Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Beneath the Stately Pines"

The Burial-Place of Rev. David Mossom and His Wife.
On the south shore of the historical Chickahominy river, near Providence Forge, there is a colonial grave-yard. It is about an acre in area and is covered with forest trees, some of which are very large. In fact, the old grave-yard is overgrown with virgin pines. The undergrowth is so dense as to make it next to an impossibility to discover a grave or grave-stone. The indications go to show that at some remote period a house or building once stood in this locality. Feasibly it was a church. There it only one grave marked, which is a slab of Portland stone, and on which is distinctly discernible the following epitaph:
"Here lyeth interred the body of Elizabeth, late wife of the Rev'd Mr.David Mossom, rector of the parish of St. Peter, in New Kent county, and daughter of Henry Soane Gent. She departed this life April 2, 1759 in the 55th, year of her age."
This was the wife of Rev. David Mossom, who performed the marriage ceremony for General George Washington, in St. Peter's church, New Kent county, January 6, 1759. He was a Cambridge scholar. Starling is the estate on which the old grave-yard is. It has been owned by the Jerdones since 1771 and now includes 3,000 acres of land. John Smith was caught by the Indians in this vicinity, and it is supposed that in the same locality Pocahontas saved the life of the historic John.
It is presumed that Rev. Mossom is buried beside the grave of his wife, and it is a fitting spot- this sanctuary beneath the stately pines- for the last long resting places of the good old divine and hi beloved helpmate.The soughing of the pines chant a continual requiem for the dead and the  still waters of the old Indian Chickahominy sooth the "dull, cold ear of death."

-Richmond Dispatch., February 05, 1893

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- "Hams Tied to Their Saddles"

The following 1873 testimony is from the case of Henry B. Masters of New Kent before the Southern Claims Commission. The Southern Claims Commission was designed in the early 1870's to ". . .allow Union sympathizers who had lived in the Southern states during the American Civil War . . . to apply for reimbursements for property losses due to US Army confiscations during the war."

This claim brought by Henry B. Masters is actually over the property of his father, Stephen B. Masters, deceased by 1873. Henry Masters was born in the North and according to his testimony spent the entire war there, except for one abortive trip to Virginia in 1861(though he was not so much a Northern man that he ever served in the Union army). Henry Masters being absent at the time of raid  and Stephen Masters dead, the claim relied on the eyewitness testimonies of various of Stephen's "servants." The testimony was given in Richmond, Virginia, before M.F. Pleasants, Clerk of  the United States Circuit Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, April 4, 1873

Thereupon, The said. . . .Joseph Burrell(colored). . . being, about the age of. . . . 48 years, by occupation a . . .farmer. . . .and resident of the. . . .the. . . .county of . . . .New Kent. . . .and State of Virginia, having been by me first cautioned and sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth, in the matter of the claim aforesaid, I did carefully examine, apart from all the other witnesses named in this case, and he did thereupon depose, testify and say, as follows, viz:

I was a slave during the war & hired to Stephen B. Masters the father of the of the claimant from 1862 till the end of the war, & after that till now- I am now living with his son, the claimant- I haven't left the place since 1862- I was living on the place all through the war from the time of McClellan's advance till now. The property was taken in the Spring of the year but I can't tell what year it was- It was towards the end of the war. The soldiers who took the property were all cavalry- they said they were Sheridan's men. They stopped from morning till night but did not camp all night. I saw them take 14 hogs. They killed them all on the place- 6 were full grown & the rest were shoats. I saw them drive away two cows- they were full grown. I did not see the fowls taken or the meat. I was not at the house. But I saw the soldiers have the hams tied to their saddles. I couldn't say how many but I could think at least 20. I saw the corn taken. We had shelled & measured 100 bushels, & put it away in the dwelling house- that was all carried off in bags. We had put away 111 bushels in the ear in the crib. We has used about half of that & it was all taken, every bit. I saw the two guns, a double barreled gun & a rifle after they were broken of their stocks & utterly ruined. I saw a good, new citizens saddle carried off. We had portable steam engine for cutting  wood that was very much damaged. I saw a barrel of apple brandy entirely used up. I think it held 10 barrels. I did not see the things taken out of the house, but I was there just after the soldiers left & I know the sheets & bedding, knives & forks & all such were taken. The house was cleaned out. The potatoes & turnips were under my charge. A large quantity if potatoes were taken but I can't say now how many. I am sure upwards of 50 bushels of Rutabaga turnip were taken. They were all(potatoes & turnips) put away in the cellar.
The soldiers took away everything they wanted. The officers seemed as bad as the men. They did not burn any fences or buildings & they hurt nobody. After they were gone, there was nothing left to eat. This was done by Sheridan's men, in the Spring & it was the last time any soldiers were there.

                      Joseph  Burrell         his  X  mark
                      witness M.F. Pleasants

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign V

Sheridan's Grand March Across The Peninsula from the Pamunkey To the James.

 [Correspondence of the New York Tribune.]

Jones Landing, James River (Va.), March 20th.— daylight in the morning the valley of the Pamunkey was a scene of activity and preparation for the day's march, the cavalry hosts, in response to the trumpet calls, being gradually formed into line. Boon the variegated battle-flags of the regiments were streaming over the wooded hills that overlook the Old White House estate. General Custer's mounted veterans led the van, the winding horns of his buglers making the vernal woods resonant with their melodies.
The march was onward, mid stirring martial music, fluttering banners, the songs of Spring birds and the aromatic air of the bud. hug forest, through former scenes of conflict and disaster, to the historic banks of the James. Two days' march, with three days' rations in saddle-pouches and grain sacks, was expected to mingle the mounted heroes of the valley with their infantry comrades and compatriots of the Potomac and the James for the grand final conflict.
On the hill immediately overlooking the old White House estate on the road leading out to the New Kent and Charles City road, we passed the ruins of what had been a very old residence, on a very fine site. Nothing remained of the buildings except the brick chimneys and the ruins of a few old log out-houses. A decaying peach orchard, on the side of the hill toward the White House, the trees of which continue to blossom even in their old age, was completely overgrown with the cedar trees indigenous to the soil. From this place, on the hill, we had a fine view of the Pamunkey Valley below, and the wagon-train and the last of the troops gradually falling into line, and the last of the steamers, except one gunboat left as rear guard, winding down the deep, meandering Pamunkey.

Was most delightful, over a moist sandy road, for the most part spacious, winding over wooded hill and dale and cultivated plain, across rushing mill streams and babbling brooks. In passing through the variegated forest, particularly embellished by the green cedar and the red-berried laurel, and an occasional clump of rosebushes, red-berried, and containing a last year's bird's nest, by the roadside, I confess a disposition to loiter, and gather for those romantic humanitarians, Mrs. Rev. Dr. Hutter and Miss Louise Eglantine Claghorn, of Philadelphia, another bouquet of battle-field forest foliage to sell at a grand Sanitary Fair, as a present for the President or somebody else, for the benefit of our brave soldiers.
These attractions, together with those of an occasional neatly cut bank exposing primeval geological strata for examination, required a stoicism to resist them that I confess I was hardly master of. Once or twice I did fall out of line to gather a few specimens, botanical and geological, but I found it so difficult to regain my position again in Sheridan's lumbering cavalry that I made up my mind to resist the temptation to letter. It is about twenty miles from the White House across the Peninsula, to Wilcox's Landing, on the James river. This distance, except about a mile and a half on the West End, we made on the 24th, the column all getting into camp, within our lines, near Mrs. Wilcox's place before dark, without having seen or heard of an enemy. The country through which we passed has evidently once been one of the finest and most highly cultivated regions In the State, particularly from the Chickahominy to the James. We passed many fine plantations bearing unmistakable signs of former magnificence, but which now wore the appearance of being almost deserted. No gangs of slaves could be seen tilling them as in former days. We passed one church and one mill on the road, the latter on a fine stream of water, and both apparently in a good state of repair, but the occupation of both seemed to be gone. The grass was springing up in the gateway of the former, and the dust of many days apparently had settled upon the overshot water wheel of the latter.
At one place on the road, in New Kent county, we exchanged a magnificent war panorama for a single beautiful tableau— is, a good-looking lady came down to the gate with her pretty daughter and little son to see the column pass. They naturally took rather an artistic position, and showed by their manifestations that they had the intelligence to not be afraid of the Yankees, and to appreciate the glorious American Union for which they were fighting. These were about the only Caucasian women that we saw on the route.

We found the pontoon bridge all right across the Chickahominy, spanning two different channels, and guarded by a piece of our artillery and a portion of General Dodge's infantry. The historic Chickahominy was pretty high, and brought up in our minds many associations of the old Peninsular campaign and subsequent marches. At William Jordan's fine place, on the west bank of the Chickahominy, we were presented with another tableau on the hillside, near the road, this time on a larger scale and of another color, consisting of ebony old men and ebony women, old and young, and children of the same, here thrown in promiscuously, Yankee admirers and Union and Liberty appreciators.
The march to-day from Mrs. Wilcox's place, a mile and a half from James river, up along the Charles City road, via General Ord's headquarters, and his pontoon bridge to this place, was not so pleasant as that or yesterday, the road not being so good, etc., but was not without interest.
A grand inception was given to General Sheridan's braves by the Army of the James, on our entrance into General Ord's lines. The frowning, bristling battlements swarmed with his men, coming out to meet and welcome the recognized heroes of the valley.
The bands of the forts struck up stirring martial airs, which were responded to by the bands of the cavalry host. Old comrades recognized each other after long separation, and fell upon each other's shoulders and wept of sheer joy at the grand reunion.
The pontoon bridge across the James, through which the River Queen, the Margaret Washington and the George Steers had just passed, was soon swung into position, and the trampling host were seen winding down the hills on the north side, across the river, over the valleys, and up the hills on the south side of the James, where, at this writing, they are going into camp, for probably a two days stay , previous to further important operations.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign IV

FROM GEN. SHERIDAN.; Splendid Condition of his Troops 300 Rebel Prisoners and 3,000 Negroes at White House Our Entire Force Across the Pamunkey Longstreet Thought to be in that Vicinity.

 FORTRESS MONROE, Monday, March 20.
Major COMPTON, of the Eighth New-York Cavalry, accompanied by Capt. MOORE, of Gen. SHERIDAN's Staff, and several other officers, and the principal scouts of SHERIDAN's army, arrived here last evening on the steamer Matilda direct from the White House, on route to Washington, with seventeen battle flags, most of which were captured near Waynesboro, in the battle with Gen. EARLY's forces. Gen. SHERIDAN's troops are in the very best condition, and appear to have suffered little or nothing from the effects of their long march from Winchester. About 300 rebel prisoners are now at the White House, together with some 3,000 negroes, who followed our troops as they passed through the country.
A large number of prisoners were captured during the raid, but owing to the rapidity of SHERIDAN's movements many of them had to be abandoned, and others made their escape owing to the relaxed vigilance of their guards, who were glad to get rid of them. The entire cavalry force has crossed to the south bank of the Pamunkey River, and is now engaged in recruiting, preparatory to new movements.
The rebel Gen. LONGSTREET, with his corps, is supposed to be lurking in the vicinity of the White House; for on the evening of the arrival of SHERIDAN at that place, frequent skirmishes occurred between his advanced pickets and unknown small squads of the enemy, who appeared to be prowling about for reconnoitering purposes.
The steamer J.W. Everman arrived here to-day from Moorhead City, N.C. She brings no later advices from either SHERMAN's or SCHOFIELD's armies.

-The New York Times: March 22, 1865

NB: That should be a Major Hartwell B. Compson mentioned in the first sentence. The 23 year old Major would win the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Waynesboro some three weeks before. His citation reads:
Capture of flag belonging to Gen. Early's headquarters.

That flag now resides at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.