By Conrad Wise Champion

By Conrad Wise Champion
Camp of the 59th Virginia Infantry at Diascund Bridge, circa 1863

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The First District of Columbia Cavalry

 Another unit we find passing through New Kent in the winter of '63-'64 is the not particularly well known  . . .

The First District of Columbia Cavalry was originally a single battalion, raised in the District of Columbia, for special duty at the seat of government under, command of Col. L.C. Baker (provost marshal of the War Department), and familiarly known as "Baker's Mounted Rangers." To this command eight companies were added in 1863, embracing about eight hundred men enlisted in Maine, so that it became, to this extent, a Maine organization.

-History of the First Maine Cavalry, 1861-1865
Edward Parsons Tobie
Publisher    Press of Emery & Hughes, 1887

Tobie also notes that the First District of Columbia was the only large unit in the Army of the Potomac equipped with the 15-shot Henry rife, which gave the regiment, where ever it came from, tremendous firepower.

An interesting aside on Sergeant Major and author Edward Tobie of the First Maine . . .

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Major Edward Parsons Tobie, Jr., United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on March 29 - 9 April 1865, while serving with 1st Maine Cavalry, in action at Appomattox Campaign, Virginia. Though severely wounded at Sailors Creek, 6 April, and at Farmville, 7 April, Sergeant Major Tobie refused to go to the hospital, but remained with his regiment, performed the full duties of adjutant upon the wounding of that officer, and was present for duty at Appomattox.
General Orders: Date of Issue: April 1, 1898
Edward Parsons Tobie, Jr.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Kent's Members of the House of Burgesses - Bios IV

 It has been a while a since I touched on the Colonial period, so here is the new section to my New Kent House of Burgess biography file, which I last updated in August of last year . . .

Bassett, William, of Eltham, New Kent county, Virginia, was son of Col. William Bassett and Joanna Burwell. He was a  member of the assembly of 1742 and 1744, but died in 1744 before the termination thereof. He married Elizabeth Churchill, daughter of Col. William Churchill, and was father of Burwell Bassett I.

 Littlepage, Richard, was son of Mr. Richard Littlepage who patented land in New Kent, Virginia in 1660. He was vestryman of St Peter's church, justice and burgess for New Kent in 1685. He died March 20, 1717, and was father of James Littlepage.

Leigh, William, probably a son of Francis Leigh of the Council was burgess for King and Queen county in 1696, 1697, 1698, 1699, 1700, 1702, 1703,  dieing the last year 1704. He was in 1702 colonel commanding the militia of King and Queen county as well as judge of the vice admiralty court of the colony.

-Most of this information came from Stanard's The Colonial Virginia Register, Cynthia Leonard's The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619-January 11, 1978, A Bicentennial Register of Members and Gardiner's Encyclopedia of Virginia

Friday, April 18, 2014


Some background on a not very well known organization of the Confederate war effort . . .

The object of the Association for the relief of maimed soldiers, is to supply artificial limbs gratuitously to all officers, soldiers and seamen who have been maimed in the service of the Confederate States; and to furnish to them such mechanical compensation of other lost parts of the human body, as may be practicable. Previous to the present war, only the few who were maimed in consequence of accidents or disease, required these substitutes, and such were readily obtained in the Northern cities, where mechanical pursuits were more practised.
It is probably correctly estimated that more than 10,000 men have lost limbs by casualties of battle, during this war, and the sight of empty sleeves, and of men hobbling on wooden pegs, or swinging on the galling crutch, is now familiar, and should suggest to all observers the necessity for organization for the relief of these sufferers, and for the encouragement of proper manufactures. As is not known to all, artificial limbs can be made so perfect in symmetry, motion and color, that the loss endured, or the loss supplied, can scarcely be detected by the observer. Considerable sums are required to buy these, and thousands of the maimed have no means to purchase; others cannot obtain for want of necessary information, while many more manufactories than now exist, are required to furnish these substitutes of human contrivance to those needing them.
In consequence of the publication of an earnest appeal from the present President of the Association, in the Richmond papers, and in printed circulars of date January 12th, 1864, after a preliminary meeting, this Society was formally organized on Friday night, January 22, 1864, at a large public meeting, in the African Church, Richmond, Virginia, by the adoption of a constitution, election of officers for one year, and the collection of large subscriptions.
The constitution provides for the cooperation of all persons favorable to its object, and contemplated aid or countenance from Municipal, State, and the Confederate Governments, yet it was designed to appeal principally to benevolent and patriotic Confederate citizens, to unite and present to each of those deprived of their limbs, an artificial limb, not as an act of charity, but of esteem, respect and gratitude .
The constitution further provides for an annual meeting, reports and re-election of officers, on the 22d of January; the Directors being empowered to act during intervals, as the Executive of the Association. The Treasurer is required to collect and receive all subscriptions to the finances of the Association, and appropriately acknowledge them, make disbursements, and report monthly to the Directors, an report annually to the members, the state of the finances. The Corresponding Secretary is the organ of the Association, under the direction of the Directors, in communicating with applicants for the benefit of the Association, with manufacturers, and in conference with other societies and the public.

 . . .
In February, 1864, the Directors invited the manufacturers throughout the Confederate States, to send in specimens of their work, with proposals, stating the number they could furnish, their cost, and the time and place of delivery. The three first manufacturers above named having complied with this invitation; contracts were made with Wells & Brother, on February 10th, 1864, with Hanger & Brother, on March 12th, 1804, and with Spooner & Harris, on January 2d, 1865, at the following rates:

For leg below the knee, $150,
For leg at the knee, $175.
For leg above the knee, $200.
For shoes to correspond, $65.

Wells & Brother have been paid for 309 legs already made. —
Hanger & Brother for 97, but Spooner & Harris are not yet in operation.

. . .

The Corresponding Secretary will give or send to the applicant, an order on a contractor for an artificial leg, and a suitable pair of shoes; with a ticket for admission into the Way Hospital at the Post— where board, lodging, and all necessary attention will be given during his stay. Manufacturers will send, if desired, a blank form for measurement, with directions. If taken accurately, legs may be made to fit well by these measurements, and sent by Express — but it is much preferable to have the persons present, and, consequently, all legs made for the Association, must be examined and fitted by Inspectors, to ascertain definitely their efficiency, and the fitness of the stumps to bear them. In future, when the agents and con tractors. of the Association are multiplied, such measurements can be taken by any one of these agents; but now if legs are made and furnished only on measurements forwarded, the cost will not be defrayed by the Association. It is important for his future comfort also, that each wearer of an artificial limb, should receive certain preparations and instructions from the manufacturers and Inspectors. The mechanism should be explained to him, as it is frequently necessary to tighten or loosen screws, springs or axis— to adapt them to his peculiar step or gait, or to repair displacements, and injuries, which at first slight may become serious by neglect. He should be instructed how to tightly bandage the stump, so as to compress, solidify and adapt it to a conical socket, and to obtain free and perfect action of the stump and joint, by passive motion, and never allowing them to remain flexed or semi flexed, if avoidable.

 -Brief review of the plan and operations of the Association for the Relief of Maimed Soldiers

"Taken from the Hall in the Capitol at Richmond, Va. - lately occupied by the Rebel Congress"
- manuscript note at head of title, dated April 20, 1865

An interesting exhibit from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

James Pollard- "I respectfully apply to be furnished with . . ."

 James Pollard had less luck a few months after his run in with Dahlgren's troops . . .

I assume "G.S" stands for gun shot.

I respectfully apply to be furnished with an order on Wells Bro. Charlottesville Va., or whatever manufacturer may be designated, for an artificial limb. When a Capt. in Co. H. 9th Va. Cav. Regiment, on the 4th day of July 1864, at (Battle Field or Hospital.) Winder Hos.. My leg was amputated by surgeon Dudley* at (Seat of operation) Middle 3. on account of (Wound, accident or disease) G.S. receive in the service of the confederate States at (Battle Field, &c) Nance's Shop on the 24 day of June 1864.
My place of residence is New Kent Co., State of Va. and present address, In person

(signature) James Pollard
to Dr. Wm A. Carrington
Cor. Sec'y A.R.M.S.
Richmond, Va.

OFFICERS, SOLDIERS AND SAILORS desiring relief from the Association for the Relief of Maimed Soldiers, will fill up this form, make oath to the truth of it before a Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, or commissioned Officer, and forward to the corresponding Secretary at Richmond. An order will be returned for the desired limb, which will be manufactured as soon as possible.

* John Gibson Dudley. More on Dr. Dudley.

More on A.R.M.S. tomorrow. . .

Monday, April 14, 2014

In the News- Thomasina E. Jordan

In case you're wondering about why it's called the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act . . .
Offered January 18, 2000
On the death of Thomasina Elizabeth Jordan.

Patrons-- Davis, Albo, Baskerville, Bolvin, Grayson, Katzen, McQuigg, Moran and Morgan
WHEREAS, Thomasina Elizabeth Jordan (Red Hawk Woman), an internationally recognized American Indian activist, died after a long battle with cancer on May 23, 1999; and
WHEREAS, raised by her maternal grandparents in Mashpee, Massachusetts, Thomasina Jordan attended preparatory school at Mount St. Joseph's Academy in Newton, Massachusetts, and received Bachelor and Master degrees in Fine Arts at Bishop Lee College in Boston; and
WHEREAS, Thomasina Jordan studied at Harvard University, received an educational doctorate from Catholic University of America, and attended the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York City; and
WHEREAS, after meeting her husband, Wendell, Thomasina Jordan moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where she was a long-time member of the Alexandria Republican City Committee and the first American Indian to serve in the Electoral College in 1988; and
WHEREAS, Thomasina Jordan was appointed Chairperson of the Virginia Council on Indians by Governor George Allen, and was reappointed by Governor James Gilmore, III; and
WHEREAS, giving generously of her time and efforts, Thomasina Jordan was founder of the American Indian Cultural Exchange, served on the Board of Directors of Save the Children and the National Rehabilitation Hospital, was past president of Chapter I of the Capital Speakers Club, and was a recipient of the Medal of Honor of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; and
WHEREAS, Thomasina Jordan was instrumental throughout the years in bringing Indian issues to the forefront in the General Assembly, including legislation to correct birth certificates to identify Native Americans as such, allow animal parts and feathers to be used in religious regalia, and memorialize the United States Congress to grant historic federal recognition to Virginia’s state-recognized tribes; and
WHEREAS, Thomasina Elizabeth Jordan (Red Hawk Woman) leaves a lasting legacy of dedicated and effective service to the Indian communities and nations as well to the Commonwealth; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly note with great sadness the passing of a distinguished Virginia lady, Thomasina Elizabeth Jordan; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of Thomasina Elizabeth Jordan and to the Virginia Council on Indians as an expression of the great respect in which her memory is held by the members of the General Assembly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pollard and Dahlgren- "Many of you may fall"

 Continued from here and here . . .

The papers and memorandum-book found on Colonel Dahlgren's body contained an accurate copy of the last field return of our cavalry made to General Stuart, with the location of every regiment. This last was furnished by the Bureau of Information at Washington. The rest were credited to no one. The following is a copy of the papers.
The address to the officers and men of the command was written on a sheet of paper having in printed letters on the upper corner, "Headquarters Third Division Cavalry Corps, 1864":

" Officers and men: You have been selected from brigades and regiments as a picked command to attempt a desperate undertaking— an undertaking which, if successful, will write your names on the hearts of your countrymen in letters that can never be erased and which will cause the prayers of our fellow-soldiers, now confined in loathsome prisons, to follow you and yours wherever you may go. We hope to release the prisoners from Belle Island first, and, having seen them fairly started, we will cross the James river into Richmond,destroying the bridges after us, and exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city, and do not allow the rebel leader, Davis, and his traitorous crew to escape. The prisoners must render great assistance, as you cannot lea^'e your ranks too far or become too much scattered, or you will be lost. Do not allow any personal gain to lead you ofT, which would only bring you to an ignominous death at the hands of citizens. Keep well together and obey orders strictly, and all will be well, but on no accoun tscatter too far, for in union there is strength.
" With strict obedience to orders and fearlessness in the execution you will be sure to succeed. We will join the main force on the other side of the city, or, perhaps meet them inside.

" Many of you may fall, but if there is any man here not willing to sacrifice his life in such a great and glorious undertaking, or who does not feel capable of meeting the enemy in such a desperate fight as will follow, let him step out, and he may go hence to the arms of his sweetheart and read of the braves who swept through the city of Richmond. We want no man who cannot feel sure of success in such a holy cause. We will have a desperate fight, but stand up to it when it does come, and all will be well. Ask the blessing of
the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy.

" U. Dahlgren,
" Colonel Commanding."

The following special orders were written on a similar sheet of paper, on detached slips:

" Guides, pioneers (with oakum, turpentine and torpedoes), signal officer, quartermaster, commissary, picket, scouts, and pickets, men in rebel uniform.

"These will remain on the north bank and move down with the force on the south bank, not getting ahead of them. If the communication can be kept up without giving alarm, it
must be done; but everything depends upon a surprise. And no one must be allowed to pass ahead of the column. Information must be gathered in regard to crossings of the river,
so that should we be repulsed on the south side, we will know where to recross at the nearest point.

"All mills must be burned and the canal destroyed, and also everything which can be used by the rebels must be destroyed, including the boats on the river. Should a ferry-boat be
seized and can be worked, have it moved down. Keep the force on the south side posted of any important movement of the enemy, and in case of danger some of the scouts must
swim the river and bring us information. As we approach the city the party must take great care that they do not get ahead of the other party on the south side, and must conceal themselves and watch our movements. We will try and secure the bridge to the city (one mile below Belle Isle), and release the prisoners at the same time. If we do not succeed they must then dash down, and we will try and carry the bridge from each side.

"When necessary, the men must be filed through the woods and along the river bank. The bridges once secured and the prisoners loose and over the river the bridges will be secured
and the city destroyed. The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in the city it must be destroyed, and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed. Pioneers will go along with the combustible material. The officer must use his discretion about the time of assisting us. Horses and cattle which we do not need immediately must be shot rather than left. As General Custer may follow me, be careful not to give a false alarm. The signal officer must be prepared to communicate at night by rockets, and in other things pertaining to his department. The Cjuartermasters and commissaries must be on the lookout for their departments, and see that there are no delays on their account.

" The pioneers must be prepared to construct a bridge or destroy one. They must have plenty of oakum and turpentine for burning, which will be rolled in soaked balls and given to
the men to burn when we get in the city. Torpedoes will be used only by the pioneers for destroying the main bridges, etc. They must be prepared to destroy railroads. Men will
branch off to the right with a few pioneers and destroy the bridges and railroads south of Richmond, and then join us at the city. The line of Falling Creek is probably the best tO'
work along, or, as they approach the city, Goode's Creek, so that no reinforcements can come up on any cars. Men will stop at Bellona Arsenal and totally destroy it and anything
else, except hospitals; then follow on and rejoin the command at Richmond with all haste, and, if cut off, cross the river and rejoin us. As General Custer may follow me, be careful and not give a false alarm."

The following is a copy of a paper written in lead-pencil, which was, I suppose, a private memorandum which Colonel Dahlgren made for his own use:

"Saturday — Leave camp at dark (6 P. M.), cross Ely's Ford at lo P. M. Twenty miles, cross North Anna at 4 A. M., Sunday; feed. Three miles, Frederick's Hall Station, 6 A.
M.; destroy artillery, 8 A. M. Twenty miles, near James river, 2 P. M., Sunday; feed and water one and a half hours. Thirty miles to Richmond, march toward Kilpatrick for one hour, and then soon as dark cross the river, reaching Richmond early in the morning (Monday). One scjuadron remains on north side and one squadron to cut the railroad bridge at Falling Creek, and join at Richmond, eighty-three miles. General Kilpatrick, cross at i A. AI., Sunday, ten miles. Pass river at 5 A. M. (resistance). Childsburg, fourteen miles, 8 A. M. Resistance at North Anna, three miles, railroad bridges at South Anna, twenty-six miles, 2 P. M.; destroy bridges, pass the South Anna and feed until after dark, then signal each other. After dark move down to Richmond, and be in front of the city at daybreak.

" Return — In Richmond during the day; feed and water men outside. Be over the Pamunkey at daybreak; feed and water and then cross the Rappahannock at night (Tuesday night), when they must be on the lookout. Spies should be sent on Friday morning early and be ready to cut."

This is a correct copy of the papers found on Colonel Dahlgren's body, delivered to me and sent to Richmond.

JAMES Pollard,
Late Captain Company H, Ninth Virginia Cavalry.

Richmond, Va.

 -History Of The Ninth Virginia Cavalry War Between The States
Late Brig. General R. L. T. Beale.
Richmond, VA.: B. F. Johnson Publishing Company. 1899.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pollard and Dahlgren- "This drew a volley upon himself"

We moved on through Stevensville to the River road, intending to take position at an old mill-dam, but as I had some doubt about reaching that point before the enemy I put the men in position at Mantapike, the intersection of the Stevensville and River roads. In the mean time, we had fallen in with some citizens and Home Guards, who followed on, and continued with us until the enemy came up. It was now dark, and, after waiting some time for the enemy, I sent two of my men to make a reconnoissance, who soon returned and reported that the enemy had gone into camp a mile or so from us. When I put the men in line of battle in the edge of the woods, I ordered them to reserve their fire until the head of the column of the enemy should reach my left, where I had placed my first sergeant, Fleming Meredith,whose fire was to be a signal for the whole line. The enemy advanced about half-past eleven o'clock P. M. As the head of his column approached my line Colonel Dahlgren saw some of the men, and demanded their surrender. At the same time he attempted to fire his pistol, which snapped. This drew a volley upon himself, and he fell dead, pierced by five balls. When the volley was fired the enemy fell back in confusion and left the road, getting into a field, where we did not find them until morning. Captain Fox, Company E, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, being senior officer, had now taken command, and we fell back to a point which commanded a cross-road through Mantapike farm and waited until daybreak, when Captain Fox ordered me to take my company and find out the position of the enemy. I found them in a field, unsaddled and standing about in groups. We rode into the field, and they surrendered. The men had offered to surrender to an officer who had been captured by them in Louisa county, and was with them at the time. The enemy's officers had left and tied to the woods, but were afterwards captured by the Home Guards.
We captured about one hundred men and officers, and some forty negroes. Some of the men had silver pitchers, goblets, cups, etc., strapped to their saddles. I sent the silver to the War Department in Richmond, and it was returned to the owners. The number of horses captured greatly exceeded the number of men, and a good many were reclaimed by their owners. Just after we had fallen back William Littlepage, a boy about thirteen years old, who had followed on from Stevensville, with his teacher, a Mr. Hallbach, took from the body of Colonel Dahlgren the book and papers which contained the famous address and orders which excited such indignation among the Confederates. Mr. Hallbach gave me the papers, and, through Colonel Beale, they reached the War Office, at Richmond. The next day I was surprised to get an order from General Fitzhugh Lee to bring the body of Colonel Dahlgren to Richmond "for the purpose of identification." Colonel Dahlgren had been buried without a coffin, and as soon as a coffin was made his body was taken up, and put into it, looking as natural as if he had been dead only an hour. I went with the corpse to Richmond, and arrived there on Sunday evening (the 6th), reporting to General Elzey. I have since heard from an authentic source, that Colonel L W. Atkinson, provost marshal, had Colonel Dahlgren's body buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Afterwards the body was taken up, carried to Miss Van Lew's house, where a funeral service was held, then taken to the country,buried again, and since the war returned to his friends.