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Monday, October 31, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888- Conclusion

The Seal Broken continued from October 22nd, 25th, and 28th . . .




THE DEVIL.
While making another circuit of the apartment we were startled by an exclamation from Tupps. "The Devil." he cried, and a blaze of fire leaped from the muzzle of his gun. A shower of hail fell around us. and a most astounding report followed the discharge. The sound was most terrific as it roiled and reverberated through the caverns, and was echoed and re-echoed down the aisles and passages until it died away like a receding storm cloud. We looked up, and for some time were rooted to the spot in consternation. Immediately over us stood a gigantic form. His eyes gleamed in the firelight, two horns arose at the temples, his arms were outstretched, his body writhed, and from it dropped the glittering hail stones. Braddenham was the first to recover, and going boldly up to the monster struck him a blow with his hatchet, which caused another down pour of hail. But that blow dispelled the illusion. The Devil was a stone image at least twelve feet high, mounted on a pedestal about three feet high. As the flames on the altar mounted higher we were enabled to make a closer examination. The rude figure was evidently designed to inspire the beholder with terror. The eyes were two glittering stones, the horns appeared to be the tusks of some large animal, the nose was aquiline, the features most repulsive, and from the open mouth protruded sharp, white teeth and tasks of bone. Around the arms and neck of the giant strings of beads and shells were fastened with cooper wire, and thus covered the body like a garment. As many of these beads and shells had been cut away by the charge of bird shot in Tupp's gun, the mystery of the hail-storm was explained. We were much gratified to find our devil to harmless, and in retaliation for the scare he had given us treated him with some indignities. We broke off his tusks, attempted to pull out his eyes, and stripped him of his garment of shells. Lane was not satisfied until he seated himself astride the neck of the monster, where, holding on by the horns, he exclaimed: "Bonets el grates Diabolus un vinxi." Lane is a scholar, and says this is Chaldaic, meaning "The good and great fear of the devil."

                                                            THE TOMB OF KINGS.
This statue stood about six feet from the side of the cave. Behind it we discovered an arched doorway, and this we concluded to follow. About 100 yards further on we entered another but somewhat smaller chamber. The first thing to attract our attention was the snowy appearance of the door. The fine white sand was as hard and as compact as marble. The walls and ceiling were covered with conch and other shells of snowy whiteness or beautifully tinted. It was a palace of pearl; but soon we found that it was also a charnel-house. On stone tables, and in niches in the walls, hundreds of skeletons were seen. We did not lose much time in the examination of those repulsive objects. At one aide of this apartment there was a stone dais, approached by three steps, on which was a chair or bench, also of stone. Back of this was an arched opening, and across it extended a rod of bone or ivory, on which were several copper rings. Passing through this opening we entered a circular room, about fifteen feet in diameter, and here saw a skeleton lying on a table of hewn granite. There were many other articles piled on the table with the bones. Among them we found stone tomahawks and arrow-heads, bow of ivory, a rusty cutlass, many strings of beads, and at the foot the skeleton of a dog. The only article we bought of sufficient value to bring away was a large clay pipe with a silver band round it, on which was engraved: "To the Puissant Warrior and Mighty Potentate, Powhatan. From his trusty brother, Sir Thomas Dale." On looking at our watches we now found that it was 5 o'clock in the afternoon. We had been walking nearly ten hours, and were tired and hungry. Only few of the numerous caverns had been explored, but we concluded to return and pursue the investigation at another time. On the way back we had occasion to congratulate Braddenham on fore sight in furnishing a guide. Without the string we would not have been enabled to have found our way through the labyrinth of passages. When we emerged from the opening into daylight we experienced a feeling of relief, but a bewildering sense of having passed the hours in dreamland. An extract from the writings of Captain John Smith, as published, may appropriately close this account of our discoveries. In "Voyages and Discoveries," speaking of the Indian, he says: 
"But their chief God they worhsip is the Divill. Him they call Oke,and serve him more of feare than love. * * * ln their temples they have his image evill favouredly carved and then painted and adorned with copper, and heads; and covered with, a skin in such manner as the deformity may well suit with such a God. "Their principall Temple or place of superstition is at Uttamussack. Upon the top of certaine redde sandy hills in the woods, there are three great houses filled with Images of their Kings and Devills and Tombes of their Predecesors. This place they count holy as that none but the Priestess and Kings dare come onto them, nor the Salvages dare not go up the river in boates by it, but that they sollemnly cast some piece of copper, white beads, or Pocones into the river, for fear their Oke should be offended and revenged of them. They have also divers conjurations. One they made when Captain Smith was their prisoner.
"Again, after briefly relating the incident of his rescue by Pocahontas, Captain Smith, in his General History, says:

"Two days after, Powhatan having disguised himself in the most fearefullest manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and there upon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not, long after, from behind a mat that divided the house was made the most dolefullest noyss he ever heard: then Powhatan, more like a Divill than a man, with some two hundred more as black as himselfe, cae unto him and told him. now they were friends, and presently he should go to Iames towne, to send him two greate gunnes and a gryndstone, for which he would give him that Country of Capahowsick, and forever esteeme him as his son Nantaquoud."
This is the valiant soldier's short and modest account of the strange ceremonies by which he was adopted as the son of Powhatan. The full story may have been written by him, but the friend to whose discretion he committed the publication of his writings foresaw with prophetic ken that scoffers in the nineteenth century would charge the hero as a lying braggart, and he wisely withheld it from the world. The mysteries of the cave have been as a sealed book for nearly three hundred years, and on the 1st day April, Anno Domini 1888, the seal has been broken and the way has been opened to the temple of Oke and the tombs of a royal line.                                                    
D. C. R.

- Richmond Dispatch, 1 April 1888


You will notice the date of publication
More tomorrow on this strange tale.



Friday, October 28, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888- Part Three

The Seal Broken continued from October 22nd and 25th . . .


THE RIVER STYX.
Here we noticed that we were following the stream from the falls. Going on four hundred yards forward and many feet downward, we were again arrested by a body of water, which extended entirely across the cavern into the blackness beyond, we tried the depth of this gulf with our poles but it was apparently bottomless. A large rock was tied on the end of the rope and lowered, but it rolled down the slope sides and found no resting-place for more than sixty feet. "Drat the luck; I wish I had my boat," said Tupps, showing the disappointment he felt the water was warm, and had a brackish, sulphurous taste. After standing for some time undecided how to proceed, Braddenham remarked, "Well, boys, I reckon we'll have to swim it." This proposition was not relished by at least one of the party for he could not swim a stroke. Braddenham at once undressed, and breaking off a piece of the pole, tied it to his back, the end rising about two feet above his head. To the end of this pole be attached a lantern, and then without a moment of hesitation let himself down into the water. He was a good swimmer, and in few minutes only the light from the lantern could be seen dancing across the darkness. After going about fifty yards it was seen that he had stopped, and now he was returning, but in a zigzag course. As soon as he reached the shore he said: "It's all right; I reckon you can walk across." This appeared absurd, but he explained that in swimming a ledge of rock had been struck, and this he found extended back to where we were standing. Braddenham then started again, this time walking on the rock below the water carefully feeling with his pole. After a while we heard the words "All right" come from out the Stygian blackness and saw his light returning. The journey had been successfully accomplished by him, and we all prepared to cross over, we had been paying out the twine as we proceeded, and now it was discovered that the end of it had been reached. Tupps then went back to the falls to break it at that point, as this portion of the route was straight, and it was not probable we would lose our way on the return. When he came back we all started across, with Braddenham in front. The ledge was entirely under water, but in no place more than one foot below the surface. The face of the rock was smooth and from twelve to eighteen inches in width. We proceeded cautiously along the crooked pathway, feeling with our poles before making a step. Tupps had no pole, and soon we heard a load splash as his bulky form fell into the water. "Take my gun," was his first exclamation, as his head appeared on the surface and he was seen clinging to the lock. Lane relieved him of the weapon, which was found to be dry, and he climbed up again. Without further mishap we reached the shore, and, as well as we were able to judge, found that the gulf was about six hundred yards in length. Its width we were unable to determine. Here we put on our shoes, which had been removed, and fastening the end of the string to a rock, proceeded on our journey. 

THE FIRE CHAMBER.
Our course was now upward, and walking was difficult. The ground was wet and muddy, anti the passage was almost choked up in some places by earth and fallen rocks. But we were stimulated by the thought that we were climbing towards daylight, and walked or crawled along as fast as possible. At length our feet struck solid ground again, and we hail suddenly entered another large chamber, this apartment was octagonal in shape, and nearly two hundred yards from side to side. The floor was hard and dry, and the roof could not be seen by the light from our lanterns. Near the place at which we had entered in there was a large pile of lightwood and a considerable quantity of a substance which we found to be pitch. In the centre of the room stood a high altar of atone with steps leading up to it nearly fifty small alters were found encircling the apartment. "Let's make a fire," said Lane, and the suggestion was carried into execution. Gathering arms full of light-wood, and rolling a large mass of pitch to the altar in the centre, we piled up the fuel and applied a match. Soon the flames were leaping high towards the roof, and Tupps, who had climbed upon the altar, was enveloped in a cloud of steam ascending from his wet clothing. "Look!" said Tupps, holding up a human skull. We did look and the whole scene was weird and impressive. The flames were shouting high in the air and strange objects were revealed by the lurid glare. The walls of the cavern and the roof were momentarily brought to view and then suddenly disappeared. Fantastic pictures were thrown upon the background of dark beats, and uncouth forms of men and beasts stood out from the rocky walls. Above us in a blaze of light was the huge form of Tupps, holding in his hands the evidence of man's mortality. On examination was seen that the top of the altar was concave, and raking away the ashes we found many calcined human bones. 

CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH'S ROMANCE.
"While walking around the altar one of the party struck his foot against an object winch had been lying within the shadow of the steps, and it rolled out into the light with a metallic sound, it was found to be a copper box, about six by four inches and one inch deep. At each end there were places through which a belt might pass, and thus strap it to the waist. Opening this box we found some letters scratched on the inside of the lid, and by the firelight read the words: "Captain John Smith; his Cartouch." The contents of the box were then examined. First we found a small brass-bound pocket-compass, and next a parcel wrapped with black silk. Removing this covering a small piece of parchment was seen, and in this a long tress of dark-brown hair. On the parchment these words were written: " 
Dorothea Harlow; Virtuous, Adorable, but Unstable; who affected to regard ye Estimacion of her Ardent Admirer, but disdained ye True Love of ye Souldier for ye foppish fancy of a Titled Ryvall, and sent her Disconsolated True Knighte to perish in this Heatherne Land by ye hande of Salvages." 
At the bottom of the box we found another writing. The ink was faded and the paper much mutilated. Holding it up to the light we finally deciphered most of the writing, which ran as follows: 

 A LETTER FROM CAPTAIN SMITH.
"Most Illvstriovs, And Most Noble :- 
Forasmvch as a Trve and Faithfvll accompte of all my Adventvres In this Heatherne Covntrie haith come vndar ye reach of my owne rovgh Pen, I praie Yovr Grace to give dve Dilligence to ye same, and not sette downe against me yt aught is written in ill conceit or Vain Glory. Concerning divers Tryalla and Adventvres in these Parts there were manie to Witness, bvt of my Perille and safe Deliverance from ye crvell Death at ye hands of Powhatan and his salvages there is none to beare Wittnesse save ye Salvages themselves and Pokahuntas who did save my life, and she from Modestie doth not discovrse of the matter. My present Adventvre in ye Cave of Salvage Priestess, and ye many extremities of my sitvacion in Perills of Wind and Water and of Fire have all been Trvly sette downe, but leaste diverse persons shovld make Impvtacion yt such Relation is wanting Proofs, and a knowledge of Crvelties by ye Indians shovld be prevencion from settleinge by many others in these forraine lands, I praie Yovr Grace will daigne to vse a Critticks Art In making  pvblick such parts of ye present Writings as will preserve ye Repvtacion of Actor and Relator, and promote ye Glory of god. In ye present weaknesse * * * * [here several sentences are illegible.] * * * bvt with all Energie and Care to compass ye projekt. 
Your Grace, his Most Faithfull and Devoted Servant. JOHN SMITH." 7 th. January 1607. 
After reading this letter our desire to explore every portion of the cavern was greatly increased, but this was impracticable at the time, as we found more than a dozen passages leading in different directions. A large quantity of fuel was piled upon the altar, and the ruddy glow beat back the dark shadows toward the wall. 


TO BE CONTINUED . . .


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888- Part Two

The Seal Broken continued from October 22nd . . .



THE BOTTOMLESS PIT.
Tupps, who was in front, could scarcely squeeze his bulky form through the narrow opening, For more than fifty yards we compelled to crawl along the low tunnel, but the floor was very smooth and dry and the walls were regular. Having proceeded some distance we were halted by an exclamation from Tupps, who was peering into the darkness below. The cavern had now widened so that we all came up and stood abreast. "Here's the bottomless pit!" said Tupps, with a laugh and the sound echoed from the depths like the voice of a lost spirit. "What's that?" said Lane, and echo repeated the question. Braddenham lowered his pole, but the bottom was not reached.  The lantern was then tied to the rope and let down, when the bottom was found to be not more than twenty feet below. It appeared that the end of our journey had been reached, for while we might have descended by aid of the rope, the difficulty of getting up the perpendicular walls could not be so easily overcome. The apartment in which we stood was about ten feet wide, and the vaulted roof was some distance above our heads. At length we found a small opening on our right, which we entered, and discovered it led downward, winding to the left. Continuing on in this downward and circuitous route, we reached the level and stood in a large chamber immediately below the place from which we had last started.

THE SKELETON OF AN ADVENTURER.
While wandering around in this place we were startled by an exclamation, as one of the party stumbled in the darkness and fell. When Braddenham came up with the light we found Lane at full length on the ground clasped in the arms of a grinning skeleton. We started back, Lane arose, and with some irritation gave the cause of his mishap a kick, which caused the skeleton to fall to pieces and the skull to roll some distance away. Near this object we found a bone-handled hunting-knife much eaten by rust, two copper shoe-buckles and a large flint-lock gun. The stock of the gun fell off as Lane attempted to pick it up, and crumbled with the touch; but by careful handling we were able to examine it, and found carved in large letters the name and date: "Jeremy Allicock, Ancient, 1607," The word "Ancient" probably meant ensign, and from the date we inferred that the luckless owner of the ancient weapon was one of the first "adventurers" to the colony. We now passed through this chamber, and continuing on about 100 yards entered another larger chamber.

THE CYCLONE'S HOME.
This apartment was circular in form and about three hundred feet in diameter. In the centre we could not touch the roof with our poles, but it sloped down within reach at the side walls. While, standing here we were surprised to perceive a current of air which swept like a whirlwind around the chamber. At times we could not feel the wind, but soon its approach was heralded by a low, musical sound, and the current swept around the cavern, gaining force and momentum with each shortened circuit. In the middle of the cave the wind roared and rushed with great fury, and whirled us about in a bewildering manner. Our lanterns had been extinguished and the darkness was of that character which could almost be felt, we now groped our way to the sidewall of the chamber, and taking advantage of a lull in the storm relighted the lanterns. Soon the low musical found was heard and the storm was again approaching. "Boys, let's get in the cyclone again," said Tupps "I enjoy it, even if I do have to hold the hair on my head." Saying this, he sprang forward and in a few minutes was mounted on a flat rock in the middle of the cave, whirling around like a Dervish. The lantern in his hand remained lighted, and as he spun around a circle of light encompassed him. We were much amused by the grotesque antics of the fat and amiable Tupps, but our mirth was changed to consternation as we heard him utter a yell for assistance and saw him rapidly sink down and disappear. Braddenham was the first to rush to his assistance. The fury of the storm had not abated, and his lantern was soon extinguished. He gave it to Lane, who returned to the wall to relight it. When the wind had subsided we approached the middle of the apartment and discovered a circular hole, about four feet in diameter, at the spot where Tupps had last been seen. Braddenham, who hail been crawling around in the dark, now came up, and bending over the opening called to Tupps. "Here I am!" sounded a voice very near us, "a little disfigured, but still in the ring." Tupps had been lying down, but he now arose, and taking the light commenced to examine his surroundings. We all then descended and discovered that the flat, circular platform had gone down about five feet in spiral grooves cut into the surrounding rocks. In this well we found the door to another tunnel, which we entered and followed for several hundred yards. This passage inclined gradually downward and grew, larger as we proceeded. Presently we heard the splashing of water. The atmosphere of the cavern was now moist, the ground was covered with a wet, sticky clay, and many large boulders obstructed our progress.


THE FALLS OF LOST RIVER
Climbing over these obstructions, we continued on in the direction of the sound until our progress was arrested by a broad sheet of limpid water, falling apparently from considerable distance directly across our path. At this place there were many excavations and side passages, but the most of them led only a short distance. We followed the winding course of one of these passages for more than half an hour, but finally emerged through an opening near the point of entrance at the foot of the falls. In this labyrinth of so many intricate passages it was difficult for us to determine how we should proceed. Lane pushed his pole through the sheet of water and found that it met with no obstruction. We then discovered that although the waters ware spread out more than twelve feet, the sheet was only a few inches in thickness. The pole divided this sheet like a curtain, and by raising it an opening was made sufficiently wide for us to enter, "Here we go," said Lane, and he passed through the opening with a lantern in his hand. The curtain was then allowed to fall, and the effect was indescribably beautiful. The sheet of water gleamed and sparkled like a revolving belt of polished silver, refracting the light from the other side. Again dividing the waters we all went through the opening and found the passage was leading onward and descending down ward.


TO BE CONTINUED . . .


Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Strange Tale of 1888

From the pages of the Richmond Dispatch of 1888, a strange tale for the week before Halloween. 



THE SEAL BROKEN.
GREAT LIGHT THROWN ON POINTS COLONIAL HISTORY.
          A Remarkable Discovery Near the Ancient Capital- Captain John                    Smith's Letters.

                WILLIAMSBURG, VA, March 31, 1888.
To the Editor of the Dispatch:
Thursday inst, while two gentlemen from New Kent were hunting on the Stone-House tract, in this county, they discovered the entrance to a remarkable cavern, but as it was then late in the afternoon an exploration of its mysteries was deferred until a more favorable time. When the discovery became generally known there was a considerable excitement among the residents of that vicinity, any persons believing it was the open sesame to the Cavern in which, according to tradition, vast treasure were stored. Mr. Winder Lane, of this city, made arrangements with a party to explore the cave, and your correspondent was kindly invited to accompany him. Early this morning we started out, and were not long in reaching the Stone House tract. Here, in consequence of the roughness of the country, we left the vehicle and pursued the remainder of the journey on foot. Expecting to find game we brought guns with us, and soon we were banging away at the ducks floating off the stream. As the report of our weapons died away, "Hello" came a shout from the New Kent side of Ware creek. Lane responded, and a small boat in which two men were seated, glided across the stream. These were the men Lane had engaged to meet. Mr. Braddenham is a taciturn, middle-aged gentleman, and his features give evidence that he is a man of courage and cool determination. James Richardson, who was familiarly greeted as "Tupps," is a younger man, of herculean frame, and the embodiment of good nature. Removing from the boat two lanterns, a hatchet, a coil of rope, and a large ball of twine, we started up the hill, and Tupps, by right of original discovery, led the way. Our course lay through what is known as

"THE DEVILS WOODYARD."
A more unbroken country is not to be found in this region. The hills rise abruptly from three to four hundred feet, and the descent is precipitous into dark ravines made almost impenetrable by thick undergrowth of laurel and ivy. Tall trees of oak and chestnut obstruct the light, and in many places we were compelled to grope our way in darkness. After toiling up and down the hills for some time Tupps halted and appeared to be lost. We were then in a ravine and a small stream flowed across our path.

                                                               THE LOST STREAM
"I've never seen this 'branch' before," said our guide, "and I've just been wondering how it gets out of here." This did seem a puzzle, for on every side we could see nothing but hills and no outlet for the water. We followed the stream and as we went the waters rushed more rapidly and a deep rambling sound was heard. The undergrowth now became so thick that we were compelled to clear a path with the hatchet. Making our way with difficulty through the oozy soil, we found that the stream descended into the earth through an opening between two huge boulders. Retracing our steps we next reached the top of one of the highest ridges, when, to our gratification, the serpentine course of Ware creek could be traced and York river was plainly seen in the distance. Tupps then said he had the "bearings," but it would be impossible for him to find the cave unless he started for the Stone House. Accordingly we set out for the creek and after a wearisome march ascended the tall hill overhanging that stream. The Stone House was soon afterward reached, and here, nearly worn out by fatigue stopped to rest.

THE OLD STONE HOUSE
has suffered much from the lapse of time and the ruthless hand of treasure hunters. The walls have been thrown down, the chimney nearly removed, and not one stone has been left upon another, except in the foundation-walls, which appear to sink deep into the ground All around the building deep holes have been sunk, to evidence the labors of modern seekers for hidden wealth. There is local tradition which ascribes the erection of the stone house to Blackbeard, a pirate, who was infamous for his cruelties about the beginning of the eighteenth century, and who is supposed to have concealed his ill-gotten gains near this retreat. There is, however, no historical evidence to support this tradition. Among Virginia historians there seems to be a consensus that is the popular word of opinion that this is the "Fort of Retreat" alluded to by Captain John Smith in his writings as having been erected in 1608-'09. If this is true, it is a most interesting relic of by gone days and the ruins of the oldest house built by the hands of Englishmen in America. After halting on this interesting spot for more than half an hour we arose to pursue our journey. Tupps got up lazily and faced successively each point of the compass. When the bearings had been obtained he started off rapidly, and we followed in Indian file. Following the ridge about one third of a mile we reached a gnarled ash-tree, and here our guide abruptly turned and commenced to descend the hill. We were soon deep in the ravine, wandering about in an eccentric and apparently aimless course. Tupps grunted his satisfaction on discovering familiar objects, but it was evident he was an unacquainted with the direct route to the goal, and for two hours we pursued the tiresome journey.

THE PORT-HOLE OF -- SHEOL.
At length our conductor sprang off to the left with rapid strides and pushed his way out of sight in a tangled mass of undergrowth, Soon afterwards we heard a shout, and Tupps called out to us, "Come on boys. Here’s the port-hole of -- Sheol." We scrambled over the rocks and through the brush to where he was standing, and there sure enough was the entrance to the cavern. A large rock had been partially dislodged by the elements of nature, and the opening to the cave was exposed. We were now at the base of one of the highest hill, and the thick matted branches shut out the sunlight, so that objects were undistinguishable at a few feet distant. The lanterns were lighted, and on examination it was found that the mouth of the cave was two feet wide and three and one half feet high. The huge stone was smooth on the underside, and had evidently once closed the mouth of the cavern, but it had been undermined by the rains and slided partly down the hill. We now made ready to enter the cave, and not expecting to meet savage men or beast it was thought best to leave our guns at the entrance and provide ourselves with long poles. Three of us did so, but Tupps could not be persuaded to leave his trusty gun behind. Braddenham unwound a ball of twine and attached one end to a tree, explaining that it would be a good guide to daylight should we lose our way. 



TO BE CONTINUED . . .



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Weird Tales of New Kent- December 1904


 In honor of Halloween we begin our occasional series  . . .cue the music . . .Weird Tales of New Kent . . .



                                       A DAZZLING BEAST.  
                         A New Kent Lady Sees Strange Sights in the Swamp.
                                        (Special to The Times.-Dispatch)
ROXBURY, VA. Dec 19.-New Kent farmers are looking after the birds and is not thought they suffered greatly during the heavy snow. Several flocks or partridges have been seen, and they seem to be all-right. The farmers are  putting out feed and not allowing any to be killed during the snow. 
One of the strangest sights ever seen in this section was  witnessed near this place, Saturday, which has left the lady in a terrible state of nervous  prostration. Mrs. Woodson whose home near the Chickihominy Swamp, heard a noise like the bleating of a lamb. Fearing some little lamb had wandered away, she went to its succor. When a few rods off she noticed the head of an object like that of a sheep coming towards her. Its eyes were a light brown, while its ears were like those of a sheep. Its body was the shape of some large snake, apparently about four feet long, full of scales. As it would move in the sunlight the different colors were dazzling in their brightness and so changeable that it caused her eyes to pain terribly. 
Mrs. Woodson ran to the house after the male members of the family to tell them of her strange find, but when the men got to where the beast or serpent was it had retreated to the swamps of the Chickahominy. It was tracked to the waters edge; there all traces were lost of the strange intruder. Hunger had undoubtedly forced it from its hiding place, as two rabbits and three birds had been caught by the strange beast, as portions of each were found by the huntsmen.

-Times Dispatch, 20 December 1904


Sunday, October 16, 2016

MAY 20-23, l862.- Operations about Bottoms Bridge, Chickahominy River, Va- VIII

Report of Brig. Gen. Silas Casey, U. S. Army, commanding division, of operations May 20.

                                       HEADQUARTERS CASEY'S DIVISION,
                                                                              May 23, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with the authority given me to make such reconnaissance as I might think proper to the north and west, I proceeded to organize one on the morning of the 20th instant, the cay after the arrival of my division. I directed General Naglee, with two regiments, to proceed down the rail-road, and, if possible, to the bridge across the Chickahominy. With two batteries of artillery and one regiment of infantry I proceeded to the road leading to Bottoms Bridge and thence along a road passing to the right. I placed the guns near the railroad and about halt a mile from the bridge, where the road crosses the Chickahominy. I soon went down near the bridge and found General Naglee, who had been successful in driving in the enemy's pickets and taking the bridge, extinguishing the fire which had been communicated to the structure by the enemy. I found that he had some time previous to my arrival deployed a line of skirmishers along the river bottom.
Soon after my arrival the enemy brought down to the opposite end of the bridge three pieces of artillery, and endeavored to drive away our sharpshooters, in which they did not succeed. I ordered four pieces of artillery to be brought down and placed near the bridge, and soon succeeded in driving the enemy's pieces from their position. I remained on the ground until 5 o'clock, when I gave orders to repair the bridge and for the pickets to cross over as soon as this was accomplished. A short time after the pickets were ordered away from the bridge, as I was informed by General Devens, but not until a number had succeeded in crossing. The result of the reconnaissance was to put us in possession of the bridge and supply important information which had been sought for some days.
The conduct of General Naglee was prompt and skillful and the troops behaved well. I inclose his report.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                    SILAS CASEY,
                                                      Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
                        Capt. C.C. SUYDAM,
                                                     Assistant Adjutant-General. 


The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 11 (Part I)

Friday, October 14, 2016

MAY 20-23, l862.- Operations about Bottoms Bridge, Chickahominy River, Va- VII

Report of Col. David Mc M. Gregg, Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

                              CAMP AT BOTTOMS BRIDGE, VA., May 23, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, agreeably to orders, this morning, with eight companies of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, the Seventh Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Russell, the Twenty-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Neill -the infantry all under command of Colonel Russell proceeded on the main road toward Richmond. After passing our outer pickets I proceeded cautiously, making a thorough examination of the country to the front and between the main road and railroad. I examined all the roads to the right and left. The roads leading away from the main road are unimportant, and do not connect any main roads. The country to the front is rolling, with frequent cultivated tracts. A half mile beyond our pickets I came upon the enemy's pickets, which, after firing upon us, retired on the road. Following along the road a mile farther I met the enemy's pickets in greater force, the picket being composed of cavalry and infantry. When discovered the enemy's picket was upon the western side of a plain, under cover of timber. I sent through the woods companies of infantry to the right and left, drove away the picket, and put to flight the whole or the greater portion of a regiment of infantry and a force of 300 to 400 cavalry. The enemy moving away to my left through the woods, I did not deem it safe to follow, lest a movement should be made against my left and rear. One of the enemy was killed. From this point, 3 miles from the Chickahominy and 10 miles from Richmond, I returned to this camp.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                       D. Mc M. GREGG,
                            Colonel Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

          Lieut. Col. A. V. COLBURN,
                       Assistant Adjutant- General, Department of the Potomac.


The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 11 (Part I)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Three Historical Markers for Cumberland Landing


At the historic Cumberland Platation at Cumberland Landing, New Kent County, Thursday, October 6, three new markers were dedicated by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Speakers were:
Camilla Tramuel, President New Kent Historical Society; Kent Radwani, local historian; Mark Daniels, local historian; Julie Langan, Department of Historic Resources; John Poindexter, owner of Cumberland Plantation.







French Cannon at Cumberland Landing- WO-22
(See also April 1847 issue of Southern Literary Messenger)




Cumberland Town- WO-21