White House Landing by William Waud

White House Landing by William Waud
White House Landing on the Pamunkey 1864

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Plant Going Up


Work on the new plant of the Chesapeake Pulp and Paper Company, to be built at West Point, is progressing rapidly. The location on the Pamunkey River has been completely surveyed, to facilitate the drawing of plans and specifications. The plans themselves are well under way. and bids for construction will he let in the next ten days or two weeks.

 -The Times Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) March 02, 1913

Monday, February 1, 2016

Farming Starts Again at White House- 1865

W.H.F. Lee from the Library of Congress
 The Richmond Republic speaking of the White House Plantation in New Kent county, Va, says "Here Gen. Washington married the Custis, whose family it was even  in those days, the ancient homestead. It descended to her son, the late George Washington Park Custis, by whom it was bequeathed to the children of Gen. R.E. Lee. The dwelling house, from which the plantation derived its name, was used by the Federal army as a depot in 1862,and was burnt by Gen. Stoneman during MeClellain's retreat from the the line of the Chickahominy. From that time to the conclusion of the war it was uncultivated, being at all times occupied by the troops of one or the other of the hostile armies. After the surrender of Gen. Lee, his son, William H. F. Lee, without loss of time, repaired to the White House, determined, notwithstanding the lateness of the season, to attempt to make a crop of corn. Armistead and William Christian, two young men formerly of his command, and Andrew Shackelford, of the late Confederate artillery, attended him.
A German and an Irishman and two freedmen were subsequently added to their force. They began plowing on the 29th of April, and have made a splendid crop of corn, which is estimated at fifteen hundred bushels."

-Alexandria Gazette- 23 August 1865

Both Armistead and William Christian show up on the roster of the New Kent Cavalry of the 3rd Regiment of Virginia Cavalry. As for Andrew Shackelford we have a more extensive biographical report. From  Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia of 1884 . . .

Andrew J. Shackelford - was born in King and Queen county, Virginia, March 6, 1844, and his parents, Richard and Mary F. (Stubbs) Shackelford made their home in New Kent county while he was very young. He grew to manhood in this county, and was one of its volunteers for the defense of Virginia in the civil war. He enlisted in 1862, in the Pamunkey Artillery, Custis Lee's division, and served until taken prisoner in April, 1865, at Sailors Creek, Prince Edward county, Virginia, receiving parole at Point Lookout June 22, 1865. In New Kent county, March 19, 1868, Frances W. Mason became his wife. Her birth was in Caroline county, Virginia, December 17, 1841 the date, and Joseph R. and Mary (Atkinson) Mason her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Shackelford are the parents of seven children, born to them on the following dates: Emma V., January 27, 1869; Edward A., September 27, 1870; Joseph B., September 2, 1872; Julia F., December 7, 1873; Lewis J., May 26, 1875; Fannie S., June 17, 1876; Mary Lee, March 13, 1878. The subject of this sketch is one of the prosperous farming residents of St. Peters district with post office address at White House, New Kent county, Virginia.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Deer Hunting Bonazana- 1867

The forests in the vicinity of New Kent Courthouse, always a famous resort for deer, are said to be filled with this favorite game to a greater extent the present season than ever. Large numbers have fallen at the crack of the huntsman's rifle, and a day or two since one expert killed two at once with a double hand gun.
-Alexandria Gazette- August 29, 1867

Deer are in New Kent to a greater extent this season than has been known for many years. A party of gentlemen residing in the vicinity of the court-house succeeded last week in killing five. Among the number was a noble buck weighing 143 pounds.
-Alexandria Gazette- November 7, 1867

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Overseeing the Poor- 1866

On a chilly night . . .

WOOD FOR SALE- We will sell, at New Kent Courthouse, on the FIRST DAY OF JANUARY NEXT, about FOUR THOUSAND CORDS OF PINE WOOD, situated on the Poor-house land, near New Kent Courthouse, and within two and a half miles of a good landing on the Pamunkey river.
TERMS: Made known on day of sale.
                                                                               JOHN T. HARRIS,
                                                                               JOHN MAYO,
                                                                               JAMES N. GODDIN,
                                                                               WM. R. TUNSTALL.
                                                                                 Overseers of Poor.

-Richmond Daily Dispatch-December 22, 1865

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Sounds of New Kent

(Originally posted Christmas 2013)

That Christmas shooting? It's older than you think.

We have quite a merry Christmas in the family; and a compact that no unpleasant word shall be uttered and no scramble for anything. The family were baking cakes and pies until late last night, and to day we shall have full rations. I have found enough celery in the little garden for dinner.
 Last night and this morning the boys have been firing Christmas guns incessantly- no doubt pilfering from their fathers cartridge boxes. There is much jollity and some drunkenness in the streets, notwithstanding the enemy's pickets are within an hour's march of the city

From A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States CapitalJohn Beauchamp Jones, 1866

 Robert Mitchell, Mayor, to the Governor
 Dec. 25, Richmond

Having a moment of time to spare, I take that opportunity of acknowleging the receipt of your letter enclosing the advice of our Council of State, bearing date the 3rd of last November, and yours of the 19th of same month. It did not come to hand at that date or for many days after. I have done all in my power to prevent that evil of unlawful Gaming within this city pointed out by you; besides it encourages the unguarded youth in Idleness vice and Immorality. You may depend on my doing all in my power to prevent such violation of our laws, and punish them when detected.
 Your favor of the 24th Inst. came very late to hand on the evening of that day. Had I rece'd it early in the day I might have had it more in my power to have its contents put in execution more compleat in order to comply with your wish and my own desire. On the 23rd Inst. I wrote Maj'r Wolfe to furnish a Serg't Guard out of the militia, in order to aid our city Patrol to patrol the city and its Jurisdiction during the Christmas Holydays, which has been complyed with, but it does appear to me to be impossible to prevent firing what is called Christmas Guns, being an old established custom, although there is an ordinance of the city police fixing a fine of 5s. for every offence of firing Guns within this city. The addition of the militia to the city patrol may prevent in part the evil pointed out to me in your letter.
 I am &c                    

- From Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts: ... Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Virginia- Volume 9, Henry W. Flournoy, 1890

                                                           ACT II 
WHEREAS it is much to be doubted, That the comon enemie the Indians, if opportunity serve, would suddenly invade this collony to a totall subversion of the same and whereas the only means for the discovery of their plotts is by allarms, of which no certainty can be had in respect of the frequent shooting of gunns in drinking, whereby they proclaim, and as it were, justifie that beastly vice spending much powder in vaine, that might be reserved against the comon enemie, Be it therefore enacted that what person or persons soever shall, after publication hereof, shoot any gunns at drinkeing (marriages and ffuneralls onely excepted) that such person or persons so offending shall forfeit 100 lb. of tobacco to be levied by distresse in case of refusall and to be disposed of by the militia in amunition towards a magazine for the county where the offence shall be comitted.

From The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619William Waller Hening,ed. 1823

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reconnaissance of the Chickahominy, June 1862- Part Two

Report of Capt. Wilhelm Heine, Volunteer Topographical Engineer.
  FORT MONROE, VA., August 21, 1862.
GENERAL: Respectfully I submit the following report:
According to instructions received on Saturday, June 28, at 5.20 I embarked on board the steam-tug C. P. Smith. with the usual escort of 40 men, commanded by Captain Lee, Ninety-ninth New York Volunteers, and proceeded up James River. At 11:10 o'clock I reached the gunboat flotilla, and at 11:25 o'clock I handed the dispatch addressed to the senior naval officer to Commander McKinstry, U. S. Navy, on board the United States sloop of war Dacotah. He could not supply me with a pilot; therefore I had to anchor for the night at the mouth of the Chickahominy.
On Sunday, the 29th, at daylight, Captain Lee went ashore in the cutter and brought on board a negro well acquainted with the locality, who piloted us in and up the Chickahominy River. At 11 o'clock we got aground, but got off again after a short delay, and reached the place called the Windsor Shades, where, as directed, I anchored at 12 p.m. A short distance below this the United States gunboat Delaware was aground, and after having communicated to the commanding officer the object of my mission, and requested him to render to Captain Lee such assistance as the emergency of the case might require, I went, as directed, ashore with the prescribed escort of 6 men and a non-commissioned officer. The Windsor Shades are situated on the north-east shore of the Chickahominy, at the end of a narrow neck of land flanked on both sides by an impenetrable swamp. The southwest shore for miles above and below is also a dense swamp, rendering the position favorable for defense. Two roads lead at about right angles from it one toward New Kent Court-House, the other toward Long Bridge; at that time, as I had reason to believe, in possession of our troops. I took the latter. The bridge marked on the map Forge Bridge was burned; the ford near an old mill impassable on account of the high water. Some negroes on a plantation warned me that the enemy's cavalry was on the other side of the Chickahominy in the lower White Oak Swamp and on the road toward Charles City Court-House. Anxious to reach General McClellan's headquarters, I pushed on without delay and near sunset got up to Long Bridge. This was also burned; the river unfordable, and so I pushed on toward Bottoms Bridge. About this time firing of cannon and musketry could be heard in that direction, receding toward Richmond. With my nearly exhausted men I hastened on, and reached Bottoms Bridge at about 11 p. m. Here all was darkness and silence. The firing had ceased; a drizzling rain made the night still darker. No trace of living beings could be discovered, and exhausted we laid down in the road close to the destroyed bridge to wait until daylight.
Daylight of Monday, the 30th, came, but no traces of either friend or foe could be discovered. Finding the river unfordable, we went as far as the railroad bridge. This, as well as an ammunition train on it, was on fire. We crossed the swamp on fragments of railroad cars,. boxes, & c., and marched up the railroad, where firing of skirmishers was heard. One sick soldier of the Sixty-third New York was lying on the track. His mind was wandering and he gave a confused account of the fight of the previous day. A short distance farther a rebel sentinel stood on the edge of the wood. Corporal Young, of the Ninety-ninth New York Volunteers, and two privates went and captured him. He belonged to the Fourth Georgia Regiment. From him I learned that Toomb's brigade and some cavalry had moved down Charles City road through the lower White Oak Swamp and joined Jackson in his attack on Sumner's Corps. The sick and wounded, of whom many hundred filled the station house and the adjoining farms, confirmed the report, and I stated that the last of our troops had left about sundown, pursued by the enemy.
The firing in front had ceased and a large body of the enemy's infantry was now seen approaching on the railroad. Accordingly I assembled 8 or 10 stragglers and convalescents, formed them, and retreated across the Chickahominy, covering front and rear with skirmishers. I hoped to reach the boat and Charles City by way of James River. Striking the same road by which I had come the previous evening, and which was then free from the enemy, I marched about 5 miles until at a cross-road I met a squad of the enemy's cavalry. With Privates Joseph Cathcart and Owen Dougherty, Ninety-ninth New York Volunteers, and one of the convalescents, whose name I am sorry not to know, I went forward to attack them and drove them back, while Corporal Young and the other 4 men of my escort prevented the stragglers and convalescents, who declined to fight, from running away. We succeeded in gaining the woods and marched 2 miles farther, when, just as we were emerging in an open space, two companies of cavalry fell upon us from all sides, riding us down. I had previously directed the men of the Ninety-ninth, in case of an attack by overwhelming numbers, to disperse and to make each separately his way to Captain Lee, to advise him of what had happened. Five men succeeded. Corporal Young and Private Casey were taken with me prisoners. In the flutter that succeeded the attack, I managed, as directed, to destroy the papers by eating them up unobserved.
I was sorry to learn afterward that of the 5 who succeeded in escaping 4 were taken the next day. The fifth, Joseph Cathcart, refused to surrender, killed the captain of the enemy's cavalry, and was shot dead. I recommend respectfully that this mans family, which is poor, may have the benefit of such a pension as the law allows.
I was taken to Richmond and confined, with about 130 of our officers, in the Tobacco Warehouse until August 15, when we were all sent to Aiken's Landing, and returned to this place in a flag of truce.
With great regret I learn that Corporal Young and Private J. Casey, Ninety-ninth New York Volunteers, are still prisoners of war in Richmond. Their fate concerns me greatly, and I feel sure that you will effect their release if it is in your power to do so.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
                WM. HEINE,
    Captain, Volunteer Topographical Engineer.
Major-General DIX, Commanding Corps d'Armée.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 -Volume 11 (Part II) 

*USS Dacotah had had a busy life so far. Built in Norfolk, only commissioned on May 1, 1860 she sailed in June to join the East India Squadron, arriving at Hong Kong  January 1861. Notified of the outbreak of hostilities she was ordered to return in August 1861 and returned via the Cape of Good Hope. She arrived in the Virgin Islands in November where she started blockade operations. She started operations in the Hampton Roads area after a winter refit.