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Title: Reminiscences of Confederate Service, 1861-1865
Author: Dawson, Francis W.
Language: English
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It was in the autumn of 1861 that I made up my mind to go to the
Southern States of America, and enter the Confederate Army. Looking
back more than twenty years, I find it difficult, as the man of
forty-two, to recall the exact feelings of the boy of twenty. I
can say, however, that I had no expectation whatever of any gain,
or advantage to myself. I had a sincere sympathy with the Southern
people in their struggle for independence, and felt that it would
be a pleasant thing to help them to secure their freedom. It was
not expected, at that time, that the war would last many months,
and my idea simply was to go to the South, do my duty there as well
as I might, and return home to England. I expected no reward and
wanted none, and had no intention whatever of remaining permanently
in the Southern States.

There was much difficulty, of course, in obtaining accurate
information as to the best way of reaching the seat of war in the
South. I found that I could probably go by way of Nassau, N. P.,
but the expense would have been greater than I cared to incur, and
the other mode of entering the Confederacy--by going to a Northern
port and slipping through the lines--was exceedingly troublesome,
and was, besides, uncertain in its result. However, I determined
to go in some fashion, and just about this time the Confederate
States steamer _Nashville_ arrived at Southampton. This vessel had
been one of the regular steamers on the line between Charleston
and New York, and was seized, I believe, by the Confederate
authorities after hostilities began. It had been determined to send
the Hon. James M. Mason and the Hon. John Slidell to represent
the Confederate States in England and France respectively, and
the _Nashville_ was fitted out for the purpose of taking them to
England. They changed their plan, unfortunately for them, and went
in a small vessel to Havana, where they took the mail steamer
_Trent_ for St. Thomas. The trip of the _Nashville_ was not,
however, abandoned, and, under command of Captain Robert B. Pegram,
she ran the blockade at Charleston and reached Southampton in
safety, capturing and destroying during the voyage a fine American
ship named the _Harvey Birch_.

The arrival of the _Nashville_ at Southampton caused considerable
stir. By those who were friendly to the North she was spoken of
as a pirate, and her officers and crew were dubbed buccaneers.
While some of the newspapers were disposed to order out Captain
Pegram and his crew for instant execution, there were others which
were quite friendly in tone. I remember that it became necessary
for Captain Pegram to write a letter to “_The Times_,” in which
he explained that, far from being “a pirate,” he was a regularly
commissioned officer of the Confederate States Navy, and that the
_Nashville_ was a vessel of war of the Confederate States, entitled
to the consideration that would be shewn to the war vessel of any
other Government. This view was taken by the English authorities,
although, under the proclamation of neutrality which the Queen
had issued, the _Nashville_ was not allowed to obtain any sort
of equipment which could, by any stretch of the imagination,
be conceived to be capable of use in war. The authorities at
Southampton were so strict in their construction of the neutrality
proclamation that they objected to our strengthening the forward
deck, lest it might increase the efficiency of the vessel for
fighting purposes. No repairs were allowed to be made except such
as would place the _Nashville_ in the precise condition in which
she was when she left Charleston. The passage had been rough, or no
repairs of the kind allowed would have been necessary. _Punch_, of
course, made fun of the whole business, and had some rhyming verses
on the subject, in which the name of Captain Pegram, the commander
of the _Nashville_, was made to rhyme with “megrim.”

It occurred to me that if I could in any way secure a passage to
the South on the _Nashville_, it would be much better than trying
to get there by way of Nassau or the Potomac. A man named Smith, to
whom I was introduced in London by a friend, and who told me that
a near kinsman of his was at that time, or had been, Governor of
Arkansas, gave me a letter of introduction to Mr. North, who was
one of the Confederate agents in London. I saw Mr. North and told
him what I wanted, but I do not think that I made a very favorable
impression. It seemed to him so extravagant a project that he
evidently doubted my sincerity and honesty of purpose. The most
that I could accomplish was to obtain from him a note introducing
me to Captain Pegram. This was something gained, and a few days
afterwards I went to Southampton.

As I neared my destination, I was surprised to find how large a
share of public attention was given to the Confederate vessel.
The appearance of the _Nashville_, her size, her speed, and the
probable plans of her commander were diligently canvassed by those
traveling with me, and I was gratified to find that every one had a
good opinion of the conduct and character of the officers and crew
of the vessel. Upon my arrival I went at once to the docks, and far
in the distance saw a flag which was entirely new and strange. As
I drew nearer I found that it was flying from the peak of a large
paddle-wheel steamer, painted black, and with more upper-works than
I had been accustomed to see on sea-going vessels. The flag that I
had seen was the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy, and the vessel
was the _Nashville_. I went aboard and to my great annoyance was
told that Captain Pegram was in London. The officer on duty was
very courteous and disposed to be communicative, and I had a long
talk with him. This officer was Lieutenant John J. Ingraham, of
Charleston, S. C. I learned that he was a graduate of the Naval
Academy at Annapolis, and it rather daunted me to be told that one
could not expect to attain the rank of officer in the Navy unless
one had had the thorough training of a naval school, or practical
education at sea.

Some days later I went down to Southampton again, and this time saw
Captain Pegram. The sweetness and dignity of his manner impressed
me at once, and I unbosomed myself to him without reserve. I may
mention here that he had been twenty-five or thirty years in the
Navy when Virginia seceded from the Union, and instantly resigned
his commission to share the fortunes of his native State. In his
profession he had already gained distinction, and I have seen
the sword of honor presented to him by the State of Virginia in
recognition of his gallantry in an engagement with pirates in the
Chinese Seas. On the golden scabbard of this sword his name and
rank are engraved, with this simple but eloquent inscription:

  “_The State of Virginia to a devoted son._”

It need not be said that Captain Pegram was exceedingly kind and
patient, but he told me frankly that it was impossible for him
to do what I wished. He said: “I have no office which I can give
you, and this being a Government vessel, I cannot take you as
a passenger.” Afterwards, I learned that some of the officers
suggested that I might be a “Yankee spy” endeavoring to get into
a position where I should be able to report the movements of the
_Nashville_ to her anxious friends on the other side. Amongst
other things, Captain Pegram told me that there would be plenty of
opportunities of reaching the South, as the United States would
certainly refuse to surrender Messrs. Mason and Slidell [who had
been taken from the English mail steamer _Trent_ by Captain Wilkes
of the _San Jacinto_, on November 8th, 1861], and that England’s
first act after declaring war would be to raise the blockade of the
Southern ports. In spite of Captain Pegram’s refusal, I persisted
in urging him to take me, and at last he said: “There is only one
thing that can be done; if you like to go as a sailor before the
mast I will take you, but of course you will not dream of doing
that.” My answer was “I will do it; and I hope that you will let
me know when you are about to sail, in order that I may be here in
time.” Captain Pegram told me that he would do this, but either
forgot it or supposed that my intentions must have changed when
I realized what I had undertaken. But I did not realize it, and
I did not change my mind. I ought to say here that, although I
was twenty-one years old at this time, I did not look more than
seventeen or eighteen, which will account for the habit that
Captain Pegram has had of saying that I was a mere boy at the time
that he made my acquaintance.

I returned to London, and began at once to make arrangements
for my departure. My friend from Arkansas told me that the one
indispensable thing was a bowie-knife, and he explained the divers
uses to which this weapon could be put, assuring me that I would
have no difficulty in seizing the gun of a Yankee soldier by the
muzzle and, with one dexterous blow, severing the barrel in twain.
Another way of using it was to attach a cord to the handle of
this bowie-knife and, with a skillful throw, to drive the blade
into the heart of the advancing foeman, and, when he should have
fallen, to haul it back by the string, and repeat the operation on
another of the enemy. I had not much faith in my ability to use
the bowie-knife in this fashion, but I ordered one to be made by a
surgical instrument maker, according to a pattern given me by my
Arkansas friend. A sanguinary looking weapon it was. The blade was
fifteen inches long and about three inches wide, at the broadest
part, and a third of an inch thick at the back. I provided myself
with a sea-chest, which, according to Marryatt’s novels, was
indispensable to a sea-faring man, caused my name to be painted on
it in big white letters, and held myself in readiness to start.
But no summons came. The papers would occasionally say that the
_Nashville_ was to sail in a day or two, and I had many a false
alarm. Tired of waiting, I bade good-bye to my people at home, and
went down to Southampton, determined to remain there until the time
for going aboard should come.

At Southampton I purchased a sailor’s outfit, and, when I had
rigged myself out in what I considered the proper style, I went
down to the vessel. I wore a blue woolen shirt open at the neck;
a black silk handkerchief, with ample flowing ends, tied loosely
around the neck; blue trousers, made very tight at the knee and
twenty-two inches in circumference at the bottom, and on my
head a flat cloth cap ornamented with long black ribbons. I had
besides, in the famous sea-chest, a pea jacket, sea boots, and the
necessary under-clothing. As a reminder of my former estate, I
retained a suit of dress clothes, and a black Inverness cape which
I had been in the habit of wearing.


As well as I can remember, it was on New Year’s Day, 1862, that I
went aboard the _Nashville_.

I reported to the officer of the deck, and told him that I had been
ordered by Captain Pegram to come aboard for duty. I was turned
over to the boatswain, who told me to go down into the “foksle.”
Up to this time I was supposed to be, what I appeared to be, a
sailor. As a matter of fact my experience in nautical affairs had
been confined to sailing miniature yachts on the Serpentine in
Hyde Park, but I thought I had considerable theoretical knowledge
obtained from the romances of Marryatt and Chamier, and Dana’s
excellent book: “_Two Years Before the Mast_.”

Following my conductor, Mr. Sawyer, I tumbled down the “companion,”
and found myself in as pleasant a place for being uncomfortable, as
any one could desire.

The foksle, or forecastle, was about ten feet long, about five
feet six inches high, and about ten feet broad aft, and six feet
forward. The lack of height was an advantage to me, as when the
vessel rolled I could hold on with my head and have my hands at
liberty. On each side of the forecastle were the bunks or “rabbit
hutches” for the crew. In the centre was a small table supported
against the windlass bitt, a heavy piece of timber which passed
through the forecastle. Around the bitt were hung a number of
one-pronged forks, notched knives, and battered spoons, matching
each other in only one thing--dirt. Twelve o’clock or “eight bells”
rang, and the crew came down to dinner. There were but eight
seamen on the _Nashville_, and they represented almost as many
different nations. There was an Irishman, and a Belgian, a North
Carolinian and a Swede, a fat Cockney Englishman and a Frenchman,
a Scotchman and a Spaniard. I found them to be mean, treacherous
and obscene, and I shall say no more about them than is absolutely
necessary. The dinner on the first day will serve as a sample of
our usual diet, and of the crew’s habitual behavior. First, there
was a scramble for the knives, forks and spoons; then a greasy
boy brought down a large dish containing roast beef and potatoes,
and dumped it on the deck. The men clustered around the dish. One
of them seized the meat with his left hand, hacked off a large
piece with the dull knife in his right, clutched a handful of
potatoes out of the dish, and then retired to a quiet corner with
his prey. Each of the others did the same. When my turn came I had
no appetite, and, until I left Southampton, my custom was to make
up in town for my enforced abstinence aboard ship. The food was
good in itself, and there was plenty of it, but it was wretchedly
served, as I have mentioned. A bunk was assigned me, but I did not
sleep much that first night. The next morning I went to Mr. Sawyer,
the boatswain, and asked him for something to do. He proceeded
to question me, found that I knew nothing of a sea-faring life,
and told me very frankly that I was not worth my salt. However,
he furnished me with a bucket and some soap, and told me to go to
work and scour the paint. When I had amused myself with this for
some hours, I was given a rag and told to polish up the brass-work.
This ended, I occupied myself in sweeping decks and cleaning out
spittoons. This was about the daily routine of my life on the
_Nashville_. Usually only one man was on watch at night, and this
part of the duty I found reasonably pleasant, as I could ensconce
myself in the pilot house and read a novel to pass away the time,
when I was not required on deck. The officers, especially the
younger ones, were not particularly careful to return aboard at the
appointed time, and I suppose that the dignified Solicitor of the
Western Union Telegraph Company, Mr. Clarence Cary, has forgotten
how I have connived at his slipping aboard, over the rail, when he
had stayed in town longer than was good for him. Every day or two
I was allowed to go ashore in the evening, and, leaving my sailor
garb behind me, I led, for a few hours, a pleasant life in town.
Mr. Sawyer, the boatswain, was very indignant one night, because he
took off his hat and made me a profound bow, fancying that I was
some distinguished visitor.

I think it was early in January, 1862, that a little commotion
was caused by the report that the United States sloop-of-war
_Tuscarora_ had anchored in Southampton Water, and that Captain
Craven, who was in command, had announced his intention to take the
_Nashville_ into either New York or Boston. Neither of these ports
was our destination. Besides the eight seamen on the _Nashville_,
we had about thirty firemen and coal-heavers, and in officers we
were particularly rich, having, besides the Captain and Executive
Officer, a Sailing-master, Purser, Doctor and seven Midshipmen. The
men went ashore as often as they could obtain leave, or steal off
unobserved, and the _Tuscarora’s_ men did the same.

There was a Music Hall at Southampton in those days, known as
the “Rainbow” or the “Wheat Sheaf,” which, being cheap and warm,
was a favorite resort with us. The entertainment was not of a
high order, but it answered the purpose. The sympathies of the
Southampton people were unquestionably with the Confederates,
and the _Tuscarora’s_ men were thought very little of. They had
a hard time of it. When they went to the “Rainbow,” any of the
_Nashville’s_ men who happened to be there was sure to call out
for the “Bonnie Blue Flag” or “Dixie,” which was instantly played
with the full force of the small orchestra, amid the hurrahs of the
audience. But if the _Tuscarora’s_ men ventured to suggest “Yankee
Doodle” or “Hail Columbia,” they were hooted down incontinently.
Consequently, fights were frequent, and, as the newspapers were
friendly to us, the “Yankees” were always the aggressors, and
were always the unfortunates to be locked up for the night, and
lectured and fined by the magistrate in the morning. I must admit
that we generally brought on the row ourselves, but, when it was
over, and the wrong men had been put in the station house, we had
the satisfaction of going down to the _Nashville_, singing lustily
and giving cheer after cheer for the Southern Confederacy and Jeff

In the meantime, Captain Pegram had been in correspondence with the
English Government, with regard to the threatening attitude of the
_Tuscarora_, and it was announced officially that neither vessel
would be allowed to leave Southampton within twenty-four hours
after the departure of the other. This was kind, for, although
there were many rumors concerning our armament, we really had but
two guns, (12 pound Blakeley’s) which had been lent to Captain
Pegram by Governor Pickens, of South Carolina. Soon rumors came
that we were about to sail in real earnest, and popular curiosity
was so stimulated that crowds of persons came down from London to
take a look at “the pirate.” Many of them were disappointed at our
peaceful appearance, but most of them agreed that the vessel was
appropriately painted black. The _Nashville_ was now hauled to the
outer dock, and the authorities were notified that we were ready
to sail. The appointed day was February 3, 1862, and thousands of
persons, including many of our warm Southampton friends, thronged
the docks. Amid cheers and waving handkerchiefs and cordial
Godspeeds, the _Nashville_, at about half-past 3 o’clock in the
afternoon, under a full head of steam, glided out into Southampton
Water. Passing rapidly down the channel, the Confederate flag
flying at the fore and mainmast, we saw lying off Osborne our old
enemy, the _Tuscarora_, with steam up, but alongside was lying the
British frigate _Shannon_, fully prepared to have a word to say, if
Captain Craven should attempt to sail before the appointed time.
This was some comfort to us, and we were soon gently rising and
falling on the waves of the broad Atlantic.

I will give, at this place, some verses that I wrote at the time,
and which used to be sung aboard. The air, as well as I remember,
was very much like one that I had heard at the “Rainbow.”



      ’Tis long years since our fathers fought,
        Our Country dear to free;
      Our chartered rights, scaled with their blood,
        Were the fruits of victory.
      They knew not how to cringe or kneel,
        The despot’s train to swell,
      The first deep thought in every breast
        Was to love old Dixie well.

      Chorus--Hurrah! three cheers! so gaily let us sing,
                Of all the lands that crown the earth
              Old Dixie’s is the king.


      Our liberties are threatened now,
        Armed hosts invade our soil.
      Yet Northern bands, in hurried flight,
        From Dixie’s sons recoil.
      We scorn their threats, deride their vows,
        We know the foeman’s worth,
      No Vandal band shall e’er command
        The land that gave us birth.

      Chorus--Hurrah! three cheers! so gaily let us sing,
                Of all the lands that crown the earth
              Old Dixie’s is the king.


      The free-born rights our fathers won
        Will we, their sons, maintain,
      The honor of our spotless flag
        Untarnished shall remain.
      No Northern star shall ever shine
        Where the Southern Cross has waved,
      Nor while a hand can grasp a sword
        Shall Dixie’s be enslaved.

      Chorus--Hurrah! three cheers! so gaily let us sing,
                Of all the lands that crown the earth,
              Old Dixie’s is the king.


The morning after our departure from Southampton, the crew were
mustered into the service of the Confederate States and signed
the articles. I was rated as a “landsman,” or a “boy.” The crew
were divided into two watches, and the regular routine of duty at
sea began. I found that I had twelve hours on duty out of every
twenty-four, and at no time more than four consecutive hours to
call my own. For instance, to-day I would be on duty from 12 to 4
A. M., 8 A. M. to 12 M., 4 to 6 P. M., and 8 to 12 P. M., and so
on in uninterrupted succession. This was rather hard work for one
who was fond of comfort and late breakfasts, but I speedily learned
not to lose any time in going to sleep, and undressing appeared
a useless indulgence. This was not the worst of it. The wind was
fair, and we had been running under the foresail, foretopsail and
spanker, when some evil genius inspired the officer of the deck to
order all hands aloft to reef the foretopsail. Now I knew nothing
of gymnastics. I had never attempted to climb a greasy pole or a
rope in my life, and was unaccustomed to any more difficult mode
of reaching a given elevation than by the use of easy stairs, with
a strong baluster. The _Nashville_ was rolling handsomely, and I
was not eager to respond to the call that had been made, hoping
that my assistance would not be needed or expected by my hardy
companions. But Sawyer, the boatswain, had no idea of allowing
me to escape in that way, and enquired, in his usual polite way,
whether I intended to be all day making up my mind. I told him I
thought not, and started up the shrouds. Making a desperate effort
to be lively, I missed every second or third ratline and scraped
most of the skin off my shins. At last I reached the mast-head and
got on the topsail yard. My calculation was that the best place for
me was close to the mast, which I might hug with one arm while I
helped to manipulate the flapping sail with the other; but the men
who were up there would not hear of this. With much profanity, they
told me that the proper place for me was out at the extreme end of
the yard. Suspended under the yards, as customary, and parallel
with it, was a foot rope. Planting my feet squarely against this,
and resting my chest upon the yard and holding on like grim death
with my hands, I got out to the yard-arm, but here the foot rope
was so close to the yard that it was of little use to me. Just then
one of the men gave the rope a jerk. My heels went up and my head
went down, but I saved myself from falling by a violent effort
and trusted the foot rope no more. Using both hands in lifting
the sail, I balanced my body as well as I could upon the yard,
and at this moment I confess I would not have given a sixpence
for my chance of seeing the next morning’s sun. I came down safe,
however, as you perceive, and more scared than hurt. The men said
that I left the marks of my fingers on the stays, and that the
wood was indented where I grasped the yard. After a while I became
accustomed to going aloft, although I never could make myself
believe that it was better to be at the yard-arm than nearest the
mast. The men were right, however, in regarding the former as the
easiest berth, as the weight of the sail to be lifted is the least

The _Nashville_ having been originally a passenger steamer, as I
have already mentioned, carried only enough coal in the bunkers
for six or eight days steaming, so we were soon employed in
hoisting coal from the lower hold forward, and running it aft to
the bunkers. So long as the work was at the windlass on deck I
got along very well, but, when I was sent down into the stifling
atmosphere of the lower hold to fill the baskets with coal, I
quickly ended the difficulty by fainting. When I revived, I went
on deck and told Mr. Sawyer what had taken place. As one of the
officers whom I knew was looking at him, he contented himself with
saying that “I was no account anyhow, and might as well stay on

This is as good a place as any to give the names of the officers:
The commanding officer, as I said before, was Captain Robert B.
Pegram, of Virginia; the First Lieutenant and Executive officer
was Mr. Bennett; Lieutenant John J. Ingraham, of South Carolina,
was the Sailing-master; the Second Lieutenant was Mr. Whittle,
of Norfolk, Virginia; Dr. John L. Ancrum, of Charleston, was
the Surgeon; Mr. Richard Taylor, of Norfolk, Virginia, was the
Paymaster. The Midshipmen were: Thomas, of Georgia; McClintock,
of Mississippi; J. W. Pegram (the Captain’s son), of Virginia;
Clarence Cary, of Virginia; Hamilton, of South Carolina; Sinclair,
of Virginia; Dalton, of Mississippi. The Master-at-arms was Lewis
Hill, of Richmond, Virginia. We had aboard, also, a Charleston
pilot, Captain James Evans.

My intercourse with the officers was very pleasant while at
Southampton, and I was on excellent terms with Cary, Pegram,
Dalton, Hamilton and McClintock while we were at sea. They were
careful, of course, not to allow their personal consideration for
me to interfere in any way with a proper regard for the discipline
of the ship. Cary was anxious to improve himself in French, and I
gave him a lesson nearly every day. To one of the other midshipmen
I gave some lessons in music. The sailors were very much disgusted
that any special kindness should be shown me, and really, until
we reached Bermuda, this kindness on the part of the officers
was confined necessarily to a friendly nod, or other greeting,
excepting when I was giving any of the midshipmen such little
assistance in French and music as I have mentioned.

The second day after we left Southampton my trunk was broken open
and nearly everything I had in it was stolen by the sailors. I
complained to Mr. Bennett, who suggested that I ought to have
expected it, and should have been careful to keep my trunk securely
locked, or to have had in it nothing that was worth stealing.

Captain Pegram did not appear to know that I was on board until
we had been several days at sea. I was engaged one morning in
sweeping the deck, or cleaning paint, when he stepped out from the
pilot house, and seemed to recognize me. He nodded and said “good
morning,” and that was all. My heart sank and I felt forsaken.


In order to baffle the _Tuscarora_, who was sure to pursue us,
Captain Pegram took a more northerly route than was usual; and on
the fourth or fifth day after sailing the wind freshened sharply,
and in a few hours blew with terrible force. The ship was old, and
unprepared for bad weather, and it was not without anxiety that
our officers saw the tempest approach. In twenty-four hours the
gale had reached its height. The waves were running awfully high
to my unaccustomed eyes, and were battering the sides of the ship
as though determined to force an entrance. Nobly, however, did the
_Nashville_ behave. There surely never was a better sea boat. She
shipped little water, and, although each wave that struck her bows
made her tremble and quiver from stem to stern, she bore herself
nobly in the unequal contest. Loose spars, boxes, coils of rope and
water-casks, which had been improperly secured, were rolling about
on deck, threatening to break the legs of whoever should pass.
The port bulwarks from the heel of the bowsprit to the wheelhouse
were washed away flush with the deck. One angry wave carried off
the whole of the port wheelhouse and dashed to pieces several of
the “buckets,” or paddles. The saloon and the forward cabin were
several inches deep in water, and the forecastle was in a worse
plight. For days this continued. The engines were slowed down, and
we did no more than hold our own. It would have been dangerous,
lame as the vessel was, to drive her in the teeth of the tempest.
The most grewsome part of it all was the unremitting tolling of the
forecastle bell, as the _Nashville_ rose on the crest of the wave
and glided down, and down, into the trough of the sea.



      A stormy night, the foaming waves,
      In crested might, the good ship braves;
      She seeks in vain the rest she craves,
      Surging o’er dead seamen’s graves,
      While still is heard, o’er tempest’s swell,
      Thy low deep tones, O! warning bell.


      The masts are gone, the timbers creak,
      All work of mortal hands is weak;
      “Oh, God! Oh, God! she’s sprung a leak,”
      Each eye is dimmed and blanched each cheek,
      And on each ear, a funeral knell,
      Falls the note of the tolling bell.


      The boats are swamped; in wild despair
      Men cry aloud or bend in prayer;
      The poor ship groans, shrieks fill the air;
      A moment--and the ocean’s bare.
      But still is heard, as seamen tell,
      When souls are lost, that warning bell.

While the gale was at its height the engine broke down, and sail
was made to keep the vessel’s head to the wind. The storm began
to subside, and on the morning of the eighth day the wind had
lulled. The waves still ran high, and for the first time I saw the
beautiful effect of the dashing of the spray over the rail of the
vessel, forming miniature rainbows arching to the deck and glowing
and glittering with prismatic colors.

I suppose I ought to say at this point that I was very sea-sick on
the first day out, but, as Bo’sun Sawyer was constantly after me
to do some of the drudgery he had in mind for me, I had no time to
indulge in the pleasures of sea-sickness and recovered entirely in
less than twenty-four hours.

I had one very narrow escape during the gale. Crossing the
hurricane deck, I was thrown off my feet by a sudden lurch of the
vessel and went whirling to leeward. One of my feet caught in the
rail as I was lurching overboard, and this was all that saved my
Confederate career from being brought to an untimely end.

When the weather grew fine, the crew were ordered out for drill,
and from the recesses of the hold our hidden armament was produced.
It consisted of about twenty rusty smoothbore muskets. The muskets
were given to the sailors and firemen, who were then drilled in
the manual of arms by one of the officers. There was a good deal
of difference of opinion as to what the commands meant, and the
whole affair was very much of a burlesque, as every now and then a
sudden lurch of the vessel would send three or four of the squad
staggering down to leeward. When the command was given, Ready!
Aim! and every musket was levelled at our instructor’s head, the
startled officer called out hastily: “For Heaven’s sake, men, don’t
point your guns at me! They are loaded!” The warning was not given
too soon, for, as they were dismissed, two of the men rolled into
the scuppers, their pieces going off with a very ugly report. That
was the first and the last of the drilling.

Although he had made no sign, Captain Pegram had not forgotten me.
When we had been out seven or eight days, the Master-at-arms went
to the boatswain and told him that I and a man named Lussen were to
take one of the staterooms on the hurricane deck. This was paradise
to me, for I had there every convenience that I required, and could
escape from the loathsome company of the rest of the crew. Lussen
was a singular character. He was evidently a thoroughly instructed
sea-faring man and a good navigator. He had his sextant with him.
According to his own account he had been an officer in the Navy of
one of the South American Republics, and expected on reaching the
Confederacy to get an appointment in the Confederate service. Being
a very intelligent man, pleasing in his manners and not at all
coarse, he was a welcome room-mate and an acceptable companion. Our
separation from the rest of the crew did not strengthen the men’s
kindly feeling for us, and they lost no opportunity of showing
their spite and their disgust. One thing they insisted on, and
that was that we should go down to the forecastle for our meals.
A favorite dish once or twice a week was plum-duff, but the plums
were so scarce that one of the men said that he could hear one plum
singing this little song to another:

      Here am I! Where are you?
      Tell me where to find you.

In a letter that I wrote to my mother from Bermuda, I described our
change of quarters as follows: “Our state-room on the upper deck
has two bunks and a toilet stand, and is very prettily painted.
Through the windows we can look at the open sea. What a contrast
to the den that we did inhabit! When work is over I can have the
blessedness of being alone. More than this: one of the Midshipmen
told me that he heard Captain Pegram and Mr. Bennett talking about
me, and Captain Pegram said he was very much pleased with my


On the evening of the 19th of February we were told that we might
expect to make land the next morning, and as soon as the sun rose
every one was on the lookout. In an hour or two land was in sight
on the port bow, and even my unskilled eye could make out what
seemed to be a long dark cloud on the horizon. Gradually the land
became distinct, and by noon we were lying off Bermuda signaling
for a pilot. The general aspect of the island was far from
inviting, as nothing could be seen but rugged hills covered with
dwarfed trees, and I looked in vain for the fine harbor of which
I had heard so much. A boat with four negroes, who were making
considerable fuss, came alongside with a splash, and, in great
state, the black pilot clambered up the side and took his place
in the pilot house. He understood his business. The _Nashville_
ran squarely towards the island as though she was to be thrown
upon the rocks. Then a narrow passage between two lofty hills was
visible, and into this we steamed. Above our heads on each side
towered the rocks, and the passage was so narrow that the yards
seemed to scrape the trees on either side as we passed in. The
passage gradually opened, and we dropped anchor in the beautiful
harbor of St. George’s. This harbor is, without exception, the most
beautiful and picturesque that I have ever seen. There was not a
ripple on the water, while dotting its brightly blue bosom in every
direction were hundreds of islands, some of them of considerable
size and others mere spots upon the placid surface of the harbor.
The surrounding hills were adorned with houses built of white stone
and shining like snow in the light of the sun. On the highest
point was the signal station, where floated the red cross of St.
George. It was near the end of February, yet the weather was warm
and the sky was unclouded. It was hard to realize that only a few
days before we had left cold fogs and drizzling rain in England.

The principal object in calling at Bermuda was to obtain a supply
of coal, and Captain Pegram made a bargain with the master of a
Yankee bark then in the harbor for as much as we needed. I think
the coal had been intended to supply United States cruisers which
were expected to stop at St. George’s, but the high price we
offered was too much for the patriotism of the master of the bark.
I had a great desire to go ashore and see what Bermuda looked
like, but this privilege was denied me as Bo’sun Sawyer found
abundant occupation for the whole of us in shovelling coal and
then scrubbing the paint. I was allowed on Sunday to be one of the
boat’s crew who went to the landing to bring off Captain Pegram,
who had gone to church, and I had the satisfaction of waiting there
in the sun for two or three hours and of being roundly abused, by
the rest of the crew, for “catching crabs” in the most awkward
manner as we rowed back to the _Nashville_.

Up to this time Captain Pegram had not determined positively
whether he would run into Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans, and
the information which he obtained at Bermuda satisfied him that
these ports could only be reached with great difficulty, as the
blockade had now become rigid. A ship captain whom he talked with
informed Captain Pegram that he thought we might run into Beaufort,
N. C., with comparative ease, and it was determined to try our
fortune there.

After leaving Bermuda I was relieved from some of the scrubbing
and cleaning, and was allowed to take my turn as lookout, being
posted for two hours at a time on the foretopsail yard. There I had
the pleasantest hours that I knew on the _Nashville_. It was quiet
and still. I was far removed from the bickering and blackguardism
of the crew, and could indulge myself freely in watching the varied
hues of the dancing waters, broken now and again by a shoal of
porpoises, or by the brief flight of the flying-fish as they darted
from the wave in the effort to escape from their pursuers. But all
this was not conducive to keeping a sharp lookout. The second day
after leaving Bermuda I was busily thinking of what might happen
when we should reach our destination. The hail came from below:
“Foretopsail yard there!”

I answered promptly “aye! aye! sir.”

“Why haven’t you reported that sail?”

I looked around the horizon and replied: “I have not seen a sail
this morning, sir.”

“No, I suppose not! come on deck!”

When I reached the deck I was received with a grin of derision,
and found that a fine schooner was running under full sail within
half a mile of us. I had looked too far. Every one too had been
busy while I was dreaming aloft. The American flag was flying at
our peak, and the men were now sent to the guns. A boat’s crew was
called away, and, eager to atone for my neglect, I jumped in. We
pulled over to the schooner, which was now lying to, boarded her,
and found her to be the _Robert Gilfillan_, from Boston to Hayti,
with an assorted cargo. The master, a loquacious down-easter, was
led to believe that the _Nashville_ was the United States steamer
_Keystone State_, and he invited the officer in charge of the boat
to take breakfast with him. The hot rolls looked most tempting,
and the fragrance of the coffee was particularly tantalizing. The
master, whose name was Gilfillan, told us that everything was going
on splendidly for “the Union,” and that the Union troops had been
“whipping the bloody Rebels like forty.” In fact, “the Rebellion
was nearly played out.” Lieutenant Ingraham, who was in command of
the boat, very quietly said: “Haul down your flag and take your
papers aboard my ship immediately.”

“What for?” asked Captain Gilfillan.

The answer came promptly: “That vessel is the Confederate States
steamer _Nashville_, and you are my prisoner.”

The poor fellow was part-owner of the schooner, and I shall not
soon forget the mingled dismay and astonishment on his face. But
resistance was useless, and he did as he was ordered. All our boats
were now lowered, and everything of value, the bells, chronometer,
glasses and nautical instruments, some provisions, brooms and a
lot of “notions,” were taken aboard the _Nashville_. The schooner
was then set on fire, and in a few hours had burned to the water’s
edge. For some days the hearts of the crew were gladdened by the
fresh butter and choice Boston crackers which formed part of the
stores of the ill-fated _Gilfillan_. The master and crew were given
as comfortable quarters as we had, and all possible care was taken
of them.

As we neared Beaufort every light was carefully covered at night,
even the binnacle lamps being masked. At midnight we hove to for
soundings, and found that we might expect to make land by daybreak.
The men seemed to think that we should certainly be captured,
and packed up their clothing in their bags ready for a run. No
one slept much that night, and as soon as the fog lifted in the
morning every eye was on the alert. Beaufort harbor was plainly
visible some miles distant, and we saw, besides, what we did not
care to see. “Sail astern!” shouted the lookout; and then came the
cry: “Sail on the starboard bow!” and then again: “Sail on the port
bow.” Things looked rather blue. The vessel astern did not cause us
much anxiety, but the blockaders on our port and starboard bows,
although not directly in our course, were so far ahead that if we
attempted to run in we might expect to be cut off. But Captain
Pegram was prepared for the emergency. “The Stars and Stripes” were
run up at the mainmast head, and a small private signal of Messrs.
Spofford & Tileston, the former agents of the vessel, was run up at
the foremast. Our course was then changed so that we headed for the
nearer of the two United States vessels. The “Stars and Stripes”
were displayed by them, in response to our flags, and a vigorous
signaling began. It was plain that the blockader could not make out
the meaning of Spofford & Tileston’s pennant. On we went without
heeding this until Beaufort harbor was not more than five or six
miles distant on our starboard bow. We could see the officers on
the quarter-deck of the blockader, and the men at the guns. The
engines were slowed down, and we blew off steam. The blockader
nearest to us thought that we had something to communicate, and
lowered a boat. As this was done, we hove round, the “Stars and
Stripes” came fluttering to the deck, and the Confederate flag was
run up at the foremast, the mainmast and the peak. With all the
steam we could carry, we dashed on towards Beaufort. The Yankee
now saw the trick, and fired a broadside at us. No harm was done.
She followed rapidly, firing occasionally from the bow guns; but
without injury we crossed the bar under the protection of the guns
of Fort Macon, and came safely to anchor near the railroad wharf,
at Morehead City. For a little while we were in more danger from
our friends than from the enemy. The commandant at Fort Macon took
us for one of the enemy’s vessels, and was about to open on us with
his heavy guns, when one of his officers suggested that, as we were
running towards the fort, they might as well wait until we were
somewhat nearer. This proved our salvation. Before we had reached
the point where they could effectively fire at us from the fort, we
had shown our true colors and given the blockader the benefit of
a clear pair of heels. It was a beautifully calm morning, and the
_Nashville_ surpassed herself. In splendid sailing trim and with
little or no cargo, she must have made sixteen or eighteen knots as
we ran into the harbor.

On the _Nashville_ now all was joy, for the blockader attempted no
further pursuit. The men hurrahed, and the officers tossed up their
caps and congratulated each other on our success. Well they might.
They were looking forward to a speedy reunion with their families
and their friends. For the first time I realized my isolated
position. There was no home or friends for me; nothing but doubt
and uncertainty, yet I had confidence that with time, faith and
energy, I might accomplish what I desired. The day, a pregnant one
for me, was February 28, 1862.


Morehead City is not a large place. In fact, it consisted in 1862
of a railroad depot at the end of a long wharf. It was intended to
be the great seaport of North Carolina, but, at this time, trade
had refused to move out of its accustomed channel, and the only
thing that gave the least shadow of animation to the place was the
arrival and departure of the daily train with its few passengers
for Beaufort, which lies across the Bay, a few miles distant. The
railroad, which has its terminus at Morehead City, runs up to
Goldsboro’, where it connects with the main line of the Wilmington
and Weldon Railroad. The _Nashville_ was hauled alongside the
wharf, and, as there was a faint expectation that the boats of the
blockaders outside might come up at night and attempt to cut us
out, preparations were made for a defence. The two Blakeley guns
were placed on the wharf, and the muskets of which mention has
been made before were brought up from the hold and prepared for
use. The invaders, however, did not come, and there was nothing
to disturb the solitude of the place but the occasional visit
of gaunt North Carolina soldiers, attired for the most part in
“butternut,” otherwise homespun. They were in the Confederate
service, and on duty in the neighborhood. Most of them were armed
with flint-lock muskets or shot guns, and some of them carried
huge bowie-knives made out of scythe blades. They were generally
tall, sinewy fellows, and evidently accustomed to exertion and
privation, but they were not the sort of troops that I had expected
to find the Confederate army composed of. A group of them honored
the _Nashville_, when she came in, with the true Confederate yell,
which I then heard for the first time, and without admiring it.

As soon as I could obtain permission, I went up to Morehead City
proper, if the Railroad station at the water’s edge is not to
pass by that name, and found there five or six wooden houses, a
bar-room and the inevitable hotel. The clearing was small, and the
pine woods came up to within a few yards of the hotel door. It
was a barren country, and a joke among the sailors was that the
hogs were so miserably poor that knots were tied in their tails by
their prudent owners to keep them from slipping through the fences.
Another story was that when a dog, in that part of North Carolina,
found it necessary to bark, he leaned against a fence to keep from

Captain Pegram went to Richmond to make his report, and took with
him a number of mysterious boxes which had been brought aboard at
Southampton. There was much speculation as to their contents, but I
believe that they held nothing more dangerous than bank-note paper,
postage stamps and lithographing apparatus. I remained aboard, of
course, and there was little if any change in the routine of duty.
There was paint to clean, and there were decks to sweep; the sails
were to be unbent and sent below. I cannot say that my value as
a sailor had increased materially during the voyage, and I had
not even learned to tie, with any certainty, a fast knot. On the
hurricane deck, as is usual on steamers, there was a score or two
of wooden buckets for fire purposes. They were used occasionally
for dipping up water. I tried my hand at it several times, while
the vessel was in motion, and, when the bottom of the bucket was
not driven out or the handle did not give way, I found, to my
dismay, that I had made a slippery hitch, and saw the bucket
slip smoothly into the water as soon as the strain came upon the
line. Some of the men made handsome buckets of canvas, which they
carefully embroidered, and I was not much more lucky with these
than I was with the wooden ones. I have mentioned how beautifully
clear the water was in the harbor at St. George’s, Bermuda, and
the time with me never seemed to pass more slowly than when one of
these fancy buckets had escaped from my line and was settling down
in the water, and I had an agonizing expectation that Sawyer would
reach the spot where I was standing before it had gone completely
out of sight. I think that, at a moderate calculation, I must be
responsible to the Confederacy for a dozen wooden buckets besides
several canvas buckets.

It was now time that I should determine what to do. The small
newspaper published at Newbern, N. C., reached us occasionally,
and from this we received the first news of the glorious victory
of the _Virginia_ in the fight at Hampton Roads, when she sank
the _Cumberland_ and the _Congress_. There was great jubilation
aboard that day. In the newspaper I found appeals for volunteers
for different companies then raising for the war. I cannot give a
better idea of my frame of mind than by saying that, at this time,
I had determined to take my discharge from the _Nashville_, and
decide, by tossing-up, which one of the various companies named in
the newspaper I should join. I expected nothing better.

There was a surprise in store for me. One furiously cold morning,
immediately after the return of Captain Pegram from Richmond, I
was scraping the fore-yard, wet through with the falling sleet and
intensely uncomfortable, when one of the boys from the ward-room
came forward and called to me to say that I was wanted in the
saloon. I went below at once, and into the saloon, where I found
Captain Pegram, who spoke very kindly, and told me that, when I
first came aboard, he had thought that I was not serious in my
avowed purposes, and that, for this reason, he had done nothing
to encourage me; but that he and his officers had watched me very
closely, and were so well pleased with my conduct that he had
laid my case before the Secretary of the Navy, who had authorized
him to appoint me a Master’s Mate in the Confederate Navy. This
announcement, so entirely unexpected, and which bridged for me,
in a moment, the gulf which, aboard ship, separates the sailor
from the officer, completely overwhelmed me. Captain Pegram saw my
agitation, and told me that he should expect me to mess with him
while we remained aboard, and that he would have my trunk placed
in a state-room which he had ordered to be prepared for me. I went
forward, thrust off my sailor’s garb as rapidly as I could, put
on the solitary civilian’s suit which remained to me, and then
was ready to receive the kind congratulations of the officers and
the effusive demonstrations of regard of the truculent boatswain.
Sawyer told me that he was delighted to hear of my promotion, which
was just what he had expected, as he had always seen that I was
not in the position that I ought to hold! Much to my regret I did
not have the satisfaction of meeting Mr. Sawyer again after I left
the _Nashville_, when I might have had the pleasure of telling him
precisely what I thought of him and his ways. My only reply to his
congratulations was to ask to be permitted to pay for the buckets I
had disposed of in the ways I have described. He said it was of “no


What the precise position and duties of a Master’s Mate were in the
old navy I am not able to say. Indeed, I don’t think I ever asked.
In the Confederate Navy the Master’s Mate had the same duties and
the same nominal rank as a Midshipman, and wore the same uniform.
The only difference was the very essential one that the pay of the
Master’s Mate was about $25 a month, while that of a Midshipman was
about $40.

My worst troubles were now over. Captain Pegram told me that,
as there was no special duty for me aboard, he would ask me to
prepare, under his direction, his report of the voyage. This I did.
It is worth remembering, too, that I had the pleasure of writing,
in his name, a letter of thanks to Governor Pickens, of South
Carolina, for the loan of the Blakeley guns which had constituted
our armament. I remember that it was in this letter that Captain
Pegram said that it was by means of these guns that the _Nashville_
had been able to capture the _Harvey Birch_ and the _Robert
Gilfillan_, and had been able to show her teeth to the enemy. The
last shot that we fired with these guns was at the blockaders as we
ran into Beaufort. The shell fell short, but it was a sort of crow
of defiance, and relieved our feelings somewhat.

I learned that the _Nashville_ had been sold to a mercantile firm,
and would be left at Morehead City in charge of two officers and
three or four men, until the new owners should take possession of
her. The rest of the crew were to be discharged, and the officers
were to be sent to other posts of duty. I was ordered to report for
duty to Commodore Forrest, at Norfolk, Va., to which point Captain
Pegram was to go to take command of an iron-clad then building. To
crown my satisfaction, Captain Pegram told me that he intended to
make a visit to his family, in Sussex County, Virginia, and would
be glad if I should accompany him, and remain with him until it was
necessary to go to Norfolk.

On March 10, 1862, we bade good-bye to the _Nashville_. Shortly
after our departure the enemy moved in force upon Newbern, and, to
escape capture, Lieutenant Whittle and Midshipman Sinclair took
the _Nashville_ out to sea. They had but three or four men aboard,
and were, I believe, without charts or chronometers. They ran
down to Charleston, and being unable to get into that port, went
to Savannah, where they succeeded in running the blockade. It was
a daring feat most successfully accomplished, and reflected the
highest credit on the officers and men. The _Nashville_ lay in the
Ogeechee river until 1863, when she was named the _Rattlesnake_,
and was made ready for sea as one of the vessels of the Volunteer
Navy then forming. But a Federal gunboat succeeded in setting her
on fire with shells thrown across the marsh to the point where she
lay, and she burned to the water’s edge and sank. This was the end
of as fine a sea-boat as was ever built.

On taking the train to Goldsboro’ I found that the passport
system was in full operation, and, as I was in civilian’s dress,
the guard declined to allow me to pass. Captain Pegram, however,
told the guard that he would “endorse” me, and I went on without
molestation. Of course I made all manner of queer blunders.
Everything was so strange. The nocturnal noise of the tree frogs
caused me to tell Captain Pegram in the morning that it was the
only country that I had ever been in where the birds sang all
night. I had not then been kept awake, hour by hour, by the
melodious warbling of the mocking bird.

It was a little after daylight when we reached Stony Creek, on the
Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, where we were to leave the train.
Taking a carriage after breakfast, we drove through the woods and
plantations to the residence of Major Belsches, with whom Captain
Pegram’s family were staying. Two or three miles before reaching
it, we passed by a handsome residence in the midst of a large
and well-ordered plantation, which I was told belonged to Mr.
Nat. Raines, a wealthy planter, who was an old friend of Captain
Pegram’s. At the house of Major Belsches we found Mrs. Pegram, her
two daughters and her two younger sons. Every one was as kind as
possible, and the time for our departure for Norfolk came far too
soon. Before going there--indeed, the very day after our arrival--I
was taken over to the residence of Mr. Raines, to be introduced
to him and his family. He seemed to take quite a fancy to me, and
in the course of a few hours I was on a friendly footing with the
whole family. Nat. Raines, Jr., and Dr. B. F. Raines, the sons of
Mr. Raines, were in the cavalry service, and, at this time, at home
on furlough. Mrs. Raines was quiet, gentle and motherly, and her
two daughters I found to be amiable and accomplished. One joke that
Mr. Raines had was to tell me that he was fonder of smoking than I,
and could out-smoke me. The tournament that followed resulted in
my ignominious defeat. The weapons were Powhatan clay pipes with
long reed stems, charged with tobacco grown on the plantation. Mr.
Raines carried a supply of it usually in his coat pocket.


Arrived at Norfolk, I reported to Commodore Forrest, and was
ordered by him to go aboard the _Confederate States_, the
receiving ship. This was a line-of-battle ship, named formerly the
_United States_, which had escaped destruction by the Federals
upon their evacuation of the navy yard. On the receiving ship,
where there were a number of officers awaiting orders, I had
my first experience of a hammock. Like one of the heroes of my
favorite Marryatt, I signalized my entrance into the hammock on
one side by pitching out on my head on the other side. Unlike
Marryatt’s heroes, however, no shot-box with a sharp edge had
been kindly placed on the deck, by a sympathizing mess-mate, to
meet my descending skull. Having little to do aboard, I made the
acquaintance of Captain James Barron Hope, who was acting as
Commodore Forrest’s Secretary, and assisted him in the discharge
of his pleasant duties. Captain Hope is widely known as a writer
of both fervent verse and delightful prose. He has been for some
years the proprietor and editor of the Norfolk _Landmark_, which
is published at Norfolk, where he lives. His latest literary
work is the noble Centennial Ode which was read last year at the
celebration at Yorktown.

Having provided myself with the gray uniform of the Confederate
Navy, I was taken to see Commodore Franklin Buchanan, who commanded
the _Virginia_ in her first fight, when he was severely wounded.
The _Virginia_ was in dock, and was being put in order for another
cruise; and Commodore Buchanan was deeply chagrined at the prospect
that she might be ready before he had recovered. On March 25
Commodore Josiah Tatnall was placed in command of the squadron at

Much has been written about the _Virginia_, but those who saw her
will agree, I think, that it was marvellous that she should have
accomplished what she did. The plating consisted of railroad iron
rolled flat, and the bends were protected by iron knuckles. There
was no plating below the water-line, and the prow with which she
did so much execution did not look much more dangerous than a
champagne bottle, which, in shape, it resembled. The great defect
of the _Virginia_, however, was the weakness of her engines, which
prevented her from manoeuvering rapidly, and which placed her at so
terrible a disadvantage in the fight with the Monitor. The engines
broke down frequently while she was in the United States service.
Their peculiar construction, taken in connection with the great
draft of the vessel, twenty-two feet, and her length, three hundred
and twelve feet, rendered her management in narrow channels and in
presence of the enemy a very difficult matter.

The Confederate fleet at Norfolk consisted of the _Virginia_, eight
guns; the _Patrick Henry_, eight guns; the _Jamestown_, two guns;
and the _Beaufort_, the _Raleigh_ and the _Teaser_, one gun each.
The _Patrick Henry_ and _Jamestown_ were ordinary river steamboats,
hastily and rudely adapted to the reception of heavy guns; while
the _Raleigh_, the _Beaufort_ and the _Teaser_ were small and
weak tug-boats. An ordinary rifle ball would have perforated the
boiler of the war-tugs, and a shell from a field-piece, if it hit
at all, would be tolerably sure to send any one of them to the
bottom. With this fleet, however, it was determined to attack the
Monitor and the other United States vessels of war near Fortress
Monroe. I volunteered for service in the fleet, and was assigned
to duty on the _Beaufort_, which was commanded by Lieutenant W. H.
Parker, one of the finest officers in the Navy. Picked men from
the infantry regiments stationed at Norfolk were placed on each
of the vessels; and, the _Virginia_ now being in tolerable order
again, the whole fleet, on the morning of April 11, 1862, steamed
past Norfolk, and gaily down the river, the _Virginia_ leading the
line. The wharves along the river were crowded with ladies and
soldiers. Hats were tossed in the air, handkerchiefs were waved,
and cheer after cheer rent the air. The enthusiasm of the hour
made every one feel like a hero. Captain Parker told me that the
main object of the expedition was the capture and destruction of
the Monitor. Commodore Tatnall was desperately in earnest, and one
of the midshipmen of the _Virginia_ told me that he heard the old
Commodore say, as he stumped up and down the quarter-deck, gritting
his teeth: “I will take her! I will take her! if h--ll’s on the
other side of her.” The “her” was understood to be the Monitor. The
plan of operations was bold and simple. When the Monitor came out
to meet us, the _Patrick Henry_, the _Jamestown_, the _Beaufort_
and the _Raleigh_, at a signal from the _Virginia_, were to run
down upon the enemy, endeavoring to strike her on the bows and
quarter. The Monitor was to be mobbed by the gun-boats while the
_Virginia_ engaged her attention. On each of the Confederate
vessels boarding parties were detailed with prescribed duties.
Those numbered one in each vessel were provided with hammers and
wedges, and were to endeavor to chock the turret of the Monitor
so as to prevent it from revolving, in which case her line of
fire could only be changed by moving the vessel. Those numbered
two were supplied with balls of tow, steeped in turpentine, which
were to be ignited and thrown down the ventilators, which were
then to be covered. Those numbered three were to throw a wet sail
over the pilot-house so as to blind the helmsman. Meanwhile other
boarders, armed with pistols and cutlasses, were to guard against
any attempt on the part of the enemy’s crew to escape from the
confinement which was prepared for them. I had command of the
boarders on the _Beaufort_. The general idea was that the Monitor
would be overwhelmed by the combined attack; and that by the means
indicated we could prevent her from doing much harm. The _Virginia_
would play an important part by endeavoring to ram her, and we
hoped to be able, with our four boarding steamers, to take the
Monitor in tow and haul her back to Norfolk, when we might break
her open, and take the crew prisoners at our leisure. Commodore
Tatnall expected that probably half his gun-boats would be sunk or
crippled in the attempt, but he was quite sure of throwing on the
deck of the Monitor men enough to ensure her capture. It is just
as likely that the Monitor would have towed us to Fortress Monroe,
if she had not sunk the whole concern before we reached her. The
weather was dirty, and we lay at anchor during the night off Craney
Island. Betimes the next morning we dropped down to Hampton Roads.
The enemy’s batteries fired several shots at us without effect.
We could see that the Monitor had steam up, and was lying close
under the protection of the batteries. She looked like a huge black
plate with a cheese box of the same color upon it. The flag ship
_Minnesota_, with a large number of men-of-war and merchantmen,
was below the forts. Signal guns were fired, and we hoped that the
enemy would engage us. The day wore on and still the Monitor and
her consorts skulked under the guns of the forts. The _Virginia_
ran within range of the formidable fortress, and then fired a
gun of defiance, but the Monitor would not come to the scratch.
Within the bar at Hampton three merchant vessels were lying, and
the _Jamestown_ and _Raleigh_ ran in, captured them and brought
them out. This exploit, almost within gunshot of the Monitor, did
not affect her movements. We did not get the fight we sought. It
was a terrible disappointment. But in the critical condition in
which the United States Navy was at the time, it was the wiser
part for the Monitor to decline the engagement. Had we succeeded
in disabling her, the whole coast would have been at the mercy
of the _Virginia_. Obstructions had already been placed in the
Potomac in expectation of a naval raid on Washington, and there was
considerable perturbation at New York and Boston.


On April the 17th I received orders to proceed to Petersburg, and
join Captain Pegram there. The iron-clad which was building at
Norfolk was not likely to be ready for several months; and, as
Captain Pegram was anxious to be in active service, he was assigned
to the command of the iron-clad _Louisiana_, which was building
at New Orleans, and said to be nearly finished. With his usual
kindness he caused me to be ordered to the same vessel, and asked
me to go down with him. My first visit to the “Cockade City” was
a very agreeable one, as I made acquaintance there with a number
of Captain Pegram’s relatives, including his niece, Mrs. Annie T.
White, and his sister, Mrs. David May.

From Petersburg the journey by railroad to Louisiana was dreary
and monotonous in the extreme. I have a bare recollection of being
invited at Kingville, S. C, to go to the end of the station and
inspect an astonishingly fat hog, which was the wonder of that
part of the country. There really was no other incident of note
that I recall, except the frequent delays, and the arrival at
different points too late for the connecting trains. As we neared
our destination, the air was full of ugly rumors. We learned that
the United States fleet had attacked the forts below New Orleans,
and it was reported that the city had been evacuated. But we
pressed on, and finally reached Jackson, Miss., where we were told
that it was no use to go any further. No passenger trains were now
running, but we succeeded in getting on a train that was going
down, and got within twenty miles of New Orleans. There the cars
were stopped; and in a short time train after train came up from
the city, bringing out the Confederate troops, under command of
General Mansfield Lovell, and such stores as could be carried off.
A number of the soldiers who belonged to the “Garde d’Orleans,”
flatly refused to go any further, and, to my surprise, were allowed
to return to the city, which was now in the possession of Butler’s
forces. There was no choice for us but to go back to Virginia;
and Captain Pegram took charge of dispatches from General Lovell,
giving an account of the disaster. So it turned out that, by
stopping a day or two at Petersburg, we had missed an opportunity
of participating in one of the fiercest naval fights of the war.
The vessel which Captain Pegram was to have commanded was taken
down the river in an unfinished condition, and was either sunk or
was blown up. The journey back was worse than the journey down,
as the delays were multiplied. It was on the train, soon after
leaving Lovell’s troops at Tangipahoa, that I first met Colonel
James M. Morgan (then a midshipman), whose sister I afterwards
married. The vessel on which he was serving, the _McRae_, was lost
in the engagement, and he made his escape from the city with great

When we reached North Carolina there was no comfort there. Norfolk
had been evacuated by the Confederate forces, and the _Virginia_
had been destroyed to prevent her from falling into the hands
of the enemy. I received permission to rest in Sussex for a few
days, and then went to Richmond, where I was assigned to duty on
a floating battery lying in the James River, and commanded by
Captain Parker, with whom I had served on the _Beaufort_. This
so-called battery was a large flat, with a shield heavily plated
with iron in front. The name of the battery was the _Drewry_, and
she lay at Rockett’s, below Richmond. I had fancied that she was a
vessel of the same class as the _Virginia_, and when I went down
to the place where she lay I looked about vainly for the vessel.
Hailing a man who was at work on what I supposed to be a dredge, I
asked which was the _Drewry_. “This is she,” said he. I was both
disappointed and disgusted. The _Drewry_ was really a lighter,
about eighty feet long and fifteen feet broad, and was intended to
be loaded down within eight or ten inches of the water. She had a
wooden shield, V shaped, covered with heavy iron bars, and in the
angle of the shield was cut a port-hole for her one heavy gun. She
had no engines or sails, and was to be towed or allowed to drift
into position when an engagement was expected.

I engaged quarters at a very pleasant house in Franklin Street, and
found amongst the boarders there the mother and sister of Clarence
Cary, whom I had known on the _Nashville_. The sister, Miss
Constance Cary, married, after the war, Mr. Burton N. Harrison,
who was the private secretary of President Davis. Miss Constance
Cary, or Miss “Connie,” as she was usually called, wrote a good
deal in war times under the _nom de plume_ of “Refugitta;” and
during the last few years has written at least one very charming
society novel, besides an admirable work on household decoration.
There were also there, in the pleasant company, Miss Hettie Cary,
the famous Baltimore beauty, and her sister, Miss Jennie Cary,
a handsome woman, and unfailingly amiable. Of course she was
overshadowed by her sister; and she used to say that the only
inscription necessary for her tomb-stone would be: “Here lies
the sister of Hetty Cary, the lady who presented the Confederate
colors to Beauregard’s troops at Manassas.” Miss Hetty Cary, late
in the war, married General John W. Pegram, a nephew of Captain
R. B. Pegram. A fight took place two or three weeks after her
marriage, and Mrs. Pegram went immediately to the front to assist
in caring for the wounded. Almost the first man who was brought
up, as she reached the field hospital, was her dead husband. The
Carys and Captain Pegram’s sister-in-law, Mrs. General Pegram, and
her daughters, Miss Mary and Miss Virginia Pegram, were as kind
and considerate to me as if I had been a member of their family.
To one of Captain Pegram’s nephews, Willie Pegram, the youngest
son of Mrs. General Pegram, I became very warmly attached. He was
at this time particularly boyish looking, and wore spectacles,
which added to the simplicity of his appearance. A graduate of the
Virginia Military Institute, he had gone into service as a private
in Company F of the First Virginia Regiment, and upon the promotion
of Captain Lindsey Walker, had been elected Captain of the Purcell

My time in Richmond passed almost too pleasantly. I was not
satisfied with myself, and saw no prospect of accomplishing
anything as long as I remained in the Navy. McClellan’s army was
close to Richmond, and one fine morning, at the end of May, the
battle of Seven Pines began. I obtained leave of absence, and,
armed with a navy sword, hastened down to the field, arriving there
about night-fall. The first troops I fell in with at the front
belonged to a Georgia regiment, the Eighth Georgia, I think; and
I asked to be permitted to take a musket and go in with them as a
volunteer, the next morning. Next morning came, but the fight did
not, and I trudged disconsolately back to Richmond.

I now made up my mind to leave the Navy. Fearing that Captain
Pegram would object to this, I went to the Navy Department myself
and handed in my resignation, which had been approved by Captain
Parker. I took care to say that I only resigned in order that I
might go into the army as a private soldier. My purpose was to join
the Purcell Battery, which Willie Pegram commanded, but he refused
to consent to this, telling me that if I waited something better
would turn up. I was not willing to wait, and went out to the
battery and reported to him for duty a few days before the Seven
Days Battle began.


The camp of the Purcell Battery was then on the Mechanicsville
Turnpike, as well as I remember; and it was a day or two after my
arrival that the Confederate battle flags were first distributed
to the Army of Northern Virginia. I remember, as though it were
yesterday, the return of Willie Pegram from head-quarters, with the
battle flag for our battery. It was only a square of coarse cloth
with a blue field and a red cross dotted with stars. But to the
soldiers of the Confederate armies it was then the emblem of all
that we fought for, as it is now the token of what the Confederate
soldiers endured, and of what our people lost.

At the time of the battles around Richmond the Artillery had not
been formed into battalions, as was done later in the war; and to
each brigade was attached one field-battery. The Purcell Battery
was attached to Field’s Brigade, of A. P. Hill’s Division.

Early in the afternoon of Thursday, June 26th, 1862, the head of
General Hill’s column crossed the Chickahominy, and moved towards
Mechanicsville. It was the first time I had seen the Confederate
troops marching to meet the enemy; and the gleaming bayonets, and
waving flags, the rumbling of the artillery, and the steady tramp
of the men, were both exhilarating and imposing. One of Field’s
regiments led the advance, with two guns from our battery. We
neared a narrow road between two steep banks, and were confident
that we should feel the enemy there. There was a puff of smoke and
the sharp crack of a rifle; the skirmishers advanced, and we threw
some shells into the woods. The skirmishers kept steadily forward.
They entered the woods and were lost to sight. Soon they reached
the enemy’s line, and the engagement began. We had now reached
a point near Ellyson’s Mill, at Mechanicsville, which had been
strongly fortified by the enemy. They had a battery in position,
and amused themselves by taking pot-shots at us. Willie Pegram,
however, remained motionless in his saddle, no more concerned at
the shells which were ploughing up the dust about him than if he
had been lounging on the porch in Franklin Street, this beautiful
evening. An officer rode hurriedly up, and then the order rang
out: “Attention, Battery! Forward! Trot! March!” and with a cheer
we rattled along the road and came into battery in an open field,
in full view of the enemy. The guns were instantly loaded, and
the firing began. The Yankees were not idle; and a shower of shot
and shell enveloped us. I had not been assigned, as yet, to any
particular duty in the battery, and looked on as an interested
observer until accident should make a vacancy that I might
fill. I tied my horse behind a corn crib, near by, and awaited
developments, walking up and down in the rear of the guns to see
what was going on. It was not an agreeable situation, as there was
nothing to divert my attention from the manifold unpleasantnesses
of the terrific fire which the enemy concentrated upon us. They had
twenty-four guns in position against our single battery, and were
able to enfilade our line, as well as to pound us by their direct
fire. It was one of the greatest errors of the early days of the
Confederacy that batteries were allowed to be knocked to pieces in
detail, when, by massing a dozen batteries, the enemy could have
been knocked quickly out of time and many lives saved. A solid shot
bowled past me, killed one of our men, tore a leg and arm from
another, and threw three horses into a bloody, struggling heap.
This was my chance, and I stepped to the gun and worked away as
though existence depended on my labors. For the great part of the
time I acted as Number 5, bringing the ammunition from the limber
to Number 2 at the piece. I felt for the first time the fierce
excitement of battle. There was no thought of danger, though the
men were falling rapidly on every side.

So the battle continued until about six o’clock, the men cheering
wildly whenever there was any sign of weakening on the part of
the enemy. I did not know what hurt me; but I found myself on the
ground, hearing, as I fell, a man near me say: “That Britisher has
gone up at last.” In a few moments I recovered my senses, and found
that I was not dead, and that no bones appeared to be broken. The
warm blood was pouring down my left leg, and on examination I saw
that a piece of shell had scooped out five or six inches of the
flesh below the knee, and near the femoral artery, making an ugly
wound. I did not feel that I was disabled, however, and, tying a
handkerchief as tightly as I could around my leg, I went back to
my post, and there remained until the battery was withdrawn after
sunset. Towards the end of the engagement only three men were
left at the gun at which I was serving. At a second gun only four
men were left. Another battery relieved us, and drew some of the
enemy’s fire. But I think it must have been nine o’clock when we
finally left the field. The official list of casualties in our
battery showed four killed and forty-three wounded, out of about
seventy-five who went into the engagement. Among the killed was
Lieutenant Elphinstone.

The battle-field was several miles from Richmond, and the problem
was, how to get back there. I hobbled a part of the way as well
as I could, and was then put into an ambulance with two wounded
men, one of whom died before we reached Richmond. I stopped at a
Field Hospital for a minute to get some morphine for my wounded
comrade, and then had my first experience of scientific butchering.
A rough table, consisting of two or three planks, was used for
the operations; and there the surgeons were hard at work, their
sleeves rolled up to the shoulders, their arms and hands besmeared
with blood, cutting deep with their knives into the quivering
flesh, or sawing with a harsh grating sound through the bones of
the insensible soldier. Under the table lay arms, hands, feet,
and legs, thrown promiscuously in a heap, like the refuse of a
slaughter house.


Upon reaching Richmond I was taken to my old quarters in Franklin
Street, and made much of. The Richmond _Dispatch_, after describing
the battle in which we had been engaged and giving a list of the
casualties in our battery, said: “This list proves the desperate
bravery exhibited by the command in the bloody strife. We learn
that Mr. Dawson, a young Englishman, who came over in the
_Nashville_, volunteered for the engagement, and received a wound
while acting most gallantly.” My old friends in the Navy (and the
Navy officers are more clannish and stick together more closely
than the Army officers do,) came at once to see me. First, of
course, was my dear friend, Captain R. B. Pegram, who chided me for
resigning from the Navy without telling him what I was going to do.
Commodore Hollins, Commodore Forrest, and Captain Arthur Sinclair,
were exceedingly attentive. The surgeons told me there was no
danger of serious results from my wound, if severe inflammation
could be prevented; and Captain W. H. Murray, of one of the
Maryland regiments, rigged up an arrangement for me by which water
was allowed to drip, night and day, on the bandages, to keep them
moist and cool. Miss Hetty Cary rather turned the tables on me, by
sending me word that she would have come down to my room with her
sister to see me, but that I had criticised so sharply, before I
had been hit, the conduct of ladies who had gone to the hospitals
to attend to the wounded soldiers, that she would not think of
doing violence to my feelings now by giving me any of her personal
attention. In truth, the young ladies who did visit hospitals were
disposed to be rather partial in their attentions. There were
pet patients wherever the young ladies were allowed to go. A very
good illustration is given in a paragraph which went the rounds of
the Southern papers, as showing the experience of an interesting
wounded soldier, who had dark eyes and a darling mustache, and a
generally romantic aspect. A young lady said to him: “Is there
not anything that I can do for you?” Wearily the soldier said:
“Nothing, I thank you.” Not to be baffled, the young lady said: “Do
let me do something for you. Will you let me wash your face for
you?” The sad response of the soldier was: “Well, if you want to
right bad, I reckon you must; but that will make seven times that
my face has been washed this evening.” There were some patriotic
verses on the same subject, written in all seriousness, which ended
with this touching couplet:

      “And every day there is a rush
      To give the soldiers milk and mush.”

The doctors complained, too, that the young ladies were rather
in their way; and that their prescriptions were oftentimes set
at nought by surreptitious doses of pies and sweetmeats. But the
motive was always good and pure, and, after I had known what it
was to be hit myself and to need a woman’s attentions, I was not
disposed to quarrel with any one, however fascinating, for being
assiduous in attentions to a wounded Confederate.

As soon as I was able to stand up, Captain Murray offered to go
with me to Petersburg, where I might remain until I recovered. Mrs.
Annie T. White invited me to stay at her house, and I was there
for several weeks. While there, Mr. John Dunlop, who has been one
of the staunchest friends I have had, called to see me. He was a
native of Petersburg, but was educated in England, and took the
degree of A. M. at Wadham College, Oxford, not long before the
beginning of the war. He went to New York to practice law there;
but returned to Virginia as soon as the State seceded, and joined
one of the Virginia regiments as a private. He was appointed
aide-de-camp to General Armistead, which was the position he
held at the time that I first knew him. After the second battle
of Manassas he was retired on account of his failing sight, and
went to England. After the war he returned to Virginia, and is
now living at Richmond, where he pursues his profession with much

Murray returned to Richmond in a day or two. Poor fellow! I never
saw him again. He was killed at Gettysburg. I have fancied that he
was deeply attached to Miss Jennie Cary, who has never married.

Mr. Raines was greatly concerned at hearing that I had been
wounded, and sent his carriage to Petersburg to take me down to his
house in Sussex. He told me that his house must be my home. In his
own simple and heartfelt language: “My dollars and cents I will
divide with you; and half my bread and meat is yours.”

As soon as I was able, I went from Petersburg to Sussex, and there
remained until I had recovered completely. It was here, at Oakland,
as the plantation of Mr. Raines was named, that I learned what
Southern life really was. I was treated in every respect as one of
the family, and was hailed by the darkies, big and little, as part
of the establishment. They did, however, have a rather unpleasant
way of prognosticating an untimely end for me, as I heard the
little negroes chanting continually: “Poor Mas’r Frank! he bin sure
to die long before de acorn come.”

Captain Robert B. Pegram was staying at the place of Major
Belsches, about two miles away, and one morning Nat. Raines, Jr.,
and I drove over to make him a visit. As we passed by the mill,
about half way, we met Captain Pegram in a buggy, and saw that his
benignant face was shining even more brightly than usual. His first
words were: “Dawson, I have some good news for you.” I asked him
what it was, and he handed me a note from his cousin, Mrs. G. W.
Randolph, the wife of the Secretary of War. The words were few, but
they were pregnant words for me. They were these:


  Mr. Randolph has ordered a commission as First Lieutenant of
  Artillery to be made out for Mr. Dawson.

  Yours, sincerely,

The cup of my happiness was full. Standing in the streets in
Richmond, and watching the troops as they passed, I had so often
wondered whether, in the course of time, I might hold a commission
in the Confederate army; and now it had come to me unexpectedly,
unsolicited, undeserved. I learned afterwards that Willie Pegram
had been so good as to recommend my appointment on account of my
behavior at Mechanicsville; and his recommendation was vigorously
sustained by his uncle, Captain Robert B. Pegram, and my Navy
friends. The Confederate government had no power to appoint company
officers for the volunteer forces; and for this reason I did not
receive a commission in the line. My appointment was under an Act
of the Confederate Congress, which authorized the appointment of
forty First Lieutenants of Artillery for assignment to duty as
Ordnance officers.


There was joy indeed at Oakland when the news of my promotion was
received there; and the young ladies set themselves to work at
once to contrive ways and means whereby my gray Navy coat could
be converted into the tunic of an Artillery officer. The most
troublesome part of it all, we found, was to get the Austrian knot
on the arm, the “curleyqueue,” as we called it, into the right
shape. It is so long since, and these things are so soon forgotten,
that it may not be out of place to mention here that my new uniform
was a gray tunic with scarlet cuffs and scarlet collar; an Austrian
knot of gold braid on each arm; two bars of gold lace, denoting the
rank, on each side of the standing collar; gray trousers with broad
red stripes; a scarlet kepi, trimmed with gold braid, and commonly
known, by the way, as the “woodpecker cap.”

One important consideration for me about this time was, how I
should get the money to pay for a horse and other necessary
equipments. Mr. Raines had two sons in the service, and was, as
I knew, supporting the families of several soldiers from the
neighborhood. He came to me, however, and told me that he had
instructed his factors at Petersburg, to honor any drafts that I
might make upon them; and that I must go there and get the money
necessary for a horse, and anything else that I wanted. This was
more than I was willing to accept; but I had not much choice in the
matter; and Mr. Raines assured me that it was a pleasure to him
to be able to assist me in preparing myself to fill properly the
position that I had won. So off I went to Petersburg, and thence
to Richmond, in all the brilliancy of gray and scarlet and gold;
the little darkies on the plantation, as I drove off from Oakland,
singing the refrain that I have mentioned before.

I had not yet been assigned to duty with any particular command,
and had not the remotest idea of what kind of duty it was to
be; but I had heard a good deal of General Longstreet, and when
I reached Richmond, I went to the Ordnance Bureau to have a
preparatory talk with Colonel Gorgas, who was Chief of Ordnance of
the army. I began to realize, from what I saw around me, that I was
likely to be in a worse plight as an Ordnance officer, whatever
that might be, than I was as an able bodied seaman, so-called,
on the _Nashville_; and I said frankly to Colonel Gorgas, that I
felt inclined to decline the commission which had been tendered
me. He asked me why I intended to take such a step. I said that I
knew nothing whatever of the duties of an Ordnance officer, and
hardly knew the difference between a Napoleon gun and a Belgian
rifle. I did not think it right, therefore, to undertake what I
did not think I would be able to perform satisfactorily. Colonel
Gorgas looked at me a moment to see whether I was in earnest or
not, and then said very quietly: “I think you had better accept
the commission; I reckon you know as much about it as many other
officers who have been assigned to the same duty.” I took him at
his word, and asked to be assigned to General Longstreet’s corps.
At the same time I mentioned to Colonel Gorgas that I did not
want any duty in the rear; and he gave me a letter to General
Longstreet, requesting that, if any particularly hazardous service
should fall within the line of my duty, it might be given to me.

It was difficult to get such a horse as I wanted in Richmond; but
I succeeded in getting a respectable iron sabre with a painted
scabbard, and I bought a good revolver and an imitation McClellan
saddle. With these, and a large valise as my baggage, I went down
to the Virginia Central Railroad station to take the train for
Culpepper C. H., which was the nearest point on the railroad to
the place where the army was believed to be. I should mention
that, after the battles around Richmond, Jackson had attacked
and defeated the enemy at Cedar Mountain; and the whole army of
Northern Virginia was now in motion towards Manassas. I met, at the
station, Captain Taylor, of Norfolk, a naval officer, who had been
appointed Captain of artillery, and assigned to duty with Stephen
D. Lee’s battalion of reserve artillery. We traveled together,
and left the cars at Culpepper C. H. By dint of hard talking,
we obtained quarters for the night at the hotel, and the next
morning we set out to overtake the army. I left my valise with the
hotel-keeper; but I could not consent to part with my saddle, which
I lugged along as best I could.


The roads were sandy and the day was intensely hot, and the weight
of the saddle increased every mile. Soon we struck a column of
troops marching in the same direction as ourselves, and the men
began the usual chaff. “I say, Mister,” said one, “who stole your
horse?” Another, in an expostulatory tone of voice, rejoined: “Why
don’t you let him alone; don’t you see that the other man is going
to get up and ride?” Then again: “Come out of that saddle; it’s
no use to say you ain’t there; I can see your legs sticking out.”
One man very demurely stepped up to Captain Taylor, and said: “You
must not mind these boys, sir; they don’t mean any harm by it.” He
replied very courteously: “I don’t mind it all, my friend.” “Well,”
continued the man, “they don’t mean any harm, but they always carry
on in that way whenever they see a d--d fool come along.” This last
sally caused a shout all along the line; and we were glad enough to
part company with them.

That night we met with some of Captain Taylor’s friends, who gave
us supper; after which we had a bath in a creek near by, and,
rolled up in our blankets, had an excellent sleep.

In the morning we were on the road betimes; and I managed to
stow away my saddle in a wagon. There were all manner of rumors
concerning the whereabouts of Longstreet, and we kept on until
we reached the little village of Stevensburg. No positive
information could be obtained here; but we found a man who was
willing to let us have dinner. We enjoyed the meal thoroughly,
chatting merrily the while. Two or three citizens came into the
room and scrutinized us closely, but we paid no attention to
them. Presently, after whispering among themselves, one of them
approached me and said: “What battery do you belong to, sir?”
“None at all,” I replied; and went on with my dinner. Shortly he
returned, and said: “What State do you hail from, sir?” “None at
all,” I replied, “except a state of semi-starvation.” This seemed
to annoy him, and he tried me once more: “Where are you going to?”
“To General Longstreet’s head-quarters,” I answered. “What for,
sir?” questioned the stranger. In the meanwhile I had finished my
dinner, and feeling very comfortable, I turned to Captain Taylor
and said: “I have heard a great deal of the curiosity of Americans,
and I am disposed to gratify it as far as I can conveniently; but
this man is becoming a bore.” The inquiring citizens now took a new
turn, and asked Captain Taylor where he was going to. Whereupon he
told them that it was none of their business. We paid our bill,
and got up to leave the room, when one of the citizens quietly
closed the door, and said: “Men, you can’t leave here until you
show your papers!” “The devil we can’t!” said I. “What right have
you to ask for our papers?” The answer came sharply enough: “We
ask for your papers by the right that every true citizen has to
question men whom he suspects to be deserters or worse.” Both
Captain Taylor and I were rather high tempered. I had a great
idea of my own dignity as a Confederate officer, and I told our
inquiring friends at once that we positively refused to show any
papers or answer any more questions. They told us that they would
not allow us to depart until we did. Captain Taylor drew his
pistol, and I drew my Confederate-iron sabre, and a lively fight
of two to four was imminent. At this moment there was a violent
knocking at the door, and a cavalry officer with two or three
dismounted cavalrymen, came in. The citizens took him out and
talked with him; and when they returned the officer asked us where
we wanted to go to. Captain Taylor said he wanted to find General
Lee’s head-quarters; and that I wanted to find General Longstreet.
The officer told us very demurely that he was going along in the
right direction, and if we would accompany him he would show us
the road. We thought that we now had the best of the bargain; and
the citizens who had so tormented us smiled grimly as we rode
off. After riding for some distance without anything being said,
I asked our escort whether we were nearing the place to which we
were going, and he replied in the affirmative. Passing through a
thick skirt of woods, he suddenly wheeled to the right, and ordered
us to follow him. We did so; and a few paces further on we saw the
body of a man dangling from the bough of a tree; a halter having
been used instead of a rope, to swing the poor devil up by. Asking
what this meant, I was told that the dead man was a spy, and that
all spies were treated in that way in this army. I was glad to
receive the information, but did not see that it had any personal
application until we reached a tent in front of which a stern
looking man, in a General’s uniform, was lolling on the ground.
The officer dismounted, saluted, and said: “General, here are two
men who have been arrested by some citizens of Stevensburg on
suspicion of being spies.” “Ah, indeed,” said the General, rising
with some interest. “What proofs have you of this?” “No particular
proofs, General; but they refuse to show any papers, or to give
any account of themselves.” “Well!” said the General, “that’s the
best proof in the world. I have a short way of dealing with these
rascals.” Then turning to a courier who was standing by, he said:
“Tell Captain ---- to detail a non-commissioned officer and three
men to report to me immediately.” Turning to us he kindly said:
“Fine morning! men. Any message or any other little thing that you
would like to send to your friends in the North?” Captain Taylor
and I had been so completely taken aback that, up to this time, we
had said nothing; but the joke was becoming rather serious, and
I said frankly that Captain Taylor and I had refused to show our
papers because they had been asked for impertinently, and without
any authority; but that we had in our pockets our orders and our
passports, and that I had letters of introduction to General
Longstreet from General Randolph and Colonel Gorgas. The order for
the detail was countermanded as soon as our papers had been glanced
at; but our friend, the General, told us that it was a suspicious
circumstance, as we must admit, to find two officers of artillery
wandering about the country without any command, and on foot. I
suspect the nautical bearing of Captain Taylor, which his uniform
did not disguise, and my own fresh color and English accent, had
more to do with our trouble than the fact that we were dismounted
and alone. I really had some little difficulty in making myself
understood at Stevensburg. When I asked for water at the house, the
man hesitated until I had repeated the word two or three times; and
then asked if I meant “wat-ter.” We started off again, and I parted
from Captain Taylor, who went to General Lee’s head-quarters, while
I plodded along to Brandy Station. I had seen Captain Taylor for
the last time. He was killed in action soon afterwards.

Almost broken down, I was trudging wearily along the road when I
heard some one bawling out my name. Looking around I found that it
was Lieutenant McGraw, of the Purcell Battery. In a minute or two I
was in comfort and at ease in the midst of my old comrades. I had
not seen Captain Willie Pegram since the fight at Mechanicsville,
and we had a great deal of news to tell each other. The battery
was parked in the woods, and, although we had no supper, I slept
without waking. In the morning there was an artillery duel with
the enemy at the Rappahannock River, in which we lost one or two
men. Willie Pegram then lent me a poor old rip of a horse, with a
hole in his side, punched there at Gaines’ Mill by a piece of a
shell; and I sallied forth once more to find General Longstreet. By
this time I was about half starved, and I was very much disgusted
by a soldier whom I met at the roadside with a huge pile of
corn-dodgers, and who refused to sell me a piece of bread, although
I offered him $5 for it. But I found General Longstreet at last,
and was introduced by him to his Chief Ordnance Officer, Colonel
Peyton L. Manning, who directed me to return to Brandy Station,
where I should find the Ordnance train of the corps.

About night I found the train, and met with a cordial reception
at the hands of Lieutenants Leech and Duxberry. A good supper of
coffee, biscuit, and fried bacon was improvised, and I heartily
enjoyed the quiet luxury of a pipe.


A day or two after my arrival at my post, I succeeded in buying
a very good riding horse, and hired a capable servant. I may as
well say just here that I found Colonel Manning, my immediate
superior, an exceedingly easy man to get along with. Unquestionably
a gentleman in his tastes and habits, and brave as a lion, he knew
comparatively little of his work as Ordnance officer, and was
unable to write an ordinary official letter correctly. Spelling was
indeed his weakest point. He was from Aberdeen, Miss., and died at
his home there three or four years after the surrender. Lieutenant
Leech was from Charlottesville, Va., and was very quiet and
unassuming. Lieutenant Duxberry was good tempered, but exceedingly
conceited, and casting about always to make himself friends at
head-quarters. One of his peculiar conceits was that his name,
Duxberry, was a corruption of Duc de Berri, from whom he supposed
himself to be in some extraordinary way descended. I found out
afterwards that, at the beginning of the war, he was an assistant
in a drug store at Montgomery, Ala., and that he was born somewhere
in Massachusetts.

Longstreet pressed through Thoroughfare Gap and reached Manassas
just in time to save Jackson from being overwhelmed there. I knew
but little of what was going on, and did not see much of the great
battle itself. Here I made my first capture in the shape of a
Gatling gun which had been abandoned by the enemy, and what was of
more importance, I secured a commissary wagon containing a barrel
of ground coffee.

The army now advanced to the Potomac, which we crossed at Point
of Rocks; the bands playing “Maryland, my Maryland!” There was
no cause to complain any longer of a lack of provisions, and we
were able to buy whatever we wanted with Confederate money at
fair prices. After resting a day or two at Hagerstown, where we
completed the equipment of our mess, we moved rapidly to South
Mountain, where we had a brisk fight, and were driven back. This
was on August 15th, I think. Late at night I rode back to the
camp to get some supper, but had hardly told the cook to make the
necessary preparations when an order came from General Longstreet
to me to take charge of the Ordnance trains of the corps, and move
them to Williamsport. The order was imperative, and I was directed
to move as rapidly as possible.

At about ten o’clock at night I started. It was intensely dark and
the roads were rough. Towards morning I entered the Hagerstown and
Williamsport Turnpike, where I found a cavalry picket. The officer
in charge asked me to move the column as quickly as I could, and to
keep the trains well closed up. I asked him if the enemy were on
the road, and he told me that it was entirely clear, and that he
had pickets out in every direction. It was only a few miles now to
Williamsport, and I could see the camp-fires of our troops across
the river. I was hungry, sleepy and tired, and the prospect of camp
and supper in an hour seemed the summit of bliss. I was forty or
fifty yards ahead of the column, when a voice from the roadside
called out “halt!” The gloss was not yet off my uniform, and I
could not suppose that such a command, shotted with a big oath,
was intended for me. In a moment it was repeated. I quickly rode
to the side of the road in the direction of the voice, and found
myself at the entrance of a narrow lane, and there adown it were
horses and men in a line that stretched out far beyond my vision.
To the trooper who was nearest to me I said indignantly: “How dare
you halt an officer in this manner.” The reply was to the point:
“Surrender, and dismount! You are my prisoner!” Almost before the
words were uttered I was surrounded, and found that I had ridden
right into the midst of a body of Yankee cavalry, numbering about
two thousand, who had escaped from Harper’s Ferry that night to
avoid the surrender which was to take place in the morning. I
was placed under guard on the roadside, and as the trains came
up they were halted, and the men who were with them were quietly
captured. In a short time the column moved off in the direction of
the Pennsylvania line. I was allowed to ride my own horse. By the
side of each team a Federal soldier rode, and, by dint of cursing
the negro drivers and beating the mules with their swords, the
cavalrymen contrived to get the jaded animals along at a gallop.
While we were halted, one of my Sergeants had knocked the linchpins
out of the wheels of the leading wagons, in the hope that this
would delay the march. The wheels came off and the wagons were
upset, but a squad of men dismounted instantly, threw the wagons
out of the road, and set fire to them, so that there was no halt
of consequence. I had a cavalryman on each side of me, and tried
vainly to get an opportunity to slip off into the woods.


Soon after daylight we reached the little village of Greencastle,
Pennsylvania, where the citizens came out to look at the “Rebel”
prisoners. They hurrahed for their own men and cursed at us.
Even the women joined in the game. Several of them brought their
children to the roadside and told them to shake their fists at the
“d--d Rebels.” Still there were some kind people in Greencastle.
Three or four ladies came to us, and, without pretending to have
any liking for Confederates, showed their charitable disposition
by giving us some bread and a cup of cold water. My horse was
taken from me at Greencastle and ridden off by a dirty-looking
cavalryman. Then the Confederates, numbering a hundred or more,
were packed into the cars, and sent by the railway to Chambersburg.

Duxberry had the good luck to be away from camp the night that we
marched from Crampton’s Gap, and was not taken. Leech had been
asleep in one of the wagons, and did not wake up until we had all
been gathered in.

Chambersburg is a pretty little town, and I had the satisfaction
of seeing it a year later under pleasanter auspices. On arriving
there the first time, the Confederates were put in the open yard of
the jail which we pretty well filled. Our presence there suggested
a new and interesting game to the small boys of Chambersburg. It
was a plain calculation that a stone which should fall within the
area of the yard would be very apt to hit one of the prisoners. The
boys, therefore, amused themselves by pitching stones over from the
outside, enjoying in this way the luxury of scaring the “Rebels,”
and hurting them too, without any risk to themselves. It was sport
to the boys, but it came near being death to some of our men. But
here, as at Greencastle, there were some charitable souls. Mr. A.
K. McClure, who is now the editor of the Philadelphia _Times_, came
to the jail with a committee of citizens, and gave us an abundance
of coffee and bread and meat. That night we lay on the rough stones
in the jail yard, and in the morning we were put on the train for
Harrisburg. We did not go into the town, but were taken at once
to Camp Curtin, in the suburbs, where we were to remain until our
final destination should be determined on.

By this time I had no baggage. It had been promised that my valise,
which was in one of the wagons, should be given to me, but it was
appropriated, I suppose, by one of our captors. At all events, I
saw nothing of it, and could get no information about it.

At Camp Curtin we were tolerably comfortable. There were only
two officers in our party besides myself, and as my uniform was
comparatively bright and fresh I attracted more attention than
my rank warranted. The United States officers at the camp were
exceedingly attentive, and talked with me in the frankest manner
about the position of affairs and the prospects of their army. They
gave me a blanket which I needed sorely, and bestowed upon me what
was equally desirable, a new tooth-brush. The evening after my
arrival, the Commandant of the camp asked me whether I would not
like to go into town, saying that one of the officers was anxious
to take me in with him. I told him I had no other dress than my
uniform, and if I had I would not wear it, and I did not suppose
that any of the officers would care to go into Harrisburg with a
Confederate officer in uniform. The Commandant said that this was
what was proposed, although he did not think it very prudent. The
Commandant gave me the necessary pass, and Captain ---- and I went
into the town.

First we went into the principal hotel and took supper. The persons
hanging about the hotel looked at me rather sulkily, but I was too
hungry to pay much attention to them. After supper we walked out
to the front of the hotel, where my companion slapped me on the
shoulder, and said in a loud voice: “Here is a real live Rebel
officer! The first man that says a word to him I will knock his
d--d head off!” This was not a very pacific speech to make to a
crowd of fanatical Pennsylvanians, who had just heard that the
battle of Sharpsburg had begun. Nothing came of it at the moment,
and my companion now insisted that we should visit the principal
music hall. As we entered, the whole company of singers was on
the stage shouting lustily: “The Union and McClellan forever!
Three cheers for the Buck-tail Brigade,” the audience joining in
the chorus with patriotic energy. My companion marched me down
the middle of the hall to the very front seat, and there was a
murmur of astonishment and disapprobation. But my companion did
not mind it, and I could not help it, so we remained there about
half an hour and then passed out, with no other damage than being
scowled at by the audience. By this time my companion was decidedly
exhilarated; and the next time that he invited an attack, by
saying that he would inflict condign punishment on any one who
molested me, an indignant patriot knocked my hat off. I knocked
down the man who did it, and half a dozen men pitched into me at
once. There was a general scrimmage. Knives were drawn, a shot was
fired, and I knew nothing more until I found myself in a large
room surrounded by a group of soldiers. In the row, it seemed,
my companion had been treated rather badly, and I had been choked
and knocked until I was insensible, and, indeed, was only saved
from death by a woman, who seized the arm of my foremost assailant
and prevented him from stabbing me to the heart. Just as I had
learned the particulars, the door opened and an officer came in
whom I recognized as the Commandant of Camp Curtin. He said very
quietly: “I thought you would be very apt to bring up at the
guard-house about this time, so I came in to look after you.” He
then accompanied me back to camp. I did not wish to trouble the
Commandant to escort me to my quarters, but he told me that his
guards were quite young, rather stupid, and very malicious, and
quite apt to shoot at a stray prisoner without giving him a chance
to halt and explain. I objected no further. The whole night’s work
was a very unpleasant one for me, but I had no way of escaping from
the difficulty when I once reached the city. Captain ---- had been
drinking hard, which I had not suspected until it was too late. If
I had left him and gone off alone I should have been in worse case
than by remaining in his company.

The next morning the Harrisburg paper had a glowing account of
an attempt I had made to escape from camp, and said that, when
recaptured, I had nearly succeeded in laying a mine to blow up the
great bridge across the Susquehannah. The newspapers, too, were
very severe in their condemnation of the Union officers who had
been seen in the city in company with a “Rebel officer in full

Early the next day we were ordered to be ready to take the cars
for Philadelphia, on the way to Fort Delaware. Just before leaving
camp, I was told that there were some ladies at the gate who
desired to see me. I went down and found two handsomely dressed
women in an open carriage. One of them asked me whether I did not
recognize her. I told her that I did not, and she said: “You ought
to do so, for I was passing by when you got into that difficulty
in town, and was the means of saving your life.” I thanked her
very warmly, but told her that there were too many demands on my
attention at the time of the fight to permit me to have seen her.
The ladies bade me very heartily good-bye, and I left my unknown

It was not a long run to Philadelphia, and in the cars was a
civilian who accosted me courteously, and asked me many questions
about the Confederacy and the Southern people, the character of the
army and the estimation in which the different Generals were held.
All such questions I answered as well as I could without divulging
anything that might be of injury to our side, and taking care to
depict everything in the highest possible colors. It was night when
the train reached the Quaker City, and I suppose that ten thousand
persons were awaiting the arrival of the train. There were no lamps
in the cars, and the persons in the crowd outside clambered up at
the windows, even lighting matches and holding lanterns to our
heads that they might see us the better, as though we were wild
beasts in a cage. One man thrust his hand in through the sash,
grasped my hand firmly and whispered: “Cheer up, it will all come
out right.” At last, it was my turn to leave the cars, and, as
usual, my scarlet cap attracted more attention than was agreeable.
Some said I was a drummer-boy, others declared I was a Colonel,
while one big fellow shouted out that he knew that I was a spy who
had deserted from the Union Army, and had been recaptured. There
was instantly a shout: “Hang him to the lamp-post,” and for a few
minutes I was in worse plight at Philadelphia than I had been in
at Stevensburg. The guard, however, succeeded in driving the crowd
back, and I reached in safety the steamer which was to take us to
Fort Delaware.


Late at night we reached the Island upon which Fort Delaware is
built. We were marched up to the gates, and were halted there until
an officer had passed along the line and enquired whether any of
the prisoners wished to take the oath of allegiance to the United
States government. There was no reply, and we were marched into
the Barracks. These Barracks were common wooden sheds, affording
accommodation for about ten thousand persons. The bunks were
arranged in tiers of three, and into one of these I crawled. The
next morning I was told that these Barracks were the quarters for
the privates and non-commissioned officers, and that, by requesting
it, I could be removed to the quarters for the officers, which were
inside the Fort. Lieutenant Leech and I wrote to the Commandant,
and were at once removed to the Fort, where we were installed
in a large barrack-room, which then contained seventy or eighty
officers. The highest in rank was a Major Holliday, belonging to
one of the Virginia regiments.

During the time that I was in the Fort I slept next to Adjutant W.
P. DuBose, of the Holcombe Legion, who had been taken prisoner at
South Mountain. He was supposed to have been killed, but had really
been but slightly wounded. When he returned to South Carolina he
found that his obituary had been published, and that his friends
were in mourning for him. Afterwards he went into the ministry, and
was appointed Chaplain of Kershaw’s Brigade. He is now one of the
Professors of the University of the South, at Sewanee.

As the number of officers increased with new arrivals, the room
became painfully crowded. Within the room we could do pretty much
as we pleased, except that we were not allowed to gather together
in a body, lest we might plan an escape, I suppose. Nor were we
allowed to cross the threshold of the door, on pain of being shot.
The guards were abusive, and would swear at us like dogs if we did
anything they disapproved of. A word in reply was met by a blow
with the butt end of a musket, or by an order that the offender
be sent to the Black Hole. Still we were far better off than our
comrades were in the Barracks outside. Our room was dry, warm and
well lighted, while the Barracks were cold, damp and dark. Our room
had conveniences for washing to a certain extent, and there was
plenty of water of a poor quality. The washing of clothes went on
all the time, which was not conducive to the comfort of those who
used the washstand for personal ablutions. The inhabitants of the
garments which were steeped in the washstand naturally took refuge
in the water.

No exercise of any kind was permitted to us, and we only left the
room to march down into the mess-hall. For breakfast we had a cup
of poor coffee without milk or sugar, and two small pieces of bad
bread. For dinner we had a cup of greasy water misnamed soup, a
piece of beef two inches square and a half inch thick, and two
slices of bread. At supper the fare was the same as at breakfast.
This was exceedingly light diet. Some of the officers behaved
disagreeably; and eight or ten of us, principally Virginians,
associated ourselves together for mutual protection, and formed a
mess of our own. We contrived to make some additions to our diet by
purchases at the Sutler’s store. When we had no money the Sutler
would take watches or other valuables in pledge, and let us have
the provisions.

A number of the citizens of Baltimore, including Mr. Carpenter,
had been arrested for disloyalty, and they were found at this
time in the Fort. They were not watched as closely as we were,
and sometimes in going down to dinner we had an opportunity to
exchange a word with them. They were jolly fellows, and exceedingly
liberal. Mr. Carpenter was editor of the Maryland _News Sheet_, and
was released about the time of our arrival. Being appointed the
chairman of the Baltimore Society for the relief of prisoners, he
returned to the Fort to see what our wants were. At one shipment
over two thousand pair of excellent shoes were sent to the Fort for
the prisoners. Indeed, each one of the three thousand Confederates
in the Fort received a blanket, a pair of shoes, warm trousers, a
jacket, and a felt hat; or such of these things as he required. Nor
were the officers in our room forgotten. Clothing of every kind
was sent to us. It was proposed at first that the senior officer
present should take charge of the supplies, and distribute the
clothing according to the necessities of the individuals. This did
not suit some of our comrades. When the packages were brought in
and opened there was a general rush, and those who pulled hardest
and pushed most got the larger part of the spoils. I saw men wear
two pair of new trousers under an old pair, and then complain to
Mr. Carpenter that they wanted a new pair. And so it was with
jackets and with under-clothing. Blankets were in great demand. One
man who was crying lustily for a blanket was found to have four new
blankets hidden under his bunk.

I had only been in the Fort a day or two when the guard called
my name, and handed me a newspaper. This was a most unusual
occurrence, as newspapers were not allowed to be given to us,
unless they contained some startling report of Union victories.
The newspaper was the Philadelphia _Inquirer_, a rabid Union
sheet, and I was curious to see what it contained that concerned
me. There I saw, in big type, the announcement of “The Arrival
of the Rebel Prisoners!” “Conversation with a Rebel Officer of
Longstreet’s Staff!” “Condition of the South!” “What is thought
of the Rebel Generals!” &c., &c. The writer said that, in the
cars, he had had the pleasure of a conversation with Lieutenant
Dawson, of General Longstreet’s Staff, who was in England when the
war began, but immediately returned to his home in Sussex County,
Va., and entered the Confederate service! After complimenting me
upon my intelligence and courtesy, he gave a very fair report of
what I said. The mystery was explained. My inquisitive friend on
the cars was a newspaper reporter. I was annoyed by the publicity
given to what I had said, for I feared that my friends at the South
would misunderstand it; but it proved after all to be a fortunate
occurrence for me. Two days after the appearance of the article in
the Philadelphia _Inquirer_, the guard came and began to talk to
me in a surprisingly civil way. Suddenly he turned his back to me
and slipped a letter into my hand, telling me not to let any one
see it. I hurried off to the only private place we had, and read my
letter. It was from a Mr. Neal, of Walnut Street, Philadelphia. He
said that he had seen my name in the _Inquirer_, and that, being a
Virginian and a prisoner, I had claims upon him; and that anything
that I wanted, either in money or clothes, he would be only too
happy to send me. I replied, thanking him for his kindness, and
asking that he would send me some under-clothing, of which I stood
in great need. Mr. Neal at once came down to the Fort, and brought
me a valise well furnished with handkerchiefs, socks, shirts,
collars, and other things that I required. He also insisted that I
should take a small sum of money, which I was fortunately able to
return to him when I was set at liberty. Much to my regret, I have
not been able to learn anything about Mr. Neal since the war ended.

I had hardly settled down to the quiet enjoyment of my valise and
its contents, when a big basket was brought to me, with a note from
a Miss Spotswood, who said she saw by the papers that I was from
Sussex, Virginia, where she had spent many happy years, and begged
that in memory of this I would accept the accompanying basket.
I did. In the basket were jelly, preserves, sugar, tea, coffee,
pickles, pepper and salt, a comb and brush, a tooth-brush, note
paper, envelopes and postage stamps. My comfort was now complete.
Who but a woman would have thought of sending so many little
necessaries which I could not otherwise have obtained!


The time dragged heavily, although we amused ourselves by singing
Southern songs and playing games, some very pretty chess-men and
chequers having been made by the prisoners. There were cards in
abundance, and there was a faro-bank; but these games were not
patronized by our mess. Once on a Sunday we were allowed to go to
Church service on the ramparts, but this privilege was not granted

The confinement had a serious effect upon me, and I became really
unwell; but new courage was given to all of us by the rumor that
there would soon be a general exchange of prisoners, and that we
should be released on parole. The rumor gained ground; but day
after day passed and no confirmation came. When we had almost
given up hope, an Orderly announced to us that Major Burton, the
Commandant, had sent a message to us, which he would deliver if we
would receive it quietly. In a moment all was still: “Major Burton
says that orders have been received from Washington to send you all
on to Virginia to be exchanged, as soon as boats can be secured.”
We could not restrain the cheers that rose to our lips.

A day or two afterwards, when we began to think that we had
been deceived, the printed forms of parole were brought in for
signature. This part of the performance having been completed,
Major Holliday, the senior officer, was called for, and went out.
Shortly afterwards one of the Captains was taken away; then another
Captain was sent for. When five or six had gone out and none
had returned, so that all the tracks went one way, we began to
wonder what it meant. My name was next called. I went out, and was
conducted to Major Burton’s office, where was an officer in full
uniform. Major Burton said that Colonel ----, of the United States
Army, wished to speak with me. The Colonel asked me whether I was
on General Longstreet’s staff. I told him I was. He then asked me
how many divisions there were on General Longstreet’s command. I
did not answer him. He repeated the question, and asked how many
men Longstreet had. My reply was: “You have no right to ask such
questions; and you cannot suppose that I shall so far forget my
duty as an officer, and my honor as a gentleman, as to tell you
anything whatever concerning the command to which I belong.” Again
being asked the question with the same result, I was given up as
a bad job, and told that I could return to my quarters. Hurrying
back to the room, taking on the way a bag of cakes that some sweet
Maryland girls offered me, I reached the room and found the men
there in great excitement, as no one of those who had been called
out had come back. I described what was going on, and bade them be
on their guard. By this time it had been ascertained that I had
returned to our quarters instead of retiring to the room where
were placed the other officers who had been catechized. So I was
hurried out again, and unceremoniously put in the pen. The object
was to keep the officers in our quarters in ignorance of what was
expected to be extracted from them. But the hint I had had time to
give was sufficient. Thenceforward the haughty Colonel received
free answers to his questions; but I am not disposed to think that
the information was very valuable. He asked particularly the number
of Maryland troops in our service, and one officer told him that we
now had fifty thousand Maryland Infantry, ten thousand Cavalry,
and five battalions of Artillery. The interrogator was astonished.
He said he had thought that there were only one or two thousand
Maryland troops in our service, which was near the truth. The
officer told him that of late all the Marylanders in the different
Brigades had been consolidated into a Maryland Corps, which had
the strength stated. A special note was taken of this information.
Another officer belonged to a Brigade which had about four hundred
muskets, and was asked the strength of it. He asked whether his
interrogator wanted to know its present strength or the usual
strength. The Colonel said he wanted to know both. The officer told
him that the usual strength was about twenty-two hundred men, but
he reckoned it had not more than eighteen hundred men now.

At last the long expected steamers came, and we went aboard. Our
confinement was at an end, and only the sea trip and the run up the
James River lay before us. The Sutler tried hard to play a Yankee
trick. I have mentioned that we pawned watches and chains with him
in order to buy provisions. Prior to the time for leaving the Fort
most of us had obtained the money to redeem them. Major Burton
indeed offered to furnish us any small sum that we needed, which we
might remit to him when we reached home. But the Sutler, as soon as
he learned that we were going away, went up to Philadelphia, and
did not return. It was evident that he intended to remain absent
until we were out of reach; but the boats were later in arriving
than he expected, and he was obliged to come back to his post. Our
pledges were redeemed, and the Sutler received a severe rebuke from
Major Burton. No one could have been more considerate, consistently
with his duty, than Major Burton was. This is the same noble
officer who had President Davis in charge, after he was taken from
the custody of the brutal officer who caused him to be so tortured
at Fortress Monroe, as described in Dr. Craven’s well known book.
Mrs. Burton was, I think, a Mexican lady, and sympathized very
deeply with the Southerners. One day while we were on our way to
the mess-hall, she waved her handkerchief to us, but I suppose that
the good Major was constrained to prevent so unwise demonstrations
afterwards. We did not see her again.

The fresh sea breeze was very refreshing, and we sat up nearly all
night talking of home. Hunger, however, soon asserted itself, and
we had much difficulty in getting a small piece of cold pork and
some hard-tack. The next evening we reached Fortress Monroe, where
we expected that our baggage would be searched or confiscated; but
by some good fortune it was allowed to pass, and we reached Varina,
ten miles below Richmond, without any trouble, although nearly

Our commissioner of exchange was expected to meet us, but he was
at church in Richmond with some fair lady, or too happily engaged
otherwise to hurry down to attend to the wants of a few hundred
prisoners who were half starved and pining to be ashore again. So
we remained many hours within ten paces of the shore, before the
necessary forms were complied with and we were allowed to land.
There was some talk of sending us to Camp Lee to remain there until
we should be exchanged; but I was taken by a friend in his carriage
to Richmond, where we arrived at night. I was surprised that my
joy at my deliverance was not so visible on my face that it would
be noticed on the streets, and I half expected that even strangers
would congratulate me. It was the 6th of October when I reached
Richmond. I had been a prisoner of war only three weeks, but it
seemed to me an eternity, and I can hardly realize now that the
time, counted by days and weeks, was really so short. And yet, it
must have been so.


The morning after my arrival at Richmond, I went down to the
head-quarters of General G. W. Smith, who was then in command of
the Department of Richmond, and asked his Adjutant-General for
leave of absence until I should be exchanged. The Adjutant-General,
who was no less a person than Major Samuel W. Melton, of South
Carolina, refused point blank to allow me to leave the city. The
officers and men who had been paroled could not, of course, rejoin
their commands until they should have been exchanged, and there
seemed to be no object in keeping them in Richmond. It was feared,
however, that if they were allowed to go home, some of them might
not return promptly; and for this reason no leaves were to be
granted. As usual in such cases, the many were to suffer for the
possible faults of the few. In my own case there was certainly no
reason to refuse a leave of absence, as if I had desired to leave
the service I could have done so at any time by resigning. The
Conscript law of course did not affect me, and it seemed rather
absurd to suppose that one who was in the Confederate service by
his own choice would keep away from the field of duty which he had
deliberately selected. I went to my friend, Colonel Gorgas, the
Chief of Ordnance, made my official report of the capture of the
trains at Williamsport, and through him obtained from the Secretary
of War permission to go down to Sussex, and remain there until the
completion of the exchange of the paroled prisoners.

After remaining at Petersburg a few days, I went on to Sussex, and
found my friends there in great distress. Mrs. Raines had died the
day before my arrival, and the loss to her husband and family
seemed irreparable. To me, also, it was a heavy blow, for Mrs.
Raines had been to me from the beginning a good and true friend. I
stayed awhile with Major Belsches, about two miles away, and then
went over to Oakland, where I had the complete rest and quiet I
so much needed. The change from the dreary confinement and brutal
treatment at Fort Delaware to the ease and abundance at Oakland was
sufficient to make any one happy.

The days passed swiftly by, and it was not until the latter part
of November that I was exchanged and free to return to the army.
A fresh horse was now necessary, and I bought in Petersburg, for
$400, a good-looking black charger, which turned out to be an
utterly good-for-nothing animal. From Petersburg, I rode, by way of
Richmond, to Fredericksburg, where General Longstreet now was. I
reported for duty on December the 6th, and set to work at once to
familiarize myself with the condition of my department. Lieutenant
Leech did not return to us, but was assigned to duty with General
Pickett as Chief of Ordnance of the division. Lieutenant Duxberry
I found at head-quarters in much the same condition as when I left
him at South Mountain. Very soon, the whole responsibility in the
Ordnance Department of Longstreet’s Corps devolved upon me. Colonel
Manning had no taste for anything but marching and fighting, and
Lieutenant Duxberry was too fond of pleasure and show to be of much
practical use.

I was under canvas at this time a few hundred yards from Guinea
Station. The weather was bitterly cold, but my tent was small, and
with the aid of a large stove I managed to keep reasonably warm.
There was, as yet, no particular deficiency in the Commissary
Department, but there was not much variety in the food. Bacon was
the great staple, with occasional rations of beef, so tough that
it deserved to be described, as it once was, as “the sinews of
war.” The fat of the bacon was used in place of lard, in making
bread and biscuits, so that when the bacon itself was served it was
particularly dry. There was so great a craving for a change in the
food that I ate often with relish a sauce composed of bacon fat and
brown sugar, which in these days is sickening to think of. One of
my men captured somewhere a keg of lard which proved to be a great
acquisition. I think I may safely say that it was not paid for.


The battle of Fredericksburg was at hand. I need not describe it,
except to say that from Howison’s Hill, afterwards known as Lee’s
Hill, where Generals Lee and Longstreet and their staffs remained
for a considerable part of the day, there was a magnificent view of
as grand a spectacle as one could desire to see in war. I was there
soon after daybreak, and as the mist of the morning cleared away
we could easily make out the enemy’s movements. Large bodies of
troops had already crossed the Rappahannock, and the fields near it
were blue with Yankees. On the opposite shore were the long trains
of wagons and ambulances, together with the reserve artillery. A
30-pound Parrot gun which we had was ordered to open on the enemy,
and very soon the artillery fire became brisk. Fredericksburg,
which had been so calm and peaceful in the early light, was set
on fire by the enemy’s shells. The enemy now made a fierce attack
on our right, which was repulsed with comparative ease. It was
thrilling to watch the long line advance, note the gaps in the
array, as the wounded fell or else staggered to the rear, and
see the gallant remnant melt away like snow before our withering
fire. At Marye’s Hill, which was the key to our position, the most
desperate fighting was done. Again and again the enemy charged,
only to be driven back with terrible slaughter. There it was that
Meagher’s Brigade made its historic charge. The field in front of
the hill, beyond the road, was well called the slaughter-pen. The
enemy lay there in their ranks, as they had fallen, and the fence
was riddled like a sieve by the rifle bullets. I had a very narrow
escape. Standing in a group with three other officers watching the
action, a shell exploded near us and bruised or wounded everyone of
my companions. I was not touched.

Late at night I returned to camp, and crept into a wagon to take a
quiet sleep, placing my coat, cap and trousers under my head, in
the front part of the wagon. In the morning my coat was missing,
and the natural conclusion was that it had been stolen. Such things
did happen. Looking about rather disconsolately, and wondering how
I was to replace the missing garment, I saw some buttons and shreds
of gold lace lying on the ground. The thieves were discovered. It
was the wretched mules, who had unceremoniously dragged my clothes
out of the wagon and chewed up my uniform coat, in place of the
long forage, the hay or fodder, which they craved. The mules, at
this time, were fed on corn almost exclusively; and their desire
for rough food, as it was called, led them frequently to gnaw the
poles of the wagons. These poles on this account were protected in
many cases by strips of iron, which rendered them impervious to
even the teeth of a mule. I was in a sad dilemma, of course, and
was laughed at for my pains. Fortunately, I succeeded in buying a
coat, which answered my purposes until I reached Petersburg, in the

The army was now into winter quarters, the men making themselves as
comfortable as they could. Snow-balling was a favorite amusement,
and was carried on in grand style, brigade challenging brigade
to a sham fight. These contests were very exciting, and were the
source of great amusement to the men. Practical jokes, too, were
frequently played upon the officers. Mrs. Longstreet was staying
at a house a mile or two from our head-quarters, and General
Longstreet rode over there every evening, returning to camp in
the morning. On his way he passed through the camp of the Texas
Brigade of Hood’s Division, and was frequently saluted with a
shower of snow-balls. For some time he took it with his usual
imperturbability, but he grew tired of the one-sided play at last,
and the next time that he was riding by the Texans, and found them
drawn up on the side of the road, snow-balls in hand, he reined up
his horse, and said to them very quietly, “Throw your snow-balls
men, if you want to, as much as you please; but, if one of them
touches me, not a man in this brigade shall have a furlough this
winter. Remember that!” There was no more snow-balling for General
Longstreet’s benefit.

The officers at our head-quarters had a less innocent amusement
than pitching snow-balls. The great American game of poker
was played nearly every night. One of the most successful of
the gamesters was Major Walton, who was a kinsman of General
Longstreet, through whose influence he had received an appointment
in the Commissary Department. He really did general staff duty.
At one sitting Walton won $2,000 or more from Dr. Maury, who was
one of the Surgeons of the corps; and he caused much unfavorable
comment by sending to Dr. Maury for his winnings before that
gentleman was out of bed in the morning. There was hard drinking
as well as high playing; and it was reported that at the close of
one debauch General Longstreet had played horse with one of the
stronger officers of his staff, who on all-fours carried Longstreet
around and around the tent until the pair of them rolled over on
the ground together.

The head-quarters of General Lee were in the woods, and far from
luxurious. He was advised by his physicians to stay in one of
the houses near by, as many of his officers were doing, but he
declined to fare any better than his men did. There was no pomp or
circumstance about his head-quarters, and no sign of the rank of
the occupant, other than the Confederate flag displayed in front of
the tent of Colonel Taylor, the Adjutant-General.

It may not be out of place to mention the scale of prices that
prevailed in the Confederacy towards the close of the year 1862,
as I gave them in a letter to my mother: Shoes $30 a pair; common
calico shirts $10 each; socks $1 a pair; butter $2 a pound; turkeys
$15 each; matches 50 to 75 cents a box; ink 25 cents a bottle;
blacking $1 a cake; writing paper $2 a quire.


Early in 1863 Longstreet was placed in command of the Department
of Virginia and North Carolina, with head-quarters at Petersburg,
and with Hood’s and Pickett’s Divisions he moved to that place. An
effort to capture Suffolk, on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad,
was contemplated, and most of our command moved in that direction.
I remained at Petersburg during the operations, which were

It was, of course, very pleasant for me in the Cockade City, and
my pay had accumulated sufficiently to permit me to provide myself
with new uniforms, in the latest style and at extravagant prices.

There was considerable excitement in the city, in consequence of an
order that the pleasure horses of the citizens should be impressed
for the use of the artillery. To this there was a very decided
objection, and every manner of device was resorted to save the pet
animals. Some good people attempted to run off their horses into
the country, but pickets had been stationed along the roads and
the fugitives were easily captured. When the impressing officers
went around to examine the horses in town, they found horses in
the cellars and even in the dining-rooms. A carriage containing
three ladies and drawn by a pair of fine bay horses was going down
Sycamore Street when a guard ordered the driver to halt, and told
the ladies that it was his unpleasant duty to impress the team.
The ladies, who were young and pretty, declared that the horses
should not be taken. They tried both entreaty and expostulation,
but the guard was inexorable. The ladies then declared that if
the horses were taken they must be taken too, and thought they had
gained the victory. The guard did go away, but he quickly unhitched
the traces, and took the horses with him, leaving the ladies in
their carriage in all their glory. In some cases the impressment
was useless, as delicate horses were taken which were of no use for
service in the field.

The battle of Chancellorsville had been fought during our stay
around Petersburg, and the command was then hurried back to the
neighborhood of Fredericksburg. It was in May, 1863, I think, that
I returned there. The Gettysburg campaign began, but before this I
saw the review of the whole cavalry of the army at Brandy Station.
The enemy came in upon us shortly afterwards, and, in the very
beginning of the cavalry fighting, Colonel Sol. Williams, of the
1st North Carolina, was killed. He had been married to Miss Maggie
Pegram, Captain Robert B. Pegram’s eldest daughter, only about two
weeks before. The Adjutant of his regiment was John Pegram, Captain
Pegram’s eldest son, who was killed at Petersburg in 1864.

The march from Culpepper Court House through Chester Gap, in the
Blue Ridge, was very delightful to me, as the weather was fine
and the scenery was beautiful. I was particularly struck with the
scenery at Front Royal and Shenandoah. The Valley of Virginia then
showed few signs of war.

This time we crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. It was a dreary
day! The rain was falling in torrents. General Lee, General
Longstreet and General Pickett were riding together, followed by
their staffs. When we reached the Maryland shore we found several
patriotic ladies with small feet and big umbrellas waiting to
receive the Confederates who were coming a second time to deliver
down-trodden Maryland. As General Lee rode out of the water, one
of the ladies, with a face like a door-knocker, stepped forward
and said: “This is General Lee, I presume?” General Lee gave an
affirmative reply, and the lady continued: “General Lee, allow me
to bid you welcome to Maryland, and allow me to present to you
these ladies who were determined to give you this reception--Miss
Brown, General Lee; Miss Jones, General Lee; Miss Smith, General
Lee.” General Lee thanked them courteously for their attention, and
introduced General Longstreet and General Pickett to Miss Brown,
Miss Jones and Miss Smith. This was not the end of the affair,
however, as one of the ladies had an enormous wreath which she was
anxious to place on the neck of General Lee’s charger. The horse
objected to it seriously, and the wreath was turned over to one of
the couriers. The next morning we went into Hagerstown, where more
ladies were in waiting. There were more presentations to General
Lee and more introductions for Generals Longstreet and Pickett.
One fair lady asked General Lee for a lock of his hair. General
Lee said that he really had none to spare, and he was quite sure,
besides, that they would prefer such a souvenir from one of his
younger officers, and that he was confident that General Pickett
would be pleased to give them one of his curls. General Pickett did
not enjoy the joke, for he was known everywhere by his corkscrew
ringlets, which were not particularly becoming when the rain made
them lank in such weather as we then had. The ladies did not press
the request. When we resumed our march more ladies came to be
presented, but this time there were no petitions for a lock of
Pickett’s hair.

It was some satisfaction for me to pass once more through
Greencastle, where I had been bedeviled by both men and women
when taken there by the cavalry who captured me the year before.
Thence we went to Chambersburg, and I was amazed to find that
hundreds of sturdy well-dressed citizens were still in the town. In
Virginia there was hardly a white man to be found who was not in
the Confederate service, excepting the sick and those who were too
old or too infirm for any sort of military duty; and it gave us a
realizing sense of the strength of the enemy to see that they could
have so large armies in the field and leave so many lusty men in
peace at home.

The army behaved superbly in Pennsylvania. The orders against
straggling and looting were strict, and they were cheerfully
obeyed. It was on the march in Pennsylvania that I saw General
Lee, one morning, dismount from his horse and replace the rails of
the fence of a wheat field which had been thrown down by some of
our men. It was the best rebuke that he could have given to the

At Chambersburg I paid a visit to the jail in which I had been
confined, and found a number of Yankee soldiers in the yard. Had I
been so minded, I might have played upon them the malicious trick
of which the Chambersburg boys made us the objects when we were
there. Riding through the town, I recognized one of the citizens
who had been peculiarly kind to me when I was a prisoner, and who
had given me then an excellent dinner. I thought I would catechise
him a little, and called out in a loud voice: “Halt, there!” He
seemed rather nervous, and asked what I would have. “Do you live
here?” I asked. He said that he did. “Did you live here last year?”
He replied in the affirmative. “Were you here in September last,
when a number of Confederate prisoners were brought in?” He said,
“Yes, I was, but I did nothing against them.” Looking sternly at
him I said, “Do you remember me?” He said that he did not. “Well,
sir,” I continued, “I was one of those prisoners.” By this time
he was badly frightened, and I hastened to relieve him by saying
that my only object was to thank him for his kindness to me, and
ascertain if there was anything I could do for him in return. He
thanked me, but said that the town was so quiet that he needed no

Late in the evening I rode out of the town, and it was dark before
I came back. I was riding quite rapidly, and my horse, striking
his foot against one of the stepping stones in the middle of the
street, fell and threw me about ten feet over his head. As I went
down I heard a woman exclaim: “Thank God, one of those wicked
Rebels has broken his neck.” I was not hurt, and my horse was not
much injured, so I remounted and, riding to the sidewalk, informed
my unseen foe that the pleasure she anticipated was, at least,

The people generally were evidently greatly surprised at the
devotion of our men to General Lee, and made some rough remarks
about it. One old lady called out to an officer of ours as he
strode by: “You are marching mighty proudly now, but you will come
back faster than you went.” “Why so, old lady?” he asked. “Because
you put your trust in General Lee and not in the Lord Almighty,”
she replied.

I should mention here that the horse which I was riding was a fine
black gelding, which I had bought on our way to the Valley of
Virginia. A more thoroughly trustworthy animal I could not have
had, and he stood fire splendidly. I had two other horses at this
time, but always rode in action the black gelding I have just
spoken of. I had intended to have given him some fancy name, but my
boy Aleck dubbed him “Pete” the day I bought him, and by that name
he went.


On the march from Chambersburg we learned that General Meade had
been placed in command of the Union Army, and we pushed on towards
Gettysburg, where A. P. Hill’s Corps had been heavily engaged. This
day I was prostrated by sickness, and rode in an ambulance until
nearly night, when I managed to get on my horse and go down to
the battle-field. Longstreet himself has described admirably the
fighting the next day; and, careless as he generally was of himself
under fire, he nowhere else exposed himself more recklessly. One
charge he led in person, and some prisoners whom we captured, when
they learned who it was that had ridden in front of our advancing
line, said they might expect to get whipped when a Corps commander
exposed himself in that way to show his men how to fight.

The following day, July 3, the ever-memorable battle of Gettysburg
was fought. Every arrangement was made to shell the enemy’s
position, on Cemetery Hill, and follow this up by an attack in
force. The whole of the long range guns in the army were placed
in battery along the low range of hills which we occupied, and at
three o’clock the cannonading began. The enemy made prompt reply.
Three or four hundred pieces of artillery were being fired as
rapidly as the cannoneers could load them. Being in the centre of
the front line, I had an excellent view of the fight. It was a
hellish scene. The air was dotted with clouds of smoke where shells
had burst, and the fragments of shell and the solid shot were
screaming and shrieking in every direction. Through it all, General
Longstreet was as unmoved as a statue, watching placidly the
enemy’s lines. In the meanwhile Pickett’s Division had been formed
in readiness for the charge. Three of his brigades were present;
those of Kemper, Armistead and Garnett, composed exclusively of
Virginians. Prayers were offered up in front of Armistead’s brigade
and Garnett’s brigade, before the advance began. Garnett remarked
to Armistead: “This is a desperate thing to attempt.” Brave old
Armistead replied: “It is; but the issue is with the Almighty, and
we must leave it in his hands.” Just then a hare which had been
lying in the bushes, sprang up and leaped rapidly to the rear. A
gaunt Virginian, with an earnestness that struck a sympathetic
chord in many a breast, yelled out: “Run old heah; if I were an old
heah I would run too.” The artillery firing ceased, and the order
to advance was given. Pickett was in the centre, with Wilcox’s
Division on the right, and Pender’s, commanded by Pettigrew, on
the left. The thin grey line of Virginians moved as steadily as on
parade, the battle flags catching a deeper red from the sun. Well
in front of their brigades were Kemper, and Garnett, and Armistead.
The last named was bare-headed, his grey locks floating in the
breeze. Waving his sabre and hat in hand, he cheered on his men.
They did what men could do; but more had been expected of them
than mortal men could accomplish. Armistead was mortally wounded
inside the enemy’s works. Garnett was killed instantly. Kemper was
severely wounded, and supposed to be dying. My recollection is that
only one field officer in Pickett’s Division escaped unhurt.

The attack had been made and had failed. There was a terrible gap
in our line, and the enemy threatened to advance. In the meanwhile
the staff officers were busily engaged in rallying the men, who had
made their way back from the front. I suppose that I was the first
man to whom Pickett spoke when he reached the line. With tears
in his eyes, he said to me: “Why did you not halt my men here?
Great God, where, oh! where is my division?” I told him that he
saw around him what there was left of it. General Lee, of course,
took all the blame on himself. As was well said by a writer at
this time: “General Lee was grand on the smoke-crowned hills of
Petersburg, on the sanguinary field of Chancellorsville, and on
the tragic plains of Manassas; but when at Gettysburg he told his
men, ‘It is my fault’, he rose above his race, and communed with
the angels of heaven.” That sad night not more than three hundred
men remained to us of what had been one of the finest divisions
in the service. The remnants of the companies were commanded by
corporals and sergeants; regiments by lieutenants; and a brigade by
a Major. Never had Virginia suffered a heavier blow. The division
was composed of the flower of her children, and there was weeping
and desolation in every part of the Old Dominion.

It was in every way an ugly time. There was always considerable
difficulty in obtaining a sufficient supply of artillery
ammunition. The first trouble was in making it, and the second was
in finding transportation for it. At no time did we have so large
a reserve as was necessary. What was true of the artillery was
true in a less degree of the infantry. There was even some delay
on our march into Pennsylvania in consequence of the detention of
a train of ordnance wagons, which did not arrive when expected.
A brigade of infantry with a battery of artillery, was sent as
an escort; for had that train been captured it would have been
risking too much to advance farther. The terrible cannonade on
the third day at Gettysburg exhausted the whole of the artillery
ammunition in reserve. My recollection is, that there was no long
range ammunition left except what was in the caissons and limber
chests. Under such circumstances, and having lost so heavily in
the attack on Cemetery Hill, General Lee determined to retreat to
Virginia; but we lay one day at least on the field awaiting the
attack which Meade did not venture to make. The Union forces had
suffered severely; but they could stand the loss of men better than
we could; and they had a right to claim Gettysburg as a decisive
victory, for we had failed utterly in what we had undertaken.

The march back to the Potomac was dreary and miserable indeed.
The rain fell in torrents. The clothing of the men was worn and
tattered, and too many of them were without shoes. It was a
heart-breaking business, and gloom settled down upon the army. The
enemy’s cavalry made an attempt to cut us off at Williamsport,
where the river was too high for fording, and they would have
succeeded but for the gallantry of the wagoners and “Company Q”
(the stragglers, and the disabled men with the trains), who had a
free fight with them, and drove them back. We crossed the river
on a pontoon bridge, leaving the cavalry in the entrenchments at
Williamsport, and plodded our way back towards Winchester. Just
about this time we received the news of the fall of Vicksburg. It
needed only this to intensify the feeling that the star of the
Confederacy was setting.

Passing from grave to gay, I may mention here that a sad trick
was played on me by Captain Innes Randolph, an Engineer officer
at our head-quarters. While we were at Bunker Hill, on the way to
Winchester, he invited me to dine with him, saying that his mess
had a very fine ’possum, which would be a novelty to me if I had
not tasted that succulent dish. It was finely served, and merited
the encomiums that Randolph lavished upon it. He was careful,
besides, to tell me that I should find, as I did, that it tasted
very much like roast sucking pig. Two or three years afterwards
Randolph told me that this famous dish was not ’possum after
all, but a sucking pig which he had bagged in the neighborhood,
and which he had dubbed ’possum in order to spare me the pain of
banqueting on a dish that I knew to be ---- I was going to say
“stolen,” but we called it “captured” in the army.

Resuming our march, we passed through Millwood and Chester Gap,
where we had a slight skirmish with the enemy. One of our brigades
charged across a field which was thick with blackberry bushes. The
fruit was ripe, and as the men moved forward firing they would
pick the blackberries and hastily eat them. No troops ever showed
more indifference to danger, or took fighting more as a matter of
course, than the veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia.

We went into camp at Culpepper Court House, and remained there a
considerable time.


The army rapidly recovered its tone, and we heard that one corps
of the three was to be sent to Tennessee. The choice fell upon
Longstreet, who took with him Hood’s and McLaws’ Divisions of
Infantry and Alexander’s Battalion of Artillery. Pickett’s Division
was left in Virginia to recruit. There was much for me to do
preparing for the change of base, and I was permitted to remain a
day or two in Richmond on the way to the West. I stayed in Richmond
at the house of Mr. John H. Tyler, the father of Henry Tyler, who
was one of the Ordnance Sergeants with us, and a most excellent
fellow. From the first time that I went to Richmond after I made
his acquaintance, Mr. and Mrs. Tyler made their house like a home
to me; and until the end of the war, and long afterward, a chair
was kept as regularly for me at their table as though I had been
one of their sons. Their generous and unaffected kindness to me,
year after year, was more than I could ever hope to repay. God
bless them.

I was a day or two later than the corps in leaving Richmond; but
the cars were crowded with our soldiers, and when we reached
South Carolina we received attentions which had long ceased to be
common in Virginia, where the passage of large bodies of troops
was an every day occurrence. At Sumter, South Carolina, a number
of ladies were waiting for us on the platform, armed with bouquets
of flowers and with well filled baskets of cake, fruit and more
substantial fare. There was an abundance, too, of lemonade for the
dusty soldiers. But the good things were for the soldiers only.
Some ladies in the car were evidently faint with long fasting, and
a civilian who was with them asked a very pretty girl, who had a
large dish of cake and sandwiches, to give him a piece of the cake
for a lady in the car who really needed it. With the mercilessness
which one woman usually shows to another, the fair young patriot
told him jauntily that everything there was for the soldiers, and
that ladies and civilians must look out for themselves. Our men
were rather unaccustomed to so much kindness, in these days, but
they enjoyed it thoroughly. At Augusta, and at Atlanta, also, we
were most hospitably received.

I overtook the command and General Longstreet shortly after their
arrival at Chickamauga Station, and we had the satisfaction of
knowing that it was “the Virginia troops,” as they were called, to
whom was mainly due the glory of the victory we won at Chickamauga.
Our loss was severe, and Colonel Manning, my immediate superior,
was slightly wounded and placed _hors de combat_. This left me in
name, as in fact, in charge of the Ordnance Department of the corps.

I wish that I could remember precisely what took place the next
day, when I went with Major Walton to find General McLaws, in the
neighborhood of Chattanooga. We were exceedingly anxious that he
should drive right on after the enemy, but he made the objection
at once that the movement might not be successful, and would be
sure to be attended with heavy loss. He said, however, that he
would make the advance if we gave him an imperative order in
General Longstreet’s name to do so. This order we declined to
give, to my present regret, and General McLaws contented himself
with asking General Longstreet to send him some more ambulances.
When we reached General Longstreet late that night, and told him
what General McLaws had said, his only remark was a wish that the
ambulances were in a hotter place than Chattanooga. Longstreet did
not love McLaws, and preferred charges against him afterwards for
neglect of duty in the attack on Fort Sanders, at Knoxville.

The whole army came up, and the investment of Chattanooga began.
Our head-quarters were in the low ground, which was always under
water in winter, but we managed tolerably well as long as fine
weather lasted. Soon the rain began to fall steadily, and it was a
difficult matter so to arrange the ditches around our tents as to
save ourselves from being washed away at night.

Frank Vizetelly, the artist and correspondent of the _Illustrated
London Times_, joined us here; and with him was Captain Ross, of
the Austrian service. Ross was of Scotch descent, but was born in
Austria, and belonged to one of the crack light cavalry regiments.
There was a good deal of merry-making, and it was no uncommon
thing to see a half dozen officers, late at night, dancing the
“The Perfect Cure,” which was one of the favorite songs of the day
in the London music halls, and was introduced to our notice by

There were sharp discussions occasionally as to what should take
place when the war should be over and the independence of the
Confederate States was assured. Major Walton I had always disliked
heartily, and in one of our conversations he said that, when the
Confederate States enjoyed their own government, they did not
intend to have any “d--d foreigners” in the country. I asked him
what he expected to become of men like myself, who had given up
their own country in order to render aid to the Confederacy. He
made a flippant reply, which I answered rather warmly, and he
struck at me. I warded off the blow, and slapped his face. The next
morning I sent him a challenge by Captain Ross. Walton, however,
did not want a fight at this time, and offered to make an ample
apology in writing. A day or two passed, and as no apology came I
sent Ross to him again. Walton now took the position that he had
been hasty in his action, and that if he had not promised to do it
he would not make an apology at all. Ross told him very quietly, in
his quaint way, that he must please consider everything blotted out
that had taken place since he had borne the challenge, and that we
would begin it again at that point and settle the affair in any way
that Walton preferred. This brought Walton to terms, and he made
the apology I required.


The position of the army in front of Chattanooga was not as
strong as we supposed, and the enemy succeeded in reopening their
communications and obtaining supplies. There was no longer any
expectation that we should be able to starve them out, and it was
determined to make a diversion in another direction. The plan was
to detach Longstreet, who should pass down the Sweet Water Valley
and capture Burnside’s forces which were in the neighborhood of
Knoxville. Before going away, I was exceedingly anxious to complete
the equipment of our corps, but Bragg’s Chief of Ordnance, Colonel
Oladowski, was inordinately fond of red tape, and I should have
been in bad plight but for a quantity of Enfield rifles I had
prudently brought from Virginia with me. Oladowski could outcurse
any man in the army I ever met, except Jubal Early and M. W. Gary.
It was one of his boasts that he had “evacuate Murphreysboro with
zee whole army and lose only one grindstone.” It disgusted him,
too, that Colonel Manning should have been wounded. He said to me:
“My friend! what for Colonel Manning he go into zee fight?” I told
him it was the custom of our Ordnance officers to do so. “I tell
you sar,” said Oladowski, “he not go into zee fight for love zee
country. I know! I know! he go into zee fight to get promotion and
zee little furlough. Vell! vell! vell! I wish I was in h--ll ten
year before dis war begin!”

I learned afterwards that Oladowski was the Ordnance Sergeant at
the Baton Rouge Arsenal at the time the war began, and, of course,
not a man of education or position. He was a good-hearted fellow,
but I fear that after the disastrous defeat of Bragg’s army at
the battle of Missionary Ridge, after Longstreet’s departure, he
could not well have congratulated himself on having lost “only one

Early in November we left Chattanooga, and marched by the Sweet
Water Valley and Loudon to Knoxville. One of General Longstreet’s
most serious faults as a military commander was shown at this time.
To his knowledge we were to cut loose from our communications,
with no certainty that we should soon be able to re-establish
them. It would indeed be easy enough to live upon the country, but
we could not hope to find in the fields or the corn-cribs either
small-arm or artillery ammunition. Nevertheless, he gave me no
notice whatever that any extended movement was to be made, nor
did he warn me that I must be prepared to supply the army with
ammunition for the campaign. Not one word was said to me by him on
the subject. I had an inkling, however, of what was going on, and
obtained ample supplies. Had I not done so, we should have been in
an awkward predicament by the time that we reached Knoxville. Had
anything been lacking, it is certain that the blame would have been
placed on me. It is evident that it was Longstreet’s duty, as a
prudent commander, to confer with the chiefs of the several staff
departments, ascertain from them what was the condition of their
supplies, and inform them what was likely to be required. If he had
not such confidence in them as would permit him to give them the
necessary information, he should have removed them and put in their
places officers whom he could trust. It is certain that he could
have given the requisite instructions without divulging the details
of the movement.

At Loudon we found that the enemy had destroyed the bridge across
the Tennessee River and had smashed some locomotives and cars which
had been left there. The process was very simple. The trains were
made up, and when there was a full head of steam the throttles of
the locomotives were opened, and they were allowed to whirl along
the track until they reached the parapet of the bridge, whence they
bounded into the river below.

Crossing the river on an unstable pontoon bridge, we found
ourselves within striking distance of Burnside’s Corps at Lenoir
Station. For two days there was sharp fighting with the enemy’s
rear guard. Then our opportunity came. McLaws was ordered to press
on to Campbell’s Station, while Hood’s Division, under Jenkins,
took the road which follows the line of the railroad to Lenoir
Station. Jenkins made a vigorous advance, and Burnside found it
impracticable to move all his artillery and wagons. Some hundred
of the latter, loaded with subsistence stores, ammunition and
implements, were disabled and abandoned. The cannon powder lay on
the ground four or five inches deep. It was a pleasant place where
to smoke a quiet pipe, and several of my men indulged themselves in
that way to my great discomfort. The expectation was that McLaws
would reach the intersecting road in time to cut off Burnside, but
McLaws was behind time, as usual, and we did not bag our game.
General Sam Jones has just published an account of the Knoxville
campaign, and I give here what he says about the failure to
intercept Burnside:

  The march on the 16th was a race for position, but a slow one,
  because of the condition of the roads. McLaws was ordered to
  march as rapidly as possible to the intersection of the road on
  which he was marching with that which Jenkins was following, in
  the hope of reaching it before the Federals. General Longstreet
  was eager to force his adversary to accept battle, and General
  Burnside just as eager to avoid it until he could reach

  The distance from Lenoir to Campbell’s Station is about eleven
  miles. Jenkins’ instructions were to press the enemy vigorously
  and do his utmost to bring him to bay. The advance and rear
  guards were several times hotly engaged, the latter halting only
  long enough to cover the retreat and then following. About 11
  o’clock Jenkins’ division reached the junction of the two roads
  about a mile from Campbell’s Station. McLaws’ Division had not
  arrived, and the Federals had passed it.

  General McLaws’ orders were to move rapidly to Campbell’s Station
  and endeavor to reach that point before the Federals. His march
  during this day, the 16th, was as rapid as the condition of the
  roads would permit, and not materially retarded by the troops
  that General Hartranft had sent forward for the purpose, a
  small body of Colonel Hart’s cavalry keeping back the enemy’s
  skirmisher’s with but slight loss. By the time McLaws reached
  the vicinity of Campbell’s Station the Federals had been so
  closely pressed by Hood’s Division as to be obliged to face about
  and form line of battle, which they did about a mile from the
  station. When McLaws arrived he was ordered to deploy three of
  his brigades in front of the enemy and to put his other brigade
  (Humphrey’s) upon a ridge on his left, to threaten the enemy’s
  right, but not to show his division beyond the woods skirting the
  plain towards Campbell’s Station. Colonel Alexander placed his
  artillery in position and General Jenkins ordered three of his
  brigades, McLaws’ and Anderson’s, supported by Benning’s, around
  the enemy’s left flank, the movement being concealed by a wooded
  ridge, with instructions to attack vigorously. McLaws was to
  attack in front when he should hear Jenkins’ guns.

  This flank movement, which did not escape the vigilance of the
  Federals, caused them to fall back, a rather difficult and
  hazardous move to make in the face or an enemy. McLaws’ Division
  advanced promptly and brought them to a stand in their second and
  stronger position, about a mile further towards Knoxville. The
  ground over which McLaws’ and Anderson’s Brigades had to move
  to strike the enemy’s left and rear was very rough; over steep
  hills covered with a thick growth of scrub oak, which necessarily
  delayed them, while they were exposed to the fire of the enemy’s
  artillery. Before McLaws’, Benning’s and Anderson’s Brigades
  reached the left of the enemy’s position that position had been
  abandoned for the second and stronger one.

  General Longstreet earnestly desired a general engagement and
  did his utmost to compel his adversary to accept it before
  reaching Knoxville, rightly judging, it would seem, that to do so
  offered the best prospect for the success of his expedition. The
  opportunity was offered at Campbell’s Station. General Burnside
  was forced to halt there and form line of battle to cover his
  trains, which obstructed the road by which he was retreating.
  He held his position there six or seven hours, but before the
  Confederates could be placed in position night came on so dark
  and rainy that the attack could not be made. Ably seconded by his
  officers and the steadiness of his troops he skilfully extricated
  his command from a perilous position.

  “If,” says General Longstreet, “General Jenkins could have made
  his attack during this movement (the withdrawal from the first
  to the second position) or if he could have made it after the
  enemy had taken his second position, we must have destroyed
  this force, recovered East Tennessee, and in all probability
  captured the greater part of the enemy’s forces.” When such an
  opportunity is lost in a campaign blame is generally attached to
  some one or more commanders; and this was not an exception to
  the general rule. But when the weather and the condition of the
  roads is considered it is not surprising that their movements
  were not as rapid as could have been wished. The weather was most
  unfavorable; frequent rains, especially on the 13th and 14th,
  had rendered the steep and rugged roads almost impassable for
  artillery and wagons.


Burnside fell back to Knoxville, and we went into camp around the
town. The principal defensive work was Fort Sanders, which had
walls twenty feet high, with a ditch ten feet deep. Efforts were
made to guard the river, both below and above Knoxville, so as to
prevent Burnside from receiving supplies or reinforcements, and the
works were occasionally shelled. There was a good deal of delay,
for one reason and another, and we were so near the town that
we could hear the tunes played by the band at Fort Sanders. The
favorite air then was: “When this Cruel War is Over.” Finally, an
attack was ordered to be made on Fort Sanders, but, although our
men fought with their usual gallantry, they were driven back. This
was on the 29th of November. In front of the fort trees had been
cut, so as to fall with their branches outward, and wires had been
stretched from stump to stump to trip up any assailants. Our men
struggled through the abattis under a deadly fire, and some of them
crossed the ditch and climbed up the parapet, but they were hurled
back by the defenders of the fort, and thrown into the ditch. Hand
grenades were used by the garrison with great effect. A second
assault was tried, but equally in vain. These attacks cost us about
five hundred men.

In one of the attacks we made, Captain Winthrop, of the 44th Foot,
in the English army, who was on leave of absence, and had been
with us for some time, behaved with the most brilliant gallantry.
We were taking a hasty lunch in the breastworks under fire as the
assault began, and Winthrop rode off to see what was going on.
Finding that the troops were advancing, he rode out in front of
the line and right up to the enemy’s works, striking with his sword
at the soldiers who held them. In less time than it takes to tell
it he was lying on the ground with a big hole in his collar bone.
It was a very painful wound, but he recovered.

The attack on Knoxville having failed utterly, and tidings having
been received of the defeat of Bragg, at Missionary Ridge,
Longstreet raised the siege, and retreated to Virginia. The rest of
the winter we passed on the line of railroad between Knoxville and
Bristol, my head-quarters being at Russellville. The men suffered
frightfully. It is no exaggeration to say that on such marches as
they were obliged to make in that bitter weather they left the
bloody tracks of their feet on the sharp stones of the roads.

It was a bleak, desolate, inhospitable country, yet we managed to
have a merry Christmas, although there was considerable difficulty
in getting the requisite quantum of brandy to make egg-nog with.
The medical staff had plenty of whiskey and brandy, for the sick
and wounded, and a good deal of the stimulants went, I am sure,
to those who did not require them. There were some stills in the
neighborhood, and there was active demand for all the liquor these
could supply. I have known our people to fill their canteens
with the apple jack, as it dropped from the end of the worm, and
drink it delightedly, as soon as by immersing the canteen in a
branch they had cooled the liquor sufficiently to allow it to be
gulped down. I sent Henry Tyler on Christmas Eve to a place ten or
fifteen miles away to get a canteen of apple jack for our Christmas
egg-nog. Morning came, and he did not return. We were very uneasy,
as the woods were the favorite lurking place of bushwhackers. As
one of my men explained, “there was a whacker in every bush.” In
the middle of the day Tyler turned up. Overcome by the cold or
fatigue, he had gone to sleep in the middle of the road, and when
he awoke in the morning he found an empty canteen by his side, and
his horse standing a few paces off. But it was a hard winter, in
spite of egg-nog and apple jack.

Finding that there was no probability of an early move, I asked
permission to go down to Richmond for a few days. Leave was given
me, but I had to ride about sixty miles in intensely cold weather,
on a fiendishly obstinate and perverse mule, to reach Bristol,
where I took the cars for Richmond. By this time Confederate
soldiers were treated with scant respect by the railroad officials.
On our way to the Sweet Water Valley, I remember the conductor
quietly stopped the train and told us that we should not go on,
unless we cut a supply of wood for his engine. But it was worse
on the train that was to take us to Lynchburg. There was no fire
in the cars at night, and I really thought I should have frozen.
The men in the cars stood it as long as they could, and, when
they found that the conductor would do nothing for them, they
deliberately broke up the blinds of the car, and with these made a
fire which furnished sufficient warmth to keep us from freezing.
Had the conductor resisted, I believe the indignant Confederates
would have killed him; and in that case a jury of soldiers, at all
events, would have returned a verdict of justifiable homicide.

While at Mr. Tyler’s, at Richmond, I found that I had been
recommended very strongly for promotion to the rank of Captain;
but was informed that it was necessary that I should stand an
examination before the recommendation could be complied with.
It seemed rather an absurd thing that I should be required to
be examined, when General Longstreet and Colonel Baldwin, the
Chief Ordnance officer of General Lee’s army, had shown by their
recommendations that I was fully qualified for the duties that
I had to discharge. So I went to Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of
War, and told him what I thought of it. Kind old man as he was,
he listened to me very patiently when I explained to him that I
had been too long in the field to know as much as a youngster who
had just been graduated from college, and that if my promotion
depended upon my familiarity with Conic Sections and the Calculus,
I should probably remain a Lieutenant all my life. Mr. Seddon said
it was necessary to undergo an examination, but he would make an
endorsement upon the papers that would put me in a proper position.
The endorsement was this: “The Board, in examining Lieutenant
Dawson for promotion, will make due allowance for any deficiency in
theoretical knowledge which may have been caused by the engrossing
nature of his duties in the field.”

When I returned to head-quarters, I found that Colonel Manning had
recovered; and a Board, consisting of Manning and two Captains of
Artillery, was appointed to examine me. The examination was both
written and oral. I was to answer in writing certain questions
which had been sent from Richmond, and was then to be examined
by the members of the Board. The written examination was rather
wide in its scope, as it ranged from questions so simple as: “What
is the centre of gravity?” and “What is a logarithm?” to such a
question as this: “With a gun of a given calibre and at a given
elevation, and with a given charge of powder and a projectile of
a given weight, what will be the velocity of the projectile as it
passes the muzzle of the piece?” My answer to some such question
as this was: “I don’t know.” The oral examination was very funny,
as Colonel Manning insisted that the calibre of a 10-pound Parrott
was three inches, although I assured him it was only two and
nine-tenths. As may be imagined, taking Colonel Manning’s lack of
familiarity with Ordnance duty into account and the suggestive
endorsement of the Secretary of War, I passed my examination with
flying colors.

Colonel Manning was taken ill and obliged to leave us for a time,
and there was no event of importance, except a change in my
head-quarters from Russellville to Abingdon, until April, 1864,
when we were ordered to Gordonsville. On our way there I stopped
to see Colonel Manning, who was being taken care of at a private
house at Charlottesville, and to my great joy received from him my
commission as Captain of Artillery, dated April 2d, 1864.


On May 4th, Grant crossed the Rapidan, and the Wilderness Campaign
began. General Lee put his troops in motion, and the next morning
Ewell attacked Warren’s Corps. Grant immediately ordered Hancock
to attack A. P. Hill, and the battle raged until night. The fight
was renewed the next morning, when Hill was driven back in some
confusion. It was a critical moment for our army. Longstreet
arrived in time to change the tide of battle. Kershaw’s Division
was in front, and the men were eager to show their old comrades
that they had not become demoralized in the West. Without a pause,
they formed in line of battle, arrested the enemy’s advance, and
drove him rapidly back. General Lee put himself at the head of
the troops to conduct the attack in person, but the men swarmed
around him, telling him, with tears in their eyes, that he must
go back, and that if he would go back they would make short work
of the enemy. Everything went well with us for some time. General
Longstreet ascertained that the left of the enemy’s line extended
but a short distance beyond the Plank-road, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Sorrell, the Adjutant-General of Longstreet’s Corps, was sent to
conduct the brigades of Mahone, G. T. Anderson and Wofford around
the enemy’s left, and attack him on his left and rear. They did
this with perfect success, and the enemy fell back with heavy
loss to a position about three-quarters of a mile from our front.
It was the moment to make a bold stroke for victory. The whole
of Longstreet’s Corps, with R. H. Anderson’s Division, was to
be thrown _en masse_ against the staggering enemy. Longstreet,
with Colonel Sorrel, Captain Manning, of the Signal Corps, and
myself, with some couriers, rode down the Plank-road at the head
of our column. Just then, General Jenkins, who commanded a South
Carolina brigade in our corps, rode up, his face flushed with
joy, and, shaking hands with Longstreet, congratulated him on
the result of the fight. Turning then to his brigade, which was
formed in the road, Jenkins said: “Why do you not cheer, men?” The
men cheered lustily, and hardly had the sound died away when a
withering fire was poured in upon us from the woods on our right.
Jenkins, rising in his stirrups, shouted out: “Steady, men! For
God’s sake, steady!” and fell mortally wounded from his saddle.
Longstreet, who had stood there like a lion at bay, reeled as the
blood poured down over his breast, and was evidently badly hurt.
Two of General Jenkins’ staff were killed by the same volley. What
others thought I know not. My own conviction was that we had ridden
into the midst of the enemy, and that nothing remained but to sell
our lives dearly. The firing ended as suddenly as it began, and we
then learned that Longstreet had been wounded and Jenkins had been
killed, as Jackson was, by the fire of our own men. It was but the
work of a few minutes. We lifted Longstreet from the saddle, and
laid him on the side of the road. It seemed that he had not many
minutes to live. My next thought was to obtain a surgeon, and,
hurriedly mentioning my purpose, I mounted my horse and rode in
desperate haste to the nearest field hospital. Giving the sad news
to the first surgeon I could find, I made him jump on my horse, and
bade him, for Heaven’s sake, ride as rapidly as he could to the
front where Longstreet was. I followed afoot. The flow of blood was
speedily staunched, and Longstreet was placed in an ambulance.
Poor Jenkins also received every attention, but remained insensible
until he died.

The disaster which had befallen us arrested for a time the movement
of the troops, for none but Longstreet knew what General Lee’s
intentions were. Sadly riding back, surrounding the ambulance, we
met General Lee, and I shall not soon forget the sadness in his
face, and the almost despairing movement of his hands, when he was
told that Longstreet had fallen. It was a few minutes after twelve
o’clock when Longstreet was hit, and General C. W. Field, the
ranking Division Commander, took command of the corps. It was four
o’clock when the attack was made. By this time, the shattered lines
in our front had been restored, and our movement was unsuccessful.
It seemed a fatality that our onslaught should have been arrested
at the moment when the promise of victory was brightest. So ended
the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864.

The next day I ascertained how the sad accident had happened. The
woods are very dense in the Wilderness, and the dust was so thick
as to reduce every tree and shrub to one uniform shade of gray.
Mahone’s Brigade, which had formed part of the flanking column,
was drawn up parallel with the Plank-road, and about sixty yards
from it. The 6th Virginia became detached from the regiments on its
right or left, and lost its position in the woods. When the 6th
Virginia, isolated as it was, heard the cheering in front, the men
supposed that the enemy were upon them. Without orders one soldier
discharged his piece, and a volley was then fired by the whole
line, with the mournful result I have described.

General R. H. Anderson was now placed in command of the corps, and
with him my relations were pleasant from the beginning. Indeed, we
became close friends.


From the Wilderness the army moved parallel with Grant to
Spotsylvania Court House, where we had some desperate fighting. My
usual good luck followed me, and I came no nearer being hit than
having a solid shot strike the place where my feet had been resting
a moment before.

Baffling Grant completely at Cold Harbor, and forcing him to
abandon the line on which he had promised to “fight it out if it
took all summer,” we found ourselves, early in June, on our way
to Petersburg, crossing the river at Drury’s Bluff. We had with
us the divisions of Pickett and of Field, and were to move down
the Turnpike towards Petersburg, to occupy the lines from which
General Beauregard had withdrawn. This was on June 16th. It was
a delightful day, and General Anderson and his staff rode on a
considerable distance in advance of the troops. There was no more
expectation of encountering the enemy than we should have of
finding him in the streets of Charleston. When we neared Chester,
however, a Major Smith, who was in haste to reach Petersburg, and
had gone on ahead, came tearing back “bloody with spurring and
fiery red with haste,” and without his hat. We were at a loss to
understand what this meant, and he had not breath enough left to
tell us at the moment. As soon as he could speak, he said that
near the point where the railroad crossed the Turnpike he had seen
the Yankees in the woods as thick as bees; and a party of them
was then engaged in tearing up the line of railroad which formed
the only means of communication between the Confederate capital
and Petersburg. He was fired at, but his horse alone was hit; and
it was a lucky escape for us. Had we jogged on very much farther
we should have found ourselves in the hands of the enemy, who, it
seems, had pushed up from Bermuda Hundreds, on finding that the
lines in front of them had been vacated, and were about to make
good their occupation of the railroad. We halted in the road until
the leading regiment of our column came up, when it was deployed in
the woods, and advanced until it struck the enemy. The next day an
effort was made to recover our lost line; and on the 18th Pickett
took it with a rush. Kershaw had gone on to Petersburg. There we
had our head-quarters until near the end of June.

Petersburg had changed very much from the quiet, peaceful, drowsy
looking city it was when I first knew it. But it was an agreeable
place to be in, for one reason at least. During the Wilderness
campaign our rations had been reduced to five ounces of bacon and
twelve ounces of corn meal daily, and the country was so bare that
no additions could be made to our scant fare. At Richmond and
Petersburg there was little difficulty in obtaining provisions of
every kind, the joke being, however, that housekeepers took their
money to market in a basket and brought home in their pockets what
they had bought for dinner.

The Petersburgers had accommodated themselves to the changed
conditions with curious completeness. Shell frequently fell in
or passed over the city, and it was no uncommon thing for old
citizens, standing in the street discussing the prospects of the
day, to step quietly around a corner until an approaching shell
had passed by, and then resume their former place without even
suspending their conversation. The basements of houses were used
in many instances as bomb-proofs, the traverses being composed of
mattresses and bedding.

From Petersburg we went back to the North side of the James River,
and on July 28th captured a piece of artillery and some prisoners
near the Long Bridge Road.

Early in August General Anderson was summoned to Richmond for
consultation with President Davis and General Lee; and on August
7th we took the train for Mitchell Station, where Kershaw’s
Division soon arrived, and three days later Fitz Lee’s Cavalry
Division came up.

I should mention here that my friend Mr. Raines had suffered a
terrible loss. The enemy made a raid through Sussex County and
carried off a number of his negroes and nearly the whole of his
horses and mules. Fortunately, the raiders feared that they might
be cut off if they took the road by Belsches’ Mill-pond to the
Plank-road, and they did not pass by Mr. Raines’ residence, which,
therefore, was not destroyed. One of my riding horses which I
valued very highly was carried off by the cavalry. Mr. Raines and
his family were not at home at the time, having gone to Mechlenburg
County, where his son-in-law, Dr. Wm. H. Jones, resided. While I
was at Petersburg I became very unwell, and our Medical Director,
Dr. Cullin, told me that there was only one prescription that
he knew of that would cure me quickly, and that was a leave of
absence. Leave for fifteen days was given me, and I started off in
an ambulance to Sussex. When I reached there I found old Davie,
the butler (a counterpart of our own Levy, although considerably
older), in charge of the place, and the family absent. This did
not daunt me, although I was sadly disappointed. I hired a buggy
and went on to Mechlenburg. The plantation of Dr. Jones was near
Boydton, and I remained there about two weeks. The family consisted
then of Dr. Jones and his wife, the eldest daughter of Mr. Raines,
and their little daughter Anna; with Miss Anna Raines and Miss
Patty Raines, the daughters of my old friend; and Frank and Nat,
his sons. Miss Pinkie Morton and Miss Hattie Morton, nieces of
Dr. Jones, and his wards, were also there. The plantation was
large and valuable, the principal crop made on it being tobacco
of a fine quality. I found at the plantation a thoroughbred
Belshazzar colt, which I had bought in Tennessee; a fancy looking
cream-colored animal, with a long mane and tail, of which I
expected great things. His career was brief, and not particularly
glorious. When the Yankees made a raid through Boydton, after
General Lee’s surrender, they visited Dr. Jones’ house and carried
off my Belshazzar colt. He was loose in the pasture, and they had
considerable difficulty in catching him, as he jumped over the
fence whenever they got him in a corner. It was only by surrounding
him that they caught him at last.

The conduct of the Yankees at Dr. Jones’ was infamous in the
extreme. Mrs. Jones was on her death-bed, but the soldiers, after
tying Dr. Jones and putting him under guard, forced themselves into
her bed-room, and there in her presence broke open her bureau and
carried off what valuables they could find. It was well that they
did no worse.

The object of our expedition to the Valley, to which I now
return, I have never thoroughly understood, but I presume that it
was to act in concert with General Early, and do what mischief
we could. From Mitchell Station we moved through Culpepper and
Flint Hill to Front Royal. The weather was so beautiful that it
was hard to believe that we had any serious business before us.
An effort was made to obstruct our passage of the Shenandoah, a
river which is aptly named, if ever river was. With its clear
waters dancing and sparkling in the autumn sun, it deserved its
title as “Fair Daughter of the Stars.” Wofford’s Brigade was sent
forward to attack the enemy’s cavalry, and, according to our joke
at head-quarters, “Wofford swung his right and made a water-haul.”
Seriously, he was charged by the enemy, who had driven back our own
cavalry, and was compelled to retire with heavy loss. I think that
his Ordnance officer was among the killed.

The enemy withdrew, and from Front Royal we marched down the Valley
in pursuit. I then realized, as never before, the devastation of
war. Columns of smoke were rising in every direction from burning
houses and burning barns. Each time that we lighted our pipes that
day, it was with the burning embers taken from the ruins of what
a few hours before had been a happy home. The brutal Sheridan was
carrying out his fell purpose, and was soon in position to boast,
ruthless braggart as he is! that “If a crow wants now to fly over
the Valley of Virginia, he must carry his rations with him.” It
was the penalty that the Virginians of the Valley paid for their
devotion to the Confederacy, and, despite their fearful losses, the
time never came when a Confederate soldier could not obtain a crust
of bread from any Southern family there. They always contrived to
have something left, and whatever they had they were ready to share
with the ragged and hungry Confederates.

On the march, by the way, there was an exciting incident. General
Anderson, with the staff and couriers, was far ahead of the
infantry column, and we had a squadron of cavalry as our escort
and advance guard. A couple of shots were suddenly fired, and in
an instant our cavalry broke and came clattering to the rear. The
indignation of General Anderson was painful to see. He cried out
to our cavalry: “What manner of men do you call yourselves,” and
putting his hand involuntarily to his side, said: “Oh, if I had
my sabre!” Turning to his staff and couriers, he said: “Charge
those people in front,” pointing to the blue-coated cavalry, who
were as much astonished at coming upon us as we were at meeting
with them. It was a mutual surprise. The staff with the couriers
dashed at the handful of cavalry who had driven in our advance
guard, and we had a glorious race down the Turnpike to the suburbs
of Winchester. I think we captured four or five Yankees, without
any loss on our side, and my share of the plunder was a very good
McClellan saddle and a small sum in greenbacks. It was only fair,
I suppose, that we should confiscate the greenbacks which we found
in the possession of the men we captured, as we expected them to
take possession of what money we had whenever we were captured. It
is true that Confederate money was not likely to be as useful to
them as greenbacks were to us, but it would not have been patriotic
to make any distinction between the two currencies. I had paid $5
in Richmond for blacking my boots, and the negro who performed the
office would have felt himself well paid if I could have given him
instead a ten cent Yankee shin-plaster.

Near Charlestown, on August 26th, the enemy felt our position to
some purpose, and captured about one hundred men belonging to the
15th South Carolina Regiment, of Kershaw’s Brigade. Then we marched
and counter-marched and danced about in every direction, with no
definite object apparently, until September 3d, when we moved
out from Winchester, and attacked the enemy near Berryville, and
drove him away. It was at this time that the whole command could
have been gobbled up. We had only Kershaw’s Division with us,
the cavalry having been sent off on a reconnaissance. The enemy,
in overwhelming force, came upon us, and General Anderson reached
the conclusion that nothing but audacity would save us. Presenting
as bold a front as if the whole of the Army of Northern Virginia
were with us, and bringing our wagon trains right up to the line
of battle, he opened on the enemy with our artillery. To our
great surprise and relief the game was successful, and the enemy
drew off. General Early arrived the next morning, and his first
salutation was: “General Anderson, those Yankees came mighty near
getting you yesterday.” General Anderson’s only reply was: “Yes
General, and it is not your fault that they did not.” It was a
strange business anyway. General Anderson ranked General Early, but
did not wish to take command of his troops, as he would necessarily
have done had the two commands operated together. The result was
that the two commands swung corners and chasséed in every direction
to no good purpose, that any of us could see. It was a delightful
sort of military pic-nic, and in that sense everybody enjoyed it.

In September we were ordered back to Culpepper, and the march
through the Luray Valley, in delicious weather, put us in excellent
spirits. General Anderson said to me one morning, looking up at the
blue peaks which were frowning down upon us, that it would be the
height of happiness, for him, to lie on the top of one of those
mountains all day long and roll rocks down its rugged sides.

The day before we reached Culpepper I found myself very nearly
afoot. Two of my horses were missing, and so was my servant, Aleck.
This boy had been with me from the time that I returned from Fort
Delaware, and was as faithful a servant as one could desire to
have. He had charge of my clothes, and generally kept my purse.
No one could have been more conscientious and trustworthy than he
appeared to be; but he was gone this time, and so were the horses.
Taking one of the couriers, an Alabamian, named Spencer (who was
afterwards appointed Aide-de-Camp to Colonel Sorrell, when that
officer was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General), I rode
back in pursuit of the runaway. For two days and nights we kept
on his trail, but were unable to overtake him, and as we were
uncomfortably near the main body of the enemy’s troops, we returned
to Culpepper, finding that our people had reached that place just
in time to drive off a raiding party which had pounced down upon
the village. Long afterwards I met Aleck in Petersburg, and asked
him what he meant by stealing my horses. He grinned and said:
“Mas’r Frank, I didn’t go for teef dem horse, but dere was a gal
back dere in Winchester I was bound to see, and when I git dere de
Yankee tek my horse and I couldn’t git away again.” This excuse
served as well as any would have done.

Kershaw’s Division was sent back to reinforce Early, and we went
on to Richmond and thence to Swift Run, between Richmond and


General Anderson’s first visit was to General R. E. Lee, who was
at dinner, and insisted on our dining with him. It was the most
uncomfortable meal that I ever had in my life. General Lee was fond
of quizzing young officers, and my frame of mind can be imagined
when General Lee spoke to me in this way: “Mr. Dawson, will you
take some of this bacon? I fear that it is not very good, but I
trust that you will excuse that. John! give Mr. Dawson some water;
I pray pardon me for giving you this cup. Our table service is not
as complete as it should be. May I give you some bread? I fear it
is not well baked, but I hope you will not mind that,” &c., &c.,
&c.; while my cheeks were red and my ears were tingling, and I
wished myself anywhere else than at General Lee’s head-quarters.

On September 28th, General Anderson was ordered to move to the
North side of the James River and assume command there. Early the
next morning he and his staff and couriers set out for Chaffin’s
Bluff. We had ridden some miles when a courier came up in a
condition of desperate excitement, and told us that the enemy in
great force had attacked the works on the North side of the river,
near Chaffin’s Bluff, had captured Battery Harrison, and were
probably by this time in Richmond. Sending him on to General Lee’s
head-quarters, we put spurs to our horses and rode at a gallop
to the river, where we crossed the pontoon bridge and found the
condition of affairs almost as bad as had been described. Nothing
but want of dash on the part of the enemy had prevented them from
taking Richmond. The lines had been held by four or five hundred
men of our command, with a small number of the Home Guard from
Richmond, and when the enemy had taken Battery Harrison the roads
were open to them and they had nothing to do but march right into
the Confederate Capital. Fortunately for us, they believed us to
be much stronger than we were and waited for reinforcements. Only
one hundred and fifty men occupied Battery Harrison when it was
attacked. In the afternoon Laws’ Brigade came to our assistance,
and with Gregg and Benning repulsed a desperate attack made by the
enemy on Battery Gilmer. Here we saw that colored troops could be
made to fight for one dash at all events. They came right up to the
fort very resolutely, but, encountering an obstinate resistance,
they gave way completely and took refuge in the ditch, where they
were easily disposed of. It was just the sort of fight that any one
would like. Shells with the fuses cut to a half second were thrown
into the ditch and played havoc with the terror-stricken negroes.

The next morning, September 30th, General Lee having obtained
reinforcements, an effort was made to retake Battery Harrison. The
attack was not well arranged apparently, and failed completely. A
new defensive line was therefore taken up and fortified, and the
enemy were left to make the most of their barren conquest.

There was no fighting of much importance after this until October
7th, when we made an attempt to turn the enemy’s right and drive
him back to the river. At first the movement was completely
successful and we captured nine pieces of artillery and some
prisoners, but when we struck the enemy in position near the
New Market Road we were repulsed and General Gregg was killed.
It was on this day, unless I am mistaken, that, in a cavalry
charge, Colonel A. C. Haskell, of the Seventh S. C. Cavalry, was
desperately wounded, and for a time in the hands of the enemy.
Volunteers were called for to make a charge and recover the body,
and one of these volunteers was C. S. McCall, of Bennettsville, who
is now State Senator from Marlboro’ County, in this State, and as
gallant a soldier and as good a fellow as we had in the army. There
was a touching incident this day when Gregg’s Brigade had been
repulsed and Gregg had fallen mortally wounded. General Lee, with
General Anderson and a number of officers, was watching the attack,
when a boy apparently about eighteen or nineteen years old, his
uniform dabbled with blood and his arms hanging limp by his sides,
came up to General Lee, and nodding to him said: “General! if you
don’t send some more men down there, our boys will get hurt sure.”
General Lee asked him if he was wounded. “Yes, sir,” he replied.
“Where are you wounded?” asked General Lee. “I am shot through both
arms, General; but I don’t mind that General! I want you to send
some more men down there to help our boys.” General Lee told him
that he would attend to it, and directed one of his staff officers
to take charge of this poor boy and see that he was properly cared

In a letter which I wrote to England about this time, I gave the
price of different articles in Confederate money: a pair of cavalry
boots $350; coffee $15 a pound; sugar $10 a pound; a linen collar
$5; a pocket handkerchief $10; Richmond papers 50 cents each;
tobacco, which two years before was 25 and 30 cents a pound, was
selling at $8 or $9 a pound. For the making of a pair of trowsers I
paid $100.


A sudden and very welcome change in my position now took place.
I cannot say that my connection with General Longstreet had been
pleasant to me personally, for the reason that he was disposed to
be reserved himself, while the principal members of his staff, with
two exceptions, were positively disagreeable. Colonel Sorrell, the
Adjutant-General, was bad tempered and inclined to be overbearing.
Colonel Fairfax was clownish and silly, and Major Walton, whom
I have mentioned before, was always supercilious. Colonel Osman
Latrobe was courteous enough at all times, and Colonel Manning was
exceedingly kind and considerate. Besides Colonel Manning, I had
not a friend on the staff. The staff had “no use” for me, which
was perhaps not surprising, as I was a stranger and a foreigner,
and I was on no better terms with them in 1864 than I had been in
1862. Still I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had a good
reputation in the army as an officer, and that it was known at
General Lee’s head-quarters that the whole responsibility in the
Ordnance Department of the corps rested upon me. General Anderson
had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General, and was to
take command of a corps at Petersburg when General Longstreet
should return to duty, and he was kind enough to tell me that if
Colonel Baldwin, the Chief of Ordnance of the army, would consent
to the transfer, he would take me with him to Petersburg, and make
me Chief Ordnance Officer of his corps. This would have given me
the rank of Major or Lieutenant-Colonel. I rode over to Petersburg
to see Colonel Baldwin, and he told me that he would be delighted
to see me promoted, and would order the assignment to be made.
Unfortunately, though properly, General Anderson, upon reflection,
came to the conclusion that it would not be just to Captain E. N.
Thurston, who had been his Ordnance Officer while he was in command
of a division, to promote me over his head, and that he ought to
make Captain Thurston his Chief Ordnance Officer. I assented, of
course, but was determined to seize any opportunity that offered
to leave Longstreet’s Corps. As far back, indeed, as the month of
June I had made a written application to be relieved from duty with
the command. The opportunity came when I least expected it. General
Fitzhugh Lee, a nephew of General R. E. Lee, while in the command
of the cavalry in the Valley of Virginia had lost his Ordnance
Officer, Captain Isaac Walke, of Norfolk, Virginia, who was killed
in action, to the deep regret of his comrades. Through some kind
friend General Lee heard of me. It seems that he had told Colonel
Baldwin and others that he wanted an officer to take Captain
Walke’s place, who was both “a good officer and a gentleman.” To
my great pleasure I was recommended to him. He made application
for me, and I was relieved from duty with Longstreet’s Corps and
directed to report to General Fitz Lee at Richmond. This was in
November, 1864.

General Longstreet had already resumed command of the 1st Corps,
and I have not seen him since I took leave of him before I went to
join Fitz Lee. The reputation that Longstreet had as a fighting
man was unquestionably deserved, and when in action there was no
lack of energy or of quickness of perception, but he was somewhat
sluggish by nature, and I saw nothing in him at any time to make
me believe that his capacity went beyond the power to conduct a
square hard fight. The power of combination he did not possess,
and whenever he had an independent command he was unsuccessful.
A better officer to execute a prescribed movement, and make such
variations in it as the exigencies of the battle required, would
be hard to find, but he needed always a superior mind to plan
the campaign and fix the order of battle. It should be said of
Longstreet, especially in view of his political course since the
war, that he never faltered or hesitated in his devotion to the
Confederate cause. A stauncher soldier the South did not have, and
at Appomattox, when hope was gone, and General Lee, to prevent
the useless loss of blood, was prepared to surrender, Longstreet
pleaded for permission to take the remnant of his men and endeavor
to cut his way through the surrounding enemy. But Longstreet was
a soldier, and nothing else. Of the principles that underlay
secession he knew nothing, and when we were defeated, and the war
was over, he considered that might had made the North right, and
that he could, without any impropriety, go over to the victors. The
whirligig of time brought its revenges, however, when Longstreet,
at the head of the Metropolitan Police in New Orleans, endeavoring
to maintain, by armed force, the political supremacy of the
“carpet-baggers,” was confronted and routed by the old soldiers of
his corps, whom he had again and again led to victory in Virginia.
They spared him in remembrance of what he had been, but they drove
his Metropolitan Police like rabbits before them.

I have come across a note written by Mr. Frank Vizetelly, of the
_Illustrated London News_, in 1864, in response to enquiries of one
of my relatives in London, where Mr. Vizetelly then was. I give
what he says, as the testimony of one who knew me while I was with
Longstreet. The note is as follows: “Will you tell your friend that
I knew Lieutenant Dawson very well indeed. He is Ordnance Officer
to General Longstreet, and when I left the Confederacy, at the end
of January, he was quite well. He is very much liked, and is a very
good officer, and, I have no doubt, will make his way.” I should
like to quote here also what was said by the Richmond _Examiner_,
in 1863, about the Englishmen then in the Confederacy:


  Wherever and whenever a war for freedom is given, there
  Englishmen will be found, not for glory only, but for the
  natural bull-dog love of fighting and the inborn British love
  of the just cause and the weak side. Thus we find on the side
  of Yankee tyranny but one Englishman, Sir Percy Wyndham, who
  has lately quitted the Lincolnites in disgust; while on our
  side we find Colonel Grenfell still firm in his affection for
  the Stars and Bars; Captain Byrne, who lost a leg at Manassas,
  and insists upon fighting through the war; Captain Gordon of A.
  P. Hill’s staff, who acted so gallantly at Fredericksburg; and
  many others, in both our Army and Navy. Among these “others”
  the name of Lieutenant Dawson deserves mention. Lieutenant D.,
  a youth of eighteen or nineteen, insisted on coming over in the
  _Nashville_. Captain Pegram’s sense of duty would not permit him
  to receive him as a passenger, so he shipped before the mast as a
  common sailor, and in that capacity did his duty faithfully and
  manfully. Arrived in this city, he at once joined the Purcell
  Battery as a private, and was wounded in one of the battles
  on the Chickahominy. As soon as his wound was well, General
  Randolph very justly promoted him to a Lieutenancy, which post he
  continues to fill with distinction and credit to the service. We
  bid him and the rest of his Anglo-Confederate comrades God speed,
  good luck, and plenty of promotion, for they are sure to deserve
  it. And if they are disposed to settle down in Dixie, we have no
  objection to their forming an alliance with some of our pretty
  Southern girls.


It was on November 10, 1864, that General Fitz Lee applied for
me, and in a letter written to my mother at the time I said that
General Longstreet was very reluctant to give me up. I must say
that he did not show any particular interest in retaining me as
long as no one else wanted me. General Fitz Lee was in Richmond,
having been wounded in the Valley. I reported to him, and was
then directed to go to Harrisonburg, Va., and report to General
T. L. Rosser, who was then in command of General Lee’s Division.
I found that the head-quarters were near Harrisonburg, and was
made most cordially welcome there. Lieutenant Charles Minnigerode,
son of Dr. Minnigerode, of Richmond, was aide-de-camp to General
Lee, and he and I took a great fancy to each other immediately.
The other officers of the staff were Major Robert M. Mason, Chief
Quarter-master and acting Inspector-General of the Division; Major
W. B. Warwick, of Richmond, Chief Commissary; Dr. Archie Randolph,
Medical Director. Major J. Du Gué Ferguson, of Charleston, the
Adjutant-General of the Division, had been taken prisoner, and was
not with the command. Major Bowie, the Inspector-General, had been
wounded at Spotsylvania, and did not rejoin the division. A better
set of fellows than Fitz Lee’s staff it would have been difficult
to find. They formed in truth, according to the old phrase,
the military family of General Lee. There was no bickering, no
jealousy, no antagonism. We lived together as though we were near
relatives, and I have the fondest and truest affection for every
one of them. Major Mason is a first cousin of General Fitz Lee, and
I have not seen him for several years. Archie Randolph I have not
heard of since the war ended. Minnigerode was the last man wounded
in the Army of Northern Virginia. He was struck near the spine
by a rifle ball while riding along the lines to give the order
to cease firing, when the last flag of truce had been displayed
at Appomattox. For many months he was paralyzed, but he has now
entirely recovered, and when I last heard of him he was living in
New Orleans.

I found that it was no joke to organize the Ordnance Department of
a couple of divisions of Confederate cavalry, but I adapted myself
to circumstances, and, having some good assistants, was able to
get everything in tolerably good order. We then set out on a raid
into Hardy County, West Virginia, for the purpose of capturing
horses and cattle. The command, under the leadership of General
Rosser, had made a week or two before a very successful raid upon
New Creek, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. They had captured
the place and brought off a vast quantity of stores of different
descriptions. The present raid was not so eventful. I had not known
what cold was before this. The snow lay on the ground a foot deep,
and the wind was so keen and bitter that it was difficult to face
it. For miles the road lay on a narrow ledge, the mountain rising
like a wall on the right, while on the left there was a nearly
perpendicular fall of six hundred feet to the Valley below, where a
brook, held in icy chains, was shining in the sun. One slip would
have sent horse and rider headlong to the bottom of the precipice.
Through such scenes as this we rode for a week without any serious
accident. Right in the midst of the mountains we came upon the
charming residence of Mr. Cunningham, who was living in a manner
that seemed entirely out of keeping with the wilderness around
him. In his house there was every comfort, with many a luxury that
in the Confederacy we had almost forgotten. Miss Annie Cunningham
was one of the prettiest women I have ever seen, and became at once
the centre of attraction with our young officers. With sleighing
parties during the day and singing and dancing at night, our short
stay in Hardy County was inexpressibly pleasant. After we left
them, as the spokesman of the enamored staff, and not speaking in
any sense for myself, I wrote a passionate epistle to Miss Annie,
which was entrusted to one of our scouts for delivery. In it I
put all the pretty phrases which were suggested by the occasion
and the object. Unluckily for me, the note did not reach the fair
Annie, but fell into the hands of the Yankees, and was published
afterwards in one of the Baltimore papers as a specimen Confederate
love letter.

There was a good deal of talk at head-quarters about Captain
Charles Cavendish, who reported to General Fitz Lee for duty at, or
about, the time that General J. E. B. Stuart was killed, at Yellow
Tavern, and who was now absent on leave. Cavendish represented
himself to be a cousin of the Duke of Devonshire, and said he held
a commission in the 18th Hussars. I knew him quite well later on,
and it is indubitable that he was a thorough soldier. General Fitz
Lee told me that just when Cavendish reported to him the enemy
were attacking in force, and one of our regiments was ordered to
charge. Cavendish was well mounted and handsomely equipped, and
asked General Lee’s permission to go in with the regiment. This
permission was at once given, and Cavendish rode off. Ten minutes
later he returned with his saddle on his head, saying that “a
blasted Yankee had fired at him from behind a tree and killed
his horse.” This was a fact. Cavendish, however, shot the Yankee.
There was some things about Cavendish that our fellows could not
understand. Riding through the woods one day, he tore the leg of
his trousers, and a bare red leg was plainly visible. Minnigerode
expressed his surprise at the sight, when Cavendish bluntly
informed him that in England gentlemen never wore drawers. The
matter was referred to me for decision, and I was unable to confirm
what Cavendish had said. It is the fact, however, I think, that
the privates and non-commissioned officers in the crack cavalry
regiments in England wear nothing but the trousers, in order to
secure a closer and better fit. Cavendish remained with us for some
time, and in Richmond led a very wild life. As usual in such cases,
he became short of money, and his drafts on his noble relatives
in England were freely discounted. Cavendish went away, and the
drafts came back dishonored. Inquiries were then made about him in
England, and it was ascertained that he was most inappropriately
named Short, and that he had been a corporal or sergeant in one of
the English cavalry regiments. Cavendish was punctilious, however,
in the discharge of his duties at our head-quarters, and paid his
mess bills as promptly as any one else.


After our return from Hardy County, bringing with us a large drove
of cattle, we established our head-quarters at a railroad station,
eight or ten miles beyond Staunton. General Early was down the
Valley, in the neighborhood of Harrisonburg, and a large body of
the enemy’s cavalry moved up to attack him. They expected to make
a raid on Gordonsville, if they did not encounter Early. On the
Monday before Christmas day, 1864, we moved out from camp with
our division, and marched to Harrisonburg. It was desperately
cold, and the sleet froze as it fell. My hat by the evening was as
stiff as a board, and had a heavy fringe of icicles. The horses
were slipping and sliding at every step, and the thirty miles
seemed like fifty. We rested for a few hours at Harrisonburg,
and General Rosser ascertained where the enemy’s cavalry, under
Custer, were to encamp for the night. At one o’clock in the morning
we moved out again, the plan being to go by devious paths to the
neighborhood of Custer’s camp, and there attack him at daybreak.
Our whole effective force did not exceed five or six hundred men.
The march was conducted with great judgment, and a little before
daybreak, with no alarm given, the division formed in the woods on
the edge of the open fields where, surrounded by blazing fires of
fence rails, Custer’s troopers lay. The rattling of the sleet and
the howling of the wind had effectually concealed our movements;
but the men were almost stiff with cold, and it was hard to see
how they would manage to handle their carbines or sabres. Just
before daybreak the order to charge was given. I was with General
Rosser at the head of the column, and I shall never forget the
astonishment of the Yankee sentinel, who, as our horses came upon
him like ghosts from the bosom of the darkness, fired his carbine
in the air, and cried out: “My God, where do all those men come
from!” It was a complete surprise, and in ten minutes, and with
very small loss to ourselves, we had driven Custer and his entire
command, consisting of about 2,000 men, out of their camp, and sent
them whirling down the Valley. I was slightly wounded in the left
leg, but not disabled from duty. Custer was in a farm house near
by, and the story goes that, when he made his escape, he was in the
condition that Cavendish would have been in, if he had lost his
trousers entirely.

After the first dash, which, happily for us, accomplished what
was desired, our men were very hard to hold. Had Custer attacked
us, I do not think that we should have stopped short of Staunton.
Expecting a counter charge, I tried, with General William H.
Payne, (“Billy” Payne of the Black Horse Cavalry) to rally
some of our men on the colors; but when I had gathered a dozen
or two together, and started after some more, the first squad
melted away into the woods. By common consent, the whole command
withdrew. Custer had gone off one way, and our people had gone off
quietly in the opposite direction. No one remained but General
Rosser, Minnigerode, Mason, Archie Randolph and I. General Rosser
suggested that we might as well go on after Custer, and see what
he was doing, and we moved down the Turnpike, following Custer’s
rear-guard at a respectful distance.

Three or four hundred yards away, on our right, coming along a
converging road, was a body of thirty or forty men. They had their
oil-cloths on, and it was difficult to tell who they were; but
I had an unpleasant conviction that they were Yankees. We were
approaching fast the forks of the road where we should meet them,
and I ventured to suggest to General Rosser that they were not our
men, but he insisted that they were not Yankees, and that, anyhow,
we had better go on and see. So we went on. We were not more than
a hundred yards away when the strangers halted, and were evidently
preparing to fire. The imperturbable Rosser remarked very serenely:
“Well, Dawson, you are right, those fellows are Yankees, but there
are not many of them. Let’s charge them.” And we four did charge
them; and, to our amazement and relief, the Yankees put spurs to
their horses and galloped off down the Valley. As often happens in
war, audacity had saved us. Nothing would have been easier than for
those Yankees to have gathered us in, for we were half frozen, and
our horses were worn out with hard riding.

We rode back to Harrisonburg, and having accomplished what was
desired, and given General Early time to withdraw his wounded
and stores, we retired to Staunton. There we were soon joined by
General Fitz Lee.

Staunton is a hospitable place, and few days passed without an
invitation to a dinner or a dancing party. I realized completely
the delightful difference between my position with Longstreet, and
my position with General Lee. By General Lee we were treated always
as if we were his kinsmen, but, intimate and affectionate as our
intercourse was, no one of us could ever forget the respect due to
his rank. What we did for him, however, was just as much for love
as it was for military duty.

From Staunton, we now moved to Waynesboro’, where there was much
merry-making, and Minnigerode fell in love again, and secured a
provisional sweetheart. Soon we were hurried to Richmond to head
off a raiding party of the enemy.

One way and another I saw a good deal of General Rosser, and to
my mind, there were few officers in the service who had as much
military genius as he had. Instinctively, he seemed to know what
was best to do, and how to do it. It appeared almost impossible
to tire him, or to break him down, and I have known him to ride
day after day for a couple of weeks with a running wound in his
leg. Had he had the unlimited command of horses and material that
the cavalry Generals on the other side had, we should have known
little peace in the Confederacy. Unfortunately, however, there was
something lacking in Rosser’s character, which I can best express,
perhaps, by repeating a warning which was given me soon after I
joined the command. It was this: One of my fellow officers said to
me, “If Rosser gives you any order to deliver for the movements
of troops in action, be careful to get that order in writing, and
then, if anything goes wrong in consequence of the order, it cannot
be said that the fault is yours.”


We camped below Richmond, and I obtained leave of absence to go
to Boydton for a few days, and from Boydton I crossed over into
North Carolina to make a visit to a friend who was staying there.
The Roanoke River was so high that the ferryman was unwilling to
cross; but by the payment of $250 in Confederate money I succeeded
in inducing him to take me over. It was a foolish performance, as
the chances were ten to one that we should not be able to make
a landing on the other side. From North Carolina I then went to
Stony Creek, where I was told that our division was. This little
railroad station, which had looked when I first saw it, in 1862, as
if it were not visited by ten persons in a month, was now a busy
military post, several thousand Confederates being encamped around
it. Finding that I had been misinformed, I hurried by a circuitous
route to Richmond, the enemy having possession of the railroad
between Stony Creek and Petersburg. I reported for duty just as the
division was on the march from Richmond. Through Powhatan County
we rode, and, as ours was the first large body of troops that had
passed through that happy place, the scenes of the early months of
the war were repeated, to the satisfaction and surprise of our men.
Ladies came out to the roadside with cakes and sandwiches and milk,
and our people enjoyed themselves thoroughly. It is true that there
were rather more of us than even the hospitable people of Powhatan
could accommodate. The ladies there were very much in the plight of
a good woman to whose house I went in the first Maryland campaign.
I rode up to ask for a glass of water, and, before I had said
what I wanted, was told that I really could not get breakfast, as
there was nothing left in the house. The kind soul told me that she
had made up her mind, when she heard that General Lee’s army was
coming, to give every one of his soldiers something to eat, and,
when she had stripped the smoke-house bare, and used up every dust
of meal, she was warned that only one division of the army had gone
by. Then she gave up her generous purpose in something very much
like despair.

This time we did not strike the enemy, as expected, and returned
to Richmond, stopping for a day in Powhatan, at the house of Mr.
Harris, the brother of Major Harris, who was Beauregard’s Engineer
Officer at Charleston, and who planned the more important defences
around that City. From Richmond we rode to Petersburg, and General
Fitz Lee was placed in command of the cavalry corps of the Army of
Northern Virginia, consisting of three divisions.


The end was now very near. On March 30th, 1865, we dined at Mrs.
Cameron’s, in Petersburg, and rode out late in the evening to
overtake the command, which had gone towards Five Forks. The
greater part of the night we were in the saddle, and what rest I
had was on a couple of fence rails in a corn field. It was raining
heavily. Early in the morning of March 31, our line was formed
at Five Forks, as it is called, a place where five roads meet.
A blacksmith’s shop that was there furnished, when pulled down,
excellent material for a breast-work. One of our servants came
up and made some coffee for us, and those who know how hot poor
coffee, in a tin cup, can be, will understand what our feelings
were when the cavalry of the enemy drove in our pickets just as
we were about to enjoy the refreshing draught. We did not wait
for the cavalry, and we took our coffee with us. Later in the
morning the enemy, supported by infantry, attacked us in force.
Our men were fighting dismounted, and at first were driven back
in some confusion. General Payne was severely wounded, and I had
just time to shake hands with him as he was taken to the rear.
I did not see him again until the next year, when he was living
quietly at his own home, at Warrenton. It was very difficult to
rally the men. For the moment they were completely demoralized.
One fellow whom I halted as he was running to the rear, and whom
I threatened to shoot if he did not stop, looked up in my face in
the most astonished manner, and, raising his carbine at an angle
of forty-five degrees, fired it in the air, or at the tops of the
pines, and resumed his flight. It made me laugh, angry as I was.
There was only one thing to do, and that was to order a charge all
along the line. The bugles sounded, and the very men whom it had
been impossible to stop a few minutes before turned and attacked
the enemy with an impetuosity that bore everything before it. The
difficulty was, indeed, to keep the men from going too far. Their
blood was up; they were mortified that they should have been thrown
into confusion; and there was much trouble in preventing them from
running right in upon the main body of the enemy.

There was a pause now in the operations, and General Pickett had
joined us with his division of infantry. My dear old friend, Willie
Pegram, who was by this time Colonel of artillery, was there with a
part of his battalion. It was a great happiness to me to clasp his
true hand again. The next day he was slain--dying, as he had hoped
and prayed that he might, when the last hope of the Confederacy
was gone. This pure, sweet, brave man, a type of the unaffected
Christian soldier, remained on his horse when the Federal infantry
poured in over our works, and fell to the ground mortally wounded,
at the very end of the fight. To Gordon McCabe, his Adjutant, who
was with him then, he spoke his last words: “I have done what I
could for my country, and now I turn to my God.”

Towards evening a desperate charge was made by W. H. F. Lee’s
Division, in which we lost heavily. The movement was taken up
by the divisions in the centre and on the left, and we broke
the enemy’s infantry and scattered them like chaff before us. I
flattered myself that my usual good luck would attend me, for, as
I rode abreast of the line and bowed my head in passing under a
tree, the bough which I had stooped to escape was struck sharply by
a rifle ball. But only two or three minutes afterward I was shot
squarely in the arm, near the shoulder, and put _hors de combat_.
Archie Randolph was by me in a minute, and poured an indefinite
quantity of apple brandy down my throat. This revived me, and, with
my arm in a sling, I rode back to where General Fitz Lee was, only
to be ordered peremptorily, for my pains, to return instantly to
head-quarters. Keith Armistead, the son of General Armistead who
was killed at Gettysburg, was one of our couriers, and he went back
with me. That night an ineffectual effort was made by our surgeons
to find the ball, which was supposed to be near the shoulder.
General Lee insisted that I should go back to Petersburg or
Richmond, as I preferred. Soon after daybreak I was told that the
enemy had broken our lines at Petersburg, and I could not return to
that place; so I went to Richmond, where I arrived on Sunday night,
April 2.

Major Warwick had begged that I would go to the house of his
father, Major Abram Warwick, and I had the satisfaction of
letting him know that his son was safe. Under the influence of
morphine I went to sleep, notwithstanding the pain of my wound;
and when I awoke in the morning Richmond had been evacuated by
the Confederates, and the enemy were in possession of the city.
The Warwicks had known when I arrived that our troops were about
to leave Richmond, but had refrained from telling me, as they
deemed it unsafe to have me moved in the condition in which I was.
It was a sad, sad time. Mrs. W. B. Warwick walked up and down
the long halls almost demented with grief; and there were other
troubles besides those that grew out of the hazardous condition
of the soldiers who had retreated with Lee. Two days before, Mr.
Abram Warwick was one of the wealthiest men in Richmond, and had
almost unlimited means at his command. This Monday morning the
great Gallego Mills, of which he was the principal owner, lay in
ashes, and he himself was without a dollar of money that would pass
current in the city. So it was on every side. Hundreds of families
were reduced to absolute beggary by the fire which swept over
Richmond. I cannot bear to dwell upon the harrowing scenes of those
days. The surgeons made another effort to extract the ball from my
shoulder, and came to the wise conclusion that less harm probably
would be done by letting it alone than by cutting and carving me in
the effort to get it out. So they let me alone, and that ball has
never troubled me since.

A week after I reached Richmond I felt strong enough to join the
army again, although, of course, I could not use my arm; and Miss
Agnes Lee, one of General R. E. Lee’s daughters, had arranged that
I should be smuggled out of the city, under a bale of hay, in one
of the market carts that came into the city with vegetables every
morning. Then came the harrowing tidings that General Lee had
surrendered. It seemed to us impossible that the Army of Northern
Virginia should be no more, and we scouted the first reports
that reached us. All too soon, however, General Lee came back
to Richmond, and there was no longer room for doubt. The first
returning officer whom I knew well was Colonel Manning, who, with
the big tears rolling down his checks, as he sat gaunt and weary on
his horse in Franklin Street, told me the pitiful story of the last
days of the army and the circumstances of the surrender. The only
consolation to me was that General Fitz Lee and my dear comrades
had escaped unhurt, except Minnigerode, who was wounded and in the
hands of the enemy, as mentioned previously.

There was nothing in the behaviour of the Federal troops to
mitigate the unpleasantness of our situation. They did not rob, and
they did not kill; but they sought opportunities to humiliate and
annoy the defeated Confederates. One of their first orders was that
no person should wear clothing with military buttons; and those who
had no other buttons but military buttons must cover them so as to
conceal their character. After this, the buttons on most of our
uniforms, which were the only clothing we had, were covered with

I had lost my desk containing my commissions and papers, which I
had left in our head-quarters wagon; but Armistead had put my trunk
in the ambulance, and I saved that. Armistead went back to the
command as soon as he had placed me in Mr. Warwick’s care; and, as
he was but poorly armed, I gave him my revolver, which thus was
saved from falling into the hands of the enemy. My sabre, which was
taken from me on the night that I was wounded, was unfortunately
left at head-quarters, and was lost.

The war being virtually at an end, and there being no other way
to get out of Richmond, I presented myself to the Provost Marshal
and was duly paroled. Then I went over to Petersburg, my whole
worldly possessions being a postage stamp and what was left of a
five dollar greenback that a friend in Baltimore had sent me. The
first thing I did with this greenback, by the way, was to get small
change for it so as to make it look big; and the first luxuries
that I bought were cigars and oranges.


I went to Petersburg on April 23d. At Petersburg I was invited to
make a visit to Mr. William Cameron, and was very glad to accept.
All his servants had left him, and Colonel Frank Huger, of the
artillery, and I amused ourselves by preparing the table for
breakfast and dinner, and were Mrs. Cameron’s chief assistants in
cutting vegetables in the garden and in washing up the dishes. I
must say that this last process was anything but advantageous, as
we contrived between us to break a good deal of our friend’s pretty
china and delicate glass. The unfortunate things had a horrible way
of losing their handles and of coming to pieces, as we scrubbed
them with more zeal than discretion.

Early in June, I went to Mechlenburg to see Mr. Raines, who was
still living on the plantation which he had rented near the
plantation of Dr. Jones; and it was then that I heard of the
barbarous conduct of the Federal cavalry on their raid through
that neighborhood, and which I have mentioned previously. This
raid it will be remembered was made after the surrender of
General Lee’s army, and when there was no shadow of military
justification or excuse for it. Little was wanting to make the
conduct of the soldiers utterly execrable, and Dr. Jones escaped
better than most of his neighbors. By this time the health of Mrs.
Jones was exceedingly feeble, and in the September following she
died. Meanwhile, the seeds of consumption were developed in her
younger sister, Miss Martha Raines, and she too died a few months
afterwards. Consumption also carried off the only remaining sister,
Miss Anna Raines, who died, I think, in 1866.

It was rather difficult for me to get back from Mechlenburg to
Petersburg, a distance of about one hundred miles; but I borrowed
an old horse, and, out of the remains of several old buggies and
carriages that were on the place, succeeded in making up what
appeared to be a rather respectable vehicle. It did hang together
pretty well until I had occasion to cross a river on my route,
when the action of the water caused one of the wheels to fall to
pieces in the middle of the stream. With considerable difficulty,
I dragged what remained of the buggy out of the river, and was
fortunate enough to be able to borrow another wheel from a planter
near by. The wheel that I borrowed I was to return to him when I
should go back to Mechlenburg. As I never went back, the wheel, I
grieve to say, was not returned; and, as I do not know the name of
my kind friend, it would be vain to try to compensate him for the
loss he sustained. What weighs, I think, rather more heavily than
this on my conscience, is a commission entrusted to me by an old
farmer, on the road, with whom I took supper one night. Finding
that I expected to come back in a few days, he asked me if I would
bring him a Richmond newspaper, and gave me a silver dime to pay
for it. That dime he had saved during the war, and only parted with
it from a desire to get some news of what was going on. No doubt
he, and the friend who lent me the buggy wheel, think of me to-day
as one of the gay deceivers who were abundant after the cessation
of hostilities.

While still a good many miles from Petersburg, what with
insufficient food and hard driving my horse broke down completely,
and I dragged along the rest of the way at the rate of a mile or
two an hour. Near Petersburg I stopped to dine with a planter, who,
finding that I was an Englishman, asked me how far it was from
London to Windsor. I told him, and he replied that the distance
could not be so great, for he remembered an anecdote of the
singular experience of one of the sentries at Windsor Castle, who
was accused of sleeping on his post. Denying this emphatically,
the sentry told the officers that he had heard the bell of St.
Paul’s, at London, strike at midnight. This was thought to be
impossible; but he told them that he not only heard it, but that
the bell struck thirteen instead of twelve. It was afterward
ascertained that, through some derangement of the machinery of
the clock, thirteen had been struck instead of twelve, and the
vigilance of the sentry was established. I do not know what the
origin of the anecdote was, but it was curious to meet with it in
the bosom of Virginia. And this reminds me of the quaint knowledge
of things in London that I found here and there in the South.
Mr. L. M. Blackford, who was attached to the Military Court of
Longstreet’s Corps, asked me one day as we were riding along the
road, what streets I would take if I wanted to go from one part of
London, which he named, to another part. I told him, and he said
he thought it would be nearer to take other streets than those
I had mentioned. I asked him if he had been to London. He said
that he had not, but explained that his father and himself were
so much attached to England, and to everything English, that they
had studied the map of London, and were almost as familiar with
the place, by the map, as if they had lived there. Mr. Blackford,
by the way, is now the Principal of the Episcopal High School at
Alexandria, Va. I have not seen him since the war, but know that
he has been to Europe, and has, therefore, had an opportunity of
putting his knowledge of London streets to good account.

My efforts to obtain employment in Petersburg were entirely
unsuccessful, although I was not particular about the kind of work.
I was on the point of getting an engagement as the driver of a
dray, but a stalwart negro, at the last moment, was taken in my
place. It was a sensible thing on the part of the employer of the
negro, no doubt, but it was mortifying to me that a negro should be
allowed to earn his bread, and a white man, who was willing to do
the same work, be denied the opportunity.

In July I went over to Richmond, and with a Mr. Evans, (a relative
of Mr. Tyler) began arrangements for publishing a small weekly
newspaper. My work was to be local reporting and canvassing for
advertisements. The type, I think, was borrowed from the Richmond
_Whig_, and we got to the point of making up one form, consisting
of the first and fourth pages of the forthcoming paper. But the
_Whig_ had done something to offend the military autocrat who was
in command at Richmond, and one fine morning he sent a party of
soldiers to the _Whig_ office, who took possession of the whole
establishment, and closed it up. Our newspaper in embryo was
embargoed with the rest of the establishment, and there my first
connection with American journalism came to an untimely end.

Returning to Petersburg, I walked down to Mr. Raines’ plantation,
and there earned something for myself, for the first time since
the war had ended. Mr. Raines had returned home, and had cut his
wheat crop, which was a very fine one, and, as much to amuse us
as anything else, he told his son Frank and me that, if we would
take the horse-rake and glean the fields, we might have what wheat
we could find. It was desperately hot work, but we succeeded
in getting a considerable quantity of wheat, which Mr. Raines
threshed out and sold for us in Petersburg. My share of the
proceeds was about $10.

I spoke just now of walking down to the plantation. The distance
from Petersburg was about eighteen miles, and I frequently walked
it by the middle of the day, leaving Petersburg early in the

One of the Ordnance Sergeants of Longstreet’s Corps, John J.
Campbell, lived at Petersburg, and I stayed there with him for some
time, after my visit to Mr. Cameron. Mrs. Campbell was a plain,
unaffected and thoroughly good-hearted woman, and was unremitting
in her kindness. Unfortunately there came to be more talking than
I liked about my own affairs, and a coolness grew up which I
greatly regretted. I mention Mrs. Campbell here, in order to have
the satisfaction of showing that, whatever was the cause of the
discontinuance of our friendly relations, I am, and always have
been, most grateful for her kindness.

Mrs. Andrew White had been zealous in her efforts to secure for
me some employment, and to her I was indebted for the clothes
which took the place of my Confederate uniform. Through her
instrumentality, in October I was engaged by Seldner & Rosenberg,
of Petersburg, as book-keeper. I fear that I knew nothing, or next
to nothing, about book-keeping. But my employers were not aware of
that awkward fact, and I do not think that they discovered it. The
pay was $40 a month, and I paid $30 a month for my board. I went
to work at half-past six o’clock in the morning, and remained at
work until eight o’clock at night. There was not much margin for my
personal expenses, and the long hours made the occupation terribly
irksome to me, but I had the promise of an advance of pay, and,
with that before me, struggled on until November.

In Petersburg one day I saw a Federal officer riding my black
horse, which I had sent to Mr. Raines’ to recruit during the
previous winter, and which had been captured in the raid there
after the cessation of hostilities. I claimed the horse at once,
and the first difficulty I encountered was the fact that I was not
regarded as a citizen of the United States. The officer in command
at Petersburg told me that my claim would not be considered, unless
I could show that I was an American citizen, or intended to become
one. As a matter of fact, I had become a citizen of Virginia, by
my service in the Confederate Army. But this was not sufficient
for the captors of my charger, so I made no difficulty in fully
renouncing before the proper officer at Petersburg my allegiance
to every foreign King, Prince or potentate, and more particularly
Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. This was my formal “declaration of
intention” to become a citizen of the United States, and I received
my naturalization papers from Judge Bryan, of the United States
District Court, at Charleston, in 1867.

In spite of the greatest economy, I found that my expenses were
greater than my income, and I determined to abandon book-keeping in
the clothing and dry goods establishment of Seldner & Rosenberg,
and try my hand at planting, with Dr. Jones. The understanding with
him was that I should assist in managing the plantation under his
direction, and receive a portion of the net profit, whatever that
might be.


I closed up my affairs in Petersburg just as the week was drawing
to an end, and decided to go to Mechlenburg on Monday morning;
but I could not make up my mind to go off without running over to
Richmond to bid the Tylers and other friends there good-bye. When I
went into Mr. Tyler’s house, where, as ever, my reception was most
hearty, Dr. C. W. Brock, Mr. Tyler’s son-in-law, asked me whether
I had received a telegram he had sent me. I told him that I had
not, and he then informed me, to my astonishment, that Mr. H. Rives
Pollard, who had been one of the editors of the _Examiner_ during
the war, was about to resume the publication of that paper, and
wanted me to take a place on the staff, as local reporter. I was
in much the same mood that I was in when I received my commission
as Ordnance Officer, in 1862, and told Brock that I knew nothing
about local reporting. But he insisted that it was too good an
opportunity to lose, and that I must close with Pollard at once,
and trust to work and luck for the rest. Pollard was quite cordial,
and told me that he would give me $20 a week. This change from $40
a month to $80 a month gave me a feeling of wealth that I am sure
I have never had since. It seemed to me that there were no bounds
to the results that might be accomplished with so vast a sum.
Pollard had issued a flaming prospectus, in which he described the
different members of the staff. As I was unknown to journalistic
fame I did not appear on the roll. One of the conspicuous
figures, however, was Mr. B. R. Riordan, who, in the words of the
prospectus, was an “experienced and accomplished young journalist,
who had been for a number of years one of the editors of the New
Orleans _Delta_, and who, during the war, had been the managing
editor of the Charleston _Mercury_.” Those were the words, or very
nearly so, and I was profoundly impressed, I remember, with the
journalistic grandeur of the forthcoming journalist from the South.
Pollard was busily engaged in his room, and had refused to see any
one, when a rather slender and exceedingly quiet looking man came
in, and told me that he wanted to see Mr. Pollard. I told him that
Pollard was engaged, and could not be disturbed, whereupon he told
me, very composedly, that he expected that Mr. Pollard would see
him, and, without more ado, passed by me and walked into Pollard’s
room. This was my first introduction to Mr. B. R. Riordan.

Pollard was a queer character: not without ability, but lazy, vain
and dissolute, and it was not very easy, therefore, to make the
_Examiner_ what he wanted it to be. Under the editorial management
of Mr. John Daniel during the war, the _Examiner_ was known
everywhere for its great ability and its caustic criticisms of the
conduct of the war by Mr. Davis and his Cabinet. It was a brilliant
newspaper, but disfigured by the whim of Mr. Daniel that the old
English form of spelling words ending in “c” should be retained,
so that in the _Examiner_ such words as “antic,” “critic,” and
“music,” were spelled with a final k. Pollard insisted upon
retaining this peculiarity. But this did not make up for the loss
of the brain and vigor of Mr. Daniel. Professor Gildersleeve, of
the University of Virginia, and other erudite men, were engaged as
editorial writers, but they did not live in Richmond, and their
work was often stale. Pollard hacked and cooked their articles to
suit himself, and, when the supply of new material failed, had
no hesitation in revamping and republishing articles which had
appeared in the _Examiner_ during the war. However, I had no reason
to complain of Pollard’s treatment of me. Amongst other things, he
was always exceedingly anxious to resent any affront that might
be put upon him, and this weakness, if such it should be called,
enabled me to make myself indispensable. I occupied the unpleasant
position, as I should now consider it, of adviser and best man for
Pollard in his principal rencontres.

The first of these grew out of an article in the Richmond
_Enquirer_ which reflected on the _Examiner_, and caused Pollard
to determine to cowhide the editor of the _Enquirer_ as soon as
he could find him. When we ran the _Enquirer_ man to earth, he
was in the hall of the House of Representatives at the Capitol,
and Pollard waited for him in the rotunda. When the _Enquirer_
man came out, Pollard attempted to strike him and was resisted.
Both the _Enquirer_ man and Pollard drew pistols, and several
shots were exchanged. Only one shot, however, took effect, and
it unfortunately carried away the tassel of the cane on Houdon’s
statue of George Washington, which is in the centre of the rotunda.
The combatants were arrested, and for a few days there was peace.

The next offender was E. P. Brooks, of the New York _Times_. In
a letter from Richmond he spoke rather abusively of Pollard, and
Pollard decided to give him a beating. It was not very easy to find
him at first, as neither Pollard nor I had ever seen him. After
a long hunt I was told that he was in the billiard room at the
Spotswood Hotel, and I succeeded in getting a good look at him.
Pollard came down immediately, armed to the teeth and flourishing
a big cowhide, and, when Brooks came into the lobby of the hotel,
accosted him and asked whether he was the Richmond correspondent of
the New York _Times_. Brooks told him that he was, and thereupon
Pollard seized him by the collar and began to thrash him soundly.
Several persons attempted to interfere, but I kept them off with my
pistol until the affair was at an end. Brooks had pulled a handful
of hair out of Pollard’s long beard, and Pollard had jammed Brooks’
head through the glass partition in front of the desk, and had
given him some hard blows besides. Pollard was not in good society
in Richmond, but the Brooks affair was much enjoyed. When I told a
drawing-room full of ladies about it, they clapped their hands with
joy that the “miserable Yankee” should have been so well thrashed
by the Southerner.

The next cloud of war was on account of Mrs. Henningsen, wife
of General Henningsen, whom the _Examiner_ had spoken of as a
“notorious” character. This was not to be a street fight, but a
regular duel according to the “Code.” Pollard placed himself in
my hands, and I had a mischievous pleasure in telling him that
General Henningsen, who had demanded an apology for the insult
offered his wife, was a crack shot, and could hit the spots on a
card at fifteen paces with a duelling pistol, nine times out of
ten. Pollard told me, in some little trepidation, that he did not
believe he could hit a barn door at ten paces, and I warned him
that it was high time that he was practicing. Pollard evidently did
not hanker after a fight this time, and I succeeded in arranging
the matter amicably.

A little later somebody else trod on Pollard’s toes, and he
determined to “post” him. Preceded by a negro boy bearing a paste
pot and brush and a number of hand bills or posters, denouncing
the person to be posted as a liar, coward, and a variety of other
things, Pollard marched down Main Street with a double-barrelled
shotgun on his shoulder and a huge revolver and bowie-knife in a
belt around his waist. There was no fight, and I am not sure that
the man who was posted was in Richmond.

I have said that Pollard was a man of loose character, and he
was very careless in the statements he made affecting anyone’s
reputation if he could, by the publication, make a hit for his
paper. Yet, strange to say, he was killed for an offence which
he did not commit himself, although he was responsible for it.
In 1867, the paper he was managing (the _Examiner_ having died
previously) published a flaming account of the elopement of a Miss
Grant, of Richmond. It was written up very elaborately, and highly
spiced. It was expected that trouble would come of it, but it was
not supposed that Pollard would be denied the chance to defend
himself. James Grant, the brother of the lady who was the subject
of the article in the _Examiner_, ensconced himself in a room in
a house which Pollard passed regularly every morning. It was near
his office. As Pollard passed by the window of the room, Grant, who
was hidden from sight, shot Pollard down with a double-barrelled
gun. He died instantly, and without knowing who killed him. Grant
was tried for murder, and was acquitted. The feeling in Richmond
was very strong against Grant: not because he had killed Pollard,
but because he had not confronted him like a man, and given him a
chance for his life. All this was long after I left Richmond.

Mr. Riordan and I were now on very good terms. We slept in one of
the rooms at the _Examiner_ office, in which we worked, and took
our meals together at Zetelle’s restaurant. I suppose I must
have made a good impression upon him, as I find the following in
a letter to my mother, dated January 11, 1866: “Our news editor,
a gentleman of ten or fifteen years experience in the newspaper
business, says that it is impossible that a man of my talent
can remain unemployed, and Pollard says he is delighted with my
fluency, style and indefatigable energy. Of course, I do not
place one particle of reliance in such remarks as these. They are
sincere, and I am grateful for them, but these gentlemen cannot
make me think so highly of myself as they seem to think of me.”
About this time Mr. Riordan, the news editor just mentioned,
broached to me a plan for starting a cheap and popular newspaper in
Charleston, South Carolina. He said that the Charleston newspapers
were very slow and old fashioned, and that there was a fine field
for a new and bright paper. This he had thought for a long time,
but had not taken any steps to give the project shape, because he
had not found the right sort of man to go into it with him. He was
pleased to say that I was just the man he was looking for, and that
he was quite sure that he and I could make the paper successful.
The whole of the details of the prospective newspaper were
carefully discussed. It is rather amusing to recall now Riordan’s
remark that the local reporting in Charleston need not give us much
trouble, as the policemen would drop in and tell us about anything
that happened. Another remark of his was about in these words: “Of
course you know, Dawson, you could not do the editorial writing,
but we could engage a man to do that for us.” Riordan, like myself,
had no money, but thought that he had friends who would lend us
some; and this was the position of affairs when my connection with
the _Examiner_ was suddenly suspended.


The Federal officers in Richmond gave several public dancing
parties, or “Hops” as they were called, at the different hotels,
and desired that the Richmond ladies should attend them. There
was, of course, too much feeling against the North at this time
to permit anything of the sort, and the only Richmond women who
attended these “Hops” were the wives and daughters of the present
and prospective office holders under the United States Government.
The newspapers were not invited to send reporters to the “Hops,”
but the _Examiner_ managed always to have a man there, and gave a
highly colored report of them the morning after the occurrence,
describing and naming the Richmond people who were there, and
dressing up the whole account in a style of mingled bitterness
and ridicule. J. Marshall Hanna, the principal local reporter for
the _Examiner_, did most of the work on these reports, and it was
he, by the way, who described the elopement of Miss Grant which
had so tragical consequences. The Federal officers were indignant
at the way in which their efforts at reconciliation were treated
by the _Examiner_, but another “Hop” was announced. This was
in March, 1866. We prepared ourselves for a report that should
out-Herod Herod. Hanna, Mr. Fred. Daniel, and I were engaged on
it, and we called into requisition every apt quotation we could
find in French and Italian, as well as in English. The report
being finished, I went to a ball to which I had been invited, and
did not return to the office until near daylight. At the office
door I found a sentry, who halted me and refused to allow me to
pass into the building. To my astonishment I then learned that
the Federal Commandant at Richmond had taken possession of the
_Examiner_ office, and had suspended its publication, on account
of the malignant and disloyal reports of the famous Yankee “Hops.”
It was with great difficulty that I induced the guard to allow
me to go up to my room for more suitable attire. Riordan told me
that he was at his desk working quietly on his exchanges, when he
heard a dull tramp, tramp in the street, and then tramp, tramp
on the stairs, and then tramp, tramp in the outer room, and the
command “halt!” and the rattle of muskets on the floor. By this
time he began to think that something unusual was happening, and
was sure of it when an officer entered the room and told him that
he had orders to seize the whole establishment, and that he and
everyone else connected with the paper must leave the place at
once. This arbitrary and lawless proceeding did not shock me as
much as it ought to have done, inasmuch as it held out the promise
of a holiday, which I knew I could pass delightfully with my fair
friends in Richmond; but the very day that the _Examiner_ was
shut up the proprietors of the Richmond _Dispatch_ sent for me,
and offered me a salary of $25 a week if I would go on the staff
of that paper. Mr. Pollard made no objection, and I went to work
at once on the _Dispatch_. The _Examiner_ remained in possession
of the military authorities for about two weeks I think, and was
only released when a peremptory order to that end was given by the
President himself.

On the _Dispatch_ I was legislative and local reporter, and was
handsomely treated. One of my colleagues was Captain J. Innes
Randolph, who had played that ’possum trick on me at Bunker
Hill, on the retreat from Gettysburg. Randolph was a man of many
accomplishments. He played the piano and violin charmingly, was
a skillful engineer, a very capable lawyer, and wrote charmingly
in both prose and verse. “The Good Old Rebel” is one of his
productions, and his lines on the statue of Marshall, which now
stands in the Capitol Square, are worth remembering. Randolph is
the son of Lieutenant Randolph of the Navy, who tweaked President
Jackson’s nose, and has something of his father’s temper. A more
cranky and irritable fellow is rarely met with. He lives in
Baltimore, and is now on the staff of the _American_. I have not
seen him for several years.


It was in the spring of 1866 that I was instrumental in forming
what I believe to have been the first of the Confederate Memorial
Associations in the Southern States. This is the Hollywood Memorial
Association, of Richmond. In Hollywood Cemetery are interred
fifteen thousand or sixteen thousand Confederate soldiers, and
in Oakwood Cemetery are as many more. Their graves were entirely
uncared for, and I began in the _Dispatch_ to agitate the subject,
with a view to forming an association which should undertake to
keep the graves in order, mark them suitably, and erect a monument
to our dead. The earliest fruit of it was a suspension of business
on the first Memorial day, when hundreds of young men who had
belonged to different military organizations went out to Hollywood,
accompanied by ladies bearing flowers, and labored for several
hours with spade and hoe in rearranging the mounds over the graves,
and clearing away the rank growth of weeds. The ladies of the
Hollywood Association were most enthusiastic, and I acted as their
Secretary. Public meetings were held in the Churches in furtherance
of the objects of the Association, and in June I addressed three
meetings of ladies on one day, at different places. One of these
meetings was at the Monumental Church, and about five hundred
ladies were present. There were two different plans. One was to
level the graves and erect a general monument; and the other was
to mark each one of the graves with a headstone bearing either
the name of the soldier who lay there, or a number by which, on
reference to the books of the Cemetery, the name of the soldier
could be known. I pleaded for the plan that would keep each grave
separate and distinct, and would allow any father or mother, or
sister or brother, from the far South to know the identical spot
where the bones of their dear one lay, rather than that they should
be shown a vast open area and be told that somewhere within those
bounds their young hero lay buried. I was modest in those days,
and, when one of the ladies at the close of the meeting told me
that she wanted to kiss me for my speech, I blushed and declined.
As long as I was in Richmond I continued to work actively for
the Memorial Association, and, when I left Richmond to come to
Charleston, I received from the President a letter, of which the
following is a copy:

  RICHMOND, November 8, 1866.

  _My Dear Sir_--As the organ of the Hollywood Memorial
  Association, I desire to express to you our grateful
  acknowledgment of your untiring efforts in our behalf, and our
  sense of your valuable and disinterested services in advancing
  our solemn and sacred purpose.

  Your taste and ardor have been efficient in securing for us a
  large share of general sympathy.

  We sincerely regret to lose you from our counsels, but feel
  assured of your continued sympathy and interest, as you may of
  our best wishes for your success and happiness.

  Be pleased to accept our acknowledgments, and with them the
  accompanying slight memorial.

  I am, with high respect, your friend,
  _President H. M. A._

  To Captain F. W. DAWSON.

The “slight memorial” of which Mrs. MacFarland speaks is a set of
studs and sleeve buttons of gold, with the Confederate battle-flag
in enamel on each one. I hope that my children will prize these;
not only because they bear upon them the flag under which their
father fought, but because of the source whence they came, and the
work and sympathy they commemorate.

I had much to do with another undertaking of a totally different
character. My immediate circle of friends, among the men in
Richmond, consisted of Captain Philip H. Haxall, who had been on
General Lee’s staff for a short time; Charlie Minnigerode, whom I
have spoken of before, and who was now fast recovering from his
wound; Willie Myers, who married a niece of Captain Pegram, Miss
Mattie Paul, and died of consumption, dear fellow, some years
ago; Page McCarty, who afterwards blighted his life by killing
Mordecai in a duel; Jack Elder, the artist; and John Dunlop, my
old Petersburg friend, and a few others. We had been in the habit
of meeting at night, when we had any time to spare, in what we
called “the chicken coop,” which was a sort of summer-house in the
rear of a restaurant in Broad Street. Here we founded the Richmond
Club, of which Colonel D. G. MacIntosh, of South Carolina, who
had married the beautiful Virginia Pegram, and was then living in
Richmond, was the first President. I was the first Secretary. I
mention the Richmond Club here, because it soon grew to be a large
and prosperous concern, with a handsome club house of its own,
and because there were features in the constitution and by-laws
which might be adopted with advantage by similar associations.
Card-playing for money was absolutely prohibited, and what was
more peculiar than this, and was a hobby of my own, no member
was allowed to take any refreshments whatever in the club at the
expense of another. No “treating” was permitted, unless a stranger
should have been invited to the club by a member, in which case
the member who invited him might ask other friends to join the
party. It was an admirable rule, and was effectual in preventing
that hard drinking which is the bane of most clubs, and which is
difficult, at times, to avoid so long as one member feels under any
obligation, or is permitted, to invite other members to drink with
him at his expense, which involves an obligation on their part to
return the compliment.

My health now was not as good as it had been. I was attacked by
chills and fever, and obliged to give up my work. I think the
malady was brought on by my exposure to the sun, in my tramps
about the streets in the summer. Dr. Barney, of Richmond, insisted
upon my going to his house, and Mrs. Barney was assiduous in her
kindness. As soon as I began to regain my strength I went up to
Mr. Barton Haxall’s beautiful place, near Orange Courthouse, and
recovered rapidly. This was in August or September, 1866. I had for
a short time been engaged to be married to Miss Mary Haxall, one
of Mr. Haxall’s daughters, but was unceremoniously jilted not long
before I went up to Orange. A brighter or wittier girl than Mary
Haxall, in those days, it were hard to find; and the unkindest cut
of all was that she should have ended by marrying a man whom she
might never have known had I not presented him to her. This is Mr.
Alexander Cameron, a wealthy tobacco manufacturer of Richmond, who
is, I am told, desperately in love with his wife after all these
years, and proves his affection by allowing her to have her own way
in everything. Before my engagement to her, I was at a party as her
escort, when Mr. George, of Richmond, appeared discourteous in his
conduct towards her, in consequence of a difference of opinion as
to an engagement to dance. As soon as I had conducted her home I
sent Mr. George a challenge. Page McCarty acted as my friend, in
the matter; and part of his plan of action was to have the ground
for the combat on the other side of Hollywood Cemetery, so that
the duelists would have the satisfaction of passing through or
around the Cemetery on their way to the place of meeting. Page
told me, with his peculiar drawl, that he knew I could stand it,
and he thought it might unsettle the nerves of the other fellow.
The whole of the arrangements had been made, and we were to
fight the next morning, when some cool headed friend (I do not
remember who it was), intervened, and the difficulty was adjusted,
as it ought to have been. There was so little expectation of a
settlement that I made a visit to Miss Jennie Cooper, the daughter
of Adjutant-General Cooper, late in the evening, and communicated
to her my last wishes; and gave her my watch to take care of,
and dispose of, in the event that the walk through the Cemetery
should not have the expected effect upon Mr. George’s nerves. My
experience with Miss Haxall prompts me to say that an attractive
girl is exceedingly dangerous to the peace of mind of any one whom
she may undertake to instruct in the round dances. The crisis was
brought on, I believe, by some tableaux for the benefit of the
Memorial Association, or something of that kind. In the tableaux
Miss Mary was “Cleopatra” and I was a Confederate soldier lying
dead on the battle-field, wearing for the occasion the uniform
coat of Major McGraw, who was a Lieutenant in the Purcell Battery
in 1862, when I joined it, and had risen to the rank of Major and
lost an arm in the service. It was the morning after the tableaux
that I became engaged to Miss Mary, and presented her with a gold
brooch which exhausted my pocket money, and on which brooch her
initials and mine were tenderly scratched with the point of a pin.
In less than a fortnight the play was over. But when I returned
to Richmond, from Orange, I went to see Miss Mary and her sister
Miss Lottie Haxall, who were then making a visit to Mr. Conway
Robinson, their uncle, who lives near the Soldier’s Home at
Washington. Miss Lottie Haxall, the younger sister of Miss Mary,
was a thoroughly high-bred girl in every way, and noble in every
phase of her character.


I had pretty well made up my mind to leave the _Dispatch_ if I
should receive an offer of employment elsewhere. There was no
prospect of advancement in the _Dispatch_ office, and I was very
much disgusted by the intention of the proprietors to stop my pay
during my absence on account of my illness, contracted in their
service. When I returned to Richmond I was sent for by Colonel
Briscoe G. Baldwin, who had been Chief Ordnance officer of General
Lee’s army, and had been appointed Superintendent of the National
Express Company. He told me he wanted me to take a position under
him in the National Express Company. This company was organized
after the war as a rival of the Southern Express Company, and had
been something of a hospital for Confederate officers of high rank.
It was at this time in a tottering condition; but Colonel Baldwin
said he thought it was not too late to save it, if he could get
such men as he wanted to do the active work of the Company. He
did not pretend to hide the condition of the Company from me, but
told me that he desired to have me there and thought that it would
be a good place for me, as, if the Company did pull through its
difficulties, I would be on the sure road to promotion. I resigned
from the _Dispatch_, and on September 17th, 1866, I was appointed
Route Agent in the National Express and Transportation Company,
“with all the rights, privileges, authority, and duties attaching
to the position.” My salary was one hundred dollars a month, and
the Company paid my travelling expenses. The territory which I
was to supervise covered the lines of railroad from Richmond
to Alexandria in one direction, and from Richmond to Bristol,
Tennessee, in the other. I went out on the road at once, visiting
the agents at every depot, and examining into the condition of the
business. There was great confusion everywhere, and the railroads
were threatening to discontinue taking freight for us, as the
Company did not pay the charges promptly. One of the places that I
visited was Lexington, where I had the great happiness of seeing
General R. E. Lee and his daughters again. I saw General Lee only
once after this, and that was when he visited Charleston not long
before he died. Engaged as he was with visitors, he gave me, in
kindly remembrance of my services with his nephew, General Fitzhugh
Lee, a private interview, in order that my wife, Virginia, might
be presented to him. General Lee’s youngest son, Robert E. Lee,
married Miss Lottie Haxall. I heard after I left Richmond that they
would probably become engaged, but I lost sight of Miss Lottie
until 1872, when I heard that Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Lee, who were
newly married, were staying at Aiken. Assuming that Mrs. Lee must
be my old friend Miss Lottie, I wrote to her and begged her to come
to Charleston. A night or two afterwards I was at the theatre in
Charleston, and as I looked at the audience I saw her sparkling
face turned towards me and smiling recognition. The next day Mr.
and Mrs. Lee spent with me and my wife, and we went down to Fort
Sumter together. It was the last time that my wife went out; and
only two or three months afterwards Lottie Lee died of consumption.
Almost the last words that my wife, Virginia, who died in 1872,
said to me before her death were: “When I die, I shall see Lottie

I also had the opportunity of visiting Warrenton, where I spent a
day with General W. H. Payne, whom I had not seen since we bade
each other good-bye when he was wounded at Five Forks. General
Lomax was living near Warrenton, and we had a glorious day reviving
the memories of our service in the cavalry. The National Express
Company, however, was on its last legs, and when I reached Richmond
in October I found that it had been determined to wind up the
concern. So ended my career as an expressman. While on one of my
tours of inspection, and waiting at a wayside station for the
train, I wrote the following verses:



      Only a private! his jacket of gray
          Is stained by the smoke and the dust;
      As Bayard, he’s brave; as Rupert, he’s gay;
      Reckless as Murat in heat of the fray,
          But in God is his only trust!


      Only a private! to march and to fight,
          To suffer and starve and be strong;
      With knowledge enough to know that the might
      Of justice, and truth, and freedom and right,
          In the end must crush out the wrong.


      Only a private! no ribbon or star
          Shall gild with false glory his name!
      No honors for him in braid or in bar,
      His Legion of Honor is only a scar,
          And his wounds are his roll of fame!


      Only a private! one more hero slain
          On the field lies silent and chill!
      And in the far South a wife prays in vain
      One clasp of the hand she may ne’er clasp again,
          One kiss from the lips that are still.


      Only a private! there let him sleep!
          He will need nor tablet nor stone;
      For the mosses and vines o’er his grave will creep,
      And at night the stars through the clouds will peep,
          And watch him who lies there alone.


      Only a martyr! who fought and who fell
          Unknown and unmarked in the strife!
      But still as he lies in his lonely cell
      Angel and Seraph the legend shall tell--
          Such a death is eternal life!

_Richmond, Va., October 24, 1866._


Riordan did not remain long with the _Examiner_ after I left it,
and had been at work in Washington. Occasionally he wrote to me,
and assured me that he had not given up the newspaper project for
Charleston, and that he would put a “peg in” in that direction
whenever he had an opportunity. With this in view, he accepted a
position offered him on the Charleston _Courier_, and went back to
Charleston. In October, Colonel R. Barnwell Rhett was preparing
to resume the publication of the _Mercury_, and asked Riordan to
take his old place on that paper. Riordan declined to do this, and
advised Colonel Rhett to take me if I would come. It was only a
day or two after I had finished my work with the National Express
Company that I received a letter from Riordan, telling me what
he had done; and on the heels of his letter came a telegram from
Colonel Rhett, offering me an engagement on the _Mercury_ and
asking me to come to Charleston immediately. There was nothing to
require me to remain in Richmond, so I accepted Colonel Rhett’s
offer, and after a round of leave-taking started for Charleston,
where I arrived on November 10th, 1866.

My first visit was to Riordan, whom I found in the _Courier_ office
in East Bay Street. The next day I went to work in the _Mercury_
office, and remained on that paper until Riordan and I bought
one-third of the Charleston _News_ in the autumn of 1867. On May
1, 1867, I was married to Miss Virginia Fourgeaud, a faithful and
loving wife. Her health unhappily failed fast, and she died in
December, 1872.

In the waning fortunes of the Charleston _News_ was the opportunity
that we had long desired of becoming managers of a newspaper of
our own; an object which Riordan had kept unflaggingly in view from
the moment that he had first talked the project over with me in the
_Examiner_ office at Richmond. It was his foresight, of course, in
seizing the opportunity to bring me to Charleston, that put us both
in the position to take the chance which was presented to us by the
decline of the Charleston _News_. The paper had been exceedingly
successful under extravagant and careless management, and we could
not, of course, expect to obtain control of it until those who
were managing it in Charleston were willing to give it up. Captain
James F. McMillan and Mr. R. S. Cathcart had been controlling the
paper. Cathcart withdrew, and the condition of the paper grew
worse. It was heavily in debt, and the proprietors of the _Courier_
and _Mercury_ looked cheerfully forward to the time when it should
quietly expire. We found that the real owner of the property was
Mr. Benjamin Wood, of New York, and Riordan went on to New York to
open negotiations with him. This ended in Mr. Wood buying out Mr.
McMillan, and in our purchasing one-third of the property at the
rate of $18,000 for the whole. The new concern, of which Benjamin
Wood was a member, as the representative of Henry Evans, a person
in his employment, assumed all the liabilities of the old concern.
Riordan and I, therefore, found ourselves owners of one-third of
a newspaper which had a _bona fide_ circulation of twenty-five
hundred, or three thousand, copies daily, with debts amounting to
nearly $20,000, and property consisting of two very old presses,
a broken down engine, and a suit of badly worn type. But we were
very cheerful about it, and our confident expectation was that, in
about five years, we should be able to retire from newspaper work,
in part, and live at our ease on the property we had accumulated.
It did not turn out exactly in that way; but, as all the subsequent
operations of the concern are set forth in general terms in the
record of the litigation in which we were involved by Mr. Wood’s
rascality, it is not necessary to describe them here. I should,
however, record the fact, that the money with which I paid for my
share of the paper was borrowed from Mr. W. J. Magrath. He advised
me strongly against embarking in the venture, but, when I insisted
upon doing so, he gave me every assistance in his power.

Some day, perhaps, I may undertake to write the inside history of
my connection with the Charleston _News_, and THE NEWS AND COURIER,
and give my experiences in South Carolina politics from 1867 down
to the present time. But I cannot do it now; and, indeed, I am too
near to the events, and to the persons I should describe, to write
as candidly as would be necessary to bring out the whole truth, and
make it entirely clear. It would be, I fancy--if I had the time
to refresh my memory, by looking over the newspapers for the last
fifteen years--a narrative, in its way, quite as interesting, to my
friends at least, as the incidents of Confederate service which I
have attempted to portray.


I append to these reminiscences, to complete the record, copies of
my parole and of some letters of which I retain the originals.


  The Ladies of the Hollywood Memorial Association tender to
  Captain Dawson their heartfelt thanks for his untiring devotion
  to their cause; for the efficiency and aid extended to their
  efforts when most needed; and the prompt co-operation in all
  measures adopted by the Association; and beg leave to say
  that while they regret his absence from the meeting yesterday
  afternoon, they recall with pleasure and gratitude the noble work
  in which he was then engaged.

  May the success and energy which crowns that effort be the
  earnest for the future of the Association, the ladies of which
  will always hold in grateful remembrance the effective support
  rendered by Captain Dawson.

  _Tuesday Morning, May 29th, 1866._

[The work alluded to, I think, was that of preparing for calling
out the old soldiers in Richmond to put the graves at Hollywood in


  Richmond, Va., April 18th, 1865.      }

  I, Captain F. W. Dawson, C. S. A., Prisoner of War, do hereby
  give my solemn parole of honor not to take part in hostilities
  against the government of the United States until properly
  exchanged; and that I will not do anything directly or indirectly
  to the disparagement of the authority of the United States until
  properly exchanged as aforesaid.

  (Signed)       FRANCIS W. DAWSON,

  _Captain and Chief Ordnance Officer Cavalry Corps,
  Army of Northern Virginia_.

  I certify that F. W. Dawson gave the foregoing parole in my
  presence, and signed it in duplicate.

  (Signed)      D. M. EVANS,

  _Colonel and Provost Marshal_.

  _Richmond, Va., April 18th, 1865._

  The bearer, Captain F. W. Dawson, having taken the oath of
  parole, has permission to go to his home in Mechlenburg County,


  RICHMOND, VA., April, 1865.

  Captain F. W. DAWSON,

  _Chief Ordnance Officer Fitz Lee’s Cavalry Division_:

  CAPTAIN--The recent surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia
  dissolves our official relations for the present. I take pleasure
  in expressing my high sense of the zeal, intelligence, and
  courage you have manifested in the discharge of your duties.

  Hoping you may soon recover from your wounds, and wishing you a
  speedy re-union with your friends,

  I remain, with much esteem,

  Yours, truly,


  _Lt.-Col., Chief Ordnance Officer Army Northern Virginia_.


  RICHMOND, VA., April 19th, 1865.

  DEAR CAPTAIN--The recent reverses to our armies, and your wound,
  have for a time relieved you from command. I trust by the time
  your health is restored that some arrangement may be made to
  effect your exchange, and allow you to again enter the field, and
  our country to have the services of an officer who has by his
  faithfulness, activity, and courage, added no little to the cause
  which he has adopted; and won for himself a name which will long
  be respected and admired where honor and courage are recognized.

  Believe me, very truly,


  _Lt.-Col., Chief Ordnance Officer 1st Corps
  Army of Northern Virginia_.


  PETERSBURG, April 26th, 1865.

  To Captain F. W. DAWSON,

  _Chief Ordnance Officer Fitz Lee’s Cavalry Division_:

  I hereby certify that Captain Francis W. Dawson, C. S. Ordnance,
  was regularly commissioned, and at the time of the surrender of
  the Army of Northern Virginia was on my staff as Chief Ordnance
  Officer of the Cavalry Corps.

  FITZ LEE, _Major-General_.


  RICHMOND, September 10th, 1866.

  Captain F. W. DAWSON:

  _My Dear Sir_--As you are about to separate your connection with
  the _Dispatch_, please accept this expression of my sentiments on
  the occasion.

  The _Dispatch_ will miss your valuable contributions and your
  intelligent and persevering efforts to promote its interests,
  and increase its attractions. I can truly say that I never
  knew a gentleman more earnest and energetic, in the pursuit of
  journalism, while you have displayed accomplishments for the
  profession that are rare and invaluable. Socially, we will all
  feel a great loss in parting with you; and the recollections of
  our intercourse with you will always be agreeable. While your
  own talents and bearing will command respect for you in every
  community, and your gallantry in the Southern cause will commend
  you to the hospitality and friendship of every Southern man, I
  tender you my most earnest and heartfelt good wishes for your
  prosperity and happiness in life.

  Very truly and sincerely, yours,


  _Editor Dispatch_.

The following is a copy of my application for membership in
the Survivors’ Association of Charleston District, with the
endorsements of the officers under whom I had served:


  CHARLESTON, S. C., April 14, 1869.

  _To the Officers and Members of the Survivors’ Association of
  Charleston District, Charleston, S. C._:

  GENTLEMEN--The undersigned respectfully applies for admission
  into your Association, and presents the following as the RECORD
  of his services in the Confederate Army and Navy:

  ENTERED CONFEDERATE SERVICE in December, 1861, at Southampton,
  England, as sailor, aboard the C. S. Steamer _Nashville_.
  Promoted to Master’s Mate, C. S. N., February, 1862. Resigned as
  Master’s Mate, C. S. N., June, 1862. Entered Purcell Battery,
  Field’s Brigade, Army Northern Virginia, as Private, June, 1862.
  Promoted to First Lieutenant of Artillery, August, 1862. Promoted
  to Captain of Artillery, April, 1864.[A]

  Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Knoxville,
  Wilderness, Spotsylvania C. H., North side James River, 1864,
  Valley of Virginia, 1864, Five Forks.

  WOUNDED at Mechanicsville, June 26, 1862; at Harrisonburg, Va.,
  1864; Five Forks, March 31, 1865.

  TAKEN PRISONER near Williamsport, Va., September 14, 1862.
  RELEASED on parole, October, 1862.

  SURRENDERED and was paroled, May, 1865.




[A] Served from June, 1862, to October, 1864, as Assistant Ordnance
Officer, 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, and from that time
to April, 1865, as Ordnance Officer Fitzhugh Lee’s Cavalry Division.


[_From Commodore Pegram._]

  PETERSBURG, VA., October 29, 1869.

  I take pleasure in bearing testimony to the authenticity of
  the accompanying record, as furnished by Captain F. W. Dawson,
  whilst he was under my command on board of the C. S. Steamer
  _Nashville_; and I do most earnestly recommend him to the
  favorable consideration of the Committee on Applications, as one
  eminently entitled, by his efficient services, to enjoy all the
  advantages and honors of a Survivor.

  Captain Dawson offered his services to the Confederate cause on
  board the C. S. Steamer _Nashville_, at Southampton, England,
  December, 1861, in any capacity I might designate. He was under
  age at the time, being about 17 or 18 years old; for this reason
  I declined to take him away from his home and friends to set him
  adrift in a foreign land then engaged in a bloody war.

  A few days before sailing from Southampton, duty called me to
  London, and Dawson, taking advantage of my absence, assumed the
  garb of a sailor boy, and was enlisted by the First Lieutenant on
  board the _Nashville_. I did not know that he was on board until
  we were at sea, and was so surprised at seeing him that I called
  him to enquire how he had thus gotten the weather-gage of me? He
  replied, he was determined to espouse the Confederate cause at
  all hazards, even by smuggling himself on board, if indispensable
  to attain his object.

  During the voyage of the _Nashville_ homeward, the admirable
  conduct of young Dawson attracted my attention, and that of all
  the officers; and such favorable reports were made to me of his
  zeal in the discharge of every duty required of him, that I
  determined to give him an acting appointment of Master’s Mate in
  the C. S. Navy, which appointment was promptly confirmed by the
  Honorable Secretary of the Navy, upon my recommendation, when the
  _Nashville_ arrived at Beaufort, N. C.

  Mr. Dawson was attached to a vessel of the James River Squadron
  at the time that General McClellan made his advance upon
  Richmond, yet such was his anxiety to engage in the battle, that
  he offered his services as a volunteer to the officer in command
  of the Purcell Battery. He was taken from the field of battle
  at Mechanicsville badly wounded, but remained fighting his gun
  until the close of the action, when, from loss of blood, he was
  completely prostrated. Mr. Dawson’s bravery on this occasion,
  elicited the admiration of his Captain, who went with me to the
  Hon. G. W. Randolph, then Secretary of War, to request that he
  might be appointed a Lieutenant in the C. S. Army. The request
  was readily granted as a reward of merit.

  Though suffering from a painful wound, Mr. Dawson did not remain
  idle. An invitation had been issued by the Secretary of War to
  the junior officers of the army, to propose for admission into
  the Ordnance Corps. An examination was ordered; and when the
  Board of Examiners met, Mr. Dawson was examined and passed with
  distinction, and was commissioned in the Corps of Ordnance. His
  career of duty in that branch of the service is better known to
  the officers of the army with whom he served than to myself:
  though I have watched his course with great satisfaction, and
  always felt a profound interest in his advancement and welfare,
  having long since forgiven him for his tact in weathering an old


  _Lt. Com’g, C. S. N._

[_From Lieutenant-General Longstreet._]

  I take pleasure in certifying to the services of Captain Dawson
  in the 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.


  _Lt.-Gen., C. S. A._

[_From Lieutenant-General Anderson._]

  CHARLESTON, S. C., April 16, 1869.

  It affords me pleasure to recommend this application to the
  favorable consideration of the Committee on Applications, and to
  say that the services rendered by the applicant eminently entitle
  him to share the privileges and distinctions of a Survivor.

  My acquaintance with Captain Dawson began in the early part of
  the war; but during a period of about six months, following the
  battle of the Wilderness, (whilst in command of Longstreet’s
  Corps,) I had constant opportunities to observe the meritorious
  conduct and gallant bearing of this officer.

  The record given within, between the dates or during the period
  above mentioned, is correct.


  _Lt.-Gen’l, C. S. A._

[_From Major-General Fitz Lee._]

  RICHLAND, STAFFORD CO., VA., November 10, 1869.

  Captain F. W. Dawson was my Ordnance Officer at the time he
  specifies. He was a brave soldier and an efficient officer.

  “Survivors!” let him in.


  _Maj.-Gen., C. S. A._

       *       *       *       *       *

These pages I have written at the request of my wife, Sarah Morgan
Dawson, and for her dear sake. It is little enough, in the hurry of
a busy life, to do for one who, year after year and so long as I
have known her, has strengthened my faith by believing in me, and
enlarges my hope always by her confidence and love.


  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained: for example,
  breast-work, breastworks; gunboat, gun-boats; pic-nic; grewsome;
  trowsers; tragical; Hayti; rascality.

  Pg 98: ‘in the caisons’ replaced by ‘in the caissons’.
  Pg 123: ‘on a reconnoissance’ replaced by ‘on a reconnaissance’.
  Pg 123: ‘be the heighth’ replaced by ‘be the height’.
  Pg 147: Chapter heading ‘XXIII’ replaced by ‘XXXIII’.
  Pg 172: ‘in the autum’ replaced by ‘in the autumn’.
  Pg 178: ‘Spottsylvania C. H.’ replaced by ‘Spotsylvania C. H.’.

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