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Title: A Boy's Experience in the Civil War, 1860-1865
Author: Hughes, Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Boy's Experience in the Civil War, 1860-1865" ***

                           A BOY’S EXPERIENCE
                                 IN THE
                          CIVIL WAR 1860–1865

                               PRESENTED TO

                    WITH COMPLIMENTS OF Thomas Hughes.

 Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1904 by THOMAS HUGHES,
  the author, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


                         During the Civil War.

My father, a skillful physician by profession, was by taste and
inclination a controversal writer, a contributor to the newspapers,
mixing up in the stir of the times. Before the Civil War his energy was
devoted to a large and lucrative practice coupled with activities,
social and political. At the opening of the struggle between the North
and South his sympathies and associations ardently enlisted him in the
fortunes of his native State, and he furthered by writing and personal
work the adoption of the ordinance of secession which had been referred
by the State Convention at Richmond to the Citizens of Virginia to adopt
or reject. When the State seceded his ardent advocacy of the Southern
cause and his labor in that behalf quickly brought him to the point of
either taking the oath of allegiance as a loyal citizen of the United
States or submitting to imprisonment. He declined the oath and was sent
as a political prisoner in the spring of 1862 to Camp Chase near
Columbus, Ohio, where he remained for nine months, when a special
exchange was secured for him. This latter event he owed to a personal
circumstance, one of those matters he usually evidenced an aptitude to
turn to account. It occurred thus: one day a number of prisoners
recently captured were brought in, and he learned that shortly before,
the command to which they had belonged had taken a number of Union
prisoners, and among them a brother of Dr. Pancost of Philadelphia. My
father who had pursued his medical studies at Philadelphia and had been
a student under Dr. Pancost at the Jefferson Medical College wrote to
his former instructor, telling him of his brother’s capture and asking
him to secure a special exchange of my father for his brother. This he
accomplished and through friends my father was extended permission to
have his wife and three of his children accompany him by flag of truce
through the lines to Richmond. Ample time was allowed him to arrange his
affairs for this and he was further permitted to take unlimited baggage.
Our route was to Baltimore, to Fortress Monroe, to City Point,
Petersburg and Richmond. Baltimore was reached between three and four
o’clock in the morning and upon the recommendation of a fellow passenger
we sought quarters at the Eutaw House. This hotel, then as now at the
northwest corner of Eutaw and Baltimore Streets, was found crowded and
we located in the parlor until later in the day a room was assigned us
overlooking the court on Eutaw Street. A circumstance to impress was the
crowded condition of the pavement extending from Eutaw Street to Calvert
far in excess of what now exists after the lapse of over forty years,
thus indicating the inrush here as the border city of the Civil War. The
day our trunks were to be examined Major Constable, the provost marshall
of the city was a guest at a dinner party given by my father at Barnum’s
Hotel to which latter we had immediately removed, being told by our
Baltimore friends that the Eutaw House was a hotel patronized by
officers of the Northern army, whereas Barnum’s was a Southern Hotel. On
the day succeeding the search of our baggage we left our hotel where we
had remained about two weeks preparing for the trip South, and were
driven in a carriage to the wharf of the boat for Fortress Monroe. Some
informality attending the baggage required us to return until the
succeeding day. It appears that some official undertook to claim the
baggage had not been examined, notwithstanding the red connecting tape
with the seal of the provost marshall’s ring in red wax at each end and
it became necessary to have Major Constable straighten out the matter,
which fixed us to leave the next evening. One of those heavy storms that
occur on the Chesapeake Bay, with an alarm of fire on the boat were
incidents of the trip, and General George H. Thomas of the Union Army
who was a passenger and my father became acquainted with the result that
the former’s influence was utilized to secure more pleasant
accommodations on the flag of truce boat. The boats composing the flag
of truce were three in number with only one, that carrying our family,
carrying prisoners, all of whom were invalids, most of them suffering
from wounds, some of them of a most frightful character. It seems
unaccountable that those men in their condition should have been sent on
a trip to occupy two days and two nights without either surgeon or
nurses. My father was called upon to dress the wounds of several, one of
whom markedly attracted my attention by the fact that his entire back
seemed to have been shot away. Another, a young man about nineteen had
his right arm and hand paralyzed. There were perhaps a hundred
prisoners, all invalids. We started from Fortress Monroe in the morning
and about dark reached Harrison’s Landing where we anchored for the
night, it being inexpedient to travel except by day when our mission as
a flag of truce could be observed. The three boats being brought
together the evening was spent by the crew of the centre boat giving a
theatrical entertainment to which all were invited. The performance
simple, but amusing, consisted of a man who was supposed to be ignorant
but shrewd, being accosted by the questionable people of the city he was
visiting, in an effort to both rob him and have fun with him. As it was
purely original and played by people who were likely portraying personal
experiences, it was both intensely real and intensely amusing. The next
evening we reached City Point after dark and the following morning in
looking out my state room window I was delighted and elated at seeing
away up on the bank alongside a frame house a Confederate soldier with
gun doing picket duty. So constantly had I been thrown with Union
soldiers and had only seen Confederates as prisoners of war that to see
a Confederate soldier free and in arms doing duty on Confederate soil
was like a haven long sought for. The train of two passenger coaches
with an antiquated engine had brought down from Petersburg a large
number of people evidently attracted by curiosity and a number collected
on shore around the gang plank and exchanged newspapers with those on
board the boats. The large quantity of baggage we carried quickly
brought us trouble, for twelve trunks and a large chest for a family of
two adults and three children at a time when one traveling by a flag of
truce carried his baggage in his hand, excited suspicion and upon our
arrival at Petersburg we were directed to there discontinue our trip to
Richmond and my father was required to report daily to General Colston
until his status as a loyal Southern citizen could be established. The
Bollingbrook Hotel where we located was overflowing with Confederate
officers, and after three days spent there and after word being sent
from my father’s friends among them his cousin Jefferson T. Marten,
Confederate States Marshall for Virginia and Charles W. Russell of the
Confederate House of Representatives that if Dr. Hughes was not loyal no
one was, we were permitted to proceed to our destination. I was
impressed with the conviction that Gen. Colston’s action was merely from
abundant caution, for the friendly spirit shown my father and the
abundant good humor indicated that there was no real belief that all was
not right, but that the circumstances required examination and
explaining before we could be allowed to pass. A short ride soon brought
our train to the long high bridge over the James River and as it crossed
the bridge we got our first view of what was then wonderfully bustling
Richmond with streets so crowded that Main Street from Eighth to
Thirteenth on both sides was sometimes almost impassable, in marked
contrast some years subsequent to the close of the war when on one
business day during the busy hour of the day I once looked over the same
stretch and counted in the entire length but three people. A rattling,
uncomfortable omnibus carried us to the Ballard House, where we remained
some weeks. This hotel, perhaps the best in Richmond, was in curious
contrast to Barnum’s in Baltimore; at the latter every delicacy was
furnished in abundance—at the Ballard House the dessert for dinner for
instance consisted usually of rice pudding and apple pie, the balance of
the menu and the balance of the meals were on the same scale. At this
period there was only one other hotel in Richmond its equal, the
Spottswood at Main and Eighth burned about a year after the war, and two
more not so good, the American on Main Street opposite the post office
destroyed by the fire when Richmond was evacuated, and the Powhatan on
Eleventh opposite the Capitol Square and known after the war as Ford’s
Capitol Hotel. The Exchange Hotel was then closed. At that time gold was
worth about one dollar for three of Confederate. In 1864 and 1865 it was
worth one for sixty or seventy Confederate and board at the Spottswood
was then about seventy dollars a day. Bread was worth a dollar a loaf, a
large ginger cake cost a dollar and a pie cost a dollar, curious

An incident illustrative of a political canvass among soldiers was one
of the occurrences that soon attracted my attention. An election for
Confederate congressman for the District of Virginia, which now
comprises a part of the State of West Virginia was under way; the
candidates were Charles W. Russell formerly of Wheeling and a Dr.
Kidwell of, I believe, Clarksburg. The district was entirely in the
Union lines and hence the only voters were Confederate soldiers and
refugees. Dr. Kidwell had headquarters at the Ballard House in a room
opening immediately on the ladies’ entrance on Franklin Street at the
corner of Thirteenth and it was an occasion to make one cheerful to see
the Doctor who was tall and slender smilingly dispense good cheer from
numerous decanters to the many refugees and a few soldiers who sought
him. Mr. Russell also boarded at the same hotel, but he evidently felt
pretty secure, as he made no effort to entertain and his room was on the
upper floor. This canvass was in marked contrast with another that went
on near the same time at the Powhatan. An election for the State
Legislature was near and the candidates from the legislative districts
in what is now West Virginia met the same conditions, namely, their
territory was exclusively in the Union lines and the voters were
refugees and soldiers. Several of the candidates boarded at the Powhatan
and the meetings in the Congressional candidates’ room that were more
formal by reasons of the callers being from divers sections, now in the
case of the Legislative candidates became more sociable and nightly
refugees and soldiers from the same local section assembled and
intensely enjoyed the gossip that went on in a dense cloud of smoke from
tobacco pipes.

My father was a candidate for some medical position in the gift of the
President and by appointment he was taken accompanied by me to call upon
Mr. Davis. The President’s office was on the second floor of the post
office building entering from Bank Street, the street in the rear of
Main Street, and on the right side of the hall. My father took with him
for presentation to the President a curiously carved cane that had been
constructed by one of the prisoners at Camp Chase. Constructing articles
of this sort being the way prisoners passed their time. This particular
cane was made of pine wood, had winding serpents carved along it and was
varnished a dark, brown bright color. In the entree room was only the
President’s secretary and no others. When we were ushered into the
President’s room we found him alone. He was standing in the center of
the room and remained standing during the short interview which lasted
about five minutes, he did little talking, most of it being done by my
father, he had a natural, pleasant manner and gave close attention to
what was said to him and was apparently ignorant of my presence. I was
only a little boy twelve years of age. He was a small, delicate, but
active man dressed entirely in black, and one day after the war I saw
him as I believe walking on Baltimore Street in Baltimore, looking
exactly as I had seen him that day in his office in Richmond, except
that he no longer had the air of concentration shown at our interview.
It was rather a mystery to me how my father, a homeopathic physician,
expected to obtain a prominent medical position in the Government when
allopathic physicians alone held sway and homeopathy was unknown, but as
he usually managed to get what he wanted and I never made comments I
said nothing, although my notion turned out to be correct.

Homeopathy was not very extensively known in Richmond, a few years
before a physician of that school who had been located there had left
and from him or some member of his family my father obtained a list of
his former patients. He formed the acquaintance of several and his
journalistic relations formed in past years as a contributor to the
newspapers led him to look to the Richmond papers for help, so that most
of the papers were of great service to him. The Examiner had an
elaborate editorial on the subject of Homeopathy. The Enquirer, the
Dispatch and the Whig also contained flattering notices and Mr. Ritchie
of the Enquirer, Mr. Coworden and Mr. Ellison of the Dispatch and Mr.
Alexander Mosely of the Whig became his patients, as did also Mr. Smith
of the Sentinel when that paper was subsequently established, so that
the associations he thus formed, together with his being elected to the
Legislature to represent Ohio county in the Virginia House of Delegates
enabled him to keep his family in comfort. The latter office gave him
many privileges. For instance my shoes were gotten at the Penitentiary
whose superintendent Mr. Knote was a constituent of my father, and most
nice fitting shoes they were. He had passes over all the railroads and
his trips were both pleasant and productive of luxuries for at a time
when coffee was made of cornmeal rolled in sorghum molasses, roasted and
ground, and the only cloth was homespun and tea was about non-existent
as also loaf sugar, indeed everything reduced to the simplest, the
rations of the soldiers for instance being nearly exclusively cornmeal
and bacon, a trip of my father to Wilmington, North Carolina, led him to
visit a blockade runner from Nassau, the steamer Hansa, and when the
captain ascertained who he was, and through him he could obtain an
introduction to the President and others in authority at Richmond, a
shipment was received at our house from this ship of a bag of coffee, a
box of tea, a barrel of loaf sugar and cloth for suits of clothes and
toys for the children. It should be added that my father’s skill as a
physician quickly became recognized and his practice had extended to the
families of those occupying the highest official positions under the
Government. Upon another occasion on one of his trips he had obtained
under some advantageous arrangement a large amount of flour. This he
determined to sell and one evening he sold it to a baker on Broad Street
and the very large amount of money paid in bulky bills, he, out of
apprehension for the garroters that infested Richmond at this time,
concealed under my coat around my person, knowing there was slight
danger of any attempt to rob a young boy with ostensibly nothing to take
from him. The comparative luxury which we were enabled to enjoy was
participated in by my father’s constituents, for the Confederate soldier
from our district when visiting Richmond on furlough was welcomed and
entertained so that this period of my life is one that I look back upon
more than any other as the most pleasant and enjoyable. To what a simple
basis living had been reduced it may be noted that instead of candles
long wax tapers wound around in pyramid shapes were used, sorghum
molasses, black eye peas and bacon and cabbage and potatoes and cornmeal
were the staples. Flour bread was rather a luxury. There were two
principal confectionery stores: Pisani on Broad Street near 10th and
Antoni on Main Street near 9th, but the scant array in each was in sad
contrast to the luxury now found in any first class confectionery, at
the former one could get a saucer of ice cream, at the last a glass of
jelly. The scarcity of food and narrowness of range was in great
contrast to the vast number of people on the streets. On Main Street
from the Spottswood Hotel at 8th down to 13th Street near where the
Examiner and the Whig newspapers were located was a dense stream of
people on each side, mostly officers in uniform, for the private was
sure to be stopped by the provost guard that paraded up and down the
sidewalk looking for soldiers who were away without leave.

Free newspapers were another perquisite of legislators, except they must
send for them and my mission was to attend in 12th Street at the
newspaper offices early each morning among the crowd assembled there
waiting the distribution of the papers of which four: the Dispatch,
Examiner, Whig and Sentinel were in the immediate vicinity and the fifth
the Enquirer around on the other side of Main Street. It was upon one of
these occasions that I witnessed a memorable funeral of a soldier,
Lieutenant Noah Walker, whose home was in Baltimore who had been
recently killed in an engagement, his head having been, it was stated
completely destroyed and the Maryland friends in Richmond had been
requested to assemble early one morning at a warehouse opposite the
Examiner office at his funeral service. There were not many who came,
probably twenty. It was pathetic to observe the concern and silent
regard that each one manifested as strangers in a strange city away from
their home and friends doing homage to the memory of one who possessed
an amiable, gentle nature that attached all who knew him. The occasion
particularly appealed to me when told who he was, as this gentleman when
we first arrived in Richmond and when our straightened circumstances
required us to live all in one room had been a guest at one of our
breakfasts, which consisted of rolls and breakfast bacon broiled by my
father on the open fire of the room and which we all deliciously
enjoyed. The Marylanders and especially Baltimoreans were particularly
attentive in observance of respect for their compatriots and the funeral
of Lieutenant Walker was very much like that which took place at St.
James Church of Gen’l. Dimmock, the same assemblage of serious visaged
men, who indicated in their appearance that they were strangers away
from home and familiar associations and with an earnest concern for the
occasion and for each other. These experiences that appeal to
Marylanders were in contrast to another when General Pegram was married
in St. Paul’s Church to Miss Hetty Carey of Baltimore. Gen’l. Pegram in
full Confederate uniform and with sword at his side was accompanied by
Miss Carey, entering the church together. She wore over her dress a
heavy sash of red, white and red hanging over the right shoulder and
falling down below the waist on the left side. There was no appearance
of strangeness there and no air of constraint and all was great joyous
expectancy and full of life. Miss Carey was one of the belles of
Richmond and consequently the church was crowded. I stood in the
vestibule next to the inner door and as the two passed the scene was in
marked contrast to the sad sequel very soon to occur when Gen’l. Pegram
lost his life in battle.

Another circumstance of my father’s life as a legislator was the
opportunity afforded me of seeing and knowing the prominent persons
connected with both the Confederate and State governments and I soon
formed the acquaintance of almost every one in the State House. I had
the free run of the entire Capitol and was very much aided in this by
being taken from the private school I was attending, Mr. Alfriend’s, who
afterwards was the author of the life of President Davis, and placed
under a private tutor Mr. Burrell, a very old gentleman employed as a
clerk in the Auditor’s Office in the Capitol. I do not know whether the
Capitol presents the same appearance now as then, when the Legislature
is in session, but then around the rotunda was stretched a circle of
peanut stands, eight or ten in number and the floor was strewn with
peanut shells, tobacco juice and dirt and no one seemed to object. On
the side facing towards Broad Street on the first floor over the
basement was the House of Delegates, in the room over this was the State
Senate; opposite the House of Delegates across the rotunda was the
Confederate House of Representatives and in the room above was the State

Free access to the Capitol gave me the opportunity to observe minutely
the funeral arrangements for General Thomas J. Jackson. Stonewall
Jackson’s remains were brought to Richmond to lie in state in the
Capitol preparatory to his funeral. And they arrived late one evening
and were first deposited in a little room on the left of the entrance to
the Capitol on the side next to the Governor’s house. The burial casket
was placed on a bier, uncovered, and the custodian of the Capitol
permitted a favored few including myself to view the remains. The coffin
had evergreen heavily intertwined around it. There were no flowers. His
face was exactly as appears in his photographs, except it was thinner,
the features were perfectly placid, not evidencing that he had suffered
pain, his whiskers and mustache were of unusual thickness, his forehead
high and his hair coal black. I brought a small portion of the evergreen
on the casket away with me. After lying in state when his funeral took
place the cortege was preceded by a brass band that played a funeral
dirge; the horse that General Jackson rode with General Jackson’s boots
hanging down one on each side of his saddle came next to the hearse and
was led by his body servant. The funeral was impressive as only such a
one could be.

The Capitol and grounds were the center for interesting occurrences. The
second inauguration of Mr. Davis as President of the Confederacy took
place in front of Washington’s monument situated near the entrance to
the grounds from Grace Street. The ceremony was on the side facing the
Capitol and a dense concourse of people extended from that point almost
to the Capitol building. I was on the outskirts of this crowd and could
only see the outline of the figures of the participants in the ceremony.

On another occasion Gen’l. Henry A. Wise, ex-governor of the State, who
was levantly called “fire eater” was to make a speech in the hall of the
House of Delegates. His popularity and general interest to hear him was
evidenced by an assemblage that became so dense that an unusual
expedient was adopted, namely, an adjournment was had to the same point
from which Mr. Davis was inaugurated and when the speaker with the crowd
assembled reached the monument a rain came up so that he was obliged to
return, a large number of persons having quit because of the rain,
thereby leaving the room comfortably filled. His slender spare frame,
almost haggard countenance and shrill voice, all of themselves rendered
him a spectacular speaker and his eloquence directed immediately to you
made him an interesting speaker.

A curious occurrence took place daily in Capitol Square in the morning
before breakfast. A company of decrepit old men, all I think without
exception were thus, assembled on the broad walk along the Capitol
facing Capitol Street to drill as soldiers. The only striking quality
about them was their evident inability for service from old age and yet
the cheerfulness and zeal with which they handled their muskets and went
through simple evolutions evidenced a spirit unconscious of non utility.
This company shortly before Richmond was evacuated was succeeded at the
same place and at the same time daily by an equally curious assemblage
and that was a company of negroes, intended to form the embryo negro
troops for the Confederate army. I have heard it often declared that no
negro troops were ever enlisted on the Southern side. For a considerable
time before the war ended the enlistment of negroes as troops was
earnestly deliberated and the efforts in this direction in the Virginia
Legislature led to the formation of this Company of State troops. My
father as a member of the Legislature warmly advocated the enlistment of
negroes, having made an elaborate argument in the House of Delegates for
that purpose.

This company of negroes comprised about fifty or sixty men, about 25 or
30 years of age, were almost entirely dark mulattoes, wore no uniforms,
indeed few soldiers in the Confederacy wore uniforms except the officers
and most of theirs were shabby and old. The striking peculiarity about
this negro company was one that had appeared to possess the company of
old men, namely that while evidencing interest in their drill it
appeared to be for only momentary purposes and it all seemed to be
viewed as without any subsequent purpose. And the peculiarity about the
negro company was that they appeared to regard themselves as isolated or
out of place, as if engaged in a work not exactly in accord with their
notions of self interest, no doubt attributable to the fact that their
inclination must have been against engaging on the Southern side. Their
reward for enlistment I believe was to be freedom from slavery. The life
of a free negro in a slave holding country was however not a very
attractive one. He was usually shunned by the slaves, who were jealous
of him and from whom he usually held aloof and the whites regarded him
with suspicion as unreliable and indifferent.

An incident occurred in my experience at the Capitol that may be
regarded as of particular interest. I have a portion of the Confederate
flag that floated over the Capitol, the Capitol of the Confederacy at
the fall of Richmond. When last in Richmond the Librarian in the State
Library upon my asking him what had become of the flag, showed me a
small bundle of bunting lying in a glass book case and he said it was
portions of the flag that people had brought back and given to the
Library. I told him I had a piece but intended to retain it. Mine came
into my hands in this wise. As my father was a member of the House of
Delegates this gave me the run of the Capitol and I was intimate with
the pages in the House. On one of our excursions through the building we
went through the Library and through a garrett above and then through a
trap door onto the roof, in returning I was last and lying on the roof,
half inside the open trap door was the flag, at the end it had a slit
about one inch long and wide and it was so suggestive that involuntarily
almost I continued the slit for the flag’s entire length and tearing the
strip away, rolled it up and put it in my pocket.

At another time I ran across the Vice President Alexander H. Stephens.
Something attracted his attention to me. He regarded me with curious
interest, I presume because a little boy was observing him so closely.
His lameness and delicately drawn features were sufficient to attract,
but his small stature and earnest, studious expression of countenance
were equally attractive. He like most of the persons I saw or met in a
prominent government relation in Richmond seemed to take the life of
these strenuous, stirring times most philosophically and in a matter of
fact way free from worry or excitement. When it is remembered that the
cannonading below Drury’s Bluffs on the James River below Richmond could
not only be distinctly heard but it was only necessary to secure an
elevation and see the distinct flash of the cannon it will be seen how
close we constantly lived to conditions of trouble. Often I climbed the
garrett of the Powhatan Hotel, where many of my legislative friends
boarded to see the flash of the cannonading.

Genl. Smith, ex-governor, “extra Billy Smith” he was called was another
interesting person I met at the Capitol. The reputation he had acquired
of kissing all the babies on his election tours was warranted by his
manner. Ease of bearing, perfect accord with you, absolute freedom from
any ostentation were patent, no effort to lead in conversation, the
friendly utterances of an old friend all bespoke in him the consummate
politician rather than the soldier.

One of the most historical events that occurred in Richmond I have never
seen referred to in any writing. It was after the return of the
unsuccessful peace mission to Fortress Monroe. A mass meeting was held
in the African Church in Broad Street near the Monumental Church and the
speakers were detailing to the audience the events and results of the
mission. One of the last speakers was Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of
State of the Confederacy, and one of Mr. Benjamin’s declarations was
made with great vehemence that as long as a drop of blood flowed in his
veins and until the last drop, he would never surrender. It is peculiar
that Mr. Benjamin was entirely consistent in this declaration of his,
because as the Southern Confederacy faded away he escaped in an open
boat to one of the near by South Atlantic islands of England, Bermuda, I
think, and ultimately reached London where he achieved great eminence in
his profession as a lawyer and ultimately retired to Paris where he died
without ever returning to the United States.

General John H. Morgan I saw immediately upon his return as a prisoner
from the North. He was warmly greeted in Richmond and his gratified
expression showed his appreciation. His healthy complexion, well kept,
full appearance and free from care air indicated, that although a
prisoner he had evidently been supplied with necessaries that were
strangers to the meagerly supplied Confederate officers in active
service. Genl. Morgan was of rather more than medium size and
development and reminded one more of the bonhomie clubman, bordering on
the genial and agreeable Bohemian rather than impressing one as the bold
dashing border raider in which he had acquired his reputation, and as
which he soon after leaving Richmond lost his life.

General J. B. Stewart, “Jeb Stewart,” who commanded the Confederate
cavalry was of a remarkable personality. I saw him riding at the head of
his cavalry in passing through Richmond. His hair was black and long,
his face was full, with large eyes and a prominent nose, his shirt was
cut low particularly in front, showing a massive neck. He sat on his
horse the perfection of a horseman, holding the bridle in such a way
that the horse, a well kept one, seemed to partake of his rider’s
intense vitality. Although Genl. Stewart was unlike General Pickett, yet
something applicable alike to the two reminded me the one of the other
and when I saw General Pickett at the head of his command, as I did,
pass through Richmond before the battle of Gettysburg and then saw this
same command with its thinned out ranks on its return after the campaign
in which that battle took place, the contrast was so heart rending that
it was an exceedingly sad welcome extended them. Troops were constantly
passing through Richmond the last two years of the war and the
scantiness which existed in rations to which I have already alluded, the
staple fare being corn bread and bacon, extended to the clothes of the
soldiers. In a large command for instance a brigade it was customary to
see numbers of soldiers without coats, others without hats, others
without shoes, conditions almost incredible to believe unless actually
seen as I often did. Upon one occasion while it was snowing a brigade of
infantry was marching up Main Street and when it reached the Spottswood
Hotel a hatter named Dooley who kept a hat store under the Spottswood
rolled from his store a number of large wooden boxes, broke them open
and took therefrom a collection of shop worn straw hats which he
forthwith preceded to distribute to those of the soldiers who were
without any covering for their heads to shield them from the falling
snow. How our soldiers with all their discomforts, privations and sad
conditions were capable of doing any fighting instead of being the
brave, enduring men they were furnished a great tribute for the Southern
spirit, and the Southern cause.

General Ewell while he was recuperating from his serious wounds lived
immediately opposite our house on Marshall street in Richmond and would
daily on his crutches walk up and down the porch. He was tall and
slender and in his neat gray uniform and with his dark bushy whiskers
enveloping a pallid face his appearance was a reminder of the suffering
he had endured.

General Jubal Early was a small, active nervous man with a curious
mixture of force of character and apparent volatileness. His most
striking characteristic was unceasing restlessness. He said nothing and
did nothing that was particularly impressive, but in a large room
crowded with men with no particular deference shown to him I was
instantly attracted by the movements of one whom I soon learned was
General Early and I then understood how he had worked out the results he
had in his historical valley campaigns.

Colonel Mosby I never saw until shortly after the war ended, that was at
the funeral of Hon. Charles W. Russell in Baltimore. He was a man that
reminded me very much of General Early except that he was of a quiet
bearing, closely shaven, with keen eyes and an incisive manner and one
could believe how he had been successful in the many raids that had made
him famous. On one of these raids he had captured General Benjamin F.
Kelley and General Crook, two Major Generals in the Union Army, having
ridden one night with a detachment of his cavalry through the Union
lines to the Hotel in Romani where they were staying, required them to
rise, dress and accompany him past their own troops into the Confederate
lines, the Federal troops supposing Mosby’s men to be a detachment of
their own cavalry. The two captured generals were brought to Libby
prison in Richmond. Genl. Kelley had married into a family with whom my
own family was intimate and my father when he learned of General
Kelley’s arrival arranged to visit him. We took with us a large market
basket filled with eatables, such as Maryland biscuit, a boiled ham and
other nice things and after passing through the outer offices of the
prison we came into the large room where General Kelley was. I was
struck with the very small number of prisoners in so large room; Libby
Prison had been a tobacco warehouse and this one of the large rooms of
the warehouse, on the first floor from the entrance and second floor
from the rear. There was only one other Union officer besides General
Crook in the room and he was in the open space between that and the next
room. We talked with General Kelly near the window in the rear, there
were no chairs in the room and General Crook stood off in the middle of
the room viewing us with curiosity. He had on long boots that came above
his knees, his pants being inside and one foot was on the floor and the
other, his right, resting on a box, he was slightly stooping over with
his right hand on his knee. General Kelley called to him and he came
over where we were and after being introduced joined in our
conversation. The extreme pleasure shown by General Kelley and the
interest of General Crook at our visit was always a pleasant experience
in my life which made me follow in watching the fortunes of these two
Union officers until each passed to the other shore, the last being
General Crook, his death affecting me markedly from the deep impression
he had made on me in that interview and from the close observation I had
kept of him.

There was another prison in Richmond not so well known in the North as
Libby Prison, but was better known in Richmond and to many Southern
soldiers and that was “Castle Thunder.” That was where deserters were
kept and the gentleman in command of the prison was Captain Alexander
from Baltimore. I once dined with him and his wife at the house where
they boarded. I was a guest of Captain and Mrs. Alexander and they had
another guest about my age, Rosa, the little daughter of Mrs. Greenhough
of Washington, who after surviving a period of confinement in the
Capitol Prison at Washington almost within the shadow of the statue
sculptured by her husband had been permitted to come South to Richmond
accompanied by her daughter.

There was still another military prison in Richmond and that was “Belle
Isle,” out in the middle of James River. As Libby Prison was exclusively
for captured officers, so Belle Isle was exclusively for privates of the
Union Army, and just as I had been deeply impressed with the few
prisoners in Libby Prison, I was markedly impressed with the throngs of
prisoners at Belle Isle. I once accompanied my father and a number of
our soldiers to call upon one of the prisoners at Belle Isle. This
prisoner was sent for to come to the gate to talk with us, but when he
came he did not seem particularly glad or sorry to see us and seemed to
regard us with uninterested curiosity rather than anything else.

General Robert E. Lee I met just after the war closed. He had returned
to his home in Richmond on Franklin street between 7th and 8th, a house
that belonged to Mr. John Stewart, a wealthy Scotchman who resided at
his country place on the Brooke Turnpike and had his business office in
the basement of the Franklin street house. Mr. Stewart’s family and
General Lee’s wife were patients of my father. Mrs. Lee had long been an
invalid and upon the occasion of meeting General Lee I accompanied my
father who went to pay a professional visit to Mrs. Lee. I carried with
me six of General Lee’s photographs intending to ask him to sign his
name on each. We were ushered into the parlor and General Lee almost
immediately appeared. My father introduced me and then went upstairs to
see Mrs. Lee leaving me with General Lee who invited me over to a seat
on the sofa in the corner by a window alongside of him, he sitting next
to the window. Prior to sitting on the sofa however, I told him I had
brought my photographs to ask him to sign his name to them and he took
them to the dining room in the rear of the parlor where he said there
were pen and ink and soon returned with his name signed to each and all
of which I subsequently gave away, except two that I still have. On
taking his seat alongside of me I was struck with the naturalness and
simplicity of his actions and conversation. He had a full face, clear,
open eyes, healthful complexion, full beard of gray and carried himself
in a quiet naturally dignified way. In reply to his questions I told him
I had been before the war closed and up to the evacuation of Richmond a
cadet at the Virginia Military Institute, being the youngest cadet in
the corps, and no doubt had been the youngest that ever attended there,
being only fourteen years and six months old. He told me that he had
just had a visit from and talk with General Smith, the Superintendent of
the Institute who told him he purposed to make arrangements without
delay to reopen the Institute at Lexington its former home before it was
destroyed by General Hunter of the Union Army, and I urged General Lee
to intercede for me with my father to permit me to return to the
Institute. It was a great source of personal gratification to me, a
young boy to have had this talk with General Lee. There is one feature
with reference to General Lee that I deem it necessary to advert to. In
some way, I know not how, it has been recognized as true that General
Lee entertained great respect and high personal regard for General U. S.
Grant. I know that General Lee had occasion from time to time to write
from his headquarters around Richmond to my father in reference to Mrs.
Lee’s condition and in one of these letters he gave distinct expression
to the views he entertained in reference to General Grant. It is
possible that these views were modified at the time of his personal
intercourse with General Grant incident to the surrender of his army,
but one would find difficulty in discovering any thing in the incident
of the surrender other than those of a negative character calculated to
produce decided changes in an opinion preconceived of General Grant’s
character: and one’s opinions in matters of this sort are not usually
affected by negative influences. The views expressed by General Lee in
his letter were not those popularly accepted after the war as expressing
a high regard for General Grant, but were the views generally
entertained and expressed of General Grant by the Southern people in the
South during the war, except that General Lee was utterly incapable of
voicing the popular Southern expression wherein General Grant was styled
in the South during the war by the Southern press and by popular
expression there, horrible as it now sounds, a “butcher” in consequence
of the apparently heartless way in which he subjected great bodies of
his troops to what appeared useless loss of life.

In one of my interviews with Colonel Charles Marshall of Baltimore with
whom I enjoyed many years of intimate professional relation, I stated to
him what I have above referred to, mentioning the sentiments expressed
by General Lee in his letters to my father. Colonel Marshall who had
been General Lee’s private secretary during the war gave me to
understand that he knew they were the sentiments actually entertained.

Governor Letcher was the war governor of Virginia. Those who called upon
him were received in a room in the State House at one end of which stood
a large side board occupied by decanters and glasses, a part of his
Creed was to extend the hospitality of this side board to each visitor.
Virginia hospitality required him to keep company in the partaking of
the refreshments with the result that he had a phenomenally red face,
perpetually wreathed in smiles. It can be understood that delegations of
legislators often called upon him. He also frequently held evening
receptions that were exceedingly agreeable and very popular, although
never crowded and at one of these receptions which I attended I remember
viewing with astonishment, a portly man with long black curls hanging
down his back and with him an exceedingly pretty young girl whom I
learned was his daughter. This individual was well known in Richmond and
will be recognized without further description by any one conversant
with Richmond life during the war. At the time General Hunter burned the
Military Institute at Lexington he also burned Governor Letcher’s house
located there in revenge for which it will be remembered that Harry
Gilmor on his raid into Maryland burned the house of Governor Bradford
on Charles Street Avenue a few miles out from Baltimore. This same Harry
Gilmor possessed qualities of a superior character, for I remember that
after the war when he returned to Baltimore, with the occupation for
which nature fitted him as a soldier, gone, instead of his becoming a
stipendiary on the bounty of his friends, he engaged for a while as a
journeyman painter, although no one had been raised with better rights
to gentle associations and I once viewed him with intense interest
painting the front of a house on the west side of Eutaw street near
Franklin and he was doing his work earnestly and well. With a slight
natural defect in one of his eyes, his face was entirely oblivious to
the fact of anything unusual in his occupation, a spirit of independence
that soon after led to his being elected sheriff of the City. This same
position of sheriff was also held by another returned Southerner who had
gone to Richmond from Baltimore where he had been Marshal of Police
shortly after we had passed through on our way to Richmond. This genial
gentleman, George P. Kane, showed in every trait and manner his racial
extraction and it was no matter of wonder that he passed from sheriff to
Mayor of the City.

When the Virginia Military Institute was burned after the battle of New
Market where the cadets lost a number who were killed and where many
were wounded, the corps was sent to Richmond. Every Richmond boy had a
great ambition to go to the Institute, at that time regarded as the West
Point of the South. The cadets were a part of the Confederate army and
every graduate was given an officer’s commission in the army. Incidents
were constantly occurring to keep alive and active this spirit to become
a cadet—boys have little fear of bullets, they enjoy the excitement of
active army life and even death and wounds appeal to them as making
heroes. After the battle of New Market one of the cadets a son of Dr.
Cabell of Richmond who was killed in that battle was brought to Richmond
for burial and his funeral took place from his father’s home on Franklin
street where he lived, a neighbor of General Lee. I remember as the
remains after the service were borne down the front steps and through
the iron front gate the intense awe and respect in the face of the young
men assembled on the pavement around the entrance to the open space in
front of the house. It was here I believe I first formed the
determination to be a cadet and, strange to say, when I first entered
the cadet ranks, the drill master assigned to our squad was Bob Cabell,
a brother of the cadet whose funeral I had attended that day.

The Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute were in number about five
or six hundred, were from all over the South and ranged in age from
about sixteen years to about twenty-four or five. I entered the
Institute shortly before the evacuation of Richmond and enjoyed the
distinction, as I have stated, of being the youngest cadet in the corps.
When the cadets first came to Richmond, they marched with singularly
soldier-like precision and carriage out Grace street to the Fair grounds
where they were for a time quartered. The uniforms of the boys as also
their food began to partake of the Confederate soldier variety and it
was pathetic to see some of these boys marching in ranks through
Richmond to their quarters with pants torn or worn out at the bottom and
variegated in outfit, some with cadet jackets and plain pants, others
with cadet pants and plain jackets. The Richmond Alms House was assigned
to the cadets for their quarters. Life there would have been ordinarily
recognized as singularly trying; to the young men in the corps it was a
perpetual joy, alloyed alone by the obligation to attend lectures. The
rooms that were a delight to them were simply unmentionable. In my room
about twelve feet wide and twenty-four feet long were sixteen cadets who
slept and studied there. In the day time the mattresses were piled each
on top of the other in a single corner of the room—at night time they
were arranged side by side with head against the wall. One long table
occupied the center of the room. It was supposed to be a study table and
was occupied at night by a favored one to sleep upon. In the day time it
was never occupied except by the boys lounging upon it in lieu of
chairs, smoking their pipes and gossiping. Pure atmosphere day or night
in that room was not needed by those young men with their wonderful
vitality. In day time the air was redolent with tobacco smoke from their
pipes. At night time the door was invariably kept closed by any who were
up playing cards or gossiping after the retiring hour to shut out from
view the officer of the guard, who whenever he wished to investigate for
such breaches of discipline always discreetly and considerately knocked
before entering, opening the door to find everything in perfect order.
Each room had a petty officer, usually a corporal, a senior who was
supposed to be responsible for the good order and cleanliness of the
room. One of the duties of this senior was to initiate by “bucking” any
new cadet introduced into his room. This “bucking”, peculiar to the
Institute, consisted in taking the new comer’s right hand, carrying it
behind his back, twisting it around until he was compelled thereby to
bend over when he would be struck by the senior with a bayonet scabbard
on his posterior once for each letter in his name and in the event he
was without a middle name he was given the right to select one and upon
failure to do so was given the name Constantinople for its many letters.
Thereupon he was dubbed a “rat”, which name he bore for one year. He was
liable to have trouble for the whole first year and might have to take
another bucking or stand up to a fight, which usually was brought about
in a formal way and was a great affair. The corporal of our room was a
mild mannered gentlemanly fellow named Bayard of Georgia, whose father
was, I believe, in the Confederate Congress from that State. After
bucking me and permitting me to choose Asa for my middle name he dubbed
me “mouse” and stated to me that if any one attempted to give me any
trouble to let him know. No trouble was there though for me, it was one
constant stretch of delightful experiences. The association with older
boys and men who treated me not simply as an equal but from my youth and
boyishness showed me every favor rendered my life one of joyous ease. I
was informed by the cadet whose name immediately preceded mine in roll
call of my company that any time I wanted to get off to let him know and
he would answer twice, once for himself, once for me. I was introduced
by a friendly cadet to the apothecary’s assistant who turned an honest
dollar in selling surreptitiously to the boys ginger cakes and pies at a
thousand per cent profit. I was recommended to old “Judge”, the negro
head cook and steward, who, black as coal, was with the boys the most
popular person in the corps, but for his favors which usually comprised
an extra allowance of bread, expected a suitable remembrance. A room I
have here described could furnish no more than living quarters for the
number occupying it, and how any studying could be done at night by two
dull tallow candles, the only lights was inexplicable. Toilets were
performed in a general wash room, adjoining a larger room where all
trunks were kept and these two rooms were on the same stoop or porch and
a little apart from the living rooms that all adjoined. If meagre fare
contributed to good health, the boys were entitled to the extraordinary
health they possessed with such surroundings. A typical breakfast was
“growley”, bread and Confederate coffee. Sometimes sorghum molasses took
the place of “growley.” This latter dish was quite watery, being a hash
of beef, potatoes and onions. A typical dinner was boiled Irish
potatoes, boiled corned beef and bread. Meals were served in the large
dining room in the basement at plain pine tables with no covering, each
table seating about one dozen. At the head of the table stood the large
dish of growley or the corn-beef and at each cadet’s plate was his half
loaf of bread. It required practice and expertness to slide one’s tin
plate over the table, to the “growley” dish for a helping and some art
to secure at long distance the favorable disposition of the cadet
sitting at the head to whom fell the delightful emolument of
apportioning the “growley.” The half loaf of bread was where old “Judge”
came in, for you always felt as if you wanted more. Each cadet was
furnished his own two pronged fork and a good large table knife, both of
the rough bone handled variety, colored a dark brown. This fare with
undue discipline would have been unbearable but with the free and
independent life led there it was only a pleasing passing incident in
the daily routine of cadet life constantly filled with ever recurring
incidents to surprise, interest and exhilarate and no grumbling ever
took place, only high spirits and the fullest animal enjoyment in the
flush of health.

A bell rang for classes or lectures and the class rooms were a wonder.
The classes were so large that many would have to stand up grouped
together, usually near the door. Before the lecture was finished the
groups would be greatly thinned out, for from time to time while the
professor was absorbed in his work or inspecting the black boards the
door would softly open and out would slip some member of the group who
would softly close the door and walk past the windows of the class room
as naturally as if he were on a mission, the only evidence of
irregularity being the exceedingly expert quick way with which he
vanished through the door. Another result of the large classes was the
effort to test the students by requiring several to recite at once, as
one at a time would never have reached around. This was supposed to be
accomplished by means of the blackboard, at each of the five or six
boards was stationed one cadet and the same test was furnished to all at
once. Out of the entire number at work usually at least one knew his
task well. The others made a show of great industry and with much waste
of chalk and many changes and corrections and with a sharp eye on his
neighbor’s work he managed to construct a passable performance. The last
exhibit I saw in the geography class was a curiously drawn map in chalk
outlining South America. It was not difficult to identify the copies of
various grades and conditions, nor the original from which made. I
suppose the professor was charitable in not holding his students to a
too strict accountability. I wonder indeed how they could do any
studying with such conditions or surroundings, instead of showing the
general faithfulness that they did to their work.

As I have stated a fight was a very formal affair; while usually
originating in quite an unmentionable way it was arranged to take place
with a full regard to the proprieties. One of the sixteen men in my room
was a jew named Lovenstein from Richmond. He was a new cadet like myself
and was therefore liable to have trouble. He had declined to submit to
some indignity required of him by an older cadet and he was thereupon
challenged to fight. This latter he had no way of escaping. It was
passed around during the day that there was to be a fight in so and so’s
room that night, I got there in company with the men from our room about
half after eight o’clock, the hour these affairs usually occurred. The
room was packed to suffocation, standing around an improvised ring. The
air was filled with tobacco smoke but there was absolutely no talking or
noise. In the ring in the center of the room the two fighters were
facing each other. My sympathies were with the jew because he came from
our room. A jew in the South or in Richmond who comported himself as a
gentleman was received as such, the commercialism that attached to the
race elsewhere did not at that date affect his status as a gentleman in
the South. Lovenstein stood up manfully to his task, with the creditable
result that secured for him the regard of the other inmates of our room
and it soon became understood that he was to be protected thereafter and
that no further trouble was to be put up for him.

The gala performance of the day was at dress parade. This occurred at
five in the afternoon. The large plaza fronting the full width of the
Alms House furnished a fine parade ground. Colonel Shipp, a portly,
dignified impressive man who at the time of my present writing is still
at the Institution now as Superintendent was then the Commandant, his
adjutant was a little man named Woodbridge and these two with the well
drilled corps as a whole furnished the three striking incidents of the
parade. The awkward squads consisting of new cadets were put through
simple evolutions at the same hour off from the parade ground at each
end of the building. Visitors in large numbers assembled to watch each
drill of the corps. At the close, the cadets were at liberty to stroll
off in the neighborhood for an hour recreation, and that was liberally
availed of. Soldierly dignity was not invariably preserved in these
strolls. Pent up youthful vitality freed from restraint showed itself in
rough play and upon one occasion an older companion of mine in the
exuberance of his spirits lifted me to his shoulders and completed his
walk bearing me with him in this position until his return to the
restraining formalities of the Institute grounds. One’s introduction to
the Institute was in strict military discipline; the details of name,
age, residence and the taking of the oath of allegiance to the State and
to the Confederacy were followed by a written requisition for a blanket,
mattress, knife and fork, etc., and an assignment to a room and company.
Mine was B Company. A sedate and dignified looking cadet named Ross was
captain, a good, old fashioned, friendly fellow named Royston was
orderly sergeant. My introduction to the corporal of my room was through
an army officer, Captain Shriver, who had recently graduated and who
accompanied me and my father on my entrance into the Institute.

General Smith, the Superintendent, was only seen by the cadets in his
private office at the far end of the building. The only visit I made to
him was quite an event in my life. Usually visits to the Superintendent
were quite serious affairs, furnishing checks to exuberant spirits,
often grave in consequences. Therefore a notification that your presence
was desired by the Superintendent was calculated to set the heart going
more rapidly and to stir the memory for some breach that must have been
discovered. The summons to me one day just as I was about to attend my
French lecture was as unattractive as attending the lecture. But when I
reached the Superintendent’s room I found there three Confederate
soldiers constituents of my father’s and friends of my family who had
come out to see me and had secured permission for me to accompany them
back to Richmond to spend the day. An event of the day was the taking of
a photograph in a group, this with a good supply of peanuts and a visit
to the theatre furnished quite a full day for us four, three seedy and
friendly Confederate soldiers and a youthful cadet just fourteen years
old. Their request to Genl. Smith to allow me to accompany them on their
lark had evidently appeared so unique that I was struck with the degree
of pleasure it seemed to afford him and my soldier friends.

The meagre fare made me yearn greatly to participate of the food that I
knew was being enjoyed at my home and I was not slow in availing myself
of any temporary leave I could obtain. One of these occasions took place
just shortly before the evacuation of Richmond and upon my return to the
Institute I was greeted by an almost empty building. I found the Corps
had been called out the night before to go to the front, leaving me as a
younger cadet with a number of others as a detail to guard the
Institute. For the short time we were in charge, there was of course no
lectures and little discipline, each one could go and come as he chose,
with the result that my visits to my home board were more interesting
and in my saunters along the streets I began to notice on the Saturday
prior to the evacuation premonitions of coming trouble. Great activity
was suddenly manifested through the various Confederate Government
departments. The Cadets at the Institute were extended permission to
remove their trunks. This was availed of on Saturday and also on Sunday
until the Institute was practically abandoned by every one there, but
was filled with the furniture and the trunks of all the absent cadets,
except of those few who had friends to take charge of them. Besides my
own trunk I was able to care for that of another room mate and sent it
to him by express to his home some weeks later.

On Sunday morning the 2d of April, 1865, it was apparent to anyone that
the City was to be abandoned by the Confederate troops. Great piles of
official documents and papers of all sorts were brought out from the
departments, piled up in the centre of the streets in separate piles at
short distances apart and then set on fire to be destroyed, some few
burned entirely, others only smouldered and others again failed to burn
at all. The result seemed to depend on the quality of the paper and the
density of the bundles. From one pile I took out a roll of Confederate
bonds with all coupons attached and from another pile a bundle of
official papers of various sorts. On Monday morning the 3d of April, I
saw going up Marshall street about daylight two Confederate cavalrymen
on foot who were the very last of the Confederate soldiers to leave
Richmond. On the same morning about eleven o’clock I saw the first Union
soldier to enter Richmond. He was also a cavalryman, riding up Broad
street and was near Tenth street when I saw him and was surrounded and
followed by a howling, frantic mob of about five hundred negro boys,
there being no other person except myself that I could see on the street
in the vicinity. Between these two periods, the going of the last
Confederates and the coming of the first Union soldier, stirring scenes
were being elsewhere enacted. I had first gone out to the Institute to
see how matters stood there and I found it was in possession of a horde
of men, women and children from all the neighborhood around, who had
broken open the building and were carrying away everything movable,
furniture, cadets’ trunks, books, guns and swords. Indeed, their
vandalism spared nothing. I went to my room and was able to secure my
blankets and my knife and fork and my books. It was intensely
distressing to observe the property of the cadets who were off in the
discharge of their duty, boldly appropriated and carried off before my
eyes by these multitudinous freebooters who preyed upon it as if it was
so much public spoils free to all who chose to help themselves. I
tarried there a very short while, carrying away with me what I had been
able to save of my own to my home. In leaving I noticed that the brick
arsenal across the road from the Institute had been, during the night,
blown up with such force that the fresh dirt in two graves alongside had
been blown out. They were the graves of two negroes who shortly before
had been hung on the hill to the east of the Institute, having been
found guilty of burglarously entering the cellar of the Rev. Dr. Moses
D. Hoge, the Presbyterian minister in Richmond, out of which they had
stolen a couple of hams. After reaching my home, I went down to the
Spotswood Hotel at the corner of 8th and Main streets just on the edge
of where the fire was raging. Why the Confederate troops had set fire,
as was reported of them in their evacuation of Richmond, I could not
understand. The fire was most disastrous in extent and in the character
of the buildings. It was in the business section; and the post office, a
granite building on Main street between 9th and 10th in which was
President Davis’ office was the only building left standing within a
wide radius. Scenes similar to what I had seen enacted at the Military
Institute were also taking place on the edge of the fire district.
Stores were being broken into and looted by women, men and boys. Barrels
of flour were being rolled away, bolts of cloth, boxes filled with all
sorts of commodities, groceries, tobacco, etc. In the midst of this
carnival of plunder a lot of women, a half dozen in number, had
concentrated their attention on a particular bolt of unbleached coarse
cotton cloth and in the contest for it had unwound it, each one pulling
her way. Others around were carrying away equally valuable goods ad
libitum, but these viragos ignored the ample opportunities elsewhere,
concentrating their energies on their fight for this particular cloth.
The temptation to myself and to another boy of my age with me was so
strong to incommode them in their senseless conduct that we took small
bags of tobacco from two barrels in front of a store under the Spotswood
Hotel and pelted them with the tobacco. While thus engaged the fire
gradually crept around in the rear of Main street towards Franklin and
had reached an arsenal on 8th street for making bomb shells. Soon the
shells began to burst and pieces flew in our direction, breaking windows
and scattering the crowd, including the fighting women, who got away
with no plunder from that immediate locality.

We had spent the summer of 1863 on the James river about twelve miles
above Richmond and a visit I subsequently paid there gave me an
opportunity of enjoying an experience that can never be repeated, namely
getting out of Richmond on a Confederate pass and witnessing some of the
incidents of an historical raid. My father had formed a personal
friendship with the family of General Winder, who was from Baltimore,
and as all passes had to be obtained from General Winder, who was in
command of Richmond and it was difficult to obtain access to him at his
office on Main street, I went to his house and got a pass from his son
who was his aide. With this, I boarded the canal boat on the James River
and Kanawha Canal, which boat left every evening at the foot of 7th
street for its trip up the canal. These boats were fitted to take a long
trip, uncomfortable though it might be. It was pulled by three horses
going at a rapid trot, the front one ridden by the driver who blew a
horn for the locks and the mail and to change horses. The efforts of the
drivers on freight boats on these horns were often artistic and as
musical as an accomplished bugler. Nothing of that sort was ever
attempted by the boy who rode the horses on the passenger boat. The
passengers in good weather sat on camp stools on the top of the boat and
a man at the end steered, at frequent intervals calling out “low bridge”
at which all on deck ducked their heads to avoid the low bridges which
so frequently crossed the canal from one portion of a farm to another.
The kitchen was at the end of the boat. In the long saloon on each side
was a seat running the whole length, which was converted into beds at
night. In the centre of the saloon was a long table upon which meals
were served. Just after leaving Richmond the sentry came around to
inspect the passes and verify the descriptions they contained of their
possessors. He usually completed his rounds seven or eight miles out
about the time the canal boat reached the “grave yard,” an open space
extending out from the canal and covered by water in which were sunk
worn out canal boats.

When ready to return to Richmond I was to do so by the Plank Road, but
the instant we struck this road we found it blocked by heavy trees that
had been cut down and thrown across the road so as to render it
impassable for horse or man. We quickly learned that this was to
intercept Dahlgren’s raiders who were then some distance up the river
and were supposed to be approaching by the Plank Road. All the
neighborhood had sent their horses out into the woods in the custody of
the most faithful of the negroes to prevent their seizure by the
raiders, and silverware and other articles portable had been concealed
so that preparations were fully made for the arrival of Dahlgren’s
troops. This occurred the next day. They had crossed the river at a ford
a short distance above under the guidance of a negro of the neighborhood
who had essayed to pilot them to Richmond and when they reached these
obstructions on the Plank Road they were compelled to deflect their
course so that they were carried around Richmond instead of into it, and
here at this point where they left the Plank road occurred an incident
that I could not understand then and do not clearly understand now. They
hung their negro guide. They left his body hanging and after it was
taken down by residents, the rope was cut into small pieces and passed
around as mementoes. I feel assured that Dahlgren’s men could not impute
to the negro knowledge of the obstructions in the road. The
circumstances enforced this conclusion. The obstructions had just been
placed; their appearance made this self evident. As a matter of fact
they had been put there during the night by parties sent from Richmond
and were entirely unknown to persons in the vicinity. The negro guide
had been picked up miles above at a time when it was patent to any one
he could not have known of these obstructions. The slightest
acquaintance with negro character during the war should moreover have
informed the raiders that no negro would have volunteered to pilot
Federal troops with the intent of leading them into trouble, or of not
performing for them all he was capable of, and I can only conclude that
he was a victim of combined ignorance of the negro and irritation at
being intercepted in their progress. If they had reached nearer to
Richmond they would have found almost every white citizen in the City,
whatever his station or occupation, armed and in the trenches around the
city awaiting their arrival, so that getting into the City was
practically impossible.

The Confederate hospitals in Richmond were possibly the most interesting
places for most persons. The officers’ hospital was at Richmond College
at that time in the country about a mile from the built up city. Since
then the City has built out to and beyond it. The Seabrook Hospital,
occupied exclusively by privates, was a collection of one story long
frame buildings in the neighborhood of 23d street and Franklin Street.
The surgeon in chief was Dr. Gravett with whose family we were intimate
and a feature of this hospital was the delightful biscuits made there by
the cook. The Chimborazo Hospital was another famous one. Between this
hospital and a point on the open ground across from President Davis’
residence the signal corps men every night exchanged signals in
practicing, a group of men being stationed on the hill near the hospital
with their torch and another group with a torch on the other side of the
valley in the space next the President’s house. The President’s house,
now the Confederate Museum, was one of the prettiest houses in Richmond.
The president met with a sad loss there in the death of his son. At the
time this occurred some one started a subscription among the children to
erect a monument to the memory of the child and the names of all who
subscribed were written on paper, it being also there written that the
monument was a gift from the playmates of the boy and the paper was
placed in the monument erected over the grave at Hollywood. My name was
included, but I am sure that scarcely one in the entire number was in
fact a playmate of the boy who was so delicate that his only companion
was his nurse.

The most interesting sights were the fortifications around Richmond. Out
on the Mechanicsville turnpike about two miles beyond the Alms House was
the inner fort on the North. This was manned by a battery composed of
Norfolk men under command of a Captain Hendren, two deserters from the
Union Army were placed in this battery. They were treated in a most
friendly way by the men, but they seemed out of place themselves and
awkward and strange. Why they should have deserted I could not
understand, for an exchange of the ample fare of the Union soldier with
their luxuries for the cornbread and bacon of the Confederates could not
have been an attraction. This same pike while the Battle of Cold Harbor
was in progress presented an intensely interesting appearance, clear
from Richmond to the narrow Chickahomini River and beyond, it was lined
with soldiers, horses and wagons hurrying to and fro and one of the most
attractive sights was the stream of Union prisoners just captured and
being marched into Richmond. One prisoner I recall as a common type, he
was a German emigrant utterly unable to speak a word of English, dressed
in a new Zouave uniform of gaudy colors and he evidently labored under
the delusion that he was going to better his condition by exchanging
from a fighter in the Union army to a prisoner in the Confederacy. I
believe if he had had any conception of the restrictive diet of the
prisoner or Confederate soldier, for both fared about alike, he would
have been less easily captured, and the bounty and substitute money that
no doubt had been securely disposed of by him at his enlistment were
going to look less alluring in a Confederate prison than the future
these pictured to him while he enjoyed his exceedingly brief army

The most interesting fortifications were on the James River at Drury’s
Bluff about seven miles below Richmond, and a sort of an excursion
steamer enabled visitors to inspect the fortifications. In the
neighborhood of Drury’s Bluff further down the River was the Howlett
House, historical for being at various periods first in the Confederate
lines and then in the Union. Upon a visit I paid to it in Company with
Col. Herbert of the 17th Virginia Regiment and the Rev. Mr. Perkins, the
Chaplain, we obtained a magnificent view of the surrounding country and
of both armies, our own and the Union. Dutch Gap was in the distance and
Butlers Tower was in front of us and down on the river shore below us
were thousands of shells that had been fired by the Union batteries and
had failed to explode. In returning from the Howlett House to the
station of the 17th Virginia, sharpshooters in the Union lines began
firing at us and the bullets threw up the dirt around us in a lively
fashion. I feel convinced the sharpshooters were trying to see how near
they could come to us without hitting us, my companions however
preferred to get down below the raise in the ground. The same spirit of
play I think must have actuated the batteries that were continually
firing shells that went clear over the fortifications and way behind,
possibly a mile or so. The fortifications were constructed in a very
formidable way. The front of the raised earth was a labyrinth of brush
and sharpened stakes pointing outward. Inside of the fortifications were
deep ravines cut in the earth, turning and twisting with pillars of
earth at intervals, so as to permit the sentries to approach the
breastworks without exposure. The quarters of the soldiers were usually
dugouts, covered with raised wooden tops. The sleeping bunks were below
the ground and each location had a fire place. One of my nights was
spent in one of these with a corporal of one of the companies of the
17th Virginia. His room mate was absent. Before entering he handed me a
copy of David Copperfield and this was my first introduction to the
delights of Dickens’ works. The corporal also offered me a flour
biscuit, the only one he had; as I knew the meaning of it to him I
declined. During the night we were aroused by a night attack at the
front a few hundred yards away, which compelled my room mate to go
there. I had never heard so many bullets whistle over head before and
the sound was more intense from the stillness of the night, the attack,
however, was of short duration.

The most interesting scene in camp life was the church service on Sunday
night. The soldiers were in winter quarters and a good sized frame
tabernacle had been erected with seats around on boards very much like a
circus. The auditorium was crowded, of course exclusively with soldiers
and a more impressive service and a more deeply interested and serious
set of men I never saw. The two opposing lines, Confederate and Union,
had been so long fixed at this point and they were respectively so
securely intrenched that matters looked quite permanent and these
conditions led to interchange of friendly relations between the two
sides leading to exchange of newspapers, tobacco, etc. The slenderness
of the Confederate soldier’s equipment was constantly in evidence and
the contrast with his bounteously supplied enemy made his situation
often pathetic. Upon one occasion during this visit of mine to the 17th
Virginia the quartermaster’s wagon came around to dole out a few
articles and among the things given was a cotton shirt to a middle aged
member of a Norfolk Company which excited the jealousy and anger of a
young man in the same company who declared that the older was not
entitled to the shirt and did not need it and that he had money hidden
away. The scarcity of food in Richmond several times led to distressing
scenes, resulting in some instances to public riots, in which women
seemed to take the leading part. Their outcry for bread gave to these
affairs the designation of “bread riots” and several of a very serious
nature took place during the closing years of the war resulting in
considerable destruction of property in an effort on the part of the mob
to break into stores and resulting also in great suffering and
excitement before the disturbances were quelled.

It was an experience not possessed by many to have seen from time to
time pass through Richmond the Confederate soldiers that composed the
entire army of General Lee. Added to this however it was my fortune
after the war to see the entire armies of General Grant and General
Sherman pass through Richmond on their march to Washington. They all
passed one point where I was stationed, namely, at Broad and First
streets on their way up Broad street and out the Brook Turnpike. There
were three features that were prominent in connection with these Union
armies, one was the well dressed, well kept appearance of the soldiers,
another the vast number of their bands of music in marked contrast with
scarcely any in our army and another the great number of horses the
cavalrymen possessed, some had three and four horses each, and I
concluded that the South through which the Union armies passed, must
have been pretty well denuded of its horses.

After the war the President’s house was used as head quarters for the
general in command of the Union troops in Richmond. And as my father was
the only Homeopathic physician in Richmond and very many Federal
officers with their families preferred homeopathy and employed him I had
favorable opportunities for knowing certain things about which some
confusion subsequently existed. This knowledge enabled me to correct a
statement some years since that was circulated extensively through the
public press with reference to General Lee. It had been declared by
General Adam Badeau that immediately upon the close of the war when
General Lee returned to Richmond he and his family were the recipients
of aid from General Grant who practically provided for the support of
General Lee’s family. I knew all the circumstances which gave a
plausible foundation for this story. My father, as I have stated, was
Mrs. Lee’s physician; he was also the physician among other Federal
officers of General Peter Michie, the Federal quartermaster general. An
offer courteously and with delicacy was made to General Lee of any aid
the temporary situation of his family might require. General Lee however
was under no necessity of availing himself of this aid and none in
consequence was given. General Lee had devoted friends, able and willing
to render any aid that might have been needed to whom he would naturally
have looked for aid had such been required. He was at that time, as I
have stated, living in the house of Mr. John Stewart, a wealthy
Scotchman who had settled long before the war in Richmond. Whatever may
have been the arrangement for rent I understand that Mr. Stewart
declined to accept anything in settlement, and as a Scotchman can not be
made to recede from his position no doubt no rent was paid.

One of the incidents to the rehabilitation of Richmond after the
evacuation and the accompanying disastrous fire was the great influx of
mercantile firms from the North with every kind of goods imaginable. Why
they should have rushed in thus with their oceans of merchandise to sell
to impoverished Confederates was to me a mystery. As might be imagined
prices fell very low and large numbers of the new comers failed
completely. Another incident of the new order of things was the flooding
of the City with counterfeit money, particularly small notes for
fractional amounts of a dollar, some of the counterfeits being wretched
productions. Another feature was the way in which architects and
builders from the North stepped in to help rebuild the burned district,
resulting in better buildings than before, but with in many cases no
commensurate profit to the builders. At that time was first introduced
into Richmond the ground rent system that prevails so extensively in
Baltimore and Philadelphia. The first house under this system was built
on a lot where had stood the house from which salt orders had been
issued during the war. The salt mines belonged to and were worked by the
State and a system of free distribution was inaugurated in consequence
of the scarcity and the necessity of salt so that each householder
depending upon the size of his family was entitled to receive
gratuitously a certain quantity weekly for which an order was issued to

The most gruesome sight during the war was to see the vast numbers of
wounded Confederate soldiers brought into Richmond in the trains. This
was constantly occurring and was most noticeable during the great
battles in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg. The attention given to
the wounded appeared to be scant before reaching Richmond. And they were
brought down on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad and unloaded on
Broad street to be taken to the hospitals very much as they were taken
from the field of battle. How they were able to pass through the
suffering they must have endured before reaching the hospital was a
miracle, only to be accounted for by the life of exposure to the open
air, endurance and their strong vitality.

Blockade running was carried on as an extensive business all through the
war, but reached its highest state of accomplishment in the closing year
before the fall of Richmond. It was of a two fold character; one, of
ships with Wilmington, North Carolina, as the port and the other of
individuals who crossed the Potomac at night usually landing at
Leonardtown, Charles County, Maryland. The ships took out cargoes of
cotton, as this was about the only article, unless it was tobacco, left
to be exported from the Southern Confederacy and they brought in return
a miscellaneous cargo, not very extensive and not very large, most of
the cotton shipments winding up as credits abroad in many cases for
agents of the Confederate government, in other cases for individuals,
either singly or as syndicates. For it became common in Richmond for a
number of gentlemen to form a combination and make a shipment of cotton
by a blockade runner for the profit it furnished. Almost all the ships
that ran the blockade in and out of Wilmington flew the British flag and
were English boats. Blockade running on the Potomac was another
consideration. Its ordeal can best be illustrated by an attempt made by
my mother and a friend of hers under unusual favorable circumstances.
The trip from Richmond to the Potomac had to be made by private
conveyance of some sort for there were no public vehicles or way of
getting them and for entertainment en route reliance would have to be
placed on such friendly housing and entertainment as could be secured
from the inhabitants of the country through which one passed. There were
no hotels or taverns, and as the inhabitants were not over well
supplied, were in constant apprehension of the questionable strangers
who made a business of blockade running, it can be conceived what
difficulties must be encountered by any one who adopted this method of
passing through the lines. It would have been easier perhaps to have
gone by a flag of truce. A well known Southerner who is now in a
prominent position in New York City had attention attracted to him by
two occurrences that took place in his younger days. He was a general in
the Confederate army and he resigned and joined the army as a private,
that was quite sensational. Again he went out one day in front of the
outer line of breastworks near Petersburg to exchange newspapers or some
other thing as was the custom during the interims of fighting and two
soldiers from the Union lines came out half way to meet him. When they
reached midway between the breastworks on each side each Union soldier
took him by the arms and marched him into their own lines. That was more
sensational still and was susceptible of several constructions. The
incident subjected him to undoubtedly unjust criticism and the true
construction was that the Union soldiers had violated the conventional
arrangement under which the belligerents exchanged small articles, but
it indicated that the Union side were not averse to “receiving” all that
came and that going by flag of truce would have been less difficult on
the Union side than on the Confederate and that persons on a peaceful
mission, particularly ladies need not have selected the hardships of a
Potomac blockade running to have gotten through the lines.

My two sisters had been left North to attend school on my father’s
exchange as a state prisoner and my mother’s mission was to visit them.
My father’s official and professional relations secured for the trip
from the Confederate government a covered ambulance, two mules and a
colored driver. They were also supplied by personal friends with letters
of introduction to persons at whose houses they expected to stop on the
route to the Potomac. The trip was to occupy about three days and the
point of destination was as usual opposite Leonardtown, Charles County,
Maryland. The first day was spent in a tiring, uninteresting ride over
bad roads and the day’s journey terminated at the hospitable house of
Muscoe Garnett near Newton in King and Queen County at whose house I
subsequently spent a delightful summer, the next day’s journey similar
in character terminated at the equally hospitable home of the Warings on
the Rappahannock River in Essex County, where I also some years after
visited. The third day’s journey, just like the two proceeding, brought
them to the Potomac in Westmoreland County at the Wirt House. The
following day arrangements were made for effecting a crossing of the
river and this was termed “running the blockade.” Success required the
trip to be at night, without moon or stars, with good weather and smooth
water, a rather difficult combination where the river was several miles
wide and Union patrol boats constantly on the lookout for blockade
runners. At the appointed time, with conditions satisfactory, their boat
cleared the shore, when suddenly the moon came out, a patrol boat was
made out in the distance and the sail boat was compelled in consequence
to return, with no further chance of success that night. After several
days of waiting and constant unwillingness on the part of the boatman to
make the venture, in which at every attempt, he ran the risk of losing
both his boat and his liberty, they were fain to abandon the attempt,
this being a common experience in blockade running. And they were
compelled to return again to Richmond. Successful blockade running
across the Potomac was usually done by two only, the boatman and one
passenger, usually a man, a woman blockade runner added to the
difficulties and lessened a successful issue. Two women would constitute
almost insuperable difficulties and it had better been left unattempted.
It was easier to go by ship from Wilmington to Nassau, the usual
rendezvous of blockade runners and then from that point by a ship to New
York; for blockade running in and out of Wilmington was common and easy.

While personal travel through the lines was as shown difficult and full
of excitement and trials, communication by letter was easy and frequent.
This was by way of flag of truce boat. Every letter however was opened,
read and stamped as inspected and if it was free from suspicion and
about personal matter only it reached its destination. Any suspicious
circumstances however such as ambiguity of expression, or anything of
hidden meaning which might convey information regarded as detrimental to
the government subjected the letter to oblivion.

After the war closed the condition of the Confederate graves in
Hollywood cemetery was so deplorable that a general call was extended to
all ex-Confederate soldiers in Richmond to volunteer to put them in
condition. At the time appointed great numbers assembled at the Cemetery
for the purpose, including very many old cadets. Each particular
division of the graves had a certain number assigned to it and there
fell to the cadets a plot in the lower ground comprising several hundred
graves. Each one of the cadets was furnished a hoe and the task that at
once confronted us was how we were to distinguish the precise location
of each grave. None of these graves were marked and all any of us knew
was that wherever there was any indication of the grave, there had been
placed the remains of a Confederate soldier. It seems to me that however
loving our motive, we had better left undone our volunteer task, for all
the workers in common solved their difficulty in identifying exact
outlines of graves by raising at regular and even intervals the little
mounds that were supposed to cover the places of interment, so that if
any indications previously existed as to the precise location of any
grave whereby some one familiar with the surroundings would have
identified it, these were effectually destroyed by this service in
putting in decent order the burial places of the dead. And it was
utterly impossible thereafter to tell the exact resting place of any
whose grave was unmarked, the condition of very nearly all.

One of the most disastrous results of the war was the effect on the
education of the men of the South. With few exceptions all the young men
at college or school old enough to volunteer did so, with the resulting
loss of four years of the best period of their life for studying. At the
close of the war, the necessities of some were such that providing for
themselves or their families effectually removed from them the
possibilities of further education. Others again struggled under most
adverse conditions and with many privations to acquire the requisite
means to complete their education, working on farms and engaging in
manual labor that always theretofore had been relegated exclusively to
the negro slaves. In many cases the period for accomplishing the result
dragged on for years after the close of the war and even as late as
1871, six years after the close of the war there was in the same law
class with me at the University of Virginia, a number of ex-Confederate
soldiers and among the nineteen of us who received the degree of B. L.
were two, one of whom had been a Captain and the other a Major in the
Confederate army.

The condition of the ex-Confederates residing in the country was
measurably better than those in the cities and towns, for the former
could at the least scrape together in one way or another some sort of a
living. In the towns and cities however through the South the struggle
to obtain a footing was more intense, and among the methods adopted to
furnish employment to ex-Confederates was one of almost national
character involving what was then regarded as a very large capital with
prospects supposed to be brilliant both in furnishing extensive
employment for competent men and securing great financial returns for
its promoters and subscribers, and that was the establishment of the
Southern Express Company. General Joseph E. Johnson was made president
of the company and almost every officer and employee from the highest to
the lowest was an ex-Confederate soldier. These two pleas, employment of
ex-Confederates and great financial returns, particularly the former
were the basis upon which the subscriptions to the stock were generally
secured. An additional incentive was that only a small cash payment
(usually ten per cent of the subscription) was required from the
stockholders. The balance it was supposed would likely be made up from
profits. From the start liberal salaries were paid and assiduously
drawn. Nearly all the transportation business was done on credit, the
railroads and transportation companies being exceedingly liberal in
this, with the rapid result from inexperience in such business and
competition against an old established company and its skilled
employees, that the Southern Express Company soon ceased to do business,
owing a vast amount of debts to its employees for unpaid salaries and to
transportation companies for unpaid freight. The sequel resulted in an
assignment by the company for the benefit of creditors and an
administration of its assets in the Chancery Court of Richmond, where
the stockholders were assessed their unpaid subscriptions, resulting in
a crop of suits to collect them that extended through many states of the
Union, particularly Virginia, Maryland, Missouri and New York.

The war had a very slight effect on the negro’s character as a slave in
the South, so far as he was capable of comprehending and entertaining
any sympathies, most of the slaves had a vague idea that success to the
Union Army meant freedom for the slave and hence naturally they felt no
ill toward this result, neither did they entertain ill will towards
those who had held them in slavery, for contrary to the general
impression of the North the negro slaves were treated with the greatest
consideration, not harshly, but just the reverse. Any master who omitted
to properly clothe and feed his slaves, to assiduously care for them in
sickness and old age and to treat them justly and humanely was not only
ostracised by his neighbors and acquaintances but his family suffered
seriously in social position so that no slaveholder was to be found who
could weather the trials to which an acknowledged brutal master was
subjected. This tenderness for the slave was so pronounced that all
persons who occupied a dominant position with reference to him, such as
the overseer or slave dealer were regarded as occupying an inferior
position and were excluded from social relations with the slave holders,
not from an imagined superiority of the latter, as sometimes alleged,
but purely from the “offensiveness” of their occupation. And I believe
it can be said with the endorsement of all who knew that the negro as a
whole was better cared for, and healthier and happier in slavery than in

The hotels in Richmond that remained in operation clear up until the
evacuation by the Confederate troops were the Spotswood at the corner of
Main street and 8th street, the American on Main street opposite the
Post Office, and the Powhatan at the corner of Broad and 11th streets.
The Spottswood was the leading hotel and there the higher Confederate
officers stopped when in Richmond. It was burned shortly after the war
closed. The American was a popular hotel, well patronized by Confederate
soldiers, officers and men, and always crowded. It was burned in the
fire at the evacuation. The Powhatan was patronized to a certain extent
by Confederate soldiers, the generality of its patrons were members of
the Legislature.

Of course society entertainments in Richmond during the war partook of
the nature that pertained to everything else. They were exceedingly few
and such as took place were novel or unique in character. When a city of
the staid and fixed character like Richmond increased its resident
population in a few months from sixty thousand people to one hundred and
twenty thousand or more, the newcomers being largely refugees from all
parts of the South, together with Confederate officials and their
families, also from all over the South and when in addition this new
element furnished very much of the life of the Confederate capitol it
may be comprehended what was the result socially. Overhanging the city
was the constant menace and stir of the great conflict. So that while
entertaining constantly took place, it was unobtrusive and exceedingly
simple. The most elaborate receptions were those at the Governor’s
Mansion, simple as they were. The more prominent given by any private
individual was by a well known and wealthy merchant where the
refreshments consisted exclusively of ice cream and pound cake. The
usual and popular method of entertaining were what might probably now be
styled evening, not afternoon teas; in place however of the elaborate
refreshments which might now be expected to be found at such was then
really served tea, then a rare and wonderful luxury. In addition to the
tea served in cups and handed around to those sitting in the parlor was
also served buttered bread, very seldom cake; it being remembered that
white sugar was also a great rarity in war times. I attended a wedding
of the daughter of one of the most prominent gentlemen in Richmond.
There were no refreshments and there were no presents whatsoever to the
bride. I do not think there was at the close of the war a single jewelry
store in existence in the City.

One of the most remarkable features of the war was the intense animosity
engendered among neighbors with sympathies on opposite sides. Those who
were formerly most intimate friends now became most bitter enemies, not
only ceasing all intercourse, but ready to inflict contumely and injury
on each other. This spirit was not so apparent in the South because with
almost unanimity the Southern people accepted the results of secession
whatever opposition they may have first offered. But in the North on the
border line where there was a numerous Southern element within the
Northern lines this bitter antagonism was pronounced, the more so
against all known to be in sympathy with the South. No more typical
place existed for this than Baltimore. In the towns and cities of what
is now West Virginia the same conditions existed. From Baltimore and
Maryland large numbers had gone South to engage in the service. Besides
these associations with the Confederate soldiers from Maryland very many
of whom came from some of the wealthiest and most prominent families of
the State were the business and social ties that had grown up between
the South and Baltimore as the Southern metropolis, so that with few
exceptions the leading people of the city were in sympathy with the
Southern cause. In many cases confiscation of the property of those who
had gone south took place, confined of course under the Constitution to
the life of the party affected. In other cases arrests were made under
the smallest pretexts, all sorts of persecutions little and great were
indulged in towards the Southern sympathizers, espionage being one of
the numerous annoyances. Relationship whether near or remote seemed to
make slight difference, and it seems now almost impossible to account
for the bitterness engendered. Of course material interests were
originally responsible, and no doubt the divergent views over whether
the state should or not secede, with the results that would affect such
material interests and the high pitch to which the contentions over the
matter wrought up the advocates pro or con were the causes that led to
the bitterness that existed. The Southerners were styled
“secessionists,” “rebels”, “traitors”, “copperheads”, with the soldiers
however a Southern soldier was always “Rebel” or a “Johnny Reb”. The
favorite popular ballad commenced something like “We’ll hang Jeff Davis
on a sour apple tree.” In the South on the other hand there was but one
name for the Northerner and whether soldier or civilian he was
invariably called “yankee”. Deep down in the Southern heart however
there was no recognition of a social relation with neighbors of Northern
sympathies and for some years after the war ended I knew of instances of
Southern women, who in marrying Union army officers were regarded not
only as having impaired their social status but as having done an act to
reflect upon their own family standing. And at the close of the war, in
Maryland, particularly in Baltimore, there was a distinct spirit
manifested to sedulously ostracise socially those who had been active in
espousing the Union cause during the war. And as equally a generous
welcome was extended to all who came from the South. It seems almost
inconceivable to those of the present day not aware of the bitter
antagonism existing during the war that such could ever indeed have
existed. To illustrate what would occur on a slightest pretext: In some
way it was suggested that a Confederate flag was harbored in our house.
The provost marshal sent a company of soldiers who surrounded the house,
while the Captain and a guard accompanied by my father searched every
portion of the premises from the top to the cellar with a perfectly
fruitless result. Again three paroled Confederate prisoners called upon
my father to be extended some assistance pecuniarily. This he
unhesitatingly extended to all needy Confederate prisoners who called
upon him, and while talking with these three word was conveyed to the
provost marshal that a seditious meeting was taking place in his house,
resulting in a provost guard being sent who placed my father and his
visitors under arrest, to be quickly released, however, as soon as the
matter was investigated. The smallest pretext and barest suspicion of
disloyal sentiment or act led to invasion of the sanctity of one’s house
and an interference with one’s business or professional duties.

But with all the sectional antagonism, the women of Southern sympathies
in Northern communities wrought out results that showed their disregard
of militaryism; for they were unsparing in their work to help the
Southern prisoners. No prisoners with an acquaintance of a friend among
the women was allowed to suffer for clothes or luxuries and to help the
large bodies of Southern prisoners in Northern prisons, sewing societies
were formed that met regularly at the members’ houses where all kinds of
clothes needed by the prisoners were made up. These meetings which I
often attended were a delightful experience. A vast number of pretty
girls and young married women all actively engaged in sewing and cutting
out, exchanging experiences and information and each occasion to be
wound up with light refreshments.

A topic of constant discussion is the effect of the war so far as the
negro is concerned. I have seen the negro in slavery before and during
the war and now a freedman for forty years since the war closed and I
feel that I am capable of expressing an opinion upon the subject. As a
slave he was generally well treated, and was generally contented and
happy. He was usually free from care or responsibility, all his wants
being provided for by his master. He had a task to perform and the
performance of it was exacted of him, sometimes this task was
exceedingly light, it was scarcely ever severe. It was natural he should
wish to be able to essay or not to essay this task as his humor
suggested to him and the wish for this I believe was the principal
incentive for freedom to most of the slaves. Very many I believe gave
the matter of freedom no consideration and cared nothing about it. When
the close of the war brought freedom to the vast body of those who were
slaves their reasoning suggested to them as it did to very many of the
less informed whites that the war had been fought purely to free the
negro. The corollary to this in the mind of the negro was that they were
the equal of the whites, and immediately upon the close of the war the
teaching inculcated among themselves with greatest assiduity was the
matter of equality. During the lapse of forty years however the question
of equality has in a measure worked itself out as it always does
dependent upon personal and material factors. When persons occupy grades
of servants, laborers, mechanics, storekeepers, merchants and
professional men the question of color in that all are black will not
put them on an equality one with the other and the question of equality
is not helped by trying to extend the equalizing so as to put the
colored man whatever his condition in life on a level with the white man
whatever his condition. This was a struggle so patent in the case of the
freedmen immediately after the close of the war that was bound in the
course of years to disappear from the hopelessness of it. The result is
that from my observation the negro has measurably been bettered after
the many years that have elapsed since the war, so that now his
deportment and manners are better, he is more honest and he has not
deteriorated as a worker and he is getting nearer to the deportment he
possessed before his character was disrupted by the harmful teachings of
those idealists in the New England States who professed before and
during the war to be his only true friends.

There was one restriction upon the negro in slavery that was a great
source of trouble to him and that was the existence of the law which
forbade absence from home after dark except upon a written pass
furnished by the master or his agent, any member of the family as a
quasi agent, even the children could give these passes, and I have often
given such. Absence without such pass subjected the slave to arrest and
detention until morning when a trial took place in the Mayor’s court,
the penalty being the public whipping post. This was about the only
occasion a slave in any well ordered family was likely to be visited
with a whipping, which was then a legal penalty inflicted by public
authority for a violation of the law. And such whipping was very apt to
arouse indignation on the part of the master and certainly his family
between whom and the slaves there always existed a bond of affection as
well as material interest. So far from whipping slaves by the master’s
authority not only did self interest forbid this, but as before
indicated this was recognized as one of the acts of maltreatment which
resulted in loss of social status to any family that was known to so
deal with their slaves. A tender regard for slaves was so assiduously
exacted by public sentiment in the South that it was accepted as a
serious reflection to sell one. I have frequently read accounts of the
awful slave pens and jails where slaves being sold were detained until a
purchaser and new master was found all of which accounts are purely
mythical written by dreamers with vivid imaginations and no actual
experience. I have been again and again in these houses of slave dealers
where slaves remained pending a sale. The last one I visited was in
accompanying my father for the purpose of purchasing a cook. All of
those present, some twenty-five women, were called to the large front
room and they ranged themselves in line. Every one was neatly dressed
and showed in their appearance and demeanor unmistakable signs of kind
treatment and being well cared for. Thinking people reading such
accounts must see instantly that outside of any sentiment of humanity
good business policy required the best treatment at such places. The
slaves were sent there to be sold and the best price was wanted and that
price was to be obtained only when a good impression was made on the
purchaser and it was made alone by the appearance of the slave. To
secure a healthful appearance and indications of a good disposition and
temperament required good treatment, and the disposition and temperament
was so carefully looked after by a purchaser as health and ability to
work, for it was recognized that most slaves came to slave dealers’
hands because the previous master had found some trouble on this score
of disposition or temperament this being the single exception outside of
failure in business when an owner felt justified by public opinion to
make sale of his slaves.

The life on a large plantation for a negro slave was an almost ideal
life. Each plantation of from about five hundred to several thousand
acres with its several hundred slaves was a perfect community in itself.
Every trade and occupation necessary to the effective running of the
plantation was represented. One of the slaves was a skilled blacksmith
and wheelwright, another a competent carpenter, still another a
shoemaker and so on throughout the list of utilities. In the order of
dignity and preferment the house servants came first. There were plenty
of them in every household and the work assigned to each was exceedingly
light, they were dressed well, ate the same food used by the family,
were well trained both mentally and morally, participated from the ties
of interest that bound them to the family in its pleasure to a greater
extent than could have been experienced by hired servants and in
sickness or trouble were cared for with a tenderness no less than would
be shown to a favorite child. Next in the order of regard came the
coachman, the gardener, the assistant overseer, who was always a slave;
indeed all whose duties brought them more especially in frequent contact
with the whites on the plantation. Then came the field hands, both men
and women, and no happier lot of human beings in their work could be
found than were ordinarily these same people whatever might be the task
to which they were assigned. I have been with them in hoeing corn, in
cutting wheat, in threshing grain, in curing tobacco, indeed in every
work which went on and I speak from my own personal experience in
stating as I do the spirit with which they worked. Every provision was
made for their well being, self interest of the master, independent of
dictates of humanity, and pressure of public opinion required this. The
negro quarters were sufficiently far from the house to permit of the
pleasures that appealed to the negro heart without the noise disturbing
the white folks. Each negro family usually had a cabin, ample and
comfortable, with a garden attached in which were raised vegetables and
the hours of field labor were such as to leave ample time to cultivate
this garden. Rations of staple food were served with the same regularity
and provisions for health and comfort as in army life. They were
supplied with ample clothing. Whether in health or sickness and from
birth to death the care of his slaves was the first regard of the slave
owner, and an exception to such was not tolerated in the community. The
family bible of the master’s family first contained the births, deaths
and marriages of the members of his family, then in the same bible
followed exactly similar entries with reference to his slaves. The
members of his family became the instructors of the negro children in
Sunday school work. The adult negroes were given ample opportunity and
encouraged to attend religious meetings. The negro slave was indeed
without a care or anxiety for his comfort or welfare from the time of
his birth to the period when he was tenderly laid away in the plot set
aside on every plantation for the negro burial ground.



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 2. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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