Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Monday, August 31, 2015

"A Most Notorious Actor"

Thomas Hall, Clerk of New Kent County, was hanged by the victorious Governor Berkeley after the suppression of Bacon's Rebellion. Said to be "a person of Neat Ingenious parts, but addicted to a more than ordinary prying into the Secrets of State affairs, which some years last past wrought him into the Governors displeasure." He was executed in 1677 for the crime that he "by divers writings under his own hand … a most notorious actor, aided and assisted in the rebellion."*

New Kent County was much larger at this time, covering most of the headwaters of the York River. It had been one of the flash points of the rebellion owing to its then frontier location, and the belief of the residents that the Governor had not been defending the area adequately against Indian depredations.

*Vestry book of Blisland (Blissland) Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia, 1721-1786
by Churchill Gibson Chamberlayne

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hailstorms and Courts-Martial and Wine.

On the 9th(of May 1862) we were still on board the schooner at West Point. Everybody was anxious to get ashore, but we waited to be taken in nearer shore so that the horses could be unloaded. We found it tiresome enough lying there all day.
The next day we were taken ashore much to our relief, the horses lowered overboard as at Shipping Point. We went to the guns, hitched on and marched about two miles, and camped at a place called Elkhorn, on the Pamunky River. Captain Arnold of the regulars had charge of the unloading.
Sunday the 11th, was quite warm. General McClellan arrived during the day, bringing news of destruction of the Merrimac. Magnolias were in full bloom.
Another warm day on the 12th. We had a division inspection that day. At this time no one could tell what our next move was to be or in what direction. All was uncertainty.
The same condition of affairs prevailed on the 13th. The daily drill was our only occupation. The warm weather continued and so did the rumors as to our destination.
We were at last called out, early on the morning of the 15th marched about fifteen miles and went into camp at New Kent Court House. It was quite warm and the infantry straggled badly, especially one regiment called the Baxter's Zouaves.
We remained in camp through the 16th. It was called Camp Stumps by some of the boys.
It was at this camp that a difficulty arose between Sergeant Budlong and Patrick Donnegan. It commenced over a claim of a bridle. The sergeant had possession of the bridle and stated that it was his and that Donnegan had taken it claiming that it was a bridle which he had used on the horse of Lieut. John G. Hazard. Donnegan had been detailed to take care of Lieutenant Hazard's horses. The lieutenant commanded the sergeant to give up the bridle. The latter refused to do so and some sharp words passed between them. Lieutenant Hazard ordered the guard to buck and gag Budlong and reduce him to the ranks. To degrade a sergeant in such a manner was something unknown and contrary to Army Regulations and was so stated by the president of the court-martial, Colonel Surrey, who was a graduate of West Point. He never received any redress for this punishment.
We got under way on the 18th, and marched two miles and went into camp with every kind of a rumor that was ever heard of about what was to be done next, and when we were going to move It grew monotonous.
On the 19th there was some little excitement, as firing was heard a number of times, though sounding a long way off, and in advance of us. Our corps, the Second, under "Daddy Sumner," as the boys dubbed him was in reserve.
On the 20th we exchanged visits with Battery B, the Fifteenth Massachusetts and First Minnesota. All were tired of creeping along as we had been doing, and they were grumbling about it as well as the men of our battery. The horses appeared to stand it very well.
We marched again on the 21st about six a.m. and passed by McClellan's headquarters at the Savage house at Baltimore Cross Roads. St Peter's Church stands there where Washington was married to Mrs Custis. We halted and entered the church. One of the boys came near getting into trouble. He was cutting a piece off the pulpit fringe for a souvenir, when a guard spied him and went for him with a bayonet. Marching on again we went into camp in the afternoon near Bottom's Bridge.
The 22d was a dull day. In the middle of the afternoon a strange coincidence took place. Lieut. Charles F. Mason's father, Mr Earl P. Mason and Mr. Slater of Providence, R.I., and Colonel Dudley, of New York, were visiting us and had brought with them some wine; and, as the case was about to be opened, the remark was made that it would be very desirable if they could have some ice to cool a bottle; but before the case was opened a shower broke upon them with great severity, and all hands turned their attention to the tent, which was in danger of blowing down. While holding up the tent some of the party had their knuckles injured badly by the hail which descended in torrents. In twenty minutes the shower was over, and all around the tents large hailstones were to be seen completely covering the ground. They were from one to three indies in size. As the weather was very warm the men were very grateful for the supply of ice so providentially furnished. It is needless to say that our officers and their guests had a cool bottle of wine. 

-The History of Battery A: First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery in the War to Preserve the Union, 1861-1865-Thomas M. Aldrich
Snow & Farnham, printers, 1904

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"The following officers have been appointed . . ."

Fort Monroe, Sept. 13.
The following officers have been appointed from the 3d Pennsylvania Artillery as Assistant Superintendents of the Freedmeu's Bureau: 
Captain J. B. Bisphane for Elizabeth City county, 
Lieut. James Darling. New Kent county; 
Lieut. Frank Martin, Charles City county;
Lieut Marshall, James City county; 
Lieut. J, W Kaye for York county.
-The New York Times, September 15, 1865

 James A.H. Darling was born in Maine, in 1840; removed to Reading with his parents, and thence to Philadelphia about 1848. He is an accountant. He was first lieutenant of an artillery company* for three years during the Rebellion

-History of Schuylkill County, Pa: With Illustrations . . .

Joel Munsell's Sons - 1881

An officer in Battery K, he was also the brother of one of the regiment's Majors, John Darling. His photograph is here, upper left corner.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Railroad Comes to West Point- 1854


King & Queen Ct Ho, VA
    Sept 20th, 1853.
Editor Dispatch: The adjourned meeting of the stockholders met to-day at 12 o'clock—Dr. Fauntleroy in the chair. The roll being called, a quorum was found to be present.
The Chairman then appointed the usual committees on proxies, &c, after which a resolution was offered by Dr. Richardson¹ of New Kent, declaring it to be to the interest of the Company to select as the Eastern terminus of the Richmond &. York River Railroad, the highest point on the river which would afford an adequate depth of water for the accommodation of shipping of a large size.
Mr. Douglass, of King William, offered as a substitute, a resolution which designated West Point, in the county of King William, as possessing, in an eminent degree, all the advantages necessary for the Eastern terminus of the road.
W.R.C. Douglass, of New Kent, In a speech of some length and of great earnestness, opposed this resolution.
 Mr. Douglass, of King William, sustained his motion In a long and ingenious argument, which consumed the whole of the day.

    September 21st— 10 o'clock.
When I arrived at the Court House, Mr. Pierce², of New Kent, was advocating the claims of the "south side" of the Pamunkey. He was aided by Messrs. Saunders of Williamsburg and Garrett of York county, all of whose speeches showed how deep an interest they felt in the matter which they advocated. Though each one seemed to prefer a different point as the terminus, yet there seemed to prevail with them all the kindest feeling and a willingness to yield to claims of that point which should be shown to be the most eligible.
Mr. Bowden, of Williamsburg, one of the Proxies for the State, then addressed the meeting. I should do him I fear injustice were I to attempt to give you even the points of his speech. I will say that it was one worthy of the man and of an officer of the State. He showed how high were the motives which would influence the vote which he was about to give. His feelings seemed confined to no pride of place— to no local interests or prejudices; but that his whole aim was to promote the interest of the State. He preferred a very low point on the river, but did not confine himself to any particular spot.
After Mr. Bowden concluded his speech, sundry motions and short addresses were made.
I was delighted to see such kindness of feeling exist between the friends of the different routes— for amid the most violent excitement incident to a debate on such a subject, there were many personal explanations and assurances of the most lasting friendship for their opponents by the speakers.
After some confusion at the end of the addresses, the roll was called with the following result:
Whole number of votes given 2026
    For West Point 1061
    Against " "         665

So West Point was determined upon as the most eligible point for the terminus of the York River Railroad.
The Convention soon after adjourned.         U.

-The Daily Dispatch., September 23, 1854

¹- I assume that to be Dr. James Richardson.
²- Again assumed to be John P Pierce sometime Delegate to the General Assembly.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weather Facts

Some interesting tidbits . . . form the early Twentieth Century . . .

June 1912
U.S.Department of Agriculture
Office of Experiment Stations

wettest year     1889 . . . .72.02 inches
Dryest    "     1876 . . . .27.65 "
Wettest month, July 1889  . .14.01 "
Dryest  "    , October 1874 . 0.11 "
"         , November 1890

Heaviest rainfall in 24 hours, Apr. 17-18, 1910 . . 5.33 "
Heaviest rainfall in short period(46 minutes)
August 19, 1908 . . . .2.88 ins.

Average annual snowfall . . . . 16.80 '
Highest temperature, August 11, 1900 . . .  102 degrees
Lowest temperature, February 10, 1899 . .   -3 "
Latest date of killing frost in spring . .  April 20
Average date of killing frost in spring . . April 2
Earliest date of first killing frost in autumn . .October 12
Average date of first killing frost in autumn . . November 3
Maximum wind velocity, 61 miles per hour . . . February 10/09


 by George M. Warren, Drainage Engineer,
Assisted by John R. Haswell, Assistant Drainage Engineer,
and Newton B. Wade, Assistant Drainage Engineer