Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"We are also of opinion . . ."

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Chapter XXXIX - Operations in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Department of the East. June 3-August 3, 1863.

So Dix rather bitterly reconciles himself  to the reluctance of not only his divisional commander, Keyes, but also Keyes' brigadiers. Yet at no time apparently, does Dix remove himself from his base at White House and personally ascertain the situation of the bulk of his available forces who are less than six miles away.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Affair from a Naval View

-Official records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. ; Series I - Volume 9: North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (May 5, 1863 - May 5, 1864)

More on the USS Shokokon 

Captain Peirce Crosby some twenty years later, after he had risen to the rank of Rear Admiral.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Free Blacks of 1860

A little research I've done on the New Kent free community on the eve of the Civil War . . .below we have a table with all the Free Black households that are list in the 1860 Census in New Kent. The first column is the name of the head of household, then occupation (if any is listed), then the value of any real estate owned and finally the number of people in the household.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"If you decline to make the move, General Gordon will be put in command."

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Chapter XXXIX - Operations in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Department of the East. June 3-August 3, 1863.

 So at this point is General Keyes merely cautious or timid? . . .or should General Dix stop micromanaging from the landing? And is it a good idea to have two Major Generals operating in a raid/diversion of this size, the senior general six miles from the tactical position that he seems most concerned about?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Very Respectfully"

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Chapter XXXIX - Operations in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Department of the East. June 3-August 3, 1863.

 Refer to the maps from July 18th for these movements . . .

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

. . . and the units they commanded

General Micah Jenkin's Brigade consisted of :

  • 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry-Col. F. W. Kilpatrick
  • 2nd South Carolina Rifles-Col. Thomas Thomson
  • 5th South Carolina Infantry-Col A. Coward
  • 6th South Carolina Infantry-Col John Bratton
  • Hampton Legion-Col. M. W. Gary
  • Palmetto (SC) Sharpshooters-Col. Joseph Walker
present for duty-184 officers and 2,108 men
General M. W. Ransom's Brigade consisted of :

  • 24th North Carolina Infantry-Col. William J. Clarke
  • 25th North Carolina Infantry-Col. Henry M. Rutledge
  • 35th North Carolina Infantry-Col. John, G. Jones
  • 49th North Carolina Infantry-Col. Lee M. McAfee
  • 56th North Carolina Infantry-Col. Paul F. Faison
present for duty-109 officers and 2,826

source: Organization of Troops in the Department of North Carolina, commanded by Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, C. S. Army, June 30, 1863 and Abstract from return in the Department of North Carolina, commanded by Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill, C. S. Army, June 30, 1863; headquarters, near Richmond, Va.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Some Confederate personalities of July 1863 . . .

Grave of Colonel William P. Shingler

Col. William P. Shingler of South Carolina commanding Holcombe's Legion (really the cavalry thereof), a mounted battalion that numbered between a 125 and a 150 men at this time. Holcombe's Legion kept an eye on Union movements on the upper Peninsula.

General Micah Jenkins
General Micah Jenkins commanded a brigade of South Carolina troops.

General M. W. Ransom commanded a North Carolina brigade.

All these units fell under the authority of General D. H. Hill.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Swim to Freedom

"But it wasn’t until recently that Ghee learned that 150 years ago today, his great-great-grandfather was one of at least 20 slaves who took a daring swim in the James River to enlist in the Union Navy."
An article on Charles City and the Civil War from the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Friday, July 19, 2013

". . . facts and rumors . . ."

The advance on Richmond.
fighting on the Peninsula — defeat of the enemy — demonstration on Hanover Junction, &c.
In the city yesterday there was little of interest to note. The city troops assembled at 6 o'clock in the morning and were marched to their respective positions, and beyond the amusement afforded by squads of provost guards going around picking up stragglers, there was very little to amuse the few who remained in Richmond. The York River train arrived about 12½ o'clock, and brought the particulars of the fight below Bottom's Bridge, in New Kent. From an intelligent gentleman, who was in the fight, we gather the following particulars.

Gen. D. H. Hill advanced a portion of his force to feel the enemy, and found him about 6 ½ o'clock P. M., Thursday, at Dr. L. Crump's farm, just this side of the Cross Roads. Our troops formed in line of battle. Gen. Jenkins's South Carolina and Gen. Ransom's North Carolina brigades took position across the Williamsburg road, at Mrs. Crump's farm, with Major Branch's Virginia artillery in the centre, and Col. Shingler's and the Holcombe Legion cavalry on the right and left. Skirmishing speedily and actively commenced with the infantry, and the artillery opened an accurate and incessant cannonading. The enemy, consisting of three regiments of infantry, a force of cavalry, and four pieces of artillery, under Colonel West, commanding, at first presented a bold front, but as our infantry advanced in splendid order, at the double quick, they retreated. Gens. Jenkins's and Ransom's onslaught was bold and fearless, but as the enemy retired rapidly, Gen. Hill ordered Col. Shingler, with his cavalry, to the charge, which was executed in gallant and impetuous style, driving the enemy to Tunstall's, four miles, when darkness put an end to the pursuit. The enemy two or three times took an ambuscade, and poured heavy volleys upon the cavalry, but, most providentially, without inflicting any injury. Our loss was only one killed--a member of the 24th North Carolina regiment.--Four of the enemy's dead were found in the woods where there line of battle was formed, and we captured six prisoners, one of whom was mortally wounded. The enemy ran off in great confusion, strewing the road with knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, oil cloths, and sabres. The prisoners stated that the number of troops under Dix was about 22,000. They think that there is not much fight in the troops. Two of them who arrived at the Libby prison say that the force which fought our troops numbered 4,000, and was the advance of the army. There were, they said, 20,000 troops in their rear, and they were being reinforced. There were five or six Brigadier Generals with the force. They did not know what point the army was marching on, but, from what they had heard their officers say, thought Richmond was to be taken. General Corcoran, with his force, from Suffolk, was with Dix.

The train which came up on the York River Railroad yesterday afternoon brought the intelligence that there had been no fighting yesterday morning, and that the Yankees had disappeared from the Cross Roads, taking the route towards Hanover Court-House. Also, that a large force from the White House had crossed the Pamunkey into King William, and, were making for the same point. A citizen of King William county, who lives near the centre of the county, sent. He informs us that on Wednesday afternoon, about 4 o'clock, some 1,500 of the enemy's cavalry passed his farm. They had with them two pieces of field artillery and one caisson. Two hours later in the day they were followed by an infantry force, estimated to number from 1,000 to 1,200, with sixteen pieces of artillery and about twenty wagons — whether baggage or ordnance wagons our informant could not tell.

The next morning, about 6 o'clock, a squadron of cavalry--two companies — passed up in the same direction. The force that passed up on Wednesday evening stated that their destination was Hanover Junction. At sunset they stopped for an hour at the intersection of the Hanover Town and New Castle Ferry roads and fed their horses. Leaving there, they went in the direction of Nelson's Bridge, on the Pamunkey, and halted for the night in the neighborhood of King William C. H.; where they destroyed the harvested crop of Mr. Richard Pemberton, on the alleged ground that Mrs. P. had insulted them.

The next morning they crossed the Pamunkey, either at Nelson's Bridge or Taylor's Ferry, and proceeded in the direction of Hanover Junction, about twelve miles distant.--At different points along the route they declared it to be their purpose to destroy effectually the railroad communication between Richmond and the army of Gen. Lee, and to capture the city, or so threaten its capture as to require the withdrawal of Gen. Lee's forces from the North. They are represented by all who had an opportunity of talking with them as being exceedingly impudent, and boastful of their prospects of entering the Confederate capital.

Yesterday, early in the day, a report reached the city that this force had tapped the railroads at Hanover Junction, and were threatening the bridge on the Fredericksburg road over the South Anna. In the afternoon this report received a seeming confirmation in the fact that the train which was due at 5 o'clock did not arrive. Upon inquiry we learned that the Central train had stopped at Beaver Dam Station, having been apprised of the threatening presence of the enemy. The information received at the War Department at 8 o'clock in the evening was not such as to justify the belief that they were really in possession of the Junction, and it was hoped, at least, that our forces at that point would be sufficient to repulse them.

Regarding the number of troops the enemy has, there is of course much doubt. An exchanged prisoner who came by the last flag of truce boat laid off Fortress Monroe on Tuesday, and while there saw on board a Federal vessel an old acquaintance whom he had known, in Baltimore. The Federal told him that Dix had taken almost every man able to carry a musket on this expedition to Richmond, including Peck's troops, and that he had about 20,000 men. Some of the men belonged to companies whose time was up, but their regiments time not having expired, they were forced to accompany it on the march. Our informant, while lying off Fortress Monroe, saw several transports plying between Norfolk and there, which he was told had Peck's troops on board. There were ten transports lying in Hampton Roads with regiments whose time was up going North.

The Yankees still picket up as high as Tunstall's.

- Richmond Daily Dispatch of July 4, 1863

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another excellent map . . .

Chief Engineer's Office, D.N.Va. Maj. Gen. J.F. Gilmer, Chief Engineer. Map of the vicinity of Richmond, Va., and part of the Peninsula. From surveys made under the direction of Capt. A.H. Campbell, P.E.C.S.A., in charge, Topographical Department, D.N.Va. 1864.

Another great map of the affected areas in July, 1863. This map and the previous are both available for viewing at the David Rumsey Map Collection.


Part of the map of the Military Department of Southeastern Virginia and Fort Monroe showing the approaches to Richmond and Petersburg. Compiled in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers of the War Department. 1861.

A map of the operational area of the Union raids of July, 1863 in New Kent County.

"On the correspondence between General Keyes and myself, I make no comment but leave it to speak for itself." Part II

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Chapter XXXIX - Operations in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Department of the East. June 3-August 3, 1863.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Kent's Members of the House of Burgesses- Bios Part. II

Claiborne, William. The ancient family of Claiborne derives its name from the Manor of Claiborne or Cliborne in Westmoreland county England near the river Eden and which is named in the Domesday Book AD 1086. William Claiborne was born about 1587 and came to Virginia with Gov. Wyatt in 1621 in the employ of the Virginia Company as surveyor general of Virginia at a salary of thirty pounds a year a house and in all probability fees. 
He quickly became prominent in colonial affairs and in 1624 was commissioned by the King as first royal secretary of state a position which he held off and on for eighteen years. In 1626 he became a member of the council. On July 22 1629 he received a commission from Gov. Pott appointing him captain and commander of all the forces to be levied for a war against the Indians and as a reward for the successful conduct of the campaign was granted in 1640 a tract of land on the Pamunkey river. In the latter year he petitioned the King to create an office which should have the keeping of the Virginia seal. The King referred the matter back to the governor and council of Virginia who decided that such an office was appropriate and appointed Claiborne to fill it. In 1634 through the influence of Harvey he lost his place as secretary of state but on Apr 6 1642 Charles I appointed him treasurer of Virginia for life. 
He again commanded forces against the Indians in 1644 and again received a grant of land in reward Claiborne was a great explorer and traded with the Indians as well as fought them. In 1627 the government of Virginia gave him permission to discover the source of Chesapeake Bay and explore any body of water between the thirty fourth and forty first parallels of latitude and on May 16, 1631 the King granted a license to “our trusty and well beloved Wm Claiborne” to trade in the colonies of New England and New Scotland, and commanded Gov Harvey and the council to allow him to do so. Claiborne soon afterwards established a trading post on Kent Island near the present city of Annapolis and this caused him to oppose with great persistence the efforts of the Baltimores to establish the colony of Maryland. When in 1632 that part of Virginia lying north of the Potomac was granted to Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, the Virginians including Claiborne protested against it on the ground that it was a territorial spoliation. They brought the matter before the King and urged that in revoking the charter and assembling control over Virginia both his father James and himself had given assurances that the intention was to alter the form of government not to dispute property rights. 
The political existence of the colony remained as much a fact as before and if the King could grant away Maryland he could grant away Jamestown itself. The King and his commissioners of foreign plantations were nevertheless adverse to this view and the legality of Baltimore's charter was upheld. The Virginians hoped however to except Kent Island from its operation on the ground that the Island was actually occupied by Virginia settlers. They argued that the assurances given at the revocation meant at least that actual occupation was to be respected. It made no difference whether Claiborne had any title to the soil or not, under his license to trade the colony of Virginia had extended its laws over it and the occupation was a legal one. When therefore Leonard Calvert, Baltimore's governor, called upon Claiborne to recognize his authority in Kent Island the council of Virginia to whom Claiborne referred the request considered the claim and declared that the colony had as much right Kent Island as any other part of the country given by his Majesty's patent in 1609. This particular phase of the question came before the King like the more general phase and was referred by him as in the former case to the commissioners of foreign plantations. It pended before them for several years and in the interim feeling grew warm. A miniature war developed and several persons were killed on both sides Sir John Harvey interfered in behalf of Lord Baltimore and this so incensed Claiborne's friends in Virginia that he was seized and sent back to England. At length however the commissioners in 1638 decided for Lord Baltimore and Kent Island having been seized in Claiborne's absence in England by Capt. George Evelyn in behalf of Lord Baltimore has remained ever since a part of Maryland. While Claiborne never admitted the justice of the decision it does not appear that he ever tried again to set up Kent Island as independent of Maryland. During the disturbances of Richard Ingle 1645-1647 he visited Kent Island but appears to have come over to look after his property rights which had been confiscated. Instead of posing as a friend of parliament he showed a commission and letter from King Charles I, by whom he appears to have stood till the King's death in 1649. After that time Claiborne went to England and espoused the parliament side and Gov Berkeley in 1650 declared the office of treasurer vacant on account of Claiborne's delinquency. 
In Sept 1651 Claiborne was appointed with Capt Robert Dennis, Mr. Richard Bennett and Mr. Thomas Stegg on a commission to reduce Virginia to obedience to the parliament of England an office which they succeeded in performing in Mar 1652. They then repaired to Maryland and reduced that province also. The ascendancy of Claiborne in Maryland was complete but beyond renewing this property claim to Kent Island he did not treat it politically different from the rest of Maryland. In Virginia the two surviving commissioners Bennett and Claiborne shared the chief offices between them Bennett became governor and Claiborne secretary of state. Maryland was only temporarily pacified. Lord Baltimore encouraged his adherents to resist and a civil war ensued and much blood was shed. The design of the commissioners appears to have been to have brought about the union of Virginia and Maryland again but Baltimore won such favor with Cromwell in England that the contest was given up and his authority finally recognized. 
When the restoration of Charles II took place Claiborne was deprived of his office as secretary and removed from Elizabeth City where he had formerly lived to Romancoke near West Point the scene of one of his former victories over the Indians. Romancoke was then situated in the county of New Kent which had been cut from York in 1654 when Claiborne was at the height of his power. The county was evidently named by him after his beloved Kent Island. Here he lived many years siding with the government in the disturbances of Bacon's rebellion and dying about 1677 when he was upwards of ninety years of age. To the last he remained unconquered in spirit and as late as 1675 he sent to parliament a long recital of his injuries suffered at the hands of the Baltimores asking satisfaction and urging the union of Maryland with Virginia.

 - This follows the list of June 15, 2013 and is part of a series. 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.

See also my previous posts on Claiborne.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

From the Peninsula- 1863

The Yankees advancing
The Yankees yesterday were at Tunstall's Station in considerable force, mostly cavalry. Their infantry was no doubt advancing in the fear ready to support them. Their force is variously estimated at from 10 to 25,000 men. Opinions are much divided as to the object of this expedition. Some suppose the design is actually to attack the city; but to us, that seems preposterous. Others think with more appearance of probability, that it is intended merely to keep up an excitement and draw off men from Lee's army. It appears to us that we have force sufficient not only to defeat, but to capture the whole of their army, should it venture near enough.

From the Peninsula.
The Federal forces on the Peninsula are not stationary. We learn through a letter from Turner's ford, ten miles this side of Diascund bridge, written yesterday, that the Yankees were reported to be advancing upon the latter point; but the writer adds that no signs of them have yet been seen. It is stated that our scouts near Diascund captured a Yankee mail Sunday, with a dispatch from Gen. Dix to Keyes, ordering him to march on Richmond, as those were the instructions from the War Department at Washington. It is added that this letter was sent to the War Department here.
From the White House we learn that the Federal have made a slight advance. They occupy Tunstall's station, four miles this side chiefly with a cavalry force. The camp is to the right of Tunstall's station, between the Williamsburg road and the railroad.
The Yankee steamers on the Pamunkey were very busy Sunday and yesterday traveling up and down the river. The person who communicated this did not see whether they were landing troops or not.

From the Peninsula.
The news from the Peninsula is not very definite. Our scouts report correctly that there is no enemy at Diascund Bridge or New Kent Court-House. The train on the York River Railroad yesterday morning brought up a prisoner who was captured by our scouts straggling from the Yankee army. He reports that the Yankees at Diascund fell back towards Yorktown, where they are to get reinforcements and come on to Richmond. There are, he asserts, a plenty of troops at Yorktown. These are the statements of a straggler, who, of course, knows nothing about the intended movements of the General commanding. The assertion that there are plenty of troops at Yorktown is transparently false, for it is well known that the United States strained every point to get up the 15,000 which are making this diversion under Keyes and Gordon. The deserter adds that a party of 1,200 crossed the Pamunkey into King William on Monday to complete the devastation of that county, commenced last week.
The train last evening brought intelligence of no change in the position of the Yankees at the White House or Tunstall's. Their cavalry are encamped on a hill near Tunstall's.
Col. Shingler's men are picketing as far down as Diascund, and to within a short distance of Tunstall's.
The general impression seems to be that Keyes will attempt a march around Richmond to Aquia Creek or to Gordonsville, destroying the roads and crops on his way. A soldier who has been scouting within their lines reports that he saw thirty-two regiments, eighty-eight wagons, and sixteen pieces of artillery. This, in the present depleted state of the Yankee regiments, would give about 12,000 or 14,000 men. The deserter mentioned above says that they only had 10,000 men.

The Federal on the Peninsula — an advance.
The Federal force on the Peninsula made an advance yesterday and the night before. They now occupy the Cross Roads, in New Kent county, about 5 miles from Bottom's Bridge, and 18 miles from Richmond. The reports received yesterday evening by the York river train state that on Tuesday night a force commenced moving from the White House towards the Cross Roads, and that yesterday morning more troops followed. Gen. Dix had arrived at the White House and taken command of the whole army. Gens. Keyes and Gordon were at the Cross Roads. The Federal have been reinforcing at the White House during the past three days, and it is stated that among the reinforcements was Gen. Peck's command from Suffolk. This is, doubtless, true, as the Yankees have been fortifying around Norfolk some time, preparatory to falling back there from Suffolk, and on Thursday last all the "contra bands" at Suffolk were sent down to Norfolk. It is very doubtful whether there is a regiment of Yankees now in town.
A gentleman who lives near Williamsburg states positively that not more than 10,000 troops went from Yorktown by land up the Peninsula. Of course he does not know how many went by way of York river to the White House.
The Yankees still hold the White House, or did yesterday afternoon, probably to make it a point to fall back on in case of a disaster to their arms, which, it appears, they think probable — we know to be certain.
Yesterday morning some of Col. Shingler's men went in the rear of their pickets at Tunstall's and captured a Lieutenant and private; but both of the captives were too drunk to answer any questions intelligibly.
It is hardly probable that the Yankees would have left Suffolk in a comparatively defenceless situation merely to make a grand march around Richmond to Aquia Creek, or upon Gordonsville, nor did they need so large a force as they have collected to make a feint on Richmond — a feat they might have accomplished with much fewer men. It is most likely that they really contemplate an "On to Richmond," which will end even more disastrously than the nine marches they have heretofore made upon the city.

-Richmond Daily Dispatch of June 30, July 1 and July 2, 1863

Monday, July 15, 2013

"On the correspondence between General Keyes and myself, I make no comment but leave it to speak for itself."

-The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Chapter XXXIX - Operations in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Department of the East. June 3-August 3, 1863