Pamunkey River

Pamunkey River
The Pamunkey River in 1864

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Skirmish at Baltimore Crossroads - June 1863




        From the Army.

                 Warrenton, Va,, Sept. 1, 1863.

Colonel Tate,

Dear Sir:- I take my pen to let you know that I am still in the land of the living. I am well and enjoying myself as well as could be expected after the long marches we, have had; I will give you some account of them, since we left Yorktown. We left this latter place on the 23rd of June, and have been on the march ever since. When we started we thought we might be going towards Richmond. That day we went 9 miles on the other side of Williamsburg, when we stopped at a place called the nine mile ordinary¹. It was about 9 o'clock at night when we got into camp, and being very tired we soon had our horses fed and lost no time in taking our night's rest. Early in the morning we were roused out for the purpose of feeding our horses. Boots and saddles were sounded, and we were all ready to move in little or no time, for we did not know what was up. Soon we got orders to move and were off, feeling as good as could be expected; we marched all day without stopping, and halted at a place called Spruce Grove². There we stopped for the night; the next morning we were ready to start in good season. Then we found out our destination, and took our line of march for the White House. Our scouts saw some rebel cavalry near New Kent Court House, so called by those living around there, which are most all negroes. One section of our battery* was then ordered to turn to the left and come into position, while the rest kept to the right down to the Pamunkey river. We were then furnished with rations, of which we were in great need. That night we were brought into position, and were soon through with our horses. We then laid down to enjoy a good night's rest, we laid there until towards noon of the next day, when the remainder of our battery joined us; we then started of for the White House, which we reached in the course of a few hours.

We laid there two days, when the army was brought up in line of battle, which looked very much like having a general engagement but however, we marched on to Baltimore Stores(sic), and so on to Baltimore Cross Roads³ where the Graybacks had just left, fires were still burning were they had cooked their coffee. Out battery was then brought into line; this was about 4 o'clock, the battery was then ordered on the right into a little field, where they could see some rebels in a an orchard, not far away, they were brought into position, and immediately commenced shelling the woods, they threw shells for about two hours, when the firing ceased; some cavalry, one section of artillery, and two regiment of infantry were ordered to advance, which was done at once.

We laid there until the next morning, when we were ordered back to Baltimore Store. Soon after our cavalry came in at full speed reporting the enemy near.-- Matters looked rather dark, and I thought we would soon get into a general engagement then appearing very near, but our pickets giving them a well directed fire, they soon were driven back. We then  received orders to return to Yorktown, which we were glad to hear, for we were short of rations long enough. We were two days going back. 

We remained there two days when orders came for us to join Meade's army; we accordingly loaded the battery on board the splendid steamer Thomas Morgan, and in company with General Keys and Staff, were soon on our way towards Washington. We reached the latter place the next night. The next day we received orders to proceed to Frederick City soon news came that the track had been washed away, when we commenced unloading the battery and prepare to go by land.

We reached Frederick City in the course of a few days, and it is a very fine place, we laid there over night, and next morning joined the 6th army corps in the army of the Potomac. We are now stationed at Warrenton; it is a fine place, but quite deserted by the male population. Our corps is scattered all around here, both up and down the rail road. 

They are now filling up the old regiments with conscripts. The old corps are in good health and spirits at the present time, and got plenty to eat. A few days ago five men were shot for desertion. It is the only way to prevent it. A rumor was afloat in camp yesterday that the army was soon to move, but I do not know which way. The weather is getting quite cool here; No more at present. 

    Yours, truly,


             Battery M., 5th U. S. Artillery.

-Columbia Democrat and Bloomsburg General Advertiser.(Bloomsburg, Pa.) September 19, 1863

¹ The Hickory Neck Church/ Toano area

² There were a lot of farms and plantations in New Kent with "Grove" in the name, but I am unfamiliar with any named "Spruce Grove." A strange name in itself in that the spruce is only native to the highlands of Virginia. Of the "Grove" farms, the most likely is "Locust Grove" owned by Harmon Walker. It is the only one at the proper end of the county on a logical route from James City, excepting "Aspen Grove" at Slatersville, but I am not sure how long that property has had that name.

³ The intersection/ crossroads at Quinton proper sometimes known as Patterson's Store

Corporal Charles A. Knorr survived the war dying in Cleveland, Ohio, December 1, 1913 age 72.

* Battery M probably consisted of 6 12-lb. Napoleons, a section was normally two guns of the battery

Friday, July 9, 2021

Homecoming- 1862

 The Richmond correspondent of the Charleston Mercury says:

A gentleman, visiting in New Kent, became apprised of this singular incident which illustrates the depopulation of that country. Two young ladies, who had became sickened to death with the sight of Yankees, pledged them-selves to each other to kiss the Confederate soldier that came along. McClellan retreated to Old Point, and for many days no man was visible at all. At last a poor fellow came dragging wearily up to the door. The girls peeped out and asked him if he was a Yankee. "No, I am a confederate soldier, born in this neighborhood, and all I want is a drink of water." The door was thrown wide open, the girls rushed out, fell upon him, kissed him, caught him by both arms and pulled him in the house, clothed him, fed him, washed him, and drank him till he was ready to burst. He became so bewildered that he has never been able to leave the neighborhood from that day three weeks ago, to this.

-The Daily Bulletin. (Winchester, Tenn) October 27, 1862

Sunday, July 4, 2021

The New Kent Resolves of July 1774


A British cartoon from 1774 labeled "The Bostonian in distress"

New Kent's response to the crisis of 1774 . . .

At a Meeting of the Freeholders and Inhabitants of the County of New Kent, at the Courthouse of the said County, on Tuesday the 12th of July 1774, Thomas Adams, Esquire, being first chosen Moderator, and William Clayton, Esquire, Clerk, the present State of America being seriously and duly considered, the following Resolutions were proposed and agreed to, as an Instruction to our Deputies hereafter named:
Resolved, that our Sovereign Lord King, George III, is lawful and rightful King of Great Britain and all his Dominions in America, to whose Royal Person and Government we protest all due Subjection, Obedience, and Fidelity; and that we will, at all Times, defend and protect the just Rights of his Majesty with our Lives and Fortunes.
Resolved, that the Inhabitants of the British Colonies in America are entitled to all the Rights, Liberties, and Privileges, of free born English Subjects.
Resolved, that the Right to impose Taxes or Duties to be paid by the Inhabitants of this Dominion for any Purpose whatever, is peculiar and essential to the General Assembly, in whom the legislative Authority of the Colony is vested, and that Taxation and Representation are inseparable.
Resolved, that the Trial by Jury of the Vicinage is the Glory of the English Law, and the best Security for the Life, Liberty, and Property of the Subject, and is the undoubted Birthright of all his Majesty's free born American Subjects.
Resolved, that the several Acts and Resolutions of the Parliament of Great Britain made during his present Majesty's Reign, imposing Taxes or Duties on the Inhabitants of America, for the express Purpose of raising a Revenue, and for altering the Nature or Punishment of Offences committed in American, or the Method of Trial of such Offences, are unconstitutional, arbitrary, and unjust, and destructive of the Rights of America, and that we are not bound to yield Obedience to any such Acts.
Resolved, that the late cruel, unjust, and sanguinary Acts of Parliament, to be executed by military Force and Ships of War upon our Sister colony of the Massachusetts Bay, and Town of Boston, is strong Evidence of the corrupt Influence obtained by the British Ministry in Parliament, and a convincing Proof of their fixed Intention to deprive the Colonies of their constitutional Rights, and Liberties.
Resolved, that the Cause of the Town of Boston is the common Cause of all the American Colonies.
Resolved, that it is the Duty and Interest of all American Colonies firmly to unite in an indissoluble Union and Association, to oppose, by every just and proper Means, the infringements of their Rights and Liberties.
Resolved, that we do heartily approve of the Resolutions and Proceedings of our sever late Assemblies for affecting and supporting the just Rights and Liberties of America, from their patriotick Resolves in 1765 this Time.
Resolved, that we will most firmly unite with the other Counties in this Colony, in such Measures as shall be approved of by Majority as the best and most proper Means of preserving our Rights and Liberties, and opposing the said unconstitutional Acts of Parliament.
Resolved, that the most effectual Method of opposing the said several Acts of Parliament will be to break off all commercial Intercourse with Great Britain, until the said Acts shall be repealed.
Resolved, that the several counties within this colony ought to nominate and appoint, for every County, proper Deputies to meet upon the first Day of August next, in the City of Williamsburg, then and there to consult and agree upon the best and most proper Means for carrying into Execution these or any other Resolutions which shall be best calculated to answer the Purposes aforesaid.
Resolved, that it is earnestly recommended to the Deputies at the said general Convention to nominate and appoint fit and proper Persons, on Behalf of this Colony, to meet such Deputies as shall be appointed by the other Colonies in General Congress, to consult and agree upon a firm and indissoluble Union and Association, for preserving, by the best and most proper Means, their common Rights and Liberties.
Resolved, that BURWELL BASSETT¹ and BARTHOLOMEW DANDRIDGE², Esquires, our late and present worthy Representatives, be and they are hereby nominated and appointed Deputies, on the Part and Behalf of the Freeholders and Inhabitants of this County, to meet such Deputies as shall be appointed by the other Counties within this Colony, in the City of Williamsburg, on the first Day of August next, or at any other Time or Place, for the Purpose aforesaid.
Resolved further, that our said Deputies agree to join in any proper Means that shall be adopted for the Immediate Relief of the present Necessities of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston.
Resolved, that the Clerk transmit the foregoing Resolutions and Instructions to the Printers, to be Published.

                                            WILLIAM CLAYTON, Clerk of the Meeting

The Virginia Gazette(Williamsburg), July 21, 1774

July 1774 would be shortly after the passing of the "Intolerable Acts" of 1774 in response to the Boston Tea Party of December 1773 which included the Royal Navy closing the port of Boston.

¹ - The brother in law of Martha Washington, married to her sister Anna Maria Dandridge.

²- The younger brother of Martha Washington.

These two men were New Kent's Delegates to the House of Burgesses for 1772-1774.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Evangelizing - 1807

 Camp Meetings. 

Held by the Episcopal Methodists. 

The 1st.— At Roper’s Chapel in New Kent, from Thursday 11th to Monday 15th June, 1807, the assembly attending on the occasion, is adjudged to amount to 2500 people— 7 Preachers, 16 tents, 23 hopefully Converted and 20 joined the Church; as heretofore we had some disquietude from the ungodly, but the good, far exceeded the evil. 

The 2d.— At Mathew’s Chapel, in Mathews county from Friday the 19th to Monday 22d of June the assembly estimated at 3000 people, 16 Preachers. 12 tens, 40 hopefully Converted, and great awakenings among the people, happy seasons of grace among the believers, and a solemn and affecting patting at the close. Very good order here:

The 3d— At Providence Chapel in Chesterfield county—from Saturday the 27th to Tuesday 30th June— the assembly supposed to be composed of 2000 people, 6 Preachers 10 Tents. 20 supposed to be converted—with visible awakenings among sinners & blessings to Christians— from the short notice of about three weeks forming a two days meeting into a camp meeting the neighboring people, are deserving the credit of very agreeable fixment for the accommodations of the assembly —and considering the rain that fell on the first day, there were more tents than could have been expected—and very good order except in one instance occasioned by some who were thought to have drank rather free—and our solemn march round the encampment—at at the previous meetings were truly affecting. 

"And there Was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said be it a good many: others said  nay: but he deceiveth the people.” John 7. 12 — "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false Prophet are gone out into the World," 1 John 4. 1. 

 -Virginia Argus, 8 July 1807

The vicinity of Roper's Church from the Civil War Gilmer map

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Richmond National Cemetery lies some 15 miles east of New Kent . . .


 At the close of the Civil War, the remains of Union soldiers who died during the numerous battles in and around Richmond, including the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, the 1864 Overland Campaign, and the Sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, were scattered among the city’s cemeteries and battlefield burial grounds.  When the Richmond National Cemetery opened in 1866, most of the first burials were reinterments of Union soldiers from other sites in the area.  The reburied soldiers include 3,200 from Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, 388 from Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, 210 from the cemetery at the Belle Island Confederate Prison, and hundreds more from the battlefields of Cold Harbor, Seven Pines, and more than 70 additional sites within a 25-mile radius.

From Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers who Died in Defence of the American Union, Interred in the National  Cemeteries and Other Burial Places ... Vols 16-17

Union Soldiers Interred in Richmond National Cemetery, VA
Division: F
Section: 1
No. 5621
(76 to 148)    73 unknown
These bodies were interred in an triangular enclosure, at Bottom's Bridge, where the New Kent road crosses the Chickahominy river. No. 76 was No. 1 grave on the southwest corner of the triangle and the rows followed the hypotenuse.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Roads, Good Government, and Sabbath Fishing- 1922

                       New Kent Organizes Against Sunday Fishing 

                     [Special to The Times-Dispatch.] 

WEST POINT, VA., March 9. The people in this section have not ceased to deplore the fact that the central route was selected for the highway from Richmond to the coast.* The route selected, it is alleged, for the convenience of the sporting fraternity, will not open up a large section of the country. 

The people in New Kent have organized a Good Government League and assert that there will be no more fishing in the Chickahominy River on the Sabbath by visitors from the city.

-Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10 March 1922

*The central route talked about is the first paved road down the Peninsula to Newport News. Know even then as the Pocahontas Trail, it would become the original Rt. 60 (the first, two lane, version).

Friday, March 5, 2021

Skirmish at New Market Bridge December 1861 III- Postscript

 From the New York Times of March 2, 1862


Correspondence of the Philadelphia Ledger.

NEWPORT's NEWS, VA., Sunday, Feb. 23, 1862.

The French Emperor seems resolved to secure proper respect for his Government in our waters. To the vessels already lying in Hampton Roads -- the Pomone and the Catanet -- another, bearing the flag of the Empire, has been added -- making altogether an armament of thirty-eight guns. The officers in command on these vessels bear themselves with characteristic politeness, and there is no want of salutes and other naval courtesies on every occasion allowing them.

The Roanoke, whose disability has not yet been repaired, is coolly laying for the Merrimac, which is reported fully ready for active service and very anxious to get out of Norfolk harbor. She is completely iron-clad, but so clumsily that her decks are merely above water. A queer experiment has been tested, I believe satisfactorily, on the Roanoke, for the benefit of the resurrected Merrimac. The object was to determine whether an anchor could be thrown from the mainmast upon a vessel alongside, and the intention is to run, by the aid of a tug, upon the secession steamer, when she makes her long-looked-for appearance, and introduce her to the bottom of the James River sans ceremonie(sic).

What all reconnaissance and scouting has failed to resolve, has at length, accidentally, as you have doubtless learned, been made evident -- the actual nature and strength of the works at Big Bethel. A party from Newport's News, with a flag of truce, was lost among the roads in that neighborhood a few days ago, and instead of approaching the place in front, blindfolded, they positively stumbled into the redoubted position with their eyes wide open, having in their wanderings got to its rear. It appears to have always been a very incomplete affair, consisting, in all, of three parallel intrenchments, directly beyond each other, with their accompanying earthworks, without any flank trenching worthy the name. But the strength of the place consisted of an almost impassable swamp, between the battery and the ground on which the First New-York Regiment deployed, with the idea of storming the works, an the 10th of June, 1861, immediately before all self-possession departed from the commanding General.

"Let by-gones be by-gones." Whatever Big Bethel was on that unfortunate day, it is certainly a pitiable sight now, dismantled, not containing a single piece of ordnance, and with its hundred miserable and woe-begone occupants, wan with sickness and privation, and wretched in the hopelessness of their cause, defeat echoing in their ears from every direction. You will regret, of course, to learn that the ancient edifice from which we have the title "Big Bethel," the great and venerable church in which the picus sires of "degenerate sons" delighted -- lists been destroyed. It had been transformed into a sort of barracks by the rebels, and not the ghost of sanctity lingered, but was dispelled by the odious rascals. It was the Pennsylvania Eleventh Cavalry that did the business for it. When Gen. MANSFIELD issued orders retaliatory for acts of incendiarism committed by the enemy, they drove the Secessionists like chaff before them, compelling their exit just at meal-time, when they had their beefsteak frying on the stove -- a state of things which must have added inconceivably to their distress. From the conflagration of the building nothing was saved but the builder's account-book, a portion of which is in the hands of a private of Company L, and which is a quaint relic, containing debits and credits concerning worthy masons and carpenters dating in the last century. The Secessionists had been using it to express their whims, and in a blank place was freshly written, "Miss Dolly Carter, of Kentucky, the belle of the Southwest;" and coupled with it, no doubt by the faint-hearted lover himself: "Brig.-Gen. Walter R. Tally, New-Kent troops." By the same hand also was inscribed: "The New-Kent Light Horse Dragoons are spoiling for a fight with the Mounted Dutchmen" -- obviously referring to the Pennsylvania Cavalry, which did not let them "spoil" long; and again, "The New-Kent Light Horse -- the TERROR of the Yankee Pups." This, in connection with the unceremonious flight of the "Terror" upon the advent of the identical "Mounted Dutchmen" and "Yankee Pups," is very good of the Brigadier-General -- also, of the "New-Kent Light Horse." By the way, the Eleventh, which has been at Old Point (Camp Hamilton) over two months now, has done yeoman service in this quarter, in hunting out and chasing the rebels away. It consists of twelve companies, and is a full regiment. The Colonel, a brave soldier and a true patriot -- JOSIAH HALLAN* -- is a Philadelphian, though his troops are from all parts of the State. In fact, found a whole company of Pittsburghers and Western Pennsylvania men, (among them, Company L, Capt. LOOMIS and Lieut. MAHON,) and quite a number of Ohioans. The health of the inch has been bad, owing to exposures, and in the short space of six months over thirty deaths from disease have occurred. Only yesterday, a member of Company K was carried to his last home, a victim of typhoid.

The aforementioned Walter R. Tally, was in fact Walter Richard Talley, 18, son of William C. Talley. Enlisting in June of 1861 he would serve until Appomattox attaining the rank not of Brigadier General but Corporal. He died in 1906 at the Soldiers Home Robert E. Lee Camp in Richmond.

*This is none other than Joisah Harlan, the famous Prince of Ghor