Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A New Look- II

 As I said yesterday, I have discovered that the Richmond Examiner reevaluated its opinion of the Confederated defeat at Charles City Court House, some two weeks after its original scathing article. . .

Evidence, lately place in our hands, proves satisfactorily that in a paragraph of this paper, relating to the capture of Confederate Cavalry at Charles City Court House, the Reporter did injustice to some who performed their duty and only surrendered when overwhelmed by superior numbers. The number of our men captured was only eighty-three, whilst the force that surrounded them is acknowledged by the Yankees themselves to have been five hundred cavalry, supported by ten companies of infantry.
The facts of the case are briefly these: Part of three companies of the Thirty-second Virginia cavalry battalion were stationed at Charles City Court House, Captain Hamlet, Company H, being at Bush Hill, quarter of a mile distant. Their couriers were at the Forge bridge, seven miles distant. The pickets of the Holcombe Legion were stationed several miles east, on the road to Williamsburg. At 3 o'clock Sunday morning, December 13th, the pickets of the Legion were driven in and made their way to Bottom's bridge, their headquarters, without informing the couriers of the Thirty-second battalion of the approach of the enemy. The Yankees then advanced to Forge bridge, where they surprised the couriers and took them prisoners. They then rode rapidly to Charles City Court House, reaching there about 7 a.m., a portion riding straight up to the Court House, and the others going in quest of Captain HAMLET, at Bush Hill. Captain HAMLET and his men saw the Yankees, but believed them to be some of our own cavalry sent to relieve them from picket, and as such cheered them as they rode up. When the mistake was discovered they had been completely surrounded, and it was too late for resistance. Lieutenant F.S. BALLARD, commanding Captain A.J. RODGERS' company, had his men, twenty-five in number, out for morning drill and inspection on foot when he discovered the Yankees, some two hundred in number, not more than two hundred and fifty yards distant. He immediately withdrew his men into the old tavern and a building near by, and waited the approach of the enemy. When the Yankees got within fifty yards of the buildings he opened on them with his carbines and kept off until every cartridge was expended. The enemy then charged into the buildings and overpowered our small force.
The enemy lost four men killed and ten wounded. Our casualties were Lieutenant BALLARD and a private, whose name we have not obtained, wounded.
At the time of the approach of the Yankees, Captain RODGERS, commanding the battalion, being ignorant of their coming, had just started to Richmond under orders, and happened to ride back to the Court House just as the Yankees arrived, and was taken prisoner. He and Lieutenant BALLARD were sent back to Richmond by the last flag of truce boat. The men and some of the officers are still held prisoners at Fort Norfolk.
This disaster seems wholly due to the failure of the pickets who were first driven in to give information of the fact to Captain RODGERS' pickets or couriers at Forge Bridge.

-The Daily Examiner(Richmond) January 1, 1864

Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Look- I

 I posted this piece last year at this time as part of a series on the December 1863 raid by Union forces on the village of Charles City Court-House. I entitled it "Snark" as John Moncure Daniel raked confederate forces over the coals for their perceived incompetence in general and the uselessness of the cavalry in particular.


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

 However a recent search at the Library of Virginia reveals that Daniel apparently had a change of mind, if not of heart . . .


Friday, December 26, 2014

Running with Little Ruby

A Hot Chase With a Big Pack in New Kent.

(Special to The Times-Dispatch.)
ROXBURY, VA., December 27.- One of the most exciting fox chases in New Kent for some time took place Christmas day, when Mr. Lee Jenk Boze and his brother, Joe Boze, of Highland Springs, with thirty-six hounds; Willie and George Ellyson, of Quinton; W.H. Graves, of Seven Pines, with fifty-four dogs, as fine as can be found in Virginia. The day was an ideal one-cool, clear and calm. After leaving Dispatch Station Mr. Joe Boze's Little Ruby, struck a hot trail, and was soon followed by her companions, Storm and Fleet. They soon had old Reynard on his feet, and without a hitch for forty minutes the sweetest music in all the world rolled over the hills from the red mouths of forty hounds, which, mingled with the shouts of many happy riders, could be heard for many miles out on the soft morning breeze.
The old fox, being hotly pursued, used every trick known to his kind to elude its pursuers, but alas, poor Reynard, with brush down, tongue protruding and all heart gone, headed for a hog lot and sought protection among the hogs. Here he found no friends, for soon the hogs had the fox cornered and was making short work of him, and when the boys came up it took seven huntsmen to get dogs, fox and hogs separated. In a moment old Reynard was cold in death, swinging from the saddle of Mr. Graves.

-The Times-Dispatch(Richmond), December 28, 1905

Monday, December 22, 2014

The 16th New York at the Battle of Eltham, Part IV

 Excerpted from,
-From Bull Run To Chancellorsville,The Story of the Sixteenth New York Infantry together with Personal Reminiscences By Newton Martin Curtis, LL.D. Brevet Major-General U. S. Vols.
G.P. Putnams Sons, New York & London

Companies F and G, Sixteenth New York, took into action on May 7, 1862, three officers and one hundred and two enlisted men. Casualties, six killed, and eleven wounded, total seventeen. The nominal list will be found in Appendix A, page 362.
. . .
A Nominal List of Casualties in the Sixteenth New York Infantry during its term of service.
In the Battle of West Point, May 7, 1862
Company F (3), Corporal George J. Love, Privates Edwin R. Bishop, Peter G. Ploof ; Company G (3), Privates Francis Mummery, Caleb M. Seabury, William Freeman Waymouth.
Wounded and discharged 7
Company F (4), Corporal James Cook, Privates Alexander Barnhart, George C. Brownell, A. Levi Kelly; Company G (3), Privates Thomas B. Chilton, Louis Perrin, Oliver Wells.
Wounded and recovered 4
Company F (1), Private Henry M. Helms; Company G (3), Captain Newton Martin Curtis, Privates Emerson Bostwick, William E. Gore.

From the official Roster of the Sixteenth Infantry . . .

BISHOP, EDWIN R.—Age, 28 years. Enlisted, May 2, 1861, at Potsdam; mustered in as private, Co. F, May 15, 1861, to serve two years; killed, May 7,1862, at West Point, Va.
LOVE, GEORGE J,—Age, 31 years. Enlisted, May 15, 1861, at Albany; mustered in as private, Co. F , same date, to serve two years; promoted corporal, date not stated; killed, May 7, 1862, at West Point, Va,
MUMERY, FRANCIS.—Age, 21 years. Enlisted, October 9,1861,at Potsdam; mustered in as private, Co. G, same date, to serve two years; killed. May 7, 1802, at West Point; Va.
PLOOF, PETER G.—Age, 20 years. Enlisted, April 27, 1861, at Potsdam; mustered in as private, Co. F, May 15, 1861, to serve two years; killed in action, May 7, 1862, at West Point,Va.
SEABURY, CALEB.—Age, 25 years. Enlisted, October 24, 1861, at Hermon; mustered in as private, Co. C, same date, to serve unexpired term of two years; killed May 7, 1862, at West Point, Va.
 WAMOTH, WILLIAM.—Age, 18 years. Enlisted, May 7, 1861, at De Peyster; mustered in as private, Go. G, May 15, 1861, to serve two years; killed, May 7, 1862, at West Point, as William Waymouth,

Friday, December 19, 2014

The 16th New York at the Battle of Eltham, Part III

 Excerpted from,
-From Bull Run To Chancellorsville,The Story of the Sixteenth New York Infantry together with Personal Reminiscences By Newton Martin Curtis, LL.D. Brevet Major-General U. S. Vols.
G.P. Putnams Sons, New York & London

From Major Seaver's letter to The Malone Palladium: —
"May 7, 1862.
"Company F, Captain John C. Gilmore, and Company G, Captain N. M. Curtis, of the Sixteenth were engaged to-day. For a time they were nearly surrounded, but fought their way through great odds. Captain Curtis, while urging on his men, was struck by a ball in his left breast, directly over his heart. The ball struck a rib, glanced around and came out of his back. Twice he rallied his men after the shot, and, by his presence of mind and bravery, doubtless saved many a valuable life. Captain Gilmore was in nearly as bad a condition and barely escaped. . . . Many of the dead and wounded left on the field were stripped of portions of their clothing, their pockets rifled of valuables, and, in one case, the most horrid barbarities perpetrated on the person, as that of Mummery, whose throat was cut and body thrown into a marsh. Our men behaved well, and are all eager for an opportunity to avenge the death of their comrades."

Captain John C. Gilmore's report not having been found the following letter is inserted.
"Washington, D.C., May 31, 1904.
"Dear General Curtis: —
"As I now recall the action of May 7th, 1862, at West Point, Virginia, my company held the left of the line and was deployed as skirmishers with a small part of it in support or reserve. On my right was your company, formed in the same way as mine, and, at the time of starting, was under the command of Lieutenant S. C. Vedder of your company. I am not at this time sure whether we were advancing or had halted, when the fight commenced with the enemy in much stronger force than ours. While my company was holding them in check in my immediate front, they, by a strong force, drove the left of Vedder's line back, advanced beyond the right of my line, turned to the right, and opened on my line a flank and reverse fire. I turned my line to face the enemy, about the same time you advanced with your company, having joined it from another part of the field, and drove the enemy from my left. In making this movement you received a severe wound in your left breast, but kept the field until we were ordered to retire, which order was given as soon as the artillery was put into position to open fire. Your prompt action in coming to my aid saved, without doubt, my company from greater loss than it sustained, which was three killed and five wounded.

"Corporal James Cook of my company was severely wounded in the early part of the engagement and fell into the hands of the enemy. Later in the day we recovered the bodies of our killed and brought off the wounded, except Barnhart and Kelley of my company, who were carried to Richmond.

"After the regiment went into camp on the nth of May, General McClellan rode to our regimental headquarters, and requested Colonel Rowland to send for the captains of the two companies engaged at West Point, that he might thank them in person for their good conduct in the engagement. When informed that Captain Gilmore was on picket, and Captain Curtis on a hospital boat in the York River, he asked Colonel Howland to convey to them his thanks and commendations. On returning to the camp the next morning, Colonel Howland gave me General McClellan's message, and informed me that he had communicated the same to you by mail.

"Yours cordially

"John C. Gilmore,

"Brigadier-General U. S. A., Ret."

Major Joel J. Seaver

Captain John C. Gillmore

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The 16th New York at the Battle of Eltham, Part II

Excerpted from,
-From Bull Run To Chancellorsville,The Story of the Sixteenth New York Infantry together with Personal Reminiscences By Newton Martin Curtis, LL.D. Brevet Major-General U. S. Vols.
G.P. Putnams Sons, New York & London

 I quote from letters, and from official reports of the action  at West Point, Virginia: —
"Headquarters Sixteenth New York, Brick House Point,
"York River, Virginia, May 8, 1862.

"General: —
"I have the honor to report the part taken by the regiment  under my command, in the engagement of yesterday.
"About 9 o'clock A.M. yesterday, I received orders from Brigadier-General Slocum to report with five companies, (C, D, E, H, and I), to General Franklin on the right of the line. Companies A, B, F, G, and K were on picket, A, B, and K having been posted the night before, and F and G having reported to the general officer of the day. Colonel Bartlett, Twenty-seventh New York, at 3 o'clock a.m., and been sent to relieve a portion of the advance guard from the Twenty-seventh New York, at our centre and left. While the battalion under my command was marching to the front, I was ordered by General Slocum to support Captain Platt's battery* which was advancing near me, and to report to General Newton. Captain Platt took a position just beyond a small stream which empties into the York River on our left, and on the right of the road which leads inland from the point at which the division landed. I placed my battalion in column, on the left flank of the battery and a little in rear, but received orders from yourself to move to the left of the road within supporting distance, where I would be hidden from the enemy by the woods, in case he made his appearance. I subsequently received orders through an officer of your staff, to recross the stream and take position farther to the rear. As the execution of this order left Captain Platt without support, he fell back some distance. A short time afterwards, orders were received through Captain Scofield of your staff for the infantry to recross the stream, when I took position in column, on the right of the road and on the left flank of Hexamer's battery, which had come and taken the position previously occupied by Captain Platt. I remained in this position until about 5 o'clock p.m., two hours after the artillery fire ceased, when I was ordered by yourself to return to camp. The battalion was at no time under fire; but companies F and G were engaged early in the day as skirmishers, while on duty at the outposts, and met with some losses. As these companies were at the time detached from the regiment I inclose the reports of the company commanders. I have every reason to believe that the companies behaved well, and only fell back, when obliged to do so by greatly superior forces, from want of support and on account of the imminent danger of being outflanked and surrounded.
"Companies A, B, and K, upon being relieved as pickets, returned to camp for food, and then started to rejoin their regiment, but on the way were ordered by Colonel Bartlett, commanding General Slocum's brigade, to support Captain Wilson's battery, F, First New York Artillery. They were not engaged and received orders to return to camp about 5 o'clock p.m. "I have the honor of inclosing a list of killed, wounded and missing. The wounded were invariably robbed and in nearly every case were stripped of their jackets.
"I am. General, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant,

"Joseph Howland
 "Colonel Sixteenth New York.
 "Brigadier-General John Newton."

Colonel Joseph Howland

*Battery D, Second United States Artillery.

-To Be Continued-

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 16th New York at the Battle of Eltham, Part I

 Excerpted from,
-From Bull Run To Chancellorsville,The Story of the Sixteenth New York Infantry together with Personal Reminiscences By Newton Martin Curtis, LL.D. Brevet Major-General U. S. Vols.
G.P. Putnams Sons, New York & London


AFTER landing at the head of York River, the regiment marched a short distance, and stacked arms. After supper was over, the members of Company F were engaged in general conversation when Edwin R. Bishop, a lighthearted and fun-provoking man, rose from the ground and interrupted the conversation by saying,"Boys, if I should fall in the next battle, as I now believe I shall, I wish you would bury me under this tree, where I indicate by these lines." He then proceeded to mark with a pioneer's spade the outlines of a grave. Immediately Corporal George J. Love, a very sedate man, rose and picking up the spade which Bishop had used, said, "I would like you to dig my grave beside Bishop's, but please dig it with more regularity than his crooked lines indicate; I am the son of a sexton and have helped to dig many." He then proceeded to draw a parallelogram, dropped the spade, and sat down. Then Peter G. Ploof, a lad of twenty, much beloved for his boyish, winsome ways, picked up the spade, and said "If I fall, dig my grave here beside Love's, and do it as we dig graves at home. Please follow the lines I make for you." He drew the lines of the coffin used in those days, wider at the shoulders and tapering toward the head and foot. Conversation was resumed, and no further attention was paid to the incident.At three o'clock the next morning. May 7th, Companies F and G were ordered out to the picket line, where, at 9 a.m., they met the advancing lines of General J. B. Hood's brigade, of Whiting's division. These companies could not stay the progress of the overwhelming force brought against them, but they made a manful resistance until the artillery was brought up and made ready for action; they were then ordered back, with 17 per cent, of their number among the killed and wounded. Three members of Company F were killed, — Bishop, Love and Ploof, and their comrades, in paying them the martial honors due the gallant dead, gave to each the resting place he had selected on the night before the battle. Beside them were buried Mummery, Seabury and Waymouth, of Company G.
Corporal James Cook of Company F, whose leg was broken by a musket ball, was left on the field during its temporary occupation by the enemy; a Confederate soldier took his watch, purse and a Masonic ring. His call for help brought to his side a Confederate Mason, who caused Cook's property to be restored to him, filled his canteen with water, made him as comfortable as possible, and on leaving, said, "we are enemies in honorable warfare, but on the plane where your disabilities have placed you the laws of humanity and charity prevail." Of the members of Company G, Seabury was found alive, but lived only long enough to tell his comrades that the Confederates had been kind to him, and had done all they could to make him comfortable; Waymouth had evidently been killed in the act of reloading his musket; Mummery's body was found in a pool of water with the throat cut. Great indignation was felt by all, and General Newton, in his report of the battle, referred to this case and others of less savagery, in terms of severe condemnation. That Mummery's throat should have been cut, when his wounds were mortal, was a mystery which remained unsolved until, in February, 1869, I visited Texas. On the steamer, crossing the Gulf of Mexico to Brazos de Santiago, I fell in with two Texans who were in Hood's brigade, and in this battle of West Point. I questioned them about the battle, and asked them to recall any unusual circumstance connected with it. "There was nothing unusual," the spokesman said, "we found out there that the Yanks would fight, and were not to be driven with pop guns, as we were told when we joined Magruder's army at Yorktown." The other man added, "That was the place where we cut the Yank's throat." He went on to tell of the action, of their occupying the ground which we held at the beginning of the engagement, and said, "one, who was severely wounded and unable to stand, opened on the Confederates with a seven-shooter, every shot of which killed or wounded a man. It was thought that a wounded man, whose unit of battle had been driven from the field, and who thereafter continued the fight on his own account, deserved to be summarily dealt with, so we cut his throat."
It had been learned, after Mummery's death, that he had disobeyed orders in not turning in his pistol, at Alexandria, and that he had confided to a comrade his purpose never to be captured alive, but to inflict all the injury possible on the enemy. There are many cases reported, where disabled men have continued to fight after the opposing forces occupied the ground, and, in nearly all instances, they became the subjects of summary treatment; a case of this kind occurred in the late war with Spain, when a wounded Spanish officer shot Lieutenant Ord, and was promptly dispatched by a volley from Ord's company.

-To Be Continued-

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"More Terribly They Suffer, The More Fiercely They Fight": An Account of the Battle of Eltham

Colonel J. Howard Kitching

Camp at " White House," Virginia, May 16, 1862.

....I had no chance to tell you anything about the battle at West Point on the 7th, and I knew that if you were sure I was safe, you would be quite willing to wait for particulars, until I could get time to write fully.
We left Yorktown on Tuesday morning, Franklin's division, about twelve thousand strong, in a large flotilla of boats of every description. The infantry were carried on large steamboats, while the cavalry and artillery were towed behind on large rafts made purposely for them, the guns being placed around the edge, forming a bulwark, inside of which the horses were placed, with harness on, just ready to be hitched to the guns at a moment's notice
We arrived at West Point just before dark, and after throwing a few shell into some rebel cavalry which made its appearance on the shore, we commenced landing our troops. You will at once see that this is rather a risky thing— landing ten thousand men, and horses, upon a hostile shore, when every moment expecting an attack, for it being necessarily slow work, landing the men by small boatloads at a time, the enemy could attack them as they arrived, and slaughter them in detail.
These rebels, however, appear to be rather afraid of our gunboats, for we can in no other way account for their not molesting us, than the fact of our having two gunboats. At any rate, they allowed their chance to slip by, and we worked hard all night, and just before daybreak we got all our artillery landed, losing only one horse out of five hundred.
My boating experience, as well as my knowledge of horses, was, I hope, of some service that night. If you could have seen me standing at the tiller, steering a huge raft, with one hundred and eighty horses on board, jumping and kicking, and trying their best to get overboard, whilst all the soldiers, worn out with hard work, were sleeping on all sides, you would have wondered what kind of craft I had got into.
 However, as I said, we got ashore at last, and about nine o'clock in the morning we were attacked by the enemy in large force, under Generals Lee and Smith.
Several New York regiments were immediately ordered out to meet them, and very soon the musketry firing became very heavy. We had four batteries of artillery ashore, and we were held in reserve, ready for action, waiting till the rebels should come out of the woods into the plain, and give us a chance at them. Our men, the 31st and 32d New York, and one Pennsylvania regiment, had hardly entered the woods, when the firing became very heavy, and almost incessant, the rebels yelling and cheering like fiends, as they drove our men back by mere force of numbers. Every few moments some poor fellow was carried past us, either dead or horribly wounded.
We never fired a shot until our men began to appear, retreating from the edge of the woods, when we loaded with shell, and just as soon as the enemy made their appearance, we let them have it, one gun at a time, slowly and deliberately. They stood their ground for a long time, and their shooting was terribly effective, almost all of our wounded being hit mortally and many killed instantly, by being shot through the head. Only one of our artillerymen was hit, however, getting a rifle-ball in his elbow.
Our solid shot and shells were too hot for them, and at last they began to retire, when our brave infantry again pushed into the woods, and drove them about two miles before night came on. It was a glorious victory, for our force was small; they outnumbering us, two to one. We have since seen their reports of the fight, and they acknowledge that "they intended driving us into the river as at Ball's Bluff, but that our artillery was too hot for them."
Indeed, General Newton has stated since that our guns saved the day .... Considering the numbers engaged, our loss was very severe; the 31st New York losing almost two entire companies,including four officers. The 32d New York also suffered terribly, as also the 16th New York, and the Pennsylvania regiment. General Franklin was with our battery during part of the time, and appeared pleased with our firing.
I believe that this army cannot be beaten now. They stand fire like veterans, and apparently the more terribly they suffer, the more fiercely they fight.

-"More Than Conqueror,": Or Memorials of Col. J. Howard Kitching, Sixth New York Artillery, Army of the Potomac-    Theodore Irving
Publisher    Hurd and Houghton, 1873

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What's In A Name?- II

 The follow up to yesterdays . . "What's In A Name?- I"

We do not know whether our good friend is trying to get some advertising for his home town, or means to give us a little kindly advice. It is no fault of this paper that Boulevard(or Windsor Shades) is not better known. A little judicious advertising on the part of those who have 200 lots to sell, etc., would enable us to get a correspondent there, and at the same time secure some buyers for said lots. It takes money to conduct a newspaper, just as it does to conduct a farm, or to promote a town site. But if our good friend will send us a news letter every week, he will find that the name of the place, at least, will be known.- Ed. Gazette.

-Virginia Gazette(Williamsburg) April 11, 1913

Monday, December 8, 2014

What's In A Name?- I

Boulevard, alias Windsor Shades.
Boulevard Postoffice,
Windsor Shades Station, Va.

Editor Gazette:
I wonder if the Editor of The Gazette knows that there is a place on the C.& O. by the above address? I learn from passengers who come here, that when they asked for tickets to Boulevard, the answer is " no such station on our line." They should be informed through the press or officials of the road that the station at Boulevard Postoffice(sic) is Windsor Shades, or there should be but one name.
I am a reader of the Virginia Gazette, and do not see any mention of this place. Would it not be well for the editor to have a correspondent here for his own good? It might be the means of circulating his paper and making it of more attraction for others to know that there is such a place. We have here, at the head of navigation on the Chickahominy river, a manufacturing establishment for making truck veneer barrels and others in the knock-down; sawed staves and headings, sawed lumber and lathes. We have also built a stable for cows and barn room, with a view to starting a dairy, and ask the farmers to contribute by keeping more cows on their farms, and help to fill their pockets by supplying a fertilizer to keep up the land to produce whatever is planted or sown.
We have a hotel, and a schoolhouse that is used for holding meetings of all denominations, and store, and several new buildings started, and more to follow. We have 200 lots laid out for a town, and several sold, and material to build up as fast as possible. Those who have not visited us are invited to call on us and we will show them around the village of Windsor Shades, and the many advantages to settle in a healthy part of the old Virginia on productive land and among good neighbors. We have lived here nearly one year and came from the northern part of New York, where the winters are long and severe, and we preferred this climate to any we have visited. We have several coming from the north who are going to settle here, and we hope to raise enough to supply the demands without sending abroad for necessary supplies.

A Northerner.

-Virginia Gazette(Williamsburg) April 11, 1913

-To Be Continued-

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Story of a Trooper: Francis Colburn Adams in New Kent VI- At the Toler estate. (Language Warning)

Cumberland Landing, Virginia. Federal encampment on the Pamunkey, LOC

We return to Francis Colburn Adams on expedition in New Kent during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign . . .

"We struck tents on the morning of the 13th, and marched from the cross-roads to Toller's¹ farm, on which Cumberland Landing was located. It was a damp, foggy morning, the roads were slippery, and the marching slow and fatiguing. The weather cleared at about twelve o'clock, and a more imposing and grand sight cannot be imagined than that of the divisions as they debouched down the high hill on which Toller's house stood, and spread over the broad plain stretching nearly as far as the eye could reach to the West and South, and covered with clover a foot deep, and wheat and rye that waved and cavorted with the wind. But all this prospect of an abundant harvest was trampled down by the multitude of soldiers, which poured into the plain for three hours, then formed in three long, glittering lines, with banners flying and bands playing, with batteries of artillery and troops of cavalry galloping into position on the flanks and centre, the whole forming one of those grand and imposing scenes rarely seen, and never forgotten. A dark belt of wood stretched along the horizon just beyond our outer line, giving a more clear and bold outline to the field. Looking to the left, in the direction of New Kent Court-house, the plain was dotted with clumps of trees, under which the white tents began to nestle, in beautiful contrast to the deep green foliage. And, too, the soldiers hung their tents with wild flowers, for the woods were filled with them, and the very air was sweet with their perfumes. On the right we had the beautiful river, which was narrow here, and curved gently for a distance of four miles, its banks, near Toller's house, being covered with fine old trees. As the three gunboats, followed by the fleet of transports, swept round this bend, their tall masts and dark funnels peering above the trees, the effect was magnificent. Cumberland had never seen such a sight before, and the negroes ran out and shouted for joy. 
 I reached Toller's house about 9 o'clock, having passed two divisions on the road, and brought up a company of the provost guard. There was great excitement at the old plantation house which I got there, and the house servants, of which there was a great number, of nearly every variety of color, were in a state of mutiny. Toller, a round-shouldered, lean, and hard-featured specimen of the Southerner, was as craven-hearted a creature as it is possible to find anywhere. He was an arrant rebel; had taken an active part with the men who attempted to carry Virginia, out of the Union, and had voluntarily sent his slaves so work on the fortifications at Yorktown and Williams- burg, where they had been treated with great cruelty. He was now as servile as a whipped cur, and went about offering to do almost anything we wanted, if we would only protect him and his property. Very many of his field hands had left him that morning, and I ascertained that only a few hours before he had been whipping several of them. When rebuked for this, and told that he would be put in irons if he did it again, he thought it very hard that his authority over his property should be interfered with. He said, in a submissive tone, that if he were not master of his slaves, his slaves would soon be master of him. I at once took such measures as made him comprehend that a different order of authority now ruled on his plantation, and that he must respect it if he wanted to save his property from total destruction.
Mrs. Toller was a very different person, and exhibited much more courage and independence of spirit. After selecting a spot for General Franklin's* headquarters, I went to the kitchen to order some break- fast cooked. Here a number of the house servants were holding a sort of indignation meeting, and the sooty cook told me, '' Missus wouldn't let her do nothin for us." I was anxious to know what all this indignation among the colored population meant, and was informed that Mrs. T. had, with her own hands, applied the lash to two or three of her servants for cooking for Union officers that morning. One of the victims was an aged, but very sprightly house servant, the mother of a large number of bright and intelligent children, one of whom, (Miss Jane,) seemed to have the direction of every thing about the house, and had a neat and comfortably furnished cabin of her own. The whole family were indignant at this act of cruelty towards their mother, and I confess it was with some difficulty I could restrain my own feelings, when this old woman showed me her neck and shoulders, yet red with the marks of the lash. While assuring them that the like should not occur again, and endeavoring to quiet their feelings, this Mrs. Toller appeared among them, the lash still in her hand. 
 I rebuked her act of cruelty in severe terms, and warned her not to repeat it, or I would not be answer- able for the consequences. She very coolly informed me that this plantation, and these slaves on it, were her private property, and she would not have her authority interfered with. And this she repeated several times, giving a peculiar emphasis to the declaration that this was her private property; that our army had no right here, and that we must not interfere with her slaves. She also, in a broad nasal twang, peculiar to Virginia, wanted to know if I was in command of the "guard;" if I was, she insisted that "a double guard" be placed on her house and gardens; also that a "guard" be put over the cabins, to keep "what niggers there wus left from runnin' away." She also wanted me to go to General McClellan, and tell him that he must get away with his army as quick as he could, or there would be a heavy bill of damages for destroying her private property. I soon relieved the old lady's mind of the idea that her property was sacred, and finding no other way of getting rid of her, sent her to her house in charge of a guard, who kept her out of harm's way for the rest of the day. 
 The negroes were very thankful for this interposition in their behalf, and evinced their gratitude in various ways. The house servants here formed so strange and grotesque a group, that Brady, the celebrated photographer, had a picture of them taken and placed in his gallery. There was the old African grandmother, of four-score and ten, very black and very taciturn. And there were her two daughters; one very dark, the other the bright, fat, and kindly woman I have described as having undergone the castigation; and her numerous progeny, of every variety of color, from the darkest crispy head to the almost white with flaxen ringlets. Miss Jane was her oldest daughter, and directed the household affairs with rare smartness and energy. Her husband, Henry Armistead ², was a very black, but very intelligent and worthy man, whose master resided in Richmond, and of whom he purchased his time, which he employed fishing and oystering on the York and Pamunky rivers. About midnight, Henry entered my quarters, laboring under great anxiety of mind. He wanted my advice, he said, for he recognized in me a friend of his people. He had upwards of eleven hundred dollars in silver, the fruit of his labor for several years, buried in the cellar. He had been saving up this money, he said, to purchase the freedom of him- self and wife, and now that our army had come, he wanted to place it in my hands for safe keeping, while he took his wife and people and fled North. He said a man had advised him to pack up and leave that night, to take his money and on to New York, where he would be provided for by Mr. Horace Greeley, and live like a prince. Knowing that the country in the rear of our army was full of stragglers, and the very worst species of camp followers, many of whom were robbing the poor colored people, who were making their way to a place of safety, I advised him to do nothing of the kind, but to remain quietly on the plantation, keep the possession of his money a secret, and when we had taken Richmond, he would be at liberty to go with his family and relatives where he pleased. I was of opinion that neither his condition nor his prospects would be improved at the North; that the time would soon come when men of his class could make themselves more useful in the South, where they were born and reared; and so I advised him. I have often thought of this worthy man and his family, and wondered what became of them. 
 There was an air of comfort and plenty about the cabins of these people, which showed that they had been indulged more than is common on Virginia plantations. Indeed, it was astonishing to see the number of turkeys, pigs, chickens, hams, eggs, bacon, and various kinds of vegetables they had to sell us, and how ready they were to exchange them for our gold. (We paid gold for everything during the campaign on the Peninsula.) I noticed also that they were continually bringing out their last, and yet the reserve stock seemed to be without end. In fine, we fared sumptuously every day while at Toller's plantation, and left his enterprising servants quite an amount of our gold. 
 The pride of caste was kept up among these servants in a manner that was quite amusing. They spoke of Toller as a very low bred man, and spoke of him with an air of contempt, because he was once an overseer on the plantation. And the grave offence(sic) of Missus in marrying her overseer they had neither forgotten nor forgiven³. They spoke of their old master with feelings of love and affection; told us what a fine gentleman he was, and where he was buried, and scouted the idea that Toller was to be compared with him. "He is'nt nuffin but a low bred man;" they would say, "Mas'r was a gentleman."

Cumberland Landing, Virginia. Seated: Generals, Andrew A. Humphreys, Henry Slocum, Wm B. Franklin*, Wm F. Barry and John Newton. Officers standing not identified, LOC

1.- The actual spelling is Toler.

2.- More later on Henry Armistead.

3.- Susan Toler held the Cumberland Landing property in her own right.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Highway Matters

Assembly Committees Decides in Favor of Commission,After Stormy Hearing.

Chamber of Commerce and Merchants Association Favor Northern location, and T.P.A. Comes Out for a More Direct Road.
Completion of some highway from the Capitol to the ocean is of more importance than continual bickering over a route, Guy P. Murray, of Newport News, last night told a joint legislative roads committee which for four hours heard proponents of three proposed routes cite the advantages they had to offer and scorn the arguments of those who disagreed with them.
The meeting was called for the purpose of hearing arguments for and against the proposed change in route of the original highway system, which had as its nucleus the Charles City Road. The Highway Commission proposes to change the route to pass through New Kent, while an amendment by Senator Douglas Mitchell to the bill would have the old Williamsburg Highway become the established route. The Highway Commission's recommendation was adopted by both committees at the end of the meeting.
Richmonders were split on the proposition, as evidenced by the Chamber of Commerce and Retail Merchants Association supporting the Northern route, or the one suggested by Senator Mitchell, while the Travelers Protective Association came out for the more direct route, the one selected by the Highway Commission.
Those who spoke Were: W.P. Tunstall, Rocksbury(sic); C. D. Coleman Richmond; P.C. Bock, Rocksburg(sic), and Manley H. Barnes, New Kent, for the central route; Coleman Wortham. A.B. Trimble and W.A. Clarke, of Richmond. and C.L. Harrison, New Kent, for the northern route, and Dr. Lyon G. Tyler and Tom Clark, of Richmond, and J.M. Gill, of Charles City, for the southern, or original route.
Wade H. Massie and James H. Beck, members of the Highway Commission, defended their choice vigorously and were questioned from all sides, the interruptions bringing loud applause as one of the three sides scored.
Delegate Norvell L. Henley, who represents all routes interested, announced his neutral attitude at the outset of the hearing and introduced all speakers.

- Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 9, 1922