|Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.|
Gen. Kilpatrick(in high boots) and his staff at Stevensburgh, Virginia before the raid.
ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS.; Interesting Details of the Expedition Approach of Our Forces to Within Two and a Half Miles of the City Incidents of the March The People, Negroes, Country, Food, Roads, &c. IMPRESSIONS IN DIXIE. CONDUCT OF UNION TROOPS. THE REAL SECESH. THE CROP PROSPECT. WHITE MEN AT WORK. THE HOPE FOR PEACE. CONFEDERATE SCRIP THE FOOD QUESTION. NO CHOICE OF TROOPS. THE HEART OF REBELDOM. THE SECESH DEMONSTRATIONS. CONTRABAND NEWS. THE SOLDIERS HARDSHIPS. THE AMNESTY PROCLAMATION. THE NEGROES. CATTLE AND HORSES. COL. DAHLGREN'S EXPEDITION. WORTHY OF ATTENTION. BRAGG AT RICHMOND. THE WEATHER AND ROADS. REBEL RAILROADS.
FORTRESS MONROE, VA., Saturday, March 5, 1864.
By referring to the account of Brig.-Gen. KILPATRICK's cavalry raid within the enemy's lines in Virginia, which I forwarded yesterday, and taking a look at the map, it will be seen that our forces traversed nine different counties now occupied by the enemy, viz.: Spottsylvania, Caroline, Hanover, Goochland, Henrico, Louisa, New-Kent, James City and York. These counties embrace nearly all of the most aristocratic in the State -- peopled before the war mainly by families who boasted of their long line of ancestors, the number of their negroes, their broad acres -- in fact, where the feudal lords reigned supreme both over the white trash and the negro in bondage. The condition of this section of the country which has been under almost uninterrupted rebel sway for three years cannot be otherwise than interesting. In riding through these counties the stranger is painfully impressed with the Sunday-like stillness that everywhere prevails; at the large number of dilapidated and deserted dwellings, the ruined churches with windows out and doors ajar, the abandoned fields and workshops, the neglected plantations, and the ragged, dejected and uncouth appearance of the few people who are to be seen at home; the almost entire absence of men and boys, everything indicating a condition of affairs which nothing but civil war could produce. Our troops as a general rule when within the enemy's lines, I feel proud in being able to say, conduct themselves as becomes soldiers, only doing that which they are allowed to do by the recognized rules of war by all civilized nations; destroying nothing but what is used as a direct agency in sustaining the bogus Confederacy, and taking so much provisions only and forage as may be required for immediate use; no attempt is made to intimidate the inhabitants who are quietly at home attending to their legitimate business, and hence they never think of running away from an invading Yankee column. In no other country, in no other war, in the history of the world, I will venture say, has there been shown so much confidence of a people in the honor of those whom they look upon as invaders as the people of the South when visited by the Union troops -- the Southern newspaper press to the contrary notwithstanding. Neither men, women or children run away at our approach, and however much animosity they may manifest openly or indirectly, they seem to realize that they have an honorable foe to deal with.
But your bitter, vindictive secesh is a rare object to find; the persons met with in the recent raid, for the most part, profess to have no interest in the rebellion -- it came without their aid, and they have no desire to aid in its continuance any more than they are forced to do by what they feel to be the despotic rule of JEFF. DAVIS. All the real secesh capable of bearing arms are already in the army, together with many others whose hearts are not in the cause. I had frequent opportunities to converse with both of these classes. One of the most bitter rebels in his talk I ever met with, when captured, commenced a tirade of characteristic Southern braggadocio. He talked of "our best men in the field;" the South "could never be whipped;" "never had been whipped;" "it was a shame that Southern gentlemen were compelled to fight nigers;" and a whole series of the usual twaddle made use of by braggarts of the negro school, leading every one who heard him to suppose that he was a perfect pink of perfection -- a pure F.F.V. This man, who is the type of the so-called chivalric sons of the South, was caught bushwhacking, shot at a man after he had surrendered, told half a dozen lies in almost as many minutes, admitted that he never owned a negro in his life, and that his family is both poor and illiterate -- the poor white trash of which TOOMBS so picturesquely set off once in the United States Senate. This is no fancy sketch; and, when the fellow was exposed, he very cooly(sic) fell back upon the rights of a prisoner of war -- that is, in his opinion, a prisoner of war should not be exposed in his arrogance and falsehood. Of such is the Southern army to-day made up. That they will fight well all do know -- and that is about all the redeeming quality there is in the race. Their very pride and conceit makes them recklessly brave. This same fellow, after some conversation, volunteered the remark, "If we do come together again we can whip the whole world."
In the counties visited, there are but a few field-hands left of the black class; and a respectable resident asserts it as his belief that not one-fourth as much land will be cultivated this year as there was the last, when the crop was much less than the year before. January and February is the time for preparing the ground for sowing and planting in this part of the State, but it was a rare sight to see a plowed field on the 1st of March.*
At several points white men were seen working in the field, and occasionally a large plowed field could be seen; but, as a general rule, however, the farms are running over with weeds, the buildings are out of repair, fences are down, and the Virginia wild hog, heretofore seldom seem, except in pine forests, overruns the land. Particularly is this the case with the manorial estates to be seen as you approach the Pamunkey.
There is an abiding faith both with soldiers and citizens, that the war will end this year in one way or the other. Your sanguine secesh, of course, (who is generally ignorant or stupidly blind to what is going on in the outside world,) is quite confident that the "Southern cause," as he calls it, will triumph; but from what I saw and heard, I do not believe a majority of the people outside of the army would give the turn of a copper to secure the success of that cause. The people generally do not hesitate to say they are heartily tired of the war; and well they may be, for every branch of industry, except that to aid the Confederate Government, is at a stand still; families are broken up and scattered, and the whole country is flooded with a species of paper money so nearly worthless as to scarcely be believed. This stuff is thrown about carelessly, and is to be found everywhere stowed away in houses as carelessly as a prudent Yankee housekeeper does paper rags. For a $10 greenback I was offered at one place a pile of Confederate scrip large enough to fill an ordinary saddle bag. In the use of this money we had some experience. At a little oyster saloon, about six miles from Richmond, Gen. DAVIES and a party of friends numbering eight in all, partook of a supper which cost $85.40 in Confederate money, and the proprietor readily took $32 Confederate and a $2 greenback for the amount. The fare consisted of eggs, bacon, honey and bread. I obtained a bill of items from the gentlemanly owner of the place to adorn the books of some Antiquarian Society. A few years hence it will be much more of a curiosity than now.
As to the question of food. Every family seemed to have a little. Halting for an hour at a house, the occupant was asked if he had any corn, to which he gave a most positive negative reply. The proper officer was not satisfied, and, by a little searching, forty or fifty bushels was found stored away in a loft of the house. He denied also having bacon, and said that neither corn nor bacon could be bought for love or money, but "the boys" somehow managed to find quite a little pile of the hog meat concealed in an out-of-the-way place; and this was the experience along the whole route in the different counties. At nearly every occupied house was to be found a lot of chickens, and occasionally more or less turkeys, ducks, geese and drakes, and not unfrequently small grunters were to be seen roaming through the fields at will. It was quite evident that there was no superabundance of food, but a good supply of applejack somehow could always be obtained at $125 per gallon -- a price frequently paid. Confederate scrip was floating about so plentifully that the price of the liquor made but little difference to the purchaser -- $150 per gallon would have been paid just as willingly.
These people at home pretended that they had no choice as to which troops visited their plantations. The Confederates took all they could find in the shape of provisions, and while they hoped to be excused from receiving visits from either, they thought they could be treated no worse by the Yankees. As you move toward the heart of rebeldom, the feeling of animosity is more intense in hatred toward Yankees, and is more openly manifested. Around the outer borders, where the people have more frequently seen Union troops, and know more of what is going on in the outside world, they seem to have enlarged and more liberal ideas; as you approach the centre more bigotry and intolerance, more outspoken hatred is met with. Until a point near Richmond was reached there was but little on the part of the people to indicate that we were moving among a united mass of enemies. On the Brook pike, within a few miles of Richmond, quite a number of very respectable-looking young women came out to the roadside and made use of some taunting expletives -- such as no real lady would be guilty of -- but judging from the surroundings, I suppose they were considered ladies at home. One of these women was almost frantic with indignation. "I never thought," said she, raising her hands in holy horror, "that you would be mean enough for this." This she repeated frequently as the column moved along. No one offered any disrespectful remark in reply. The boys were simply amused at her eccentric conduct. This course of conduct seemed to exasperate her; to have Yankee soldiers come there was bad enough, but to be laughed at by them seemed to her the very height of the intolerables.
Much has been said of the publicity given to this raid before the movement was commenced or immediately thereafter. It is undoubtedly true that a great many people knew that there was a movement on foot of some kind, but what of kind, or which way it was to go, or its destination, it seems nearly every one was in ignorance. The enemy knew nothing of the matter, and the corespondents in the field and at Washington, from the different publications in the papers, it is quite certain knew but little more than the rebels. One paper recounts, in fearful terms, how that owing to the indiscretion of some nameless person, the enemy had met KILPATRICK in superior force at the very inauguration of the movement, and fears were entertained for the safety of the command. This class of correspondents show how much knowledge they had of the affair by still persisting in the statement that KILPATRICK left Stevensburgh on Saturday evening, when, without much trouble, they might have known that he did not move until Sunday night. Old sores are always tender, and a newspaper in the habit of being beaten in news is frequently stirred up to commit indiscretions. The truth of the matter is that whether any of the newspapers did or did not act prematurely in publishing the movements of Gen. KILPATRICK, the enemy did not take advantage of it. The picket at Ely's Ford knew nothing of it, and the column moved to Beaver Dam on the Central Railroad, before hearing a hostile shot. So skillfully managed, indeed, was the whole affair, that the announcement of Gen. KILPATRICK crossing the Rapidan was made in the Richmond papers on the very day he arrived before that city. The pickets within 3 1/2 miles of Richmond were captured before they were aware that an enemy's force was near them; and wherever the column moved before reaching Richmond, the enemy were taken by surprise and were entirely unprepared to resist the movement. This fact is confirmed by extracts from Richmond papers published in the TIMES to-day.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the officers and privates who took part in this raid. A movement within the enemy's lines, setting aside the extra personal risk incurred, is always and necessarily attended by hardships and privations of which few who have had no experience in the matter can form any adequate conception. In the saddle night and day, until nature is exhausted physically from being over-tasked; exposed to almost all degrees of heat and cold -- sometimes freezing, again too warm, one hour dry, and the next wet through to the skin; partaking of food at irregular intervals, and getting little or no sleep at all, except what is secured in the saddle, or for a half hour while the animals are feeding. Add to this the constant strain upon the nervous system; the hopes and fears excited by the constantly varying surrounding circumstances, while picking a way through a strange country without proper guides; the liability to be deceived willfully or otherwise by those who assume to have a knowledge of the country, the possibility and almost probability that you may be attacked at any moment by a superior force in some unexpected quarter, and under disadvantageous circumstances; the vexatious delays, marches and countermarches occasioned by bad roads and false information received often from those whom it is reasonable to suppose know whereof they affirm, all combined, go to make up a state of things which requires the greatest resolution and pertinacity of purpose not to sink under. The Commander of such a force must not only have all these qualities, but he must be promptly and ably supported by the whole command. This was the case in this movement in an eminent degree, and to this fact may be attributed much of the measure of success attained. The conduct of Gen. DAVIES and Col. SAWYER, commanding brigades, is particularly worthy of notice. Of the non-combatants accompanying the expedition, who rendered important service by acting as aids, were Dr. HACKLEY, with Gen. KILPATRICK, and Dr. WOOD and Rev. Mr. ROE with Gen. DAVIES. The staff officers generally were prompt and efficient.
Capt. ARMSTRONG, of the Commanding-General's staff, besides his regular duties, had charge of the distributing of the President's Amnesty Proclamation. -- Printed in small pamphlet form, this production was scattered broad-cast everywhere. It was placed in the hands of the people, left in their houses, churches and shops; stowed away in books and in every conceivable nook and corner, so that if any large portion of the people are disposed to suppress the only public document emanating from Mr. LINCOLN which has not been reproduced in the Richmond papers, they will hardly be able to accomplish their purpose.
The negroes everywhere, as usual, manifested great delight at seeing a column of Yankees, and acted unreservedly, as though they expected to find them all friends, and aided the expedition in various ways. They could always tell where corn could be found for the horses, and where provisions and horses had been concealed. They frequently gave valuable information as to the location of the enemy's pickets, of the presence of scouts in the neighborhood, and could tell when the last Confederate soldier had passed along the road. These services were rendered freely and without hesitation, often without the asking. Their services were brought into requisition in destroying railroads, and in one instance, at least, continued the work of destruction after the troops had left the spot, saying as the column moved off, "We'll catch up." Nearly all asked permission to come along, and many did so without asking the privilege, seeming to take it as a matter of course they were expected to join the command. There was no large number of negroes in any one place -- but there were a few found in every locality -- just enough, the whites said, to raise crops for the local population to consume. Only about one million dollars worth of this kind of property was brought away. Many of the negroes and negresses gave out on the long marches, and were left on the road. One squad of stout-limbed and stout-hearted women marched for two days with the command, and were finally rewarded by reaching Gen. BUTLER's lines, where they have some rights that white men are bound to respect under the present regime.
Only a few cattle were seen on the whole march. Everything large enough for beef has been confiscated for the use of the army. The same may be said of horses. The few to be seen -- except here and there an exception, are poor in flesh and in spirit. Not more than three hundred horses were obtained probably throughout the whole command -- all having been pressed into the rebel service.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
-The New York Times: March 7, 1864
*possibly a reference to seedbeds for tobacco which were normally prepared in January and February.