Funding from the Library of
Digital Library Competition
supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text scanned (OCR) by
Images scanned by Jill Kuhn
Text encoded by Heather Bumbalough and Natalia Smith
First edition, 1998
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition
is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the
Library of Congress Subject Headings,
21st edition, 1998
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
All quotation marks and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
Running titles have not been preserved.
Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
LC Subject Headings:
AUTHOR OF "LIFE OF TURNER ASHBY," PUBLISHED BY THIS HOUSE, AND OF OTHER BOOKS
Copyright, 1914, by
THE NEALE PUBLISHING COMPANY
THE HOME GUARD OF THE SOUTH
Who bore the anxieties, the sorrows, and the privations of war with courage and cheerfulness, and who tilled the soil and raised the crops that supported the Southern armies in the field; and
THE FAITHFUL NEGRO SERVANTS
Who remained loyal to their masters during the war this book is dedicated.
IN this book the author has attempted to tell a story of the Civil War as related by one who was an eye-witness of the facts. The story is told from the standpoint of a boy, who here gives observations and relates experiences that are not usually recounted by the historian.
The incidents connected with the story are located almost entirely in the Valley of Virginia, - a region that was a picturesque and important theater of military operations during the four years of strife, and that suffered as much from the effects of the war as any section of the South. The trials, sufferings, and privations of the people who remained at home and were non-combatants are presented in this chronicle as frankly and as truthfully as possible; for the author has tried to be correct in every statement that he has made, and just in every opinion he has expressed and in every criticism he has advanced.
FROM Colonial days to the American Revolution and from the Revolution to the middle of the nineteenth century the Southern States had grown in wealth, population, and civic pride. A civilization of rare culture and refinement represented the high spirit and virtue of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South. One of the foundation stones upon which this civilization rested was the institution of slavery, - an institution that began with the Colonies and was recognized by the Constitution that was established by the union of the States under the Federal Government.
To the people of my generation in the South the ownership of slaves was an inheritance, representing an investment in dollars and cents, - a property interest as necessary and valuable to its possessor as bonds and stocks. The slaveowner was, therefore, no more responsible for this character of property, if it came to him through inheritance, than for any other form of inheritance,
- indeed, no more responsible than he was for the shape of his head or color of his hair. The ownership of slaves involved, as a general rule, as little discomfort as the ownership of domestic animals; and the owner of slaves was consciously no more unkind to these human beings than he was to his horse and dog, which he often valued with a strong affection.
My childhood recollection of the negro slave is associated with many happy incidents, and my relations to him were most cordial and affectionate. With the young negroes of my age I often played and romped; I often worked with them in their easy duties around my home, and at all times found them companionable and respectful, There was a courtesy and kindness between us which was never abused. Negroes owned by the well-to-do and cultured classes of people were, as a rule, handed down by inheritance from parents to children through succeeding generations; and thus, through their long line of connection with these old families, they enjoyed better training in domestic service and were more intelligent and moral than the average negro of the present time.
The good and bad influences that surrounded the slave were more fully illustrated by the character of the owner than by the slave's own disposition. In his natural temperament the negro is usually a happy, indolent, and frivolous character,
fond of his ease, his pleasures, and his appetites. He is easily influenced to do good and as easily led astray by bad associations. He responds readily to kind and generous treatment, and rebels with sullen and concealed passion against unkind and harsh authority, and his resentment is often expressed with violence; hence it was that the slave was alienated from his master, and the master became unjust and unkind to his slave.
Where slaves were owned in large numbers by one individual his rights were often disregarded. He was dealt with as a piece of personal property not much better than the live stock on the plantation. It was this condition that brought odium upon the institution of slavery. All human rights were imperiled by a system that regarded human flesh as an article of barter and trade, - a system that degraded the manhood and humanity of both master and slave. The people who viewed slavery from the distance, who knew but little of its humane and civilizing influences over the negro as a race, took isolated and unusual examples for universal conditions.
In the violence of prejudice and emotion, manufactured by false evidence, the people of the North arraigned the slaveowner as an inhuman tyrant. Totally disregarding his property interests, his constitutional rights, and his just desire to free slavery of its worst forms of servitude, the remote, uninformed
Northerner held up the slaveowner before the civilized world as the enemy of a lowly and servile race. No credit was given him for the service he was rendering the negro race through the gradual influences of civilization. The world forgot that the negro had been introduced into this country in a semicivilized or barbarous condition. Uncultured and unskilled, ignorant both of human and divine law, a victim of the lowest forms of superstition, vice, and evil passion, the negro had, by the institution of slavery, - despite all its bad features, - been raised to a plane of usefulness, of domestic service, and of happy contentment unknown to him in his natural home.
The negro under slavery was far from being unhappy and discontented. He was, to the contrary, free from care and responsibility. He was well fed, well clothed, well cared for in sickness and in old age. His hardships were usually of his own making, brought on by vice and intemperance, or by his bad temper and unruly disposition. He had it in his power to win the confidence and esteem of his master without absolute servitude or humiliation of spirit. The pride of the negro under slavery was no more debased than that of the child under parental authority. Children have been held in bondage by their parents, and negroes have been treated with cruelty by their masters, as have prisoners of war and inmates of
penal institutions. The ill-treated slave, however, was the exception and not the rule among civilized people. The abuses of slavery were greatly exaggerated by persons who would not see its humane and civilizing influences. Whether the negro in this country has been made better or worse by his emancipation time must show. Had the negro been left in Africa he would have been on a level with his race in that country today. There, centuries of isolation have left him a barbarian. Even under the influence of civilization he has developed neither originality nor constructive ability. His administrative talents are of a very low order, hence he has never been able to exercise authority with discretion or skill. Nature has granted him one preeminent gift. He is fitted for domestic service, in which field of usefulness he has become a most efficient and faithful servant.1
Now when it is borne in mind that the responsibility
for the introduction of slavery into
this country lay as much with the people of the
North as with the people of the South, and that
the North had prospered as much by the importation
and sale of the negro to the slaveowner as
1 The author admits that the idea of ownership of human beings is opposed by the better instincts of our humanity. It was this sentiment that led to the overthrow of an institution that did much to civilize and improve a race so low in the scale as to be classed as barbarians.
the owner had prospered by the negro's service as a laborer in the house and in the field, it can be fully understood how resentment and passion had been kindled in the mind of the slaveowning class against the antislavery agitator in the North.
A controversy, beginning almost with the formation of the Federal Union, had grown from decade to decade, with increasing violence. Section had been arrayed against section, until a divided Union was threatened from year to year. It was becoming more and more apparent that the nation could not exist half slave and half free. The question was whether slavery should be abolished or the nation be split asunder. The solution of so grave a question could be determined in only one way. When reason ceases to guide the minds and hearts of a people anarchy is the result, - anarchy, in open protest against unrighteous and dangerous authority.
MY recollections of my early school days are crowded with many incidents of historic interest. It was when I was about eleven years old that the John Brown Insurrection at Harper's Ferry took place. As our village - Front Royal - was less than fifty miles distant from the seat of the insurrection our people were thrown into a state of great excitement. The attempt made by John Brown to arouse the negro and create race antagonism was regarded as a cruel, premeditated assault upon the institution of slavery, - an assault supported by an antislavery sentiment in the North. John Brown and his few associates were regarded as weak and deluded fanatics, harmless in themselves, but representatives of a sect that would stop at no act short of governmental interference. Their whole purpose was regarded by our people as the first step in the direction of an armed assault upon slavery, as a violation of Constitutional rights, and a cruel manoeuver to create distrust and animosity in the mind of the negro toward his master.
The effect of the John Brown Insurrection is a matter of history. It is not necessary here to relate the results that in a few years followed the Harper's Ferry incident. I wish to show in a brief way the influence it had over the negroes of our community and over the minds of our people. I venture to assert that the institution of slavery, as it existed in our section of Virginia, was based upon as high moral and ethical standards as were possible in a slaveowning community.
Our negro population was about one-half as large as our white population. The negroes were owned largely by our wealthiest and best people. The relations between master and servant were, as a rule, most friendly and cordial. The servant was most obedient and respectful to his master and yielded an affectionate and loyal obedience, simple, childlike, and faithful, while the master's regard for the servant was kind, thoughtful, and often parental. His interest in the slave was not so much one of property as of guardianship and responsibility. The negro had come to him by inheritance, - had been handed down from parent to child for some three or four generations, and there had grown up around this birthright a feeling of growing anxiety and concern for the negro which invested slaveownership with high moral considerations and conscientious convictions. There was an undercurrent of antislavery
sentiment among our slaveowners that would have had a wide expression, if a doorway could have been opened for a gradual emancipation. The interests of the slave, his equipment for the right of freedom, his moral and civil position in a slaveowning community, all called for the most careful thought and consideration. It seemed that neither the time nor the conditions were favorable for a general emancipation, even in our community, and far less so in other communities, where the negro population was large, where the intelligence of the negro was low, and where large industrial interests were involved. With these general views our people rested under a deep sense of responsibility; and they felt that it devolved upon them to adjust a domestic situation and a Constitutional right, without coercion from a section of the country that had no practical experience with slavery, understood none of the conditions involved in the ownership of the negro, and the people of which were moved by fanaticism and political interests in their attempts to destroy the institution.
It was but natural that a people whose moral and legal rights were assailed, should have been aroused to a high sense of indignation by the John Brown Insurrection. The effect was immediate. The slaveowner became resentful and grew determined in his efforts to resist the wrongs that he
felt were being heaped on him. He resolved to defend his Constitutional rights with blood and treasure, if necessary. The spirit of rebellion and of secession had their origin in these passions that were kindled in every Southern heart.
The effect of the Brown Insurrection upon the negroes of our community was but transient. A few slaves were moved by the hope of freedom to become restless and turbulent. In a few instances there was a slight degree of insubordination. The worst effect, however, was a feeling of distrust that arose between master and slave, weakening the warm attachment that had previously existed. When the master began to doubt the loyalty of his slave and the slave began to doubt the kindness and confidence of his master a mutual distrust began to express itself. I can recall but one or two open expressions of this distrust, and they were of a trivial character. A few of the more restless of the younger negroes showed a disposition to leave their homes after night and to meet in unfrequented places where, not infrequently, they drank and gambled.
To break up this growing habit of meeting, the young white men of our neighborhood organized a patrol, and at night they visited different places where watches were kept. After the arrest of a few negroes, who were away from home without
permission, the negroes soon gave up their night wanderings and remained at home.
The excitement growing out of the John Brown incident soon subsided; but the effect upon our people was made evident in other directions. In our community it was generally believed that the Brown Insurrection was the beginning of more serious political complications, - that secession and civil war would soon be the final solution of the conditions that confronted the slaveowning States.
The principal of the school I attended had received a military education, and soon after the John Brown affair he organized a military company made up of the young men of the county. An armory was secured, and arms and uniforms were provided for the members. Regular drills were held once or twice a week until the company soon became well organized and drilled. These young men and boys of sixteen years of age were being prepared in the lessons of school and in training for military service. We will see that within a year or two they were enlisted in the army of the Confederacy and not a few of them gave up their lives in the service of their State.
These days at school were exciting times for a boy of my age, though I was too young to realize the signs of the times and the results that would soon influence my future life.
The disturbances growing out of the John Brown affair had scarcely subsided before the canvass for the Presidential contest was begun. The three political parties, - Democratic, Whig, and Republican, - soon met in convention and nominated their respective leaders. The Democratic party, split in twain, had two sets of candidates in the field, - Breckinridge and Lane, and Douglas and Johnson, - representing the two factions. Bell and Everit were the nominees of the Whig party, and Lincoln and Hamlin were the nominees of the new Republican party.
Since the Republican party was the avowed enemy of slavery, it was regarded by our people with great alarm and hatred.
The political contest in our section narrowed down to the two factions, - Breckinridge and Lane, and Bell and Everit. My county was largely Democratic, and the sentiment ran strong for that ticket. This sentiment in our school was shown by the number of Democratic badges worn by the boys and a few of the girls. There were a few Whig badges worn by the pupils, one Douglas and Johnson badge, but there was not a single representative of the Republican ticket.
The excitement ran high until the results of the election were made known. When the election of the Republican candidate was announced our people were seized with anxiety and alarm. It was
openly predicted that secession and civil war were inevitable. The political leaders and men of influence in our county at once determined to prepare for the struggle. The military company, previously referred to, began to enlist new members, to get new uniforms and arms, to hold drills and to make every preparation for an active service when it should be called out.
SEVERAL months passed before Lincoln and Hamlin were inaugurated. During that time the political feeling was intense. Candidates were brought out for election to a State convention, which was to decide upon the question of the secession of Virginia from the Federal Government. South Carolina and other cotton States had already withdrawn from the Union, and the Confederate Government had been organized, with Mr. Davis as President. The people of Virginia hesitated, deliberating long upon a line of action that would separate her from the Union. My county had elected to the convention a candidate who was committed to secession. In the contest between the two candidates for and against secession, the anti-secession candidate received only two votes, - votes cast by two of our oldest and most respected citizens, men of high intelligence and undoubted patriotism, who held that Virginia should maintain a neutral position and endeavor to check the extreme views held by the North and the South.
This doctrine was soon found to be impracticable;
for when Mr. Lincoln called upon the States for troops to suppress the States that had seceded from the Union, Virginia cast her lot with her sister slave States and by vote in convention withdrew from the Union. This act at once put the State upon the defensive and the Civil War was inaugurated.
At that time our village had no communication by wire with the outside world and the announcement of the action of the convention did not reach our community until early in the morning of the following day. The message was brought by a locomotive that reached the village before sunrise. Well do I remember the long and plaintive whistle of the engine as it roused us from slumber, stirring alarm in every breast. Its approach to the village at this unusual hour was an admonition of the message it bore, - a message from the Governor of Virginia announcing the secession of the State and ordering the captain of the military company to assemble his men with utmost rapidity and proceed at once to Harper's Ferry. Messages were sent out to the homes of the members of the company to meet in the village for immediate service. By ten o'clock all the men, armed and in uniform, were ready to march to the seat of war. Wagons, carriages, and other vehicles were got together to carry these boys to the front at Harper's Ferry, the objective point of
military operations. This place was selected as it was located on the northern border of the State line and contained a large arsenal and military stores belonging to the Federal Government.
The assembling of the company, the preparation for leaving home, and the parting with friends and loved ones made a scene which can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Many of the boys were in high glee, for they regarded the incident as a mere outing for pleasure. Very few realized that some of them were leaving home for the last time and were entering upon a war which would try men's souls, bring infinite sorrow to their dear ones, and disaster on themselves.
In the company that left our village on the morning of April 20, 1861, were ten of my schoolmates, ranging in age from 16 to 20 years. With drum and fife to inspire them, they formed in ranks and marched in column to the suburbs.
Our older citizens, especially those who had sons and relatives in the company, took a more gloomy view of the situation; but few realized that a war of subjugation was being inaugurated by the Federal Government, and that the entire South would become the seat of a civil war which would have few parallels in the history of modern times.
Our people were animated by hope, courage, and patriotism, and they resolved in the beginning
of the struggle to expend every resource in the defense of their institutions and liberties. There was no hesitation in this resolution. They rose en masse to meet a situation that confronted them, and, fired with zeal, they willingly submitted their cause to the God of battle.
These were exciting times that tested to the utmost the spirit of heroism and fortitude. No people ever entered upon a civil war with greater confidence. It was believed that it would be a war of invasion and of attempted subjugation, that every resource of the Federal Government would be used to destroy the institution of slavery, and to force the seceding States back into the Union. Our people fully realized they were outnumbered as to men and greatly overbalanced as to resources, but they relied upon the justice of their cause and upon the courage and patriotism of the entire South to make up for the odds against them.
As Virginia was a border State between the North and the South it was evident that her territory would become the first seat of military operations and that the lines of attack and defense would be drawn along her northern borders. Troops were therefore sent to the front as soon as they could be mustered in. The Governor of Virginia, acting under the authority and will of the people, called all the volunteer militia into active service and at once made a call upon the
citizens of the State for new volunteers. All the able-bodied men in the State between the ages of 18 and 45 years were asked to enlist in service.
In my county an infantry company and one cavalry were raised within a few months and were enrolled into service. Volunteers poured in in large numbers and the two companies were organized, officered, and equipped with uniforms and arms. These two companies went into camp near the village, where they were drilled and disciplined under strict military regulations. As many of these men were unable to furnish their own horses and uniforms the county authorities authorized an appropriation from the Treasury of sufficient money to feed and clothe these volunteers. The gray cloth suitable for uniforms was not to be had in our county. My father was selected as the chairman of a committee to purchase this material. To this end he visited a large woolen mill located near Winchester and took me with him. He purchased many yards of gray cloth and gave orders for the early delivery of more.
My father and I returned home. Tailors were employed to cut out the gray cloth for the uniforms of the two companies, - which were, however, all made by the women and girls of our village, aided by some negro women who were trained to do needlework, - and in a few days the two companies appeared in their military outfit.
The infantry company was sent to join the army at Manassas, where it soon performed gallant service in the first great battle of the war. In this fight four of its members were killed and some eight or ten wounded. I shall never forget the sorrow of our people when the death of these four men was announced. It was the first blood lost in battle, and brought home the solemn realization of what war meant.
As to the company of cavalry, the members were, at least, all trained horsemen and owned the best of mounts. Many of these horses had been used in tournaments, - a species of sport that was very popular with the youth of the '60's, - or had followed the hounds, as was natural in a country where the fox was found in large numbers in the mountain recesses and caverns. Their training had therefore fitted them for cavalry service. This fact gave a great advantage to the Confederate cavalry service during the first two years of the war, and while the men of our cavalry company were well uniformed, their equipment in other respects was extremely defective. All rode the Shafter saddle with iron stirrup, carried their clothing in old-fashioned saddlebags or rolled in bundles strapped in front or behind as best they could, and were armed with old-fashioned single-barreled or double-barreled shotguns or with squirrel rifles. I doubt whether there were a
dozen revolvers and cavalry sabers in the entire command, and such as there were were impossible. For example, a cousin of mine, a boy of seventeen, who was a member of this company, had an old single-barreled duelling pistol, which went off with a loud explosion, but could not carry a bullet thirty paces nor hit a barn door at the same distance. I looked on with admiration when I first saw him riding a spirited gray horse, shooting off his old pistol in order to accustom his horse to stand under fire. But the old pistol made such a loud noise that his horse bolted and ran as if his life were in danger. My cousin did not venture to fire the weapon again, and I presume that he soon consigned it to a junk pile, where it belonged; for it was more dangerous to its owner and his horse than it could possibly have been to the enemy, who might only have been alarmed perhaps by the loud report that it made.
In spite of the character of the arms that our men had to use in the first year of the war, - and in the first engagements they were at a great disadvantage as to weapons, though their better horsemanship and dash made up for some of these defects, - it was not many months before the Confederate cavalry, by capture from the enemy, was fully mounted and equipped with a complete military outfit, - using McClellan saddles, and armed with revolvers, carbines, and sabers manufactured
by the Federal Government. This mode of equipment applied not only to the cavalry but, in a measure, to every branch of service. It is a matter of fact that the Federal Government supplied arms, ammunition, and military outfit not only to its own troops but also very largely to the armies of the Confederacy. As fast as captures were made the better outfit was substituted for the makeshift of the first days of the War, and, but for such success in acquiring, arms, the armies of the Confederacy would have yielded much sooner to the forces against them.
ALTHOUGH a boy of but twelve years of age at the time of my trip with my father to Winchester, I vividly recall an incident that occurred on that occasion. Among the officers and soldiers awaiting orders who filled Taylor's Hotel, where we were entertained, my father recognized Colonel Turner Ashby, whom he knew well. I shall never forget the impression I there received of that daring and variously estimated military hero.
Colonel Ashby had just dismounted from a magnificent white horse, - a noble animal, subsequently well known to the people of the Valley by his courageous death, - and was standing on the pavement in front of the hotel, holding the bridle rein. The horse was steaming with perspiration from his long travel that morning, but he stood, champing his bit, with head erect, and eyes full of spirit and fire, while his master, calm and erect, seemed absorbed in thought. My father went up to the Colonel, greeted him cordially and introduced me. He took my hand gently and spoke to me most kindly.
At this time Colonel Ashby had but recently
been promoted to the rank of Colonel, which promotion gave him command of all the cavalry companies assembled in the Valley. He was just entering upon a career that soon made him an heroic character in the history of the Civil War. Dressed now in Confederate gray, with gilt lace on his sleeves and collar, wearing high top-boots with spurs and a broad-brimmed black felt hat with a long black feather streaming behind, his appearance was striking and attractive. He stood about five feet eight inches in height and probably weighed from 150 to 160 pounds. He was muscular and wiry, rather thin than robust or rugged. His hair and beard were as black as a raven's wing; his eyes were soft and mahogany brown; a long, sweeping mustache concealed his mouth, and a heavy and long beard completely covered his breast. His complexion was dark in keeping with his other colorings. Altogether, he resembled the pictures I have seen of the early Crusaders, - a type unusual among the many men in the army, a type so distinctive that, once observed, it cannot soon be forgotten.
I remember that during the interview he remarked that he had ridden that morning on horseback between 30 and 40 miles, visiting outposts and camps of different companies under his command. Despite that fact, he showed no evidence of fatigue, nor did the gallant horse that bore him!
I afterward learned that it was no uncommon circumstance for him to ride 70 to 80 miles a day, using two mounts. His horses were the best to be had, and they were cared for with a most loving affection by their master. While on that visit to Winchester I heard also for the first time the name of Colonel Jackson, then in charge of the Virginia troops at Harper's Ferry. He was known at that time only as an eccentric professor who knew little of warfare beyond the drilling and disciplining of soldiers. Colonel Jackson was soon promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and given the command of the brigade that subsequently became celebrated as the Stonewall Brigade, - so named because of the title its commander won at the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861.
Turner Ashby, the third child of Colonel Turner Ashby and Dorothea Green, was born on October 23, 1828, at Rose Bank, a picturesque home across Goose Creek, about one hundred and fifty yards from Markham Station, Fauquier County, Virginia. He was the fourth in line of descent from Captain Thomas Ashby who moved from Tydewater, Virginia, and settled at the foot of Ashby's Gap, Fauquier County, about 1710.
Four generations of Turner Ashby's family had served in our country's wars, - the Colonial Wars, the War of the Revolution, and the War of 1812.
There was a strong military bias in the Ashby family and this, no doubt, had much to do with the military spirit that was so firmly implanted in Turner Ashby's nature.
While not trained to military service he early developed a love for the soldier's life, and while quite a young man he organized one of the best cavalry companies in the State of Virginia. He was selected as the captain of this company and gave it an efficiency that gained for it a wide distinction before it was called into active service in the Civil War.
The country around Markham is one of great natural beauty, of fertility, and healthfulness. The foothills of the Blue Ridge surround Markham on all sides, dividing the landscape into valleys and elevated plateaus, covered with forests, grazing fields, and rich farm lands.
The old and distinguished Colonial families early moved up to this section and founded a community of rare intelligence, refinement, and good breeding. There were before the war few sections of Virginia which could show such a citizenship of culture and independence as was found around Markham.
It was among these people that Turner Ashby was born and raised. It was in this pure atmosphere of comfort and refinement that he developed those characteristics of courtesy, manliness and
courage which were so fully exemplified in his after life.
As a young man he was noted for his gentleness, modesty and love of outdoor sport. He had great love for the horse and the hound. In the wild chase for the fox over field and fence and in his fondness for the tournament he was noted for being one of the most graceful and skillful riders in the South. As he grew to manhood he became famous as the most successful tournament rider in Virginia and when he appeared in the list the spirit of chivalry was never more beautifully illustrated than in the Knight of the Black Prince, which character he usually assumed.
When the John Brown Raid occurred, in the fall Of 1859, Turner Ashby, with his company of cavalry, was among the first volunteer troops to arrive on the scene, and it was on this occasion that he first demonstrated his military daring and skill.
He remained on duty at Charlestown with his company until after the execution of John Brown. It was on this service that he made the acquaintance of Lee, Jackson, and Stuart, whom he followed in the war between the States, and it was here, too, that he laid the foundation for that relationship with Stonewall Jackson that lasted until his death.
The day after Virginia seceded from the Union
Turner Ashby marched to Harper's Ferry with his company, which was one of the first volunteer companies to reach that place. He was assigned at once to outpost duty along the Potomac, and took command of the bridge across the river at Point of Rocks. Here he assembled a battery of artillery, - under Captain Imboden, - and a number of infantry and cavalry, with which he successfully guarded the border line of the State until Harper's Ferry was evacuated.
Within less than sixty days he had developed such a keen insight into military affairs that, upon the recommendation of Colonel Angus McDonald, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry, then commanded by McDonald. His entire active military life was associated with this regiment, which contained the flower of the best blood of the northern counties of Virginia and of Maryland.
Soon after his assignment to the Seventh Virginia he was ordered with his regiment to do duty in Hampshire County and along the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Harper's Ferry and Cumberland. Upon his promotion to the lieutenant-colonelcy his brother Richard Ashby was made captain of his old company.
Dick Ashby, as he was affectionately called, was three years younger than Turner. For several years he had lived in the then far West, where he
had had numerous adventures with the Indians and with the rough civilization of that unexplored country; but had returned to his old home just before Virginia seceded. Dick was a larger and handsomer man than Turner, full of fire and daring and cheerfulness of spirit, and was also more demonstrative and showy in social life. In June, 1861, he was sent with a small squad of his company to arrest some Union men who were giving trouble as informers. On this expedition he ran into a company of Federal cavalry on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, near Hancock, Maryland. Being largely outnumbered, he was forced to retire along the track of the railroad. He was riding an indifferent horse that fell in attempting to jump a cattle-stop. Dick, being dismounted, took refuge in the stop, where, refusing to surrender, he fought single handed and alone. He was soon desperately wounded and left for dead. Among other wounds he had received a bayonet stab in the abdomen, which caused his death some eight days later near Romney, to which place he had been taken by his brother Turner, who had come to his rescue and had found him lying by the side of the railroad in an exhausted condition.
The death of Dick was a great sorrow to Turner, for the two brothers were devotedly attached to each other. Turner became another man after Dick's death. His life was consecrated to the
cause of the South, and he dared and risked all in the service of his country.
Colonel McDonald was advanced in years and in feeble health. He soon resigned the command of the Seventh Virginia Cavalry to Turner Ashby, who became its leading spirit. He was soon placed in charge of all the cavalry under Stonewall Jackson, and until the close of his earthly career was Jackson's right hand.
The popularity of the cavalry service attracted the young riders of the Valley counties to that branch of the service, and before the close of a year there were 26 companies in the Seventh Virginia, under the command of Turner Ashby. The large additions to the regiment made the work of organization and discipline exceedingly difficult and were embarrassing to the efficiency of the service, which kept the cavalry in constant motion and in almost daily contact with the enemy. These companies were often widely separated, so that a compact regimental organization was impossible; in fact, at no time during the campaign of 1862 were all these companies united for a combined attack upon the Federals.
During the fall and early winter months of 1861 Turner Ashby was on the go day and night, covering a wide territory that extended from the Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal as far west as Cumberland, Md. He and his detached companies were busy destroying the railroad and the dams of the canal along the Potomac between Cumberland and Point of Rocks.
The activity and physical endurance of Ashby were fireside talks in his camps. His restless and energetic spirit allowed no time for repose and no doubt, contributed in a measure to the want of organization and discipline of the companies coming to his command; for Turner Ashby was not a strict disciplinarian by nature. He was a leader, and he relied on his men to follow him. The necessities of the situation, the surroundings, and the character of the men who made up his command made an efficient organization an almost impossible task; for at that time of the war the cavalry service was poorly equipped with military saddles and the comforts of the camp, was armed with double-barrel shot guns and old pistols and rifles, and many of the men were without sabers or had those of a very indifferent kind. In good horsemanship these men excelled, and this fact added to the dash and fury of the charge, the vigorous assault and worry of the enemy, unprepared for the cavalry methods of warfare, gave them a decided advantage.
Turner Ashby was probably the first officer in the army to use both cavalry and artillery on the advance and in the retreat against infantry. His
tactics and strategy were so unorthodox that he confused his opponents and held them in check by their ignorance of his strength and purpose.
In the summer of 1861 Ashby added to his command a battery of horse artillery, commanded by Captain R. P. Chew, a young graduate of the Virginia Military Institute.
This battery was in almost daily service and was most efficient both in attack and in defense. It undertook to fight infantry or cavalry, was on the firing line at one moment, then would suddenly change position to another hill and resume work, with vigor and daring. Ashby and his cavalry operated entirely in the northern counties of Virginia until Jackson evacuated Winchester, March 12, 1862. When Jackson retired south of Strasburg General Shields entered Winchester and pushed forward to Strasburg. Shields had in his command 11,000 men and 27 guns, while Jackson had not more than 4,500, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
At this time Banks had under his command, including Shields' division, some 40,000 men operating in the counties of Berkley, Jefferson, Clarke, and Frederick. The division under Sedgwick had been sent to join McClellan in front of Richmond, and the division under Williams had begun its march toward Manassas, March 20, 1862.
It was necessary for Jackson to make an advance
on Shields, who had now withdrawn from Strasburg to Winchester. The object of this movement was to force the recall of the Federal troops to the Valley and prevent their union with McClellan. The strategy of Jackson worked well; for as soon as he had advanced as far north as Kernstown the division under Williams returned to the Valley to protect Shields and to make impossible an invasion of Maryland by way of the Valley.
On March 22, 1862, Ashby, with 280 cavalry and 3 horse artillery guns, struck the pickets of Shields one mile south of Winchester. A skirmish took place, in which Shields was wounded with a shell. Jackson hurried his command from Woodstock, and on the 23d arrived at Kernstown, five miles south of Winchester. A general engagement was brought on and the battle of Kernstown was bitterly fought. Jackson, whose force was largely outnumbered by that of Shields, was compelled to withdraw in the late afternoon.
In the battle of Kernstown Turner Ashby, - with less than half of his command together with Chew's battery, - won his first laurels, protecting Jackson's right wing with such courage and obstinacy that he saved the infantry on the left from rout, and enabled them to retire in order from the field.
Colonel Chew, who commanded the artillery, speaking of Turner Ashby, says: "I have always
believed his audacity saved General Jackson's army from total destruction at the battle of Kernstown. Ashby boldly moved forward with his command, consisting of a few companies of cavalry and my three guns, and protecting his men from observation by woods and ravines, opened on them with artillery, and withstood the fire of the enemy's artillery, sometimes as many as three or four batteries. When the enemy moved forward he dashed upon them with his cavalry. Had the enemy known our strength, or had he not been deceived by the audacity of the movement, they could have swept forward upon the turnpike, turned Jackson's right flank, and cut off his retreat by way of the turnpike. They, however, made little effort to advance and we remained in our position until Jackson retired to Newtown."
After the battle of Kernstown Jackson retired slowly up the Valley. He had accomplished a brilliant strategic movement in forcing the Federals to concentrate their forces in the Valley. During this retreat, - a retreat that has become famous in the history of the Valley campaigns, - Jackson's rear was ably protected by Ashby's cavalry and Chew's guns; and no commander enjoyed greater distinction than did Turner Ashby.
The subsequent operations of Ashby and his cavalry were confined to the Valley and ended
with his death on June 6th, 1862. In the great work that Jackson did in defeating Milroy at McDowell and Banks in the Shenandoah Valley Turner Ashby ably seconded his chief and shares with him the great distinction that that campaign brought to Jackson and his men.
The last time I saw Turner Ashby was the morning following the battle of Front Royal, May 23, 1862. My father and I were riding over the battlefield of the evening before, and as we were returning in the direction of home we met him riding in the direction of Winchester, and passed him on the road. He was mounted on a handsome black stallion and was going at a brisk pace, pressing forward to join his command. He made a hurried salute and rode on. He had been to the village to pay the last tribute of respect to Captain Sheetz and Captain Fletcher, two gallant officers of his command, who had been killed the evening before in an engagement at Buckton.
Two weeks later Turner Ashby fell, leading the Fifty-eighth Virginia Infantry, in a small engagement near Harrisonburg. He had that morning routed and captured Sir Percy Wyndham, a boastful Englishman, colonel of the First New Jersey Cavalry, who had planned to capture Ashby and who wound up by being a prisoner in Ashby's hands. The day was perhaps the most brilliant in his life and he had found great satisfaction in
capturing the boasting Englishman. In the evening of the same day, having undertaken to lead the infantry in the charge on the Pennsylvania Buck Tails, - a regiment of some distinction, - he advanced in front of his men, and fell dead from a wound in his heart.
A great deal has been written in prose and verse about Turner Ashby. One of his biographers (Avirett) has eulogized his memory; another (Thomas) has described him as the "Centaur of the South." His deeds and his virtues have been extolled beyond measure. Could he come back to this earth and read what has been written about him, his modesty would be shocked and his pride would be wounded.
That his career was phenomenal is true. In less than fourteen months he had been promoted from the position of captain of a small volunteer company of cavalry to the rank of brigadier-general. He had won his promotion by untiring energy, courage, and devotion to duty. He possessed many of the qualities of the soldier: Courage, energy, coolness, and resourcefulness. His judgment was clear and his character was forceful. If his past was an indication of his future, greater honors and distinctions awaited him. In so short and active a career no man could have made better use of his opportunities. Without military training, he soon grasped the
essential principles of military operations and played the drama of war with the skill, delicacy of movement, and inspiration of the born soldier.
At the age of 32 he was leading the quiet life of the country gentleman in an atmosphere of refinement and quiet repose. With his horses and hounds and the social life of the farm, he had easy duties and no great responsibilities. At the age of 33 he was in command of large bodies of men, in daily excitement and anxiety, intensely impressed with a sense of duty to his country, moving rapidly from place to place with restless energy, and at all times striving to measure up to the requirements of his position. During this one year he aged rapidly, changing from the simple life of the young civilian to the larger sphere of the hardened soldier. When death came to him he was in the prime of life, surrounded by a halo of glory. The cause of his country was prospering, and he escaped that sorrow and humiliation of spirit that came later to many of his comrades.
In giving this brief sketch of the life of Turner Ashby and of his brother Dick, I may say a few words in regard to the personality of these two men, so unlike in many respects, yet so blended in spirit, motive, and in ties of affection that they were one in action and in devotion to the cause for which they gave up their lives.
As a man Turner was as modest as a woman;
the soul of honor, courage, and manliness, while his ideals were high and his devotion to the South gave full play to all his emotions and sentiments. It was these qualities that gave to his character a type of heroism that has brought more distinction to his name and greater satisfaction to his family than his military record. He was at all times a gentleman, a loyal friend and an affectionate relative; gentle in manner and thought, reticent in speech. While always genial and companionable, he was a man of few words, free from gossip and anecdote, and a good listener rather than a fluent talker. Whether in the social life of camp, on the march or on the firing line, he never harangued or gave utterance to wordy exclamations. His mind was intent, rather serious, and filled with a keen sense of responsibility. He led the charge with the wave of his hat or of his sword and the clarion cry: "Come on, boys. Give it to them!" giving this command or that as the situation presented itself. He directed by action rather than by command; losing sight, in a manner, of the higher functions of the commander of men by means of written instructions and explicit details, he was carried away by his own spirit of dare and do, and relied upon his men to follow him instead of forcing them into action. With this heedlessness of danger and with the eager desire to do personal service as an actual combatant,
he exposed himself to many unnecessary risks and failed at times to get the most efficient service from his men.
His personal achievements were phenomenal and perhaps attracted more attention than did the work of his command. He was always in the front; and in the charge or in the fray he was alive with fire and energy. He used his pistol and sword with vigorous effect, and often he did the fighting he should have required of his subordinates. His love of adventure and of horseback exercise led him to go by himself on long and hazardous scouting rides, and he also often made his rounds of inspection alone.
Ashby's horses were as well known in the army as the man who rode them. A coal black stallion and a pure white one were his usual mounts. These two noble animals entered into the spirit and excitement of their master's life with all the energy and fire of their rider. They swiftly and safely bore him from place to place and gave a picture of knightly prowess that was an inspiration to the men of his command.
There was a singular admixture of military ability and of chivalric bearing in Turner Ashby; and when these two qualities met they were often antagonistic; and his skill as a commander was often overmatched by his chivalrous instincts.
He was too deeply intent upon his individual prowess, - too easily influenced by the excitement and danger of battle to give to the organization and discipline of his command the personal attention that military requirements demanded. His command was too often dispersed and scattered to produce the most effective results. It is marvellous how he accomplished as much as he did. His success must be attributed to a small band of men who clung to his person, followed his leadership and dared to do what he recklessly did.
Whatever position Turner Ashby made as a soldier, his record rests more on his heroic character, his pure and unselfish nature, and his devotion to duty. In battle he had the courage and daring that no difficulties could overcome. When the battle was over he was the mildest of the mild, the gentlest of the gentle, - tender, thoughtful, and kind to friend or enemy in distress. There were no brutal instincts in his nature. He fought for the sake of conscience, and duty held full control over every passion and ambition. His sweetness of disposition, his manliness of character, the purity of his soul, will ever hold his memory dear in loving minds and hearts.
Dick Ashby, too, was a very handsome man, - large, well-built, and commanding in person. In
disposition he was social, lively, and cheerful. His morals and character were built on the gentleman's code.
He was a manly man with the courage and dash of the cavalier. He entered into the life of the soldier with the energy and passion of a strong nature, and but for his short military life of less than three months he would, no doubt, have achieved distinction as a soldier. He died from wounds unnecessarily inflicted by a brutal soldier, after he had been shot a number of times and lay prostrate on the ground. It was this act of barbarity that so angered his brother Turner and made him the desperate foe he soon became. Turner never forgave this brutal murder of Dick, but in his revenge he never inflicted cruel punishment upon individuals. In the heat of combat he fought in the open like a tiger; but when the combat was over he was compassionate toward the wounded and the prisoner. After an engagement his first act was to care for the wounded with the gentleness of a woman.
Dick received his mortal wounds on the morning of June 26, 1861. Owing to his great vitality he lingered eight days and died at the home of Colonel George Washington, six miles north of Romney. Turner was in constant attendance during his illness and did all a loving heart could do to soothe the pains of his dying brother.
After Dick's death Turner Ashby wrote the following words to his sister:
"Poor Dick went into the war like myself, not to regard himself or our friends, but to serve our country in this time of peril. I know your Ma and Mary will all be too good soldiers to grudge giving to your country the dearest sacrifice you could provide. . . . His country has lost the services of a brave man, with a strong arm, which he proved to her enemies in losing his life. . . . I had rather it had been myself. He was younger and had one more tie to break than I.2 I had him buried in a beautiful cemetery at Romney. . . . I lose the strength of his arm in the fight and the companion of my social hours. I mean to bear it as a soldier, and not as one who in this time of sacrifice regards only his own loss."
Turner Ashby was killed on the evening of
June 6, 1862, - eleven months after Dick's death.
He was buried in the cemetery of the University
of Virginia, Charlottesville. In the fall of 1866
the bodies of Turner and Dick Ashby were re-interred
in the beautiful Mt. Hebron cemetery at
Winchester, Va., where they now sleep, surrounded
by their companions in arms and eight
hundred and fifteen other soldiers, who are covered
by a mound, above which rises a monument
to the "Unknown Dead."
2 This no doubt refers to his engagement to be married.
"Bold as the Lion Heart -
Dauntless and brave;
Knightly as knightliest
Bayard could crave;
Sweet - with all Sidney's grace -
Tender as Hampden's face -
Who, who shall fill the space,
Void by his grave?"
THE months following the opening of the war were crowded with activity and excitement. Our village was filled with visitors, soldiers, and parties passing through on their way to the seat of war. Each day brought some new event, some reminder of the struggle into which our country had entered. After our two companies had left for the front our citizens were busy preparing in many ways for the comforts of the boys in the army. The women, - young and old, - organized sewing societies and made clothing and other articles for the personal use of the soldier. Cooks were busy preparing food supplies, - such as hams, poultry, bread, cakes, and pies, - which were packed in boxes and shipped almost daily to the members of the companies or to the officers in command. I remember that my mother shipped a large box to the Confederate general in command at Manassas, and in going over my father's papers I find the following interesting correspondence between her and General Bonham.
FRONT ROYAL, WARREN COUNTY, VA.
June 6th, 1861. General M. L. Bonham,
Commander C. S. A.
DEAR SIR: I have the pleasure, upon the part of the ladies of our little village, of presenting to you and through you to the gallant officers and men under your command, a lot of Virginia cured hams, with other substantials of life, which have been prepared; and you will please accept as a voluntary contribution to your usual rations, and as evidencing our appreciation of the sacrifice you make in coming to the assistance of our honored old Commonwealth in this her hour of need. Allow us to say that as wives we know how to sympathize with those you have left in deep anxiety for their absent husbands; as mothers, our hearts yearn in tender love for their young, inexperienced, but chivalrous sons; as sisters there is a ceaseless throb for our brothers' care, which knoweth not rest, and as ladies, our voices mingle in grateful strains to cheer and encourage you to deeds of valor. We know that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong; and vain is he who trusteth in the arm of flesh. May we, therefore, all look for success to Him who calmeth the seas and rideth upon the waves, trusting He may so lead and direct as to restore peace to our borders and give separation from our assailants. We believe in the justice
of our cause and rely on the valor of our men.
Very respectfully yours,
ELIZABETH A. ASHBY.
MANASSAS JUNCTION, VA.,
June 6th, 1861. Mrs. Ashby.
MY DEAR MADAM: The very acceptable present from the patriotic ladies of Front Royal is just received, and will be disposed of according to their wishes.
Allow me, Madam, to return to the ladies the heartfelt thanks of the entire command for their kind consideration, not only in sending us these very appropriable good things, but also for their generous sympathy for those near and dear ones we have left behind us. Whatever sacrifice we make in giving our services to the common cause on the soil of the great "Old Dominion" is much lightened by the frank and generous hospitality of the citizens of Virginia, - especially the ladies.
Accept in behalf of yourself and the ladies you represent our sincere wishes for your own and their prosperity and happiness.
Very truly yours,
M. L. BONHAM,
Brig.-Gen. C. S. A.
At about this time our village began to be a place for the care of the sick and wounded brought by rail from Manassas. When the wounded were but a few, the sick men were taken into the homes of the people and cared for until restored to health; but as the number of patients grew it soon became necessary to establish a hospital for the overflow.
Our old Academy building was first pressed into service. Benches and desks were removed, and beds were established. It was soon overcrowded, however, and the court-house and two of the churches were converted into hospitals; and later, owing to the accommodations still being inadequate, additional quarters were required. The Confederate Government then began to erect three large hospital buildings on lots adjacent to the village, in accordance with a plan that provided for a large hospital plant, and the work was pushed with vigor.
After the first battle of Manassas the arrival of the wounded and sick was so large that every bit of available space was utilized. All of our people, especially our women, were kept busy looking after the needs of this rapidly growing population.
Too much cannot be said about the zeal and faithful services of our women. They went into the kitchens and prepared dainties, visited the
wards and gave personal attention to the sick, looked after beds and bedding, and in many ways added to the comfort of the hospital inmates. In their patriotism and unselfish service no act of self-sacrifice was neglected. But for our women, these sick soldiers would have fared badly; for the overcrowding and inefficient hospital service were at times deplorable.
I well remember the sorrow at the first death in the hospital, - the death of a man from a Southern State, who had left a wife and children in his far-away home to serve his country. He had been brought from Manassas with a severe attack of fever, which carried him off a few days after his arrival at the hospital. His funeral and burial were marked by the most profound respect. A small military company, on guard duty in the village, turned out to give him a military funeral. With fife and drum the company marched to the yet unused spot that had been selected for a soldiers' cemetery. Our citizens, - men and women, boys and girls, - turned out to follow the remains of this poor fellow to the cemetery, his last resting-place. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the early fall and the exercises were made most impressive by the large company that had assembled to pay respect to the dead soldier. When the casket was deposited in the grave a squad of soldiers fired a salute over the grave and paid all
the military honors possible on such an occasion.
The solemnity and pathos of that first soldier's burial was made most striking by comparison with other ceremonies that soon followed. A few days later a second death occurred in the hospital. This poor fellow was escorted to his grave by a few citizens and a squad of soldiers that fired a salute and then retired. Very soon another poor fellow died, and this one was buried in the simplest way.
As the days came and went deaths followed so rapidly that the new cemetery grew and grew till it soon became a city of the dead; indeed, God's acre was filled so fast that within a few months over one hundred bodies were sleeping under the sod, now consecrated by the devotion of our people, - a field not filled with men who lost their lives in battle, but who died from disease contracted in camp. As the men were buried, wooden head-boards were placed at their graves giving name, date of death, and regiment. This care was exercised for a time but later many unknown were placed in the ground, - men whom it has never been possible to identify. Many of them were from the States further South, North Carolina being largely represented.
An incident that occurred at this time gave me much distress. In one of the hospitals near my
home there was a tall, lean, pale-faced boy, not over 18 years of age, - a member of the Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, - who had entered the hospital as a convalescent from camp fever and was able to take exercise in the yard. His delicate and refined features and depressed spirits greatly excited the interest of his companions who tried to cheer him up by making good-natured fun of his homesickness. However, the poor boy grew weaker day by day, then took to his bed, and within a week's time was buried. His name was Joseph Hoover, and his grave can be found in the soldiers' lot. No doubt his parents and friends have thought of him as lying buried on some field of battle among the unknown dead, as do many who have long since been forgotten. And speaking of such burials I recall that in my own county several hundred men belonging to the Northern and Southern armies were so hastily buried where they fell in action that their graves were torn open by wild animals and their bones scattered over the ground, and are now dissolved in clay by the hand of time. During the winter of 1864 I saw a number of graves of this type. Dogs had dug up the remains, and there were bones under bushes, under rock piles, or scattered all over the ground. These things were all that was left of men who had been killed in battle and whose bodies had remained unburied for days until
some of our citizens had hurriedly covered their remains with dirt and stones as best they could. I recall the remains of a poor fellow who was mortally wounded in a charge through a deep ravine, filled with loose stone and wild brush, under which he had crawled, and there died. His body had not been discovered until winter had killed the brush that had concealed it. When found his bones were bleaching under the frost of winter. Such cases were not unusual. Often bodies were found in wild mountain gorges; in the beds of rivers, or in some unfrequented place death had come either by sickness or by a wound. These are a few of the tragedies of war, - inevitable when men appeal to the use of arms for the control of governmental power.
THE first battle of Manassas had been fought with brilliant success to the Southern cause. The affairs of the Confederacy were in a most hopeful condition. Our people were moved with deepest patriotism and every preparation was being made to advance the welfare of the armies now defending our rights. Our farmers were busy making and gathering in their crops. Every industry was employed in making arms, ammunition, and military supplies. Men were being recruited, organized into companies, and sent to the front for service. All of these activities indicated that the people of the South would make every resistance possible against the Federal forces now invading their soil.
Our village occupied a strong strategic position and was used as a base where supplies were collected from adjacent counties for shipment to Manassas, where men were gathered for enlistment and drilled, and where the sick and wounded were cared for until ready for service again. So crowded were the hospitals at times it became necessary to take many of the convalescents into
the homes of different families. For weeks at a time every available room in my home was occupied by some convalescent soldier.
With the opening of the fall months I had to take up regular school work. There were, however, too many important events taking place to admit of a boy's giving much attention to books and studies.
At this time we had the greatest abundance of food supplies and plenty of servants to wait on the guests in our home. The home of every family in the village and surrounding country was filled to overflowing as was my own; for the hospitality of our people knew no limit and their kindness to the Confederate soldier, whether sick or well, was unbounded.
During the winter months active military operations were suspended and the armies were held in winter quarters, where they had only the lighter duties to discharge. The boys from our county frequently came home on furlough, and our people often made visits to the boys in camp at Manassas. Trains leaving the village at an early hour in the morning arrived at Manassas by nine or ten o'clock and returned late in the afternoon, thus giving visitors some six or eight hours' stay in camp. I remember once making this trip in the early fall with my father, mother, and a few friends. We carried with us a large box of provisions
for the boys in camp and spent the day there with the then happy fellows. They were living in tents, but were comfortably fixed, with only light duties to perform and experiencing all the pleasures of gay companionship. The hardships of military service had not up to this time been felt. We passed a most pleasant day in camp with the soldier boys from our county, and had a fair view of the life of the soldier.
At the time of our visit it was estimated there were some 30,000 troops camped in and near Manassas, - a place that had at that time only a few hundred actual population. Located at the junction of two railroads, - one leading from the Valley of Virginia, and the other from Richmond and points south, - with a single-track road extending from Manassas to Alexandria and Washington on the Potomac, it had been selected as a military post on account of its connections.
After the first battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, the Federal army had withdrawn its main force to Washington and the south bank of the Potomac; and there were a few outposts between Alexandria and Manassas, the intervening territory being held by scouts, raiding parties, and small encampments on outpost duty.
At Manassas the Confederate army was acting on the defensive. Large forts and fortifications had been built, - or were in process of building, -
and the place had been put in a very strong position for defense. It was believed at that time that the Federal line of invasion would follow the line of railroad that led through Manassas. While the Confederate troops were being gathered and organized at Manassas it was known that large Federal forces were assembling in Washington and that preparations on a large scale were being made for the invasion of Virginia in the spring.
General Geo. B. McClellan had been placed in command of the Federal army and he began to forge the weapon that was to play the chief rôle in the subjugation of the South. Every resource at the command of the Federal Government was brought to bear in the work of preparation and organization. It was known that more than 200,000 men, at the command of the Federal Government, were in arms at the time. While the North and Northwest were pouring in their volunteers to swell the Union army the Confederate Government was singularly apathetic. It failed to realize the vast importance of the thorough organization and equipment of its military forces and allowed the winter of 1861 to pass without making an aggressive movement. By holding its forces on the defensive, it allowed the Federal armies to remain in camp and perfect their organizations for
aggressive movements in the following spring and summer.
After the brilliant victory at Manassas the South seemed to develop a spirit of overconfidence in her resources, - a confidence that was not justified. She magnified her own prowess and minimized that of her enemy. Of the Southern generals Beauregard and Stonewall Jackson were in favor of an aggressive movement, advocating the invasion of Maryland and an assault on Washington. The Confederate authorities decided to remain on the defensive and assented to the policy adopted by the Federals.
This policy gave the North an abundance of time to prepare for a war of gigantic proportions. The South had at the same time the opportunity to equip its armies with arms, ammunition, and military supplies from foreign countries, as her ports were then open to European countries. The South had at that time millions of bales of cotton that could have been shipped to England and sold for money that would have given the Confederate Government a financial backing sufficient to purchase and outfit a navy, - a navy that would have embarrassed that of the Federal Government and would have kept the Southern ports open.
The theory of the Confederate authorities was that the withholding of her cotton would force
the European powers to recognize the Confederate Government. This theory was adopted in practice, at least; for the Confederate authorities allowed the opportunity to pass during the first year of the war and after that time it was too late. No one can now say what might have been the difference in the result of the war had the Government at Richmond been controlled with the same wisdom and sound maxims of business policy as was that at Washington. The historian may speculate on such matters, but, in the light of facts, the man of common sense can easily see that the South owed her defeat to her civil policies, not to her armies.
About the 1st of November Stonewall Jackson was promoted to the rank of major-general and assigned to the command of the Shenandoah Valley. He made his headquarters at Winchester, having with him a force of less than 5,000 men. The Federal army opposing numbered some 28,000 men, who were placed at different points along the Baltimore and Ohio railroad from Point of Rocks to Cumberland. General Jackson was alive to the situation and kept his forces in action during the greater part of the winter. While the Confederate army was stationed at Winchester our village was within the Confederate lines, and our people were not disturbed by the fear of the enemy.
The winter was full of activity. With four hospitals filled with the sick, and many private homes caring for the convalescents, there was little time for tranquillity. Everyone seemed to be employed, our women giving personal attention to the care of the sick. I cannot claim that these serious duties absorbed all the time of our women, - it certainly did not monopolize the time of the younger set, for the social life of the village was kept in a whirl of excitement by numerous private entertainments, dances, and musicales, in which the convalescent soldier, the boys at home on furlough, and the young girls were brought together. The game of love was played with as much ardor as the game of war. In this way the winter months soon rolled around and, with the approach of spring, thoughts were turned to other fancies than those of love.
It was during the fall and winter of 1861 that the new Confederate bank notes began to circulate, and with this new currency came a flood of State bank paper, corporation paper, and small shin-plasters, issued in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents by any individual engaged in commercial business. A watchmaker in our village, with a combined capital of less than $1,000, issued his notes, made payable at the close of the war, and then as opportunities were presented, passed them out in change for purchases or for other notes.
The capacity of the printing press seemed to be the only limit to the issue of this bogus currency. From the Government down to the small dealer, paper money was poured out in such abundance as was never before witnessed. Money of every description, except in the form of metal, was in the freest circulation. Everybody had money and everybody felt rich, - even those who had never before known the sensation of having money. Money became cheap and everything else grew in value. A few who had property to sell accepted this money in payment and converted it into Confederate bonds. Small fortunes soon grew in this paper security that had no other value than the promise of the newly organized Government back of it.
So intense was the spirit of patriotism that many of our well-to-do citizens were induced to sell their personal property and invest in Confederate bonds. This was one way they had of giving support to a Government that based all its credit on the loyalty of its people and none upon sound and conservative measures of financial policy. I was present at a private discussion between several of our best citizens on the financial policy of the Government, in which they expressed the opinion that the Government would fall because of its own inefficiency rather than by the arms of the enemy. They held that a public credit that had no basis of strength
other than moral support would crumble under its own weight. Patriotism, they claimed, would raise armies and fight battles, but it could not arm, clothe, and feed men. During the winter of 1861 it became quite evident to men like my father and to other leading citizens, that the Government at Richmond was full of weakness and inefficiency. They recognized the symptoms of a disease for which they could offer no remedy. However, at this time an intense patriotism buoyed them up to hope that conditions would improve and that the arms of the South would overbalance the defects of the civil administration.
IN the spring of 1862 it was announced that Manassas would be evacuated by the Confederate army, and that the Federal attack would be made by way of the Peninsula. The Confederate forces were transferred to the Peninsula, with the advanced lines at Williamsburg, Va. After the evacuation of Manassas the hospitals in our village were closed, and all Government supplies were moved into the interior. Notice was given that our people would soon be within the enemy's lines.
During the latter part of February General Banks, with an army of some 40,000 men, crossed the Potomac at Harper's Ferry and began the invasion of the Shenandoah Valley. The army at Manassas withdrew to Orange Court House on March 8, which left the Confederate lines in the Valley exposed, and made it necessary for General Jackson to withdraw to a higher position in the Valley.
On March 11, 1862, Winchester was evacuated
by the Confederates, and on the following day General Shields, with a division of 11,000 men, took possession of the place. Jackson then fell back to Strasburg and upon Shields' advance he retreated to Woodstock, twelve miles further south. The army under Banks consisted of three divisions, aggregating about 40,000 men. Two of these divisions had been sent to reinforce McClellan, leaving Shields, with over 15,000 men, to watch Jackson, with less than 5,000. Shields withdrew from Strasburg to Winchester and Jackson followed him as far as Kernstown, about five miles south of Winchester, where on March 23rd, he engaged Shields in battle.
The battle of Kernstown was bitterly contested, Jackson, - having less than 4,000 men opposed to Shields' 9,000, - was forced to retire from the field, but he held his men in good order. The battle while a tactical defeat was a strategic victory for the Confederates, since it recalled to the Valley the troops sent to the aid of McClellan, and relieved the pressure that McClellan was making against the Confederate forces on the Peninsula. And Jackson, with his small force of some 4,000 men, kept some 40,000 Federal troops in the Valley, thus preventing a reënforcement of McClellan.
For the next thirty days Jackson was busily manoeuvering with the Federal forces to hold them
in the Valley. His army now numbered about 6,000 men, nearly one-half being cavalry. On April 30th he went from Elk Run Valley, leaving General Ewell, - who had recently joined him, - with 8,000 men, to watch the movements of the enemy, east of Harrisonburg, crossed over the Blue Ridge into eastern Virginia and then returned by rail to Staunton. After reaching Staunton by this indirect route Jackson united his forces with those of General Edward Johnson, who had about 2,800 men, and marched west along the pike leading from Staunton to McDowell, where the Federal forces under General Milroy had been concentrated. On May 8th Jackson attacked Milroy and soon won the victory of McDowell, driving the Federal forces back into the mountains of West Virginia.
On May 12th Jackson returned to the Valley and took position on the pike between Staunton and Harrisonburg, where he organized that movement that soon went into history as the Valley Campaign, - the most brilliant achievement in the War between the States.
I must now return to the narrative of events that took place in our village while the movements in the Valley were going on. The withdrawal of the Confederate forces from Winchester, and the retreat up the Valley placed our county within the Federal lines. The hopes of our people were
greatly depressed and all fully realized the gravity of the situation. We were left to the invasion of the enemy and felt the apprehension that an enemy's presence is sure to create. Many of our people had shipped their most valuable horses, cattle, and other personal property within the Confederate lines, only keeping at home such stock as was needed for farming purposes. Stores and business houses were closed, but our farmers went on cultivating their crops with as much diligence as conditions would permit; for at this stage of the war we did not know what effect an invading army would have upon the lives and property of our people, - whether all rights would be swept away, or our old men, women, and children would be insulted, imprisoned, and maltreated, and our property confiscated. At that time some confidence was held in the humanity and justice of the Federal Government, which was believed to be conducting its war against men in arms and not against non-combatants. All knew that the war was for subjugation of the seceding States, a restoration of the Union, and the emancipation of the negro. However, the means by which these results would be brought about were not fully understood; for at that time the bitter experiences of civil war had not been tested.
Soon after the Confederate forces were withdrawn from our village, we were surprised on the
afternoon of March 27th by a raid of Federal cavalry, consisting of one company, commanded by Captain David Strother, a Virginian by birth, better known under the nom de plume, "Porte Crayon."
The company dashed into the village, halted in front of the hotel in the Public Square for some fifteen minutes, and after asking a few questions, seeming satisfied with their investigation, they turned their backs on the crowd that had assembled to see the men who wore the blue.
Looking back over these stormy days of war, I recall the fact that there were several Union men in our county who took no part in the great civil strife, but who used their influence to defend our people, - who respected their opinions because they were conscientious and honest, - against the cruel spirit of our Northern invaders. They were known to the Northern army as Union sympathizers, but as non-combatants; and on all occasions they were ready to assist our people in the recovery of property that had been taken by the Union army or to intercede for those who had been unjustly imprisoned. The services of these Union men were invaluable.
In one instance some negroes belonging to one of our prominent citizens ran away in the night and took with them a wagon and four horses. They were traced to the Federal lines, and their
owner, taking with him one of these Union sympathizers, went to the camp, made claim to the horses and wagon, and secured their return from General Milroy, the officer in command. The negroes were left to their freedom, for they were an untrustworthy, unreliable, and sorry crowd. In justice I must say that no Union man in our community was either spy or renegade, but sought to live peacefully with both sides engaged in a fratricidal strife, knowing full well that the passions of men engaged in civil war could only be subdued by the survival of the strongest. War has no respect for the individual. It has no sympathy for the weak. It seeks only to advance the interests of the strong. Those who appeal to its decision must accept its results.
After this first visit of Federal cavalry our people soon became accustomed to the sight of the Federal troops. From day to day small bodies of soldiers or raiding parties came to the village. The place became a stamping-ground for the men of both armies. One day the Confederates came to see us, and the next day the Federals. Between the two we were kept in a state of constant excitement, bordering sometimes on anxiety, sometimes on hope.
During these months the domestic life of the community was filled with innumerable disturbances; anxiety, fear, joy, and sorrow found place
in every heart. There was not a family that did not have a father, brother, son or some other relative in the Confederate army, - relatives who had enlisted in different commands located in Virginia or in the Western army. All these men were exposed to the dangers and casualties of war; and though there was a constant communication by letter between the loved ones at home and the absent soldier, the mails were irregular and uncertain; days frequently passed before the results of a battle were known.
The Richmond newspapers were sought eagerly, but items of news were often unsatisfactory. The progress of the war was so uncertain, - apparently so hopeless, - that the success of our arms seemed clouded in doubt. We were now in the enemy's territory; our lives and property were exposed to death and confiscation, our homes were open to the insults and cruelty of an invading army that was seeking to trample upon our liberties and destroy our institutions. The only hope that animated our people was the belief that everyone had in the justice of our cause, and in the patriotism and valor of our armies. Those unable to take part in the military service, - our old men, our women, and the children of tender age, - remained firm in spirit and daring in purpose. Willing to endure every privation, to make every sacrifice, they sent words of love and encouragement to their
kindred in arms, inspiring them to deeds of valor and heroism. Our old men and boys were busy in the fields with their crops, sewing seed which would bear crops for the enemy to gather or destroy. Our women, young and old, were busy with the loom, spinning-wheel, and needle, making their own apparel or that of their friends in the army. All attempts at ornamentation were abandoned: our men were clothed in the plainest woolen or cotton fabric, our women, in homespun dresses dyed with the bark or root of trees. In food, as in raiment, there was simplicity and temperance.
As the war continued from year to year these methods adopted in 1862 were enforced with greater rigidity.
THOUGH small bodies of Federal troops were frequently seen in Front Royal, it was not until May 14, 1862, that a large body of soldiers encamped near us. This occurred when the division of General Shields, on its retreat from the Upper Valley, passed our way and went into camp for several days in the suburbs. As the weather was cold and rainy, and the roads were in the worst condition possible for travel, the men were muddy, wet, jaded, and looked most miserable. Then, too, they had seen hard service in following Stonewall Jackson through his wanderings in the Valley.
There came to our home at this time a Federal officer, Col. Thos. C. McDowell, in command of a Pennsylvania regiment in Shields' Division, who asked for quarters for himself and staff. His request was granted and he was entertained by my parents with as much courtesy as was possible under the existing conditions. My father soon learned that he was a gentleman of culture and refinement, a Democrat, and a much dissatisfied
soldier. Colonel McDowell soon became very confidential and related his history to my father with a frankness that was pathetic.
It seems that at the beginning of the war he was editing a Democratic paper in a large city in Pennsylvania. Being a Union man and what was known as a War Democrat, he had been given a commission as Colonel of a regiment of volunteers by the Governor of his State and in this capacity he had entered the army. He was a man with a family, one of his sons being a lieutenant in his regiment. While a guest in my home he expressed to my father his dissatisfaction with the policy of the Federal Government both in its purpose and in its conduct of the war. He said he had entered the army under the conviction that the war was for the restoration of the Union, but he had discovered that its main purpose was to destroy the institution of slavery. With the latter purpose he had no sympathy. He then told my father that he had decided to resign his commission in the army and resume his duties as editor of his paper which was opposed to what he conceived to be the policy of the Government. During the few days this officer was in our home we became strongly attracted to him, and when he left we had no thought of ever seeing him again. Later I will tell of a visit he made to our home a few weeks afterward.
General Shields' army remained in camp only two days and then crossed the Blue Ridge into eastern Virginia. Shortly after this the First Maryland Federal Regiment, under the command of Colonel J. R. Kenly, went into camp on a high hill one mile north of our village. It was a large and well-organized regiment, made up almost entirely of Maryland men. With the regiment was a battery of artillery. Two companies were detached and stationed in the village as a guard for the Provost-Marshal, whose office was in the hotel. Outposts and pickets were stationed on the main roads that led into the village. These Maryland men were well behaved, orderly, and kind to our people, and they created a good impression. At this time all private property was protected, and, when needed for the use of the army, was paid for. The soldiers paid for the small things they wanted, such as milk, pies, cakes, and fruit. There was no disposition to rob or pillage. Colonel Kenly camped on land owned by an estate of which my father was the administrator, and he gave an order on the Government to indemnify the estate for the use of grass and other property taken by the men of his command. Though the Government never respected his order and has never paid for the property the men took, it was not due to any fault of Colonel Kenly. He was a gentleman and respected
the rights of the citizens; which is more than can be said for the Government for which he was fighting. His action indicated that the Federal authorities were fighting men in arms and not robbing and destroying the property of unarmed citizens. Even the Confederate authorities were not at that time more considerate of the rights of our citizens than were Colonel Kenly and his men. Had a policy like his been adopted during the subsequent years of the war, it is more than probable that peace would have been made sooner and without so fearful a waste of life and property.
It was for the reason that the policy of the Federal Government with regard to the people of the South during the last two years of the war was so exasperating to the men, women, and even children of that section, that no sacrifice was considered too great to make in defense of their lives and property. When it became a war of extermination few shrank from the hardships inflicted on them; for life and property seemed of less value to the Southerners than freedom from tyranny and oppression.
And that is why fathers and mothers, wives and sisters, bore their sorrow with stoicism when their loved ones fell in battle. Only those who lived through the storm of war, - who experienced the hardships and sorrows of a brutal and
inhuman struggle, - can fully realize the sufferings, the sorrows, and the courage of the Southern women, of the old men, and even of children of tender age when brought face to face with starvation and death. We will never know how many innocent lives were destroyed, what brilliant hopes were crushed by the conditions that surrounded the non-combatants, nor how many actually perished from disease due to starvation. Even at this late day, when I think of that time of war, and recall the many incidents that came under my personal notice, I often wonder how so many lived through them, - how the spirit of men, women, and children could have endured the situation presented to them.
But I must not dwell upon these now long-forgotten incidents, for the boys of my generation were then too young to bear arms and now should be too old to remember the hardships of a struggle that came into their lives when the fire and passion of coming manhood were fiercest. We boys were everywhere, we saw everything, we grew up in an atmosphere in which human suffering and human life were the cards with which men played the game of life and chance. To be wounded, to be killed, to die in hospital or in home from disease contracted in camp were daily experiences. And if such happenings did not come there was no excitement, - nothing to arouse the deeper passions,
nothing to create an interest in the day's adventure.
Each year as the war advanced the boys older than myself, - whose companionship I shared, - enlisted in the army; and though still of tender age, they made gallant soldiers, doing faithful service in their country's cause. One by one these boys were cut down with wounds or killed in battle. They were little better than targets for the enemy's bullets, for, knowing little of the caution of men experienced in war, they rushed wildly into danger and lost their lives from heedless exposure. Of the ten boys who were my schoolmates during the winter of 1862-3 four were inmates of hospitals and five were killed in battle before the close of the war. Four of these boys, who had scarcely passed their sixteenth birthday, enlisted during the spring of 1864, and were killed in battle before the end of the year.
I mention these facts to show the spirit of our people and the sacrifices that were made necessary by the fortunes of war; for when parents and relatives were willing to give their sons and their dearest ones of tender age to the defense of the South the limit of heroic sacrifice had been nearly reached. When the surrender came I had scarcely reached my sixteenth birthday, yet my father had selected the company and the branch of service in which I was to enlist, and a few weeks' prolongation
of the struggle would have seen me an enlisted soldier, and in all probability I would not have lived to write this story.
It was a common remark that the Confederate Government had robbed the cradle and the grave in its demand for men. The conscript officer had raked our country as with a fine-tooth comb, and had left only feeble old men and small boys, unfit for military service. In fact, so few men had been left to cultivate the soil and care for our women and children that our people would have been almost destitute but for our faithful negro men and women. When the Federal troops seized our village but few of the negroes left their masters. The vast majority consented to remain with their owners and work for our people. Only one of my father's negroes ran away. Two of our faithful old negroes, Lewis and Susan, took possession of our property and rendered an invaluable service. Uncle Lewis cultivated the land and took care of what live stock was left us, while Susan managed the kitchen, dairy, and poultry. These two old servants were as careful of my father's interests as if they owned everything on the place.
The persons who charge the Southern people with harshness and brutality to the negro slave can have no better answer to their foul slander than the behavior of the negro population toward the women and children of their masters during the
war. Though urged to acts of violence, they remained loyal and kind to the people who owned them, protected their lives and property and rendered a domestic service that no servile race would have discharged if the bonds of servitude had held them. Though free after the first year of the war to leave their homes and go North, only a few took advantage of this opportunity. Those that remained were as respectful, obedient, and loyal as though a war for their liberation was not in progress. In many instances these faithful old family servants showed their devotion to the people who had raised them, and who, according to the Northern idea, had enslaved and maltreated them.
The baseness and falseness of this idea was repudiated by the slave himself. Thistles do not bear figs, nor does servitude bring love and loyalty for the oppressor. If the Southern land was debased by the blighting influence of slavery, why was the negro so slow in trying to break the shackles? Why, when the opportunity came, did he not rise, with brutal passion, and resent the wrongs that had been heaped upon him by his master? We know, as a matter of fact, that during the war, with very few exceptions, the negroes manifested no violence nor insurrection but were submissive, kind, and loyal to the people that were fighting to hold them in slavery. Why
are these facts as stated? An explanation will be found, I believe, in the character and disposition of the negro race; and then, too, the older and more intelligent negroes believed that their race was not yet prepared to profit by freedom.
The negroes were, in the main, a happy and contented people, unwilling to assume the responsibilities that their independence would bring them. They realized the fact that when brought into an industrial competition with the white race they would experience greater hardship than had ever been their lot in slavery. They foresaw that several generations must come and go before the privileges of freedom would equal those of slavery. The results of reconstruction and the present condition of the negro race in the South have demonstrated the correctness of these opinions if one is willing to investigate the facts, with an open mind. The older negroes were the first to experience the bitter fruits of their liberation, while the younger generations have, as a race, failed to reach the standard that their emancipators had hoped for.
It is true that during the progress of the war a large number of negroes were enlisted in the Federal army and took sides with the North. If we study the influences that led to this service in behalf of the Union it will be found that the bounty money, the pay for military service, the excitement and display of the soldier's life had
more to do with their enlistment than motives of patriotism or a spirit of revenge toward the slaveowner of the South.
In the Confederate army there were numbers of negro men who served as teamsters, orderlies and employees. These negroes were as loyal to the South as were those of their race in the service of the North. Had the Confederate Government enlisted and armed the negro, there is little doubt that he would have made an efficient and courageous soldier in the Southern ranks. The policy of the Confederate Government was to keep the negro a non-combatant and to make use of his services as a laborer in the field or on public works, such as forts and fortifications. Many of the negroes remained on the farms and plantations and raised supplies for the armies in the field. There were probably two strong considerations which led to this policy; the stronger of which was that the negro was valuable personal property, and his owner was unwilling to have his life endangered by active military service. The slaveowner was willing to expose the life of his son to the hazard of war but not his negro.
I may illustrate this statement by a case that I know to be true. A young Confederate officer, whose father owned a valuable negro man, wrote home to his father requesting the use of this negro for his personal services. The father refused the
son's request, with the very innocent (?) statement that he feared his slave might be killed in battle. He did not seem to think that his son's life was equally as valuable as that of his negro servant. This was not an isolated case if the facts be known. It represents a principle that had much to do with the defeat of the Southern cause. It can hardly be a surprise why the South went down in disaster when patriotism was often shackled by such a narrow policy. Who doubts but that when the States of the South announced to the world their withdrawal from the Union, in defense of the right of self-government, if they had stated as their policy a gradual emancipation of the negro, the Confederate Government would have been established upon an enduring basis? Does not the South owe her humiliation to the narrow policy of contending for the extension of the institution of slavery, - an institution condemned by the almost universal sentiment of civilized nations? She stood alone in her contention for human slavery, - no doubt honestly and, as she believed, for the best interest of the negro race; yet, as the war progressed, she had the opportunity to modify her position and to declare for a system of gradual emancipation, which would have met all the conditions of her political and national independence.
Slavery in the South was doomed when the first
gun was fired from Fort Sumter. Had the Confederate Government succeeded by arms, the gradual emancipation of the negro would have come as surely as the night follows the day; for the Southern Confederacy could not have held a dominant position among civilized nations, with slavery undermining the very life upon which nations live and prosper.
In the border States the principles of gradual emancipation grew stronger and stronger as the war progressed. With the successful establishment of a Confederate Government this principle would have prevailed in the border States and would gradually have extended to the large slaveholding States. The element of time was only needed to bring into force a policy that would have made negro slavery disappear by gradual steps as the negro was prepared to exercise the privileges of freedom.
In the light of results we may vainly speculate on things that might have been. The mistakes of rulers and of governments have filled history with innumerable crimes. Time must show whether the war between the States was worth all it cost in blood and treasure. This claim has been made by some of our most distinguished men who took an active part in the bitter struggle between the North and the South, - notably by General Grant in his "Memoirs." The men of my generation
have not fully assented to this view. We live too near the period of reconstruction that followed the war to forget the humiliation that was heaped upon the South by the political party that dominated the Federal Government for a quarter of a century following the conclusion of peace. The four years' bitter struggle with arms does not represent the full sufferings of the Southern people in the contest they made to secure their political freedom and to establish the civilization of the South upon a basis of law and order. She has ever fought for the Anglo-Saxon domination, for equal rights, and justice in the government of the nation.
We have been told but little of the doings, of the suffering, or of the spirit of the old men, the women, and the children who were afflicted by the civil or foreign wars in which their fathers, husbands, and brothers were involved.
The history of the War between the States has been written from many points of view, but I have been unable to find a work of personal reminiscences which gives pictures of individual acts and actors or a story of the inner life of the people who stayed at home and bore the sufferings of war without murmur and without weakness of spirit.
In the contests between nations and peoples of kindred blood the courage and heroism of the people who have remained at home have played an
important part in the results of war. To the valor of our Colonial ancestors we owe the final success of the Revolutionary forces that for eight years maintained a struggle for independence, which would not have been won but for the patriotism of the men, women, and children at home. In our Civil War the vast odds against the South were held in check by the Home Guard, - the old men, the women, and the children. They gave hope and inspiration to the men in the field, and by their unyielding spirit they made the struggle for independence a contest of endurance, - a contest that ended only because of complete exhaustion.
History has been too silent in its estimate of these quiet forces that have had the greatest influence over men in arms, over rulers, and leaders of public affairs. When, at the conclusion of the Third Silesian War, Frederick the Great, with his five million Prussians, had dissolved the coalition of Russia, France, and Austria, with one hundred million population, and his country lay prostrate in the dust, all property and resources destroyed, cities and villages deserted, there was only one pillar of strength left: the invincible spirit and patriotism of the people, - a determination to perish or win out in the struggle for national life.
The men, women, and children in the South were filled with this spirit, and I deny that it can
be shown that these suffering people at any time weakened in courage, valor, or endurance.
It can be shown, to the contrary, that they bore their privations and hardships at home and urged their friends and loved ones in the army to remain faithful to their country's cause.
I have tried to tell in this story a few things which our non-combatant population in the South did during the four years of strife. The details are short and, perhaps, of minor importance but they have a practical relation to the events that were going on, if not a positive influence over the spirit of the times. The men and women who write the poems and songs that inspire a people with a spirit of zeal and patriotism play a noble part in the life of nations. It may be said with equal justice that the fathers, mothers, wives, and sisters who give life and courage to the men who fight battles are powerful influences in determining the actions and fates of peoples and nations. All public sentiment is modified and molded by the influences of home life and those men who seek to direct the life of a people in opposition to these influences are working against dangerous odds. The common sense and justice of home thinking is the great safeguard of national life and liberty. As our rulers cultivate and enlarge the life, spirit, and wisdom of the home to the same extent do they
advance the cause of good morals and sane government.
The social and domestic life of the Southern people was built upon the home as its foundation. The home dominated the spirit and influenced society, regulated its morals, and erected standards that made a civilization of rare virtue, culture, and refinement. The population of the South was largely rural. There were no large cities at the beginning of the civil war and no great commercial or manufacturing centers. Life on the plantation and farm gave health and vigor of mind and body, and cultivated a spirit of chivalry and manliness, - a spirit that held woman in the highest esteem. It was this aspect of domestic life that gave the Confederate soldier daring and confidence in battle, patience under privation, and endurance in the long struggle for national independence.
The influence of the home was with him in the camp, on the march, in battle, in hospital, and in prison. He seldom lost sight of the claims of duty, of patriotism, or of home ties and obligations.
When disaster came to the Southern cause this same spirit of chivalry, of home life, and love of the land's domestic institutions clung to the men and women of the South; and during the trying days of reconstruction they never wavered in their
loyalty to the Anglo-Saxon rule. In the racial struggle between master and slave there was no compromise with conditions that threatened to destroy a civilization of rare virtue and culture. Step by step the racial difficulties were removed and the proper relations between the white man and the negro were adjusted. History will grant to the people of the South rare patience and forbearance in solving a domestic problem made embarrassing by national laws and political animosities. To-day the South has come to know her duty to a nation that her forefathers labored to establish. She realizes her relation to this national life, the value of her influence in national affairs, and her patriotism and loyalty to a government that now leads the world in the general uplift of humanity.
WHILE writing up these recollections of our men and boys I must not neglect to relate some of my observations on our Southern women, whose loyalty and devotion to the Southern cause knew no bounds.
In my section of Virginia, the larger number of the women had been brought up under the institution of slavery and knew little of the hard drudgery of domestic service. They had been taught to direct the management of the home and to do light needlework, but they relied almost entirely on the old negro women and young negro girls to do the heavy work about the kitchen and in the house. In nearly every large family there was an old negro "Mammie," as she was called, who took general charge of the domestic care of the house and managed the young negro girls employed about the home.
This old negro "Mammie" had usually nursed the children and looked after their clothes and comforts. The negro cook not only prepared the meals but usually milked the cows, attended to
the dairy and poultry and, as a rule, bossed the other negroes. Young negro women were trained to wait on the table, to clean the house and to do the heavy needlework required for the children and negro men on the farm. In some families these negro women carded the wool, ran the spinning-wheel, knitted the socks and, not infrequently, worked the hand loom, for in those slave days few manufactured clothes were bought. They were made on the farm, largely by negro labor. Hence the negress was an important factor in the home life of the Southern woman. If of agreeable manners, she was much respected and beloved by the children on the place.
I knew a number of these female servants in the homes of our old families who were treated with almost as much consideration as the children of the family.
A relationship was established through this domestic service which brought the servant into close contact with the mistress and children of the home, - a contact that was mutually advantageous, and these servants were trained not only to work but often were taught lessons in reading and writing as well as religion and morals. When the war came almost all of these old family servants remained in their old homes, and were simply invaluable in the domestic service they were able to render.
It soon became evident to our Virginia women, in my section at least, that the war meant destruction of slavery, and that they would soon be called upon to perform all the harder duties of the home.
It has always been a surprise to me to see how soon our women, - old and young, - were able to adjust themselves to new conditions. As the war progressed they were all fired with the same ideals of self-sacrifice that inspired the men in arms; beginning at once to assume duties and labors that had been considered menial before the war. They took to carding, spinning, knitting, and weaving; and they not only dyed the yarn and manufactured the cloth but cut and made wearing apparel for themselves and for the men and children. This was the rule; and the only exceptions were found in small families with liberal means or with those who lived in large communities where articles of clothing could be bought.
Many of our women and girls took a personal interest in the garden, in poultry and in the dairy, when the occasion required. I have seen small girls and boys milking the cows and feeding the poultry and small animals on the place - children whose parents had never dreamed of such a menial service. Yet in doing this the dignity and spirit of the child was not lowered. It was considered a privilege to make any sacrifice of
false pride when the condition of the times required it.
As the war continued these duties became necessary and entered into the life of all as the outcome of the social and political upheaval we were passing through.
Now, while our women were fast adjusting themselves to a more active and laborious domestic service, they were not neglectful of the refinements and culture of the home. They played on the piano, sang war songs, and read good literature, with as much interest as ever. The hospitality of the home was as abounding, - if not as lavish, - as it had been. We boys and girls of tender age had our social pleasures and our simple sports. When we did not have skates we coasted the hill on a plank board with as much fun as can be had from a modern sled. When we did not have good horses and comfortable saddles we rode barebacked or on a blanket on old nags retired from army service. We found as much pleasure in this simple life as our parents had experienced under the ease and indulgence of slavery before the war.
The saddest experience which came into our home life was the loss of some dear friend in the army, for the loss of property, with all its hardships, was accepted with a stoicism which was almost heroic. I could relate numerous incidents
to illustrate the self-sacrifices and hardships which came to many of our women, such as the death of husband, father, brother, and lover; but these were the fatalities of war which were accepted as loyal contributions to the cause of the South. These deaths were often pathetic, as where the only son of the widowed mother, the father of a family of small children, or the accepted lover of some noble girl, were killed in battle or died from disease or wounds in a hospital far from home. Few families in our community escaped these sorrows. They were a common heritage which all bore with bleeding hearts but with honest pride and loyal fortitude.
With what painful sorrow do I recall the experience of a family, related to me by ties of blood and early affections, which gave up the only son, the pride and hope of a widowed mother and three single sisters, and the accepted lover of a noble woman. He had been wounded in battle at Williamsburg, and after lingering some weeks, he had died in the home of a family in that place. While he was on his bed of illness his own home in Virginia was surrounded by Federal troops, a beautiful estate had been torn to pieces, and the greater portion of the live stock had been driven away. A younger sister lay ill with typhoid fever in the house at the same time, anxiously calling out in her delirium for her brother, whose
death was announced to his family a few hours before she passed away. In her last lucid moments she had seen grief pictured in the face of her aged mother and had cried out, "Oh, mother! brother is dead; I must join him." In a few hours her spirit had gone to join the noble fellow.
These two deaths, with all the surrounding circumstances, would have destroyed the hopes and the happiness of the strongest character; yet this widow and her two daughters bore their sorrow with a courage equal to that of the Spartan mother who preferred to have her son's body borne home on a shield rather than live in dishonor. These noble women, - mother, sisters and sweetheart, - now all gone to rest, came out of the war stripped of all their personal property, their lands in commons and all the farm buildings in ruins. During all these troubles their faithful old negro servants remained loyal to them and took care of them. I know of no family in our section that experienced so severely the hardships of war as did this family. I know of no instance in all my experience where the spirit of noble womanhood stood so high, walked so courageously, and bowed with so deep reverence before the throne of the Great King.
I am going to relate an incident that goes to show just what this family stood for, just what struggle it made, and just what spirit and human
character can endure when mind and heart are made resolute by misfortune.
In December, 1863, the oldest daughter of this family had by the aid of the negro servants prepared a large bundle of woolen and cotton yarn for the weaver. The yarn had been dyed in different colors for the making of linsey cloth. As the only loom that could weave this yarn was located in a section of the county some eight or nine miles distant, the problems arose, how to get the yarn to the weaver, and how to explain the manner of making it into cloth. The lady in question decided to make this trip in person on horseback, while I and a faithful negro woman were selected to accompany her; which we did, mounted on old horses, and between us we carried the yarn tied up in bundles. Our route lay across the river which had to be forded.
When we came to the river, we found it flush and its surface covered with floating ice. The morning was bitter cold, the road was rough and hard frozen, and the trip was one of unusual difficulty at that season of the year. My father accompanied us as far as the river. The lady and the negro woman were carried across the river in a small skiff while my father and I forded the stream, leading the horses. The water came well above the flanks of my horse and the floating ice cut keenly, but we got across without mishap.
The women then mounted their horses and we rode to the weaver's home, where the yarn was left. That night the two women stopped at the home of a relative of the lady while I rode some three miles further to the home of a relative, where I spent the night. When I was within sight of the house, the horse I was riding slipped and fell on the ice; but I got her on her feet and led her to the house.
The following morning when I started for home the poor animal was so lame that she could scarcely walk. I led her six miles back to my home that day, walking the distance until I came to the river which I forded on her back. I never think of this experience without recalling the hardship it imposed on my two female companions. They remained in the country until the weather moderated. I was young and tough and bore the trip much better than my poor mare that was some weeks in getting over her lameness.
This incident, as simple as it may be, tells the story of a refined, delicate and gentle woman, who before the war lived in baronial comfort, and had under the necessities of the war undertaken the work of making a trip into a wild section of the country that she might secure the weaving of material to make dresses for her family and servants. This is only one of a number of similar experiences.
To write up this history of the war from my point of view, - to tell all that our old men, women and children went through, - would require an abler and clearer head than I possess. I have tried to bring out one fact - that our non-combatant population was fired with all the zeal and patriotism of the Southern heart, that it went into the cruel war and accepted the results, with the same motive and unselfish loyalty as inspired the men who fought the battles to the end, and who either gave up their lives or laid down their arms contending for principles they believed to be right.
In duty's path they firmly trod,
Obedient to their sacred trust;
Believing in Almighty God,
The cause they loved to them was just.
The severity and length of the war put an enormous strain on the endurance, loyalty and character of our non-combatant population; and the way in which this strain was met will ever be a credit to the heroic spirit and fortitude of our old men, our women, and our young children, - a proud legacy to their descendants in coming generations. My purpose in writing this story of the war is to preserve in historic form the records of those stirring times, so that those who follow my generation may have a picture of
events which actually occurred and may see in the lives of their ancestors those qualities of mind and heart that go to make character and righteous living the ideals of coming generations. I have already stated that the population of my county was almost entirely made up of pure English blood. The ancestors of our people came into Virginia during the Cromwellian period and settled in the Tydewater section of the State, gradually moving westward and taking up the lands in the Piedmont district along the eastern borders of the Blue Ridge, later going across the mountain into the beautiful and fertile Valley of the Shenandoah. The first settlers located in the Valley about 1640, and from that time on the region west of the Blue Ridge became the home of the best blood in the state. The first settlers brought with them the social customs and habits of the people east of the mountain, and gave to the settlement a character of high culture and refinement. Many of these families brought with them their negro servants and these negroes became the progenitors of the negroes of the Valley.
The institution of slavery introduced into the Valley counties represented the highest type of slavery; for the scanty settlement and the widely separated homes of the people during the Colonial period brought the master and servant into the closest relations of mutual service and helpful
dependence. In this way the old family servant became the intimate friend of the household, and was held in warm esteem by master, mistress, and all of the children. The descendants of these old negroes were handed down from generation to generation and made up the negro population of the Valley counties.
There was almost no buying and selling of negroes in my section. The traffic in human flesh was confined almost entirely to cases of necessity, where property interests required a division of estates or the necessary payment of debts. Through inheritance our negro population increased with the growth of the white population, and as family estates were divided by the death of parents the heirs came into the possession of the slaves willed to them. This heredity feature of slave ownership surrounded the negro with the strongest ties of friendship and affection, and gave him a position in the family that was often held in highest esteem by the servant and engendered a deep sense of responsibility in his owner.
While the negro slave was regarded as a servant and a dependent, his feelings and his rights were respected and he was treated with consideration and kindness. His services were made valuable to his owner in proportion to the care given to his health and training. He was used as a laborer in the house and in the field, and his
burdens were no heavier than those imposed upon the white laborer, nor sometimes even upon the children of his owner. In sickness and in old age the slave was kindly cared for. He was well clothed and fed and his surroundings were made to contribute to his happiness. If there were exceptions to this rule they were so uncommon as to be classed with the hardships not infrequently imposed upon children by unkind parents.
Until the John Brown Raid the negroes in my section of Virginia were contented and happy. They had expressed no desire for freedom, and when, during the war, the opportunity came to them to exercise this privilege, less than 20 per cent. took advantage of it. The loyalty and devotion of the negro to his owner during the war is the best proof of his contentment with his position as a slave. These facts should set at rest the tales of calumny heaped upon the slaveowners of the South by Northern fanatics. If there was a rational ground for the abolition of negro slavery, it was to be found in a higher sentiment than was used for his emancipation. Our people were not wedded to the institution of slavery.
Since the negro had come to the vast majority of our slaveowners by inheritance, these owners were no more responsible for this inheritance,
the possession of slaves, than for any other form of property. As a domestic institution slavery was regarded by many as of greater advantage to the negro than to the white race. To them it represented a civilizing influence, - an influence that was gradually raising an inferior race to a higher plane of useful service and that was preparing the race for the duties of a citizenship that would in time make him self-respecting and self-supporting when placed in competition with the laborer of other races. The people who owned the negro fully understood his spirit and nature and they saw no advantage to the race from a forced freedom from restraint and a sudden investment with rights he was not prepared to exercise.
It was such views as I have mentioned that led the slaveowner to resist the spirit of abolitionism that had swept over the North. It was no doubt this same spirit that led the Confederate Government to hold on to the institution until the end of the war. Neither the people of the North nor those of the South fully realized the full meaning and intent of this antislavery movement, and both sections were carried off of their feet by emotions that were kindled by passion, prejudice and self-interest. The true interests of the negro race were lost sight of in the contentions over a situation that neither section fully understood.
It has taken fifty years of reconstruction to adjust this racial difficulty, and it is not yet settled in a way to satisfy the claims of both races. While slavery has been abolished in the sense of property interest, the negro is in all those personal characteristics which belong to an inferior race as much a slave to-day as he was before the Civil War. He still struggles in poverty and disease; he fills our almshouses, hospitals, and jails to a far greater degree than ever was known under slavery. It is true that a few of the race have risen to useful and deserving positions, have accumulated property, and have received educational training; but the vast majority, now crowding our towns and cities, are as degraded as any laboring class can become. Until the ideals of the race are based upon racial pride and a desire for racial purity and segregation from other races the negro will never arrive at a true status of his own racial value. He has characteristics and endowments that should make for his great uplift in the world's service and for his own happiness. He has energy of body, cheerfulness of spirit, and a philosophy of life which make for contentment and the highest social enjoyment; and when he has learned to live for himself and for his own blood, has abandoned the aspirations for a social and marital union with other races, and believes fully in the destiny of the pure negro blood he
will have won a victory for his race that may be the envy of many of the more favored races.
The happiness of the negro in slavery grew out of his innocence and want of worldly pride. He was satisfied with himself and with his surroundings so long as his appetites were gratified and he had the freedom of a buoyant life. He was willing to work and to do hard service; but he loved his music and his song, the frivolities and light joys of the cabin or of the farm. He was a true child of nature and lived close to nature's heart, with a love of the wild and picturesque, with a touch of that freshness of sympathy and feeling for the lower animal world around him; as shown by his love for the horse, the dog, and the small animals he often kept as pets. He often personified these dumb animals and held imaginary conversations with them.
At heart the negro slave, as I knew him, was seldom cruel. He loved to fish and to hunt but seldom was unmerciful. His true nature was benevolent, and responded to kindness with deep appreciation and loyal gratitude. For that reason he had the warmest attachment for his owner when treated with kindness, and this affection was shown in generous attentions to the infant or children of his master.
I can never forget the love and devotion of my father's servants to me as a child, and I want
to rescue the memories of these old negroes from the obloquies which are so often cast upon the race by people who have had little experience with the old negro slave. Many of the happiest days of my childhood were spent with our old family servants and I had quite as much affection for them as for some who were related by ties of blood. My experience is not an exceptional one. There are thousands of men and women in the South to-day who can verify every statement I have made, and who treasure the same kind recollections of the old family servant that I do. I would love to see a monument raised to the memory of these old negroes as high as the Eiffel Tower.
ON May 21, 1862, the positions of the Confederate Army and the Federal in the Shenandoah Valley were as follows:
Stonewall Jackson, with his command, held an advanced position at New Market; Ewell, with his division, had advanced to Luray in the Page Valley. The combined forces under Jackson and Ewell numbered nearly 17,000 men, - the largest force which Jackson had ever commanded. The forces under General Banks had been reduced to 10,000 men distributed as follows: At Strasburg, about 7,500 infantry, cavalry, and artillery; at Winchester, about 1,500 men; at Buckton Depot, half-way between Strasburg and Front Royal, two companies of infantry were stationed; at Front Royal Colonel Kenly was encamped with the First Maryland Federal Regiment, numbering about 1,000 men, and two guns; at Rectortown, 19 miles east of Front Royal, General Gary was encamped with 2,000 men.
The railroad from Washington to Strasburg had been put in service, and the Federal troops were stationed along the line to protect it.
Trains were in daily operation, and large military supplies and troops were carried between Washington and Strasburg. At Front Royal many thousands of dollars of military stores, consisting of arms, ammunition, clothes and provisions, were housed in the depot for distribution.
The Federal disposition of its troops had been arranged with a view to permanent possession of the territory then occupied by the Union forces; and no disturbance of this arrangement had seemingly been contemplated by the enemy, if we consider the results that followed within the next few weeks. The object of the Federal authorities seemed to have been to hold Jackson in the Valley, with as small a force as was possible, and thus prevent his union with General Lee in front of Richmond. A large number of men, under Banks, had been sent from the Valley to reinforce McClellan in his attack on Richmond.
The division under Shields, that had encamped in our village from the 14th to the 16th of May, was at this time near Fredericksburg, on its way to the Peninsula. There seemed to be a total misunderstanding of Jackson's strength and purpose by the Federals, for their forces in the Valley were distributed over a wide territory and were located at vulnerable points. The forces at Front Royal were utterly insufficient to defend a flank movement by way of the Page Valley, and Banks'
position at Strasburg was exposed to attack from the rear. Banks was evidently acting under the assumption that Jackson would advance by the main Valley route, and he was prepared to defend his position in front, without considering his weakness from his left flank. It was not Jackson's policy to run up against great difficulties that could not be met without great sacrifices. In strategy he was bold and resourceful, and he had the faculty of doing the very things the enemy did not expect. Sending a small body of cavalry down the main Valley to produce the impression on Banks that the Confederates were advancing to assault him in front, Jackson broke camp at New Market and crossed the Massanutton mountain through the Luray Gap into the Page Valley. At Luray he joined his forces with those of Ewell and on May 22d, 1862, the combined forces moved north by the road to Front Royal, and that night his men went into camp at Bentonville, 10 miles south of Front Royal. The next morning, - May 23d, - his men were pushed north, and early in the afternoon were posted for the attack upon Colonel Kenly at Front Royal.
The movements of Jackson had been so rapid and so carefully guarded that the Federal troops were taken by surprise when his men drove in their pickets and rushed upon the two companies on guard duty in the village. There was no time
to prepare for defense, and they hurriedly evacuated their camps and ran to join the main command on the hill, one mile north of the village, where Colonel Kenly, prepared for the assault, had drawn up his regiment in line of battle.
At this point my personal experience may be of interest. When firing upon the Federal pickets, posted on the two roads leading south from our village, began, I, with some half-dozen small boys, was taking a bath in the creek that winds east and north around the village. We were in a pool of water about one half-mile north, - near where the railroad bridge crosses the creek. As boys usually do, we were busy at the time building a stone dam across the creek to deepen the water in the pool. The first notice I had of the approaching fight was the sight of a man, whom we all knew well as a Union sympathizer, running at the top of his speed along a path that followed the bank of the stream. We called to him to know why he was running so fast. He gave no answer; but in a moment we heard the report of a musket in the distance and then more rapid firing.
Jumping out of the water, we hastily put on our clothes and struck out for the village. When we had reached the top of the railroad embankment we could see men running wildly through the fields and down the pike in the direction of the
main command on the hill. I recall a man running wildly through a field of wheat, as fast as he could go. He was dressed in a Zouave uniform, his bright red clothes, in contrast with the green wheat, making his presence all the more conspicuous.
We boys crossed from the railroad to the main street and, as my home was south of the village, my purpose was to get there as soon as possible, not realizing that our house was within the Con- federate lines. Running up the main street, I turned to the right, through a cross street that curved in a crescent to meet the street that ran in the direction of my home, and as I turned the curve I ran into the lines of the Federal troops, retreating down the street. About this time I heard the whistle of a bullet that passed by me and struck a house near me; so I turned on my heels and ran back to the main street, until I came to the house of a citizen whom I knew well, and there I found a refuge.
The Federals retreated down the street in great disorder, the Confederates following in equal disorder, firing their guns in the most irregular manner, and yelling and shouting like wild Indians. No one was hurt, and the disorder was more like a police riot than a fight between soldiers. As the Confederates passed the house where I was, a long, thin, and feeble-looking fellow, whom I had
known some months before as a sick man in the hospital, fell exhausted on the door-step in front of the house. He asked for a drink of water, which was given him. In a few minutes he jumped up, took his gun, and started to join his companions. He was a member of the First Maryland Confederate Regiment, which had been given the honor of leading the attack upon the First Maryland Federal Regiment, under Colonel Kenly.
After the troops had passed the house and we were once more within the Confederate lines, I ran as fast as my feet would carry me for my home. When I reached an open square I met a Confederate soldier on horseback, - a man I knew well. He recognized me and wanted to know what I was doing there, urging me to run home as fast as possible and tell my family to get in the cellar as the enemy would cannonade the village and woods around; then, without waiting for me, he turned his horse and rode as fast as he could to my home, to give the order himself. He was a gallant fellow and was killed in battle in 1863. As I started for my home I could hear the firing of artillery by both sides. Between the village and my home was an open space of some five hundred yards which had to be crossed. When I reached the last house, - which stood on the street with much open space around it and just
across the street opposite a large hospital building, now unoccupied, - the artillery firing became very alarming to me. The noise and explosion of shells could be distinctly heard, and I felt that each gunner was looking for me. I saw, sitting behind a large locust tree in front of the house, a Confederate soldier, who told me I had better join him, as the firing was directed at the hospital building and at a battery on a hill south, in a direct line with us.
I was so badly frightened that I was glad to accept the soldier's offer. In the house lived a widow with some five or six small children, - all crying in the greatest alarm. For over an hour, - and it seemed a week - I sat behind that tree believing in my childish fear that every shell was directed at the old house and tree. While in this state of alarm I saw one shell strike a near-by tree, a fragment of another shell wound a cow grazing in a meadow close to my home, and eight or ten shells fall in the yard surrounding my home. One large oak tree in front of our house was perforated by a shell that went entirely through it, and then exploded. This old tree still stands with the scar of war on its body.
After the artillery firing ceased I went home, to find my mother in the greatest alarm about me. The family had taken refuge in the cellar, and no one was hurt, though one Confederate soldier in
the yard had been wounded in the hand by a fragment of a shell.
During the cannonade three Confederate batteries were playing for over one hour on the Federal guns, which did very effective work; for Colonel Kenly put up a brave and stubborn fight, and only abandoned his position when outnumbered and outflanked. His men were closely pressed and, crossing the river, attempted to fire the bridge. The men under General Taylor, of the Louisiana Brigade, followed so near that they saved the bridge for the Confederates to cross on. The Federals retreated in good order until dusk, when they were overwhelmed by the cavalry and nearly all were captured. Colonel Kenly held his ground until his command was completely surrounded, when he was wounded and taken prisoner.
At the close of the fight our village was filled to overflowing with Confederate soldiers, while large bodies of them pushed on toward Winchester and others went into camp along the roadside, or wherever the night overtook them. They had marched strenuously and were jaded from hard work and the heat of the day. There were many hungry stragglers, separated from their commands by the fatigue of the march, who sought food at farmhouses and at homes in the village.
The return of the Confederates so cheered our
people that they opened their hearts and homes to the soldiers with joyful welcome and dispensed lavish hospitality. The victory won in the afternoon was believed to be but the forecast of greater success for the Southern cause, and many persons went so far as to hope that the war would end with the Valley Campaign that Jackson was now making.
At that early stage of the war our people had the greatest abundance of food supplies and many of the luxuries of peace. In my own home the smokehouse and pantry were filled with meat, flour, sugar, coffee, eggs, butter, and milk. We had Aunt Susan in the kitchen, with other women servants to assist her. These negroes went to work with as much energy and zeal as my mother to cook food for the soldiers as fast as the men came for it.
That afternoon and the following morning my mother estimated that she had fed over 300 men.
Our house was filled with Confederate officers, and there were, also, among our guests several distinguished citizens in public life, who followed the army as lookers-on. At the first evening meal after the Federals had been routed, these officers and gentlemen around our table were as bright and as happy in spirit as it was possible for men to be, predicting glorious results from the campaign. Indeed, one or two were so optimistic as to
predict that Jackson would be in Washington before the end of another week. They little knew the temper and determination of the Northern people, and the vast resources of the Federal Government. The mistakes of General Banks and of the Secretary of War at Washington were not properly interpreted. They were not regarded as mere incidents of war, - incidents that had only a temporary influence over the larger policies that the Federal Government had inaugurated. One of the greatest mistakes our people made was to overestimate the value of our success and to minimize the strength and tenacity of purpose of our enemy.
Jackson pushed on after the battle, trying to close in behind Banks at Strasburg, but Banks took warning, and during the night he fell back to Winchester.
On the 24th and 25th of May Jackson drove Banks out of Winchester and forced him to cross the Potomac. While Jackson was giving heavy blows to Banks, and was moving his army by rapid marches as far north as Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry, our village was the seat of great activity. The Confederates had captured large supplies in the depot, and the authorities made use of much of this material; still, the larger portion of the arms and ammunition was not removed into the interior as should have been done. There was neglect or inefficiency somewhere, and much of
these captured goods were lost to the Confederacy by a fire that took place a week later when the village again came into the possession of the enemy.
A small incident occurred at this time that may be worth relating, as it throws some light on the methods then in vogue in the Union army. The evening after the battle of which I have just told, an uncle of mine, an officer in one of the cavalry regiments, came to our home to see us. He and several of his companions, went into the village, and in the general excitement, - which was then prevalent, due to the capture of prisoners, army supplies, horses, and wagons that were brought in, - he saw a captured sutler's wagon and took charge of it. In examining the contents of the wagon he found a large trunk that he pitched out to one of his companions, not knowing its contents. Later, when the trunk was opened, it was found to contain 125 silver and gold-plated watches, many watch chains, and all kinds of cheap jewelry, kept for sale to the soldiers. The sutler had escaped. The sutler who followed the army often grew rich by the sale of food, dainties, and sundry articles to the men in the ranks. His profits were enormous, and his risks correspondingly great; for he had to credit the men until pay-day, and as many were killed or captured, he was seldom able to recover all the money due him.
The morning after the battle the prisoners were marched into the village and placed under guard until they were removed into the interior. As they were all Maryland men, they had friends and relatives in the Southern army; in fact, in one instance, brothers on opposite sides met and exchanged greetings. Civil war has little respect for the ties of blood. In a fratricidal strife the animosities and passions of kindred are often fiercest. These Maryland men in the Federal army had encamped in our village and the surrounding country from May 14th to May 23d. They were an orderly and well-behaved set of men and had been kind to our people; therefore much sympathy was expressed for them in their defeat and capture, and many compliments were passed on their stubborn resistance and courage against great odds. For the Federals had put up a manly fight and only yielded when overcome by vastly superior numbers. Many of them were captured because they were too manly to make their escape. This was especially true of Colonel Kenly, their commander, who rallied his men, making them fight like tigers, until while riding among his soldiers, who were mixed in with the Confederates all about them, he was wounded in the head with a cavalry saber, unhorsed, and captured.
A more gallant soldier and courteous gentleman was not found in either army than J. R. Kenly.
Born and raised in Maryland, he had fought with distinction in the war with Mexico. In the War between the States he sided with the North. A Democrat by conviction, after the war he practiced law with indifferent success from a financial point of view, and though the Federal Government had it in its power to render him valuable services through political appointments, the party in power had no use for a Democrat in public office, no matter how valuable his services had been to his country. General Kenly, - he rose to that rank, - was too proud and spirited to seek or accept political favors and in his quiet and dignified way exemplified the manly and virtuous qualities of the true soldier. His great merit has never been properly appreciated by his State nor by the nation. Maryland never had a more brilliant soldier.
When my father learned the following morning that Colonel Kenly was a wounded prisoner in the village he requested my mother to prepare a substantial breakfast for him as he feared that, as a prisoner, the Colonel would not receive the attention he was entitled to. He had been so kind to our citizens while in command of our village that my father wished to give some expression of his sympathy and esteem now that Colonel Kenly was in an unfortunate situation. I accompanied my father and carried the waiter with the breakfast that my mother had prepared. We found
the Colonel in a large room, - plainly furnished and wanting in real comforts, - on the first floor of an unoccupied dwelling. As we entered, by permission of the guard at the door, we found him in his shirt sleeves, without collar, his head tied up with bandages that concealed his wound. He was walking the floor like a caged lion and seemed to feel his humiliation keenly. My father explained to him the nature of his visit and I placed the waiter with the breakfast on a table for his use when agreeable to him. He expressed his appreciation of the kindness and courtesy extended to him, and though evidently much out of temper when we entered the room, he soon calmed down, with the remark that he did not care for the wound nor feel unpleasant over his capture, but he did resent the way in which he was wounded. It seems that in the cavalry charge the men were much mixed up. Darkness was coming on. Distinctions were not easily made and he had been struck with a saber by a private cavalryman before his surrender was demanded. Having been an officer in the old army, he was punctilious about etiquette and thought he had been treated with brutality. In a general mêlée, such as was going on, men do not show good manners; every man is looking after himself and has little consideration for the other fellow. So the cavalryman that inflicted the wound most probably did
not know that he was making an assault upon an officer of high rank. This recalls an incident that actually took place between a Federal private and a Confederate officer, whom I knew and who was distinguished for his eccentricities and absence of mind. In a small skirmish, in which the Confederate cavalry was routed, the officer in question was following his men in their rush to the rear. He did not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and was riding along in a slow gallop, apparently forgetful of the press of the enemy. A Federal private rode up and struck the officer a mild blow with his saber - just hard enough to remove the Confederate's attention from his dreams. Turning in his saddle, he remarked to the private, "I am Captain M---. Don't you know it is disrespectful to strike an officer?" The rebuke was so deliberate that it quite disconcerted the private, who apologized for his rudeness and let his prisoner escape.
I never saw Colonel Kenly after this interview, as he was taken with other prisoners within the lines. On his release from prison he returned to duty in the army, where he made a successful record during the following years of the war. As the Southern sentiment largely prevailed in Maryland, his military record has never received the high honor it deserved. He lived in comparative obscurity in Baltimore until his death a few years
ago. As a rebel boy I feel that this tribute is due him, for we should honor merit wherever found and pay respect to men who live up to the highest duties of life.
During the week following the battle of May 23d our village was filled with Confederate soldiers. The Twelfth Georgia Regiment was ordered into camp near my home to do provost-guard duty and to watch the gaps in the Blue Ridge, through which the enemy might come to cut off the retreat of Jackson by way of the Shenandoah Valley.
In the meantime we knew but little of Jackson's movements. The battle of Winchester had been fought and Jackson was believed to be invading Maryland by way of Harper's Ferry. We knew he was dealing with the enemy in his front, but had little thought that the enemy on his right and left flank could close in on his rear and cut off his retreat up the Valley. It did not occur to us that Jackson was on the alert for these movements and had made all his plans to defeat them. Few of our people knew that the Federal army was within a day's march of our village.
ON Friday afternoon, May 30th, we were thrown into the greatest uneasiness by the sudden breaking up of the camp of the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, and its march out of our village. As soon as the camp was evacuated a number of men, women, and children, - colored and white, - went to the site of the camp to pick up all the old plunder and discarded articles left by the soldiers. After a camp has been occupied a day or more the abandoned grounds are usually covered with old junk, and often articles of some value are found. The citizens who visited the camp fell heir to these abandoned goods. It was not uncommon for the Federal troops to leave much valuable truck, such as hard tack, old clothes, blankets, boxes, and not infrequently old guns and pistols.
While the camp of the Twelfth Georgia was being ransacked by the people of the village, a piece of artillery was run up without warning, on a hill one mile south, and a shell was thrown into the camp. Such running and screaming has seldom been heard. The camp was deserted in the
twinkling of an eye. In the meantime several regiments of cavalry dashed in a wild charge through the village and down the pike, in full pursuit of the Confederates.
Just before leaving the village the Confederates had set fire to the depot, and while the charge was being made the depot was in flames. To make the pandemonium worse and more terrifying to our people a violent thunderstorm came up. And while the rain dashed, the thunder crashed, and the lightning flashed from the darkened heavens, the fire in the depot raged and the cavalry charged down the pike. It seemed for the time being that the demons from the lower world had broken loose, that we were to be overwhelmed by the enemy, by the fire, and by the violence of nature. The happiness and hopes of the previous week were cast down, and we were again in the hands of the enemy. The Confederates had deserted us and in doing so had threatened the destruction of our village by setting fire to the depot. But for the rush of the Federal troops, who fought the spread of the fire, and the copious downpour of rain, the place would have been wiped out. Our enemies and the bounty of nature saved us from a general conflagration.
Some of our citizens were outspoken in their criticisms of the Confederate authorities for not removing all of the captured goods from the depot.
There was ample time to do so, and valuable property was lost through someone's inefficiency. The Federal cavalry that charged after the Confederates, came upon the Twelfth Georgia about two miles north of the village. That regiment had taken a strong position that commanded the pike where it ran by the side of a hill, lined on one side by a high precipice and on the other by a steep incline. As the Federal cavalry charged down the road a volley was poured into its ranks, nine men were killed, a number wounded, and the remainder scattered in wild confusion. There were no casualties among the Georgians, who retreated now to Winchester and there joined Jackson.
That evening and the following day the Federal troops under McDowell and Shields poured into our village and the fields about and went into camp. In less than twenty-four hours there were 20,000 men encamped within a radius of five miles, - more than Jackson had in his entire command, which was now scattered from the Potomac to Strasburg, 12 miles west of our village on the Valley pike, less than a day's march from either McDowell on the east or Fremont on the west. Apparently all that the Federal generals had to do was to close in on Jackson's rear and capture his army. As "the best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft a-gley" we will see later that the
dexterity and energy of Jackson were more than a match for the strategy of the Federals.
On the morning of May 31st, - the day following the evacuation of our village by the Confederates, - who should come to our home but the same colonel of the Pennsylvania regiment who had been our guest during General Shields' encampment (May 14-16). He had returned with General Shields' division, which was now in camp near us. We were glad to welcome him and gave him a room in our home. During the same day General Carroll, of Shields' Division, and General Duryée, of McDowell's Corps, asked to be entertained in our home. General Carroll was accompanied by his wife and a little girl. The members of General Duryée's large staff were quartered in the yard, but took meals at our table, for we had an abundance of food and a number of negroes for domestic service. Through the courtesy of General Duryée my mother was given an order on the Quartermaster for any additional supplies needed; and Uncle Lewis would go to camp daily and get fresh meat, groceries, and canned goods. For over two weeks we had these officers in our home, with the exception of General Carroll, who joined his command on June 1st.
Our community was now a hive of martial excitement and military operations. Some 20,000 men were in camp, and, with the exception of General
Shields' Division, all were idle. When Shields reached our village on Saturday morning, May 31st, be had ample time to move west to Strasburg and take a position in the rear of Jackson's line of retreat; but for some reason be wasted the entire day and did not move until Sunday morning.
An incident that took place at our breakfast table on Sunday morning fully illustrates the situation. I will relate it as it actually occurred and as I heard and saw it. Though only 13 years of age at the time it is still fresh in my memory to-day, for I have written and related it a number of times.
Sunday morning, June 1st, was a most beautiful day. The heavens were clear, the atmosphere was mild and balmy, the flowers were in bloom, and the birds sang sweetly in the trees around the house. All nature smiled with peace and happiness, and only man was vile and cruel. Seated at the breakfast table in my home were my parents, Colonel McDowell, General Carroll and his wife, General Duryée and his staff, and Dr. Mercer, an old physician, the uncle of Mrs. Carroll who accompanied her so that she would not be lonely when General Carroll was attending to his military duties. I, the only child present, sat at my mother's side. While the meal was being served and all were conversing animatedly, we heard the
slow firing of artillery in the distance. Each discharge became more and more distinct, and the reports of muskets mingled with the roll of artillery, indicated a general engagement on the Valley pike in the neighborhood of Cedar Creek. Attention was soon called to the cannonade and remarks were made by the officers present suggesting the probable cause of the firing. They decided that the engagement was between the forces of Fremont and Jackson, - 12 miles west, on the Valley pike. As General Carroll had instructions to join his command that morning at 9 o'clock and march west to Strasburg, he volunteered to explain the situation.
He told us that General Shields would march with his division to Strasburg to take a position in the rear of Jackson, who, with his advance, was at that time near Winchester, 19 miles north of Strasburg, in full retreat up the Valley. Shields had a distance of 12 miles to cover, while Jackson had 19 miles, and his men were widely scattered. The artillery firing, he said, was between some of Jackson's cavalry, which was trying to hold in check the advance of Fremont from the west, and Fremont's men, who were trying to reach the Valley pike. He remarked, with some brusqueness and braggadocio, that Shields and Fremont would unite their forces at Strasburg by 12 o'clock and close in behind Jackson, thus cutting off the
retreat of the Confederates. Turning to my mother, he said:
"This means, Mrs. Ashby, that before midday we will have Jackson bagged, and the backbone of the Confederacy will be broken."
As there was apparently more truth than poetry in General Carroll's remarks, my mother's eyes filled with tears, and she excused herself from the table. After she had left General Duryée, a most courtly gentleman, remarked to General Carroll that his remarks had wounded my mother's feelings; and he tried to apologize to my father for an apparent boldness of speech that had no serious meaning.
Very soon the company arose from the table. General Carroll took leave of his wife, mounted his horse, and left to join his command that was to march at 9 o'clock for Strasburg. General Duryée and staff also mounted their horses and rode away to their command.
Mrs. Carroll retired to her room to worry over General Carroll's departure for active service. Dr. Mercer took a stroll around the lawn, while my father, Colonel McDowell, and I went out on the front porch. We could distinctly hear the cannon booming on the pike and the direction of the firing was gradually moving south, indicating that the Confederates were holding their ground. Colonel McDowell, turning to my father, remarked
that General Carroll had stated that Shields and Fremont would unite their forces by 12 o'clock and bag Jackson, but that he did not believe one word of it. Then he said, with an emphasis and feeling that impressed me greatly:
"I hope to God that Jackson will lick them."
Taking a chair, he sat down and drew me to his lap, took a silver watch out of his pocket, and put it on me, with these words:
"Keep this watch, my son, to remember me. I bought it for rough use when I entered the army. I have a gold watch at home."
He then said to my father that he had his resignation in his pocket, and was no longer in the service of the Government, and added: "When I return home I will resume my editorial duties and will oppose the policy of the Administration, - its purpose to overthrow the institution of slavery. I am a Union man, not an abolitionist."
It would be as difficult for me to forget the words of Colonel McDowell as to forget his kindness. He remained with us for several weeks and seemed loth to part with us. After his return to his home he resumed his editorial duties and the next time we heard of him he was a prisoner in Fort Warren, for his denunciation of the policies of the Government. After the close of the war he wrote to my father that he had been persecuted
and financially ruined by his war experiences. I still have the watch he gave me.
A few hours after this episode while sitting on the portico we saw a large body of Federal troops marching up the pike, coming in from the direction of Strasburg. These troops proved to be those of Shields, which had been ordered that morning to close in on the rear of Jackson and unite with Fremont.
After Shields had marched some four miles in the direction of Strasburg he met a body of Confederate cavalry that fired into his front column and arrested his advance. He then ascertained that the main body under Jackson had reached Strasburg during the night and early morning, had driven back the advance of Fremont, and was safe from the bag that General Carroll had spread for him. By forced marches and energetic action he made good his retreat from Winchester with all his men, captured goods, prisoners, and supplies, losing not a wagon nor a gun.
General Shields now reversed his order of march, and by one o'clock was moving south by the Page Valley, to try and get in Jackson's rear at New Market. Jackson retreated slowly up the Valley, followed by Banks in his rear, Fremont on his right flank, and Shields on his left. When he reached Harrisonburg he came to a halt and waited for the advance of Fremont and Banks;
he then took a position at Cross Keys and waited for an assault of the enemy.
On the 8th of June Jackson defeated the Federals under Fremont and the following day he crossed the south branch of the Shenandoah and at Port Republic gave battle to the army under General Shields. After a hard and bloody fight he defeated Shields and forced him to retreat north by the same route along which he had advanced. The brigade commanded by General Carroll was engaged in the battle of Port Republic and suffered heavy losses. A few days later General Carroll returned from the front and as he passed my home, where Mrs. Carroll was still staying, he sent a courier to the house with the following message:
"Tell Mrs. Carroll to join me in Washington. Tell Mrs. Ashby that old Jackson gave us hell."
He was tired, his clothes were torn and muddy, and his morale completely broken. In his pitiable condition he had not the courage to face either his heart-sick wife or my mother, though he passed within one hundred yards of the house. He hurried to the depot and took the first train for Washington. This was the last we ever saw of General Carroll. Mrs. Carroll, a pitiful little woman tied to a great big bear, joined her husband a few days later.
Shields retreated north by the Page Valley,
and Fremont and Banks followed the main Valley. Their forces were demoralized by the rough experiences they had had in following Jackson. When Shields reached our village his men were worn out, ragged, and half starved. He had taken little time for rest, for he thought that Jackson was following on his rear. He was pursued by a small body of cavalry that kept annoying him until he was safe under the wings of McDowell, who was still encamped near our village.
After the battles of Cross Keyes and Port Republic, Jackson withdrew his army to a safe encampment near Mt. Meridian. Here he rested his men for five days, then he crossed the mountain and took the railroad that carried his army to within easy reach of Richmond, where he joined his forces with those of General Lee to fight the battles of the Peninsula, - battles that resulted in the defeat and retreat of the army under McClellan.
On May 19th, Stonewall Jackson had begun his Valley Campaign, - a campaign that resulted in a brilliant success for the Southern cause. With the defeat of Fremont on June 8th and of Shields on June 9th, he had been on the march for 23 days; had covered nearly 200 miles; had driven Banks across the Potomac; had withdrawn McDowell's forces from Fredericksburg, where
they were on their way to reinforce McClellan before Richmond; had seized valuable supplies at Front Royal, Winchester, and Martinsburg, and at length, although surrounded on three sides by 60,000 men, had escaped the snares set for him and brought off his prisoners and captured goods without losing a wagon. And he had done all this with a comparatively small loss of men. The battle of Port Republic was his most costly victory, but its results were so brilliant that it was a fitting close to a scene of warfare that will live in history with the great campaigns of the world. It raised the fame of Jackson to the highest pinnacle of military renown, giving him a position among the greatest soldiers of the age.
Having followed Jackson to his union with Lee before Richmond, I must now return to the situation of affairs as they were presented in my own home.
After the battle of Port Republic the Federal troops were encamped in and near our village until about the 20th of June. During the greater part of this time we lived in daily expectation of an attack from the Confederate forces. The Federals were kept in anxious suspense, since Jackson's whereabouts were not known. Strong guard was kept on the outposts, and every preparation was made for an attack. Jackson's union with Lee was not known until the engagement
with McClellan on the Chickahominy was announced. Large bodies had been retained in the Valley to protect Washington, and he had slipped quietly across the mountain to coöperate with Lee.
During the ten days following the defeat of Shields at Port Republic my home was filled with Federal officers. General Duryée and staff were still with us and Colonel McDowell still remained a guest in our home. In addition to these guests, we had two wounded officers, - one Federal and one Confederate. The Federal officer was a German of General Shields' staff, who had been shot in the face at Port Republic. He was a handsome, dashing fellow, quite popular with his companions, - an officer in the German army, we were told, on leave of absence, who had joined the Federal army to learn some of the methods of American warfare. He was severely punished for his curiosity, for his face was badly scarred by a rebel bullet.
A singular circumstance took place in connection with his stay in our home. While confined to his room one afternoon a young woman, accompanied by a German officer, and riding a spirited horse, dashed up to the front door of the house. She sprang from her horse, rushed into the house, and asked the servant where she could find the wounded officer. When told where he
lay, she rushed upstairs and, without ceremony, entered his room. This woman was the then celebrated Belle Boyd. Her history in brief may not be wanting in interest.
She was a well-bred woman, - a native of one of the northern counties of the State, and at that time had relatives in our village, with whom she was temporarily staying. She had developed a strong interest in military matters, and, posing as a Rebel spy and heroine, she had already attracted considerable notice by her exploits; but she was not taken seriously by either the Federals or the Confederates. Though professing warm allegiance to the South, she played with both sides a game that inspired no confidence in either, hence she lived in either camp as it suited her purpose and, as far as I know, was never under arrest. At the time I speak of she was in the Federal lines and was receiving marked attentions from the young Federal officers. On May 22d she had ridden into the Confederate lines and had given Jackson information that proved to be unreliable.
When she rode up to my home to see the wounded German officer she was playing the game of flirt and lowering the dignity of her sex. She was a young woman of some personal beauty, vivacious, attractive, and spirited in manner, and a skilled rider of spirited horses. Nor was she
wanting in energy, dash, and courage; but she had none of the genius, inspiration, and religious fervor of the true heroine. She loved notoriety and attention, and was as far below the standard of the pure and noble womanhood of the South as was a circus rider. Her own sex in the South repudiated her, and the true manhood of both armies was as suspicious of her character as Frederick the Great was of Madame de Pompadour. So much for Belle Boyd. Her heroism has long faded into the forgetfulness of her generation. She has found no decent place in history.
The wounded Confederate officer in our house at that time, Captain Driver, has a most pathetic history. At the battle of Port Republic he was wounded in the eye by a spent bullet, and the wound came very near destroying the vision in both eyes. He was captured and as a prisoner was on parole in our home. Just how he came to us I do not remember but in some way he attracted the sympathy of the Federals and was given the freedom of a private house. He had with him his adopted son, Arthur Waugh, a boy of 18 years, - who accepted capture to wait on his parent, who was so blind as to require someone to lead him around. Captain Driver was kept blindfolded or in a dark room by the Federal surgeon who attended him. He suffered greatly
and aroused much sympathy by his patient, gentle manners and almost helpless condition. He remained with us until the Federal army evacuated the village, when he was carried to Washington. The recollection of this wounded Confederate officer made a deep impression on me, and after he left our home I often tried to find him. I had forgotten his name, but I remembered that he was a captain in a Louisiana regiment. A few years ago I wrote to the New Orleans Times-Democrat and made inquiry about Captain Driver, giving the facts about his wound and capture. The editor of the paper worked up the case for me and published the story as I have related it. It found its way into the notice of the boy Arthur, who was then living in New Orleans. I was soon put in possession of the facts, and learned that Captain Driver had returned home at the close of the war, and died in 1873.
WHILE the Federal troops were encamped around our village, waiting for an attack by Stonewall Jackson, General Duryée and staff were still guests in my home. The General was a man of great courtesy and kindness of heart, and rendered my mother a service that was greatly prized during the next two years of the war. In a conversation on the conduct and extent of the war he remarked that it would be a long and bitter struggle, one that would severely test the strength and endurance of both North and South. He stated that he knew the temper of the people of the North and their determination to restore the Union, and that he also knew the courage and spirit of the people of the South and their determination to prolong the war until their resources were exhausted or victory crowned their efforts. He explained that because of this, great distress would come to the Southern people through destruction of life and property, and their inability to secure the necessaries of life.
He advised my mother to take advantage of an offer be was then able to make. He urged her
to make out a list of such articles of domestic use as a lady would need in her housekeeping for two or three years and then said he would send to Washington and have these goods forwarded to him. Acting upon this generous suggestion, my mother made up a list of supplies, which were soon brought by rail and delivered to her by General Duryée. In this list were barrels of sugar, sacks of coffee and salt, cans of tea and all kinds of condiments. In addition, there were cotton goods, calicoes, needles and thread, and other articles of domestic use. The goods were stored in pantry, garret, and cellar for future consumption. At that time gold and silver were in circulation and my mother had sufficient money to pay for these goods; but it so happened that by this forethought my home was supplied with necessities until the close of the war, and that we were able to give to the sick and needy the luxuries not easily secured in time of conflict. As it was, toward the end of the war flour and cornmeal were difficult to be had, and we lived on unbolted flour.
General Duryée was reputed to be a man of wealth; and his generosity, his bearing, and his equipment indicated this. His uniforms, horses, saddles, and military trappings were very handsome and elaborate, which probably accounted for his having acquired the nickname of the "Bandbox
General." His staff was made up of a number of handsome young men, evidently of high social standing, all natives of New York City. Up to that time he had not seen hard fighting, and his men had more the appearance of being on dress parade than of being rough soldiers. His subsequent war record was most creditable, and he was lacking in neither dash nor courage. At Antietam his horse was killed under him, and at Bull Run he was severely wounded.
In General Duryée's command was a regiment of New York Zouaves that presented a striking appearance, with their bright red coats, red turbans, and white leggins. This uniform was soon discarded by the men who did the fighting, - for it was too showy and made good targets for our rebel bullets.
When General Duryée was taking leave of my mother he delivered to her care a very handsome dress sword in a gold-mounted scabbard, with Damascus steel blade. He told her that in 1859 this sword had been presented to him by the State of Virginia on the occasion of the unveiling of the Henry Clay monument in the Capitol grounds at Richmond, when he was colonel of a New York regiment that was being entertained by the citizens of Richmond. He explained that as he was now in arms against the State of Virginia he desired to leave this sword with a citizen of Virginia
until the war was ended, when he would request its return. He handed my mother a note with the sword explaining how it came into her possession. This sword remained in our home until after the war when it was returned to General Duryée at his request, as the following letters will show.
NEW YORK, FEB. 5TH, 1866.
DEAR SIR: During the campaign of McDowell in your vicinity I was fortunately quartered in your hospitable mansion. When about to leave I gave in charge to your wife my dress sword, which she promised to retain for me.
Will you do me the favor to inform me how I can obtain it, and if communication is open to Washington by rail? Hoping you are all well, and with my kindest regards to Mrs. Ashby, I am
3 EAST 38TH STREET,
On the above letter is the marginal note in my father's handwriting: "Answered February 15th, 1866."
NEW YORK, FEB.28TH, 1866.
Thos. N. Ashby, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR: Your favor is now before me, and I sincerely appreciate your kindness in
preserving for me my sword. The answer made by Mrs. Ashby when I placed it in her charge made a lasting impression, and I told my family that, whatever transpired, I was sure eventually to get the sword. I deeply sympathize with you in your losses. I am familiar with many cases of the same character. One family by the name of Richards at Cloud's Mills, whose mansion was my Headquarters, during our stay treated us with open-hearted hospitality so characteristic of the Virginians. After I left other troops took possession. The newcomers ruthlessly swept everything off of the place, - even the barns were torn down and burnt, - and the family was left in penury and want. I took them provisions, and never felt happier in my life, in relieving the wants of this noble family.
I am happy to inform you that my brother and self are well. My brother was severely wounded at Antietam. He is now Deputy Collector of the Port of Fernandina, Florida. I was slightly wounded three times at Bull Run, and my horse was shot under me at Antietam.
Now, my friend, I do not wish to put you to the least trouble or inconvenience, but if at any time you can conveniently send the sword to Mr. Robert B. Coleman, proprietor of the Eutaw House, Baltimore, Md., I shall feel under renewed obligations.
Present my regards to Mrs. Ashby and my best wishes for her happiness, and accept the same for yourself.
If at any time I can reciprocate your kindness do not fail to ask it. Possibly you have claims against the Government. Can I be of any service to you?
I cordially invite you and Mrs. Ashby to my home; and if at any time you come to New York do not fail to let me know on your arrival. I reside at No. 3 East 38th Street, one door from 5th Avenue. My office is Cor. of Jefferson and Cherry Str.
Yours, with high respect,
Soon after General Duryée left we took leave of all the Federal officers in our home. The Federal army evacuated our village, the railroad trains were withdrawn, and we were for several weeks in free communication with the Confederate lines. The boys in grey made frequent visits to their homes, and the domestic life of our people was tranquil. The Confederates had been victorious on the Peninsula, Richmond was safe, and the cause looked more hopeful.
While the Federal troops were encamped around our village a number of incidents took place that may be worthy of notice, since they
show the spirit and disposition of our negro servants and the cordial relations still existing between master and slave. My father's servants had been exceedingly loyal and faithful. Uncle Lewis had taken charge of the land, looked after the crops and such live stock as we had left, and was most efficient in his work. He had in his room, - collected from the camps as they were abandoned, - an enormous supply of old junk that had been discarded by the troops. Among other items he had several barrels of hard-tack, which made excellent food for hogs and poultry. This article of diet stood in bad repute with the soldier, and seemed to have been repudiated, when it was possible to escape its use. In all the abandoned camps where it had been supplied to the Federal troops as a ration it could be found strewn over the ground and wasted in the most lavish manner. Soldiers in camp are usually indisposed to live on strict army rations, if it is possible to get other food; and as the Federal troops were paid regularly in gold or silver they had spending money, which they used freely for the purchase of food and luxuries that were not on the army bill of fare.
The sutlers, who followed the army, supplied many of these luxuries; but when the men were in camp for a few days they would wander through the villages and farmhouses in search of milk,
bread, cakes, pies and fruits. During the first two years of the war they willingly paid for these things; but later they pillaged and appropriated whatever could be found. The only limit to their thefts was the absence of the things desired. They often wantonly took property of no use to them and destroyed it in a spirit of vindictiveness. Later in this story I will give some account of these acts of vandalism and barbarity, but I must not anticipate. The acts of 1862 were orderly and considerate of private property, and the men who were encamped on our lands and often stayed in our homes were princely gentlemen in comparison with those who came later.
During the spring and summer of 1862 our people were treated, - except in rare instances, - as kindly by the Federals as by the Confederates so far as private rights were concerned. Whilst they camped on our lands and burned fences and old buildings they did not destroy growing crops or those gathered in barns and granaries. Our homes were protected by guards and the smoke-house, poultry yard, and pantry were safe from pillage. When our home was filled with Federal officers we had the greatest abundance of food supplies and plenty of servants to prepare and serve it.
Old Aunt Susan, our cook, was most energetic and faithful; she attended to the poultry, to the
dairy, and the kitchen, and soon found many opportunities to profit by the situation. The men from the camps began to come to the house to get milk, butter, and eggs. With my mother's permission, Susan was allowed to employ her spare time in baking bread, pies, and cakes which she sold at good prices; and in a few months the crafty old negress had accumulated a handsome pile of gold and silver which she carefully guarded. Indeed, at the close of the war she had saved so considerable a sum that she purchased a home in the village, in which she lived until her death.
All the servants around our home fared well at this time, as they were generously tipped by the officers. The same may be said of many others who were able to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented for money-making out of the Federal troops. These opportunities all disappeared after 1862, and during the following years of the war our people, - white and colored, rich and poor, - were subjected to many hardships and privations. The temper of the enemy had changed, and the policy of the Federal Government had hardened to a brutality toward innocent men, women, and children, whose only crime was that they were loyal to the Southern cause and gave encouragement to the men of their blood, who were fighting for their independence.
As the greater number of our negroes still remained with their owners they bore the hardships of war with equal spirit and endurance. These faithful servants were often the mainstay of their owners, for they cultivated the crops and raised what food supplies our people had to live on.
THE defeat of McClellan on the Peninsula gave rise to a new movement that soon led to the withdrawal of the Federal forces from northern Virginia. General Lee withdrew his army from the defense of Richmond and on July 16th instructed Stonewall Jackson to move north to Gordonsville, and from that place to advance to Madison Court House. General Pope, in command of the Federal army of 40,000 men, was located near Culpeper Court House, with his outpost at the Rapidan River. Pope showed great activity and issued bombastic reports to his army of what he proposed to do to the Confederates, not disguising his hostile criticisms of McClellan's defeat on the Peninsula. With his "Headquarters in the Saddle," he pushed forward to attack Jackson's advance from Gordonsville. Some of his cavalry had passed around the east side of Gordonsville and had reached Hanover Court House, where they were repulsed by General J. E. B. Stuart's cavalry.
Jackson urged Lee to send him reinforcements from Richmond, and when it became clear to Lee
that Richmond was safe from an assault from McClellan he moved the greater number of his men to join Jackson and press north toward Washington. It was then announced that the policy of the Confederate Government was to make an advance into Maryland, and in this way draw McClellan's army from in front of Richmond. Both Lee and Jackson were advised as to the strength and position of the Federal army occupying the territory between the Rapidan and Potomac. They also sized up the character of Pope, and determined to deal him a blow that would silence his braggadocio and bold assumption of superiority over McClellan. Pope was the first of the Federal officers to order his troops to subsist upon the country and to hold the citizens responsible for all damages done to roads, railways, and telegraph lines by guerillas. He also ordered his generals to arrest every citizen within the limits of their lines, to administer the oath of allegiance to the Union, and to expel from their homes all who refused to take it.
"The Confederate Government retaliated by declaring that Pope and his officers were not entitled to be considered as soldiers. If captured they were to be imprisoned as long as their orders remained unrepealed and, in the event of any unarmed citizens being tried or shot, an equal number
of Federal prisoners were to be hanged." 1
This put a check for a time upon a brutal policy that began to war upon innocent people.
Pope was greatly aided by the energy and enterprise of his cavalry, under General Buford and General Bayard, which annoyed the Confederates by raids within their lines. Jackson watched the movements of Pope with quiet patience. He had at this time a force of 24,000 men to oppose an army of 47,000. It was Jackson's purpose to draw Pope forward and separate him as far as possible from Washington and his lines of communication. He retired beyond Gordonsville, having been reinforced by the army under Lee and A. P. Hill. On August 3d General McClellan moved his command, by order of General Halleck, - then the newly selected adviser of the War Department in Washington, - from the James to the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg. On August 6th Pope began to move south to attack Jackson at Gordonsville, but on the 7th Jackson advanced north to Orange Court House to oppose Pope. On August 8th Ewell's Division, in the advance, crossed the Rapidan and was within 18 miles of Culpeper Court House, where Pope had concentrated his forces.
On the afternoon of the 9th Ewell's Division,
in the advance, reached Slaughter Mountain, where it ran into a force of Federal cavalry that was massed on the banks of Cedar Run. Before three o'clock the Confederate lines had advanced, and a general engagement was brought on. The battle of Slaughter Mountain was hotly contested by the Federals but resulted in a victory for the Confederates. The loss on both sides was very heavy. In some 90 minutes 3,000 men had fallen.
At 5 o'clock the Federals left the field. Jackson soon learned from his prisoners that the men who opposed him were the same he had fought in the Valley. As Jackson was greatly outnumbered by the reinforcements that had come to Pope, he quietly withdrew behind the Rapidan. This movement so encouraged Pope that he claimed a victory and announced that this was only the first of a series of victories that awaited his army. The facts were that he was thoroughly done up by Jackson and did not make an advance on the 10th and 11th of August.
In the battle of Slaughter Mountain a gallant major of a Virginia regiment was killed leading a charge. He was a native of our village, but before the war had moved to a distant county in our State. He entered the army and by his gallantry was promoted to the rank of major. Had he lived longer he no doubt would have reached
a much higher grade. I have distinct recollections of his handsome and striking bearing as a young man. When I was a small boy my parents boarded in the home of his widowed mother, who by her kindness had won my affections. He had a number of near relatives in our county who were sorrowed by his death.
In the same fight a relative of mine, a brave lieutenant in a Virginia company, had his leg carried away by a shell. This incapacitated him for active service during the remainder of the war; and though after the war he graduated in medicine and practiced his profession with success, he was always greatly handicapped by his misfortune. Be labored hard and unselfishly in his profession for many years until called to join his companions in arms who had crossed the river before him.
When Jackson withdrew behind the Rapidan be had a distinct purpose in view. He hoped to draw Pope after him; he wished to rest and strengthen his forces, and he had under consideration a plan of flanking Pope and getting between him and Washington. He had the enemy disturbed by his actions, as it was uncertain what he would do. McClellan wrote to Halleck, "He will suddenly appear, when least expected." His movements were too unreliable for the comfort of Pope and the Federal authorities.
When the Confederates were quiet the North
was anxious. Wall Street was the barometer. Stocks fell and the premium on gold advanced. Pope's so-called victory at Slaughter Mountain had only given rest to the army; it had given no assurance that Jackson had been vanquished. McClellan had been allowed to move his army from the Peninsula, as fast as transports could carry it, to the defence of Washington.
On August 19th the exact position of the Federal armies was known. The following day Jackson, with three divisions, broke camp at Gordonsville and marched north to Pisgah Church. Lee had moved his forces from the defence of Richmond and had reached Gordonsville before the enemy knew of his change of base. The Federals were not apprehensive of danger and their forces, numbering now some 52,000 men, were scattered in camps over wide territory, stretching from the fords of the Rapidan to Culpeper Court House.
The main force was stationed along the road leading direct from Culpeper to Gordonsville, for the enemy assumed that Jackson would advance by that route. Pope made the same mistake that Banks had made in holding Strasburg when Jackson flanked his position by advancing by the Page Valley and getting in his rear at Front Royal and Middletown.
The move to Pisgah Church left the Federal
army open to attack on its left flank. Owing to a misunderstanding of Lee's orders the Confederate troops failed to push north from Pisgah Church and close in on the rear of Pope's army at Culpeper. A delay of two days gave Pope the opportunity to fall back and protect his rear; and he took a position on the Rappahannock River between Brandy Station and Manassas.
In the meantime, Jackson, following the retreating force of Pope, reached Brandy Station after a march of 20 Miles. On August 21st Pope had massed his entire force on the left bank of the Rappahannock, where he occupied a strong position. It now became necessary to employ one of those flank movements, with which Jackson was so familiar. While Lee, with a large force, threatened Pope in front Jackson moved around Pope's right wing in the direction of Warrenton Springs, where he crossed the river under many difficulties; and, by keeping the enemy deceived as to his movements, he pushed north around Pope's flank and soon reached Warrenton.
Up to this time the Confederate forces were obstinately confronted by the Federals, and a line of action was called for that would place Pope on the defensive and in a false position. At a conference held between Lee and Jackson on August the 24th it was decided to divide the army and to send Jackson north and across Bull Run
Mountain through Thoroughfare Gap, where he could strike the railroad in the rear of Pope and cut off his communication with Washington. In the meanwhile Longstreet was to hold Pope in his present position, by threatening his front.
Early on the morning of August 26th, Jackson passed through the Gap in Bull Run Mountain and pressed forward through Haymarket and Gainesville to Bristow Station, four miles south of Manassas Junction. Burning the railroad bridge across Broad Run and securing a strong position behind the stream, he proceeded to Manassas and seized all the stores, destroying what he could not use nor move. All Pope's supplies were now in Jackson's hands. Pope was at this time between Warrenton and Manassas, with Jackson in his rear and Longstreet pressing him in front. His force greatly outnumbered the divided armies of Lee and it was his plan to crush the forces under Jackson now in his rear at Manassas. Not knowing the strength and exact position of Jackson's army, Pope struck wildly and scattered his men in all directions, - an evidence of confusion of mind and desperation of spirit. Jackson loitered at the Junction some hours and allowed his men to enjoy the luxuries of food that were found in the enemy's camp. It is not difficult to imagine the happiness of the men, - who had for days covered long distances by march, living
largely on green corn and apples, - when they came into possession of the sutlers' wagons and dainty food supplies so abundantly handed out to them.
Jackson's position at Manassas was exceedingly dangerous, but he calculated his chances, with his usual clearness and discretion. He was in the rear of large forces commanded by Pope and was separated from the army under Longstreet by over a day's march. Removing as much captured goods as possible, he set fire to the enormous stores at Manassas and quietly withdrew to a strong position about five miles north by west, where he encamped and took measures for the expected attack by the Federal army.
Jackson had planned that in case of defeat he could withdraw his army through a pass in Bull Run Mountain by way of Aldee. Established in this position, he was prepared for offensive operations on the part of the enemy; and if he could hold his ground until Longstreet could join him, he felt able to deal a severe blow to the Federals. Pope, as soon as he was informed of the capture of Manassas, withdrew from the Rappahannock and rushed back to Manassas, holding to the view that the force that had captured the place was only a raiding party of cavalry. At that time he was not aware that the entire command under Jackson was in his rear. He lost valuable time in marching
and countermarching to discover Jackson's position. He did not know the position of his own troops until informed that his men under General King and General Gibbons had run up against Jackson and had been engaged in a severe fight, which Jackson had brought on with the intention of drawing the whole Federal army on him. The effect was shown by the results of the next two days.
Late at night, when Pope learned of the engagement at Groveton, he gave orders for an attack on Jackson on the morning of August 29th. His purpose was to hurl a large force against Jackson before reinforcement could reach him, and thus crush him. Jackson was not aware at that time that Longstreet had broken through Thoroughfare Gap and was near at hand. His position seemed critical, with the whole of Pope's army in front of him. With the coolness and courage that never deserted him under the most trying circumstances, he arranged his men in line of battle for the oncoming attack. By early dawn the Federal troops were seen advancing in columns for the attack. In the meantime Jackson had learned that Longstreet was near at hand, and he prepared to hold the enemy at bay until Longstreet could give a counterstroke to the left wing of Pope's army.
All day, and until five o'clock in the afternoon,
Pope hurled his columns against the Confederates, with a dash and daring that indicated a desperate frame of mind. As his men assaulted the Confederate lines at every point they were driven back with dreadful slaughter. The fields were covered with the dead and the wounded. Within a few hours Pope had lost over eight thousand men; and the Confederate losses were also large. After making five assaults and not breaking the Confederate lines, Pope ordered a retreat and withdrew from the field to renew the attack the following morning.
During the night the Confederates rested quietly on their arms, retaining the position held the previous day. General Lee, now in command of all the Confederate forces on the field, remained on the defensive, waiting for the opportunity to give a fatal blow to Pope. On August the 30th Pope was still under the delusion that he had so crippled the enemy the day before that an easy victory was now in store for him, so he massed his forces for an attack at midday and his army being in position he gave orders for an advance. Assault after assault was made upon the Confederate lines, but they held their ground and inflicted dreadful punishment upon the attacking party. After four hours of slaughter Pope ordered a retreat.
As his men fell back from Jackson's front Lee
saw his opportunity and ordered his whole army to advance. With a strong and determined movement, the Confederates drove Pope's lines back on Bull Run and Centreville. Night only put an end to the brilliant victory Lee had won. On September the 1st and 2d the Federal army retired to the Potomac; General McClellan was put in charge of the Federal army, and Pope was allowed to resign. As a commander of large bodies of men he was a failure; as a braggart and bluffer he was an eminent success, until the bluff was called. The people of Virginia have reason to chastise his memory with criticism and disrespect. Though the example he set found many followers during the subsequent years of the war, - such as Sherman, Sheridan, Hunter, and others of lesser light, - his associate officers in the Union army were at that time gentlemen and conducted the war on a high plane of decency and honor.
THE Second Battle of Manassas gave to the Confederates many spoils and captured goods. A short time after the battle railroad communication was reestablished for a few days between our village and Manassas, and cars loaded with all kinds of army supplies were shipped to our place for transportation into the interior. I remember seeing a number of gondolas loaded with muskets, rifles, pistols, and other arms that had been picked up on the battlefield, either spoils of war or weapons that had been discarded by the Confederates for better ones taken from the enemy. All this old material was useful to the Confederate soldiers, as it placed them in possession of arms much more valuable than those furnished by the War Department.
During the greater part of the early summer of 1862 there were Federal troops located at our village. In the latter weeks of July a regiment of infantry and two companies of cavalry were encamped about a mile away, and two companies of infantry were encamped at the edge of the village
on duty as a guard for the Provost-Marshal, who had his headquarters in the hotel. They were an orderly and well-behaved set of men, among whom were some very gentlemanly officers. As my home was in the suburbs the outpost picket was on a road near the house, and we could neither go in nor come out of the village, without a pass from the Provost-Marshal. The pass was given without objection; but as the pass was good only for the day on which it was issued, it was necessary to have it renewed frequently. In this way I learned to know the officers in charge quite well.
One afternoon a few of our boys, somewhat older than myself, insisted that I should join them in a swim in the river, a mile distant and outside the picket line. We had to steal by the picket by going through a field and woods, away from the main road, to get to the river; and we were all in, having a glorious time, when in some way the Provost-Marshal learned of our escape and sent a squad of infantry after us. We were ordered to don our clothes, and were marched under guard to the Provost-Marshal's office. This was my first experience as a prisoner and the situation did not seem to offer much comfort. Whether my crime called for a light sentence or a heavy one I did not know. However, the good-hearted officer gave us only a lecture on our breach of military rules, then laughed heartily over our escapade.
I was greatly relieved and thought this captain a very fine fellow.
The colonel of the regiment was a very large and stout man, - inactive and somewhat advanced in years, - who had the reputation of being a first-class gentleman but a very poor soldier. He delegated the command almost entirely to the lieutenant-colonel, - a much more active officer and a younger one. At this time I was taken sick with a fever, which alarmed my parents very much. Our old family physician was too ill to do professional work. So my father called the Assistant Surgeon of the Federal Regiment, - a young man of most gentle manner, - to attend me. As my symptoms indicated a typhoid condition the young military doctor requested the Chief Surgeon to see me in consultation. Between the two I was soon restored to health. These two surgeons were exceedingly kind to our citizens, assisting the older resident physicians in their attendance on a number of sick villagers, and supplying the patients with medicines which our own physicians did not have. Our people became much attached to them, realizing that the surgeons of the two armies were equally attentive to the wounded and sick, whether Confederate or Federal. This spirit of humanity has almost invariably characterized the members of the medical profession. Our common humanity should always appeal to the nobler
instincts of our nature and we should always be ready to aid our fellow-man in sickness or misfortune. It is due to our people to say that during the war the sick and wounded of both Federal and Confederate armies were treated with equal consideration. I know that in my own home we made no distinction.
At this time an incident occurred that for a few hours created an unusual commotion and excitement. While the Federal troops were quietly resting in camp, not dreaming of an attack by the Confederates, they were suddenly surprised by a small raiding body of cavalry that dashed into the village and captured the Provost-Marshal and his associates on duty at their headquarters in the hotel. Suddenly surprising the pickets, they dashed into the streets and captured the officers before the two companies on guard could come to their aid, the companies being in camp at the north end of the village and the raiders having come in from the south. Several of them rode down a back street and fired into the camp. The soldiers rushed wildly into their tents, but before they could form in company or squad the Confederates had seized the Provost-Marshal and the men that were with him.
The prisoners, - some on foot and others mounted behind the cavalrymen, - were hurried out of the village. The retreat of the cavalry was
made slow by the march of those on foot and the weight of those carried behind on the horses. In the meantime, the two companies of Federal cavalry, with the regiment of infantry on the hill, hurriedly saddled their horses and gave chase. As they were unencumbered, they made good time and overtook the Confederates five miles south of the village. The Confederates had already released the prisoners on foot as well as a few of those riding double, for they could not make time and they knew that they were being pursued.
Among those captured was the Chief Surgeon, Dr. Wm. Marshall, who was mounted behind one of the men and carried over a mile. When he made known the fact that he was a surgeon he was immediately released and allowed to return to his command. This doctor frequently laughed over his capture as a huge joke, and did not take at all seriously the treatment he received. Some years after the war I met him at a seaside resort and spent several hours with him recalling incidents connected with his stay in our village when a surgeon in the army. He recalled his capture by the Confederates as I have related it and referred to the experience as a most interesting episode in his life. He told me that a rebel cavalryman had picked him up on the street and ordered him to mount his horse as fast as possible. With the double load, the cavalryman struck out for the
country as fast as his horse could run. After going a mile the horse began to slow down in his gait, when Dr. Marshall remarked to the cavalryman that he was a surgeon. He was immediately dropped in the road, and the horse, relieved of the burden, struck off at a faster pace and was soon out of sight. The surgeon then walked slowly back to the village, meeting on his return the Federal cavalry in full pursuit of the Confederates.
The prisoners were dropped all along the roadside; the Provost-Marshal being the last set at liberty. They were overtaken by the Federals about five miles south of the village and only made good their escape by dispersing and fleeing in every direction. All the prisoners were released, but they held on to the horses they had captured.
Nothing came of this raid except one unfortunate casualty. On the retreat from the village three or four of the cavalrymen were separated from their companions, and had to make their escape by a road that ran south, - in a different direction from the one in which they had come. In rushing out of the village they ran into the rear of the picket posted on the road a half-mile south; and the sentry on duty, seeing the men coming towards him, did not know whether he was confronted by his friends or enemies until he saw the gray uniforms of the men. He stood at his post, and gave the order to halt; then fired his
gun. The fire was returned by the men in full gallop, and the sentry fell dead at his post, while the men rushed on, without taking time to see what damage they had done. The dead soldier was taken into a house near by and his body was kept until his comrades were notified of his death. This affair was sufficient to arouse attention and to demand stronger picket posts at a greater distance from the village on the roads leading south. This regiment was in camp some three weeks, and then left to join the forces under Pope east of the Blue Ridge.
From this time forward our village was never used as a permanent encampment for Federal troops. It became a stamping ground for both armies passing north and south, but was seldom occupied longer than two or three days at a time.
Early in August a division of Federals, commanded by General Sigel, halted several days on their march from the Valley to join Pope in Culpeper County. This command was made up largely of Germans, with one brigade of Ohio and Western men, commanded by General Robert Schenck. These German troops could not speak English and they had a bad reputation as thieves and pillagers of dairies and chicken-houses. They gave some of our citizens trouble, for they cleaned up the poultry yards and orchards wherever they went; and as they had a great fondness for milk
they did not hesitate to milk any cow that came their way, drinking the milk warm from the cow's udder. In this connection I will tell an amusing incident I witnessed, which shows the brutal appetite of some men. A few cows belonging to our citizens were grazing in a meadow. The gentle cows had all been milked by the soldiers, and there was one young heifer that was not well broken to stand when milked. The men drove this animal into a corner and with their bayonets held her as quiet as possible. One fellow got on his knees and tried to milk her, but the animal gave a lurch and landed both feet on the man's chest, knocking him over. His comrades laughed heartily and then tried to corner the animal a second time, with no better success. At length they gave up the job and let her go.
General Schenck, who commanded a brigade in Sigel's Division, was a guest in our home at that time, or, to be more exact, he had politely asked to make his headquarters in our house during his stay. As it was always a protection to a family to have one or more Federal officers quartered in or near a private home, almost all our citizens were willing to entertain these officers, for they were gentlemen, and during the first two years of the war they were most respectful and considerate. General Schenck and his staff were no exception to the rule. He was a very courteous and
kind-hearted man, whom we could respect even though he was an enemy of our country.
As I recall him he was a large, stout, and rugged-looking man of middle life, with auburn hair, slightly tinged with gray. He had been a member of Congress from Ohio and thus early in the war had not been able to establish a great reputation as a soldier. He was very intelligent, amiable and courtly in manner, and most deferential to ladies. Every morning before breakfast he would go into the garden and pluck the most beautiful rose, bring it to the house, and present it to my mother. He always wore a flower in the lapel of his coat, which indicated a refinement and delicacy of sentiment not often observed among military men.
He was very careful in his dress, and had as his valet a young mulatto man who looked after his personal comfort. When he left our home this negro stole an overcoat belonging to my father and a number of small articles belonging to the room occupied by General Schenck. My father wrote to General Schenck and gave him a list of the articles stolen, having, however, no expectation of ever recovering the articles, and writing more to post the General as to the honesty of his valet. Much to our surprise, some three or four days later a courier came all the way from Sperryville, some 30 miles distant, and brought the stolen goods,
with a courteous note from the General, offering apologies for the negro.
The negro had stolen the goods but claimed that he had taken them believing that they belonged to the General. The valet had lied, for he knew perfectly well that the Confederate gray overcoat, with cloth buttons, was much too small for a man of General Schenck's large proportions. Fortunately he had been caught before he had time to dispose of the stolen goods. A small incident like this would have been disregarded by the vast majority of men in the General's position; and his attention to so small a matter showed his nice sense of honor and his consideration for the rights of a citizen in whose home he had passed only a few days.
General Schenck was a seasoned soldier. At the battle of Slaughter Mountain Sigel's Division suffered severely and General Schenck's Brigade bore the brunt of the fight. Again, at Second Manassas Sigel's troops were severely handled, and General Schenck was wounded and as a result lost an arm. After the close of the war he was appointed Minister to the Court of St. James by the President of the United States. During his service in England he became very popular because of his rare social gifts and his genial personality. He was also the author of a book on the game of poker, - a book that became an authority, and has
been widely used by card players. Because of this contribution to the amusement of the public he obtained the sobriquet of "Poker Schenck," perhaps the most widely known way of distinguishing him.
In relating these incidents I am perhaps repeating much history that is known to the generation that lived just before, during, and after the war. Yet many of the facts related may have an interest to the present generation and to those that follow, since they illustrate the character and temper of the times and of the people who took part in the events recorded.
IN the early spring of 1862 the people of Virginia found large bodies of Federal troops invading her territory. McClellan had pushed his forces on the Peninsula within a few miles of Richmond, and the fall of the Confederate capital seemed probable. In the Shenandoah Valley the Federals had reached as far as Harrisonburg, and held possession of the most fertile section west of the Blue Ridge. A large army under General Pope was pushing into the interior by way of Culpeper Court House and Gordonsville. The armies of the Confederacy were kept in constant action on the defense, yielding here and there to the pressure of larger forces in front. Nothing but the mistakes of the enemy and the boldness and activity of the Confederate armies could change the situation. The first opportunity came when Jackson pushed west and defeated the Federal army at McDowell on May 8th and 9th. Returning to the Valley with this prestige of success, Jackson began the great campaign that resulted in the defeat of the armies under Banks, Shields, and Fremont.
Within 30 days he had marched his men over 200 miles, and captured large supplies and prisoners and had defeated the Federal armies in every engagement. This great strategy and accomplishment had raised Jackson's name to the highest renown; but this quiet, earnest man was thinking and caring little for his personal distinction. His best efforts were devoted to the cause he loved, and his one aim was to free his State from the invading army.
The movement of Jackson's forces to the Peninsula and his coöperation with Lee soon led to the defeat of McClellan and the withdrawal of his army from the front of Richmond. Next came the advance north led by Jackson, the battle with Pope at Slaughter Mountain, and the flank movement around Pope, resulting in the retreat of his army to the Rappahannock, where it was held on the defensive until Jackson had moved around his right wing, captured Manassas, with its stores, and cut off all communication with Washington.
Next came the second battle of Manassas with complete rout of the Federal army and its retreat to the Potomac.
The successes of the Confederate arms in such rapid succession had driven the Federal forces almost entirely off the soil of Virginia. In all these victories the genius of Stonewall Jackson stood out in bold relief. As a strategist, as a
leader, as a genius of bold and daring adventure, he had no equal. Jackson was always aggressive, his mind was full of initiative, of cunning, and daring, which gave a spirit of inspiration to all his actions and movements. His secretiveness, his earnest piety, his faith in the guiding hand of Providence, his belief in himself and his mission, all gave a force to his military genius, - a genius that grasped every situation and carried him through every difficulty he encountered. The mystery of the man was the inspiration of the men who followed him, who believed in him, and who knew no such words as failure and defeat with him at their head.
These military movements of Jackson have been studied and written up by the students of military history and by the ablest critics of warfare; they have been made the text-book for the student of the science of war, and they will ever hold a place side by side with the work of the greatest soldiers of ancient and modern times.
Jackson had long advised the invasion of Northern territory, and after the First Manassas he had advocated an attack on Washington. The opportunity was now favorable for an aggressive movement north of the Potomac. In this advance Lee assigned the leadership to Jackson. On September 2d Jackson, with his command, pushed across the Potomac at White's Ferry and assembled
his men in Frederick City. Lee with the larger army followed. The combined forces under Lee were estimated at 64,000 men, but as there were many stragglers the active force was 10,000 less. The Federal army under McClellan was at that time being assembled and reorganized in and around Washington. It numbered over 100,000 men in arms, while a Federal army of 8,000 men, under General White, was in possession of Harper's Ferry, and some 3,000 men were in Winchester, there being also about the same number at Martinsburg, - all in the rear of the Confederate forces then concentrating near Frederick City.
It was evidently the purpose of the Federal authorities to hold Harper's Ferry, and embarrass the rear of the Confederate army, and cut off its communication with the South by way of the Valley. It was evident to Lee that this Federal force should be dislodged at once. Longstreet, with 25,000 men, declined to lead the attack on Harper's Ferry, and Jackson at once assumed this difficult task. On September 10th Jackson, - his command reinforced by three divisions, - began to invest Harper's Ferry on three sides.
Crossing South Mountain at Turner's Gap, he moved west in the direction of Williamsport, where he crossed the Potomac. He then marched to Martinsburg, to drive the Federal troops stationed
there into the net at Harper's Ferry. Closing in around the garrison now occupying strong positions on the heights around this place, he began preparations for its immediate capture. Prompt work was required, for McClellan was pressing through Frederick City and South Mountain to the relief of General White, now walled in by Jackson. During the 13th and 14th Jackson's batteries played on the garrison and soon convinced General White that further resistance was impossible.
Early on the morning of the 15th the place was surrendered unconditionally, with a loss to the Confederate side of less than one hundred men. General White surrendered 12,000 prisoners, with as many small arms, 73 pieces of artillery, and all stores, wagons, horses, and army equipments in the place. The results of the surrender were very advantageous to Lee, as his forces were being heavily pressed through South Mountain by McClellan and his 90,000 and more men. Lee was forced to retire to Sharpsburg where he was joined by Jackson, - now released from Harper's Ferry.
The ground around Sharpsburg was elevated on a plateau, bordered on the north and east by Antietam Creek, - a rugged stream that wound its way through high banks to the Potomac, which was from one to three miles west of Lee's position.
With an army now reduced to 45,000 men, it was a serious question whether Lee should, with 90,000 men assaulting his lines, remain on the defensive or retire across the river and take a position on Virginia soil, thus abandoning the object of the Maryland campaign: a decisive battle with McClellan and a crippling of his army. Lee decided to stand at bay and await an assault from McClellan. He had little to expect from this line of action except a dignified defense and a retreat that would retain the morale of his army and weaken the force of the Federal blow aimed at him. The ground and position, properly secured by works, hastily constructed, were favorable for defensive operations; and the burden of attack was placed on the Federal troops, which up to this time had met with indifferent success in assaults upon Lee's men.
Before daylight of September 17th, the firing of the pickets began between the two lines, and within a short time the Federals, led by Hooker, began the attack on the left wing, held by Jackson and his men. Following a cannonade lasting an hour, the advance was made through a wide open field; the Federals pushing forward with energy and daring, until they encountered the Confederate lines, when the resistance became obstinate and unyielding.
Charge and countercharge were made and repulsed.
The artillery was used en masse to silence the Confederate batteries and aid the advancing columns in their assaults. The firing from Jackson's men was poured upon the charging columns, with deadly effect. The men were cut down in such numbers that the field was soon covered with bodies of dead men and wounded, while the living were mixed in wild confusion. The dead lay piled up in front of the Confederate lines in heaps; still the Federals rushed in and in places broke through the lines, only to be forced back for renewed assaults. , Backward and forward the battle raged, with clouds of smoke and crash of muskets and almost deafening roar of artillery. Neither side seemed willing to yield. As fresh men were rushed in to support the Federals the Confederates rallied and closed in their depleted ranks. From one end of the line to the other the battle raged for hours. When the left wing failed to give away the center of the line was charged and recharged, only to be repulsed until fresh men could be brought into action. Failing to break the left and center, McClellan ordered Burnside to attack the Confederate right with three divisions. Here the resistance was long and bloody, and at one time the result looked disastrous to the Confederates; but General A. P. Hill, coming from Harper's Ferry where he had been with Jackson, brought fresh men into
action in time to save the wavering lines and drove Burnside's men under cover.
This fortunate counterstroke at the proper time saved the day. The Federals retired from the field and gave up the struggle for the day, which, extending from daylight to early afternoon, had been gigantic. Every moment was filled with intense action. Marching, countermarching, firing, and loading had put a strain on the men that could last no longer. When night came both armies were exhausted; many soldiers, without food or water, fell asleep in their lines almost forgetful of the carnage and suffering about them. Out of 130,000 men who had met on the field in the morning over 20,000 had been killed or wounded. The Federal losses were greater than those of the Confederates; for the attacking party had been exposed to the greater danger. No less than fifteen generals and brigadiers had fallen in the battle.
After the battle Lee held a conference with his generals to decide whether the army should retreat during the night and cross the Potomac. In this conference, after all had given their opinions, General Lee, mounted on his horse, rose in his stirrups and said:
"We will not cross the Potomac to-night. If McClellan wants to fight in the morning, I will give him battle again."
The will and courage of this great soldier were invincible. He knew McClellan. He knew the temper of his own men.
On September 18th the two armies remained in the same position. McClellan made no effort to renew the attack. Lee collected and buried his dead, removed his wounded across the Potomac as far as was possible, and then during the night withdrew his entire army to the Virginia side, taking all his wagons and artillery with him.
The withdrawal of the Confederates gave McClellan and his Government the nerve to claim the battle of Antietam as a great Federal victory; but the facts did not warrant any such claim, for McClellan had been balked and driven back at every point. His army, while not stampeded, was prostrated and demoralized for the time being, and some days passed before it was able to make an aggressive movement.
With the return of the Confederates to Virginia the campaign of 1862 came to a close. The two great armies that had met on hard-fought battlefields, extending from the Peninsula to the Potomac, had been exhausted. They rested like two worn out game cocks, too deeply wounded to resume fight.
THE Valley of Virginia, which had been in the possession of the Federal troops since the early spring, was now within the Confederate lines. General Lee went into camp in the northern counties of the Valley, where he reorganized his army and gradually restored its efficiency. At his suggestion to the President the Army of Northern Virginia was organized into two army corps, the command of one of which was given to General James Longstreet and the other to General T. J. (Stonewall) Jackson. Each was made a lieutenant-general. Jackson received his commission on October 11th and was placed in command of the Second Army Corps, made up of the divisions of Ewell and D. H. Hill and the Stonewall Division. His corps numbered at the time of its organization about 27,000 men. The First Army Corps, under Longstreet, was transferred to eastern Virginia, and went into camp near Culpeper Court House.
Jackson remained in the lower Valley for some weeks and enjoyed the quiet rest of the camp and the beautiful country around. The larger portion
of his force was camped on the Opequon, with headquarters at Millwood, Clarke County. During this time he was actively engaged in destroying the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Manassas Gap Railroad, between Manassas and Strasburg.
Stuart was active. With his cavalry and with 600 picked men, well mounted, he started on October 9th on a raid into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Crossing the Potomac at McCoy's Ford, he marched north to Chambersburg, which he reached late on the evening of October 10th. Here he secured a number of horses and supplies, destroyed rail and wire communications, and rested until morning. He then marched east to Emmetsburg, Frederick City, and Hyattsville, where he camped for the night, having covered a distance of 90 miles since leaving Chambersburg. On the 12th of October he cut the lines of communication with Washington, but running into Federal troops that were on the lookout for him, he crossed the Potomac at White's Ferry before the enemy could close in on him.
He then rejoined the army in Virginia. In a space of 58 hours he had traveled with his men 126 miles through the enemy's country, without a casualty; had brought back several hundred fine horses, and had located the positions of the Federal army. He was vigorously pursued by large
bodies of Federal cavalry, but he eluded them at every point and inflicted more damage on their horses by the circuitous chases he led them than he was himself exposed to by the direct route of travel he made. The raid of Stuart had the further effect of delaying the movements of McClellan. It was not until October 26th that McClellan commenced the passage of the Potomac and again invaded Virginia. At this time he had with him a total strength of 225,000 men for offensive work, and this army had been thoroughly reorganized and equipped for active service. On November 7th the Sixth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac, numbering 125,000 men, with 320 guns, assembled between Bull Run Mountain and the Blue Ridge. In Washington a garrison of 80,000 was encamped and along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad there were some 22,000 men.
To face this powerful force the Confederates had a total of 71,809 men and 279 guns, - a force divided at that time. Lee did not concentrate his forces in front of McClellan, but held the Second Army Corps in the Valley to threaten McClellan's rear. As soon, however, as McClellan advanced from Warrenton Lee decided to unite his forces. This advance was not made, for on the same day McClellan was removed and General Burnside was given the command of the Army of the Potomac.
Burnside at once changed McClellan's plans and moved the Army of the Potomac to Falmouth on the Potomac, and later to Fredericksburg. It was then evident that the line of advance on Richmond would be by way of Fredericksburg. On November the 22d Jackson left Winchester, on the 27th his army was concentrated at Orange Court House, 37 miles from Fredericksburg, and on the 29th the First and Second Army Corps were united in front of Burnside.
I have followed these military movements through the campaign of 1862 that the reader may have a brief view of the operations of the different forces in northern Virginia, that he may understand the situation of our people, and the effect these movements had upon the domestic life and interests of our citizens. In 1862 our village had a population of less than 500. It was the county seat and only village of any importance in the county. Located on a railroad running from Washington to the main Valley of the Shenandoah, it was in communication by pikes with a large agricultural country to the south and southeast that gave it some commercial importance and considerable inland trade. It had good stores, four churches, a court-house, and a number of attractive private homes. With the exception
of one tanyard, there were no factories in the place.
Our townspeople were largely represented by the professional and mercantile element and a few retired farmers. The people were refined, hospitable and moral, for the community was made up of old families who owned their own negroes and some property. The surrounding country was settled by a well-to-do rural population that owned good farms, good live stock, and a well-behaved class of negroes. When the war broke out our people were happy and prosperous. there was no poverty in our county, for labor was respected and worthy of its hire, and a comfortable living was within the reach of everyone. Of course all this was changed by the fortunes of war. All personal property was swept away, and many of our citizens were impoverished. Those who owned lands were generally able to hold them, but all improvements on the land were so destroyed that the bare soil was about all that was left. Houses, barns, outbuildings, and fences were in many instances burned, or were left in such a dilapidated condition as to be almost worthless. Only two flour and grist mills were left in the county, the others having been burned in the fall of 1864 by the order of General Sheridan.
About 30 per cent of the population of the
county was negro. Of the white population over 90 per cent was of pure Anglo-Saxon blood. There was a small German element composed of moral and industrious citizens. The majority of our people were landowners and farmers, the rural life being one of great independence and refinement. There were a number of fine old estates and many of the landowners lived in baronial style, in homes of comfort and hospitality.
There were few rural communities in Virginia where the people were so free from debt and social unrest as in our county, and few where the rights of the slave were so respected and cared for. Slavery was considered a responsibility, not a privilege. The negro was happy and contented. He loved his master.
Up to the close of 1862 these conditions had not been seriously disturbed. The armies that had passed through and encamped in the county had burned a great deal of fencing and had destroyed some of the growing crops, so that within a radius of two miles of the village there were few fields left enclosed and the land was open to general use. As much of the live stock, - such as horses and cattle, - had been taken for the use of both armies, only such animals as cows, hogs, poultry, and a few old and broken-down horses were left for the use of our citizens. But this stock was sufficient for all necessary wants, and the question
of food supplies had not been raised. Many of the people living in the village began to keep cows, hogs, and poultry and to cultivate the garden and the orchard. In this way home supplies were not reduced to any great extent. This was a fortunate circumstance, as during the last two years of the war our village population would have suffered for the actual necessities of life, had not the garden, the orchard, and the poultry yard supplied the food necessary to sustain life.
Breadstuffs, groceries, and clothing became luxuries, for the wheat and corn were either removed or destroyed by the Federal troops, groceries could seldom be had and clothes were made of material for the greater part spun, woven, and dyed, by our women.
After the latter part of August, 1862, our county was held within the Confederate lines, and, with the exception of a few raiding parties, we had no Federal troops until the early spring of 1863. During the fall and winter months our people were able to follow their usual avocations. The farmers cultivated and gathered their crops by the labor of old men, negroes, and boys. The home life was made sad or joyful as the effects of war were experienced in the results of battle. With all the active male population in the army, the losses by sickness and death in battle were felt by almost every family; and those soldiers that
had so far escaped the casualties of war were at the front, and each mail might bring tidings of sorrow to some heart. Our boys were seldom able to come home on furlough unless encamped near us; but the wounded and convalescent sick came home for rest and recovery, so that our village still remained a rendezvous for a number of disabled soldiers.
The social life was in this way kept in a state of excitement that removed all monotony and gloom and gave a live interest to daily occurrences. All was not sorrow and depression of spirit, for the hearts of young and old were fired with patriotism and hope of success for the Southern cause. The withdrawal of the Federal army, the acts of heroism and the fame of Lee, Jackson and other generals inspired a hope of final victory, and the belief that the war would end in the independence of our nation. Up to the spring of 1863 the progress of the war had been favorable to the South, hence the winter of 1862 was a period of happy expectation. Looking forward to better things, we regarded the events of the past as small sacrifices that a people should make for liberty and independence. Those who had been bereaved by the death of their loved ones or who suffered losses of property were reconciled to the decree of fate because hope seemed to smile on the Southern arms.
During the fall of 1862 the President of the Confederate States called upon the people of the South to observe a day of Thanksgiving and Prayer for the success of the Southern arms. The people were requested to meet in places of public worship and offer prayers to Almighty God in thanks for His mercy and love.
In our village our citizens of all religious denominations assembled in one of the two churches left for worship. The congregation was made up almost entirely of old men, women, girls, and boys, there being not a man there that was able to bear arms. A few old servants occupied seats in the gallery. Of those present some were in deep mourning for loved ones who had died in service; some were sorrowing for their friends and relatives in hospitals and camps; indeed, there was not a soul that was not touched in some way by the hand of war. The minister was an old man whose sons were in the army, whose hair was frosted by the cares of time, whose shoulders were bent under the weight of years, and whose heart had been touched by the sorrows of life. His spirit was the spirit of the times. After the congregation had sung the old hymn, "How firm a foundation, etc.," he poured out a fervent prayer, and then took as his text the following verse: "And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the top of the mulberry trees that then thou
shall bestir thyself, for then shall the Lord go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines." - II SAMUEL, 5-24.
With a clear, sweet, and earnest voice he told the congregation the history of the long war between the house of Saul and the house of David, of the triumph of David over Saul, of the establishment of the throne of David over Israel and over Judah and finally how David had delivered Israel from the hands of the Philistines and out of the hands of all their enemies. He drew a comparison between the struggles of David, and his efforts to establish a kingdom of righteousness for the people of Israel and those of the people of the South in their struggles for political independence.
He tried to explain the nature of the contest the Southern people were making, the hardships and sacrifices they had to endure, the signs of the times, in the going of the leaves in the top of the mulberry trees, and the necessity for united and persistent effort upon the part of every man, woman, and child in the great struggle for liberty in which the Southland was engaged. After referring in the most touching and pathetic way to the sorrows that many in the congregation were now bearing for the loss of loved ones who had fallen in battle, to the uncertainties that then surrounded those now active in service, to the need
of courage and faith to bear all things, he raised his voice, with a spirit of reverence and fire, and cried out, "Bestir thyself, for then shall the Lord go out before thee to smite the host of the enemy."
This sermon stirred the most profound emotion of the congregation, and filled each member with silent courage and with an abiding hope that the Lord was with them. There was scarcely a dry eye in the church. All took to heart the spirit of truth, the admonition of zeal that the preacher had inspired.
After the lapse of many years I am only able to repeat the words and thoughts of the good old preacher, long since gone to his reward, in this brief and imperfect way. The language has been lost but the impression left on my boyish mind was too deep to be forgotten. It has lingered all these years in memory's hidden shelves because it was treasured in the heart and mind, like the prayers taught by our mothers in the very earliest days of childhood that are never forgotten, like the nursery rhymes and little poems and nurses' tales that live forever in sweetest recollection.
DURING the fall and winter of 1862 our community was kept in more or less commotion by visits from the soldiers of both armies. While the Confederate army was in winter camp there were frequent opportunities for the boys in gray to visit their homes on furlough. This was especially the case after the great defeat of Burnside at Fredericksburg on December 11th and 12th.
In November, after Stonewall Jackson left the Valley, the Federal troops took possession of Winchester and that town became the outpost of the Federal army. Frequent raids by the cavalry were made from Winchester into the surrounding country and our village was frequently threatened by these raiding parties, so we were kept on the lookout, as no one could tell when a visit would be made. We then occupied neutral ground between the armies, - ground that was open to the pleasure of either. The boys in gray, whose home was our village, had to conceal their visits at night; during the day, however, they could easily make their escape, for warning of the enemy's approach could be easily given in ample
time for them to escape. The danger these boys assumed may be illustrated by the following incident:
One of our boys, whose home was on the main road of travel between our place and Winchester, visited his home and spent several nights with his family. Early one morning a man dressed in Confederate uniform rode up to the house and rushed in before his presence was known. Without ceremony he entered a room where the boy in gray was seated talking to his mother. As he entered the room the young Confederate took him for one of his companions and rose from his seat to offer him a welcome. The Federal soldier, seeing the boy, drew his pistol and demanded surrender. The boy in gray sprang on him so suddenly that he seized the pistol before it could be fired, then he grappled with the Federal soldier. In the tussle that ensued the Confederate threw the Federal and had him fixed on the floor, while the mother, who was in the room and an eyewitness to the struggle, cried out to her boy, "Give it to him, son; give it to him." But while the fight was still going on a great commotion was heard in the yard and the mother, going to the window to see what the noise meant, found that the yard was full of Federal cavalrymen, who were dismounting to enter the house.
Turning to her son, she told him to surrender,
as there was no chance for him to escape. Up to this time he had had the advantage, and but for outside aid, would have captured his aggressor.
Realizing the situation, he released his hold and allowed the man to rise. Though still holding the pistol he told the man that he would surrender, and he was soon hurried off to prison.
The Federal soldier, - who wore over his blue uniform a Confederate gray overcoat that disguised him completely, was what was then known as a "Jessie Scout." He had ridden in advance of the raiding party, partly disguised as a spy, and had picked up a tartar who would have given him serious trouble had not his comrades come to his rescue.
This occurrence was not unusual, for our boys in gray, when visiting the homes of their friends in the Federal lines or in neutral territory, assumed the risks of war and often made trouble for their families, whose homes were frequently searched and not infrequently plundered by men who claimed to be looking for rebel soldiers, but who were really in search of valuable property.
On one occasion just after daybreak and before any member of my family, except my father, was out of bed a raiding party of Federal cavalry rushed up to my home and entered the house, demanding to know whether any rebel soldiers were sleeping in the house. My father answered
in the negative; but they claimed the right to search the house from cellar to garret.
Going through every bedroom, closet and hiding-place, and finding no evidence of rebel soldiers in the house, they mounted their horses and rode away. In one respect they were decent: they took none of our property. This is more than can be said of those who came later in the war, for our people were often robbed by wandering squads of cavalry, in search of plunder rather than of rebels, who did not hesitate to take anything they could carry away, - especially silver and articles of food and clothing that had any value to them. I will give an illustration.
One early morning in the fall of 1864 two Federal cavalrymen rode up to the side-yard fence that enclosed my home and asked the servant to call my father as they wished to see him. The servant came into the dining-room, where the family was eating breakfast, and told my father he was wanted at the fence by two soldiers. As the air was chilly my father threw over his shoulders a handsome black cloth overcoat that had seen but little service. The coat had a peculiar value as it belonged to a young relative who had been killed in battle, and after his death his mother had presented it to my father, who had not worn it a half-dozen times.
I followed my father out to the fence, where
the men were seated on their horses. They asked a few questions, then rode away, and we thought nothing more of the incident. However, after dark the same day two cavalrymen rode up to the same place and called to one of the servants in the yard to tell my father to come out to see them. As it was dark, we could not tell whether they were the same men we had seen at the same place in the morning. Boylike, I went with my father. When we reached the fence the spokesman remarked that two of their men had reported to General Torbert, - then commanding the raiding party - that they had seen a citizen wearing that morning a handsome overcoat, like those worn by Federal officers, and that they had been ordered to bring the overcoat to his tent, the man with the overcoat, if necessary.
My father protested that the coat he had worn that morning was his own, that it was a citizen's overcoat and bore no resemblance to a uniform. The man insisted that his orders were explicit, that he wanted to see the coat to be satisfied as to its character, whereupon my father told me to go to the house and bring out the coat. This I did. The man on horseback examined it carefully, felt the silk collar and cloth buttons, the silk lining and general make-up of the garment. He then coolly remarked:
"Yes, this seems to be a citizen's overcoat, but
I have positive orders from General Torbert that I must bring the coat to his camp." He also had the courtesy (?) to add: "General Torbert instructed me to bring the owner of the coat with me, if he did not consent to give me the coat. I am satisfied that it will be returned to the owner as soon as it has been examined and found to be the coat of a citizen."
While the discussion was going on the cavalrymen held fast to the coat. It was quite dark, General Torbert's camp was over a mile from my home, and the only route to it was through dense woods. My father knew well that if he undertook the trip on foot he would never reach the General's camp, that these men would gallop away from him or murder him on the way. He saw they were thieves, if not desperadoes, and that the only thing he could do was to submit to the hold-up. After protesting against the brutality of the demand, he said: "Take the coat, it is my property, I never expect to see it again." The villain, again apologizing for the injustice of General Torbert's order, put spurs to his horse and rode away. The men had simply lied about General Torbert, had maligned his character, and had disgraced the uniform they wore. They had robbed a citizen of his personal property when he had no more ability to protect himself than a man who is held up by a set of bandits. I felt most
keenly for my father, for he experienced the humiliation and indignation that every brave spirit feels when personal rights are assailed by brute force and when resistance is impossible by reason of the situation. So I said to him:
"Father, don't worry over this theft. These men are not soldiers but thieves who follow the army in uniform to rob and pillage our people. When I get old enough to enter the army I will have revenge for this insult."
The war was over before I was able to express in act the indignation I felt in heart. The loss of the overcoat was of minor importance, - insignificant in comparison with other losses we had sustained, - but it wounded our deeper feelings, gave us a consciousness of crushed spirit, the sense of helplessness, of mortification because of the indignity to which we had been subjected.
I want to say in this connection as a matter of justice, that such experiences as I have here related, while common, were not universal, and are, after all, almost inseparable from the nature and consequences of civil war. Armies are made up of units, and these units represent the type and character of the men who make up the whole. During the first two years of the war between the States the Federal army was composed of volunteers who represented the best type of citizen of the North and West. The officers who were in
command were in the majority of cases gentlemen of good standing at home, as well as of good breeding. They may not have been the best soldiers, because they had not been tried and hardened by active service, but they were loyal and true men, who were trying to conduct the war on a high ethical basis.
The men who entered the Federal Army during the last three years of the war were of an entirely different type, being the riffraff of the North, foreigners, bounty jumpers, hirelings, substitutes, and negroes, while the majority of officers who commanded them had come up from the ranks. Their views of warfare had changed with the policy of the Government; for when it was found that the South could not be coerced by the force and gallantry of arms, - that sterner weapons were required than muskets and cannon, - the contest narrowed to the basis of endurance.
It was recognized at Washington that the only policy that could win the war was to starve and destroy the Confederate forces, - a policy not confined to the men in actual arms, but used against old men, women, and children in their homes, against life and property, if necessary to the subjugation of a high-spirited people.
The War between the States kindled bitter animosities, yet all through that contest of passion and blood innumerable instances occurred where
the warmest friendships were made between friend and foe, where acts of kindness were done, where generous hearts were ready to help and to heal the wounds and sorrows of individuals and families. Our people have never forgotten the kindness that some of the Federal officers and men rendered them when they held at bay some of the thieves and cutthroats in the Federal army. The generosity and consideration of an enemy can often heal the wounds of his adversary, - can, as it were, pour water on coals-of-fire and drown the flames of passion. This was often the case during the first two years of the war.
It was only as the war progressed, and as the policy of the Federal Government became cruel and barbarous towards the noncombatants of the South that the violent hatred of the Southern people was kindled. This hatred was not toward individuals but was directed at the political leaders and officers that were responsible for the wanton destruction of private property and the unnecessary punishment of old men, women and children of the South who were within the Federal lines. Our people respected such soldiers as McClellan, Meade, Grant, Thomas, McDowell, Hancock, and a number of others of that type; but they repudiated and denounced the cast of Sherman, Sheridan, Pope, Hunter, Butler, and a number of lesser lights, - men that carried fire and
sword in both hands and instructed the men under them to steal, destroy, and carry away the property of innocent citizens. The barbarity of these men is a lasting stain upon a Government that controlled the policies of the nation at that time. If such a policy were justifiable then let us bow in shame to the authority of a civilization supposed to be founded on principles of justice and humanity.
ABOUT the 1st of October our people were relieved of the high tension that the spring and summer months had brought because of the presence in our neighborhood of the two armies. Months had passed since the boys and girls had enjoyed the privileges of school. We were growing up under an exciting life that was educational in only one way: it gave instruction in observations and experiences that in a measure strengthened character. It failed, however, to train the mind in that information that must come from books and from the spirit and instruction of the teacher.
After a long rest from school about the middle of September, 1862, a small private school was opened by a middle-aged gentleman who had been raised and educated in our county but who for some years had practiced law in a Western State. He was not a trained teacher, but he was a man of good sense, education, and character and, above all, a man of good heart. He had returned to Virginia to enter the Confederate army, but as the summer campaign had almost closed he decided to
spend the winter months in teaching school rather than in the idleness of camp life. A small building was found for the school.
It was divided by a partition, the boys occupying one room, and the girls the other. The class was a small one, in which there were more girls than boys. In this school I took up the routine work of book study, but I cannot say that my work was highly profitable. There were constant interruptions, and for days the school had to be closed on account of the excitement and disturbances of war, when rumors of raids and actual raiding parties made it necessary for our teacher to dismiss the class and allow us to go home.
Upon one occasion while we were at our desks a body of Federal cavalry came into the village before we were aware of its presence. Several cavalrymen, with drawn pistols, rode up to the door, called the teacher out, and so alarmed the children that a general stampede followed. There was not a resumption of school work for several days. Early in the spring the Federal cavalry came to our village and encamped there. A few weeks later our school broke up, our teacher joined the army, and four of our oldest boys, then about 17 years of age, left home for military service. A few weeks later two of these boys were wounded in battle and a third was a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland. During the few
months we were at this school many interesting incidents came into my life.
My home was enlivened by numerous visitors who came and went from day to day. I found much pleasure in this company, as also in the winter sports of boyhood. In the fall I gathered walnuts and chestnuts, hunted birds and rabbits and spent most of the day in outdoor exercise with Uncle Lewis and other servants on the farm. We gathered and stored what had been left, cut and hauled wood and provided for the comforts of the winter. When the snow came I enjoyed the coasting on the hillside and with ice we boys had plenty of skating on the ponds and rivers.
I had found in one of the old camps several old muskets and had picked up many cartridges. I would load these old muskets and practice target shooting by the hour, thinking I would some day have to practice shooting at the enemy, if the war continued a few years longer. I had in some way secured a small toy brass cannon that would fire a Minié bullet with as much force as a musket. I mounted it on wheels, and I would take a position in front of a hill and fire away at an imaginary enemy until I had demolished a target placed in front of a tree several hundred feet distant. In this boyhood sport I was often joined by some three or four of my companions of about my age. We all owned several old horses and would
mount these old animals and play cavalrymen, taking rides into the woods and fields, charging, jumping, and running as best we could on our old mounts. These were happy days for us, and we did not realize the fate that might overtake us as the war progressed.
One of my comrades, a lad 16 years of age, - two years my senior, - and I were discussing one day what we purposed to do when we entered the army and in what branch of the service we would enlist. He was a good rider and his father owned a good horse; so he said he would join the cavalry. One year later he enlisted in a company in the Laurel Brigade, and in his very first engagement was killed in the front rank of his regiment during a charge. But for the difference in our ages I probably would have been enlisted in the same service with him.
These pastimes of a boy living between the lines, growing up under the excitement and passion of civil war were the preparatory school in which we were being trained for future military service. The rough experiences, the daily duties, the excitement, and the perils with which we were surrounded were so lightly considered that we treated them as matters of course, - as pleasant incidents, as the roughing of an outing, in which we were seeking adventure and danger of sport.
The fall and winter had nearly passed by when an event took place in my life that offered me much pleasure and useful experience. My father had important business with the Confederate Government which called him to Richmond, then the capital of the South, and the great center of military operations. Richmond had been securely held by the Confederate troops, but was still the objective point of attack. It was held by the Federal authorities that the backbone of the Confederacy could best be broken by the capture of its capital. It was a difficult place to defend, as it was open to attack by land and water, and required large forces to protect it. It had little strategic value except for its railroad communications and a few old armories and flour mills. Its resident population was not over 30,000 persons. It was simply the capital of Virginia and of the Confederate States, and from this point of view it had only a sentimental value, - or perhaps was a moral force.
When my father proposed to take me to Richmond a great pleasure opened up before my vision; for I had lived all my life in a small village and had never seen a city larger than Winchester, which had only some 3,000 population.
We left home on the early morning of March 17, 1863, in a two-horse spring wagon, with canvas on top and sides. My companions were
my father, a young lieutenant in the Confederate army, - who had been home on furlough, - and Uncle Lewis, our driver.
The day was cold, and a light rain with sleet made the temperature most uncomfortable, while the road was muddy and in the worst possible condition for travel. We were from early morning until dark going a distance of twenty-five miles. When night overtook us we stopped at the house of an old gentleman whom my father knew, and who lived on the road between Sperryville and Culpeper Court House. After a hearty supper I was glad to go to bed and was soon sound asleep. Before daybreak we were up and ready to resume our journey. We reached Culpeper Court House about 8 o'clock in the morning, in time to find accommodations for Uncle Lewis and the team while we were in Richmond, and to take the railroad train that was to carry us to the Confederate capital.
Culpeper Court House was at that time the center of military operations, and large bodies of troops were encamped in and around the place. It was all bustle and confusion. The Confederate army was posted along the right bank of the Rappahannock River, extending from the mountain to Fredericksburg, and waiting for the advance of the Federal army commanded by General Joe Hooker, better known then as "Fighting
Joe Hooker." McClellan had been removed to make place for Burnside, and now Burnside had been removed to make place for Hooker. The new commander was expected to do great things. He had not yet tested the strength of Lee's sword.
The train on which we had taken passage was made up of passenger coaches and freight cars. It was crowded with soldiers and army attachés and weighted down with freight. The locomotive was scarcely equal to the work imposed on it and we could not make over 8 or 10 miles an hour. When we came to the Rapidan River we found it so high from recent rains that it was not deemed safe for the locomotive to cross the bridge. Therefore we had to cross on foot and wait on the bank for a train from Orange Court House to take us on our journey.
It was long after dark when we reached the depot in Richmond. We took a bus and were carried to the Exchange and Ballard House, then the leading hotel in Richmond and the headquarters of Confederate officers and public officials on duty in the capital.
The next morning while taking breakfast General This and Colonel That, conspicuous in uniform, were seated at the different tables, while Senators, Congressmen, and other important personages were at breakfast or in the lobby. All this gave a very distinguished air to the company,
and being all so new to me it greatly excited my curiosity, and I asked my father innumerable questions, many of which he was unable to answer.
After breakfast I went with my father to the Governor's mansion and to various public buildings where he had business to attend to. Some of these buildings were on the capitol grounds and while my father was attending to his work I strolled around and saw the Confederate Senate and Congress in session, and took in the general situation from a boy's point of view. When standing on the portico in front of the capitol I saw several distinguished looking citizens talking to a young Confederate officer. My curiosity overcame my modesty and I joined the company to hear the general topics of conversation. I am only able to recall one subject. The officer was so young and boyish looking that one of the gentlemen asked him his age. He replied that he was 19, a native of a Southern State, and held the rank of colonel of a regiment. Although dressed in the full uniform of a colonel, he looked more like a cadet than a man in high authority. I knew enough of history at that time to recall that Alexander the Great was in full command of the Macedonian army at that early age, and that Napoleon was already a distinguished officer when in his teens. This young Southern Napoleon was very modest and unassuming. I have often wondered
what fate he met with as the war progressed.
My father was a very busy man but he showed me as much of Richmond as possible. One night the young lieutenant who had accompanied us from home took me to the theater. It was my first sight of a place of amusement of this character and I recall my excitement and my interest in the play. It was a tragedy of some kind, made up of stirring and bloody scenes that seemed too real for amusement. It was as much as my companion could do to suppress my excitement. I vividly recall one Sunday morning during my visit my father took me to services in the Episcopal church that had as its rector the distinguished divine, Dr. Minnegerode.
After we were seated Mr. Davis, President of the Confederate States, walked down the aisle unattended and took a seat in front of the altar. He was a regular attendant of St. Paul's church, and his presence usually attracted a large congregation. The minister in his prayer prayed for the President of the Confederate States and "all others in authority." After the close of the service the congregation stood while Mr. Davis walked down the aisle, then followed him from the church. This was the only time I ever saw Mr. Davis.
This visit to Richmond was exceedingly satisfactory to me. I had actually seen the capital of
the Confederacy, and had observed the scenes behind the seat of war where the affairs of the new nation were being directed, where all the policies of the Government were organized, and where the hopes of the Southern cause were centered.
It was evident from the preparations that were being, and had been, made for the defense of Richmond that the Confederate authorities had no intention of ever abandoning that city as the capital of the Government until forced by the might of arms to do so. Richmond had become the center for the manufacture and storage of military supplies; it had large hospitals and prisons, and had grown by the influx of people who were either connected with the Government or had been driven from their homes by the fortunes of war and had sought a refuge in this city. If any place were safe from the invasion of the enemy, they argued, Richmond was that place. Moreover the activity and business life of the city offered opportunities for making a living not found in other localities.
The cost of living was high, but Confederate money was plentiful and could be had in large sums in exchange for anything anyone had to sell. One hundred or two hundred dollars a week for board did not come high when one dollar in gold was worth from 25 to 50 dollars in Confederate money. The lower the value of the
paper dollar the higher the value of the commodity it would buy, hence the denomination did not regulate values; it was only a basis of exchange. Even the soldier in the ranks, who received the low wage in Confederate currency, was able to pay the high prices through the unbounded supply which came to him in many ways. If he was lucky enough to make a capture in battle or to hold up a prisoner with a few silver or gold dollars, he reaped a fortune in Confederate money. In 1863 a captured horse would bring from $500 to $5000 in Confederate money, and a pair of boots from $50 to $200; so the dollar grew cheaper and the article it purchased dearer. These were only relative conditions in the nature of the transaction, provided the seller and buyer could come to a basis of exchange. The vital significance of the situation was what it indicated: the rotten and worthless financial policy of the Government and loss of respect for civil authority.
I HAVE often wondered why the Confederate Government did not abandon Richmond early in the war and fall back either to Lynchburg, Charlottesville, or Danville, where the enemy would be drawn further away from its supplies and more exposed to flank movements. During the Third Silesian War Frederick the Great abandoned Berlin, his capital, and carried his government with him in the field. He was driven from pillar to post, defeated here and there, yet he held his ground for over seven years until he finally won success for his country.
No such policy seemed to guide the Confederate authorities. It was simply "hold on to Richmond or go down in disaster." To all appearances Richmond was more important to the Confederacy than the cause they were fighting for, a policy that has never appealed to my judgment.
General Lee, Mr. Davis, and others in authority no doubt knew best what to do, but if they were familiar with the history of Frederick during the
Silesian war, it is singular that they did not see the wisdom of his policy. The Confederate authorities were trying to force a foreign recognition of the Confederate Government, first, by withholding cotton, and second, by maintaining its dignity through holding the Southern capital. If this statement is true, then both policies were wrong. War loses its dignity when the enemy has you by the throat and is trying to squeeze the life out of you; when that happens the time has come for daring and extreme measures, and the only dignified thing to do is to force the enemy to release his hold and come back at him in the undignified way. Meet him on his own ground, not by parry and thrust, but by stabs, cuts, - anyway to overcome him.
The Southern people have prided themselves on the self-sacrificing efforts they made for their cause. They seemed to think it was better to go down in defeat maintaining high standards of chivalry, honor, and a pride of noble defense.
Did the North take this view of the war? Not by any means. It was simply a matter of cold business calculation. She spent her money, hired foreign troops, enlisted the negro, robbed and pillaged Southern homes, and by every means, - fair or foul, - tried to wear out and destroy her enemy. This she finally did. That was the Northern idea of war. "War is hell," says General Sherman.
In theory and practice he was right. Why the Southern leaders did not take this view and fight the devil with his own fire I fail to see. There is no humanity in being courteous to an enemy that is trying to take your life. The human thing to do is to take his life first and the consequences later.
Richmond was held until the last; and when Richmond was abandoned the Confederacy collapsed. This is about all that can be said.
Thousands of lives and millions of money were sacrificed in holding a position that could only be defended by large armies. When the Confederate army was used up by death and starvation Richmond fell and the few men left retreated into the interior. Only a corporal's guard was left to maintain the contest, and General Lee - perhaps wisely - made a surrender when completely surrounded by the enemy. The heart of this noble man and soldier was broken when he gave up the cause he had for four years led in battle with a success that has astonished the student of military history. General Lee was a great soldier, perhaps among the greatest the world has ever known, and he was as great in soul and character as he was in military genius. He lacked only one element of strength; he was not a great politician and administrator of civil affairs. He deferred to the civil authorities and took little or no part in
the policies and conduct of the Government. Had he been a dictator, a man of the type of Napoleon, of Cromwell, or of Frederick the Great, in all probability the fate of the Confederacy would have been different.
The President and his whole cabinet would have been overruled, and a strong military power would have directed the policy of the Government. Had the civil Government been conducted as the armies were handled, few mistakes would have been made. Mr. Davis assumed the rôle of statesman and soldier. One or the other he might have been. In both capacities he was neither fitted by temperament nor hard common sense to measure up to. His zeal, loyalty, and devotion to the cause have never been questioned. No man tried harder to do his duty as he saw it. No man suffered more from the consequences of the war. His blunders were honestly made, but they are open to criticism and have received all the consideration to which they were entitled. It is not my purpose to open up a discussion upon which history has already passed its verdict.
Mr. Davis was a pure and upright man. He was a great patriot, but he was not a leader for such a cause as the South had espoused. His dignified bearing, his flowery oratory, his chivalric nature invested him with an importance that he did not possess. He had knowledge, talents, and
great personal gifts, but he did not have wisdom. He was preeminently a preacher, not a doer of practical and sensible things. His executive ability was not far seeing and orderly. His talents were not constructive. His knowledge of men was poor and was narrowed by his prejudices. The difficulties surrounding him were great, and he failed to grasp the details and consequences of passing events. Charles Dickens has said that Bishop Laud was the most learned man of his day in England - and the biggest fool. He had vast knowledge and no common sense. David Garrick, in speaking of Oliver Goldsmith, remarked that he wrote like an angel and spoke like poor Poll. General Lee, in commenting on the campaign of McClellan, said that he knew every movement he would make because he knew his training. These comments upon the characteristics of great men go to show that genius and learning are often narrow in their scope, and that the possession of great talents in one line of intellectual effort does not imply that the individual is thereby qualified for a high order of work in another direction.
Mr. Davis was gifted in debate and in oratory. He was a power in the United States Senate, and in forensic discussion; but as the executive of a great revolution he was out of place and he filled the executive chair with as much ability as a bank
president could lead an army. The Confederate Government needed at its head as president a man of great constructive ability, of initiative, of large executive talents, and vigorous common sense. Mr. Lincoln possessed these gifts to a much larger extent than did Mr. Davis. Had Mr. Lincoln been at the head of the Confederate Government, and Mr. Davis president of the United States, who doubts the success of the South?
As I remember Mr. Davis, - on the only occasion that I saw him, - he was rather tall, slender, and erect in stature, distinguished and graceful in carriage, and dignified in his bearing and general make-up. His face was shaved and his hair, somewhat tinged with gray, was not overabundant. His nose was well formed, his eyes piercing, his face thin and drawn with care and thought. His appearance did not indicate robust physical health but rather a wiry, elastic energy that would endure hard work and exacting duty. His countenance indicated refinement, culture, and a spirit of quiet force and determination. He looked the type of the minister, the poet, the orator, or the philosopher, anything other than the soldier, the great executive, the man of detail and fiery energy.
In stature and physical build he was the opposite of Lee, of Jackson, and of Lincoln. Lee
was an Apollo in his physical make-up; Jackson was a homely, ungraceful and plain man in his carriage but he was endowed with an activity and energy of body and spirit that no labor could break down; Mr. Lincoln was a giant in height, with a frame as rugged as it was homely and striking in manner and personality. All these great men differed as widely in their intellectual and spiritual gifts as they differed in physique. Each represented a type, and the distinguished part that each played was largely due to his fitness for the work undertaken. Mr. Davis seemed to be the only one improperly classed.
Greater perhaps than any one of the three men I have mentioned in those gifts of mind that stand for the highest intellectual attainments and nobility of soul, he needed that power of action and balance of judgment so necessary to the great leader of desperate situations. He was not preeminently a man of action, of desperate resolution, or of fiery passions. His mind was a storehouse of knowledge, of beautiful thought, of intense patriotism, of deep conviction, trained to move men by language of flowery speech and deep emotion, not by vigorous, daring, and bold adventure.
America has produced few men who have equaled Mr. Davis in purity and nobility of character and in those higher gifts of mind that make
great names in history. It is unfortunate for his fame that circumstances made him the leader of a great movement that needed different characteristics from those which he possessed.
Mr. Lincoln was not a man of scholarly education, of wide learning, or of great oratorical power, yet he had the genius of common sense, the faculty of saying and doing the right thing at the right time. His knowledge of men, his clear views of the political situation, his powers of leadership were phenomenal. His clear, concise, and patriotic oration at Gettysburg placed him in the front rank of the world's great orators. Neither Demosthenes nor Cicero, Burke nor Sheridan, Webster nor Clay ever touched the hearts of nations as did Mr. Lincoln by his great classic.
History has shown that men have been raised up for important occasions. Great leaders have been discovered. Circumstances have molded the man for the occasion as much as the occasion has molded the man. When the leader has not measured up to the occasion he has gone down in disaster. It was unfortunate for Mr. Davis that he had in his cabinet but one or two men who were really strong and well-trained advisers. The Department of the Treasury and the Department of War were badly conducted. The finances of the Confederacy, especially, were conducted on the weakest financial basis. The credit
of the Government was discounted in the very beginning of the war. The South had little gold and silver currency, and no mines that yielded these precious metals in any quantity. She had, however, a staple product that always commanded a ready market. "Cotton was king"; and the Confederate Government bought cotton with treasury bonds and currency, hoarded it, and then failed to use this great staple to any advantage. During the first two years of the war the Southern ports were practically open, and it was possible then to have shipped millions of bales of cotton to foreign markets in exchange for army supplies or as a basis of credit for future use. The opportunity was lost and the Government burned enormous quantities to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
The rapid depreciation of Confederate notes and bonds indicated the weakness of the Government and the worthlessness of its credit.
The Department of War was about as inefficient as the Department of the Treasury. It failed to supply arms, clothes, and food for the men in the field, and but for the supplies captured from the Northern armies the military resources of the Government would have been exhausted long before they were. It is a sad commentary upon the war that the Southern cause was so greatly handicapped by the weakness of the
civil administration. In the light of the present it is very easy to see conditions that were not fully apparent at the time, yet as a small boy I heard the criticisms that I have made here expressed by some of our old citizens in our village. They saw the drift of things and deplored them, yet they were powerless to change conditions.
The Legislative Department was as inefficient as the Administrative. Both the Senate and Lower House of the Confederate Congress were rank with the poison of Bourbonism. Old men, old methods, old manners, and old dignities hedged in the thought and actions of men who were unable to see the signs of the times and the need of progressive and vigorous measures. If there is on the statute books of the Confederate régime one single act of legislation that shows an original and up-to-date measure, I have never heard of it. The vital questions of the hour, the larger views of government, the development of new and bold policies in civil administration were lost sight of in the minds of men who were clouded by age and blinded by impracticable ideals of patriotism. The cause of the South was a desperate one. It needed men bold in courage and resourcefulness, keen in thought and action, full of initiative, and vigorous in progressiveness. Did the South have these men at the head of her civil affairs? Who will answer yes?
DURING the spring of 1863 our village was visited only once by the Federal troops. On this occasion a regiment of cavalry came and remained in camp one day. It marched into the village on a rainy and foggy morning about the last of April, and went into camp in a piece of woods near my home. As the men marched up the pike they were wearing rubber blankets over their overcoats and looked quite uncomfortable. The roads were muddy, and the weather was about as disagreeable as one could experience. After passing a short distance in front of my home the regiment turned to the right and entered a grove. A halt was made by the column; and while the soldiers were on their horses, waiting for orders to move, one or two of the men dismounted and stood at rest.
There happened to be a number of chickens and turkeys belonging to my mother browsing on the grass in a meadow in which they were standing. An old gobbler was strutting around with his tail feathers erect and his head ornaments displayed to their best advantage to attract the attention of the female members of the turkey family. He
was very proud of his ornaments and seemed trying to attract attention by an occasional "gobble, gobble." One of the soldiers, noticing his antics, approached him, and taking a red handkerchief, shook it in the face of the gobbler. The old bird at once put up a fight and gave chase. The man played with him a few minutes when an idea struck him, and drawing his saber, he deliberately cut off the gobbler's head with one stroke. He then picked up the old bird and carried it to his horse. In less time than I can tell the story the men jumped down from their horses and gave chase to the other turkeys and chickens in the field. They ran them down until they had killed all that did not make their escape in the weeds and under buildings.
In a few minutes the order of march was given and the men moved on a short distance and then dismounted and went into camp. They had scarcely taken the places assigned to them when they rushed down to the barn on our place and ripped off all the plank on the sides of the building and carried it to their camp to make covering to protect them from the rain, as it was still drizzling. Not satisfied with the demolition of the barn they took all the hay and grain they could find, and then began to plunder the outbuildings in search of anything that would add to their comfort. They made a raid on the henhouse
and poultry yard, and ran down every fowl that came within their reach.
As a forest of weeds and briars had grown up around the garden and barn the poultry ran into this retreat and many escaped.
While they were engaged in all this plunder several amusing incidents occurred that show the low type of men and the mean characters our people had to contend with at that time. After all the poultry within reach had been dispatched these men discovered a pen of small shoats near the barn. The pigs were small but fat, and a good size for a roast. Two of the men jumped into the pen and caught one of the pigs that began to squeal.
From the house Aunt Susan heard the noise at the pen, and she picked up a butcher-knife and ran for the pen as fast as she could go. When she reached the place one of the men was climbing over the side with one of the shoats, which he had killed, while the other man in the pen was trying to catch a pig. Susan jumped into the pen, with the butcher-knife, and, with a voluble outpour of profanity, defied the man to take her pig and threatened him with the point of the knife, if he did not get out at once and let her pigs alone. The fellow quietly climbed out and returned to camp with his companion who already had the dead pig.
Susan remained at the pen for a short time to see whether anyone would come to steal the pigs. She then returned to the house, and was preparing the dinner when a soldier came in the kitchen with an old hen he had killed and demanded to know where he could find hot water to scald the feathers. Without waiting for an answer, he discovered a large pot on the stove and, raising the cover, he plunged the hen in the boiling contents, which happened to be soup that Susan was cooking for dinner.
The old negress caught the man in the act, and seizing the butcher-knife, made a dig at him; but fortunately it did not hurt him. He took alarm, however, and rushed out of the kitchen as fast as his feet would carry him, taking the hen with him. Susan chased him out of the yard and called him by some very ugly names, which I will not repeat. She had hardly driven this man away and returned to her work in the kitchen when she heard a noise in the yard, and going out the door, saw several men breaking the door of the smokehouse. They had gotten inside and had begun to take the meat when Susan arrived on the scene.
In a violent rage she ordered these men out and they quietly departed; but as they were leaving one of the men saw a turkey hen seated on her nest in a flour barrel. He jerked up the barrel
and started to take it with him, but Susan seized the barrel and made him let go. The men left at length, and Susan won the day. The old negress took the turkey hen in the barrel into the house and kept it there until the regiment left. This old turkey hatched a litter of fifteen, every one of which Susan raised to adult life, and they gave us a winter's supply.
Early the following morning the regiment broke camp and left our village. In the short time they were in camp they came near cleaning up our home of all articles of food for man and beast. Had it not been for Susan, nothing would have been left. This old negress claimed everything on the place as her property, and she defied the right of these soldiers to take what belonged to her. My father always gave Susan and Lewis the privilege of raising with his stock a pig or calf, which he fed and bought when it was sold.
This he did in consideration of the attention they gave in caring for the stock and milking the cows. In addition, my mother gave Susan a small interest in the poultry that she managed exclusively, with great success. Lewis had as an allowance a small piece of land, on which he raised broom corn, tobacco, and melons. During the last two years of the war these old negroes practically ran the entire place and raised what food supplies we needed.
The morning the regiment of cavalry left their camp they were unable to take with them a fine young mare which was so lame that she could not put one foot to the ground. I found her and brought her home. With Uncle Lewis' assistance I nursed her lame foot until she was able to walk with some comfort. We sent her to the farm where she was kept for over a year, when a raiding party of Federal cavalry came along and took her and the remainder of the horses on the farm, except an unbroken colt that was so wild that they could not catch her. This colt was the only horse left us at the close of the war.
As the armies were passing through our county they frequently left their old, lame, and blind horses which our people took care of and made useful on the farm. A horse of any value for military purposes was pressed into service by one or the other armies, the only difference being that the Confederates usually gave a consideration for the animal and the Federals took it by force. One day a boy of my age was riding along the road when he met unexpectedly a squad of Federal cavalry riding in great haste. His horse was an indifferent one, but one of the men dismounted from his horse, which was winded and about broken down, took the horse that the boy was riding, and left his own horse with the boy.
It was a cold-blooded hold-up, but the boy got
the advantage as the horse he received soon rested up and turned out to be a useful animal.
After the experience that I have related we saw no Federal troops until after the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. We lived rather quietly, so far as disturbances from the enemy were concerned, until the summer of 1864. Our farmers cultivated their land and did the best they could with their crops considering the conditions of labor and the poor material they had to work with. We had little stock, and, as we were a grazing people, our grass lands were idle and overgrown with weeds. The fencing was so indifferent that it was difficult to get fields enclosed to raise grain.
In the spring of 1863 the Federal outpost was located at Winchester. We were practically within the Confederate lines. The military operations were removed from the Valley to eastern Virginia. The two great armies were facing each other along the banks of the Rappahannock. On April the 27th the Federal army began its first movement in the third advance on Richmond. The Confederate forces were on the alert for this advance and were concentrated in the front of Hooker in the country around Chancellorsville. On May 1st Hooker had crossed the Rappahannock and had attempted, by a flank movement, to get in the rear of Lee's
army, assuming that the position of the Confederate forces had not changed and that the main body was divided and in a different position to that which he subsequently discovered. On May 2d Jackson had moved his corps around the right wing of Hooker, and late in the afternoon made an assault on the Federals, - an assault that completely routed their forces and drove them back.
General Howard, with twenty regiments of infantry and six batteries, held the right wing of Hooker's army. It was late in the afternoon when Stonewall Jackson hurled his entire force against Howard's men and by a rapid advance, which was not expected, drove in the Federal pickets in confusion and soon had the Federal forces in rapid retreat.
The right wing of Hooker's army was completely crushed, and the battle of Chancellorsville was won. This was a great victory for the Confederates and put a stop to any further advance on Richmond. The victory was dearly purchased as it resulted in the wounding and subsequent death of Stonewall Jackson. In the impatience of the battle he was in the advance of his lines and became separated from the position he should have occupied. In the darkness and confusion he and his associates were fired upon, and Jackson received three bullet wounds, - one in the right
hand, and two in the left arm, cutting the main artery and fracturing the bone below the shoulder. His horse, mad with terror, plunged into the woods and an overhanging bough came near unhorsing him. He managed to get into the road but be had sustained such a shock in his wounds and loss of blood that he fell from his saddle into the arms of one of his attendants.
After lingering and suffering greatly from his wounds, Jackson passed away on May 10, 1863, and with his death the South lost the greatest soldier, next to Lee, that the war produced. History is filled with his deeds and with a review of his character. As a military genius the world has few men who have reached the position he attained; as a man and patriot his name will long live among the great characters of history. His general make-up was so extraordinary that he stands in a class almost alone among the heroes and soldiers of all ages. It is not pertinent to this story to discuss the details of his life, so much better done by his biographers and by historians of the war.
The battle of Chancellorsville was renewed on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of May, and on the evening of the 6th Hooker withdrew his army across the Rappahannock and escaped the hands of Lee. The Army of the Potomac returned to its old camp along the north bank of the Rappahannock,
while the Army of Northern Virginia remained on the defensive and began to prepare for the aggressive movement that it made in the latter weeks of May when it began the invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The battle of Chancellorsville was hardly con- tested and resulted in heavy losses to both armies. The Federal loss was over 17,000 men and the Confederate loss was over 12,000. The Federal forces numbered some 130,000 men, and the Confederate forces were less than 70,000. The results were great for the South and the hopes of our people were again alive with encouragement. The Confederate army was never in better physical condition, and its morale was greatly elevated. The men had been seasoned and hardened to service, and as success had crowned their efforts they began to feel that they were invincible. On the other hand, it was evident that their forces were being gradually reduced by losses in battle and new recruits were not to be had in large numbers. Whilst the Federal armies had met with repeated disasters, and while their numbers had been reduced by heavy losses, the resources of the North in men and money were great and new men could be enlisted as fast as the armies were depleted. The North had shown great determination and persistence in her efforts to subdue the South, and there was no apparent
relaxation of these efforts. The policy of the Federal Government had changed, and by the recent proclamation by the President of the United States, emancipating the negro, the people of the South were brought face to face with new conditions.
The practical conditions were now reduced to the simple problem of endurance. The resources of the South were being exhausted by losses of men in battle and by losses of property and territory by the invasion of Federal troops. Her vitality and strength were being gradually sapped, while the North had hardly felt the losses she had sustained. It was quite evident at this time that the hope of foreign intervention was a forlorn one, and that no aid could be expected from outside sources. The contest was an unequal one, in which the enemy had all the advantage in wealth, in men, and in the sentiment of the civilized world.
The military achievements of the Confederacy had been marked with distinguished success. There was no fault with the men who did the fighting. The whole fault was with the policy of the Government at Richmond. The South was finally whipped and worn out by her losses in battle and destruction of property. Starvation and death brought submission and humiliation. In the final estimate she lost her slaves, and she lost the government she was trying to establish
on a basis of slavery. The only thing she saved out of the wreck was the heroism of her armies.
After the victory of Chancellorsville it became evident that the time had come for the invasion of the North. It was believed that by transferring the operations of the war to Maryland and Pennsylvania the people in Virginia would have a rest and the opportunity to cultivate crops for the support of the armies and people. By living off of other States the army could be fed and cared for at less expense. This was probably one of the motives which led Lee to invade Maryland. The moral effect of the invasion was also a strong motive. Could a heavy blow be given the Federal army on Northern territory, its effect upon the results of the war would be highly beneficial.
An army operating on the defense and on its own ground has a distinct advantage over an army that is making an aggressive campaign; hence General Lee assumed a great responsibility when he changed his policy of defense to one of invasion of hostile territory. By this act he gave the enemy the advantage he had occupied up to this time. He based his hopes of success upon the valor and courage of his well-trained men rather than upon the number and equipment of his forces. He had calculated to live off of the invaded country, and to draw large supplies of clothes and military material from the territory
through which he would pass. His previous experience in the Maryland campaign of 1862 had taught him that he could not expect large additions to his forces from the States he invaded, so that the material advantages of the invasion he probably considered of less importance than the moral effect. In the light of the results it can not be claimed that the Gettysburg campaign was a success from my point of view, but, to the contrary, was the high-water mark of the Confederate cause and the first great loss of prestige the army under Lee met. After the great contest of arms at Gettysburg the Army of Northern Virginia was never the same.
IN the latter part of June, 1863, the Confederate army broke camp on the Rappahannock and began the march north in the direction of western Maryland. The main route of march was across the Blue Ridge, through Chester's Gap by way of our village.
The force under General Lee amounted to over 70,000 men, including infantry, cavalry, and artillery. This large body of men were three days in passing through our place, and they presented a most interesting and impressive sight. It was the largest army I had ever seen or have seen since, and I recall a number of incidents connected with the march. The men were in splendid condition and in high spirits. As they passed through the village the soldiers closed up their ranks and the bands played as if on parade. The artillery and the wagons, interspersed between the different commands, added to the impressiveness of the occasion and gave a good idea of the details and appurtenances of war.
Two miles north of the village this large body of men had to cross the Shenandoah River at a
point where the north and south branches meet to make the main river. At this confluence a pontoon bridge had been placed, and the men, and wagons, and artillery had to cross in a narrow file. The passage of the army over the bridge was slow, and the marching columns were often delayed and had to rest by the roadside until the line of march could be continued. For miles the road was often blocked, and while the men were waiting for the order to march they had a merry time by the way. I recall one of these incidents as it made a lasting impression on me.
The division commanded by General A. P. Hill was passing through the village and had to halt until the block at the river was open. It was in the early forenoon, and the day was somewhat foggy and damp.
The men resting by the roadside and in the field adjoining were laughing at the pranks in which some of their comrades were engaged. The field was covered with bats, which were flying around, darting here and there, and coming so close to the ground that they could almost be reached with a long stick. The men were striking at these bats with sticks, bayonets, and guns, - anything, in fact, that they could find to throw at them. The fun was most exciting, and the men made perfect pandemonium as they tried to hit these swift-flying little creatures. Though there were hundreds
of men and an enormous number of bats, not one was struck. This fun lasted for a half-hour and only stopped when the order to march was given.
General Hill and his staff, dismounted, were standing in a field near the road while this fun was going on and they entered into the sport with as much zest as the boys. The General laughed immoderately at the performances of the soldiers and laid aside all the graver cares of war. When the line of march was taken up I and several boys of about my age joined the men and went to the river to see them cross on the pontoon. We spent the entire day watching the different commands file across the bridge. It was a sight that few boys can ever see and was worth the time we gave to it.
As we were marching along the road one of the men called me and asked me to carry his gun. This was just the thing I wanted to do and in a few minutes I was loaded down with guns. After carrying them a short distance I would give them back to their owners and in return they would give me a handful of caps. Before I reached the river my pockets were filled with caps. One of my boy companions was named Charlie. I called out, "Charlie, come and get this man's gun." In an instant the men along the line as far as we could hear took up the cry and called, "Charlie, Charlie, come and get my gun," so that before
we reached the river Charlie had more guns and caps than he could carry and his name was known to every man in the command.
This little incident will show some of the small things that make up a soldier's life, and how these men in daily contact with the hardships of march, life in camp, and on the firing line can find fun and real enjoyment. It was this spirit that often held men to the duties of military life, for with all its dangers and trials men often found satisfaction in camp life, on the march, and in the strife of battle.
After the army had passed our way we were left within the Confederate lines and were in anxious expectation of the results from the front. General Lee pushed forward his men, and after crossing the Potomac he advanced through Maryland into Pennsylvania. In the meantime the Federal army under General George Meade had assembled a large force near the line dividing the States of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the neighborhood of Emmetsburg and Gettysburg. The two armies were approaching and at length, on the afternoon of July 2d, 1863, they ran up against each other and the opening battle began at Gettysburg.
In the first encounter the Federals were driven back through the town; but the Confederates failed to occupy the strong position on the heights
south, known as Cemetery Hill. The battle was renewed on the 3d and 4th with desperate fighting on both sides. The advantage was with the Federals as they were on the defensive and held very strong positions.
In the assaults made by the Confederates during the second and third days the losses were very heavy and the position was firmly held by the Federals. The celebrated charge made on the 4th of July by General Pickett's command has gone down in history. At the close of the third day's battle the two armies were so badly crippled that neither ventured to renew the fight. General Lee withdrew his army and retired to the south bank of the Potomac. He was not closely followed by the Federal forces.
The battle of Gettysburg was very disastrous in its final results to the Confederate cause. It was the high-water mark of the war and from that time on the success of the South was held in a balance until the final overthrow two years later.
On the retreat of the Confederate army from Gettysburg it passed for the second time through our village. Its condition on the retreat was far different from that on its advance. The men and the equipments of the army plainly indicated the rough service that had been experienced. The ranks of many of the regiments were depleted, the horses and wagons were worn and broken down
in many instances, and the morale of the troops had suffered greatly. There were many wounded and sick and a general indication of disorganization. Many of the men who had passed our way a few weeks before in high spirits and confident of victory had been left dead on the field of battle or were wounded and prisoners in the hands of the enemy. It was a sad spectacle to our people and many hearts were in deep distress, for a number of our boys had been killed and were buried on Northern soil, while others were wounded and in Northern prisons.
A boy with whom I had gone to school was mortally wounded in a cavalry engagement at a place called Fairfield. Some of his comrades buried his body in the corner of the yard of a citizen, but while they were giving the last rites of burial they were being pressed by the Federal cavalry and had to leave before the grave was entirely covered with earth. This poor fellow still sleeps in the spot where his friends left him. On the retreat a regiment of Confederate infantry, in which there was a company from our county had been left on duty at Winchester and did not get across the Potomac.
This regiment was sent in advance to hold one of the gaps of the Blue Ridge and to protect the line of retreat of the main army, which was to follow. In some way I heard that these men were
going to cross the river and also that a pontoon bridge would be thrown across the stream. With the curiosity of a boy I, with several of my companions, went out to the river in the early morning and saw the men cross, remaining all day on the bank to see the men make the pontoon bridge.
The regiment had to ford before the bridge had been placed in position, and as the water was deep there was considerable difficulty in getting the men over. Some removed parts of their clothing and others plunged in and waded through, regardless of clothes, carrying their arms and ammunition above their heads. After reaching the opposite bank they formed in line and took up their march. I did not go back to the village, but remained, as I have stated, to see pontoons laid.
Late in the afternoon I returned home with my companions and on the way back met several Confederate soldiers with a Federal prisoner. I was not aware that the Federal army was within miles of our village and we asked the soldiers where they had got this prisoner. They then told us that the regiment we had seen crossing the river in the morning had scarcely taken a position in the Gap some four miles east of our place before the Federal cavalry charged into their pickets and ran them in; that the regiment had hardly time to form when a general charge was
made and a general engagement followed. The position of the regiment was well taken in a piece of timber which skirted the road as it curved around a deep ravine. When the head of the Federal cavalry regiment charged down this road it practically ran into an ambush, and the Confederates poured a volley into its ranks, which killed 17 horses and a number of men in a bend of the road within a distance of less than one hundred yards.
The road was too narrow for the cavalry to retreat and it had to run the gauntlet of the fire until the distance was covered and they could spread out in the fields beyond the woods. A number of these Federals were captured. The regiment then formed in line and made an advance to a position on a high hill, one mile beyond the woods where they were encamped. In this position they formed in line of battle and waited for an assault from the enemy's forces. A deep ravine separated the two armies, now drawn up in line of battle on opposite hills, about one mile from each other. There was some exchange of firing and an advance and retreat, with only a few casualties. The color-bearer, Bob Buchanan, of the Confederate regiment was wounded in the right hip and thigh. This poor fellow was brought to my home the morning after the fight, and we cared for him for several months
until he was able to go to a hospital in the interior. I shall have to say something about this soldier later on, for he has an interesting history, and he played an important part in my boyhood life while under treatment in my home.
It was most fortunate for General Lee that the regiment here referred to had got in position as soon as it did and that it was able to hold the Gap in the mountain until the main body of the army came up. It enabled the entire army to cross over into eastern Virginia by a direct route. But for this the entire army would have been forced to retreat by way of the Shenandoah Valley and cross the Blue Ridge much further south. It would have given the Federal troops under General Meade the inner line of travel and the possession of Fredericksburg before the Confederates could have reached the place.
On the following day the Federals attempted to force the Gap, but as the main body of the Federal army had not come up and as Lee had placed a larger force in the Gap the place was securely held. I have a vivid recollection of a visit to the place where the engagement of the previous evening had taken place, then in the possession of the Confederates, - and this visit simply goes to illustrate the character of a boy whose curiosity is often greater than his discretion. I did not ask
my parents' permission, but with several of my companions undertook to go and see what a battlefield looked like after the fight was over. It was not a prudent thing for a small boy to do, but I was not thinking of possibilities, being too deeply interested in what was going on. While we were seeing the sights of the day before, the two armies were drawn up in line of battle on opposite hills a mile away, and batteries of artillery were in position to begin work at any moment. No one knew at what moment an attack would begin.
Scattered along the road and in fields by the roadside the division of Texans, commanded by General Hood, was resting, under orders in broken ranks. These men were lying down under shade trees, wandering about the fields looking for berries and fruit, while some were eating, others were sleeping, and all were patiently waiting to be called to do battle. Under some cherry trees in the same field were Federal soldiers who had been wounded the day before and had not yet been carried to the hospital. I heard one of the Confederates remark that these men were mortally wounded and too near death to be disturbed. I also saw one dead Federal soldier, who had not yet been buried. He had been stripped of every stitch of clothing and was as naked as
when he had come into this world. He had probably been dead only a short time, for he was the only one not buried.
The next evening the Federal army came up and made an attack but was repulsed. As the Federals were driven back, the Confederates followed, with a charge that drove the attacking party back to a very strong position. For several hours the artillery and infantry were engaged; no results followed other than the death of several hundred men and the wounding of many more. The Confederate wounded were brought to our village and were quartered in the hotel, then unoccupied.
After the third day the entire army had passed through, and it was no longer necessary to hold the Gap. The Confederates withdrew, and the following morning the Federal army took possession of our village. These men were in a desperate frame of mind and wherever they went they robbed and destroyed everything they could lay their hands on, sweeping the country through which they passed like a cyclone and inflicting great suffering on our citizens. The excuse they gave for this highway robbery was that the Confederates had cleaned up things as they passed through Maryland and Pennsylvania, seeming to forget the fact that they had first set the example during their previous invasions of the South.
An incident happened in my home at that time which explains the nature of the situation. Soon after the Federal troops entered the village a Federal officer, dressed in the uniform of a colonel, rode up to our home, and dismounting, came to the front door, where he was met by some member of the family. He very politely asked if he could see a late Richmond paper. He was invited into the hall and a chair was given to him. We fortunately had a late paper, which was handed to him and he quietly began to read it. In the meantime my mother came in and offered him a glass of ice water, which he accepted. She then offered him a glass of milk and a sandwich which he seemed to enjoy. While he was in the house a cavalryman rode up in the back yard and told one of the servants that he wanted all the silver in the house and that he intended to have it, drawing his pistol and commanding the servant to go and get the plate. In great alarm she went into the house and told my mother what the man had said; whereupon my mother went out to where the man was sitting on his horse. He then repeated his threat. My mother went into the hall where the officer was seated and asked him to protect her. He immediately went out and ordered the man to leave the place at once, taking his name and command and declaring that he would have him arrested as soon as he returned to his
command. This officer remained in our house for several hours. We had no further trouble. Had he not been present this cavalryman would probably have robbed us. I think, also, that the kindly way my mother had treated him had made him act as promptly as he did. We never learned his name, but we know that he was a gentleman and a true man.
That same afternoon these Federal troops left our village and we did not see a Federal soldier for months. Our section of country was now free from military operations and we were at liberty to do as we pleased. The domestic life of the community now went along quietly and peacefully and we lived for the time being as happily as circumstances would permit, considering the anxiety that beset many homes, as the men in the army were still exposed to casualties of war.
When the Federals left they did not disturb the wounded soldiers in the hotel or other places where they had been left by their commands. These wounded men were cared for until able to resume duty.
The young color-bearer who had been carried from the fight to our house with the two wounds in his thigh, was nursed as carefully as possible. We had no surgeons to dress his wounds, - which were flesh wounds, but were infected and discharged very freely, - and I soon
learned to dress them for him. He grew pale and thin but he was patient and appreciative and I became very fond of him.
I would spend much of my time in his room trying to amuse him and he, in return, gave me many interesting accounts of his military experiences. He was only 19 years of age and was the color sergeant of his regiment, in which position he was greatly exposed to danger in battle. He told me that three men had been killed carrying the flag before he had been promoted to the position. He had been wounded in the first engagement in which he had acted as color-bearer. I enjoyed the company of this young soldier and was sorry when he left.
After he was able to walk on crutches he was eager to get within the lines, as he was apprehensive that a raiding party would come and take him to prison. Late in the fall he went to Lynchburg and entered a hospital, where, we afterward learned, he died of smallpox contracted there.
THE fall and winter of 1863 brought quiet and rest to our community. The military operations of both armies had practically ceased in Virginia. The men went into winter quarters and only a few raiding parties of cavalry were now and then seen. A brigade of Confederate cavalry encamped about two miles south of our village for some four or five weeks to rest their horses and secure food for the men and animals. It was a season of rest for man and beast. A number of the men who lived near were given short furloughs, as they lived near their homes and could report for duty in a few hours. Those who remained in camp amused themselves with different sports, among which was horse racing. Close to the encampment was a long and level river bottom that made an excellent race course.
A most exciting race took place between horses belonging to Colonel Massie and Lieutenant-Colonel O'Farrell, of the 12th Virginia Regiment, - a race that I had the pleasure of witnessing. Colonel Massie owned a farm in the northern part of our county on which he raised some well-bred
colts. Among these colts was a three-year-old that had never been shod and was scarcely bridle-wise. It had been running in pasture with the cattle and had never had a touch of a currycomb. Its hair was long and coarse and, with its unkempt hair, it looked like a sheep. The boys on the farm had discovered that the colt was a fast runner. Lieutenant-Colonel O'Farrell had a very handsome and showy horse, full of spirit and energy, but, like many showy persons, it did not have much real merit. This Colonel Massie knew, for he was an excellent judge of horses. He accordingly made a bet with his lieutenant-colonel that his colt could beat the showy horse.
All the arrangements were made for the race, and the entire camp was in high glee for the sport. The betting ran high and the odds were in favor of the horse, as the colt presented an ugly appearance. When the race was planned the men gathered on a bluff along the side of the race course and had a splendid view of the track from start to finish. The colt was brought out and was ridden by a boy of 15, - a son of the Colonel, - who rode bareback and used his hat as a whip. The horse, ridden by a man in the regiment, had on his handsome trappings and was very showy and spirited. The colt, to the contrary, was as meek as Moses, and few believed that it had any go or merit. When the order was
given for the start the two horses flew up the track amidst the shoutings and cries of the men, keen with excitement and intent on the finale. The boy on the colt soon took the lead and when the two entries passed the judges' stand he was some lengths ahead. The horse seemed winded, but the colt paid no attention to the honors it had won and walked around as quietly as though nothing had been done. The excitement was wild; the men threw up their hats, yelled, and made the woods and fields echo with their shouts. As the betting had been largely on the horse the winner gave good returns, and money changed hands very freely.
This was the first horse race I ever saw, and it was worth more than all I have seen since because of picturesque and unique surroundings. These soldiers entered into the spirit of the occasion and forgot for the time the hardships and cares of war.
A few weeks later the command moved away and made an excursion into western Virginia as far as the town of Keyser, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, where they captured and destroyed much property. One of the boys in the command, who had been my schoolmate in the early spring and who was a witness of the horse race I have described, was killed in a charge upon a garrison posted in Greenland Gap. He was a gallant
young man, not over 18 years of age, and had seen service in the army less than half a year.
I recall a most exciting chase of two Confederate cavalrymen by a company of Federal cavalry that I witnessed in the fall of 1863, and which to the looker-on, at least, was real sport.
I was playing in the front yard of my home and saw two Confederate soldiers riding along the road in the direction of Winchester. Each man was leading a horse, which was probably being taken home to be turned out for a winter's rest. When these men had reached the brow of a hill, where the pike leads down to the river, they ran up against a company of Federal cavalry coming in the opposite direction. As soon as they saw the Federals, - who were not over one hundred yards in front of them, - they wheeled their horses and took to their heels; but not before they had been seen by the Federals. The two Confederates ran back as fast as they could go, - letting the led horses loose to follow, - the Federal cavalry in hot pursuit; but, having fast-running horses, they gained in distance on their pursuers, so that when they were opposite my home they were some three hundred yards in the lead. Opposite my home was a large field, then in the commons. When this field was reached the two led horses left the road and, with heads and tails up, ran out in the field and made a circle around in
front of their pursuers. The horses suddenly turned their heads in the direction of the men following and with loud snorts seemed to bid defiance to their followers. They waited for a moment until the Federals were within a hundred yards of them when they suddenly wheeled around and made up the road after the two cavalrymen as fast as they could run. The Federals fired their pistols at the horses and pressed on after them; but the animals made a safe escape and soon joined the two Confederates. When the pursuers saw that they could not overtake the two men and their horses they gave up the chase. The attitude of defiance which these two horses put up amused me greatly, for they seemed to know instinctively that they were being followed, and they entered into the sport of the chase with as great a show of high spirits as young colts in the pasture. The two Confederates probably did not enjoy the chase half so much, as they were bent on getting away from their pursuers.
That reminds me of a similar case that I witnessed about a year later, - the chase being by a squad of Federal cavalrymen in pursuit of one Confederate. On this occasion the soldier was a one-armed Confederate named Clarence Broadus, whom some of our people knew well. Clarence was a native of Page County, and had lost an arm in battle. He was afterwards appointed a
conscript officer in the service of the Government and was very active in running down men who were eligible to military duty. He was an energetic and daring fellow and had made some narrow escapes in hunting men who were dodging service and who hid in the mountains away from the sight of men. Clarence used to go after these characters and was several times fired upon from ambush by some of them, but he usually landed the man he was after and was much feared by the shirkers of military service. He made frequent visits to our village and on one occasion came very near being captured by the Federals. One day, as he was sitting on his horse in the main street of the village, a company of Federal cavalry made its entrance at the north end of the street, coming from the direction of Winchester. Clarence sat quietly on his horse until the Federals were within one hundred yards of him, when he pulled off his hat and beckoned to them to come on and capture him, firing off his pistol, putting spurs to his horse that ran as fast as it could go. The Federals followed him in hot pursuit; but he soon outdistanced them, and as he ran he would turn in his saddle and fire his pistol at them, calling to them to come on. With the stump of the amputated arm he guided his horse, while he used the pistol with the other hand. The horse he rode was a handsome dun and very fleet.
It had been trained to obey his command, and was easily guided or checked by his handless arm.
Clarence was a man that took all kinds of risks and it was a surprise that he got through the war with his life. I do not know what became of him after the war.
While on the subject of conscript duty carried on by the Government during the last year of the war, it may not be uninteresting to the present-day reader to know what strenuous efforts were made to secure recruits for the army. Every white male in good physical health, between the ages of 16 and 60 years, was subject to military duty during the last years of the war; and few men escaped the service. My own county had been raked, and I know of but two men who were able to dodge the service, one of whom had managed to keep out of the army until the fall of 1864, when he was forced to enter the service. He bought a horse and had himself equipped with uniform and high-top cavalry boots, which he wore around like a knight on parade. He was always pretending that he was going to the front but in some way he managed to stay around his home and never was enrolled in any company. The war closed in time to save him from arrest.
The other man had enlisted in one of the infantry companies at the beginning of the war, but he soon deserted and hid in the mountains near his
old home until he was at length caught, tried for desertion, and sentenced to be shot. His father was a very reputable citizen, and through the influence of friends he succeeded in getting the sentence of death removed, upon condition that his son should do other work for the Government. The man was made useful at a post removed from danger; for he was simply one of the class of constitutional cowards. A case of constitutional cowardice, with which I came in contact as a boy, was that of a man in the army that had a fear of bullets which he could not overcome. Whenever he went into an engagement he invariably ran, and no threats of his officers could overcome that fear. He admitted that he could not help running and begged to be transferred to some branch of service in which he would not be exposed to danger. He was a correct man in every respect, and in camp or on the march always did his duty, while his comrades respected him and sympathized with him, for he did not profess to be courageous, as some cowards do. This man was forced by his captain to go into a fight, and under the influence of the fear that overcame him, he went to the Federals, became a deserter, and remained in the North as a non-combatant until the close of the war.
I always had a deep sympathy for this fellow and have always thought that the captain of his
company made a great mistake in not having him assigned to the hospital corps where he would have been of far greater service to his country than in the ranks. Courage, both physical and moral, is a gift that all men do not possess in the same degree. The man who has it is not necessarily better than the man who has to struggle to overcome his weakness of temperament. Some of the best men I have known, - men who were soldiers in the army, - have told me that nothing but pride and a high sense of duty had held them steadfast under the great dangers of battle.
ON December the 16th, 1863, General Rosser, in command of the Laurel Brigade, made a raid around the army of General Meade, - a raid that created much interest and excitement, and one that presented a remarkable illustration of the daring and endurance of the Confederate cavalry.
Leaving Fredericksburg with his command of three regiments and the battalion of White, Rosser forded the Rappahannock and moved by rapid marches around the army of Meade, encamped along the north bank of the river in the neighborhood of the old encampment of Burnside. By a circuitous route Rosser pushed forward in the direction of the Blue Ridge Mountains, traveling over muddy and frozen roads, crossing dangerous streams, and contesting every mile with the forces of the enemy that were either opposing or following his march. For three days his men were kept constantly in the saddle, suffering for food and sleep and from the severity of the weather. It was not until they reached Upperville that they were able to go into camp for a night's rest; and when they did get there some of the men were
so frozen that they had to be lifted from their saddles, and their horses were jaded and half starved. After resting overnight Rosser crossed the mountains at Ashby's Gap and then followed the banks of the Shenandoah River until he reached Front Royal, at dusk in the evening of December 19.
Within 72 hours Rosser had traveled from Fredericksburg to our village, covering a distance of over one hundred miles and only resting in camp one night. The weather was rainy and cold, and both men and horses suffered severely. When our village was reached General Rosser and his staff spent the night in my home, and I am able from this fact to recall the facts connected with the raid. I have never seen men so worn out and dilapidated in appearance. After a hearty supper they went to their rooms and slept like dead men. The next morning when Rosser and his staff appeared at the breakfast table they were much refreshed by sleep and gave an account of the experience of the past four days in the saddle.
I remember General Rosser as he looked at that time. He was a man of large stature and striking appearance, - muscular, well built, and athletic. He was then not over 26 years of age. He had graduated at West Point in April, 1861, and immediately after graduation resigned from the Federal
army and went South to join the Confederate forces. He was made a lieutenant of artillery, but was soon transferred to the cavalry and made colonel of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry. His dash and daring soon brought him into notice and he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and given the command of the old Ashby Brigade, now called the Laurel Brigade. As the commander of this brigade he made a distinguished record in the last years of the war. The raid which is here referred to, and that added largely to his fame, was made soon after he took command of the brigade. After resting overnight in our village the command moved south to Luray and later went into camp in the upper Valley where forage was provided for the horses.
My recollections of this expedition made by Rosser are made most impressive by one circumstance which had a peculiar interest to a boy of my age. The morning following the stay of Rosser in my home one of the couriers on the staff, named Will Aisquith, was compelled to leave with us the horse he had ridden, for the reason that when he had taken the animal out of the stable after a night's rest the poor beast was so stiff that it could scarcely move. I have never seen a more emaciated and miserable-looking horse than this one, and as Will Aisquith had no idea that the animal would live he gave her to me. I took
charge of her, fed her, and looked after her comfort until she was able to move about. After a few weeks she began to improve in strength and I was able to ride her. During the rest of the winter she became my constant companion and the amount of pleasure I got out of her would be difficult to tell. To a boy of my age she was invaluable at that time, for good horses were not then to be had and we were glad to use any old plugs left by the armies.
When the spring came I took this mare to the mountains where good pasturage was to be had, where she was not exposed to capture by the Federals, and where I could make occasional visits to see her. Before the early summer came she had got as fat as a seal, and had so improved in appearance that no one would have recognized her unless well acquainted with her in her more prosperous days. Some time during the summer Will Aisquith came to our village and, recalling the old mare he had left with me to die, came to my home to inquire about her. When I told him of her present condition and that he could have her if he wanted her, he was so happy at the idea, that I went at once with him to the mountain, some four miles distant, and after chasing the mare for some time we caught her, and Aisquith went away rejoicing. I never heard of the mare after she was again put in the service of the cavalry. She
probably soon went the way of all horse flesh. She came into my life at a time to add to its enjoyment and robustness and, like other old war horses I owned as a boy, passed out of my hands to reenter service and to die in the cause of war.
In the history of human warfare, where this noble beast braves all the dangers of battle and bears all the hardship of military service with unselfish loyalty, it will be found that the horse responds more promptly to the calls of duty and service than any living creature. The old war horse has, therefore, a peculiar interest to me and I love to recall his heroic services and to pay respect to his deeds.
In the War between the States the cavalry service in my section was both conspicuous and brilliant. Our people are a horse-loving people; and from the very earliest years of childhood our boys and girls are taught to ride, and there are few youths who do not excel in horsemanship, so that when the war came many of our best young men entered the cavalry. Out of five companies that went from my county into the Confederate army three were cavalry and a number were members of Mosby's independent command. These men were all first-class riders and were mounted on the best of horses. Three of these cavalry companies were in the Laurel Brigade; and it is probable that no brigade of cavalry in either army measured up to
the standard of the Laurel Brigade in all that makes the efficient cavalryman.
No Arab of the desert was ever more devoted to his steed than the Virgina cavalryman was to his horse. The flower and chivalry of the Valley and Piedmont counties were enlisted in cavalry service, each man owning his own horse, and each horse being filled with the pride and spirit of his rider. No braver and bolder riders followed Spotswood and the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe than followed Ashby and Rosser in the Valley campaigns. No better mounts were ever known in war than the horses ridden by these men.
Both before and during the war the Valley horse was famous for his speed, endurance, and spirited life. These animals gave such an advantage to the cavalry service that the success of Stonewall Jackson in his Valley campaign was largely attributed to the cavalry of his command. After Ashby and Jackson passed away the reputation of the cavalry was kept up by Rosser and the old Laurel Brigade. These men held out until the war closed and many of them brought their old horses home to work in the wagon and in the plow.
A relative of mine owned one of these old cavalry horses after the war, - a horse that he had purchased at a sale by the Government of army horses, at Winchester. This old horse had been in many a cavalry charge and still had all the fire
of war in his heart, though he had been degraded to the service of the wagon and of the plow and to the quiet life of the farm. It was one of my greatest pleasures to ride this old animal; for with the slightest encouragement he would take the bit in his mouth and run as fast as his legs would carry him. With all my strength I was unable to hold him in until I could bring him to a long hill and wind him. When a cheer was made or another horse attempted to pass him he imagined he was in a charge, and away he would go until almost completely exhausted. I greatly admired and loved this old fellow. He gave me many happy hours.
Our county, so famous before the war for its high-bred horses, still retains this distinction, which has within the last two years been recognized by the Government by the establishment of a Remount Mount Station that promises to become one of the most important horse-breeding establishments in this country. The landscape, climate and grass of my old county are especially adapted to the growth and raising of the highest class of cavalry horses, and here the United States Government has purchased a large body of land and is now extensively engaged in raising horses for army service.
But - to return to my story - during the winter months our school was conducted without interruption.
We boys and girls had a most pleasant time at school, and after school hours our home life was filled with profitable duties. We had to do much of the work around our homes and on the farm, and when not engaged in these duties we had many opportunities for hunting and for the sports of the season, such as skating and coasting, horseback riding, and sleighing; for we had a few old army horses, somewhat broken down in service but still retaining the spirit of previous army service. These horses had been trained in the cavalry, and, because of the practice of service in the charge and the excitement of battle they were fiery and mettlesome, and would run and jump, with all the spirit of younger animals. There was the greatest abundance of wild game, such as rabbits, partridges, wild turkeys and pheasants. We boys would set snares for the rabbits and with our old army muskets, loaded with slugs, would hunt in the fields and woods for the larger game. In this way we had most pleasant experiences, and we seldom failed to bring home the fruits of our hunting excursions. I became quite an expert shot with the musket and pistol, and practiced the use of these arms by shooting from the back of the horse which had been trained to stand under fire. A number of the boys had these old army horses and we had amusing experiences with them, the most exciting of which
was running to the mountains when the report came that the Federals were going to raid the village. It was only in this way we could keep possession of our horses. There was usually some announcement given of the coming of these raiding parties, - often false alarms, - but we would mount our old horses and run to the mountains and refugee for one or more days until all fear of the enemy had quieted down. The Blue Ridge Mountains and their foothills were close to our village, and into these mountains the enemy seldom went. Much of this mountain land was in grass, and during the war a great deal of it was kept under cultivation, corn, wheat, rye and oats being raised. But for this circumstance we would have suffered much more for necessary food. All the farm lands in the valley and along the roads were without fencing and what crops the farmers could grow were taken or destroyed by the armies that passed through.
During the winter of 1863 our farmers were able to gather the crops they raised, and we did not suffer greatly for food supplies. The greatest difficulty we had was in getting labor to cultivate the land and gather the grain. We still had a number of faithful negroes and they, with the aid of the old men and boys, did the work of the farm, while our women and girls did the work of the home. To tell the truth, we boys and girls
enjoyed doing the work, for there was an excitement and interest in it that more than compensated for the drudgery of labor. We were being taught lessons of self-sacrifice and of hardship that were valuable in building up our characters and habits. While we children were growing up under these severe conditions of life, our older people were even greater sufferers by the acts of war. Their property, the fruits of early industry, was being swept away; their nearest of kin were in the army, exposed to the casualties of war, and almost every family was in mourning for the death of some near relative who had lost his life in service, and as the war progressed it became more and more apparent to our older citizens that the results of the conflict were be- coming more and more uncertain.
Christmas Day, 1863, I shall always remember. The boys at home on furlough decided to give our people an illustration of a sham battle. All who had horses entered into the engagement. The men were divided, and one party was to be that of attack, and the other party on the defense. The pistols were loaded with blank cartridges, and everything was done to make the fight as realistic as possible.
One party took a position at the north end of the village. The attacking party made an assault on this position and when it was repulsed
it was driven through the main street as fast as the horses could carry them, both sides firing their pistols and going through the fight as if it were an actual battle. There was an advance and then a retreat, charge and countercharge, until one party completely routed the other. When these men had finished with their sham battle they presented an appearance that I am scarcely able to describe. There had been a slight snow on the ground and the streets were full of slush and mud. As the horses ran over the streets they threw the snow and mud in the faces of each other and all were literally covered with mud. Both horses and men were in the dirtiest condition possible and presented a most horrible plight. If this is war, I thought, may Heaven spare me such an experience! Yet this was actual war without its carnage. As no one was hurt and the mud could be removed, no serious harm came of it.
I remember that I hung up my stocking on Christmas Eve and when I opened it the following morning I found in it some cakes, apples, walnuts, and doughnuts, but no candy, toys, and the things that boys usually get in times of peace from Santa Claus. I thought the old man must have put me on a war diet. But I was just as happy, for my wants were simple in those days.
We saw no candy during the last two years of
the war and had no toys, but I had a pair of old skates and several old muskets and pistols that gave me all the amusement I wanted. I made my own wagons and sleighs and coasted the hills on a plank, which is just as good as the best sled; and he who thinks that the simple life is not worth living, let him live as I spent my boyhood days during the war, and he will learn what pleasure the simple things of life can give. For if I did not have fun and sport, I do not know what such things are. If I did not have the refinements, as we know them now, I had a training in manly and strenuous ways that give a boy an endurance which the hardships of the times could not break down. I grew very fast in stature and took so much physical exercise that I was very strong for one of my age and enjoyed the robust health which has carried me through life with no loss of time from sickness since I was a boy 13 years of age. I was not the exception, for some of my boyhood companions still live in excellent health. It is not my wish to make this story too personal, but I hope that it may some day fall into the hands of some of the boys of the present generation and that it will give them some idea of the benefit of experiences that should come into the life of a boy.
IN the spring of 1864 the two armies, - one under Grant and the other under Lee, - were facing each other on the banks of the Rappahannock. General Grant had been placed in command of the Army of the Potomac with a force of 150,000 men. He had won success in the West and was now looked upon as the Moses who would lead the Federal army to final victory, having strength in numbers and every equipment to walk over the depleted ranks of Lee. But he soon found that he had an adversary to deal with that would try his mettle. Opposing this large force General Lee had an army of less than 70,000 men, - poorly clad and badly fed, but seasoned veterans, who still had the spirit of do and die. They were the remnants of the old guard and the last resources the Confederacy had to depend on to protect Richmond.
The capital was still the objective point of attack and defense. The order from the head of each government was, "Hold Richmond," or "Take Richmond," - "or die." Nothing would satisfy sentiment at the North but the capture
of the capital of the Confederacy, and nothing was considered so important to the South as to hold on to its capital. Thousands of lives were sacrificed for this purpose. It has been stated somewhere that General Grant told Mr. Lincoln that it would require 150,000 lives to take Richmond and that the President replied that he should have them. No matter how great the cost in blood, Richmond must be taken.
Early in May General Grant crossed the Rappahannock and began his campaign of advance. He soon found Lee in his front, and he also found that he had a stubborn opponent to contend with.
The two armies first came together in the Wilderness. The Wilderness was a dense forest of undergrowth, of pine, and of scrubby oak, almost uninhabited by man, and covering a large area of land in Spottsylvania County. It was through this country that Grant made his advance. When his men were well in the Wilderness they ran up against the forces under Lee, and the battle was fought. In this jungle the Federal troops became confused and mixed and the loss was very heavy, many of the wounded, who could not be removed, being burned to death by a fire that spread through the dense forest after the battle.
Failing to break the Confederate ranks, Grant moved his army by its left flank and tried to turn
the Confederate right. At every point he was met and held in check by Lee, - each army moving in parallel lines and facing each other, the Confederates remaining on the defensive, the Federals making the assault. From the Rappahannock to the James this attack and defense was kept up; and when Grant reached the James he had lost more men than Lee had in his entire army.
At the second battle of Cold Harbor Grant poured his columns against the lines of Lee in such masses that it has been claimed that some twenty thousand men were left dead and wounded on the field. Cold Harbor was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Lee held his unbroken lines and repulsed the enemy at every point.
The Confederate losses were heavy in view of the fact that they could not be replaced, while Grant was able to fill his ranks with men as fast as they were cut down. Grant understood that every man he killed in the Confederate ranks was depleting the army to that extent and that the only way to win out was by a gradual destruction of Lee's army. When the lines of defense were extended to the front of Petersburg the Confederate forces had been greatly reduced and it was only a question of time when these forces would be exhausted.
While Grant and Lee were fighting in eastern
Virginia our section was comparatively quiet. In the spring a Federal force advanced as far up the Valley as New Market and the battle there temporarily arrested its progress; but later a force under Hunter pushed on to Staunton and Lexington and reached Salem where it was met and driven back through southwestern Virginia.
Hunter destroyed everything in his path and left sections of the Valley along his route as bare as a desert. He burned the barracks of the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, in retaliation for the service the corps of cadets had rendered in the battle of New Market.
During the early summer a command under General Early came to the Valley and began operations in the counties of Warren, Clarke, Frederick, and Jefferson. Early crossed the Potomac and invaded Maryland, carrying his operations as far east as the suburbs of Washington, where he found the enemy so entrenched behind fortifications that he had to retire his forces to the south bank of the Potomac.
On the 9th of August a brisk engagement took place two miles north of our village between a large body of Federal cavalry and a force of infantry commanded by General Anderson. The Confederates held their position, and later they advanced as far north as Winchester. Early held Winchester until the latter part of September,
when a large Federal force made an attack on his command, and the battle of Winchester was fought. Early was forced to withdraw to the neighborhood of Strasburg and Woodstock. A large force of cavalry under Generals Torbert and Custer drove back a brigade of Confederate cavalry, commanded by General Wickham, which had taken positions at the fords of the Shenandoah River in my county. Wickham was greatly outnumbered and was forced to retreat to a position higher up in the Page Valley, to a place known as Millford.
It was before daybreak on the morning of September 21st that we were aroused by a heavy firing at the river about two miles from my home. My father jumped out of bed and, judging by the firing that the Confederates were being driven back, hastily determined to leave home and refugee, as it was currently reported that the Federals were arresting and sending to prison the old men and the boys that lived within the Confederate lines. In fact, they had already done so in the northern section of our county.
We had had no Federal troops in our village for months and we looked upon their return with great apprehension and alarm, for we knew that the Federal army was destroying property and robbing our people wherever it went. My father thought it best for me to go with him. I
had grown very fast during the year, and though only 15 years old, I was large for my age. We hastily dressed, and taking some extra clothing with us, started for the nearest mountain, leaving my mother and the family to the care of our old negroes. When we left the house the whole earth was covered with a dense fog, through which we could not see ten feet from us. We walked very fast, and when we reached a farmhouse about halfway up the mountain the fog had lifted, and we could see the valley below filled with Federal cavalry running over the fields and marching along the roads. We tarried at the house only long enough to get a bite of food, - for we found the family at breakfast, - then we hurried on; and when we had reached a high plateau we saw a squad of Federal cavalry climbing the mountain after us, less than a half-mile distant. We ran across several citizens, who were refugeeing with us, and several Confederate cavalrymen, who were making for the mountains. These men fired at the Federals and they came no nearer to us. We went a mile beyond, to the highest point of the mountain, where we had a wide view of the entire country about and where we felt safe. Taking a position under the shade of a large walnut tree, - that stood in an open field on the side of the ridge and gave us a beautiful outlook, - we saw the Confederate cavalry drawn up in line of
battle on a high hill some two miles below us, while the Federal cavalry had come up and was on a hill one mile distant. Federal pickets had been thrown out and were riding here and there through the fields. After the Confederates had taken a strong position on the hill the Federals were for a time undecided what to do.
About noon a regiment formed in the road and made a charge on the Confederate pickets and drove them in, but when they came to the reserve force on the hill they were driven back in the greatest disorder, only to rally and make a second attempt, with the same result. They then withdrew and remained quiet until late in the afternoon. We could see these movements very distinctly, and it was a very spectacular affair to look down on men riding, charging, and firing their carbines and pistols. I remember how we could see the smoke from the gun long before the report reached us. The crowd under the walnut tree had grown while we were resting under its shade. All but two were citizens; these two were cavalrymen, who had joined us.
While we were looking on and watching the different movements of the men far below us an amusing incident happened, - an incident that for a few moments gave us a great fright. One of our companions was a gentleman who lived on the mountain near by. He was mounted and had a
large field glass. In order to get a better view he climbed up into the top of the walnut tree, where he was intently engaged in taking observations, while his horse was browsing on the grass in the field. The two cavalrymen who were with us rode across the top of the ridge out of sight, and as they were riding through the field, a fox ran out from under the bushes in front of them. Without thinking of any result, they drew their pistols and fired some half-dozen times in rapid succession. Some one in the crowd cried out, "The Yankees are coming," and at once the crowd broke, and we ran for the woods as fast as we could go. My father and I ran down the mountain-side a hundred yards until we had reached the woods, when we stopped to look around, and seeing no soldiers in sight began to retrace our steps back to the tree. Some one had run across the ridge and discovered the cause of the pistol firing.
The gentleman in the tree had climbed down as fast as a boy could do, and hastily catching his horse, had mounted and started to ride away. When he discovered that the firing was done by the two cavalrymen at a fox he was very indignant and pronounced it a most imprudent act, as it directed the attention of the Federals to our position. As the Federal troops were over a mile distant, at the foot of the mountain, there was not
much danger from them; but he had concluded that a body of cavalry had followed us up the mountain and had discovered our hiding place. When we found it all a false alarm we laughed over the panic it had made and considered it a good joke on us. The gentleman who had nearly broken his neck getting down from the top of the tree could not see the joke as it was too practical an affair from his point of view. I have often laughed over the incident, for it was a very humorous performance. My father often during his lifetime referred to the experience and it amused him very much when he recalled how he had run down the mountain all the time calling to me to take care of myself and not get caught.
After the affair had quieted down we all again took our seats under the walnut tree and watched the movements in the valley below. About dusk the Federals ran up a battery of artillery on a high hill and began to fire at the position of the Confederates on a hill, over a mile distant, whereupon the Confederates brought out their artillery and returned the fire. For over an hour an artillery duel was kept up and from the position where we were located we could easily see the discharge of the guns, could trace the course of the shells, and then hear the report from the guns and from the explosion of the shells. The duel continued until after dark, and the passage of the
shells through the air could be followed by the streaks of fire that were thrown off. The effect was exciting and unusual and could not have been excelled, if we had had the privilege of ordering such an exhibition. We were so far above the valley that every discharge could be seen, and every report could be heard long after the flash from the cannon's mouth was noticed.
After the artillery duel had ceased we went to a near-by farmhouse and got our suppers. As I had had nothing to eat since early in the morning, except some apples from an old tree on the mountain, I was as hungry as a wolf. My father, the gentleman who had climbed the walnut tree, and I then went back to the top of the mountain and slept all night in a small house, - occupied by a family, - that had only two bedrooms. We threw ourselves across a bed, with our clothes on, and slept soundly until daylight, when we again returned to the walnut tree to see what was going on in the valley below.
The Confederates had fallen back during the night, and the Federal cavalry had broken camp, so that all we could see was a dense cloud of dust in the road; this cloud was made by the army, which at this early hour was marching in pursuit of the retreating Confederates. The Confederates took a strong position at a place six miles South, where they were able to protect their flanks,
and held this position until the Federals returned North a week later.
We returned home that afternoon after my only experience as a refugee. On the following Sunday morning a note was sent to my father from an old gentleman, who lived on a farm about one mile from my home. The note had been written to this gentleman by an officer in the command that we had seen from the mountain, General Wickham. The note stated that in the fight at the river a few days before a private and a captain of the Second Virginia Cavalry had been killed, that the bodies had been dropped in a strip of woods on his place, and that they had been so closely pressed that they were unable to bury them. It requested him to have these bodies properly interred.
When my father learned the facts he had Uncle Lewis, Billy, and several negroes on the place make two neat pine coffins, which we took on wheelbarrows to the place where the men had been dropped.
In a strip of small pines by the side of a road, which had been made by the army, we found the grave of these two Confederates. When the Federals came along this road, following the retreat of the Confederates, they had found these bodies and buried them in shallow graves, without coffins. A fence rail had been smoothed at one
end and on this was written, "Confederate captain and private killed September 21st. Names unknown."
The fence rail had been broken in half and one end had been driven in the ground at the head of the grave. The negroes opened the grave and removed the two bodies, which had been so drained of blood by the wounds they had received that they showed no signs of decomposition. The dead men were then washed and cleaned as much as was possible, and each body was placed in a coffin. The grave was enlarged and deepened and the men were then covered with earth in this quiet place by the good negroes who then built a rail fence around the graves.
I remember the looks of these dead men perfectly well. The captain was named J. Lasley. He was about 30 years of age, small in stature, with raven black hair and beard. A bullet had entered his forehead but had not made its exit. He must have died immediately. The private was named Hugh Garth, - a boy not over 19 years old. He had a very fair complexion, auburn hair, and was heavily built. He had been shot through the heart. We marked their graves as carefully as we could and for several years I kept watch over the place where they lay. In the fall of 1867, when a new cemetery was opened for the Confederate dead who had been buried in
our county, I helped to remove the bones of these two men to the spot where they now sleep with their comrades who perished in the same cause to which they gave their lives. I never visit the cemetery without going to see these graves and those of others, whom I so well remember, who died during the war.
THE Federal cavalry and the Confederate had faced each other for some days at Millford, 12 miles south of our village. At length it became necessary for the Federals to send a large wagon train back to Winchester to get food for the horses and men. The country in which they were operating was a very poor one and the army could gather no supplies from the territory. Colonel Mosby, - who commanded a battalion of cavalry that operated as an independent command, - had learned of this situation and had arranged to attack this wagon train on its return north.
Mosby had about three hundred men in his battalion, which were divided into three or four companies that operated as a whole or a part, as circumstances required. This command had no given place for an encampment, but the men disbanded and stayed at different places in the mountains or safe retreats, and only assembled when called together for a raid. They operated in the northern counties of Virginia and by their activity kept a large body of Federal troops watching their lines of communication and guarding their stores.
It has been claimed that Mosby with his three hundred men kept as many as 20,000 Federal troops on the lookout. He would pounce down on them at any unexpected time and destroy the railroads or capture supplies at unguarded points. Mosby and his men were a terror to the Federal troops and they called him a bandit and a guerilla, although he had a regular commission in the Confederate army and his men were regularly enlisted. These men were all well mounted on captured horses and armed with captured weapons. They were a brave and daring band and made trouble at all times, rendering valuable service to our citizens by preventing small bodies of Federal cavalry from raiding and pillaging the people who lived away from the main lines of travel. The Federal army wagons had to be well guarded in traveling through the country, and Mosby often attacked these wagon trains and made valuable captures.
He was here to-day and many miles away tomorrow, and though Federals set many traps for him, he usually escaped them and inflicted heavy damages in return. The operations of Mosby's command have gone down in history, and it is not necessary for me to repeat his many exploits. I wish to refer to only one incident that came under my personal observation, - an incident that illustrates his methods of work.
The wagon train that General Custer had determined to send back from Millford to Winchester was presumed to have a small body-guard, and it was this train that Mosby had arranged to attack in a narrow road some two miles south of our village. Mosby divided his command into two companies, with about 150 men in each company. It was arranged that one company would fall on the rear of the train when it passed a given point and that the other would make the attack in front when the train reached a certain place. Mosby expected to catch the wagon train in a narrow passage, walled in on one side by the river and on the other by a high bluff. In this gorge there was no way to spread, and the Federals would be held as in a vise.
When the column of Federal cavalry with its wagons came down the road from Millford, and before it entered the gorge in the road, the command, which Mosby had sent to make the attack on the rear of the train, discovered that the train was guarded by the entire Federal cavalry, which was in retreat from Millford. The officer in command of the men that were to attack the rear sent a courier to notify the commander of the men that were to attack in front to withdraw his forces, as the Federal army was too strong for an attack. In some way the courier failed to deliver the message in time; and when the Federal
advance came in sight the order for the attack was given.
The road going south in front of my home crosses a hill about three hundred yards away and then descends along a deep ravine to the river. The road is hemmed in by this ravine on the east side and by a high, wooded hill on the west side, so there is no room for expansion.
In the early afternoon I was playing in our front yard when I saw a company of Confederate cavalry gallop across a field at right angles to the road, and I heard the officer in command give the order, "Wheel to the left. Charge!" As he gave the command the men in front turned into the road and charged over the bill. They had scarcely disappeared from sight where the air was filled with the reports of firearms.
I rushed back to the house to tell my mother what I had seen; but before I could enter the house I saw an ambulance coming down the road as fast as the horses could carry it. In a second I saw a horse running with the saddle turned and the saber striking the ground. The horse was trying to get out of the way of the saber. In less time than I can tell the story men were running in every direction and the whole earth seemed to be swarming with Federal cavalry. They came up like a flock of birds when a stone is cast into it.
It was apparent at once what all this meant. Mosby's men had run into the wagon train, which was guarded by a large force of cavalry, and had fallen into such close quarters that the command had run in every direction to escape capture. It was stated afterward that the Federal commander had gotten information of this attack and had arranged to trap Mosby. He had placed the wagon train in the advance, with a very small guard, but had a large force following, which was to come to the relief of the train when the attack was made. The front wagon in the train was an ambulance, and in this ambulance was a sick officer. The men in the charge fired into the ambulance, - which was the one I saw coming down the road at such speed, - and unfortunately killed the officer.
In the charge down the narrow road Mosby's men became wedged in between the wagons and the ravine on one side and embankment on the other, so that it was almost impossible for them to extricate themselves. They broke in disorder and every man had to look out for himself.
One of Mosby's men had his horse killed in the beginning of the charge. Anderson, - that was his name, - ran back on foot, but was captured before he could find a hiding place. Five more were captured at different places.
As soon as the rout was over the Federals took
these prisoners and, without trial, had them shot. Two young men, Love and Jones, were shot in a lot back of a church in our village; Anderson was shot under a large elm-tree about a half-mile south of the village; a boy by the name of Rhodes was captured and brought through the village between two cavalrymen and taken a half-mile north and shot under a walnut tree. This boy had been a schoolmate of mine, and was only 17 years of age. He had not been in the army, and that morning he borrowed an old horse from one of our citizens to join in this raid so that he might capture a horse to enable him to become a member of Mosby's command. The old horse broke down in the retreat, and Rhodes was taken prisoner. I doubt whether be fired a gun. As he was led through the village he passed the door of the house where lived his widowed mother and single sister; but he was not permitted to stop and say good-by to them. His dead body was left on the ground where he was shot, and was afterwards brought to his home by some of the citizens.
Two men, Ogelvie and Carter, were taken a mile north and hung on a walnut tree. Rope being attached to a limb and the noose placed around their necks, they were made to stand up on their horses' backs, then the horses were removed from under them. They were left hanging
to the tree all night, as our citizens were afraid to go near them and cut them down. On one of the bodies a note was attached, saying, "Hung in retaliation for the death of a Federal major, killed in an ambulance this afternoon."
The following morning, September 24th, several of Mosby's men rode into the village and then went out to the place where their comrades were still hanging. They cut them down and brought their bodies into the village on their horses, a body being thrown across the saddle in front of each rider. The sight was the most ghastly incident our citizens had ever witnessed.
The Federal cavalry did not go into camp that night at the village but hurried on to Winchester. They were greatly exasperated and it was fortunate that they were hurried on. Our people were thrown into the deepest distress by this experience, and it was made more so because of the sad death of young Rhodes who was known to everyone. He was an amiable, kind, and industrious boy, and had been most helpful to his mother and sister.
Such were the experiences of civil war. No one could foresee the results of this brutal strife that regarded human life and property as of no value and made the innocent as deserving of punishment as were the guilty.
A few days later Mosby captured some 18 men
belonging to the command that had hung and shot his men. He took these innocent prisoners and had them shot in retaliation, giving notice to General Custer that if he wished to conduct war on that basis, he was prepared to do the same. I think this put an end to the murder of prisoners by both sides.
After this experience we were not exposed to the presence of the Federal troops until after the 19th of October. General Early, in command of the Valley army, was located in the neighborhood of Fisher's Hill and Strasburg on the main Valley pike. The Federal army was around Cedar Creek and Middletown; the two armies were facing each other and looking for opportunities to get an advantage.
The opportunity at last seemed to be favorable to Early to make an attack. On the morning of the 19th of October before daybreak he put his men in action and by a flank movement made an attack on the left of the Federal line at Cedar Creek. He took the Federals completely by surprise and drove them out of their camps before they had time to form. The rout was complete; and they were driven back to Middletown before the stampede was checked. Early's men had been starved and, for want of shoes and clothes, were in such poor condition that when they captured the Federal camp they began
to pillage and look for food and clothes. Many left their commands and became stragglers at a time when their services were needed on the firing line.
After driving the routed army back some six miles the men in the advance, who were doing all the fighting, were so reduced in numbers that they were unable to hold the position they had gained. The Federal stampede was arrested and fresh men were brought up from Winchester to aid in the defense and inaugurate an advance on the scattered and depleted Confederate lines. Early's men were not only held in check, but they were driven back in as much disorder as they had advanced. They soon lost all the advantages they had gained; and by evening the entire army had been completely routed. A brilliant victory in the early morning was brought to a most humiliating disaster by the close of the day by the straggling and disorder of the Confederates, who found too many temptations in the deserted camps of the enemy.
I remember that early morning in October as well as any day of my life. We were aroused by the reports of the cannon and muskets on the Valley pike, not over ten miles distant in a bee line. We could follow the advance and then in the afternoon could locate by the firing the changes in position of the two armies. The noise of the
battle was terrific, and we knew that a great engagement was going on. It was Sunday morning; the quiet of the Sabbath was disturbed not only by the noise of artillery and muskets, for my father had told Uncle Lewis that he had better get busy and try to save his corn crop on that day.
Uncle Lewis had cultivated a small field of corn near the house, and up to that time it had not been disturbed. My father told him he had better gather it at once, for not an ear would be left if the Federals returned. While the battle was going on in the Valley, and while we could hear the firing as distinctly as though close by, we all turned out and went into the field and shucked and brought to the house in bags some 18 to 20 barrels of corn. The work was largely done by the servants on the place, but I did a full share of the duty. We put the corn in the garret of the house, and what we gathered that Sunday was all the corn we had for man and beast the following winter. Early the next morning a large body of Federal cavalry came in and took possession of the place. They cleaned up what corn they could find in the field, but left the fodder standing and did not take the time to gather the nubbins.
The main body of cavalry pushed south by the Page Valley but met the Confederate cavalry at Millford, where it had been held back in
September. Millford was a strong position, for the Valley was not over four miles wide at the place, and the river wound around between the mountains and lowlands in such curves that the place could not easily be flanked. A small force could easily defend the only road that led through the country.
After this second attempt to advance south by way of the Page Valley the Federal cavalry again retired north, and in this retreat they swept our county of everything that they could find in the way of food supplies; and what they could not carry away they set on fire or destroyed in other ways. They burned all the flour and grist mills in our county, with two exceptions, along the route of travel, all the barns that were stored with grain, wheat stacks, hay stacks, and fodder. The skys were red at night with the glare from these burning buildings. General Sheridan, at that time in command of the Federal army operating in the Valley of Virginia, made the boasting remark, "A crow will have to carry its rations in flying over the Valley." And this would have been literally true, if Sheridan could have had his own way; but, fortunately for our citizens that were non-combatants, the bounty of nature is often more beneficent than man.
Our country had never known such seasons as we had during the four years of war. Whatever
was put in the ground grew in profusion. Wheat, corn, oats, rye, and grass yielded large crops, with little cultivation. The orchard bore heavily, small fruits and the nuts on the trees were in the greatest abundance; wild game was prolific and the poultry, hiding in weeds and briars around the houses, gave abundance of food that could not be removed or burned. Our people relied on these food supplies in the scarcity of flour and cornmeal. Potatoes, which were buried under ground, were used as substitutes for bread, and molasses made from sorghum was used for sugar. Coffee found a substitute in parched rye and the root of the sassafras was used to make tea. Salt was often scarce and hard to get, and clothing had to be of the plainest character. Many of our men and boys were clothed in the old discarded uniforms of Federals, - clothes that had either been left in camps or captured by our soldiers, - dyed black with the bark of the tree. But for these resources our people would have starved; and in some instances there was much suffering for the actual necessaries of life, where families were in the enemy's lines and had no one to extend aid to them. Leather was scarce and it was difficult to get shoes. Many of the boys and girls of good size went barefooted for nine months of the year. A good pair of shoes for man or woman was a luxury; yet in spite of
all these drawbacks our men and women were tidy and neat in appearance, and our young girls never looked more beautiful than when dressed in their linsey garments and homemade hats.
This was the last raid the Federal cavalry ever made in our village. They had cleaned up the country so thoroughly that it was hardly necessary to return; for they could not find enough food for the men and horses and perhaps deemed it unwise to occupy a territory that was unproductive. Their operations were confined to the main Valley, and when the spring came, both the Confederate army and the Federal were transferred to the country east of the Blue Ridge.
THE winter of 1864-65 was passed quietly by our people, for we were not disturbed by the visits of the Federal troops. They had treated us so badly during the fall months, and had so completely devastated our country, that there was nothing left to tempt them to come our way. The condition of the Southern cause and the position of our armies, - now facing such odds and reduced to such small bodies, - filled us with great anxiety. The contest had almost worn out the patience of our most loyal citizens, who seemed to feel that the spring campaign would bring further disasters. The resources of our section of the South were so completely exhausted that we were scarcely able to support our home population, much less give aid to the men in the field. Every man available for military service was in the army and the crop of boys coming on for the spring enlistment was too small to be of any value. Our lands were out in the commons; barns, mills, and farming implements had been burned or destroyed; only a few old horses were left for farm work, and we had little labor with
which to cultivate the crops. Our farmers looked forward to the spring with little encouragement. If the war continued, little farm work could be done as the farm lands, labor, and implements necessary to cultivate the land were all in such a condition as to make farming operations impracticable, except on the smallest scale. Small crops of wheat had been sown in the fall by a few farmers who lived off the main roads of travel; and in the mountains it was possible to raise rye and corn. The lands had grown up in weeds and bushes, but the grass was in good condition; such live stock as was left could find good grazing all through the winter, and was kept alive by this fortunate condition.
The privations and distress of our people can best be illustrated by a few examples. A lady in our village, - who had given birth to an infant about the time the Federals were harassing our citizens by all kinds of pillaging and destruction, - was so disturbed that she was unable to give nourishment to her baby. She was compelled to give it milk from the only cow that was available. The Federal troops butchered this animal, though it had a calf only a few weeks old. This left the infant almost without nourishment, and it would have soon perished had not a young woman, the wife of a Confederate soldier, had an infant about the same age. She volunteered
to nurse the baby in connection with her own infant, and it was necessay for the mother of the first infant to have it sent frequently through the picket lines to nurse, as the wet nurse lived some distance away and outside the lines. This had to be kept up until the Federals left and other arrangements could be made. The life of the infant was saved in this way.
A widow, whose only son was killed in the army, lived on a large farm at some distance from any neighbors. She had several grown daughters and one or two old female relatives living with her. Her farm had been stripped of everything that would give support to life. She had a number of old negroes, both men and women, with their small children, all dependent on the farm; and they were all the protection these ladies had. These faithful negroes not only gave protection but they worked the garden, looked after the poultry, cows, and small animals on the place, and managed to keep the ladies from starving.
An old gentleman nearly fourscore years old, - whose only son was in the army and who had an invalid wife and several single daughters, nearly grown, - had to go to work in the field to get food for his family. He rented a tract of land that was very poorly fenced, and by his own labor, with some little assistance from small boys,
sowed the land in wheat. The following summer he harvested the wheat, with the assistance of a few boys and old men. When his crop was gathered the Federals came along and robbed him of almost all his toil. He had worked hard for the actual food of life, and the enemy reaped where he had sown.
An old physician in our village, - who had four sons in the army and an equal number of grown daughters at home, dependent on his labors, - made his professional rounds on such old horses as he could pick up or as his patients could send for him, and often went on foot. I have seen this old doctor in the very hottest weather of summer hoeing and weeding a lot of sorghum, trying to raise the food for his family.
A pastor of one of the two remaining churches worked his own garden, milked his only cow, and did all the menial work around his parsonage. I saw him going to the gristmill with a small bag of corn on his back to have it ground and then bring it back as meal. He was the most heroic man of his profession I ever knew. His sermons were filled with the spirit of patriotism and yet of humble resignation, - ever encouraging his congregation to bear all things and trust to the will of God. These are only a few of the incidents I could relate. They are sufficient to show the conditions of the times and the spirit of
the people who were making every effort to meet them.
One of the greatest hardships that our citizens had to bear was the complete interruption of all business relations. After the fall of 1862 every store and shop in the village was closed until after the war. Nothing could be had in the way of clothing, groceries, and household goods, except where purchases were made in other localities. The courts of law seldom convened, all civil authority was practically suspended, our mechanics and tradespeople had little to do, and the income from property and from business was cut off. The avenues of trade being closed, the wants of the people could not be met; and everyone had to get along in the best way possible.
This meant great hardship to many who had little money, and afforded no way of making a living by the usual methods of work. Our people learned by necessity to do without the most necessary articles of food and clothing, and lived in the simplest way. It is surprising how little one can live on when necessity reduces his wants to the simplest details. Just as Robinson Crusoe, on a lonely island learned the simplest problems of life, so our people, by force of circumstances, were reduced to a life of great simplicity. Yet in this life there was contentment and patient forbearance with the conditions that surrounded them.
Although there were no military operations of any importance in the Valley of Virginia during the winter of 1864-65, a Federal garrison was kept at Winchester. As far as I can remember, however, we never saw in our village a body of Federal troops after the last of November. The Confederate boys came home on furlough and were not disturbed during their visits. As poor as our people were in worldly goods they maintained a spirit of cheerfulness and of hope. The results of the war were still in a balance, and some still hoped for better success to the Southern cause when the spring opened.
Our young people were still intent on having all the pleasure that would come their way; and though they had to do the greater part of the work of the home and of the farm, they found time for their social pleasures. Dances and parties were not infrequent and at these affairs the boys home from the army had their enjoyment. Love-making and weddings were still popular. There seemed to be nothing incompatible between love-making and soldiering. As a general rule the boys in the army had some girl on the string and were courting and marrying whenever the opportunity was favorable. I often wondered how men exposed to the dangers of war could assume the responsibilities of marriage; but the soldiers took these risks as they did those of battle,
with the greatest composure; for few men ever expected to be killed in battle; they usually thought the other fellow would be hurt but not themselves. This was a fortunate delusion, for few men deeply impressed with a sense of danger and fear of death will do their full duty on the firing-line, however faithful they may be in camp or on the march.
During the winter and early spring months the army under Grant and the army under Lee were facing each other in the trenches of Petersburg. The forces under Grant had been recruited and enlarged while the army under Lee had suffered heavy losses by death and sickness, and had dwindled to less than 40,000 men. These men were poorly fed and clad but were still fired with courage and resolution. They were making a gallant stand against the odds that were facing them. As soon as weather conditions would permit Grant began his old tactics of moving on the flank. He began on Lee's right flank and forced Lee to extend his slim lines over greater distances. This movement soon forced Lee to evacuate Petersburg, and with the withdrawal from this place, the evacuation of Richmond was necessary. The prize the Federals had so long coveted fell into the hands of Grant, and the capital of the Confederacy was lost to the South. The Government stores and papers were removed before
the evacuation, and Mr. Davis with his Cabinet and his office force, left for an interior place.
Lee then retreated in the direction of Lynchburg; and when he reached Appomattox Court House his small band of men was almost completely surrounded by the Federal forces. On the 9th of April Lee saw the uselessness of further resistance, and so he surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. His men were paroled and allowed to return to their homes. A few weeks later the army under General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered in North Carolina. With this final scene the War between the States came to an end.
Four years of strife had completely exhausted the resources of the Confederacy, both in men and in money, and the drama was closed. The Government that our people had fought to establish went down in disaster, and the Southern States were at the mercy of the Federal Government. Next came the period of reconstruction with all its calamities for our people.
THERE was something in the life of the old family servant that was peculiarly attractive to the child. Many a Southern boy and girl of my generation will recall the old negro "Mammie," as she was called, - her gentleness, patience, and faithfulness, her spirit of unselfishness and kindness, and her interest in the pleasures and enjoyments of our young lives. I can remember my old nurse, - her songs and stories, her gentle care of my diet and clothes, her mild way of correcting my outbreaks of passion and temper and her ways of training my disposition and character. No mother could have been more considerate of my comfort and happiness than was this old negress.
Then the old negro men on the farm were ever ready to contribute to the happiness of the boy. In fishing and hunting, in the breaking and riding of the horse, in the harvesting and gathering of the crops the negro man was at all times sporty and full of spirit and life. He usually had a fund of anecdote and folklore which, told in his
negro dialect, produced a striking effect which gave keen enjoyment to himself and audience. Generally the negro had a most musical and inspiring voice; and he not only sang sweetly but often played with pathos and skill on the violin, jew's-harp and bones. He was seldom morose or disagreeable but, to the contrary, had a joyfulness of spirit that removed the irksomeness of labor and added to the pleasures of his daily tasks.
In the labor of the farm, of the house, or of the barn he was always the same light-hearted creature, - full of merriment and gossip, often humming in a monotone some old plantation melody. By nature a social being, - his best efforts are given in rivalry with other laborers. This was best shown in the harvest field, in the thrashing of wheat, and in the old-time corn-shucking parties.
As our negroes had been emancipated the system of labor had now to be adjusted to meet the new conditions. Many of our negroes had not left their old homes and the great majority had behaved with such loyalty and consideration toward their old masters that a feeling of kindest respect was entertained for them. Only one of my father's negroes had left him. The older servants were as faithful and true as it was possible for a people to be. In fact but for Uncle Lewis and Aunt Susan we would have had a very
hard time and I cannot recall the services of these old negroes without the tenderest emotions.
A few days after the surrender, when we were assured that the war was over, my father called all of the servants together under a large tree in the yard and explained to them that under the order of the President of the United States the negroes had been liberated and were now free to do as they pleased. He told them that he had no further control over them, that in future he would pay them for services such wages as would be established in the community, and that if they wished to remain in his employ they could do so as long as they desired; but that if any of them wished to find new homes, they were at liberty to make a change. He assured them of his friendly interest in them and of his desire to see them do well and be happy. He told them of the altered conditions that would surround them under freedom and urged them to cultivate habits of thrift and industry, which would make them useful citizens and self-respecting men and women.
After he had finished his remarks, which he had made in a tone of deep emotion, Uncle Lewis stood up and tried to be the spokesman for his race. In his illiterate way, but with strong sense, he said he did not wish to be free, that all his life he had been a slave in my father's family,
that he had always been treated with the greatest kindness by my grandfather and after his death by my father and that in his old age he did not want to be thrown on the world to make his own living and to be neglected by strangers. He then broke down in tears and wept copiously.
My father told him that he need not fear, that as long as he lived he should have a home with us and would receive the same attention he had always received. The other negroes assented to what Lewis had said, but, as they were younger, it was not expected that they would wish to remain indefinitely in our family. It was, however, several years after the war before they all found new homes. Aunt Susan stayed with us some three years before she went to live in her own home. She had accumulated enough money to buy a neat little house in Front Royal, and by taking in washing and doing light work she lived in comfort until she died.
A few weeks after the incident mentioned above Uncle Lewis went to his room with an illness that soon led to his death. We waited on the old man and did all we could for his comfort, but he expressed a desire to die, for he said he was heartbroken and had nothing left to live for.
When Uncle Lewis had passed away my father had him buried in the lot where for many years
his people had been buried. He had the faithful old friends assemble under the shade trees in the yard and a short service was held over the remains. My father and I accompanied the body to its last resting place, where Lewis now sleeps. I wept then, and the tears now come into my eyes as I write these words; for this good old negro had been one of the best friends of the days of my childhood and boyhood. He had taught me the early lessons of outdoor life, - how to ride, to load and shoot a gun, to hunt, and do many of the little things about the farm and home; he had entertained me by the hour in his room with stories and tales of his early life; he had told me many things about my grandfather, who died before I was born, and about other members of my family whom I had never seen, about the western country and the Valley in which we lived when he was a young man. This old man had a colored skin, but a white man's heart. I loved him dearly.
THE close of the war found our country almost a desert. Over 80 per cent of the personal property of our people had been swept away. Little was left but the land and the buildings on it, many of which had been so neglected during the four years of war that they were almost uninhabitable. Fences, barns, granaries, and the outbuildings on many of the farms were completely destroyed. Only two or three old mills were left in our county, and they were in a dilapidated condition. The farm lands had grown up in weeds and bushes and were scarcely fit for pasturage. A few old horses, cows, hogs, and sheep were left on some of the farms removed from the highroads. Farming implements were almost worthless, and the tools used by the blacksmiths and mechanics were almost useless. With everything in this condition, and with little or no money to buy the necessary articles for industrial work, the problem of rebuilding the waste places was a serious one.
No sooner had peace been declared than our
people began the work of construction and of repair. Everyone with the physical strength began to labor about the house and in the field. The boys who had been in the army came back and resumed their home duties. A few, who had been trained for mercantile life or clerical duties, left for other fields of employment in the cities or elsewhere. With the opening of the spring, the work of building fences and of planting crops began in earnest, and was pushed with vigor and industry. The stores and shops in the village were opened and, with the credit extended by the merchants in Baltimore and some of the Northern cities, supplies were brought and the necessities of the people were provided for.
The scarcity of labor was made up by the return of the men who had been in the army and by the negro laborers who had not left their old homes. The farmers who had sown wheat the previous fall were fortunate in getting good prices for the wheat crop. This brought some ready money into the community. On many of the farms there was much good timber and this was cut and sold at good prices; and by the time the summer months had come our country began to assume a more prosperous appearance, and the wants of our people became less pressing. The young people soon began to resume their former pleasures. Picnics, dances, and other pastimes
were resumed, and all entered into the enjoyment of a refined social life.
About six miles from our village there was an old watering place which had been abandoned during the war. In some way it had escaped the firebrand, and only suffered from the loss of windows and doors, and from the hands of idleness. It was admirably located for the pleasure of the young people. The young men and women from the country for miles around would meet at this old place and spend the day in dancing and merriment. They would come on horseback or in any old vehicle, and bring provisions for the midday meal. The floor of the ballroom was large and smooth, so that dancing was continued the entire day, and sometimes thirty or forty couples would be on the floor at one time. An old citizen with his violin made music and the old-time dances were stepped off as the fiddler called out the figures: "Dance to your partner; turn partner; salute partner; dismiss partner."
A large lunch was spread for the company at midday and the dance was resumed until late in the afternoon, when the party broke up. The Virginia Reel wound up the dance for the day. No one enjoyed these dancing parties more than the boys who had been in the army. They were the heroes of the day and had the swing with the girls. I belonged to the juvenile set and took
my chances for a partner with any of the girls that happened to be without an escort. One of the boys who entered into the spirit of these dances with a light heart and energetic soul was an old schoolmate of mine who had entered the army at the very outbreak of the war. He met with a wound in the second year of the war and lost one half of one foot. He was able to walk on his heel and no man ever made better use of a heel than he did. He was on the floor all the time and with his game foot could tire out the best dancers on the floor. I have never known anyone who equaled him in the love of the dance. He had a very sweet and musical voice and sang old Irish songs to perfection. He was very popular with the girls.
We had a custom in those days of going to these parties in the country in a large wagon with the bed filled with straw. Four horses pulled the load and we often had twenty or thirty boys and girls in the wagon. This is what is now known as a straw ride. We did not give it that name in my boyhood days. It was a great source of pleasure and was an innocent sport.
The summer of 1865 passed so pleasantly that it was soon gone. When the fall months came a school was opened in the old Academy in our village by a young man who had been an officer in the army. He was well qualified for the work
of the teacher and soon had a large school of boys and girls. In the class that assembled there were some ten or twelve boys who had been in the army, and were now eager to make up for lost time. Several of them had belonged to the class of the principal that had commanded the company which went to Harper's Ferry on April 20th, 1861, and who had risen to the rank of colonel of his regiment, and had been killed in front of Petersburg in 1864. These boys who had served from one to four years in the war were good students and progressed rapidly. Later in life some of them became distinguished citizens. During the fall we had several incidents to happen that brought sadness to many hearts. A number of the men in the army from our county had died away from home and had been buried among strangers in widely separated places. Several had found graves on battlefields. As soon as it was possible the friends and relatives of these men had their bodies brought home for burial. When their remains were brought back our school would close and all of our citizens would attend the reinterment of these bodies. In some cases these boys had been lost in battle or had died so far from friends that their bodies were never recovered, and they now sleep in unknown graves, though their memories are still cherished by their loved ones. One of my old classmates was
wounded and captured. He died in some Federal prison, and his friends have never been able to learn his fate nor his last resting place.
One of the first duties our good women undertook after the surrender was to organize a memorial association for the care and preservation of the bodies of the Confederate dead buried in our community. A large lot was secured near the place first selected for the Confederate dead and in this beautiful spot all the dead were brought together and placed in graves, marked with headstones, with such information as was at command for their identification.
The unknown dead were placed in a large central mound with a monument over them. This labor of love and devotion to the memory of those who had given up their lives for the Southern cause involved much sacrifice, for our people were poor in material wealth, though generous and unselfish in heart. The work of caring for the dead was carried through a number of years and finally resulted in a beautiful memorial to the Confederate dead.
I have mentioned in a previous chapter the burial of Captain Laslie and Hugh Garth of the Second Virginia Cavalry, killed in September, 1864, near our village. I assisted in the removal of the remains of these bodies to the new cemetery after the close of the war, and they now sleep in marked
graves near their comrades-in-arms. In this acre, consecrated to the men who perished in the war, over three hundred men sleep "on fame's eternal camping ground."
While our citizens were collecting the bodies of the Confederate dead the Federal Government was engaged in the same work and some three hundred Federal dead in our county were removed to the National Cemetery at Winchester. These men were buried in many places, often in the neglected spots where they had fallen in battle. In a field adjoining my home nine men, killed in a charge, May 30th, 1862, were buried in one grave. A few weeks later a soldier belonging to an Ohio Regiment died in the home of one of our citizens and was buried in this lot. Some days later his friends came and removed his body and left the grave open with the coffin in it. About the same time a negro died in one of the camps and was buried in this open grave. This negro had on an old uniform of a Federal captain. When these bodies were removed to Winchester the body of the negro was marked "Federal captain. Name unknown." He rests now with the Federal dead in the National Cemetery. What is fame?
The men employed by the Government to remove the dead were a cold-blooded set. I watched them open a number of graves, and when they found anything on the dead that was worth
keeping they appropriated it to their own use. They invariably examined the teeth to see if any had gold fillings, and if such fillings were found, the teeth were removed and placed in the men's pockets. No gold was ever buried with the dead, if these ghouls could help it.
These inhuman practices were the outgrowth of the war. These men, - now employed by the Federal Government to collect the bodies of the men who had lost their lives in service, - were members of the same army that had pillaged and robbed our people during the last two years of the war. As they could no longer rob the living they were robbing the remains of their dead comrades. I saw one of these men take a skull of one of these dead soldiers, and on examining it he found some four or five of the teeth were filled with gold. He took a stone and deliberately knocked out these teeth and put them in his pocket, with the remark, "They are of no use to this dead man, and they are of some value to me."
A Federal soldier had been buried in a field in front of my home. A depression in the ground marked his grave. I had often passed the place and thought it was a hog wallow. One of my boy associates had seen the man buried and called the attention of the grave-diggers to the spot. I was somewhat shocked at the way they asked for the information. We boys were watching the
removal of some of the dead and one of the men, turning to us, asked if we knew where any more of these men were "planted." It was then that the boy called attention to the grave. I followed the grave-diggers and saw them open the grave. The man had been buried in a shallow grave without a coffin. When the earth was removed one of the diggers discovered a black silk handkerchief and pulled it from under the earth. He then shook off the dirt and held it up for inspection. It was in good condition, so he put it in his pocket. He next examined the teeth for gold fillings, but found none. The bones were collected and thrown into a small box for transportation to Winchester.
Those are but a few of the examples of civil war with its sad features of human suffering and death. I have often thought that many of the poor fellows who had given their lives in the civil strife, and were now sleeping in unknown graves, had sorrowing relatives at their homes, who were looking in vain for their return.
I have estimated as carefully as I could that there were between five and six hundred Federal and Confederate soldiers buried in my county during the war. This loss is but trivial compared with the slaughter in many of the great battles of the war, where as many as ten thousand were left dead on the field.
I have already asked the question, was this war worth what it cost in blood and treasure? From my point of view I have answered no. Those who differ with me must show wherein lies the profit.
So long as the brutal instincts of man control the policies of countries and nations war may be a necessary evil, but if civilization cannot be maintained on higher grounds, then civilization is a failure, and all human rights are exposed to the evil passions of human nature. The great laws that control all forms of animal life in the struggle for existence dominate in a measure the spirit of man. The gradual uplift of the human race is the outcome of this struggle. Upon this theory alone is there any justification in war between kindred peoples and foreign nations. When civilization has reached a standard when all human contentions can be regulated by arbitration then we may hope for an era of peace and good will between men.
The evil passions engendered by the War between the States should have ended at Appomattox. This was the hope of the people of the South. They had fought bravely for their Constitutional rights and had submitted this question to the arbitration of arms. The contest had been decided against them, and they were prepared to accept this decision in a patriotic way.
The emancipation of the negro was accepted in the same spirit; but the people who fully understood the nature and character of the negro expected that a domestic question of such importance to the negro and to the white race in the South would be referred largely to the latter to adjust. It was not believed when the war was first closed that a policy of reconstruction would be enforced by the Federal Government with harshness and barbarity, that a proud and high-spirited people would be subjected to such humiliation, and would have to contend with an ignorant and servile race, - a race totally unfit for the duties of citizenship, - for its principles of domestic government.
It is not my wish to revive the memories of reconstruction. That chapter of American history had best be forgotten by the men of my generation, and those who have come since the war are better off without a knowledge of that period, - a period that the historian can only view as a disgrace to a government which gave assent to it.
If the War between the States was justifiable, then any civil war, conducted on the same basis, will be equally justifiable. If war is the only protest a people can make against arbitrary power, then war will be inevitable in the nature of things.
The Civil War brought great wealth and political power to the North and Northwest. It built up an aristocracy of wealth and political
power that has dominated the nation for the last fifty years. It has made the few rich at the expense of the great mass of the people. It has been worth to the North all it cost in blood and treasure, but it has made a wage service as oppressive as slavery was to the negro in the South. While the laborer has been paid for his labor, he has grown restless and dissatisfied with his wages. Labor Unions have grown in numbers and in strength. They have become more and more outspoken in their demands, and they threaten to involve this country in greater embarrassment than the negro ever caused. The outcome of these conditions no man can foresee. All will depend upon the spirit of justice and fair play that the Government and public opinion will exercise in arbitrating differences and in adjusting balances.
These disturbances between labor and capital have been confined almost entirely to the Northern States, - to the people who have profited by the results of the war. The South has so far been comparatively free from labor contentions, for the reason that the negro labor of the South has been regulated by a domestic situation that does not exist where white labor is almost exclusively employed.
I have brought my story down to the winter of 1865. I will leave it here, with the hope that
it has presented a view of the war from a point
not usually taken by the historian. Many of the
facts are seen from the standpoint of a boy, others
are viewed from the standpoint of a matured man,
who has lived long after the events, and whose
opinions are no doubt biased by contemporary
observations and experiences. The author believes
that the time has come when the people of the
South should try to forget and forgive the rough
usages of the war and take hold of the larger
views that will strengthen and ennoble the life
and influence of our nation.
soldier's tent is pitched at last
musket's crash and cannon's roar
call to arms at early morn,
many a moldering heap of earth
costly urn their ashes hold;
duty's paths they firmly trod,
Sumter's fire and final fall
truth be truth, if truth be right,
On camping ground across the stream,
Where war's fierce cry and bugle blast
No more disturb his peaceful dream.
That raised his martial spirits high,
In vain their music peals may pour
Where his immortal ashes lie.
The evening "taps" at close of day
Fall silent from the bugler's horn
When death has reaped its final pay.
On fields of carnage stained with blood
They honor those who gave them birth, -
Proud offspring of their parenthood.
In nameless graves they often sleep;
Their deeds of valor where'er told
In loving hearts will ever keep.
Obedient to their holy trust;
Believing in Almighty God,
The Cause they loved to them was just.
To Appomattox's end in peace
They gave their best - it was their all;
The time had come for war to cease.
Truth and untruth can ne'er agree.
To flee from darkness to the light
Is all the cost of liberty.
soldier's tent is pitched at last
musket's crash and cannon's roar
call to arms at early morn,
many a moldering heap of earth
costly urn their ashes hold;
duty's paths they firmly trod,
Sumter's fire and final fall
truth be truth, if truth be right,