, for the friendly spirit shown my father and the abundant good humor indicated that there was no real belief that all was not right, but that the circumstances required examination and explaining before we could be allowed to pass. A short ride soon brought our train to the long high bridge over the James River and as it crossed the bridge we got our first view of what was then wonderfully bustling Richmond with streets so crowded that Main Street from Eighth to Thirteenth on both sides was sometimes almost impassible, in marked contrast some years subsequent to the close of the war when on one business day during the busy hour of the day I once looked over the same stretch and counted in the entire length but three people. A rattling, uncomfortable omnibus carried us to the Ballard House, where we remained some weeks.
This hotel, perhaps the best in Richmond, was in curious contrast to Barnum's in Baltimore; at the latter every delicacy was furnished in abundance - at the Ballard House the dessert for dinner for instance consisted usually of rice pudding and apple pie, the balance of the menu and the balance of the meals were on the same scale. At this period there was only one other hotel in Richmond its equal, the Spottswood at Main and Eighth burned about a year after the war, and two more not so good, the American on Main Street opposite the post office destroyed by the fire when Richmond was evacuated, and the Powhatan on Eleventh opposite the Capitol Square and known after the war as Ford's Capitol Hotel. The Exchange Hotel was then closed. At that time gold was worth about one dollar for three of Confederate. In 1864 and 1865 it was worth one for sixty or seventy Confederate and board at the Spattswood was then about seventy dollars a day. Bread was worth a dollar a loaf, a large ginger cake cost a dollar and a pie cost a dollar, curious disproportions.
An incident illustrative of a poltical canvass among soldiers was one of the occurrences that soon attracted my attention An election for Confederate congressman for the District of Virginia, which now comprises a part of the State of West Virginia was under way; the candidates were Charles W. Russell formerly of Wheeling and a Dr. Kidwell of, I believe, Clarksburg. The district was entirely in the Union lines and hence the only voters were Confederate soldiers and refugees. Dr. Kidwell had headquarters at the Ballard House in a room opening immediately on the ladies' entrance on Franklin Street at the corner of Thirteenth and it was an occasion to make one cheerful to see the Doctor who was tall and slender smilingly dispense good cheer from numerous decanters to the many refugees and a few soldiers who sought him. Mr. Russell also boarded at the same hotel, but he evidently felt pretty secure, as he made no effort to entertain and his room was on the upper floor. This canvass was
in marked contrast with another that went on near the same time at the Powhatan. An election for the State Legislature was near and the candidates from the legislative districts in what is now West Virginia met the same conditions, namely, their territory was exclusively in the Union lines and the voters were refugees and soldiers. Several of the candidates boarded at the Powhatan and the meetings in the Congressional candidates room that were more formal by reasons of the callers being from divers sections, now in the case of the Legislative candidates became more sociable and nightly refugees and soldiers from the same local section assembled and intensely enjoyed the gossip that went on in a dense cloud of smoke from tobacco pipes.
My father was a candidate for some medical position in the gift of the President and by appointment he was taken accompanied by me to call upon Mr. Davis. The President's office was on the second floor of the post office building entering from Bank Street, the street in the rear of Main Street, and on the right side of the hall. My father took with him for presentation to the President a curiously carved cane that had been constructed by one of the prisoners at Camp Chase. Constructing articles of this sort being the way prisoners passed their time. This particular cane was made of pine wood, had winding serpents carved along it and was varnished a dark, brown bright color. In the entree room was only the President's secretary and no others. When we were ushered into the President's room we found him alone. He was standing in the center of the room and remained standing during the short interview which lasted about five minutes, he did little talking, most of it being done by my father, he had a natural, pleasant manner and gave close attention to what was said to him and was apparently ignorant of my presence. I was only a little boy twelve years of age. He was a small, delicate, but active man dressed entirely in black, and one day after the war I saw him as I believe
walking on Baltimore Street in Baltimore, looking exactly as I had seen him that day in his office in Richmond, except that he no longer had the air of concentration shown at our interview. It was rather a mystery to me how my father, a homeopathic physician, expected to obtain a prominent medical position in the Government when allopathic physicians alone held sway and homeopathy was unknown, but as he usually managed to get what he wanted and I never made comments I said nothing, although my notion turned out to be correct.
Homeopathy was not very extensively known in Richmond, a few years before a physician of that school who had been located there had left and from him or some member of his family my father obtained a list of his former patients He formed the acquaintance of several and his journalistic relations formed in past years as a cantributor to the newspapers led him to look to the Richmond papers for help, so that most of the papers were of great service to him. The Examiner had an elaborate editorial on the subject of Homeopathy. The Enquirer, the Dispatch and the Whig also contained flattering notices and Mr. Ritchie of the Enquirer, Mr. Coworden and Mr. Ellison of the Dispatch and Mr. Alexander Mosely of the Whig became his patients, as did also Mr. Smith of the Sentinel when that paper was subsequently established, so that the associations he thus formed, together with his being elected to the Legislature to represent Ohio county in the Virginia House of Delegates enabled him to keep his family in comfort. The latter office gave him many privileges. For instance my shoes were gotten at the Penitentiary whose superintendent Mr. Knote was a constituent of my father, and most nice fitting shoes they were. He had passes over all the railroads and his trips were both pleasant and productive of luxuries for at a time when coffee was made of corn meal rolled in sorghum molasses, roasted and ground, and the only cloth was homespun and tea was about non-existent as also loaf sugar,
indeed everything reduced to the simplest, the rations of the soldiers for instance being nearly exclusively cornmeal and bacon, a trip of my father to Wilmington, North Carolina, led him to visit a blockade runner from Nassau, the steamer Hansa, and when the captain ascertained who he was, and through him he could obtain an introduction to the President and others in authority at Richmond, a shipment was received at our house from this ship of a bag of coffee, a box of tea, a barrel of loaf sugar and cloth for suits of clothes and toys for the children. It should be added that my father's skill as a physician quickly became recognized and his practice had extended to the families of those occupying the highest official positions under the Government. Upon another occasion on one of his trips he had obtained under some advantageous arrangement a large amount of flour. This he determined to sell and one evening he sold it to a baker on Broad Street and the very large amount of money paid in bulky bills, he, out of apprehension for the garoters that infested Richmond at this time, concealed under my coat around my person, knowing there was slight danger of any attempt to rob a young boy with ostensibly nothing to take from him. The comparative luxury which we were enabled to enjoy was participated in by my father's constituents, for the Confederate soldier from our district when visiting Richmond on furlough was welcomed and entertained so that this period of my life is one that I look back upon more than any other as the most pleasant and enjoyable. To what a simple basis living had been reduced it may be noted that instead of candles long wax tapers wound around in pyramid shapes were used, sorghum molasses, black eye peas and bacon and cabbage and potatoes and cornmeal were the staples. Flour bread was rather a luxury. There were two principal confectionery stores: Pisani on Broad Street near 10th and Antoni on Main Street near 9th, but the scant array in each was in sad contrast to the luxury now found in any first class confectionery, at the
former one could get a saucer of ice cream, at the last a glass of jelly. The scarcity of food and narrowness of range was in great contrast to the vast number of people on the streets. On Main Street from the Spottswood Hotel at 8th down to 13th Street near where the Examiner and the Whig newspapers were located was a dense stream of people on each side, mostly officers in uniform, for the private was sure to be stopped by the provost guard that paraded up and down the sidewalk looking for soldiers who were away without leave.
Free newspapers were another perquisite of legislators, except they must send for them and my mission was to attend in 12th Street at the newspaper offices early each morning among the crowd assembled there waiting the distribution of the papers of which four: the Dispatch, Examiner, Whig and Sentinel were in the immediate vicinity and the fifth the Enquirer around on the other side of Main Street. It was upon one of these occasions that I witnessed a memorable funeral of a soldier, Lieutenant Noah Walker, whose home was in Baltimore who had been recently killed in an engagement, his head having been, it was stated completely destroyed and the Maryland friends in Richmond had been requested to assemble early one morning at a warehouse opposite the Examiner office at his funeral service. There were not many who came, probably twenty. It was pathetic to observe the concern and silent regard that each one manifested as strangers in a strange city away from their home and friends doing homage to the memory of one who possessed an amiable, gentle nature that attached all who knew him. The occasion particularly appealed to me when told who he was, as this gentleman when we first arrived in Richmond and when our straightened circumstances required us to live all in one room had been a guest at one of our breakfasts, which consisted of rolls and breakfast bacon broiled by my father on the open fire of the room and which we all deliciously enjoyed. The Marylanders and
especially Baltimoreans were particularly attentive in observance of respect for their compatriots and the funeral of Lieutenant Walker was very much like that which took place at St. James Church of Gen'l. Dimmock, the same assemblage of serious visaged men, who indicated in their appearance that they were strangers away from home and familiar associations and with an earnest concern for the occasion and for each other. These experiences that appeal to Marylanders were in contrast to another when General Pegram was married in St. Paul's Church to Miss Hetty Carey of Baltimore. Gen'l. Pegram in full Confederate uniform and with sword at his side was accompanied by Miss Carey, entering the church together. She wore over her dress a heavy sash of red, white and red hanging over the right shoulder and falling down below the waist on the left side. There was no appearance of strangeness there and no air of constraint and all was great joyous expectancy and full of life. Miss Carey was one of the belles of Richmond and consequently the church was crowded. I stood in the vestibule next to the inner door and as the two passed the scene was in marked contrast to the sad sequel very soon to occur when Gen'l. Pegram lost his life in battle.
Another circumstance of my father's life as a legislator was the opportunity afforded me of seeing and knowing the prominent persons connected with both the Confederate and State governments and I soon formed the acquaintance of almost every one in the State House. I had the free run of the entire Capitol and was very much aided in this by being taken from the private school I was attending, Mr. Alfriend's, who afterwards was the author of the life of President Davis, and placed under a private tutor Mr. Burrell, a very old gentleman employed as a clerk in the Auditor's Office in the Capitol. I do not know whether the Capitol presents the same appearance now as then, when the Legislature is in session, but then around the rotunda was stretched a circle of peanut stands, eight or
ten in number and the floor was strewn with peanut shells, tobacco juice and dirt and no one seemed to object. On the side facing towards Broad Street on the first floor over the basement was the House of Delegates, in the room over this was the State Senate; opposite the House of Delegates across the rotunda was the Confederate House of Representatives and in the room above was the State Library.
Free access to the Capitol gave me the opportunity to observe minutely the funeral arrangements for General Thomas J. Jackson. Stonewall Jackson's remains were brought to Richmond to lie in state in the Capitol preparatory to his funeral. And they arrived late one evening and were first deposited in a little room on the left of the entrance to the Capitol on the side next to the Governor's house. The burial casket was placed on a bier, uncovered, and the custodian of the Capitol permitted a favored few including myself to view the remains. The coffin had evergreen heavily intertwined around it. There were no flowers. His face was exactly as appears in his photographs, except it was thinner, the features were perfectly placid, not evidencing that he had suffered pain, his whiskers and mustache were of unusual thickness, his forehead high and his hair coal black. I brought a small portion of the evergreen on the casket away with me. After lying in state when his funeral took place the cortege was preceded by a brass band that played a funeral dirge; the horse that General Jackson rode with General Jackson's boots hanging down one on each side of his saddle came next to the hearse and was led by his body servant. The funeral was impressive as only such a one could be.
The Capitol and grounds were the center for interesting occurrences. The second inauguration of Mr. Davis as President of the Confederacy took place in front of Washington's monument situated near the entrance to the grounds from Grace Street. The ceremony was on the side facing the Capitol and a dense concourse of people
extended from that point almost to the Capitol building. I was on the outskirts of this crowd and could only see the outline of the figures of the participants in the ceremony.
On another occasion Gen'l. Henry A. Wise, ex-governor of the State, who was levantly called "fire eater" was to make a speech in the hall of the House of Delegates. His popularity and general interest to hear him was evidenced by an assemblage that became so dense that an unusual expedient was adopted, namely, an adjournment was had to the same point from which Mr. Davis was inaugurated and when the speaker with the crowd assembled reached the monument a rain came up so that he was obliged to return, a large number of persons having quit because of the rain, thereby leaving the room comfortably filled. His slender spare frame, almost haggard countenance and shrill voice, all of themselves rendered him a spectacular speaker and his eloquence directed immediately to you made him an interesting speaker.
A curious occurrence took place daily in Capitol Square in the morning before breakfast. A company of decrepit old men, all I think without exception were thus, assembled on the broad walk along the Capitol facing Capitol Street to drill as soldiers. The only striking quality about them was their evident inability for service from old age and yet the cheerfulness and zeal with which they handled their muskets and went through simple evolutions evidenced a spirit unconscious of non utility. This company shortly before Richmond was evacuated was succeeded at the same place and at the same time daily by an equally curious assemblage and that was a company of negroes, intended to form the embryo negro troops for the Confederate army. I have heard it often declared that no negro troops were ever enlisted on the Southern side. For a considerable time before the war ended the enlistment of negroes as troops was earnestly deliberated and the efforts in this direction in the Virginia Legislature led to the formation of this Company of State troops. My father as a
member of the Legislature warmly advocated the enlistment of negroes, having made an elaborate argument in the House of Delegates for that purpose.
This company of negroes comprised about fifty or sixty men, about 25 or 30 years of age, were almost entirely dark mulattoes, wore no uniforms, indeed few soldiers in the Confederacy wore uniforms except the officers and most of theirs were shabby and old. The striking peculiarity about this negro company was one that had appeared to possess the company of old men, namely that while evidencing interest in their drill it appeared to be for only momentary purposes and it all seemed to be viewed as without any subsequent purpose. And the peculiority about the negro company was that they appeared to regard themselves as isolated or out of place, as if engaged in a work not exactly in accord with their notions of self interest, no doubt attributable to the fact that their inclination must have been against engagtng on the Southern side. Their reward for enlistment I believe was to be freedom from slavery. The life of a free negro in a slave holding country was however not a very attractive one. He was usually shunned by the slaves, who were jealous of him and from whom he usually held aloof and the whites regarded him with suspicion as unreliable and indifferent.
An incident occurred in my experience at the Capitol that may be regarded as of particular interest. I have a portion of the Confederate flag that floated over the Capitol, the Capitol of the Confederacy at the fall of Richmond. When last in Richmond the Librarian in the State Library upon my asking him what had become of the flag, showed me a small bundle of bunting lying in a glass book case and he said it was portions of the flag that people had brought back and given to the Library. I told him I had a piece but intended to retain it. Mine came into my hands in this wise. As my father was a member of the House of Delegates this gave me the run of the Capitol and I was intimate with the pages in the House. On one of our
excursions through the building we went through the Library and through a garrets above and then through a trap door onto the roof, in returning I was last and lying on the roof, half inside the open trap door was the flag, at the end it had a slit about one inch long and wide and it was so suggestive that involuntarily almost I continued the slit for the flag's entire length and tearing the strip away, rolled it up and put it in my pocket.
At another time I ran across the Vice President Alexander H. Stephens. Something attracted his attention to me. He regarded me with curious interest, I presume because a little boy was observing him so closely. His lameness and delicately drawn features were sufficient to attract, but his small stature and earnest, studious expression of countenance were equally attractive. He like most of the persons I saw or met in a prominent government relation in Richmond seemed to take the life of these strenuous, stirring times most philosophically and in a matter of fact way free from worry or excitement. When it is remembered that the cannonading below Drurys Bluffs on the James River below Richmond could not only be distinctly heard but it was only necessary to secure an elevation and see the distinct flash of the cannon it will be seen how close we constantly lived to conditions of trouble. Often I climbed the garrets of the Powhatan Hotel, where many of my legislative friends boarded to see the flash of the cannonading.
Genl. Smith, ex-governor, "extra Billy Smith" he was called was another interesting person I met at the Capitol. The reputation he had acquired of kissing all the babies on his election tours was warranted by his manner. Ease of bearing, perfect accord with you, absolute freedom from any ostentation were patent, no effort to lead in conversation, the friendly utterances of an old friend all bespoke in him the consummate politician rather than the soldier.
One of the most historical events that occurred in Richmond I have never seen referred to in any writing. It
was after the return of the unsuccessful peace mission to Fortress Monroe. A mass meeting was held in the African Church in Broad Street near the Monumental Church and the speakers were detailing to the audience the events and results of the mission. One of the last speakers was Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy and one of Mr. Benjamin's declarations was made with great vehemence that as long as a drop of blood flowed in his veins and until the last drop he would never surrender. It is peculiar that Mr. Benjamin was entirely consistent in this declaration of his, because as the Southern Confederacy faded away he escaped in an open boat to one of the near by South Atlantic islands of England, Bermuda, I think, and ultimately reached London where he achieved great eminence in his profession as a lawyer and ultimately retired to Paris where he died without ever returning to the United States.
General John H. Morgan I saw immediately upon his return as a prisoner from the North. He was warmly greeted in Richmond and his gratified expression showed his appreciation. His healthy complexion, well kept, full appearance and free from care air indicated, that although a prisoner he had evidently been supplied with necessaries that were strangers to the meagerly supplied Confederate officers in active service. Genl. Morgan was of rather more than medium size and development and reminded one more of the bonhomie clubman, bordering on the genial and agreeable Bohemian rather than impressing one as the bold dashing border raider in which he had acquired his reputation, and as which he soon after leaving Richmond lost his life.
General J. B. Stewart, "Jeb Stewart, " who commanded the Confederate cavalry was of a remarkable personality. I saw him riding at the head of his cavalry in passing through Richmond. His hair was black and long, his face was full, with large eyes and a prominent nose, his shirt was cut low particularly in front, showing a massive
neck. He sat on his horse the perfection of a horseman, holding the bridle in such a way that the horse, a well kept one, seemed to partake of his rider's intense vitality. Although Genl. Stewart was unlike General Pickett, yet something applicable alike to the two reminded me the one of the other and when I saw General Pickett at the head of his command, as I did, pass through Richmond before the battle of Gettysburg and then saw this same command with its thinned out ranks on its return after the campaign in which that battle took place, the contrast was so heart rending that it was an exceedingly sad welcome extended them. Troops were constantly passing through Richmond the last two years of the war and the scantiness which existed in rations to which I have already alluded, the staple fare being corn bread and bacon, extended to the clothes of the soldiers. In a large command for instance a brigade it was customary to see numbers of soldiers without coats, others without hats, others without shoes, conditions almost incredible to believe unless actually seen as I often did. Upon one occasion while it was snowing a brigade of infantry was marching up Main Street and when it reached the Spottswood Hotel a hatter named Dooley who kept a hat store under the Spottswood rolled from his store a number of large wooden boxes, broke them open and took therefrom a collection of shop worn straw hats which he forthwith preceded to distribute to those of the soldiers who were without any covering for their heads to shield them from the falling snow. How our soldiers with all their discomforts, privations and sad conditions were capable of doing any fighting instead of being the brave, enduring men they were furnished a great tribute for the Southern spirit, and the Southern cause.
General Ewell while he was recuperating from his serious wounds lived immediately opposite our house on Marshall street in Richmond and would daily on his crutches walk up and down the porch. He was tall and slender and in his neat gray uniform and with his dark
bushy whiskers enveloping a palid face his appearance was a reminder of the suffering he had endured.
General Jubal Early was a small, active nervous man with a curious mixture of force of character and apparent volatilness. His most striking characteristic was unceasing restlessness. He said nothing and did nothing that was particularly impressive, but in a large room crowded with men with no particular deference shown to him I was instantly attracted by the movements of one whom I soon learned was General Early and I then understood how he had worked out the results he had in his historical valley campaigns.
Colonel Mosby I never saw until shortly after the war ended, that was at the funeral of Hon. Charles W. Russell in Baltimore. He was a man that reminded me very much of General Early except that he was of a quiet bearing, closely shaven, with keen eyes and an incisive manner and one could believe how he had been successful in the many raids that had made him famous. On one of these raids he had captured General Benjamin F. Kelley and General Crook, two Major Generals in the Union Army, having ridden one night with a detachment of his cavalry through the Union lines to the Hotel in Romani where they were staying, required them to rise, dress and accompany him past their own troops into the Confederate lines, the Federal troops supposing Mosby's men to be a detachment of their own cavalry. The two captured generals were brought to Libby prison in Richmond. Genl. Kelley had married into a family with whom my own family was intimate and my father when he learned of General Kelley's arrival arranged to visit him. We took with us a large market basket filled with eatables, such as Maryland biscuit, a boiled ham and other nice things and after passing through the outer offices of the prison we came into the large room where General Kelley was. I was struck with the very small number of prisoners in so large room; Libby Prison had been a tobacco warehouse and this one
of the large rooms of the warehouse, on the first floor from the entrance and second floor from the rear. There was only one other Union officer besides General Crook in the room and he was in the open space between that and the next room. We talked with General Kelly near the window in the rear, there were no chairs in the room and General Crook stood off in the middle of the room viewing us with curiosity. He had on long boots that came above his knees, his pants being inside and one foot was on the floor and the other, his right, resting on a box, he was slightly stooping over with his right hand on his knee. General Kelley called to him and he came over where we were and after being introduced joined in our conversation. The extreme pleasure shown by General Kelley and the interest of General Crook at our visit was always a pleasant experience in my life which made me follow in watching the fortunes of these two Union officers until each passed to the other shore, the last being General Crook, his death affecting me markedly from the deep impression he had made on me in that interview and from the close observation I had kept of him.
There was another prison in Richmond not so well known in the North as Libby Prison, but was better known in Richmond and to many Southern soldiers and that was "Castle Thunder." That was where deserters were kept and the gentleman in command of the prison was Captain Alexander from Baltimore. I once dined with him and his wife at the house where they boarded. I was a guest of Captain and Mrs. Alexander and they had another guest about my age, Rosa, the little daughter of Mrs. Greenhough of Washington, who after surviving a period of confinement in the Capitol Prison at Washington almost within the shadow of the statue sculptured by her husband had been permitted to come South to Richmond accompanied by her daughter.
There was still another military prison in Richmond and that was "Belle Isle, " out in the middle of James River.
As Libby Prison was exclusively for captured officers, so Belle Isle was exclusively for privates of the Union Army, and just as I had been deeply impressed with the few prisoners in Libby Prison, I was markedly impressed with the throngs of prisoners at Belle Isle. I once accompanied my father and a number of our soldiers to call upon one of the prisoners at Belle Isle. This prisoner was sent for to come to the gate to talk with us. But when he came he did not seem particularly glad or sorry to see us and seemed to regard us with uninterested curiosity rather than anything else.
General Robert E. Lee I met just after the war closed. He had returned to his home in Richmond on Franklin street between 7th and 8th, a house that belonged to Mr. John Stewart, a wealthy Scotchman who resided at his country place on the Brooke Turnpike and had his business office in the basement of the Franklin street house. Mr. Stewart's family and General Lee's wife were patients of my father. Mrs. Lee had long been an invalid and upon the occasion of meeting General Lee I accompanied my father who went to pay a professional visit to Mrs. Lee. I carried with me six of General Lee's photographs intending to ask him to sign his name on each. We were ushered into the parlor and General Lee almost immediately appeared. My father introduced me and then went up stairs to see Mrs. Lee leaving me with General Lee who invited me over to a seat on the sofa in the corner by a window alongside of him, he sitting next to the window. Prior to sitting on the sofa however, I told him I had brought my photographs to ask him to sign his name to them and he took them to the dining room in the rear of the parlor where he said there were pen and ink and soon returned with his name signed to each and all of which I subsequently gave away, except two that I still have. On taking his seat alongside of me I was struck with the naturalness and simplicity of his actions and conversation. He had a full face, clear, open eyes, healthful complexion,
full beard of gray and carried himself in a quiet naturally dignified way. In reply to his questions I told him I had been before the war closed and up to the evacuation of Richmond a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, being the youngest cadet in the corps, and no doubt had been the youngest that ever attended there, being only fourteen years and six months old. He told me that he had just had a visit from and talk with General Smith, the Superintendent of the Institute who told him he purposed to make arrangements without delay to reopen the Institute at Lexington its former home before it was destroyed by General Hunter of the Union Army, and I urged General Lee to intercede for me with my father to permit me to return to the Institute. It was a great source of personal gratification to me, a young boy to have had this talk with General Lee. There is one feature with reference to General Lee that I deem it necessary to advert to. In some way, I know not how, it has been recognized as true that General Lee entertained great respect and high personal regard for General U. S. Grant. I know that General Lee had occasion from time to time to write from his headquarters around Richmond to my father in reference to Mrs. Lee's condition and in one of these letters he gave distinct expression to the views he entertained in reference to General Grant. It is possible that these views were modified at the time of his personal intercourse with General Grant incident to the surrender of his army, but one would find difficulty in discovering any thing in the incident of the surrender other then those of a negative character calculated to produce decided changes in an opinion preconceived of General Grant's character: and one's opinions in matters of this sort are not usually affected by negative influences. The views expressed by General Lee in his letter were not those popularly accepted after the war as expressing a high regard for General Grant, but were the views generally entertained and expressed of General Grant by the Southern people in the South during the war,
except that General Lee was utterly incapable of voicing the popular Southern expression wherein General Grant was styled in the South during the war by the Southern press and by popular expression there, horrible as it now sounds, a "butcher" in consequence of the apparently heartless way in which he subjected great bodies of his troops to what appeared useless loss of life.
In one of my interviews with Colonel Charles Marshall of Baltimore with whom I enjoyed many years of intimate professional relation, I stated to him what I have above referred to, mentioning the sentiments expressed by General Lee in his letters to my father. Colonel Marshall who had been General Lee's private secretary during the war gave me to understand that he knew they were the sentiments actually entertained.
Governor Letcher was the war governor of Virginia. Those who called upon him were received in a room in the State House at one end of which stood a large side board occupied by decanters and glasses, a part of his Creed was to extend the hospitality of this side board to each visitor. Virginia hospitality required him to keep company in the partaking of the refreshments with the result that he had a phenomenally red face, perpetually wreathed in smiles. It can be understood that delegations of legislators often called upon him. He also frequently held evening receptions that were exceedingly agreeable and very popular, although never crowded and at one of these receptions which I attended I remember viewing with astonishment a portly man with long black curls hanging down his back and with him an exceedingly pretty young girl whom I learned was his daughter. This individual was well known in Richmond and will be recognized without further discription by any one conversant with Richmond life during the war. At the time General Hunter burned the Military Institute at Lexington he also burned Governor Letcher's house located there in revenge for which it will be remembered that Harry Gilmor on his
raid into Maryland burned the house of Governor Bradford on Charles Street Avenue a few miles out from Baltimore. This same Harry Gilmor possessed qualities of a superior character, for I remember that after the war when he returned to Baltimore, with the occupation for which nature fitted him as a soldier, gone, instead of his becoming a stipendiary on the bounty of his friends he engaged for a while as a journeyman painter, although no one had been raised with better rights to gentle associations and I once viewed him with intense interest painting the front of a house on the west side of Eutaw street near Franklin and he was doing his work earnestly and well. With a slight natural defect in one of his eyes, his face was entirely oblivious to the fact of anything unusual in his occupation, a spirit of independence that soon after led to his being elected sheriff of the City. This same position of sheriff was also held by another returned Southerner who had gone to Richmond from Baltimore where he had been Marshal of Police shortly after we had passed through on our way to Richmond. This genial gentleman, George P. Kane, showed in every trait and manner his racial extraction and it was no matter of wonder that he passed from sheriff to Mayor of the City.
When the Virginia Military Institute was burned after the battle of New Market where the cadets lost a number who were killed and where many were wounded, the corps was sent to Richmond. Every Richmond boy had a great ambition to go to the Institute, at that time regarded as the West Point of the South. The cadets were a part of the Confederate army and every graduate was given an officer's commission in the army. Incidents were constantly occurring to keep alive and active this spirit to become a cadet - boys have little fear of bullets, they enjoy the excitement of active army life and even death and wounds appeal to them as making heroes. After the battle of New Market one of the cadets a son of Dr. Cabell of Richmond who was killed in that battle was
brought to Richmond for burial and his funeral took place from his father's home on Franklin street where he lived, a neighbor of General Lee. I remember as the remains after the service were borne down the front steps and through the iron front gate the intense awe and respect in the face of the young men assembled on the pavement around the entrance to the open space in front of the house. It was here I believe I first formed the determination to be a cadet and strange to say when I first entered the cadet ranks, the drill master assigned to our squad was Bob Cabell a brother of the cadet whose funeral I had attended that day.
The Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute were in number about five or six hundred, were from all over the South and ranged in age from about sixteen years to about twenty-four or five. I entered the Institute shortly before the evacuation of Richmond and enjoyed the distinction, as I have stated, of being the youngest cadet in the corps. When the cadets first came to Richmond, they marched with singularly soldier-like precision and carriage out Grace street to the Fair grounds where they were for a time quartered. The uniforms of the boys as also their food began to partake of the Confederate soldier variety and it was pathetic to see some of these boys marching in ranks through Richmond to their quarters with pants torn or worn out at the bottom and variegated in outfit, some with cadet jackets and plain pants, others with cadet pants and plain jackets. The Richmond Alms house was assigned to the cadets for their quarters. Life there would have been ordinarily recognized as singularly trying; to the young men in the corps it was a perpetual joy, alloyed alone by the obligation to attend lectures. The rooms that were a delight to them were simply unmentionable. In my room about twelve feet wide and twenty-four feet long were sixteen cadets who slept and studied there. In the day time the mattresses were piled each on top of the other in a single corner of the room - at night time they
were arranged side by side with head against the wall. One long table occupied the center of the room. It was supposed to be a study table and was occupied at night by a favored one to sleep upon. In the day time it was never occupied except by the boys lounging upon it in lieu of chairs, smoking their pipes and gossiping. Pure atmosphere day or night in that room was not needed by those young men with their wonderful vitality. In day time the air was redolent with tobacco smoke from their pipes. At night time the door was invariably kept closed by any who were up playing cards or gossiping after the retiring hour to shut out from view the officer of the guard, who whenever he wished to investigate for such breaches of discipline always discretely and considerately knocked before entering, opening the door to find everything in perfect order. Each room had a petty officer usually a corporal a senior who was supposed to be responsible for the good order and cleanliness of the room. One of the duties of this senior was to initiate by "bucking" any new cadet introduced into his room. This "bucking", peculiar to the Institute, consisted in taking the new comer's right hand, carrying it behind his back, twisting it around until he was compelled thereby to bend over when he would be struck by the senior with a bayonet scabbard on his posterior once for each letter in his name and in the event he was without a middle name he was given the right to select one and upon failure to do so was given the name Constantinople for its many letters. There upon he was dubbed a "rat", which name he bore for one year. He was liable to have trouble for the whole first year and might have to take another bucking or stand up to a fight, which usually was brought about in a formal way and was a great affair. The corporal of our room was a mild mannered gentlemanly fellow named Bayard of Georgia, whose father was, I believe, in the Confederate Congress from that State. After bucking me and permitting me to chose Asa for my middle name he dubbed me "mouse" and stated
to me that if any one attempted to give me any trouble to let him know. No trouble was there though for me, it was one constant stretch of delightful experiences. The association with older boys and men who treated me not simply as an equal but from my youth and boyishness showed me every favor rendered my life one of joyous ease. I was informed by the cadet whose name immediately preceded mine in roll call of my company that any time I wanted to get off to let him know and he would answer twice, once for himself, once for me. I was introduced by a friendly cadet to the apothecary's assistant who turned an honest dollar in selling surreptitiously to the boys ginger cakes and pies at a thousand per cent profit. I was recommended to old "Judge", the negro head cook and steward, who black as coal was with the boys the most popular person in the corps, but for his favors which usually comprised an extra allowance of bread, expected a suitable remembrancc. A room I have here described could furnish no more than living quarters for the number occupying it, and how any studying could be done at night by two dull tallow candles, the only lights was inexplicable. Toilets were performed in a general wash room, adjoining a larger room where all trunks were kept and these two rooms were on the same stoop or porch and a little apart from the living rooms that all adjoined. If meagre fare contributed to good health, the boys were entitled to the extraordinary health they possessed with such surroundings. A typical breakfast was "growley", bread and Confederate coffee. Sometimes sorghum molasses took the place of "growley." This latter dish was quite watery, being a hash of beef, potatoes and onions. A typical dinner was boiled Irish potatoes, boiled corned beef and bread. Meals were served in the large dining room in the basement at plain pine tables with no covering each table seating about one dozen. At the head of the table stood the large dish of growley or the cornbeef and at each cadet's plate was his half loaf of bread.
It required practice and expertness to slide one's tin plate over the table, to the "growley" for a helping and some art to secure at long distance the favorable disposition of the cadet sitting at the head to whom fell the delightful emolument of apportioning the "growley. " The half of loaf of bread was where old "Judge" came in, for you always felt as if you wanted more. Each cadet was furnished his own two pronged fork and a good large table knife both of the rough bone handled variety, colored a dark brown. This fare with undue discipline would have been unbearable but with the free and independent life led there it was only a pleasing passing incident in the daily routine of cadet life constantly filled with ever recurring incidents to surprise, interest and exhilarate and no grumbling ever took place, only high spirits and the fullest animal enjoyment in the flush of health.
A bell rang for classes or lectures and the class rooms were a wonder. The classes were so large that many would have to stand up grouped together, usually near the door. Before the lecture was finished the groups would be greatly thinned out, for from time to time while the professor was absorbed in his work or inspecting the black boards the door would softly open and out would slip some member of the group who would softly close the door and walk past the windows of the class room as naturally as if he were on a mission, the only evidence of irregularity being the exceedingly expert quick way with which he vanished through the door. Another result of the large classes was the effort to test the students by requiring several to recite at once, as one at a time would never have reached around. This was supposed to be accomplished by means of the blackboard, at each of the five or six boards was stationed one cadet and the same test was furnished to all at once. Out of the entire number at work usually at least one knew his task well. The others made a show of great industry and with much waste of chalk and many changes and corrections and
with a sharp eye on his neighbor's work he managed to construct a passable performance. The last exhibit I saw in the geography class was a curiously drawn map in chalk outlining South America. It was not difficult to identify the copies of various grades and conditions, nor the original from which made. I suppose the professor was charitable in not holding his students to a too strict accountability. I wonder indeed how they could do any studying with such conditions or surroundings, instead of showing the general faithfulness that they did to their work.
As I have stated a fight was a very formal affair; while usually originating in quite an unmentionable way it was arranged to take place with a full regard to the proprieties. One of the sixteen men in my room was a jew named Lovenstein from Richmond. He was a new cadet like myself and was therefore liable to have trouble. He had declined to submit to some indignity required of him by an older cadet and he was thereupon challenged to fight. This latter he had no way of escaping. It was passed around during the day that there was to be a fight in so and so's room that night, I got there in company with the men from our room about half after eight o'clock the hour these affairs usually occurred. The room was packed to suffocation, standing around an improvised ring. The air was filled with tobacco smoke but there was absolutely no talking or noise. In the ring in the center of the room the two fighters were facing each other. My sympathies were with the jew because he came from our room. A jew in the South or in Richmond who comported himself as a gentleman was received as such, the commercialism that attached to the race elsewhere did not at that date affect his status as a gentleman in the South. Lovenstein stood up manfully to his task, with the creditable result that secured for him the regard of the other inmates of our room and it soon became understood that
he was to be protected thereafter and that no further trouble was to be put up for him.
The gala performance of the day was at dress parade. This occurred at five in the afternoon. The large plaza fronting the full width of the Alms House furnished a fine parade ground. Colonel Shipp, a portly, dignified impressive man who at the time of my present writing is still at the Institution now as Superintendent was then the Commandant, his adjutant was a little man named Woodbridge and these two with the well drilled corps as a whole furnished the three striking incidents of the parade. The awkward squads consisting of new cadets were put through simple evolutions at the same hour off from the parade ground at each end of the building. Visitors in large numbers assembled to watch each drill of the corps. At the close, the cadets were at liberty to stroll off in the neighborhood for an hour recreation, and that was liberally availed of. Soldierly dignity was not invariably preserved in these strolls. Pent up youthful vitality freed from restraint showed itself in rough play and upon one occasion an older companion of mine in the exuberance of his spirits lifted me to his shoulders and completed his walk bearing me with him in this position until his return to the restraining formalities of the Institute grounds. One's introduction to the Institute was in strict military discipline; the details of name, age, residence and the taking of the oath of allegiance to the State and to the Confederacy were followed by a written requisition for a blanket, mattress, knife and fork, etc., and an assignment to a room and company. Mine was B Company. A sedate and dignified looking cadet named Ross was captain, a good, old fashioned, friendly fellow named Royston was orderly sergeant. My introduction to the corporal of my room was through an army officer, Captain Shriver who had recently graduated and who accompanied me and my father on my entrance into the Institute.
General Smith, the Superintendent, was only seen by the cadets in his private office at the far end of the building. The only visit I made to him was quite an event in my life. Usually visits to the Superintendent were quite serious affairs, furnishing checks to exuberant spirits, often grave in consequences. Therefore a notification that your presence was desired by the Superintendent was calculated to set the heart going more rapidly and to stir the memory for some breach that must have been discovered. The summons to me one day just as I was about to attend my French lecture was as unattractive as attending the lecture. But when I reached the Superintendent's room I found there three Confederate soldiers constituents of my fathers and friends of my family who had come out to see me and had secured permission for me to accompany them back to Richmond to spend the day. An event of the day was the taking of a photograph in a group, this with a good supply of peanuts and a visit to the theatre furnished quite a full day for us four, three seedy and friendly Confederate soldiers and a youthful cadet just fourteen years old. Their request to Genl. Smith to allow me to accompany them on their lark had evidently appeared so unique that I was struck with the degree of pleasure it seemed to afford him and my soldier friends.
The meagre fare made me yearn greatly to participate of the food that I knew was being enjoyed at my home and I was not slow in availing myself of any temporary leave I could obtain. One of these occasions took place just shortly before the evacuation of Richmond and upon my return to the Institute I was greeted by an almost empty building. I found the Corps had been called out the night before to go to the front, leaving me as a younger cadet with a number of others as a detail to guard the Institute. For the short time we were in charge, there was of course no lectures and little discipline, each one could go and come as he chose, with the result that my visits to my home board were more interesting and in my saunters
along the streets I began to notice on the Saturday prior to the evacuation premonitions of coming trouble. Great activity was suddenly manifested through the various Confederate Government departments. The Cadets at the Institute were extended permission to remove their trunks. This was availed of on Saturday and also on Sunday until the Institute was practically abandoned by every one there, but was filled with the furniture and the trunks of all the absent cadets, except of those few who had friends to take charge of them. Besides my own trunk I was able to care for that of another room-mate and sent it to him by express to his home some weeks later.
On Sunday morning the 2d of April, 1865, it was apparent to anyone that the City was to be abandoned by the Confederate troops. Great piles of official documents and papers of all sorts were brought out from the departments, piled up in the centre of the streets in separate piles at short distances apart and then set on fire to be destroyed, some few burned entirely, others only smouldered and others again failed to burn at all. The result seemed to depend on the quality of the paper and the density of the bundles. From one pile I took out a roll of Confederate bonds with all coupons attached and from another pile a bundle of official papers of various sorts. On Monday morning the 3d of April, I saw going up Marshall street about daylight two Confederate cavalryman on foot who were the very last of the Confederate soldiers to leave Richmond, on the same morning about eleven o'clock I saw the first Union soldier to enter Richmond he was also a cavalryman, riding up Broad street and was near Tenth street when I saw him and was surrounded and followed by a howling, frantic mob of about five hundred negro boys, there being no other person except myself that I could see on the street in the vicinity. Between these two periods, the going of the last Confederates and the coming of the first Union soldier stirring scenes were being elsewhere enacted. I had first gone out to the
Institute to see how matters stood there and I found it was in possession of a horde of men, women and children from all the neighborhood around, who had broken open the building and were carrying away everything movable, furniture, cadets' trunks, books, guns and swords indeed their vandalism spared nothing. I went to my room and was able to secure my blankets and my knife and fork and my books. It was intensely distressing to observe the property of the cadets who were off in the discharge of their duty, boldly appropriated and carried off before my eyes by these multitudinous freebooters who preyed upon it as if it was so much public spoils free to all who chose to help themselves. I tarried there a very short while, carrying away with me what I had been able to save of my own to my home. In leaving I noticed that the brick arsenal across the road from the Institute had been during the night blown up with such force that the fresh dirt in two graves alongside had been blown out. They were the graves of two negroes who shortly before had been hung on the hill to the east of the Institute, having been found guilty of burglarously entering the cellar of the Rev. Dr. Moses D. Hoge, the Presbyterian minister in Richmond, out of which they had stolen a couple of hams. After reaching my home I went down to the Spotswood Hotel at the corner of 8th and Main streets just on the edge of where the fire was raging. Why the Confederate troops had set fire as was reported of them in their evacuation of Richmond I could not understand. The fire was most disastrous in extent and in the character of the buildings. It was in the business section; and the post office, a granite building on Main street between 9th and 10th in which was President Davis' office was the only building left standing within a wide radius. Scenes similar to what I had seen enacted at the Military Institute were also taking place on the edge of the fire district. Stores were being broken into and looted by women, men and boys. Barrels of flour were being rolled away, bolts of
cloth, boxes filled with all sorts of commodities, groceries, tobacco, etc. In the midst of this carnival of plunder a lot of women, a half dozen in number had concentrated their attention on a particular bolt of unbleached coarse cotton cloth and in the contest for it had unwound it each one pulling her way, others around were carrying away equally valuable goods ad libitum, but these viragos ignored the ample opportunities elsewhere, concentrating their energies on their fight for this particular cloth. The temptation to myself and to another boy of my age with me was so strong to incommode them in their senseless conduct that we took small bags of tobacco from two barrels in front of a store under the Spotswood Hotel and pelted them with the tobacco. While thus engaged the fire gradually crept around in the rear of Main street towards Franklin and had reached an arsenal on 8th street for making bomb shells. Soon the shells began to burst and pieces flew in our direction, breaking windows and scattering the crowd, including the fighting women, who got away with no plunder from that immediate locality.
We had spent the summer of 1863 on the James river about twelve miles above Richmond and a visit I subsequently paid there gave me an opportunity of enjoying an experience that can never be repeated, namely getting out of Richmond on a Confederate pass and witnessing some of the incidents of an historical raid. My father had formed a personal friendship with the family of General Winder who was from Baltimore, and as all passes had to be obtained from General Winder who was in command of Richmond and it was difficult to obtain access to him at his office on Main street I went to his house and got a pass from his son who was his aid. With this I boarded the canal boat on the James River and Kanawha Canal which boat left every evening at the foot of 7th street for its trip up the canal. These boats were fitted to take a long trip, uncomfortable though it might be. It was pulled by three horses going at a rapid trot, the front
one ridden by the driver who blew a horn for the locks and the mail and to change horses. The efforts of the drivers on freight boats on these horns were often artistic and as musical as an accomplished bugler, nothing of that sort was ever attempted by the boy who rode the horses on the passenger boat. The passengers in good weather sat on camp stools on the top of the boat and a man at the end steered, at frequent intervals calling out "low bridge" at which all on deck ducked their heads to avoid the low bridges which so frequently crossed the canal from one portion of a farm to another. The kitchen was at the end of the boat. In the long saloon on each side was a seat running the whole length, which was converted into beds at night. In the centre of the saloon was a long table upon which meals were served. Just after leaving Richmond the sentry came around to inspect the passes and verify the descriptions they contained of their possessors. He usually completed his rounds seven or eight miles out about the time the canal boat reached the "grave yard" an open space extending out from the canal and covered by water in which was sunk worn out canal boats.
When ready to return to Richmond I was to do so by the Plank Road, but the instant we struck this road we found it blocked by heavy trees that had been cut down and thrown across the road so as to render it impassable for horse or man, we quickly learned that this was to intercept Dahlgren's raiders who were then some distance up the river and were supposed to be approaching by the Plank Road. All the neighborhood had sent their horses out into the woods in the custody of the most faithful of the negroes to prevent their seizure by the raiders, and silverware and other articles portable had been concealed so that preparations were fully made for the arrival of Dahlgren's troops. This occurred the next day. They had crossed the river at a ford a short distance above under the guidance of a negro of the neighborhood who
had essayed to pilot them to Richmond and when they reached these obstructions on the Plank Road they were compelled to deflect their course so that they were carried around Richmond instead of into it, and here at this point where they left the Plank road occurred an incident that I could not understand then and do not clearly understand now, they hung their negro guide. They left his body hanging and after it was taken down by residents, the rope was cut into small pieces and passed around as mementoes. I feel assured that Dahlgren's men could not impute to the negro knowledge of the obstructions in the road, the circumstances enforced this conclusion. The obstructions had just been placed, their appearance made this self evident. As a matter of fact they had been put there during the night by parties sent from Richmond and were entirely unknown to persons in the vicinity. The negro guide had been picked up miles above at a time when it was patent to any one he could not have known of these obstructions. The slightest acquaintance with negro character during the war should moreover have informed the raiders that no negro would have volunteered to pilot Federal troops with the intent of leading them into trouble, or of not performing for them all he was capable of, and I can only conclude that he was a victim of combined ignorance of the negro and irritation at being intercepted in their progress. If they had reached nearer to Richmond they would have found almost every white citizen in the City, whatever his station or occupation, armed and in the trenches around the city awaiting their arrival, so that getting into the City was practically impossible.
The Confederate hospitals in Richmond were possibly the most interesting places for most persons. The officers' hospital was at Richmond College at that time in the country about a mile from the built up city, since then the City has built out to and beyond it. The Seabrook Hospital, occupied exclusively by privates, was a collection
of one story long frame buildings in the neighborhood of 23d street and Franklin Street. The surgeon in chief was Dr. Gravett with whose family we were intimate and a feature of this hospital was the delightful biscuits made there by the cook. The Chimborazo Hospital was another famous one. Between this hospital and a point on the open ground across from President Davis' residence the signal corps men every night exchanged signals in practicing, a group of men being stationed on the hill near the hospital with their torch and another group with a torch on the other side of the valley in the space next the President's house. The President's house, now the Confederate Museum, was one of the prettiest houses in Richmond. The president met with a sad loss there in the death of his son. At the time this occurred some one started a subscription among the children to erect a monument to the memory of the child and the names of all who subscribed were written on paper, it being also there written that the monument was a gift from the playmates of the boy and the paper was placed in the monument erected over the grave at Holywood. My name was included, but I am sure that scarcely one in the entire number was in fact a playmate of the boy who was so delicate that his only companion was his nurse.
The most interesting sights were the fortifications around Richmond. Out on the Mechanicsville turnpike about two miles beyond the Alms House was the inner fort on the North, this was manned by a battery composed of Norfolk men under command of a Captain Hendren, two deserters from the Union Army were placed in this battery. They were treated in a most friendly way by the men, but they seemed out of place themselves and awkward and strange. Why they should have deserted I could not understand, for an exchange of the ample fare of the Union soldier with their luxuries for the cornbread and bacon of the Confederates could not have been an attraction. This same pike while the Battle of Cold Harbor
was in progress presented an intensely interesting appearance, clear from Richmond to the narrow Chickahomini River and beyond, it was lined with soldiers, horses and wagons hurrying to and fro and one of the most attractive sights was the stream of Union prisoners just captured and being marched into Richmond. One prisoner I recall as a common type, he was a German emigrant utterly unable to speak a word of English, dressed in a new Zouave uniform of guady colors and he evidently labored under the delusion that he was going to better his condition by exchanging from a fighter in the Union army to a prisoner in the Confederacy. I believe if he had had any conception of the restrictive diet of the prisoner or Confederate soldier, for both fared about alike, he would have been less easily captured, and the bounty and substitute money that no doubt had been securely disposed of by him at his enlistment were going to look less alluring in a Confederate prison than the future these pictured to him while he enjoyed his exceedingly brief army experience.
The most interesting fortifications were on the James River at Drury's Bluff about seven miles below Richmond, and a sort of an excursion steamer enabled visitors to inspect the fortifications. In the neighborhood of Drury's Bluff further down the River was the Howlett House, historical for being at various periods first in the Confederate lines and then in the Union. Upon a visit I paid to it in Company with Col. Herbert of the 17th Virginia Regiment and the Rev. Mr. Perkins, the Chaplain, we obtained a magnificent view of the surrounding country and of both armies, our own and the Union. Dutch Gap was in the distance and Butlers Tower was in front of us and down on the river shore below us were thousands of shells that had been fired by the Union batteries and had failed to explode. In returning from the Howlett House to the station of the 17th Virginia, sharpshooters in the Union lines began firing at us and the bullets threw up the dirt around us in a lively fashion. I feel convinced the
sharpshooters were trying to see how near they could come to us without hitting us, my companions however preferred to get down below the raise in the ground. The same spirit of play I think must have actuated the batteries that were continually firing shells that went clear over the fortifications and way behind, possibly a mile or so. The fortifications were constructed in a very formidable way. The front of the raised earth was a labyrinth of brush and sharpened stakes pointing outward. Inside of the fortifications were deep ravines cut in the earth, turning and twisting with pillars of earth at intervals, so as to permit the sentries to approach the breast works without exposure. The quarters of the soldiers were usually dugouts, covered with raised wooden tops. The sleeping bunks were below the ground and each location had a fire place, one of my nights was spent in one of these with a corporal of one of the companies of the 17th Virginia. His room mate was absent. Before entering he handed me a copy of David Copperfield and this was my first introduction to the delights of Dickens' works. The corporal also offered me a flour biscuit, the only one he had; as I knew the meaning of it to him I declined. During the night we were aroused by a night attack at the front a few hundred yards away, which compelled my room mate to go there. I had never heard so many bullets whistle overhead before and the sound was more intense from the stillness of the night, the attack, however, was of short duration.
The most interesting scene in camp life was the church service on Sunday night. The soldiers were in winter quarters and a good sized frame tabernacle had been erected with seats around on boards very much like a circus. The auditorium was crowded, of course exclusively with soldiers and a more impressive service and a more deeply interested and serious set of men I never saw. The two opposing lines, Confederate and Union, had been so long fixed at this point and they were respectively so securely intrenched that matters looked quite permanent and these
conditions led to interchange of friendly relations between the two sides leading to exchange of newspapers, tobacco, etc. The slenderness of the Confederate soldiers equipment was constantly in evidence and the contrast with his bounteously supplied enemy made his situation often pathetic. Upon one occasion during this visit of mine to the 17th Virginia the quartermaster's wagon came around to dole out a few articles and among the things given was a cotton shirt to a middle aged member of a Norfolk Company which excited the jealousy and anger of a young man in the same company who declared that the older was not entitled to the shirt and did not need it and that he had money hidden away. The scarcity of food in Richmond several times led to distressing scenes, resulting in some instances to public riots, in which women seemed to take the leading part. Their outcry for bread gave to these affairs the designation of "bread riots" and several of a very serious nature took place during the closing years of the war resulting in considerable destruction of property in an effort on the part of the mob to break into stores and resulting also in great suffering and excitement before the disturbances were quelled.
It was an experience not possessed by many to have seen from time to time pass through Richmond the Confederate soldiers that composed the entire army of General Lee. Added to this however it was my fortune after the war to see the entire armies of General Grant and General Sherman pass through Richmond on their march to Washington. They all passed one point where I was stationed, namely, at Broad and First streets on their way up Broad street and out the Brook Turnpike. There were three features that were prominent in connection with these Union armies, one was the well dressed, well kept appearance of the soldiers, another the vast number of their bands of music in marked contrast with scarcely any in our army and another the great number of horses the cavalrymen possessed, some had three and four horses
each, and I concluded that the South through which the Union armies passed, must have been pretty well denuded of its horses.
After the war the President's house was used as head quarters for the general in command of the Union troops in Richmond. And as my father was the only Homeopathic physician in Richmond and very many Federal officers with their families preferred homeopathy and employed him I had favorable opportunities for knowing certain things about which some confusion subsequently existed. This knowledge enabled me to correct a statement some years since that was circulated extensively through the public press with reference to General Lee. It had been declared by General Adam Badeau that immediately upon the close of the war when General Lee returned to Richmond he and his family were the recipients of aid from General Grant who practically provided for the support of General Lee's family. I knew all the circumstances which gave a plausible foundation for this story. My father, as I have stated, was Mrs. Lee's physician; he was also the physician among other Federal officers of General Peter Michie, the Federal quartermaster general. An offer courteuosly and with delicacy was made to General Lee of any aid the temporary situation of his family might require. General Lee however was under no necessity of availing himself of this aid and none in consequence was given. General Lee had devoted friends, able and willing to render any aid that might have been needed to whom he would naturally have looked for aid had such been required. He was at that time, as I have stated, living in the house of Mr. John Stewart, a wealthy Scotchman who had settled long before the war in Richmond. Whatever may have been the arrangement for rent I understand that Mr. Stewart declined to accept anything in settlement, and as a Scotchman can not be made to recede from his position no doubt no rent was paid.
One of the incidents to the rehabilitation of Richmond after the evacuation and the accompanying disastrous fire was the great influx of mercantile firms from the North with every kind of goods imaginable. Why they should have rushed in thus with their oceans of merchandise to sell to impoverished Confederates was to me a mystery. As might be imagined prices fell very low and large numbers of the new comers failed completely. Another incident of the new order of things was the flooding of the City with counterfeit money, particularly small notes for fractional amounts of a dollar, some of the counterfeits being wretched productions. Another feature was the way in which architects and builders from the North stepped in to help rebuild the burned district, resulting in better buildings than before, but with in many cases no commensurate profit to the builders. At that time was first introduced into Richmond the ground rent system that prevails so extensively in Baltimore and Philadelphia. The first house under this system was built on a lot where had stood the house from which salt orders had been issued during the war. The salt mines belonged to and were worked by the State and a system of free distribution was inaugurated in consequence of the scarcity and the necessity of salt so that each householder depending upon the size of his family was entitled to receive gratuitously a certain quantity weekly for which an order was issued to him.
The most gruesome sight during the war was to see the vast numbers of wounded Confederate soldiers brought into Richmond in the trains. This was constantly occurring and was most noticeable during the great battles in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg. The attention given to the wounded appeared to be scant before reaching Richmond. And they were brought down on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad and unloaded on Broad street to be taken to the hospitals very much as they were taken from the field of battle. How they were able to
pass through the suffering they must have endured before reaching the hospital was a miracle, only to be accounted for by the life of exposure to the open air, endurance and their strong vitality.
Blockade running was carried on as an extensive business all through the war, but reached its highest state of accomplishment in the closing year before the fall of Richmond. It was of a two fold character; one, of ships with Wilmington, North Carolina, as the port and the other of individuals who crossed the Potomac at night usually landing at Leonardtown, Charles County, Maryland. The ships took out cargoes of cotton, as this was about the only article, unless it was tobacco, left to be exported from the Southern Confederacy and they brought in return a miscellaneous cargo, not very extensive and not very large, most of the cotton shipments winding up as credits abroad in many cases for agents of the Confederate government, in other cases for individuals, either singly or as syndicates. For it became common in Richmond for a number of gentlemen to form a combination and make a shipment of cotton by a blockade runner for the profit it furnished. Almost all the ships that ran the blockade in and out of Wilmington flew the British flag and were English boats, Blockade running on the Potomac was another consideration. Its ordeal can best be illustrated by an attempt made by my mother and a friend of hers under unusual favorable circumstances. The trip from Richmond to the Potomac had to be made by private conveyance of some sort for there were no public vehicles or way of getting them and for entertainment en route reliance would have to be placed on such friendly housing and entertainment as could be secured from the inhabitants of the country through which one passed. There were no hotels or taverns, and as the inhabitants were not over well supplied, were in constant apprehension of the questionable strangers who made a business of blockade running, it can be conceived what difficulties must be encountered by
any one who adopted this method of passing through the lines. It would have been easier perhaps to have gone by a flag of truce. A well known Southerner who is now in a prominent position in New York City had attention attracted to him by two occurrences that took place in his younger days. He was a general in the Confederate army and he resigned and joined the army as a private, that was quite sensational. Again he went out one day in front of the outer line of breastworks near Petersburg to exchange newspapers or some other thing as was the custom during the interims of fighting and two soldiers from the Union lines came out half way to meet him. When they reached midway between the breastworks on each side each Union soldier took him by the arms and marched him into their own lines. That was more sensational still and was susceptible of several constructions. The incident subjected him to undoubtedly unjust criticism and the true construction was that the Union soldiers had violated the conventional arrangement under which the beligerants exchanged small articles, but it indicated that the Union side were not averse to "receiving" all that came and that going by flag of truce would have been less difficult on the Union side than on the Confederate and that persons on a peaceful mission, particularly ladies need not have selected the hardships of a Potomac blockade running to have gotten through the lines.
My two sisters had been left North to attend school on my father's exchange as a state prisoner and my mother's mission was to visit them. My father's official and professional relations secured for the trip from the Confederate government a covered ambulance, two mules and a colored driver. They were also supplied by personal friends with letters of introduction to persons at whose houses they expected to stop on the route to the Potomac. The trip was to occupy about three days and the point of destination was as usual opposite Leonardtown, Charles County, Maryland. The first day was spent in a tiring,
uninteresting ride over bad roads and the day's journey terminated at the hospitable house of Muscoe Garnett near Newton in King and Queen County at whose house I subsequently spent a delightful summer, the next day's journey similar in character terminated at the equally hospitable home of the Warings on the Rapahannock River in Essex County, where I also some years after visited. The third day's journey, just like the two proceeding, brought them to the Potomac in Westmorland County at the Wirt House. The following day arrangements were made for effecting a crossing of the river and this was termed "running the blockade." Success required the trip to be at night, without moon or stars, with good weather and smooth water, a rather difficult combination where the river was several miles wide and Union patrol boats constantly on the lookout for blockade runners. At the appointed time, with conditions satisfactory, their boat cleared the shore, when suddenly the moon came out, a patrol boat was made out in the distance and the sail boat was compelled in consequence to return, with no further chance of success that night. After several days of waiting and constant unwillingness on the part of the boatman to make the venture, in which at every attempt, he ran the risk of losing both his boat and his liberty, they were fain to abandon the attempt, this being a common experience in blockade running. And they were compelled to return again to Richmond. Successful blockade running across the Potomac was usually done by two only, the boatman and one passenger, usually a man, a woman blockade runner added to the difficulties and lessened a successful issue. Two women would constitute almost insuperable difficulties and it had better been left unattempted. It was easier to go by ship from Wilmington to Nassau, the usual rendezvous of blockade runners and then from that point by a ship to New York; for blockade running in and out of Wilmington was common and easy.
While personal travel through the lines was as shown difficult and full of excitement and trials, communication by letter was easy and frequent. This was by way of flag of truce boat. Every letter however was opened, read and stamped as inspected and if it was free from suspicion and about personal matter only it reached its destination. Any suspicious circumstances however such as ambiguity of expression, or anything of hidden meaning which might convey information regarded as detrimental to the government subjected the letter to oblivion.
After the war closed the condition of the Confederate graves in Hollywood cemetery was so deplorable that a general call was extended to all ex-Confederate soldiers in Richmond to volunteer to put them in condition. At the time appointed great numbers assembled at the Cemetery for the purpose, including very many old cadets. Each particular division of the graves had a certain number assigned to it and there fell to the cadets a plot in the lower ground comprising several hundred graves. Each one of the cadets was furnished a hoe and the task that at once confronted us was how we were to distinguish the precise location of each grave. None of these graves were marked and all any of us knew was that wherever there was any indication of the grave, there had been placed the remains of a Confederate soldier. It seems to me that however loving our motive, we had better left undone our volunteer task, for all the workers in common solved their difficulty in identifying exact outlines of graves by raising at regular and even intervals the little mounds that were supposed to cover the places of interment, so that if any indications previously existed as to the precise location of any grave whereby some one familiar with the surroundings would have identified it, these were effectually destroyed by this service in putting in decent order the burial places of the dead. And it was utterly impossible thereafter to tell the exact resting place of any whose grave was unmarked, the condition of very nearly all.
One of the most disastrous results of the war was the effect on the education of the men of the South. With few exceptions all the young men at college or school old enough to volunteer did so, with the resulting loss of four years of the best period of their life for studying. At the close of the war, the necessities of some were such that providing for themselves or their families effectually removed from them the possibilities of further education. Others again struggled under most adverse conditions and with many privations to acquire the requisite means to complete their education, working on farms and engaging in manual labor that always theretofore had been relegated exclusively to the negro slaves. In many cases the period for accomplishing the result dragged on for years after the close of the war and even as late as 1871, six years after the close of the war there was in the same law class with me at the University of Virginia a number of ex-Confederate soldiers and among the nineteen of us who received the degree of B. L. were two, one of whom had been a Captain and the other a Major in the Confederate army.
The condition of the ex-Confederates residing in the country was measurably better than those in the cities and towns, for the former could at the least scrape together in one way or another some sort of a living. In the towns and cities however through the South the struggle to obtain a footing was more intense, and among the methods adopted to furnish employment to ex-Confederates was one of almost national character involving what was then regarded as a very large capital with prospects supposed to be brilliant both in furnishing extensive employment for competent men and securing great financial returns for its promoters and subscribers, and that was the establishment of the Southern Express Company. General Joseph E. Johnson was made president of the company and almost every officer and employee from the highest to the lowest was an ex-Confederate soldier. These two
pleas, employment of ex-Confederates and great financial returns, particularly the former were the basis upon which the subscriptions to the stock were generally secured. An additional incentive was that only a small cash payment (usually ten per cent of the subscription) was required from the stockholders. The balance it was supposed would likely be made up from profits. From the start liberal salaries were paid and assiduously drawn. Nearly all the transportation business was done on credit, the railroads and transportation companies being exceedingly liberal in this, with the rapid result from inexperience in such business and competition against an old established company and its skilled employees, that the Southern Express Company soon ceased to do business, owing a vast amount of debts to its employees for unpaid salaries and to transportation companies for unpaid freight. The sequel resulted in an assignment by the company for the benefit of creditors and an administration ot its assets in the Chancery Court of Richmond, where the stockholders were assessed their unpaid subscriptions, resulting in a crop of suits to collect them that extended through many states of the Union, particularly Virginia, Maryland, Missouri and New York.
The war had a very slight effect on the negro's character as a slave in the South, so far as he was capable of comprehending and entertaining any sympathies, most of the slaves had a vague idea that success to the Union Army meant freedom for the slave and hence naturally they felt no ill toward this result, neither did they entertain ill will towards those who had held them in slavery, for contrary to the general impression of the North the negro slaves were treated with the greatest consideration, not harshly, but just the reverse. Any master who omitted to properly clothe and feed his slaves, to assiduously care for them in sickness and old age and to treat them justly and humanely was not only ostracised by his neighbors and acquaintances but his family suffered seriously
in social positions so that no slaveholder was to be found who could weather the trials to which an acknowledged brutal master was subjected. This tenderness for the slave was so pronounced that all persons who occupied a dominant position with reference to him, such as the overseer or slave dealer were regarded as occupying an inferior position and were excluded from social relations with the slave holders, not from an imagined superiority of the latter, as sometimes alleged, but purely from the "offensiveness" of their occupation. And I believe it can be said with the endorsement of all who knew that the negro as a whole was better cared for, and healthier and happier in slavery than in freedom.
The hotels in Richmond that remained in operation clear up until the evacuation by the Confederate troops were the Spotswood at the corner ot Main street and 8th street, the American on Main street opposite the Post Office, and the Powhatan at the corner of Broad and 11th streets. The Spotswood was the leading hotel and there the higher Confederate officers stopped when in Richmond. It was burned shortly after the war closed. The American was a popular hotel, well patronized by Confederate soldiers, officers and men, and always crowded. It was burned in the fire at the evacuation. The Powhatan was patronized to a certain extent by Confederate soldiers, the generality of its patrons were members of the Legislature.
Of course society entertainments in Richmond during the war partook of the nature that pertained to everything else. They were exceedingly few and such as took place were novel or unique in character. When a city of the staid and fixed character like Richmond increased its resident population in a few months from sixty thousand people to one hundred and twenty thousand or more, the newcomers being largely refugees from all parts of the South, together with Confederate officials and their families, also from all over the south and when in addition this new element furnished very much of the life of the Confederate
capitol it may be comprehended what was the result socially. Overhanging the city was the constant menace and stir of the great conflict. So that while entertaining constantly took place, it was unobtrusive and exceedingly simple. The most elaborate receptions were those at the Governor's Mansion simple as they were. The more prominent given by any private individual was by a well known and wealthy merchant where the refreshments consisted exclusively of ice cream and pound cake. The usual and popular method of entertaining were what might probably now be styled evening, not afternoon teas; in place however of the elaborate refreshments which might now be expected to be found at such was then really served tea, then a rare and wonderful luxury. In addition to the tea served in cups and handed around to those sitting in the parlor was also served buttered bread, very seldom cake; it being remembered that white sugar was also a great rarity in war times. I attended a wedding of the daughter of one of the most prominent gentlemen in Richmond. There were no refreshments and there were no presents whatsoever to the bride. I do not think there was at the close of the war a single jewelry store in existence in the City.
One of the most remarkable features of the war was the intense animosity engendered among neighbors with sympathies on opposite sides. Those who were formerly most intimate friends now became most bitter enemies, not only ceasing all intercourse, but ready to inflict contumely and injury on each other. This spirit was not so apparent in the South because with almost unanimity the Southern people accepted the results of secession whatever opposition they may have first offered. But in the North on the border line where there was a numerous Southern element within the Northern lines this bitter antagonism was pronounced, the more so against all known to be in sympathy with the South. No more typical place existed for this than Baltimore. In the towns and cities of what is
now West Virginia the same conditions existed. From Baltimore and Maryland large numbers had gone South to engage in the service. Besides these associations with the Confederate soldiers from Maryland very many of whom came from some of the wealthiest and most prominent families of the State were the business and social ties that had grown up between the South and Baltimore as the Southern metropolis, so that with few exceptions the leading people of the city were in sympathy with the Southern cause. In many cases confiscation of the property of those who had gone south took place, confined of course under the Constitution to the life of the party affected. In other cases arrests were made under the smallest pretexts, all sorts of persecutions little and great were indulged in towards the Southern sympathizers, espionage being one of the numerous annoyances. Relationship whether near or remote seemed to make slight difference, and it seems now almost impossible to account for the bitterness engendered. Of course material interests were originally responsible, and no doubt the divergent views over whether the state should or not secede, with the results that would affect such material interests and the high pitch to which the contentions over the master wrought up the advocates pro or con were the causes that led to the bitterness that existed. The Southerners were styled "secessionists, " "rebels", "traitors", "copperheads", with the soldiers however a Southern soldier was always "Rebel" or a "Johnny Reb". The favorite popular ballad commenced something like "W'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree." In the South on the other hand there was but one name for the Northerner and whether soldier or civilian he was invariably called "yankee". Deep down in the Southern heart however there was no recognition of a social relation with neighbors of Northern sympathies and for some years after the war ended I knew of instances of Southern women, who in marrying Union army officers were regarded not only as having impaired
their social status but as having done an act to reflect upon their own family standing. And at the close of the war, in Maryland, particularly in Baltimore, there was a distinct spirit manifested to seduously ostracise socially those who had been active in espousing the Union cause during the war. And as equally a generous welcome was extended to all who came from the South. It seems almost inconceivable to those of the present day not aware of the bitter antagonism existing during the war that such could ever indeed have exited. To illustrate what would occur on a slightest pretext: In some way it was suggested that a Confederate flag was harbored in our house. The provost marshal sent a company of soldiers who surrounded the house, while the Captain and a guard accompanied by my father searched every portion of the premises from the top to the cellar with a perfectly fruitless result. Again three paroled Confederate prisoners called upon my father to be extended some assistance pecuniarily. This he unhesitatingly extended to all needy Confederate prisoners who called upon him, and while talking with these three word was conveyed to the provost marshal that a seditious meeting was taking place in his house, resulting in a provost guard being sent who placed my father and his visitors under arrest, to be quickly released, however, as soon as the matter was investigated. The smallest pretext and barest suspicion of disloyal sentiment or act led to invasion of the sanctity of one's house and an interference with one's business or professional duties.
But with all the sectional antagonism, the women of Southern sympathies in Northern communities wrought out results that showed their disregard of militaryism; for they were unsparing in their work to help the Southern prisoners. No prisoners with an acquaintance of a friend among the women was allowed to suffer for clothes or luxuries and to help the large bodies of Southern prisoners in Northern prisons, sewing societies were formed
that met regularly at the members' houses where all kinds of clothes needed by the prisoners were made up. These meetings which I often attended were a delightful experience. A vast number of pretty girls and young married women all actively engaged in sewing and cutting out, exchanging experiences and information and each occasion to be wound up with light refreshments.
A topic of constant discussion is the effect of the war so far as the negro is concerned. I have seen the negro in slavery before and during the war and now a freedman for forty years since the war closed and I feel that I am capable of expressing an opinion upon the subject. As a slave he was generally well treated, and was generally contented and happy. He was usually free from care or responsibility, all his wants being provided for by his master. He had a task to perform and the performance of it was exacted of him, sometimes this task was exceedingly light, it was scarcely ever severe. It was natural he should wish to be able to essay or not to essay this task as his humor suggested to him and the wish for this I believe was the principal incentive for freedom to most of the slaves. Very many I believe gave the matter of freedom no consideration and cared nothing about it. When the close of the war brought freedom to the vast body of those who were slaves their reasoning suggested to them as it did to very many of the less informed whites that the war had been fought purely to free the negro. The corollary to this in the mind of the negro was that they were the equal of the whites, and immediately upon the close of the war the teaching inculcated among themselves with greatest assiduity was the matter of equality. During the lapse of forty years however the question of equality has in a measure worked itself out as it always does dependent upon personal and material factors. When persons occupy grades of servants, laborers, mechanics, storekeepers, merchants and professional men the question of color in that all
are black will notput them on an equality one with the other and the question of equality is not helped by trying to extend the equalizing so as to put the colored man whatever his condition in life on a level with the white man whatever his condition. This was a struggle so patent in the case of the freedmen immediately after the close of the war that was bound in the course of years to disappear from the hopelessness of it. The result is that from my observation the negro has measurably been battered after the many years that have elapsed since the war, so that now his deportment and manners are better, he is more honest and he has not deteriorated as a worker and he is getting nearer to the deportment he possessed before his character was disrupted by the harmful teachings of those idealists in the New England States who professed before and during the war to be his only true friends.
There was one restriction upon the negro in slavery that was a great source of trouble to him and that was the existence of the law which forbade absence from home after dark except upon a written pass furnished by the master or his agent, any member of the family as a quasi agent, even the children could give these passes, and I have often given such. Absence without such pass subjected the slave to arrest and detention until morning when a trial took place in the Mayor's court, the penalty being the public whipping post. This was about the only occasion a slave in any well ordered family was likely to be visited with a whipping, which was then a legal penalty inflicted by public authority for a violation of the law. And such whipping was very apt to arouse indignation on the part of the master and certainly his family between whom and the slaves there always exited a bond of affection as well as material interest. So far from whipping slaves by the master's authority not only did self interest forbid this, but as before indicated this was recognized as one of the acts of maltreatment which resulted in loss of social
status to any family that was known to so deal with their slaves. A tender regard for slaves was so assiduously exacted by public sentiment in the South that it was accepted as a serious reflection to sell one. I have frequently read accounts of the awful slave pens and jails where slaves being sold were detained until a purchaser and new master was found all of which accounts are purely mythical written by dreamers with vivid imaginations and no actual experience. I have been again and again in these houses of slave dealers where slaves remained pending a sale. The last one I visited was in accompanying my father for the purpose of purchasing a cook. All of those present, some twenty-five women, were called to the large front room and they ranged themselves in line. Every one was neatly dressed and showed in their appearance and demeanor unmistakable signs of kind treatment and being well cared for. Thinking people reading such accounts must see instantly that outside of any sentiment of humanity good business policy required the best treatment at such places. The slaves were sent there to be sold and the best price was wanted and that price was to be obtained only when a good impression was made on the purchaser and it was made alone by the appearance of the slave. To secure a healthful appearance and indications of a good disposition and temperament required good treatment, and the disposition and temperament was so carefully looked after by a purchaser as health and ability to work, for it was recognized that most slaves came to slave dealers' hands because the previous master had found some trouble on this score of disposition or temperament this being the single exception outside of failure in business when an owner felt justified by public opinion to make sale of his slaves.
The life on a large plantation for a negro slave was an almost ideal life. Each plantation of from about five hundred to several thousand acres with its several hundred slaves was a perfect community in itself. Every trade
and occupation necessary to the effective running of the plantation was represented. One of the slaves was a skilled blacksmith and wheelwright, another a competent carpenter, still another a shoemaker and so on through, out the list of utilities. In the order of dignity and preferment the house servants came first. There were plenty of them in every household and the work assigned to each was exceedingly light, they were dressed well, ate the same food used by the family, were well trained both mentally and morally, participated from the ties of interest that bound them to the family in its pleasure to a greater extent than could have been experienced by hired servants and in sickness or trouble were cared for with a tenderness no less than would be shown to a favorite child. Next in the order of regard came the coachman, the gardener, the assistant overseer, who was always a slave; indeed all whose duties brought them more especially in frequent contact with the whites, on the plantation. Then came the field hands, both men and women, and no happier lot of human beings in their work could be found than were ordinarily these same people whatever might be the task to which they were assigned. I have been with them in hoeing corn, in cutting wheat, in threshing grain, in curing tobacco, indeed in every work which went on and I speak from my own personal experience in stating as I do the spirit with which they worked. Every provision was made for their well being, self interest of the master, independent of dictates of humanity, and pressure of public opinion required this. The negro quarters were sufficiently far from the house to permit of the pleasures that appealed to the negro heart without the noise disturbing the white folks. Each negro family usually had a cabin, ample and comfortable, with a garden attached in which was raised vegetables and the hours of field labor were such as to leave ample time to cultivate this garden. Rations of staple food were served with the same regularity and provisions for health and comfort
as in army life. They were supplied with ample clothing. Whether in health or sickness and from birth to death the care of his slaves was the first regard of the slave owner, and an exception to such was not tolerated in the community. The family bible of the master's family first contained the births, deaths and marriages of the members of his family, then in the same bible followed exactly similar entries with reference to his slaves. The members of his family became the instructors of the negro children in Sunday school work. The adult negroes were given ample opportunity and encouraged to attend religious meetings. The negro slave was indeed without a care or anxiety for his comfort or welfare from the time of his birth to the period when he was tenderly laid away in the plot set aside on every plantation for the negro burial ground.