State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Bird Story

A LARGE EAGLE KILLED.

-Mr. S. J. Chandler, of this city, exhibited at the State office on Monday an immense gray eagle that was killed last week by his brother. Mr. O.M. Chandler, on the old Wm. Dandridge estate, in New Kent county. The bird was probably the largest ever killed in this section. It measured 7 feet 6 1/2 inches from tip to tip. The talons were 1 1/2 inches in length and the beak was of great size and apparent power. Those powerful birds of prey are reported as very plentiful in that county, and Mr. Chandler thinks this huge fellow has carried off at least a hundred lambs. He reports that eagles destroyed about 200 lambs in his neighborhood last spring. They are reported as being able to fly away with a young sheep as easily as a hawk with a chicken. Mr. Chandler, who is quite a successful hunter, was out with his gun and dog when the bird flew over him and he shot it. He killed another eagle the same day. The skin will be stuffed and preserved. -Rich. State


-Alexandria Gazette, January 31 1893


A brief review of present ornithological works as well as those contemporaneous with this article confirm that indeed "gray eagle" is another name for Bald Eagle.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Holly Fork Festivities - January 1892



New Kent Gayety. 

[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.) 

HOLLY FORK, NEW KENT COUNTY, VA, January 15.-The hospitable home of Mr. A. P. Richardson was the scene of conviviality and enjoyment last Friday evening. A most enjoyable leap-year party was given by Miss Lulu Richardson in honor of her guests. Misses Dele Richardson and Lula Atkinson, of Richmond. The spacious building was a blaze of  light from the hickory back-log in the fire-place and from beautifully-colored lamps. The guests assembled early, and until a late hour participated in the unrestrained but refined enjoyment of the pleasures to be found in an old-fashioned country home. Music, instrumental and vocal, lent its charms, amusing games were played with zest by young and old, and to the music of the piano, harp. and violin the younger of the guests danced until morning light.  
A SUMPTUOUS FEAST 
At 11:30 o'clock the party was invited to a sumptuous feast, where all the most tempting viands were spread. In accordance with the time-honored leap-year custom the gentlemen were escorted to the table by the ladies, and their wants supplied by their fair servitors. 
The genial host and hostess wore most assiduous in their efforts to contribute to the enjoyment of their guests, and the occasion was pronounced one of the most enjoyable ever known in old New Kent, a county noted for its hospitality. 
There were about thirty ladies and gentlemen present, among whom were Misses Richardson and Atkinson, of Richmond; Messrs. Woodward, Barnes, Frayser. and Wright, of New Kent; and Messrs. C.A. Branch, R. Henley, and N. Henley, of James City county; Farinholt, Woodward. Jones, Richardson, and others, of New Kent


-Richmond Dispatch, 17 January 1892


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Judson Knight: A Chase along the Pamunkey 1864 - Conclusion



Serg't Knight's Adventures In the Swamps of the Pamunkey.
(Continued from last week.)

THE tension on my nerves, which had been considerably strained for the last 24 hours, had become relaxed, and I felt more like having fun than anything else. When the Lieutenant said he would have to keep me until morning, it put a stop to all funny business, as far as I was concerned, and I told him it was his duty to either send or take me to Gen. Smith at once, and I also said that he would be very apt to get blamed for not doing it. A Sergeant in the party settled it when he said: "Yes, Lieutenant, you will get into trouble if you don't take him to Gen. Smith at once." 
A guard was detailed, who surrounded me, and we set off across the fields. I don't know how often we were tripped up by the running blackberry or dowberry(dewberry) vines, but as near as I remember every one of the party were down more than once before we made the mile that separated us from the "White House." On our arrival Smith's tent had been pitched, and he had just lain down, when the Lieutenant went in, mid told him who I said I was, and he ordered him to bring me in immediately. When I came in he said: "Who are you?" After rolling him, his next question was: "When did you leave Gen. Grant?" Upon answering this his next was: "When did you leave his Headquarters?"
"At noon yesterday." 
"What have you been doing since " 
I gave him an outline of my experience, and said I came out of the swamp since dark.
"I heard the first whistle about four miles up the river. Here are three dispatches for you; the remainder go to Yorktown; please to look at this," handing him Col. Ingalls's order on Quartermasters.
"Capt., roared he. Capt. come into the tent. Give this man the fastest boat you have got, and don't wait to unload anything." 
Then to me: "I trust the remainder of your trip will be much pleasanter then the first part. Good-night."
In a few minutes not to exceed 20, I think I was sound asleep on the steamer, and remained so until we reached Yorktown. The steamer landed me and went back immediately. Going first to the telegraph office I delivered the dispatches that had to be telegraphed; then to the post office and got rid of the remainder, together with the letters. The next thing in order was to find an eating house, where I ordered a breakfast regardless of expense. After breakfast I concluded to replenish my wardrobe. Socks, drawers, and shirt had suffered in the swamp, and they were replaced by new ones. The shirt was gorgeous, French cashmere. I could not burden myself with anything except what I could wear, consequently only one article of a kind was purchased, with the exception of paper collars.They were something that one had to make some sacrifice for, and I laid in a supply of at least a dozen of "Gray's patent molded collar." After going to a barbershop and getting my hair cut and a shave, I made my appearance in the streets of Yorktown. My wide-brimmed straw hat and purple coat made me a conspicuous object, even without the extra adornments. I had mounted, and I was immediately surrounded by a crowd of both soldiers and officers, all eager for news, Somehow they had learned from the telegraph office that one of Grant's Headquarters scouts was in town, and they picked me out immediately as the man. No certain news for some time had they heard, and I was literally besieged. It happened that I had seen most of the fighting at Spotsylvania Courthouse; had seen Johnson's Division when they were taken out of the works, and could give a pretty good description of the operations in that neighborhood for several days which culminated in the fight of the 12th of May, 1864. I entertained them to the best of my ability for over an hour. I never saw men in my life so eager for news. I was really glad about 2 p.m. when the Quartermaster came and told me he had signaled a steamer going up the river to run in. She came and I went aboard the steamer Wyoming, Capt. Lyttleton S. Cropper, of Havre De Grace, Md. Capt. Cropper was as whole-souled, genial a man as I ever met, and his boat, which had double engines, was fitted up as a hospital boat. When Capt. Cropper learned who I was, there was nothing on board too good for me. My name, as well as all of the scouts at Headquarters, was entered on his log-book, and a signal was agreed upon by which he would know any of the boys who might signal him from the shore, and he requested me to inform them that he would always be pleased to have any of them come on board and make themselves known to him at any time. 
Some of them did go aboard of the Wyoming later, but who they were I have forgotten now, but I can remember they were loud in their praise of Capt. Cropper. There was a number of soldiers on board who were detailed as guards and nurses, under the charge of a Surgeon, whose name has escaped my memory. I met the Surgeon afterward, several months subsequent to the close of the war, and one of the men who was detailed, and serving on board on that trip. His name was Jones, and he belonged in the town of Marcy, N. Y. 
The next day, early in the morning, I found the Wyoming fast to the wharf at the White House, and found that the Eighteenth Corps had gone forward the day before. Leaving the boat, I started on foot up toward Tunstall's Station. By the time I had gone three or four miles I came upon one of our cavalrymen, and from him learned that Gen. Gregg was not far away. Gen. Gregg was a man I was very anxious to see, and I took a good many steps in various directions, as I was told by several cavalrymen where they thought he could be seen. At last I found him. Showing him my pass, to let him know who I was, I asked him to loan me a horse, and to tell me where Army Headquarters were to be found.
"See here," said he, "I have loaned you scouts horses before, and never saw them again."
"Well, General, you never loaned me one, did you?" 
"No. I never did, and don't think I ever will. You people got a horse, and that is the last of him."I could see by a twinkle in his eyes that he intended to let me have one, and pressed the request, saying: "You acknowledge you never let me have one. How is it possible for you to say you will never see him again. I will promise that he shall he returned as soon as it is possible to do be in four or five days at the farthest."
"Well, I suppose I will have to try you. Now, if I don't get this horse back, it is the last time a scout over gets one from me." 
Calling a man he ordered him to furnish me with a certain horse that I thought to myself would be a small loss if he should never see again. On asking him where I would be apt to find Army Headquarters, he replied that he had no idea, but the night before they were at Old Church Tavern, which was several miles off. I saw no one that could give me the desired information until I arrived at the tavern. The landlord was very surly, and would scarcely give me a civil answer, until my patience became exhausted, when I asked him which of two roads both in sight (I had come in on a third one) they took when they left his place that morning, at the same time intimating that a civil and quick reply would be conducive to his well being. Ho very graciously pointed to the road that he said they had taken. I followed that road into the woods probably four miles, when shell began tearing through the tree-tops, and the farther I went the worse it got, until I became satisfied that the landlord had lied.
I remembered seeing a road about two miles back, leading to the left, and concluded to go back and try it. I had not gone far before I saw an infantry regiment come out of the woods and take the same direction on the same road that I was on. My horse soon overtook them, and turned out of the road of his own accord, and commenced passing them. We had passed over half the regiment before anyone bestowed more than a casual glance at us. At last a young fellow took a good look at the whole outfit, left the ranks, and ran toward the head of the regiment. Just before I came up I saw him speak to the Colonel. When I attempted to pass, the Colonel stopped me, and wanted to know who and what I was. I rode along by his side, and showed him my pass, which was written on a printed form; explained to him that I had just got back to the army, and was looking for Headquarters. The young soldier meanwhile was on the other side of the Colonel, and as soon as he discovered that his Colonel was satisfied with my explanation, he attempted to sneak back to his company. I saw the move and stopped him, and said: "I want to have a few words with you, young man." A half-sullen look name to his face as I began.  I thanked him for what he had done, and told both him and the Colonel that I was frequently disgusted with the way men could go through the army without being stopped by anyone; that it appeared to us sometimes that they did not care whether a man was a spy or not, nor whether he found out what was going on, and wont direct to the enemy and reported. I also told them that frequently I had heard other scouts make the same complaint, and I said:
"Now, my young friend, I am glad to see that one man, at least, in this regiment cared enough to put himself to some trouble to find out whether I was a friend or an enemy." The sullen look had disappeared; he had expected a cursing, which I am sorry to say was what a private soldier got more of than was good for him.
I found Headquarters in the course of a couple of hours after leaving that regiment, which was an Ohio one. The battle of Cold Harbor was fought that next day, I think; if not on that day, within 4 couple or three days", at all events. How long the army stopped here after the 4th of June I can't remember. My old regiment (2d N. J.) went home from Cold Harbor, and a day or two afterward one of the guards at the "bull-pen," a member of the 20th N. Y., came to me and said: "There is a man in the bull-pen who says he belongs to your old regiment, and wants to see you."
I went back with him, when a young fellow who was on the inside of the line of guards pressed forward as far as the guard would let In in, and said: "Don't you know me, Sergeant?" I took a good a good look at him, and answered: "No; I can't say that I do."
Said he: "Sergeant, I used to belong to your old regiment"
"What company were you in?" 
"G, and yours was H." 
"Yes; that is right So you were in Capt. Close's company. How did you get in here? The regiment has gone home, and I can't see how you should be in the bull-pen." 
He then told me that he was in one of the Wilderness fights, and was wounded; had been sent to Washington to a hospital, and as soon as no could leave it applied to be sent to his regiment; had come down the Potomac to Port Royal, and had helped to guard a wagon-train from there to Army Headquarters; when he got there his regiment was gone. His story had not been believed, and he had brought up in the pen. After listening to his story he said:
"You remember me now, don't you, Sergeant?" I could not recollect him, and said so. Tears came into his eyes as I turned away and walked to Col. Sharp's tent, who at that time was Deputy Provost-Marshal-General of the Army of the Potomac. I went in and told the story to Sharp, and when I got through he said: Do you remember him?" 
"Hardly; but I know he tells the truth." 
"Well," said he, "it is a shame, and we will have him out."
He then wrote an order to turn the boy over to me, and told me to go and get him. When he came the Colonel questioned him a few minute, gave him an order for transportation and the papers he would need to keep him out of trouble with military authorities, and turned him loose. He was one of the most grateful boys I ever saw. He was not over 21 years old, and lived in Bloomfield, N.J. His name had escaped my memory. Within a few days I got a chance to send the borrowed horse to Gen. Gregg, I'd did so.

JUDSON KNIGHT, Washington, D. C.
(The End)


-The National Tribune, January 26, 1893




Thursday, January 17, 2019

In the News

Part of plantation in New Kent sells for $3.4 million to a group of 'high net-worth individuals' from the Richmond region

A small group of “high net worth individuals” in the Richmond area have paid $3.4 million for a portion of the historic White House Plantation along the south banks of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County. Rockahock LLC, the legal entity . . .

- Richmond Times-Dispatch, Greg Gilligan,  Nov 30,2018

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Judson Knight: A Chase along the Pamunkey 1864 - II

The adventures of Judson Knight, Chief of Scouts of the Army of the Potomac, along the Pamunkey River in the summer of 1864 continued . . .


WITH THE SCOUTS
Serg't Knight's Adventures In the Swamps of the Pamunkey.

(Continued from last week)

BEING in fear of some kind of an ambush, it struck me forcibly that the best thing to do was to keep quiet until dark. I had lain still all day, so as not to move the tops of the bushes, and came to the conclusion to still continue the same tactics, although it would have been a great relief to me to change My position, for it seemed to me as though every bone and muscle in my person was aching, so that it appeared as if I never would ct over it. Added to this was hunger and thirst, I tried to dip up some water with my hand?, but could not quite resell it, and would not move for fear they were watching and would see the tops of the bushes shake and give me a volley.
It was a terribly long afternoon, but at last the sun went down, and very soon afterward I emerged from my hiding place and very carefully made my way out to the solid land, coming to it with my head held as low as possible, and sweeping the circumference of half-circle, to see if I could discover anything that looked like my Confederate friends or hordes between myself and the sky. After looking and listening for sometime, I could neither see nor hear anything suspicious, and so emerged from the swamp. As soon as I reached the solid ground I took off my boots and emptied them of the water that had been in them all day. Thinking what I should do myself if the position was reversed, and I the hunter instead of the hunted, I concluded not go to Pamunkeytown by the road, hut make my way to the river, and, in case no boat could be confiscated, swim to the other side and make my way down to the White House as best I could.
I soon found the river, and it was much nearer the road than where I had crossed the night before, owing to a bend in the stream at the place where I came to it. On reaching the river I discovered three men doing something on the shore, and leaving my dispatches hidden in a safe place I "fetched a traverse and snaked my way" up to where I could hear what they were saving and see what they were doing. A short observation showed me they were negroes, tangling up a seine on stakes along the shore. I soon satisfied myself there were no white men among them, and walked right up to them, saying: "Good evening, boys; what luck?"
They showed me two sturgeon they had caught, one of which was the largest I ever saw. After speaking of the size as being something uncommon, I said: "Boys, have you seen any of our soldiers around to-day?"
A tall mulatto, who appeared to have charge of things, said: "Yes; Lieut. Rodgers¹ and three men swam their horses across here three times this evening; they went over first, then came back again, and just before dark went over again."
"Can you tell me where they are now?"
"Just at dark they were over there," pointing with his hand, "by the old mill."
"I wish I had been here before they crossed the last time; I should have been glad to have met them. Do you know of any more of our men on this side of the river?"
"Look yere, maussa; you aint one of our men, you aint."
"I aint? Well, tell me what I am, if I aint."
"You's a Yankee, you is."
"What makes yon think so?"
"Oh, you don't talk like our folks does."
Up to this time had imagined I was playing the part of a Confederate rather successfully, and to be detected by this fellow so easily made me ashamed. I had played the part of a Confederate Surgeon only the previous Winter, and knew that there was no suspicion on the part of several families of white people of my being any thine than what I represented my self to he. It lowered me several pegs in my own estimation. The thought instantly came to me. You had better own up; these people will tell you more if they see you trust them.
So I said:
"Suppose I were a Yankee, would you betray me?" 
"No, sah."
"Well. boys, you are right; I am a Yankee, and a very hungry one, too. Can you get me something to eat? I have got plenty of money and will pay you well for anything you do for me."
"Don't want no pay, maussa. I will go right away and get you something," said the mulatto. When he left I walked into the bushes, from which I had listened to their conversation, and the two who were left began asking all kinds of questions, one of which I remember well. They wanted to know if, when we got hold of any negroes, we cut off one of their arms. I told them no, of course, and asked why they asked such a question as that. They said the white folks told them so.
Much sooner than I expected, the mulatto came back, bringing with him two pones of hot corn bread, a large pitcher of buttermilk, and some of the fattest, rankest bacon I ever saw. Buttermilk I always detested; bacon, even the best of it, never was a favorite; but I got away with everything buttermilk and all. After eating, I began inquiring in my turn, and found that I was about eight miles above the White House; that no launches had come there that day. they felt certain, as they would have heard the steamers' whistles; for they had been on the river all day. In looking at their boats, I found one about 10 feet long, made of five pieces of boards. The bow was about four inches wide; stem, 14 inches; sides and bottom made of half-inch stuff; bow and stern pieces of inch boards. In the center, the boat was about 20 inches wide. When I found the mulatto knew the channel of the river, I offered him $10 to take me down and land me at Pamunkeytown. Before getting through I offered $50, but soon discovered that money was no inducement to him. While friendly to me personally, and Yankees in general, and he hoped they would be successful, he thought more of himself than anything else. He also knew that Lieut. Rodgers and his three men were on the south side of the river; how many more might be there he could not tell. lie also knew that in rowing he would make considerable unavoidable noise, and that a pistol-shot, even, fired from the shore, would kill, provided it hit, and his belief was that be would be killed if he went. He would sell the small boat and throw in a paddle for $3. He also had something that he had found on the south side of the river in 1862, after McClellan had gone from there. "There was glass in both ends, and there was two of them fastened together, side by side," he said, and that if I would wait he would "go to the house and get it." He went, and brought back a field glass, that, as near as I could judge after dark, was a tolerably good one, and I gave him $5 for that. I then made him the offer of $50 again to go down the river with me, and told him that I had lost all of that day, and that was the reason why I would give him that amount.
Said he: "You is the man that Lieut. Rodgers run in the swamp this morning soon after gun up. Well, sir. Lieut. Rodgers cussed like the dobil for bcin' a d__d fool for to holler at you. Shore you carry dispatches, and he bay be have you shore befoh you git two miles from dis place."
When I saw there was no further use in endeavoring to overcome the timidity of the mulatto, I stepped into the boat, and seating myself in the stern, I began using the paddle, and soon discovered the tide was against me, and that my progress was altogether too slow to reach Pamunkeytown or the White House in any reasonable time. The idea came to my mind to run in close to shore and use the paddle as a "setting pole." When I put it in practice it -worked to a charm. By using the blade so that I could draw it edgewise through the water, I soon found that I was going faster than I could walk, and making no noise that could be heard even at a short distance. Keeping along the north shore for a mile or more I found a bayou, and concluded, as I knew nothing of the channel, to follow the shore even if it did increase the distance considerably, believing that in this case "the longest way around is the shortest way home."
I had just got into the channel again, and was close in-shore, under an almost perpendicular bluff, when I heard voices on shore that sounded above me. Looking upward I discovered, silhouetted against the sky, a man and woman on the top of the bluff. Scarcely had I discovered them when a stone thrown, no doubt, by the man, as large as he could conveniently hold, struck the water not a foot from the boat, barely missing it. Had it struck in the boat it would have gone through the bottom like a shot, and stopped my trip by water. An instant's thought satisfied me that I had not been seen, which was confirmed immediately by the voice of the woman saying: "What a splash!" Giving several vigorous shoves with the paddle, I was soon out of reach of any more "dornicks,² " should the notion take the stranger to make another splash.
There were plenty of bayous, which I followed the configuration of until I felt certain that the distance to the White House could not be over four miles, when the sweetest music that ever struck mortal ears was plainly borne to mine. It was the shrill, and, at the same time, hoarse whistle of a steamer. I was making good progress when the sound first came to my ears, but when I heard it and knew, as I did, that Baldy Smith must have arrived at the White House, new vigor was imparted to my muscles, and the cockle-shell I was in fairly flew.
Before going over a mile from where I was when the first whistle sounded five or six more were heard, which did not cause me to lesson my exertions. At last the whistling became almost continuous. I knew that there was a large house on the south side of the river, one mile above the White House, called Eltham³. When I got there I concluded to land and sneak around to the negro quarters and wake one of them, and get him to guide me through the fields to the landing. Crossing the river and running my boat ashore, I stepped out and listened a moment, and could hear no noise of any kind, except the cries of insects. Following a path that was plainly to be seen by the white sand where the grass had been trodden out by constant use, I passed around to the rear of the mansion and knocked on the door of one of the quarters. Immediately came a coarse, low growl from a dog that was some where outside, whether fastened or loose I could not tell. I got no response to my first rap, and tried it again. This time a louder growl, and one that very plainly showed me the dog was a large one, came from the same direction as the first. After thinking the matter over a moment, it struck me that the most sensible thing to do would be to go back to the river and resume the boat, cross over to the north bank, and escape being fired at by our own pickets, which I imagined would be close to the shore immediately below Eltham. I had nearly reached the shore when a startled voice rang out, "Halt! Who goes there!"
"Who are you?" said I.
"Who are you?" said the challenger.
"Do you belong to the Union army?" said I.
What the answer was I don't remember, but I do know that it was such as convinced me I was parleying with a Northern man, and I said, "It is all right ; I can tell you are a Union soldier."
Without saying whether this was true or not, he insisted on knowing who I was, and I told my mission. While the sentry and myself had been trying to ascertain each other's status, men had been rising from the ground all around me; three or four rose within a yard of me, and when I declared that I was carrying dispatches from Gen. Grant, one man, who had risen from the ground within two feet of me, said, "I will take this," and put his hand on the paddle which I was holding, with the blade resting on the ground. It looked to him in the darkness like a gun. They huddled around me, and wanted to know how I got there. I answered that I had come down the river; which did not satisfy them at all.
"How did you come here, right where you are standing now?"
"As I told you before, I came down the river in a boat, and landed at the foot of this path; came up this path, and went to the rear of the house yonder to see if could find a negro to guide me through the fields to the landing. When I knocked on the door, I heard a dog in the yard growl; the more I knocked the worse he growled. I did not know how many Johnnies might be around, for they are always prowling around just on the outskirts of any of our forces. In 1862, when we landed here under McClellan, two or three pickets were found the next morning with their throats cut, within a mile of this place. Knowing their nocturnal habits, and having a lively desire to keep my hide whole, I concluded to go back to my boat and resume by journey by water.
It took some time to make them believe that I had passed through them and they had not heard me, hut it was more astonishing to think I had not heard anything of them. I took them down to the boat and got the dispatches, which were rolled up in my coat in the bow. When they saw the boat they began to believe me. The Lieutenant in charge said he would have to keep me until morning. There was not a match in the party, and there was no way of verifying my story until daylight.
Judson Knight, Washington, D. C.
(to be continued.)



-The National Tribune., January 19, 1893



¹ Most probably Andrew J. Rodgers of the 42d Virginia Cavalry Battalion.

²  a rather obscure name for a rock, perhaps implying the couple were dull and unobservant.

³ He is quite off here; Eltham and the White House are 10 miles from each other in direct line and twice that by river.




Sunday, January 6, 2019

Judson Knight: A Chase along the Pamunkey 1864 - I

What Our Veterans Have to Say About Their Old Campaigns.

WITH THE SCOUTS
Sergn't Knight's Adventures In the Swamps of the Pamunkey.


AFTER the fighting at Spottsylvania Courthouse was over, I cannot remember how the country looked, or what roads we took until we approached the Pamunkey River. In my mind's eye I am see the road for about a mile leading across a river bottom, filled with doughboys, as the infantry were called, who had been halted to let Army Headquarters pass. They had been marching in column of fours, and had separated, so that two were on the right and two on the left of the road. After Headquarters came a motley group of servants, all mounted, which appeared to excite the ire of the infantry. The day was hot, and they had had a long march that morning. As a general thing the scouts were not with headquarters when on the march; only a lot of so called guides, most of them negroes, although there were quite-a number of white men and boys, Virginians by birth. The negroes were guides, in some cases.
After crossing the Pamunkey Headquarters were established on a farm called Gold Hill. Soon after we had settled down, I mounted my horse and took a ride westwardly to see what the topography of the country was like. Just as I came to the first place west of Gold Hill, Gen. Grant and a number of his staff came out of a house; as I passed them Grant was saying: "I told her that I considered our losses about equal. As we had all the time been the attacking party, we had lost more in killed and wounded" but we had taken many more prisoners than Lee had." Afterward I learned Mrs. Newton was the name of the lady he was speaking of.
About 10 a. m. on the nest day, an Orderly from Gen. M. R. Patrick, the Provost Marshal General of the Army of the Potomac, came over to our camp, and said to me: "Gen. Patrick wants to see you." On reporting to him, he said: "Mr. Dana wants to see you." Mr. Dana was Assistant Secretary of War. and had been at Headquarters of the Army from the opening of the Wilderness campaign. When I reached Headquarters, I asked for Mr. Dana. Gen. Rawlings pointed to him, and he (Dana) said: "I am Mr. Dana." Gen. Grant and Col. Rufus Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster of the Army, were also in the tent. I said to him: "Gen. Patrick ordered me to report to you."
"You are a scout. "We want to send dispatches to Yorktown. That is the nearest point that we can reach a telegraph." 
Yorktown was about 70 miles away, and the country between in full possession of the enemy. I am free to confess that there was no craving on my part for the job. All that I knew of the country was what an infantry man, serving with his regiment, that lauded at West Point, at the junction of the Pamunkey and York Rivers, would naturally learn in going from there to New Kent Courthouse; from thence to Cumberland Landing; from there to Gaines's farm; from Gaines's farm to Mechanicsville: from thence to Fair Oaks and Harrison's Landing, by way of Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill. Two years had elapsed since. I thought over our guides, and the different scouts not a man of them knew a thing of the country, and told Mr. Dana that there was not a horse in our party in fit condition to make such a trip, and said my own horse had a sore back in fact, they all had. Gen. Grant, I could see, was listening to our conversation. When I mentioned the condition of the horses in our party, he said: "Ingalls, haven't yon got fresh horses in the corral?" "Yes," said he. Then to me: "When you get through here, I will go with you to the corral, and show you what I have."
That settled it, and I could see there was no way to get out of it, and might as well put on a cheerful air as any other. Mr, Dana then showed me a lot of dispatches, and marked them, saying, "This is to be telegraphed, and this !s to be mailed," until ho had all but three marked. Then he showed me those, saying as he did so: "If you are caught with these, you "will be hung." I did not believe anything of the kind, and came near telling him that his telling me that would not make we one particle more diligent in endeavoring to get through without being captured. My impression was then, as it is now, that he thought I was a detailed soldier, and that if he could scare me into thinking I was in danger of losing my life by being captured with those documents, I would try harder to get through with them than otherwise. He was careful to not tell me that a Lieutenant with 16 men had been sent with the same dispatches the night before, and had returned with only half his men the same morning. 
He wanted to know how many men I would take with me, and I said one. When Col. In galls saw that he had got through with me, he jumped from his seat, saying: 'Come with me, now, and I will show you what horses I have."
On our arrival at the corral I picked out the largest and strongest looking horse there. The Colonel said: "That is a rough rider you have got there." I told him I know it, but he had no bottom, I thought, and also remarked that I was not a lightweight 'No," said he, " that is so. He will serve you if you can can stand the jolting. What kind of a man is the one going with you?" 
"No better living. He will never leave one in the lurch. He is good as gold."
"That, is not what I mean," said the Colonel, smilingly. "How large is he? What will he weigh?"
Why, he is a little fellow; won't weigh over 115 pounds."
"Let me pick him a horse," said the Colonel. 
In a few minutes he selected one that one could see with half an eye, if he knew any thing about a horse, would be an easy one to ride; then telling negro to deliver the horses to any place I directed, he said to me: "Let me see the pass Rawlings gave you." After looking at it for a moment, he said, "Strange that some people never appear to think. Now, I am going to tell you something that may be of bet vice to you, and I hope it will. We expect Baldy Smith with the Eighteenth Corps to land at the "White House soon. My advice to you is to go by the way of the White House. You may find him there. You have three dispatches for him in your bundle. If you should find him show him this." 
He was busy writing on the back of the pass, and when he handed it to me he had written an order on any Quartermaster in the "United States service to furnish us with a steamboat, horses, or any transportation in their power, and to facilitate these men in the discharge of their duty" by any means in their power, and a request to all Captains of gunboats to do the same. When I had read it I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and ready appreciation of the difficulties in the way of the accomplishment of our mission, which might be very much easier for Hatton and myself by his forethought. Then, his way of doing it was so friendly. 
How it became so well known Hatton and I were going to try and reach Yorktown we never found out; but in some way it became noised around that we were going, and several people came to us asking that we should carry letters for them; among others, Col. Collis, at that time commanding a regiment of zouaves attached to Headquarters as a guard, soon afterward prompted Brigadier-General, asked me to carry a letter for him directed to his wife, who had not heard from him in some weeks. He never forgot it, and more than a quarter of a century afterward did not forgot what he at that time considered a great favor.
After getting the horses we hastily swallowed not a "plate of soup," but our dinner, and started. About two or three miles from Headquarters we had to halt to let the Fifth Corps pass. Many of them had gone by when we came to the road they were marching out. The very last man in the corps was Joe Beggs, an old friend of mine. Capt. McDonagh, who was killed at Mine Run in the fall of 1863, had told me before his death that Joe was in the army. He (Capt. McDouagh) and myself had boarded in he same house before the war, and I had been on the lookout for Joe for months. It was a very "hot day, and in addition to his regular load of blankets, cartridge-boxes, haversack, musket, I etc, Joe had a camp kettle clung on his musket. He was hot, covered with dust, and tired.
After the natural greetings of old chums who had not seen each other since the war began, I said: "Joe, will you have a drink of whisky?" 
"Will a duck swim? Have you got any?" 
"Yes; but it is hot." 
"That don't matter, so it is not boiling." 
Unslinging a canteen from the saddle, I passed it over to him, apologizing at the same time for its being so hot. When he handed it back he said, "You have saved my life. I will have to hurry now to catch up; good-by," and he was off.
Hatton and I crossed the road, and after going about two miles farther we came to a cavalry videt in the road. After showing our pass Hatton asked him what his regiment was, and the answer showed he was one of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade. I said: "Where is Gen. Custer?" He pointed into the woods on the left of the road, and answered: "In there, where you see that group of horsemen." As I had known Custer very well in 1861, while I was at Gen. Kearny's Headquarters, where he for a lime was Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, and at the same time commanding a company of the 2d Cav, of which he was Second Lieutenant, this was the first time I had had a chance to see him since September, 1861, and I availed myself of it. He did not know me until I asked if he remembered Serg't Knight, at Kearny's Headquarters. There was no nonsense about Custer. I could sec he was pleased to see me. After asking a number of questions, he said: " Where are you going?" I told him to Yorktown, and he replied, "I should not care to take such a trip," and said ho hoped we would got through all right, wished us "bon voyage," and we parted. I never saw him afterward to speak with, and only once at all, after the fall of Richmond, when his command had started for Washington. 
After leaving Gen. Custer we made good time and saw no one to interfere with us until we came to a place called, _____ which was the name of an estate. The house stood on a high hill commanding a view of the road for some distance, both above and below it. Here we met a Pamunkey Indian. We stopped him to see what we could learn about the situation of affairs. He told us that someone was always on the watch from the house on the hill; also, that there was a line of couriers from the White House to Richmond. In answer to a question ho said the couriers belonged to Col. Shingler's command, and he believed Col. Shingler was from South Carolina. He also told us that he had just come up the road from where it crossed the railroad leading from the White House to Richmond, and that there was stationed therefrom 35 to 20 men; ho had not counted them, but was sure that there was at least 15 of them. We bade him good day and went on. We could not turn back from hearsay. 
As we went along, we found that we both had the same impression in regard to the Indian's truthfulness. Neither of us had a doubt but what he had told the truth as far as he knew it. About two miles from where we met the Indian we came upon the cavalry he had told us of. There was but one man who was mounted, but I counted 16 horses, including his. The remainder of the men were lying around under trees, endeavoring to keep cool. As soon as they saw us halt, they commenced getting up and running to their horses. We saw that it would be but a short time before they would be after us, so we turned and started back on a gallop, which we kept up until we passed the place where we had met the Indian. As we were ascending a small hill I noticed the ground was of such a nature that the tracks of our horses could not be seen without very close observation. Small pines were on both sides of the road, which was narrow at that point. We turned out of the road and led our horses into the pines about 100 yards and waited. In a few minutes about eight or 10 of oar Confederate friends came dashing up the road and went right on past. It was very nearly dark when they passed, and we knew that they would come back soon as wise as they went. We came back within a few feet of the road and waited. It was nearly 9 o'clock when we heard them returning. We caught our horses by the nose to keep them from whinneying, or, as our Confederate friends called it, nickering. They were not in as great a hurry going back as they had been in coming, and were very much chagrined that they had not succeeded in overtaking us, and were wondering who and what we were.It was finally decided that we were couriers, for one fellow said he had noticed the "big man" had a bundle in front of him that he felt certain was dispatches. He settled the matter by saying: "You need not say they were deserters, either from the Yankees or our army. They are couriers, and they have not gone far. They will be trying to get past us to-night, and if we keep a good lookout we will stood a chance to see them again." They little imagined we were then so close that we could hear every word they were saying. 
After they had passed out of hearing we came out into the road and held a consultation. Jim said to me: "What shall we do now?" After thinking the situation over for a time I said: "Jim, you had better take the horses and go back. You will be able to reach our lines early in the morning."
"Well, what will you do!"
"The best thing to do will be for yon to do as I say; take the horses and return. I will go down to the Pamunkey River and swim over, then work my Way down to Pamunkeytown and get one of the Indians to land me on the south side of the York River, and depend on finding a horse in some stable and confiscating him, and then go on, provided I see nothing of Smith in the. mean time. You know, there is a chance of meeting him at the White House. I am sure that I don't know this country well enough to attempt to flank those fellows down there at 'Tunstalls' in the dark." 
Said Jim: "What will they think of me at Headquarters, to come back and leave you alone, when we have not gone more -in fact-,less than one-third of the way? I hate to do it, old boy." 
I argued with him some time, and finally he agreed to go back. I said to him, "The Pamunkey can't be more than two or three miles over there," pointing in a northeast direction. "I can perhaps reach the Indian village by daylight, and get to the south side of the York early in the morning, always provided Baldy Smith don't arrive in time to save going there. You can tell them at Headquarters that I said to you that they could rest easy about the dispatches being delivered, and you can tell them where and when you left me."
By this time it was about 10 o'clock at night. He wanted me to take the canteen, which I refused on account of its weight, although we had reduced that by some ounces, and parted. I plunged into the pines upon the other side of the road, and Jim started off on a gallop in the direction from which we had come. 
When I started for the river I felt certain I would find it about two miles off. It was very slow time I made through the pines, which at that point must have been quite a mile through. When at last I came to a clearing I was not far from a house, so near that the dogs heard me, and I was escorted to the boundary of that plantation by curs of every degree, and they kept up a continual yelping as long as I was on the place. They stopped at a point I supposed to be the boundary of what they considered their bailiwick, and the choros(sic) was immediately taken up by another set, who welcomed me to the hospitalities of their place. In this way I was escorted from one place to another, and several times was in danger of being bitten. It was only by the exhibition of  "eternal vigilance" that I escaped it. The river was much farther off than I had anticipated, a bend in it that I know nothing of causing me a much longer walk than I had expected. At last the river was before me and I hunted for a fence; one was soon found, from which I selected about a dozen suitable rails, which I placed in the water, keeping one end on the bank, then undressing, placed my dispatches and loiters on them, my pistol on clothes on the cud of the rails on shore, my top of the whole outfit, and taking the heft went down in the water and strapped the rails together lightly; then going to the end of the rails in the water bore down my weight on them until I had the raft afloat. 
In a short time I had crossed the river, and nothing wet, with the exception of the belt. Resuming my clothes, and taking the dispatches under one arm, I started inland to find a road leading down stream. It was much farther than I anticipated; should think it nearly two miles before coming lo one. When I at last found it I started down stream and walked fast. I had no idea that I was over three miles above Pamunkey town. After going about a mile daylight overtook me, but I kept on for a short distance, when I heard a hello in my rear, looking hack I saw four horsemen coming along the road, and as they were evidently Johnnies, there was not the slightest desire on my part for an interview. 
As good luck would have it, I discovered there was a swamp only a short distance ahead, that extended for some distance toward the river. Immediately I sprang for the fence, which was a high one, "staked and ridered." As soon as they saw me climbing the fence, they started into a gallop and came for me. They were walking their horses when they first yelled at me. If they had said nothing they might have come close enough to me before I discovered them to have capt u roil me before it would have been possible for me to get away-from thorn. Evidently they had expected me to stop and wait for them to come up with me. When the long-drawn-out "O-h-h-h-h, thar!" first struck on my ears, I felt under many obligations to them for their warning, which I would not have gotten, most likely, had it not been from the disinclination that all Confederate cavalrymen showed to exerting their horses except when obliged to. The reason probably was, that the horse he rode was private property.
Before they got the fence torn down I was in the swamp. The first jump took me into water and mud above my knees. The surface water was clear, and the whole surface of the swamp was dotted over with small hummocks of bushes, with long grass growing in the soil among the roofs. I passed several of the hummocks, as being not only too small for my purposes, but not far enough from the shore. About 50 yards in I came to one which appeared to me to be the most suitable of any in sight. Passing along to the farther end, I crawled in among the bushes, so as to lie with my head toward the shore. As I crawled in three largo water moccasins crawled out and wiggled their way through the water to an other hummock, and disappeared among the bushes and grass. I had got myself very comfortably settled, and knew that there was no motion among the tops of the bushes that could betray my hiding-place, when I heard the sound of the horses' hoofs on the ground as they rode up to the spot where I had entered the swamp. From my covert I could not see them, and consequently know they could not see me, so that I nearly laughed aloud, when I heard a voice saying, "Come out hyar. I see you. If you don' come I will fire."
At intervals of a few seconds the same voice would repeat the command to "Come out hyar," and breathe dire threats of vengeance if I did not. I was near enough to hear every thing they said while they spoke in their ordinary tone of voice, but it was always the same voice that invited me to "Come out hyar,' from which I came to the conclusion that my very persistent friend, who after each invitation would lie like Ananias by saying, "I see you."
He finally became very profane, and cursed "like a trooper." Had it not been for the dispatches there were times when I would have returned his "curses in kind, like the Confederate tax," and dared them to come in and take me out; and should they attempt it, had no fears as to the result, for I knew they could only come, at the most, two abreast, and I was good with a pistol at 60 yards for the size of a man's palm of the hand every shot.
I know they were up to 9 a.m. right on the shore of the swamp; then all noises ceased for nearly an hour. All of a sudden those mo voice sang out: "Do you see anything of him?" "No," came back the answer from some place east of me at a considerable distance. I could judge that they had sent three of their number around on the borders of the swamp east of me to see if I had come out, which I felt certain they could tell easily, for a look at the water in the vicinity of the hummock I was on looked roily yet. I heard them shouting to each other occasionally, until about 3 p.m., after which hour everything was silent. 
-Judson Knight, Washington, D. C.
(to be continued.)

-The National Tribune. (Washington, D.C.), January 12, 1893


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Watch Out for . . .

NEW YEAR SNAKES.

Pumpkin Story Easily Believed After Christmas Cheer. 
(Special to The Times-Dispatch.) 
ROXBURY, VA., Jan. 6- A peculiar accident happened near this place a few days ago. Joe Macon is worthy colored man, and a prosperous farmer, who makes a specialty of raising pumpkins of enormous size, which he has given the name of "Fitz Lee." Joe Macon was raised on the old White House farm and belonged to the Lee family, a fact about which he feels very proud.  
Old Joe is fond, of pumpkin pie. Every Christmas he brings the choicest one to the house and pies are made of it.  
They are sent broadcast over the neighborhood to his white friends, who pronounce them fine. Tuesday evening Joe called his boys to help bring up the pumpkin. It was of enormous size, weighing about one hundred and eighty-five pounds. The pumpkin had to be rolled up a hill. One of the boys let the huge vegetable get a way. It went down the hill at a rapid rate. A beautiful Holstein heifer, a great pet of the old negro's, was leisurely chewing its cud, unmindful of the impending danger, when it was struck fully amidship and knocked over. it was soon found that its back was broken and two ribs, so it had to be killed to end its suffering.  
The pumpkin struck a tree and was burst open. Then was made a discovery that caused surprise to all and no little excitement. In the neck of the pumpkin was found nine, large black snakes, which had gone into winter quarters and were in a comatose state. They were easily dispatched.  
Now old Joe will not use the pumpkin, as he fears that those who eat the pies will have snakes after them.



- Times Dispatch, 7 January 1904