Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Tragedy: Loss of the West Point - The Evening Telegram

Twenty Lives Lost On the
Steamer West Point

The Causes of the Accident Not
Definitely Known

Special Dispatch to the Evening Telegram
Richmond, Va.,Dec. 27.—News was received here this morning from West Point,on the York River of a terrible disaster to the steamer West Point, of the Clyde Line, plying between that point and Baltimore. The West Point arrived at West Point early yesterday morning and a stevedore and gang began to discharge her cargo. They had cleared out sit the freight between decks, and had cone below into the hold to taken out a quantity of kerosene oil in barrels, when, at ten minutes past twelve midday an explosion occurred which blew the off side of the vessel into the river and set fire to the ship.
Twenty persons, including some four of the crew and nearly all the stevedore's hands, were fatally burned.
The first and second officer escaped, one of them being badly injured. The captain, being on shore at the time, was saved. There are some four or five badly injured.
                                                      TWENTY LIVES LOST.
Twenty persons have perished by the accident. The crew are mostly from Baltimore, and the laborers from Richmond and West Point. The West Point was a new ship, having only made a few trips. She was valued a $60,000 and was insured. The cause of the accident is as yet unaccounted for. Some believe it was gas in the hold, while others attribute it to an explosion of the donkey engine which was at work in the forward part of the vessel.

The following is a list of the dead:—
L. S. BRADFORD (white), stevedore, of West Point.
Mess Boy (white), name and address unknown, of Baltimore.
RODERT KERSE (white), or Richmond.
— JARVIS (colored), fireman. West Point.
J. STAPLES (colored), of Richmond.
ALEX. WILSON (colored), of Richmond.
JOSEPH JOHNSON (colored), of Richmond.
LEE JENNINGS (colored), of Richmond.
BEN SMITH (colored), of Richmond.
L. LAMB (colored), of Yorktown.
SAM WATKINS (colored), of West Point-
SHEPPARD TAYLOR (colored), of West Point.
NELSON RAYLOR (colored), of West Point.
HORACE BIBS (colored), of West Point.
NELSON STARK (colored), of New Kent county.
CHARLES TYLER (colored),  City Point, Va.
SWEET HALL (colored), City Point. Va.
ALBERT JACKSON (colored), City Point, Va.
JACK PARKER (colored), City Point, Va.
J. ADOLPHUS (colored), City Point, Va.
In all twenty.
Soon after the fire commenced the ship was cut loose. She drifted Into the river. The wharves were saved.

The following is a list of the injured:—
PETER GEOGHEGHAN. first officer, of Baltimore.
WM. BOHANNON. quartermaster.
WM. BARNES, assistant stevedore, of West Point.
WM. GREEN, of Richmond.
all are badly burned

-The Evening Telegram (New York, NY) December 27, 1881

Monday, December 30, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- VIII: Postscript

About 90 rebel prisoners arrived this morning, via Yorktown. They were captured last Monday at Charles City Court House. Among them are seven non-commissioned officers and a female soldier.

-The Buffalo Daily Courier, December 18, 1863

Notice again, the "female soldier." The New York Times in its coverage had already noted, ""Among the captured was a young woman in soldier's clothes."

De Anne Blanton in her book They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War, references this engagement . . .
"An assistant surgeon in one of the regiments later wrote to his father, 'we captured every officer and man . . . among the the prisoners was a female soldier, a woman of about 20 years. She had male attire, and used her rifle against us, as well as the rest. She had been in several engagements.' "

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Revels- Richmond 1863

Accidentally shot.
--At an early hour last Friday morning, a party of boys assembled at the east end of the city, to fire Christmas guns and otherwise celebrate the day. They had been together but a short time when one of them fired a horseman's pistol loaded with powder, the load from which struck Peter Kenny, a lad, on the left shoulder, inflicting an ugly and painful wound. As the wounded boy pronounced his injuries to be the result of accident, the police made no effort to arrest any of the party.

--On Saturday last, a lad named Andrew Allen, was drowned in the Dock. With two other boys young Allen was at play on the ice, which was very rotten, when the party broke through and disappeared. Two of the lads soon arose at the opening through which they fell, and succeeded in getting out, but Allen went under the ice, and drowned before any assistance could be rendered him.

The Mayor
--on Saturday had a good sized army of white men before him, all with violating the rules of decency, he laws of the State by getting drunk on Christmas beverages, annoying sober people, fighting each' other, kicking doors, breaking windows, and crying fire.

A party of young men, after imbibing freely, made Broad street hideous with their yells — alarmed the residents by kicking at doors — and crying fire at the top of their voices. After a few potations of the distilled damnation now served to the worshippers of Bacchus, it is not to be wondered at that they forgot all sense of propriety and became turbulent and disorderly. The Mayor held them to bail to keep the peace.

A soldier, after seeing the elephant, ran his head through a window, breaking the glass and cutting his face in several places. When he came into Court he was well marked with blood and bruises, the fruits of his charge on the old king's fortifications, which have never yet been carried by storm. He was sent to the Provost.

A white woman, for wearing men's apparel in the streets, and a white man for accompanying her, were held to ball; and two women, for hair-pulling and cat-scratching, were put in limbo.

Two men, for interfering with the police, were locked up to answer hereafter, and scores of negroes, for minor offences, were punished with stripes.

-The Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) December 28, 1863

Expedition to Charles City- IX: The 42nd Virginia Cavalry Battalion

The best way I've found to explain the rather tortured history of the 42nd Battalion Virginia Cavalry is this little diagram . . .

I relied principally on A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations 1861-1865, Lee A. Wallace, Jr., 1986

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Nuptials


At the residence of the bride's mother, by the Rev C. S. Mountcastle, on the 24th December, Mr. Richard Tyler and Miss Lizzie S. Dandridge, both of New Kent county.

-The Daily Dispatch: (Richmond, Va.) January 6, 1864.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sounds of the Season

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 Capital, John 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(SIC) 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(sic) 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(SIC), 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

March 1655-6    6th of Commonwealth  
                                                           ACT XII
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 1619, William Waller Hening,ed. 1823

Friday, December 20, 2013

Improving Notoriously Bad Roads

New Kent Supervisors may Authorise
Issue of $10,000.

[Special to The Times-Dispatch.]

Roxbury. Va.. April 12.- A bond issue of $10,000 is being considered by the Board of Supervisors of New Kent County, for the purpose of building good roads. Charles City County, which adjoins New Kent, will soon issue bonds in the amount of $50,000 for road building. Never before in this region has there been so much enthusiasm for good roads and other public improvements. Post-Office Inspector Wall, of Washington, has been here for the past week going over two proposed new rural free delivery routes, one in New Kent twenty-four miles in length, with seventy-seven families and 215 patrons, and the other in Charles City, twenty-seven miles long, with 126 families and 318 patrons.
-The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) April 13, 1913

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Expediton to Charles City- VII: Snark

 Wherein John Moncure Daniel of the Daily Richmond Examiner gives us an example of his attitude toward the Davis administration and its handling of military affairs . . .


From the Richmond Examiner, Dec. 16.
We have some facts concerning the inconsiderable cavalry affair at Charles City Court-house. Several citizens of the county have made the trip to Richmond to post us as to the facts. Two companies of our cavalry were captured entire. We lament the loss of the horses. The force of the enemy, as estimated by our informants, who counted them on their way up to the Court-house, was two hundred. The number of our men captured was at least two hundred. Each Yankee took a man. One of our companies was on parade when the enemy came in sight, and, without resistance, threw down their arms and surrendered, the other company made a show of resistance, but only a show.
The citizens of Charles City mourn this event—they weep and cannot be comforted, because all the cavalry, who, up to this time, have been roaming over that country, shooting deer, partridges and poor people's turkeys, had not been captured. A few more of the sort are unfortunately left. We regret to learn that Lieut. S. BALLARD. of this city, was very badly wounded. We are said to have killed six Yankees and wounded many, but we think this very doubtful. The enemy burnt the Court-house and returned toward Williamsburgh. It is unnecessary to make any comments on this brilliant affair.

-The New York Times, December 18, 1863

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- VI: The New York Times

Particulars of the Attack on Charles City Court-house- A Wild Night for a March Surprise and Capture of Pickets Charge on the Rebel Camp- The Spoils of Victory- Contrabands Coming In.

 Correspondence of the New-York Times.

WILLIAMBURGH, Va., Monday, Dec. 14, 1863.

An expedition, composed of six companies of the First New-York. Mounted Rifles and three companies of the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth New York regiment, has just returned from a highly successful raid to Charles City Court-house, situated near the north bank of the James River, and seven miles beyond the Chickahominy. The expedition was under the direction of Col. R. M. WEST, the present commander of this post; the cavalry was commanded by Col. B. F. ONDERDONK, and the infantry, which acted as a reserve this side the Chickahominy, by Col. ROBERTS.

The infantry preceded the cavalry twelve hours. The Mounted Rifles quitted Williamsburgh at 6 o'clock on the evening of the 11th inst., under lowering clouds, and an atmosphere that presaged storm. We made a brief halt at Twelve-mile Ordinary. After leaving this point, our route lay through dense forests of pine and dreary patches of cleared but uncultivated land. As night and the column advanced, the darkness became terrible, the wind fairly roared through the tall trees, and the rain, so long threatening, fell in torrents. We had two trusty white guides, but you may imagine how serviceable they were when we could not distinguish a horseman at the distance of three yards, unless, perhaps, he was mounted on a white steed. Still, the regiment moved forward for many miles, keeping closed files, and carefully following the sound of clanking sabres; until, finally, the road, which before had seemed to be in a highly-tangled condition, formed a knot like the Gordian puzzle. Here, apparently, fate had a choice bivouac in store for us -- but not so. Col. WEST. The guides lit matches which blazed for a moment, (just long enough to exhibit our forlorn prospects,) and were then quenched by the rain. Still, we were making a few yards, or rather "taking ground to the right." The guide covered his hands with the phosphorus of the matches, and held them up. This did not remind one forcibly of a revolving coast light, but we persevered. Many of the men lost their way through the woods, two or three officers were missing, but fortunately all regained the column. We pushed on in this manner until about three o'clock, when it being perfectly impossible to proceed another foot, on account of the blackness of all surrounding objects, and the awful condition of the road, (when we found it,) we were compelled to sit patiently in our saddles until daylight, drenched to the skin, and ruminating upon the beautiful moral relation which the soldier sustains toward a grateful country.

At daylight we moved on rapidly, and made up for lost time. We came up with the infantry, and halted a mile this side of the Chicahominy River. They had surprised and captured a small rebel picket. We soon came in sight of the river at Ford's Crossing, and away we went on the gallop. The first rebel picket was discovered on the west bank of the river. They were in a tranquil state of existence, having divested themselves of their superfluous clothing, and "lain down to quiet dreams." They were sound asleep. The very doorkeepers of the great and invincible City of Richmond were shoring in their slumbers. After fording the river, which is quite narrow at this place, and the water about up to our saddle-bags, we swept onwards with drawn sabres, at a light gallop, capturing without resistance, four pickets, and keeping a bright lookout in all directions. As we mounted a hill in view of Charles City Court House, we caught a sight of the rebel camp, and with a loud cheer we commenced the charge. The charge was led by the field officers of the regiment, with Col. ONDERDONK and Col. WEST. It was irresistible. In less than fifteen minutes we captured ninety prisoners, including eight commissioned officers, nearly one hundred and fifty stand of arms, over fifty horses, and a large quantity of forage, commissary stores, camp and garrison equipage.

The rebels were holding the usual Sunday morning inspection in their best clothes, in camp, and made slight resistance, being either entirely surprised or not wishing to injure the few good clothes in their possession.

At the Court-house the rebels made a brief but spirited resistance. They were driven into two wooden buildings, and fired several volleys from the windows, at very short range. We surrounded the houses, and compelled a surrender, which was formally made by the enemy, after exhibiting a white flag. Sergt. WOOD, a brave and faithful non-commissioned officer, was killed in the first assault upon the building. Capt. GREGORY was severely, but not dangerously wounded in the thigh. Our entire loss during the expedition was two killed and five wounded.

 The rebel officers were, without exception, gentlemen, both in appearance and manner. Had their surprise been less complete, I have no doubt they would have made an obstinate defence. Many of the rebel soldiers were well uniformed, and were mostly armed with the Maynard rifles.

The force captured was a part of the Forty-second Virginia, commanded by Major ROBINSON, who was away at the time on his wedding tour. It was considered by the rebels a crack corps, they being admiringly styled "Plugs."

 After destroying their camp, all the arms, accoutrements and munitions of war, which we could not bring away, we retired leisurely across the Chickahominy. Here the regiment rested awhile. Col. WEST sent a small party to secure Diascon Creek bridge. The party arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the bridge by a small squad of guerrillas, who retired after exchanging a few shots, wounding the guide severely. We arrived in Willlamsburgh yesterday afternoon. The fair portion of the inhabitants behaved anything but amiably when they beheld the result of the expedition, in so many prisoners.

The rank and file of the captured party appeared rather happy than otherwise, with their sudden escape from rebeldon. One, (a nephew of United States Senator BOWDEN,) took the oath of allegiance, and several seemed disposed to do so. The officers, of course, are as bitter, as their systematic schooling to pervert the use of the five senses will make any one. Capt. RODGERS, in command, owned nearly all the horses and equipments, and he reckons his loss heavily. Among the captured was a young woman in soldier's clothes.

We brought into our lines quite a large number of contrabands. The rebel officers told them they were not compelled to come. We told them they were not compelled to stay. They seemed to value our word most, and came. One of them, an athletic pure blooded African, was relating his adventures. He said his master, in Richmond, had sold him for sixteen hundred dollars, to be sent South. He ran away and came to his wife, at Charles City Court-house. His master offered two hundred dollar for his capture, and he was obliged to hide. The morning of our arrival at the Court-house, he was lying asleep in the woods, and a little boy came and woke him up, and said that the Yankees had come. He said: "Go way, chile, what you want to fool dis nigga for?" But just then he heard the firing, and, raising up, saw the blue coats of our troops on the hill. "I was so glad dat I come right away and left all my things."

 The following is a list of the killed and wounded in the Mounted Rifles:

Sergt. Wood, Co. H -- killed.

Corp. Smith, Co. H -- killed.

Capt. L.B. Gregory -- wounded severely in thigh.

Sergt. Hendrickson, Co. H -- wounded in three places.

Private Stoppelbeen, Co. H -- wounded.

Private Johnson, Co. H -- wounded slightly.

Guide -- wounded in arm.

The rebels had three men wounded.

This raid has developed some interesting facts, which I would like to impart, but forbear on account of their military importance. C.

-The New York Times, December 21, 1863

The "Capt. Rodgers", would be Andrew J. Rodgers of Company A.

Note, "Among the captured was a young woman in soldier's clothes."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- V: Recriminations

Chaffins Farm, December 13, 1863 9.15 p. m.

Assistant Adjutant-General:

MAJOR: Your dispatch is received and its directions shall be complied with. The last information I have received of the strength and movements of the enemy is in a dispatch from signal corps. It states that the enemy crossed Forge Bridge about daylight, and attacked the cavalry at Charles City Court-House, about an hour by sun, capturing nearly the whole command. Major Robertson escaped. The enemy's force is estimated at 400. I presume Forge Bridge was picketed; my orders were positive to that effect. The dispatch from signal corps informs me that the enemy retired about 10 a. m. today toward Forge Bridge. 

 As soon as I heard of the capture of Major Robertsons command, I sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Berkeley, with about 150 men, to picket in my front. He is at New Market, with a picket on the river road and one on the Long Bridge road where it is crossed by the Central or Darbytown road. This guards all the approaches, I think, to Richmond and this point, excepting the Charles City and Williamsburg roads, which Colonel Shingler is directed to watch and hold. I also ordered Colonel Shingler to watch, as far as the capacities of his command would allow, the defiles of the Chickahominy until a cavalry force could be procured to take the place of that captured. I hope General Elzey will be able to furnish me with this cavalry. 

 I feel exceedingly indignant at what I suppose to be a complete surprise, and somebody should suffer for it. I have directed Major  Robertson to report all the facts of the case to me, and they shall be forwarded to you. I have just learned from the signal corps that two brigades of Yankees landed on Friday at Newport News.
I am, major, yours, respectfully,
Brigadier- General.

P. S.-Colonel Shingler sent out a scout to ascertain the where-abouts and strength of the enemy to-day, and I am expecting to hear from him.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.; Series 1 - Volume 29 (Part II)

A few notes: The Lieutenant-Colonel Berkeley referred to is Lieutenant-Colonel Norbonne Berkeley, commanding the 8th Virginia in Hunton's brigade. Elzey is Major General Arnold Elzey, commanding the Department of Richmond. The department included many of the "odds and ends" units that guarded the eastern approaches to Richmond. He also commanded the units at Drewry's Bluff and Chaffin's Farm, which includes the Pamunkey Artillery.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- IV: Recriminations

Ruins of Tavern and Houses at Charles City Courthouse

Capture of two companies of our
cavalry on the Peninsula.

Two companies of our cavalry were captured by the enemy on Sunday morning near Charles City Court-House. The facts, as we have obtained them, with reference to the affair, would seem to indicate a lack of vigilance on the part of our troops at that point. On Sunday morning, an hour after sunrise, the whole of Major Robertson's command, consisting of two companies of the 42d Virginia battalion of cavalry, were completely surprised, and, with one or two exceptions, all the men captured. It is said that the surprise was so complete as not to admit of resistance. The capturing force was composed of cavalry, and came up on the main road from Williamsburg.

It was reported here yesterday morning that the enemy had destroyed the village of Charles City Court-House, but later in the day the report was contradicted. They did, however, burn two or three buildings in the place.

-The Daily Dispatch, December 15, 1863.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- III

Union Cavalry at Charles City Courthouse in June of 1864

  DECEMBER 12-14, 1863. Expedition from Williamsburg to Charles City Court-House, Va., and Skirmish.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Isaac J. Wistar, U. S. Army, and congratulatory letter from Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army.

December; 14, 1863.
 I have the satisfaction to announce the complete success of the expedition sent out under command of Colonel West. All worked in successful combination. Our cavalry carried the enemy's camp at Charles City Court-House after sharp fighting, the enemy firing from their houses. We captured 8 officers and 82 enlisted men, being the whole command of three companies, and 55 horses and 3 mules, besides many shot, & c., and left on the ground. The enemy's camp, with equipments, arms, ammunition, and provisions, all thoroughly destroyed. Our loss is Captain Gregory, severely wounded, 1 sergeant and 1 corporal killed, and 4 men wounded. The New York Mounted Rifles in forty-four hours marched 76 miles. The One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Infantry in fifty-four hours marched 61 miles, mostly in a severe storm, moving day and night, and walking their shoes off, which should be made good by Government. All are entitled to high commendation for gallantry and unflinching endurance. Colonel West especially, for his precise execution of a difficult combination, by which alone could have accomplished my object.


Major-General BUTLER. [Copy furnished Secretary of War by General Butler, who adds: General Wistar, with my approbation, sent out an expedition to Charles City Court-House, on the James River, to capture the enemy's force stationed there, and I have the pleasure to forward his report of its complete success. What adds to the brilliancy of the achievement is that it has been accomplished during a terrible storm.]

 Yorktown, Va., December 17, 1863.
 MAJOR: Supplemental to my telegram of 14th instant, I have the honor to report in detail the operations of the force sent out under command of Col. R. M. West, on the on the 12th instant, to capture the enemy's cavalry at Charles City Court-House.

  The distance from my lines at Williamsburg to the Forge, sometimes called Jones Bridge, over the Chickahominy, is 32 miles. Seven miles beyond is Charles City Court-House, which was held by Robertson's Forty-second battalion Virginia Cavalry, one company of which is kept on picket at Forge Bridge, and between that point and Williamsburg. Forge Bridge has been long destroyed, but there are two fords practicable at present in its vicinity.  On Saturday, the 12th instant, Colonel Roberts, with a detachment 975 of 200 men of his regiment, the One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Infantry, marched from Williamsburg by a circuitous and longer route in rear of the rebel pickets and scouts, to the Forge Bridge, with instructions to reach that point at all hazards by 6 a. m. the following morning, and hold it.

  At 7 p. m. on the 12th, Colonel West, First Pennsylvania Light Artillery, commanding United States forces at Williamsburg, with 275 men of the New York Mounted Rifles, under Col. B. F. Onderdonk, moved from Williamsburg by the direct road to Forge Bridge, where they were instructed to find and communicate with Colonel Roberts, and leaving him to hold that point, to make a dash upon and surprise the enemy at the court-house, who would have been .deprive d of communication with his pickets by the interposition of our infantry.

   At 4 a. m. on the 13th, the Sixth U. S. Colored Infantry, Col. J. W. Ames, marched from Yorktown, with ambulances and a wagon loaded with rations with instructions to arrive at Twelve-Mile Ordinary, 24 miles distant, a sufficient time before dark, to select a good defensive position, and throw out pickets on both roads, which fork at that point.

  These several movements were all effected with complete success, notwithstanding a severe storm of wind and rain which commenced suddenly during the process of their execution. Colonel Roberts, after a severe march, successfully evaded or captured all the enemy's pickets, and reached the Forge at the designated time. Colonel Onderdonk's cavalry, accompanied by Colonel West himself, after a toilsome night march, during which they were repeatedly lost in the woods, but extricated themselves by the use of candles, reached the same point less than two hours behind time, and found Colonel Roberts in position. 
Colonel West immediately divided his into two small columns, under Colonel Onderdonk and Major Wheelan respectively, and moved rapidly through the river and against the enemy, hastening the pace to a charge when within a mile or two. The enemy were encamped in two camps not far removed. Major Wheelan's column surprised the enemy, who immediately surrendered, after firing two volleys from their houses, the only result of which was the death of Major Wheelan's horse, and a severe fall for that gallant officer. Colonel Onderdonk's column led by Colonel West himself, gallantly charged the second camp. One moment of alarm enabled the enemy to fly to arms and retreat into their houses, whence they maintained for a brief period a galling fire, but soon surrendered to the irresistible onset of Onderdonk's men. All our loss occurred at this point. It consisted of Captain Gregory, severely wounded, Sergt. Arnold Wood and Corpl. Thomas Smith, killed, and Sergt. William E. Hendrickson, Sergt. Robert Z. Johnson, Private John H. Shipplebearer, and F. R. Wilson, a guide, wounded.

  Eight commissioned officers and 82 enlisted men of the enemy were captured, brought in, and turned over, with a descriptive roll. Fifty-five horses and 3 mules were taken and brought in, 20 or 30 more unserviceable were shot, and about 100 carbines, 100 sabers, 100 sets of horse equipments, and 20 new tents, besides ammunition and provisions, were burned. Colonel West then returned with his prisoners and captured horses to Forge Bridge, where he again joined Colonel Roberts infantry, and all returned together to Twelve-Mile Ordinary, which point was  reached about 1 a. m. on the 14th. Here Colonel Ames, with his regiment, was found in position, with ambulances and rations, both much required. The prisoners were turned over to his fatigued but comparatively fresh men, and on the following day all reached Williamsburg in safety, except 1 man of Sixth U. S. Colored Troops, who was captured by the enemy. Colonel West is deserving of great credit for this brilliant stroke inflicted 40 miles in rear of the enemy's pickets. Also Colonel Onderdonk, Colonel Roberts, and Colonel Ames, who originally moved in detached columns, and the precise success of each of whom was of great moment to the others.

  The cavalry marched 76 miles in forty-four hours. Roberts infantry marched 67 miles in fifty-four hours, both moving by night and day, over deep and muddy roads, and much of the time under a pelting, pitiless storm. Colonel Ames colored infantry did what was required of them, which would be considered very severe duty (weather and roads considered), except in connection with the more arduous services of the other troops. Their position at Twelve-Mile Ordinary, in readiness to receive and guard prisoners and horses, issue rations, attend to wounded, and do picket duty, on the return of the other exhausted troops, was found of extreme advantage.

  Colonel West in his report mentions with especial commendation the several officers before named, and also Captain Gregory (wounded), Major Wheelan, Lieutenant-Colonel Patton, Captain Allis, and Lieutenant Blanchard, all of the Rifles, and Lieutenant P. H. O'Bierne, quartermaster of the One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Infantry. Also F. R. Wilson and Donnell, formerly of the rebel service, who acted as guides, faithfully and efficiently. The former was severely wounded and may lose his arm. Receiving no pay or remuneration, and exposing themselves to special dangers, these men should be rewarded.

  In conclusion, I beg to call the attention of the major-general commanding to the gallantry in action, and patient, unflinching endurance on a stormy and difficult night march, of each and all the officers and men engaged. Although the detachment of the One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Infantry was not in action, yet their services were fully as arduous as any and equally required the very highest qualities of the soldier. 
 I have the honor to be, major, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.
Maj. R.S. Davis,
 Assistant Adjutant-General.

 December 14, 1863.

Brigadier-General WISTAR,
Yorktown, Va.:
 Your telegram announcing the complete success of the expedition to Charles City Court-House received. Give your troops the best thanks of the commanding general for their endurance under fatigue, their promptness of action, and their bravery in the charge. Thank Colonel West personally for me. His action brings him up to the standard of his reputation.

 I will announce my approbation in a general order. Your telegram has been forwarded to Washington. You shall have the boat you desire by 11 to-morrow. Will not you and Mrs. Wistar come down?

Major-General, Commanding.

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 29 (Part I) Reports

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- II

The capture of Robinson's cavalry on the Peninsula — Excursion into North Carolina.

The following dispatches from Fortress Monroe are published in the New York papers under the heading "Victory on the Peninsula — Charles City and the Entire Garrison Captured. " They contain the particulars of the capture of the 82 highly valuable Confederate cavalry men at Charles City C. H. last week:

Fortress Monroe, Va., Dec.14, 1863.

The Secretary of War.:

Gen. Wistar, with my approbation, sent out an expedition to Charles City Court-House, on the James river, to capture the enemy's force stationed there, and I have the pleasure to forward his report of its complete success.

What adds to the brilliancy of the achievement is that it has been accomplished during a terrible storm.

B. F. Butler, Major Gen.
Details of the Captures.

Yorktown, Va., Dec.14, 1863.

Major General Butler:

"I have the satisfaction to announce the complete success of the expedition sent out under Colonel West, all worked in successful combination. Our cavalry carried the enemy's camp at Charles City Court-House after sharp fighting, the enemy firing from their houses. We captured eight officers and eighty-two enlisted men, being the whole command of three companies, fifty-five horses and three mules, besides many shot, &c., left on the ground, the enemy's camp with equipments, arms, and ammunition and provisions all thoroughly destroyed.

"Our loss is Captain Gregory, severely wounded, one Sergeant and one Corporal killed, and four men wounded.

"The New York Mounted Rifles in fourteen hours marched seventy-six miles. The 13th New York Infantry in fifty-four hours marched sixty-four miles, mostly in a severe storm, moving day and night, and walking their shoes off, which should be made good by the Government.

"All are entitled to high commendation for gallantry and unflinching endurance; Colonel West, especially, for his precise execution of a difficult combination, which alone could have accomplished my object. J. J. Wistar Brigadier General."

General Butler has also sent out another "important" expedition undertaken by Brigadier-Gen. Wild, commanding the negro brigade in the Eighteenth army corps. Starting out from the vicinity of Portsmouth, Va., on Saturday, the 5th instant, and marching in two columns by different routes, the brigade united at Hintonsville, North Carolina, whence an advance was made on Elizabeth City, which was occupied on the 10th without opposition, the "rebels" being taken by surprise. Artillery and cavalry, as well as considerable naval force have left to cooperate with General Wild, and Elizabeth City is likely to be made the base of "important" operations.

-The Richmond Daily Dispatch: December 21, 1863.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Expedition to Charles City- I

 150 years ago this week . . .

  "In the early winter of 1864 a very successful reconnaissance was made up the Peninsula. The storm and blackness of the night kept our march from the enemy's notice. Reaching the Chickahominy River at daylight the pickets were surprised. A quick gallop of six miles brought us to Charles City Court House, where a part of the Hampton Legion was encamped. Nine miles from Richmond mistaking a tented field for the enemy's quarters the regiment charged it when a guide riding back informed me that the main body occupied the Court House at the right. With a rear guard of forty men we swung sabers, advanced carbines, mounted the hill receiving a volley which emptied four saddles. The dash drove the enemy within- when we dismounted broke in the rear door, cleared hallway and room after room and forced the surrender of one hundred men capturing all equipments. It was a clever fight with many narrow escapes. It gave the men the confidence of a dash and courage which animated them in after fields."

The Personal Reminiscences of Colonel Edgar A.Hamilton of the First Mounted Rifles
 Historical Sketches of The Romer, Van Tassel and
Allied Families and Tales of the Neutral Ground

Copyright 1917
by John Lockwood Romer.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Food of the Gods

A mushroom was plucked recently in New Kent county, Va, which weighed ten pounds. Its color was almost white, and the mushroom remained in a perfect state of preservation
several days after being severed from its parent stem.

-New York Sabbath Recorder, October 5, 1871

. . . or a slow news day in New York

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sold at Auction 1835

                               Brought to Jail
  In LAGRANGE, Troup county, GA. on the 3d October inst. two negro men of the following description viz: EDMUND,  about 25 years of age about 5 feet 7 inches high, stout built, black complexion, has lost two of his upper front teeth, of African descent. Says that he belongs to Mr. Vinson
Carr, cotton planter, who resides 50 miles above Bayou Sayra on the Mississippi river in Louisiana, and that he was raised in Charleston, S.C. and carried to Louisiana two or three years since by a Mr. Harry Boynan, and sold to a Mr. Nettles, who sold him again to the aforesaid Vinson Carr, the he run away some time about the 1st of May last. The other boy, WILLIAM, is about thirty years of age, 5 feet, 4 inches high, stout built, rather light complexion and somewhat bow-legged. says that he belongs to Alexander Humphries, who is a sugar Planter, residing in Louisiana, but does not know
what county, his master lives on the River, that he was raised in New Kent county Virginia, and was sold at auction in Richmond, in March 1835, to his present master and shipped to New Orleans. The owners of said negroes are requested to come forward, prove property, pay charges and take them away.
Oct. 13.                      AARON WILKS, Jailor

-from the Columbus, Georgia Enquirer, October 20, 1836-March 2, 1837.

LaGrange lies in the middle of Troup county along the Alabama line

Monday, December 2, 2013

Liberty Baptist Claim



January 4 1909 Referred to the Committee on War Claims and ordered to be printed

                                                                                       Court of Claims, Clerk's Office,
                                                                                      Washington, December 31,1908.
 Sir: Pursuant to the order of the court, I transmit herewith a certified copy of the findings filed by the court in the aforesaid cause, which case was referred to this court by resolution of the House of Representatives under the act of March 3, 1887, known as the Tucker Act.
                                               I am very respectfully, yours,
                                                                                                John Randolph
                                                                             Assistant Clerk, Court of Claims.
Hon. Joseph G. Cannon,
Speaker of the House of Representatives

[Court of Claims. Congressional, No. 12208. Trustees of Liberty Baptist Church, New Kent County, Va., v. The United States.]

                                                    STATEMENT OF CASE

This is a claim for damage alleged to have been done the church building by the military forces of the United States during the late civil war On March 31, 1906, the House of Representatives by resolution, referred the following bill to the court.

                                                      "[H.R. 3476. Fifty-ninth Congress, first session.]

"A BILL For the relief of the trustees of Liberty Baptist Church New Kent County, Virginia.

" Be it enacted by the Senate and Home of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to pay to the trustees of Liberty Baptist Church, New Kent County, Virginia, the sum of two hundred dollars for damages sustained by the depredations of the United States Army during the war between the States."
 The claimants appeared and filed their petition in this court November 14 1906 in which they make the following allegations:

 That they are the duly appointed trustees of the Liberty Baptist Church, of New Kent County, Va., that in the year 1862 the Union Army defaced and injured the building of the said church located in said New Kent County, Va., by tearing up the floor and sleepers destroying the doors blinds windows and pews mutilating and defacing the walls and otherwise injuring the said building that they also destroyed the Sunday school library belonging to the said church that the most of the timber from said building was used by said army in building a bridge over Diascund Creek, which was destroyed after they had passed over said bridge; that it would require at least $700 to repair the injury done to the said church; that as such trustees they never gave aid counsel or encouragement to the southern cause during said war.

 The case was brought to a hearing on loyalty and merits on the 7th day of December, 1908.
 John Goode, esq., appeared for the claimant church, and the Attorney-General, by P.M. Cox, esq., his assistant and under his direction appeared for the defense and the protection of the interest of the United States.

 The court upon the evidence adduced and after considering the argument and briefs of counsel on both sides makes the following

                                                         FINDINGS OF FACT
I. The Liberty Baptist Church of New Kent County, Va., as a church, was loyal to the Government of the United States throughout the late civil war.

II. During said war the military forces of the United Stares by proper authority took possession of the church building described in the petition and damaged the same by tearing up the floor and sleepers with which to build a bridge across Diascund Creek and by destroying the doors, blinds, windows, and pews. Such damage was at the time and place reasonably worth the sum of two hundred dollars ($200) no part of which appears to have been paid.

III. The claim herein was never presented to any department of the Government prior to its presentation to Congress and reference to this court by resolution of the House of Representatives as hereinbefore set forth in the statement of the case and no reason is adduced showing why the same was not earlier presented.
                                                                                                       By the Court.

Filed December 14, 1908.
A true copy. Test this 29th day of December, A. D. 1908.

                                                                                                       John Randolph,
                                                                                           Assistant Clerk Court of Claims.

60th Congress
2d Session
December 7, 1908-March 4, 1909

House Documents
in 151 volumes
Vol. 149
Government Printing Office 1909

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How It's Made 1860's version

                      Panoramic View of Richmond in Ruins, from the Old Arsenal looking down the James River, April 1865.

A little astray . . ., while researching the the State Department of Historical Resources Marker Program I came across this recent sign approval (July 2012) . . .

 "The 'Confederate Ordnance Lab Explosion relays the story of the massive explosion' in March1863 that destroyed the building on Brown’s Island that housed an assembly production for cartridges and other ammunition. The “ordnance laboratory and complex” employed many women and children and at least 40 people were killed in the explosion, which was set off when “worker Mary Ryan accidentally ignited a friction primer according to the marker."
Not New Kent related, but interesting personally since I have always had an interest in Civil War military industry and industrial accidents. A niche interest perhaps (alright, definitely). It all started while researching my Great-Great-Grandfather's Civil War history. William Clark McPhail (1831-1885)of Eastover, North Carolina avoided conscription by serving in the State Salt Works at Wilmington. Salt was so important, employment at the works was a protected occupation.

 North Carolina State Salt Works

 Civil War Salt

Women in Civil War Arsenals

Confederate States Laboratory

Richmond Arsenal

The Danville Arsenal

The Washington Arsenal

Selma Naval Foundry

Bellona Arsenal

Mid-Lothian Mines

 Augusta Powder Works

 Confederate Ship Building

 The Nitre & Mining Corps

. . .and the big one . . .

The Comstock Lode

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Coming to a Road Near You . . .

This newly (OK, OK, 2010) approved State Highway Historical Marker is to go up in the vicinity of the fire tower on Williamsburg Road, perhaps at the intersection of Old Williamsburg Road or the crossover of  I-295. Commemorating events of the War of 1812(whose Bicentennial we are in the middle of ), the text reads . . .
"During the War of 1812, Virginia established three militia posts on the outskirts of Richmond to guard against possible British Invasion. Within a mile of this point was built Camp Carter (Sept. 1814-Feb.1815) under the command of Gen. John H. Cocke. Camp Holly Springs (April 1813-Feb.1814) was located five miles southwest at Route 5 near Newmarket Road, under Gen. Robert Porterfield. Camp Bottoms' Bridge (Sept-Nov.1814) under the command of Gen. William Chamberlayne, was two miles east at Bottoms Bridge. These posts were never threatened by British forces during the war."
The threat to the approaches to Richmond seemed very real after the British military moves in Hampton Roads over the summer of 1813, culminating in the Sack of Hampton in the middle of June. Militia from all over Virginia as well as North Carolina encamped on and behind the line of the Chickahominy to defend the capital of Virginia. I assume Camp Bottoms' Bridge would be on the high ground in Quinton to protect the approaches to the bridge. The information sheet on the marker principally relates to Camp Carter, but I believe there is more information to be found in the records, specifically in the Virginia Legislative Petitions. Some of the petitions from New Kent asking for state reimbursement, relate tales of losses from militia encamping on private land.

 "The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the erection of the first historical markers along U.S. Rte. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,400official state markers, most of which are maintained by Virginia Department of Transportation, a key partner with the Department of Historic Resources in the historical marker program."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Railroading 1908


Breaking of Arch-bar Causes Wreck on C. & O. Near Providence Forge.

An eastbound Chesapeake & Ohio Railway coal train was derailed at Providence Forge, about 30 miles east of Richmond, at 1:15 o'clock yesterday afternoon by a broken arch-bar on the track. Eight of the coal cars left the track and went down the side of the slight embankment besides the track. No one was injured.
 Wrecking trains were hurried to the scene from this city and Richmond and the wreckage had been sufficiently cleared away to allow the eastbound passenger trains to make the trip to this city yesterday evening. However, all of the derailed cars were not placed back on the track until late into the night.

Daily Press(Newport News), January 12, 1908

Friday, November 22, 2013

A List of Military Actions in New Kent 1861-1865

A tentative list of military events in New Kent during the Civil War . . .

April 1861. Seizure of Northern ships in the Pamunkey by militia.

May-July, 1862. Peninsula Campaign.

Aug 17, 1862. Reconnaissance toward Forge Bridge.

Nov 22, 1862. Reconnaissance from Williamsburg, Va.

Dec 17, 1862. Reconnaissance to Diascund Bridge and Burnt Ordinary, Va.

Jan 7 9, 1863. Expedition from Yorktown to West Point and White House, Va.

Jan 13, 1863. Expedition from Yorktown to West Point, Va.

Apr 16, 1863. Affair on the Pamunkey River, near West Point, Va.

May 3, 1863. Skirmishes at Hungary Station, Tunstalls Station, Hanovertown Ferry, and Ayletts, Va.

June 11, 1863. Skirmish at Diascund Bridge, Va.

Jun 20, 1863. Skirmish at Diascund Bridge, Va.

Jun 23-28, 1863. Expedition from Yorktown to the South Anna Bridge, Va.

Jul 1-7, 1863. Expeditions from White House to South Anna River and Bottoms Bridge, Va.

Aug 26-29, 1863. Expedition from Williamsburg to Bottoms Bridge, Va., and skirmishes.

Sept 25, 1863. Capture of Confederate steamer near White House.

Nov 9-10, 1863. Expedition from Williamsburg toward New Kent Court-House, Va

Dec 12-14, 1863. Expedition from Williamsburg to Charles City Court-House.

Jan 19-24, 1864. Scouts from Williamsburg, Va.

Feb 6-8, 1864. Expedition from Yorktown against Richmond, Va., including skirmishes at Bottoms Bridge and near Baltimore Store.

Feb 28-Mar. 4, 1864. Kilpatrick's expedition against Richmond, Va.

Jun 20, 1864. Skirmish at White House/ Sheridan's Raid.

Jun 21, 1864. Skirmishes at White House or Saint Peters Church and Black Creek, or Tunstall's Station/ Sheridan's Raid.

Jun 23, 1864. Skirmish at Jones Bridge/ Sheridan's Raid.

Jan 30, 1865. Scout of the Chickahominy.

Feb 23-24, 1865. Expedition from Yorktown to West Point, Va.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Notorious in the Neighborhood": The Drake Divorce Petition II

 The findings of the New Kent Court re the petition . . .


Pleas and proceedings before the Honorable, the Judge of the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of New Kent at the Court House in the 14th day of May 1834-Be it remembered that heretofore, to wit: on the 13th day of March 1834, come Louise W. Drake wife of Ro. Drake by James Semple Jr. Esq. her attorney and filed in the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Supr. Court of law and Chancery for the County of New Kent a statement in writing of the Causes upon which she intends to found a petition for a divorce, which writing containing the statement aforesaid is in the words and figures following-
The Statement of Louise W. Drake wife of Robt. Drake to be filed in the Superior Court of Law & chancery for the County of New Kent. She represents that in 1822 (Nov 30th) having found a strong attachment to her present husband, she intermarried with him, with approbation of her friends, who deemed it a prudent connection. That they resided together for six or eight eight years, with only occasional slight interruptions to their matrimonial felicity- during which time, she may safely affirm that her duties as the wife of the Robert were performed faithfully, honestly, & devotedly; nor did she ever have sufficient cause to doubt the propriety of her choice, until in an evil hour her husband formed an improper connecion(sic) with a young woman residing in the neighborhood - He urged her so strongly to take this girl into the family that she at length consented to it, from a desire to conform to his wishes, altho she could not see the necessity for having such an intimate of her family. About the last of Jany: 1830 this girl named Rebecca Hall, came to live with them; From that period his affections were rapidly alienated from his wife- sometimes he would not speak to her for several days & he became almost a Stranger to here bed. In this state of things She gave birth to - child, and while in Confinement She was treated with marked & studied coldness, and cruelty by her husband who did not even furnish her with those things usually deemed necessary to one in her situation Frequently under the pretext of business he would go at night into the room in which the said Rebecca slept while she was in bed & spend hours there: At length, instigated by the pangs of jealousy, but too well founded, on one occasion when she She observed his entrance just before day, She moved softly to the door and actually caught him in the embrace of the said Rebecca. As might be expected a quarrel ensued & he left the house with the declaration that he would never again live with his life. He did however return, and they lived together until the birth of her Second child in April 1832. During this interval, he treated her more coldly & cruelly than ever, and while in child bed She suffered severely not only from his entire neglect, but even for the want of necessaries, allowed to females in the sorest class in Society in her Situation that her existence was endangered- whether sick or well nothing but meat usually bacon, or Salt fish, & bread, constituted her fare, nor was she aided by a servant however sick she might, except upon one occasion, when he permitted a neighboring Physician who had from charitable motives called to see her while ill, to send a little slave to wait on her, & was this slave while with her was fed by the same charitable neighbor refusing to let her accept the services of the slave, on any other conditions. When her last child was little more than one month old; finding that her ill treatment must ultimately cost her her life, if she remained under(?) the same roof with her husband, She quitted his house, & with her children lived on the charity of her friends & relatives, until April 1833- He repeatedly sent her messages during intervals forbidding her return & declaring her would never live with her again; However, finding he might be Compelled to maintain her if he persisted in that course & wishing to get her in his power to punish her still further, he at that time ordered her to return to his house- hoping that his lost affections might be recovered by her obedience, She again trusted him & was again deceived- She remained with him till Nov 1833- or rather she should say, She lived in his house for she seldom saw him, & he in fact lived with his paramour, but a few hundred yards distant, to to whom to whom(sic) he furnished a house & horse & many of those comforts he denied his wife. To render his cruelty more refined - at the same time that he would not to speak to her & would not scarcely notice his children, all intercourse with her own relatives was forbidden positively, & thus she lived an involuntary recluse though in the house of her husband & surrounded by her numerous relatives. Despairing at last of making any impression upon his hardened conscious, she was forced to abandon his house & seek some consolation in the society of her poor old mother, on whose husband she is now thrown for her support; She believes and charges, that he has for several years had kept up habitually a criminal intercourse with the woman whose name has been mentioned and this she believes is notorious to the whole neighborhood: She has been compelled to rely on charity for necessary clothing for an infant child, even while in his house & since she quitted it, no mark of attention to his children has ever relieved the Cold & Cutting cruelty he has shown to their mother.

And now at this day, to wit: at a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery, begun & held for New Kent County at the Court house on the 14"-day of May 1834, being the day first herein mentioned came the parties by their attorneys, and by their consent this cause is docketed , and thereupon came a jury to wit, Jac S. Poindexter, Thomas B. Sherman, William A. Green, Julius Martin, Will H. Vaiden Sr., St. Geo T. Coalter, John Slater, John Tandy, Saul T. Williamson, Jno. M. Ferguson, Edward C. Mosby and Joseph C. Parkinson, who being sworn well and truly to enquire whether the charges contained in the plaintiffs statement be wholly true, & if not wholly true, how far they are true, upon their oaths returned a verdict in these words "We the jury find the allegations charged in this cause to be substantially true." Saul T. Williamson

        A copy teste
                Jno. D. Christian c c

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eat Your Hearts Out . . .

. . . present day hunters . . .

Schools Close for Hunting
Providence Forge, VA.,
Nov. 22 (AP)- Schools in game-rich Charles City and Kent Counties shouldn't be plagued too much this year with truants during the hunting season. Pupils were given this entire week off. 
Schools boards in the two counties granted a three-day holiday the first of the week to coincide with the hunting season. With the traditional two-day Thanksgiving holiday and Saturday, the young hunters have six days in the woods. 
G.M. Hodge, Superintendent of Schools in both counties, said the pupils always get a three day holiday when teachers attend workshop sessions. These workshops were scheduled to coincide withe the start of hunting season in an attempt to cut down on the usual absentee rate.

-The Washington Post, Nov 23, 1961

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Raid on Burnt Ordinary II

 The below map is centered on the Olive Branch Church area(basically Norge), approximately three miles east of Burnt Ordinary . . .
Map from the Confederate Engineer Bureau in Richmond, Va. General J.F. Gilmer, chief engineer.

NOVEMBER 9-10, 1863.Expedition from Williamsburg toward New Kent Court-House, Va.

Report of Lieut. F. Charles Hume, C. S. Army, commanding Peninsula Scouts.

November 10, 1863.40 p. m.
LIEUTENANT: The enemy has returned to Williamsburg with his wagons (thirty) filled with corn, gathered from the fields of Mr. George Hawkins, Mr. Martin, and Allen Richardson. I will as briefly as possible explain why so little in jury (1 man mortally wounded and 1 horse killed) was inflicted on the enemy by my party. On the morning of the 9th, I sent my men on the telegraph road with standing instructions to ambush and fight the enemy should he appear. Contrary to my custom, I had just ridden to the Centreville road to make some disposition of my men who had been posted on that road, when one of them galloped up with the information that the enemy was up in force, and that I would find all my men at a certain point near the telegraph road, where they had agreed to await my coming. Arrived there, I found only 8 men, the rest having become alarmed at the extensive line of skirmishers thrown out to trap them, and took refuge in the woods; and with this party I have been unable to meet until this evening, after the enemy had passed down the road. Thus left with so small a party (Sergeant Hughes having 9 men on the Centreville road), I went up to the vicinity of the enemy's camp and remained quite near him all night, his position in the open field, with his pickets very near the camp, rendering it impossible for me to effect any surprise. At daylight I came through the woods to a point near the Burnt Ordinary, and fired a single shot twice at intervals at his mounted pickets, but found it impossible to provoke the squad to a skirmish. Leaving this open country, I came down toward the Six-Mile Ordinary, where I had agreed to meet the men, now very hungry, as early as they could get rations and follow me. While they were thus dispersed the Yankees moved toward Williamsburg. Aware of their return, I collected 3 men all I could get together and ambushed the roads at Pettits. Two cavalrymen passing I shot one from his horse, mortally wounding him; the other was fired on, but I fear escaped without in jury. The enemy at once deployed his infantry skirmishers on both sides the road, and swept the timber for hundreds of yards. We escaped them. I regret very much the little service rendered where so much was expected, but the above are the true circumstances, and I will be satisfied with the inference you may draw from them,This they promised will not be their last visit, but they intend robbing every farm on the Peninsula before stopping. I think it quite likely. They throw out infantry skirmishers on both sides of the road when they approach timber, thus rendering ambushing anything but an easy matter.
I am, lieutenant, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. CHARLES HUME Lieutenant, Commanding.

Lieut. S. W. WARDLAW, Adjutant Holcombe Legion.

Note the Piggott name common in the area, which I believe Hume (and Wardlaw) took as "Pettit."

 . . . more upcoming on the resourceful Lieutenant Hume.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Raid on Burnt Ordinary I

The enemy on the Peninsula.

Some excitement was created upon the arrival of the York River train yesterday afternoon, which brought the intelligence that the Yankees had again made their appearance in considerable force on the Peninsula, and that their actions indicated an advance on this city. Later in the evening, however, a courier arrived, bringing the news that during Monday night a negro regiment, a regiment of cavalry, and some artillery, advanced about twelve miles this side of Williamsburg, where they had pitched their tents, manifesting no disposition to proceed any further. The impression is that their designs only for plunder, and that no advance is meditated at this time upon Richmond. In either case ample preparations have been made, and they have only to make a demonstration to insure a signal repulse.

It is known that a few weeks ago Major General Foster, who has been strongly reinforced at Fortress Monroe, had organized a diminutive "on to Richmond," which was on the eve of starting, when an order from Washington countermanded his orders to move, and relieved him from the command of the department. It is also certain that the force at Fortress Monroe has been made of considerable size, and that at Newport News there is a very large encampment, under the command of Brigadier-General Heckman, of New Jersey.

The Daily Dispatch; November 11, 1863.

From the Peninsula.

The Yankee advance on the Peninsula, which was noticed in yesterday's paper, proves to have been but a raid of a foraging party from the Federal forces at Williamsburg. They came up to the neighborhood of the Burnt Ordinary, where they succeeded in loading some twenty-five or thirty wagons with plunder of different descriptions, and then returned. Up to sunset yesterday evening there was no further indication of an advance in that direction.

-The Daily Dispatch; November 12, 1863.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Armistice Day

Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps

16 September, 1937

To whom it may concern:

The records of this office show that James Whitfield Timberlake, born August 28, 1889, at Barhamsville, Virginia, enlisted in the Marine Corps December 15, 1917, at Parris Island, S.C. After completion of recruit training at that place, he was transferred to Qunatico, Virginia, joining the 138th Company, 2nd Replacement Battalion. With that organization, he embarked in the U.S.S. Henderson March 13, 1918, and went ashore in France March 27, 1918. He was assigned to the 76th Company, 6th Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps, April 26 1918, and participated in active engagements against the enemy in the Toulon Sector, April 26 to May 13; Aisne Operation, June 1 to 5; Chateau-Thierry Sector (Belleau Wood), June 6 to July 16; and in the Aisne-Marne Offensive, July 18 and 19, 1918, on which date he was severely wounded in action and died. He had been assigned Army serial #304,710.

His remains are now permanently buried in Grave #10, Block "C", Row #11, Oise-Aisne Cemetery #608, situated near Seringes et Nesles, Department of Aisne, France.

At the time of his enlistment, Private Timberlake stated that his next of Kin was Mrs. Hallie M. Timberlake, mother, Barhamsville, Virginia.

R.H. Jeschke
Major, Asst. Adjutant and Inspector
U.S. Marine Corps.

Furnished to:
S.W. Lacy, Clerk
County of New Kent
New Kent, Virginia.

-from a letter in the New Kent County World War One Memorial Book in the mircroform records of the Library of Virginia.

"Regimental increments arrived in France during late 1917 and early 1918. Upon arrival, the 6th Marine Regiment joined the 5th Marine Regiment and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion to form the 4th Brigade, U.S. 2nd Division (Regular), American Expeditionary Force. The early spring was devoted to training under French tutelage." 
"The U.S. 2nd Division was attached to the French XX Corps to conduct a counterattack near Soissons in mid-July. The 6th Regiment was held in reserve when the initial assault waves went over the top on 18 July. The next day, the 6th Marine Regiment stepped off, advancing alone from Vierzy toward Tigny, but was stopped short of the objective by intense artillery and machine gun fire. Casualties were extremely heavy, estimated at 50 to 70% in most units. First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates (a future commandant of the Marine Corps) reported only about two dozen of more than 400 men survived and added '... There is no one on my left, and only a few on my right. I will hold."[7] Regimental losses during the Aisne-Marne Offensive numbered 1,431; 19 July 1918 is the single costliest day of fighting in the history of the 6th Marine Regiment."
 From the Wikipedia entry on the 6th Marine.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Grant Tragedy V

Triple Execution In New Kent County.The Last Act In the Grant Tragedy—An Interesting Narrative.

[correspondence or the Richmond Daily Dispatch]

New Kent C.H., Va., March 13. 1858.

At an early hour this morning, a vast multitude assembled to witness the execution of Major Morris, Henry and Dick Bradley, the murderers of James C Grant. A few minutes past 10 o'clock A. M., the sheriff, John S. Lacy, Esq. with his deputy, Chas. A Hewlett, Esq., proceeded to the jail, for the purpose of removing the chains from the prisoners and to shroud them in robes of black cambric; when they were led out of their cell. Capt. Braxton Garlick, with the Troop, escorted them to the gallows. 
On their arrival, the Rev. George B Simcoe, one of their spiritual advisers, delivered a very solemn and impressive sermon. At the conclusion of this be prayed very fervently. They were then asked if they had anything to say. Henry and Dick said they wore prepared to meet their God. Major Morris said he had fallen a victim to the gallows through the persuasion and advice of his friends; who admonished those around him never to repose too much confidence in friends. 
The halters having been properly adjusted to the beam and their necks when they first ascended to the scaffold, the fly was drawn from the drop and at 12 o'clock PM they were launched into eternity The night preceding their execution was devoted to prayer and supplication. At intervals they sang the very melancholy hymn, commencing "Hark from the tomb!" As I gazed through the iron gates of the prison window into their cell, I could but feel sad at so woeful a spectacle. Thus last act of this bloody drama has been performed, and the curtain, I trust, has fallen never to rise on a similar tragedy in New Kent or elsewhere. This is the fourth execution which has occurred in New Kent since the great calamity that befell the county in 1787.

A few notes. The troop mentioned as commanded by Braxton Garlick is New Kent's troop of militia, the New Kent Light Dragoons. Three years later during the Civil War, the Dragoons, then known simply as the New Kent Cavalry, were commanded by Telemachus Taylor, the defense counsel.

You will notice the constant use of the word "tragedy" in describing these events. I believe this was done purposefully to evoke the 1825 Beauchamp–Sharp murder, better known as the Kentucky Tragedy, which was possibly the most well known murder in the several decades leading up to the Civil War.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Grant Tragedy IV

The Grant Tragedy in New Kent-
Trial and Conviction of the Murderers.

correspondence of the Richmond Daily Dispatch

New Kent C.H. Va., Feb 16, 1858
A court of Oyer and Terminor for the trial of three slaves, implicated in the murder of James C. Grant, has been sitting four day. Owing to a very large number of witnesses sworn and examined in this case, the Court has been unable to try more than two up to the time of my writing, namely major Morris and Henry Bradley, who have convicted and sentenced to be executed of Friday, the 19th day of March next. I deem it only requisite your readers the most material facts which lead to the conviction of the unhappy culprits. 
I appears from all the evidence that I have been able to glean, that a most infernal conspiracy had been concocted by this hellish trio to destroy the life of Grant. Henry, not wishing to be the assassin of the young master, for fear of being detected, agreed to give Major Morris who lived in Henrico, twenty five dollars to perpetrate this atrocious deed. On the night of the murder, Major Morris met Dick Bradley on some obscene and remote part of Grant's farm and after arranging all the preliminaries, proceeded in the direction of G.'s house they halted and Dick Bradley assisted Major Morris in pulling off his boots and left them in the house where he discovered G. sitting at the supper table near a window. Major took unerring and deliberate aim at the back of G.'s ear, which was toward the window: the whole load of trooper's pistol took effect in his head and neck, which terminated the existence of Grant before he could say one word to his mother and sister, who were in the same room at the time of the commission of this bloody deed. Major then returned to the spot where he had left Dick Bradley, and informed him of the triumph of his mission. Here they separated, each going to his respective wife's house. Henry Bradley, at the time this tragedy was committed was removed two miles off at a neighbor's  where his wife lived. When the intelligence of the death of his master reached him, he took the precaution to call the attention of his friends to the fact that he (Henry Bradley) was then at this neighbors house, his object being, no doubt, to prove an alibi. The chief evidence adduced in the trial of each of those unfortunate men, was from negroes, and of the strongest and most corroborative character, and established the guilt of the parties convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt. 
Dick Bradley, after he had been arrested and incarcerated in the county jail, in order to escape the legal punishment he justly merited, endeavored to erase from the minds of the jailor and others, everything that was calculated to arouse the least degree of suspicion against him. He told them that Major Morris was the perpetrator of the crime, and was to receive twenty-five dollars from Henry Bradley after the commission of the murder. Dick Bradley sore to this in the trial of Major Morris and a portion of his evidence was substantiated by other witnesses several of whom deposed that they saw Major Morris in the neighborhood of the murder a few hours prior to its being committed. Dick Bradley also swore that Henry(his brother) had threatened to kill his master more than once. 
After hearing all the evidence, Mr. Telemachus Taylor appeared as counsel for the prisoners and Mr. Richmond T. Lacy for the commonwealth- Mr. Lacy commenced his remarks by reviewing the many flagrant violations of the law which had occurred within the limits of the county in the last twelve months, and particularly the one that had resulted in the death of Grant which he portrayed in the most vivid colors arguing that nothing would go so far in restoring order and tranquility as bringing the offenders of the law before a tribunal, and there inflicting the severest penalty of the law upon them. 
Mr. Taylor, in behalf of the prisoners, spoke at some length upon the testimony introduced, and closed his remarks by making a very pathetic appeal to the Court. 
The Court after hearing all the evidence and argument pronounced them guilty, and valued them. They were then conducted to jail to await their execution. 
Convicts having escaped from our jail heretofore the Court deemed it insecure appointed a guard consisting of four men to watch it until the 9th day of next March. 


New Kent C.H. Va, Feb. 17 1858
Since writing to you yesterday, Dick Bradley has also been condemned and will be executed on the 19th day of March next.


The attorney for the Commonwealth is the Richmond T. Lacy who owned Eltham plantation and who is mentioned as such here.

And this is a milestone of sorts. This is my 200th post since this site was founded in March 2011.