Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Friday, January 31, 2014

George Washington Parke Custis Painting

The fellow who's image adorns the top of this site at this moment is George Washington Parke Custis. Son of John Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington, ward of George Washington and father-in-law of Robert E. Lee. Builder of Arlington House outside Alexandria, he was also the largest landowner in New Kent throughout the Antebellum era until his death in 1857. His death and the need to settle his estate was why Robert E. Lee spent so much time in the Washington area in the run up to the Civil War.

The image is from the Sneden Diary at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, and is an illustration taken from a painting dated 1855.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Wedding at Chestnut Grove

Mistie, Elsie Josephine, “Chestnut Grove (New Kent County, Va.),” Library of Virginia


[special to The Times-Dispatch]
 West Point, August 12.-John Lemuel Johnson, of King William, son of W. P. Johnson of Cohoke- claimed as his bride Addie Mozelle Chandler, of New Kent, daughter of Mr. and Mrs O.M. Chandler, this afternoon. Prof. Philip Johnson, uncle of the groom of Bethany College. West Virginia, assisted by the local pastor. Rev Mr. McAllister, performed the marriage ceremony. The marriage took place out of doors on the lawn at the home of the bride, Chestnut Grove. The bridal procession came down the lane leading to the house, between two rows of grand old trees, stopping at the two designated by an arch of pink and white, which were the color scheme of the whole affair. The bride, robed in shadow lace, trimmed in pearl,carrying Bride roses, her veil caught with lilies of the valley, was given away by her father Miss Mollie Crump, cousin of the bride, was maid of honor Aubrey Johnson, brother of the groom, acted as best man. Mrs. Lemuel Edwards sister of the bride, was matron of honor. Little Elizabeth Chandler, of West Point, was flower girl. The ribbon bearers, carrying pink ribbons to form an aisle, were little Mary Clarke Burnley Slater, Calvin Smith and Weller Pollard.
The bridesmaids were Misses Hynda Yaney, Lester Manor, Lovelene Neale, Lanesvllle: Rhea Martin, Richmond: Floy Crump, Dash; Louise Bayliss, Richmond, wearing white dresses, with pink girdles and carrying pink tulle muffs.
The groomsmen were Arsel Robins, Lestor Manor. Willie Martin, Williamsburg; Kenneth Christian, Talleysville; Campbell Bayliss, Richmond, and Deleware Chandler, New Kent.
The ushers were M.P. Chandler, West Point, J. Wiley Johnson, Cohoke; L. Edwards, Lanesville; Thomas Barham, Norfolk. The wedding march was rendered by Mrs. W.C. Smith, if Newport News.  Among the  guests from a distance were R.St.P. Smith, Charles, Stanley, Arthur and Campbell Bayliss, of Richmond; Mr. and  Mrs. Thomas B. Barham, of Norfolk; Mr. and Mrs. W. C.Smith, of Newport News; Mr. and Mrs. Lemuel of Lanesvllle; Mr. and Mrs. M P. Chandler and daughter Elizabeth, of West Point; Miss Van Delia. Kiblinger, of West Virginia; Mrs. Howard Pollard, Port Norfolk: Miss Annie Penell, Richmond.

-The Times Dispatch, August 13, 1913

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Plums from the Times

                                                     Plum Point Plums.

(Special Dispatch to The Times.)
PLUM POINT. VA., Sept. 16.-Mr. R. E. Richardson, who has for a good many years been running a store at Plum Point, is now packing up to move in his large and elegant store house at West Point. Mr. G. L. Farinhold(sic) has rented the Plum Point store from Mr. Richardson and will begin business at once.
Mr. Houston, of New York. who recently bought the Brick House farms proposes to buy all the adjoining farms and colonize a good many western farmers.
The farmers are rushing their fodder pulling for fear that frost will catch them, as it is so cold. We find it very comfortable by a fire.

- The Richmond Times., September 17, 1902

Monday, January 27, 2014

Story of a Trooper V- Farmer Martin and the French Nobility

I return after an absence to the story of Francis Colburn Adams in New Kent . . .

"On the morning of the 9th, we got news that General McClellan had reached Roper's church1, about nine miles across country, and established his headquarters.
Communication was thus opened between our right and centre; and Generals Franklin and Porter, with several members of their staffs, rode over to General McClellan's headquarters, and held an interview with him.Slocum's brigade moved out about three miles to a stumpy, new clearing, called the cross-roads, and encamped. Stoneman, with his flying column of cavalry, and General Sprague2, passed up about four miles south of us, and had a skirmish with the enemy's rearguard, but, as usual, without inflicting any serious injury on him. Under the belief that he could do something of , real value if he had infantry to support his cavalry, Stoneman had obtained an order on our division for two regiments, which were sent to him from the Jersey Brigade. It was surprising to see how much opposition this order excited among some of our brigadier generals, who prevailed upon General McClellan to rescind the order and send the infantry back to their brigade. The rest of the day was spent at Eltham, landing cattle, supplies, and cavalry, the last being very slow in getting up. Indeed, it was almost impossible to tell why this cavalry should have been sent from Yorktown by water, subject to all the expense and delay of embarking and discharging, as well as cost of transports, when a good road was open all the way up,and fields of clover a foot deep.
The first supply train from Yorktown came through in charge of Alex, our Irish Lieutenant, who had been selected for the duty. The gunboat we had sent up the  Pamunky reached Cumberland landing early on the morning of the 10th, having passed a number of sunken vessels, and removed a variety of obstructions placed in the channel by the rebels. A good, safe channel, with ten and even eleven feet of water, was, however, found and marked out up to the landing, which was at Tooler's3 plantation, a vast open plain, affording magnificent advantages for encamping the whole army. A high ridge, on which the plantation house stood, overlooked an immense extent of country, and gave the spectator a view which, for picturesqueness, I have rarely seen excelled. A pale mist hung over the hill, and a camp with three or four white tents was dimly seen from the deck of the gunboat, pitched a few yards in front of the plantation house. As the mist lifted, the shadowy figures of the camp guards stood out in clear relief. The question was whether they were the enemy or our men. A glass was brought into use, and the blue overcoats decided the question. It was Stoneman's camp. He had halted his flying column, and was waiting for the infantry to move up. He had lost, it was reported, several of his men in an affair with the enemy near New Kent Court-House, the evening before.
Colonel Alexander, Captain Arnold, and several others landed and made their way to the camp, but with the exception of the guards, everything appeared in undisturbed slumber. While, however, the Colonel was making inquiry of the guard as to where he could find General Stoneman, a small-sized head protruded from one of the tents, and a somewhat husky voice inquired who the strangers were. The head and voice were General Sprague's. The General seemed somewhat confused, and could not exactly understand that the flying column had been overtaken by a gunboat.  The strangers soon had a pleasant greeting with General  Stoneman, who gave them an account of some skirmishing had with the enemy on his way up. They now made an examination of the ground in the vicinity, and in the direction of New Kent Court-House, procured correct information concerning the roads, and returning to the gunboat proceeded back to Eltham to report the success of their expedition. All the light draught vessels of our fleet could ascend the crooked Pamunky to Cumberland Landing, and on this being reported to General McClellan, it was at once determined to establish our depot of supplies there.
On the morning of the 10th another brigade of our division moved over to the cross-roads I have before mentioned, and encamped in the stumpy fields and on the wooded hills. In the afternoon General Franklin and his staff rode out and met General McClellan and several members of his staff at Slocum's headquarters, where they were very handsomely entertained. Accompanying the General was his favorite aid, Colonel Sweitzer, the Duke de Chartres, Count de Paris, and the Prince de Joinville, whose agreeable manners always added a charm to the company he was in. A very pretty and intelligent boy, belonging to a poor family in the neighborhood, who had been in Richmond about a week before, was brought into headquarters and introduced to General McClellan, who questioned him as to what he knew about the rebel capital. What he had to tell, however, was based only on rumor. "There was great excitement when I left, "he said, " and it was reported that Mr. Jefferson Davis had left the big stone house, and done gone out of Richmond."
It was here that General McClellan brought us the news of the evacuation of Norfolk and destruction of the phantom terror of our navy, the Merrimac4, which news was received with an outburst of rejoicing that made the very woods echo. When it became known to the soldiers that General McClellan was in camp, they manifested the wildest enthusiasm, broke away from all restraint, and cheered for him in their loudest strains. When, on taking his departure, he rode through the camps, they gathered about him in crowds, impeded his progress, threw up their caps, and made the very air ring with their shouts of joy. It was the most natural outburst of affection for the chief they loved I had seen the soldiers manifest.
The afternoon was warm and pleasant, and after the General had taken leave of us Captain Jackson and myself rode out about five miles in the direction of New Kent Court-House, over a road finely shaded with trees and bordered with flowering shrubs. On our return we stopped at the farm of one William Martin, an honest-hearted farmer, whose house stood about half a mile from the road, and where we found a hearty welcome, and were entertained with new milk and muffins. Farmer Martin gave us ample proof that he had always been a good Union man, and had, with many others in his neighborhood, struggled hard against the men who carried Virginia into rebellion. There was something so sincere, so kindly about the man and his wife, who seemed a very model of goodness, as to make us forget that we were in an enemy's country. He was not one of the rich, opulent planters, owning a hundred slaves, and therefore hating the Union that afforded them protection. They were to be found on the rich bottom lands adjoining the river, where wealth seemed to give greater force and bitterness to treason. Martin lived on what was called the ordinary upland, several miles away from the river, where the people were less educated and wealthy, but among whom I noticed a strong love for the Union and a more kindly treatment of our soldiers. Martin's farm comprised about five hundred acres; three hundred of it finely wooded with oaks and chestnut, the balance of it under that very ordinary kind of cultivation which has been followed in Virginia for at least a century. The farming implements here were of the rudest kind, and I could not suppress a feeling of regret that all these fine lands should remain unproductive for want of a little of that science and energy which has done so much for the advancement of agriculture in the North and West. Martin had but a few slaves, and cultivated his soil chiefly with free labor. We returned to Eltham that night at a rapid pace, and Captain Jackson's fine horse fell dead a few minutes after we reached headquarters.
Early the next morning we moved with the remainder of the division, and established our headquarters about a mile beyond the cross-roads. On the 12th I went out with the provost marshal and a company of cavalry to post guards along the road to protect property. In one house we found an aged mother and her only daughter, a young woman of eighteen, with an infant in her arms, the father, their only support, having been conscripted into the rebel army. A more terrible picture of poverty and distress could scarcely be presented. In another house were two young girls, and an aged, infirm father, the two brothers who worked the little farm having fallen victims to the inexorable conscription officer. The house of the sheriff or tax collector of the county5 was deserted, its furniture broken, and its floors strewn a foot deep with papers, old books, and manuscripts. Three or four old negroes still remained in the cabins, and told us this destruction was the work of some of our soldiers, who had passed that way the day before, and learned that their master was an arrant rebel.
On returning, I took four cavalrymen and stopped at Martin's house, to protect his property while the army marched up on the next morning. During the day I observed that he exhibited considerable anxiety of mind about something. He at length disclosed to me the cause of it. The wife of a Major Jones6, who was in the rebel army, had been frightened from her house on the banks of the Pamunky by the shells of our gunboats, and leaving in a state of great distress, had made her way through the woods, found sought shelter under his roof. The poor woman was now secreted in one of his garrets — a fact he considered it his duty to disclose to me, especially as he bad been assured that the distressed and innocent would receive protection and be treated with kindness. Assured of protection and kind treatment, she came trembling from her hiding  place, but in a state of nervous excitement enough to awake the tenderest sympathies of one's heart. She was a timid, delicate little woman, of refined manners and evident good family. The depth of her distress was increased by the fact that she was soon to give birth to a child, and her home had been made desolate by her own negroes, several of whom had threatened her life. My efforts to relieve her mind of all apprehension of personal danger failed to remove the intense nervous excitement under which she was laboring. She thanked me, however, in the most tender manner for my offer of protection, deplored the war that had brought this misery upon her, and with tears sealed the sincerity of what she said.
I sent this trembling woman to her home in charge of a guard, but it was not the home she left. The negroes had held high festival in its halls for several days, and the scene of destruction which everywhere met the eye showed how regardless they had been of the value of property.
I could not help feeling how thankful we ought to be that our fathers and mothers, our brothers and sisters, lived beyond this terror of war, where peace reigns.And yet the aching head and sorrowing heart of this poor woman is as a feather when compared with the accumulation of woe war brings on the people into whose country it is carried."

1. Ropers Church lay approximately a mile due west of Barhamsville.

2. William Sprague, Brigadier General and the "Boy Governor" of Rhode Island, was on the Peninsula in an unofficial capacity, looking after the interests of Rhode Island's troops and acting as the President's ears on McClellan's staff.

3. Cumberland the Property of Henry Toler.

4. The CSS Virginia , still called Merrimac by many in the North and and South, was scuttled by the Confederates on May 11 since her deep draft prevented her ascending the James River to Richmond.

5.  C.A.Hewlett was Sheriff of New Kent in 1862.

6. "Major"Jones is, I believe, Rowland Jones a large landowner on the Pamunkey. Possessing no Confederate rank I can find, "Major" is probably an honorific from bygone militia days. Jones, age 62 and a widower, had recently married again, to the 22 year old Octavia Jones.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Walking Across the York River- Winter 1857

WEATHER IN NEW KENT.- YORK RIVER FROZEN OVER- A correspondent of the Petersburg Express, writing from New Kent county, Va, on the 26th inst, says,
Every public highway is now obstructed with snow from three to ten feet in depth, and water has congealed in close room, within a few inches of a blazing oak and hickory fire.
Pamunkey river is frozen entirely across with ice twelve inches in thickness, and the York and Mattaponi rivers are in the same condition, so far as can be perceived with the aid of a strong lens. A gentleman, named Penny, walked across York river last Saturday, at a point where it is three miles in width, and the water as salt as that around Neptune's footstool, if he ever had a resting place for his pedal extremities. The steamer Sea Bird is said to be at Bigler's wharf, York river, with her paddle wheels firmly locked in by the ice.
It is the impression of venerable tillers of the soil hereabouts, that the wheat crop will suffer material damage from the freeze.

-The Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) February 3, 1857

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Dash on White House- Foot Sore Men

                                                                  CAMP MOUNTED RIFLES,
                                                                       Williamsburg, Va., January 24, 1864.

 COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with your instructions received on the evening of the 22d instant, I left camp with 50 mounted men under command of Captain Hill, 40 dismounted men with Captain Harmon, and Captain Barnards company of 38 men joined me at the camp of the One hundred and thirty-ninth New York Infantry. We moved in direction of Twelve-Mile Ordinary, dismounted men taking the advance, marching through the fields, preventing any knowledge of a dismounted party being out- side. The cavalry took the advance beyond Six-Mile Ordinary. The infantry was secreted in the woods this side the Twelve-Mile Ordinary, with instructions to remain until the ensuing evening, guarding the rear, York River, and Diascond roads, and to capture all scouts and parties coming through, and reporting to me the next night at Hickory Neck Church. I made a detour to the left around the Burnt Ordinary, coming in the woods beyond in the rear, and secreting the dismounted men near the church.
Captain Hill advanced directly to Barhamsville, there parted with the 2 men he escorted out; thence scouting in direction of York River, took 2 prisoners with 2 horses, 2 mules, and 1 rifle. On his return he was fired into by an ambuscaded party. He returned the fire, but the woods and night prevented him from distinguishing their whereabouts. Sergeant Eddy was mortally wounded (since dead), Corporal Newby slightly wounded (both of the battery detail). A second volley was poured into him, when near the Twelve-Mile Ordinary; however, without any damage. The cavalry then returned to camp. On hearing the first firing the detachment of dismounted men were placed in position to receive the enemy as they approached the road through the woods, but instead the enemy moved across the woods, coming out upon the Diascond road.
At daylight they were heard approaching from the Ordinary. They came nearly to the woods; then diverged to the right across an open field, apparently making for the houses on the right. A small party secreted in the road, finding that they were moving away, immediately fired, when we made a charge. The soreness from walking so far, proximity to a ravine, and the woods prevented us from capturing them, although to escape they threw away their arms. One of them was wounded. We returned to the bivouac; immediately secreted ourselves in another part of the woods beyond. In about an hour a small party of the enemy returned, fired three or four volleys through the old bivouac, and retired. They were constantly scouting around all day, hunting up our pickets. Once or twice we fired at them. Our ignorance of the roads and by-paths prevented our getting near them. Toward evening we returned to the church, the pickets here capturing 1 of their scouts, who was attempting to crawl in upon us. The infantry met us at dusk. I placed them in the woods, and with Captain Harmons troop scouted through the adjoining woods, searching houses, & c. It being known that we were there, the men being foot-sore, I concluded to return to camp, which we approached by the York River road. One man dressed in military clothes was taken from a house where they were signaling from. His claims not to be a soldier.
The marching was very difficult, and a great deal of praise should be awarded to a body of foot-sore men, who marched so well and acted so bravely. Captain Barnards company of infantry did very efficient service in guarding the roads to the rear.
 I remain, Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                                  EDGAR A. HAMILTON,
                                                                  Major First New York Mounted Rifles.


First New York Mounted Rifles.

The Sergent Eddy, who was mortally wounded, was Edwin Eddy, 23, promoted to Sergeant a week before the expedition.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Dash on White House- An Affair of Pickets

                                JANUARY 19-24, 1864.Scouts from Williamsburg, Va.
                     Reports of Maj. Edgar A. Hamilton, First New York Mounted Rifles.
                                                                                      CAMP MOUNTED RIFLES,
                                                                       Near Williamsburg, Va., January 20, 1864.

COLONEL: I report that agreeably to special orders from headquarters U. S. Forces at Williamsburg, Va., of January 19, transmitted to me for action, that I started from camp at 9 o’clock in the evening with a command of 140 men, moving cautiously forward on the Richmond turnpike road until we arrived nearly to the Twelve Mile Ordinary, where a dismounted party was sent forward to capture the enemy’s scout, secreted in the woods, a trust of unusual delicacy, as their known watchfulness and dexterity had eluded all former attempts at capture. However, succeeding in this, we alarmed the surrounding couriers and scouts. Moving quickly forward we discovered that the couriers had been previously notified, and it was impossible to get near them. Upon our arrival at New Kent Court House, and while forming the troops, the enemy’s picket fired an alarm from the woods. Captain Hill with his troops moved forward, followed the picket in the direction of Bottoms Bridge for nearly a mile, charging upon the picket station of a lieutenant and 8 men, who, however, had time to mount and run or take to the swamps. He was here met by a severe fire from the woods, and soon discovered a small bivouac with five wagons full of meats, fish, and vegetables. Being unable to transport it back, I ordered it burned with the wagons.
Owing to the small number of my command, the foreknowledge of our approach by the enemy, the liability of being cut off, I deemed it imprudent to go to the White House, having secured from an old gentleman who had just left Richmond what I considered reliable news, namely, that there is no movement of public effects, no evacuation or unusual change in the military of the city; that the number of troops was limited. This information was confirmed as far as possible by repeated and indirect inquiries to other citizens.
Upon my return I captured 2 privates of the First Virginia Battery and also a surgeon of the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, together with 4 horses and a mule. The enemy’s scouts on my return were scattered for a distance of 15 miles upon our flanks in coverts and swamps, and kept up a continual fire. Dismounted skirmishers kept them at a distance from the flanks, and with the exception of 1 horse wounded there were no casualties.
From intelligence gleaned from the prisoners I discovered that our approach had been known in Richmond and to the enemy at least thirty-six hours previous. They had lain in ambush waiting our approach for nearly thirty hours previous. Lieutenant Hume, the commander of the scouts, had received his information in letter direct from Williamsburg, and as a general thing they gained intelligence of an expected scout previously. A great deal is due Captain Hill for his prompt and efficient aid, and also to the troops for the zeal shown in a very fatiguing and cold march of 65 miles, which they performed in nineteen hours.
    I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

                                                                                          EDGAR A. HAMILTON,
                                                                                                      Major Mounted Rifles.
                Col. B. F. ONDERDONK,
                Commanding U. S. Forces.