St. Peters in the 1930's

St. Peters in the 1930's
St. Peters in the 1930's

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- "Hams Tied to Their Saddles"

The following 1873 testimony is from the case of Henry B. Masters of New Kent before the Southern Claims Commission. The Southern Claims Commission was designed in the early 1870's to ". . .allow Union sympathizers who had lived in the Southern states during the American Civil War . . . to apply for reimbursements for property losses due to US Army confiscations during the war."

This claim brought by Henry B. Masters is actually over the property of his father, Stephen B. Masters, deceased by 1873. Henry Masters was born in the North and according to his testimony spent the entire war there, except for one abortive trip to Virginia in 1861(though he was not so much a Northern man that he ever served in the Union army). Henry Masters being absent at the time of raid  and Stephen Masters dead, the claim relied on the eyewitness testimonies of various of Stephen's "servants." The testimony was given in Richmond, Virginia, before M.F. Pleasants, Clerk of  the United States Circuit Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, April 4, 1873

Thereupon, The said. . . .Joseph Burrell(colored). . . being, about the age of. . . . 48 years, by occupation a . . .farmer. . . .and resident of the. . . .the. . . .county of . . . .New Kent. . . .and State of Virginia, having been by me first cautioned and sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth, in the matter of the claim aforesaid, I did carefully examine, apart from all the other witnesses named in this case, and he did thereupon depose, testify and say, as follows, viz:

I was a slave during the war & hired to Stephen B. Masters the father of the of the claimant from 1862 till the end of the war, & after that till now- I am now living with his son, the claimant- I haven't left the place since 1862- I was living on the place all through the war from the time of McClellan's advance till now. The property was taken in the Spring of the year but I can't tell what year it was- It was towards the end of the war. The soldiers who took the property were all cavalry- they said they were Sheridan's men. They stopped from morning till night but did not camp all night. I saw them take 14 hogs. They killed them all on the place- 6 were full grown & the rest were shoats. I saw them drive away two cows- they were full grown. I did not see the fowls taken or the meat. I was not at the house. But I saw the soldiers have the hams tied to their saddles. I couldn't say how many but I could think at least 20. I saw the corn taken. We had shelled & measured 100 bushels, & put it away in the dwelling house- that was all carried off in bags. We had put away 111 bushels in the ear in the crib. We has used about half of that & it was all taken, every bit. I saw the two guns, a double barreled gun & a rifle after they were broken of their stocks & utterly ruined. I saw a good, new citizens saddle carried off. We had portable steam engine for cutting  wood that was very much damaged. I saw a barrel of apple brandy entirely used up. I think it held 10 barrels. I did not see the things taken out of the house, but I was there just after the soldiers left & I know the sheets & bedding, knives & forks & all such were taken. The house was cleaned out. The potatoes & turnips were under my charge. A large quantity if potatoes were taken but I can't say now how many. I am sure upwards of 50 bushels of Rutabaga turnip were taken. They were all(potatoes & turnips) put away in the cellar.
The soldiers took away everything they wanted. The officers seemed as bad as the men. They did not burn any fences or buildings & they hurt nobody. After they were gone, there was nothing left to eat. This was done by Sheridan's men, in the Spring & it was the last time any soldiers were there.

                      Joseph  Burrell         his  X  mark
                      witness M.F. Pleasants

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign V

Sheridan's Grand March Across The Peninsula from the Pamunkey To the James.

 [Correspondence of the New York Tribune.]

Jones Landing, James River (Va.), March 20th.— daylight in the morning the valley of the Pamunkey was a scene of activity and preparation for the day's march, the cavalry hosts, in response to the trumpet calls, being gradually formed into line. Boon the variegated battle-flags of the regiments were streaming over the wooded hills that overlook the Old White House estate. General Custer's mounted veterans led the van, the winding horns of his buglers making the vernal woods resonant with their melodies.
The march was onward, mid stirring martial music, fluttering banners, the songs of Spring birds and the aromatic air of the bud. hug forest, through former scenes of conflict and disaster, to the historic banks of the James. Two days' march, with three days' rations in saddle-pouches and grain sacks, was expected to mingle the mounted heroes of the valley with their infantry comrades and compatriots of the Potomac and the James for the grand final conflict.
On the hill immediately overlooking the old White House estate on the road leading out to the New Kent and Charles City road, we passed the ruins of what had been a very old residence, on a very fine site. Nothing remained of the buildings except the brick chimneys and the ruins of a few old log out-houses. A decaying peach orchard, on the side of the hill toward the White House, the trees of which continue to blossom even in their old age, was completely overgrown with the cedar trees indigenous to the soil. From this place, on the hill, we had a fine view of the Pamunkey Valley below, and the wagon-train and the last of the troops gradually falling into line, and the last of the steamers, except one gunboat left as rear guard, winding down the deep, meandering Pamunkey.

Was most delightful, over a moist sandy road, for the most part spacious, winding over wooded hill and dale and cultivated plain, across rushing mill streams and babbling brooks. In passing through the variegated forest, particularly embellished by the green cedar and the red-berried laurel, and an occasional clump of rosebushes, red-berried, and containing a last year's bird's nest, by the roadside, I confess a disposition to loiter, and gather for those romantic humanitarians, Mrs. Rev. Dr. Hutter and Miss Louise Eglantine Claghorn, of Philadelphia, another bouquet of battle-field forest foliage to sell at a grand Sanitary Fair, as a present for the President or somebody else, for the benefit of our brave soldiers.
These attractions, together with those of an occasional neatly cut bank exposing primeval geological strata for examination, required a stoicism to resist them that I confess I was hardly master of. Once or twice I did fall out of line to gather a few specimens, botanical and geological, but I found it so difficult to regain my position again in Sheridan's lumbering cavalry that I made up my mind to resist the temptation to letter. It is about twenty miles from the White House across the Peninsula, to Wilcox's Landing, on the James river. This distance, except about a mile and a half on the West End, we made on the 24th, the column all getting into camp, within our lines, near Mrs. Wilcox's place before dark, without having seen or heard of an enemy. The country through which we passed has evidently once been one of the finest and most highly cultivated regions In the State, particularly from the Chickahominy to the James. We passed many fine plantations bearing unmistakable signs of former magnificence, but which now wore the appearance of being almost deserted. No gangs of slaves could be seen tilling them as in former days. We passed one church and one mill on the road, the latter on a fine stream of water, and both apparently in a good state of repair, but the occupation of both seemed to be gone. The grass was springing up in the gateway of the former, and the dust of many days apparently had settled upon the overshot water wheel of the latter.
At one place on the road, in New Kent county, we exchanged a magnificent war panorama for a single beautiful tableau— is, a good-looking lady came down to the gate with her pretty daughter and little son to see the column pass. They naturally took rather an artistic position, and showed by their manifestations that they had the intelligence to not be afraid of the Yankees, and to appreciate the glorious American Union for which they were fighting. These were about the only Caucasian women that we saw on the route.

We found the pontoon bridge all right across the Chickahominy, spanning two different channels, and guarded by a piece of our artillery and a portion of General Dodge's infantry. The historic Chickahominy was pretty high, and brought up in our minds many associations of the old Peninsular campaign and subsequent marches. At William Jordan's fine place, on the west bank of the Chickahominy, we were presented with another tableau on the hillside, near the road, this time on a larger scale and of another color, consisting of ebony old men and ebony women, old and young, and children of the same, here thrown in promiscuously, Yankee admirers and Union and Liberty appreciators.
The march to-day from Mrs. Wilcox's place, a mile and a half from James river, up along the Charles City road, via General Ord's headquarters, and his pontoon bridge to this place, was not so pleasant as that or yesterday, the road not being so good, etc., but was not without interest.
A grand inception was given to General Sheridan's braves by the Army of the James, on our entrance into General Ord's lines. The frowning, bristling battlements swarmed with his men, coming out to meet and welcome the recognized heroes of the valley.
The bands of the forts struck up stirring martial airs, which were responded to by the bands of the cavalry host. Old comrades recognized each other after long separation, and fell upon each other's shoulders and wept of sheer joy at the grand reunion.
The pontoon bridge across the James, through which the River Queen, the Margaret Washington and the George Steers had just passed, was soon swung into position, and the trampling host were seen winding down the hills on the north side, across the river, over the valleys, and up the hills on the south side of the James, where, at this writing, they are going into camp, for probably a two days stay , previous to further important operations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign IV

FROM GEN. SHERIDAN.; Splendid Condition of his Troops 300 Rebel Prisoners and 3,000 Negroes at White House Our Entire Force Across the Pamunkey Longstreet Thought to be in that Vicinity.

 FORTRESS MONROE, Monday, March 20.
Major COMPTON, of the Eighth New-York Cavalry, accompanied by Capt. MOORE, of Gen. SHERIDAN's Staff, and several other officers, and the principal scouts of SHERIDAN's army, arrived here last evening on the steamer Matilda direct from the White House, on route to Washington, with seventeen battle flags, most of which were captured near Waynesboro, in the battle with Gen. EARLY's forces. Gen. SHERIDAN's troops are in the very best condition, and appear to have suffered little or nothing from the effects of their long march from Winchester. About 300 rebel prisoners are now at the White House, together with some 3,000 negroes, who followed our troops as they passed through the country.
A large number of prisoners were captured during the raid, but owing to the rapidity of SHERIDAN's movements many of them had to be abandoned, and others made their escape owing to the relaxed vigilance of their guards, who were glad to get rid of them. The entire cavalry force has crossed to the south bank of the Pamunkey River, and is now engaged in recruiting, preparatory to new movements.
The rebel Gen. LONGSTREET, with his corps, is supposed to be lurking in the vicinity of the White House; for on the evening of the arrival of SHERIDAN at that place, frequent skirmishes occurred between his advanced pickets and unknown small squads of the enemy, who appeared to be prowling about for reconnoitering purposes.
The steamer J.W. Everman arrived here to-day from Moorhead City, N.C. She brings no later advices from either SHERMAN's or SCHOFIELD's armies.

-The New York Times: March 22, 1865

NB: That should be a Major Hartwell B. Compson mentioned in the first sentence. The 23 year old Major would win the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Waynesboro some three weeks before. His citation reads:
Capture of flag belonging to Gen. Early's headquarters.

That flag now resides at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign III

Brevet Major-General Wesley Merritt

        YORKTOWN,  March 18, 1865.
General RAWLINS,
                Chief of Staff:

I left General Sheridan at White House 12 m. His command is all there. I have telegraphed to Captain James for twenty-five portable forges and shoeing tools, & c. If Captain James cannot fill the order at once General Ingalls had better send them. General Forsyth is with me. We shall be at Fort Monroe by 5 p.m. and at City Point before morning.

                    O.E. BABCOCK,
            Lieutenant- Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.

 No. 15.                White House, Va., March 18, 1865.
I. Division commanders will at once have each regiment in their respective commands inspected, and turn out all the negroes who have joined the cavalry during the expedition. This inspection will be most rigid.
II, There are many negroes employed by both officers and men on the march who cannot be allowed to remain with the command.
III. All negroes who have joined the command during the expedition will be at once collected by the provost guards of the different commands and sent to the north end of the railway bridge, where they will be taken in charge by the provost-marshal of these headquarters.
By command of Brevet Major-General Merritt:
                    J. SPREADBURY,
                Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

FIELD ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY, No. 17. - White House, Va., March 18, 1865.
I. The command will cross the Pamunkey River to-morrow morning at 6 o'clock. The First Division will move in advance, the trains will follow, and the Third Division cross in rear. The command will mass on the south side of the river, when camps will be assigned them. The pickets will remain as at present until the entire command crosses, when they will be withdrawn.
By command of Brevet Major-General Merritt:
                    J. SPREADBURY,
                Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

- The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 46 (Part III)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign II

YORKTOWN, March 14, 1865.
General LUDLOW, Fort Magruder: GENERAL: Three hundred cavalry and 1,500 infantry, with gun-boats, have gone up the York River this morning. They proceed to White House, on Pamunkey, and will throw forward a cavalry force to meet Sheridan. Colonel Roberts commands party.
                     THOS. MULCAHY,
              Lientenant- Colonel and Provost-Marshal.

CITY POINT, VA., March 14, 1865.
Commodore RADFORD, U.S. Navy: (Care of Major-General Ord.) Will you please have a few gun-boats, say six, including four already gone, sent into the York and Pamunkey Rivers to keep open free navigation between White House and the mouth of York River. I have a large force now on its way to White House. When it is withdrawn, the navy can withdraw also.
        U.S. GRANT,
             Lieutenant- General.

Col. S. H. ROBERTS, Commanding Expedition:
Immediately on receipt of this you will embark your command and proceed up the York and Pamnukey Rivers to the White House, taking with you all your infantry. Your cavalry may be returned to its place on the James. It is expected that General Sheridan with a large force of cavalry will arrive at the White House near the same time with you; if he does not you will remain there until he arrives. Take with you the army gun-boats accompanying your expedition, and also request the navy gun-boats to go and remain with you. Rations and forage will be sent to you immediately, not only for your force but for the command under General Sheridan.
Lieutenant- General.

            YORKTOWN,  March 16, 1865-2 p.m.
Commander F.A. PARKER,
     Saint Inigoes, Md.:
General Roberts occupied White House 14th instant. Was in-trenched. Sheridan had not arrived at 12 yesterday. His camp fires in sight. Pamunkey is patrolled by army gun-boats Mosswood and Jesup.
                         PETER HAYES,
                             U.S. Navy.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 46 (Part III)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign

                                                         No. 1.
Report of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, U. S. Army, commanding expedition.

             New Orleans, La., July 16,1865.
GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of my command in the campaign from Winchester, in the Shenandoah Valley, to the armies in front of Petersburg, beginning February 27 and ending March 28:
 . . .
At daylight on the morning of the 16th we leisurely resumed the march to White House, encamping at Mangohick Church; on the 17th we marched to and encamped at Prince [King] William Court-House; on the 18th we reached Indiantown; and on the 19th crossed the Pamunkey at White House, on the railroad bridge which had been repaired by Lieutenant-Colonel Babcock, of Lieutenant-General Grants staff. We here found supplies in abundance.
The amount of private and public property collected for the use of the enemy and destroyed, and the destruction of lines of communication and supplies, was very great and beyond estimating. Every bridge on the Central railroad between Richmond and Lynchburg, except the one over the Chickahominy, and that over the James River at Lynchburg, and many of the culverts, were destroyed. The James River Canal was disabled beyond any immediate repair.
There perhaps never was a march where nature offered such impediments and shrouded herself in such gloom as upon this; incessant rain, deep and almost impassable streams, swamps, and mud, were overcome with a constant cheerfulness on the part of the troops that was truly admirable. Both officers and men appeared buoyed up by the thought that we had completed our work in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and that we were on our way to help our brothers-in-arms in front of Petersburg in the final struggle.
Our loss in horses was considerable, almost entirely from hoof-rot. After refitting at White House, until the 24th [25th] instant, we resumed our march, crossed the Chickahominy at Jones Bridge, arriving at and crossing the James River on the evening of the 25th [26th] of March, and on the following day [27th], by direction of the lieutenant- general, went into camp at Hancocks Station, on the railroad, in front of Petersburg.
. . .

 -The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 46 (Part I)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sheridan- March 1865 II

 Section from "Grant's and Sheridan's campaigns, 1864 [and 1865]" LOC

The Richmond and Petersburg lines.
Everything was unusually quiet on this side of the James yesterday. Sheridan has made his hasty raid from Staunton to the White House, passing through the counties of Augusta, Albemarle, Nelson, Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa, Hanover and New Kent, and leaving some desolation in his track. It is reported that he destroyed a large quantity of subsistence in his route. We have heard of many individuals who were robbed by his brigands. From the White House it is conjectured his forces have proceeded to Grant, either across the country or up James river in transports.
There was a very considerable bombardment near the Jerusalem plankroad, on the Petersburg lines, about daylight on Saturday morning. The firing was begun by our troops. The results, if any, are unknown.
-The Daily Dispatch: March 21, 1865