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Library of Congress Subject Headings,
21st edition, 1998
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
Illustrated from contemporary portraits
Copyright, 1905, by Published, September, 1905
THIS RECORD IS WRITTEN
Southern Girl in '61
The War-Time Memories of a Confederate Senator's Daughter
Mrs. D. Giraud Wright
Doubleday, Page& Company
Doubleday, Page & Company
All rights reserved, including that
of translation into foreign languages,
including the Scandinavian
IN LOVING MEMORY
TWO CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS
My Father and My Brother
Illustrated from contemporary portraits
Copyright, 1905, by
Published, September, 1905
THIS RECORD IS WRITTEN
Approach of General Sherman Causes a Rush from Macon - A Louisiana Swamp - Crossing the Mississippi in Dugouts . . . . . 193
THE COMET OF 1858 - JOURNEY BY STAGE COACH FROM MARSHALL TO AUSTIN - A PRAIRIE FIRE - FORDING THE BRAZOS RIVER.
IN gathering the sad and happy memories of the years of which I write, I am actuated by two motives - one, that I am conscious that the days are passing, and that if done at all, the chronicle had best be written ere the eye that has seen these things grows dim and the memory faulty; and the other, that I would fain live in the thoughts of the children who shall come after me, and have their hearts, as they read this record, beat in unison with mine. Thus shall we be linked together in these memories.
I remember, in the summer of 1858, sitting on the broad piazza in front of our home in Marshall, Texas, watching the great comet that hung in the heavens. I can see now the crêpe myrtle bushes with their rose-colored blossoms, flanking the steps; feel again the warm, languorous air of the summer night, heavy with the odor of white jasmine, and honeysuckle; and hear again the voices, long stilled, as we talked together
of the comet and its portent. As a child, I felt the influence of the time: great events were forming; the "irrepressible conflict," which culminated in the awful struggle of the sixties, was just becoming, to the mind of thinkers, a fearful probability; and when we looked at the blazing comet in that fair summer sky, a feeling of awe and mystery enveloped us. Night after night we watched it, and singular to say, it is the only distinct impression left on my mind of the summer of '58.
In the autumn my father was elected the State Senate and we made preparations for our journey to Austin. There were no railroads across the State in those days, and the hundreds of miles had to be traversed by private conveyance, or by stage coach.
We decided to make the expedition in our old- fashioned family carriage, drawn by a pair of stout horses and driven by our negro coachman, Henry. My brother came with us on horseback. We made the journey in easy stages - our luggage, of course, being sent on by coach. We would drive about thirty miles a day - never more; stopping in the middle of the day for an hour or so, when the horses would be thoroughly rested and fed, and we would have our luncheon.
At night, we always stopped at a convenient farmhouse, the location of which had been previously learned, and whose owners were
accustomed, in a country where there were no inns, to receive occasional travelers.
What a delightful journey it was! The beautiful, level, prairie roads, hard, white and smooth, over which we rolled, with little effort on the horses' part - stretching behind and before us that wide expanse of prairie, now, in November, covered with tall, waving, yellow grass; but in June glorious with the exquisite blue flowers of the buffalo clover - stopping, from time to time, to water the horses from the pure, limpid springs; the heavens blue as a sapphire and the sun shining!
I do not remember any rainy days in the ten during which we were on the road. The midday meal, taken by the banks of some clear, beautiful stream, was a feast indeed - a daily picnic of the most enchanting kind.
I recall only two adventures by the way. One was our setting the prairie on fire by thoughtlessly throwing a lighted match in the dry grass, which might have resulted very seriously had we not been near a stream, and had not the wind been blowing towards it, and in the opposite direction from that in which we were going. As it happened, it was an interesting and novel sight, viewed at a safe distance. And it resulted in much merriment, as we recalled our first frightened efforts to put out the prairie fire by futile little journeyings to and from the stream with cups of water.
Our other adventure was fording the Brazos River, a broad, swift-running, shallow stream, so limpid that the stones on the bottom were clearly visible.
When we reached the ford, we knew nothing of the treacherous character of the sandy bottom, and when about fifty feet from the shore the horses stopped to drink. Imagine our horror when we felt the carriage beginning to sink and the horses to plunge in a vain endeavor to extricate themselves. Luckily for us, the quicksands were not very deep, and having sunk as far as the hubs of the wheels, there we stuck, hard and fast. My brother, who was on horseback, was able to approach cautiously, and took each of us out of the carriage window, when, seated behind him and holding on to him with a grip made intense by necessity and terror, we rode rapidly across the river and were landed safely on the other side. The carriage, now being lightened of its weight, was raised, and the horses were enabled to get on a firmer footing and soon were out of their dangerous position. I must say that I think we all behaved very well, as I have no recollection of any excitement or cries of terror, which might have been expected of us in such a new and trying experience.
I recall very vividly the evening when we came in sight of the city of Austin: the brilliant autumn sunset, the invigorating air, the lovely view of
the surrounding country, the sound of the horses' feet ringing on the hard, smooth road, as we rolled along, down the slope that brought us to our journey's end - half way across the State of Texas, in ten days.
THE WRITER'S HOME IN MARSHALL - ANECDOTES OF FAITHFUL NEGROES - REMOVAL TO WASHINGTON - MEETINGS WITH SENATORS CLAY AND SLIDELL AND THEIR WIVES AND OTHER NOTABLES.
IT IS curious how the minor things in a life stand out against the background of the past like silhouettes. The great events are harder to remember than the trifles.
The village of Marshall was not different from a thousand other little country towns throughout the South. The houses set back from the sandy street, with their front yards filled with roses and honeysuckles; the back yards with the servants' quarters and the wood piles; the well dug deep to reach the cool water; and in it the tempting bucket in which the luscious watermelon was sent down to its mysterious depths, and from which it emerged covered with a silver frost. The happy little darkies played in the background through the summer day, and gathered around the kitchen fire when the nights grew chill, and the white folks at "the house" sat by the roaring hickory logs at the chimney side.
I never see a big wood fire but I remember my father and the way he constructed his: The huge back log, first; the light-wood knots in front, and on top the wealth of smaller hickory; and then the blaze, and the warmth, and the delight of replenishing!
There is one little figure, that stands out in positive and pathetic prominence, as I think of those old days; little Emmeline, the small negro girl who was my constant companion. She loved me with a devotion that I have never seen excelled, and in her brief life (for she died when eight years old) she made an impression which has never left me, and which I am glad to record here. When she died, after a short illness, I grieved sincerely; and to this day cannot think of her without a pang.
Strange to say, of our many plays together only two incidents can I recall. It was the fourth of July. The arrival of the day had been announced at dawn by the explosion of gunpowder placed in an anvil, this being the primitive method in vogue among the village patriots for ushering in the anniversary and producing the desired amount of noise. There was, of course, the usual popping of firecrackers, and the usual parade of the militia.
When little Emmeline heard the shouts and the music, she left the enchantment of the approaching
pageant, even at the risk of losing the sight, to summon me.
"Oh! run, run," she screamed at the top of her voice, "run, and look; General Washington done come."
We had a dear old doctor in the village, and he had one invariable method of diagnosis, which used to cause us all infinite amusement. Whatever the disease, and wherever situated, he always, before administering his remedies, would first proceed to feel our spines. We thought it very funny, but he was only a little in advance of his school. Nowadays, I believe, the osteopaths pursue the same practice and proclaim much the same doctrine, as to the general seat of disease. Now Emmeline, like the rest of her race, was imitative; she liked to play doctor. We saw her one day, having cornered a little piccaninny, named Hannah, proceed to poke and punch different portions of her anatomy in true medical style, accentuating her thrusts with the suggestive query as to the location of the supposed pain, her voice taking on an indescribable whine, supposed to be professional.
"Hannah, Hannah, docker Baylor say your backbone hurt you, Hannah?"
If she had lived in later days who knows in what new school of medicine she might not have been a burning and a shining light!
Then there was the Court House in the middle
of the square, where the voice of the crier was heard on Court days calling, "Oh yes, oh, yes, come into Court," and the long rack where the horses were hitched in patient rows, switching off the flies with their long tails. Fortunately for them "docking" was an unknown art.
Then there was the tavern, with the wide front piazza, where appeared the benches and the split- bottomed chairs, with their leisurely occupants; and the inevitable accompaniment of elevated legs on the railing, which some cavilling Britisher has styled the attitude of the American Congressman.
I can hear now the dinner bell, summoning the guests at the hour of noon. The boys had a song to fit the monotonous sound, suggestive of the quality and quantity of the repast.
done, Pigtail done,
If you don't come quick
You won't git none!"
Then there were the churches of different denominations. The quaint Methodist buildings, where the men sat on one side and the women on the other; where, on Sunday evenings, however, the rules were not so strict but that the girls made themselves pretty and coquettish enough, in their sweet summer dresses land won many a sly glance of approbation from across the rigid dividing line.
Then there were the hard-shell Baptists and the Campbellite Baptists; and from their pulpits the theologians of the different schools pronounced a sufficient variety of dogmas to daunt the souls and bewilder the minds of ordinary mortals.
Many of the negroes were members of one or other of these denominations. "Dick" professed conversion and was taken into the fold by immersion. When "Marcia" heard of it her comment was congratulatory for two reasons, "One t'ing, Dick got a good washin'."
It was against the rules for the negroes to be out at night without a "pass," and it was the custom to come to young "Massa" or "Missus" to write them for them. Many a one have I written. "Henry has permission to pass and repass until ten o'clock" was the usual form.
There have been volumes written about the negro, generally by persons who knew nothing, by practical experience, of the subject of which they wrote. They theorized, from a false basis, on a condition of things which existed only in their imaginations; and they built up a fabric, which, in these later days, has tumbled down about their ears, and bids fair, in its fall, to work havoc, in more directions than one. It may be that out of the dirt and débris, a new structure will be erected in time; but that time is certainly not yet. Now I do not propose to theorize on the subject. I merely wish to relate two or three
facts, to the truth of which I can bear witness - facts that exhibit the character of the negro, as shown during the War, under the then existing conditions of slavery.
When my parents left home in the autumn of 1860 to go to Washington, they anticipated returning in a few months. We had a faithful woman, named Sarah, whose family had belonged to ours for two generations. Before our departure the silver was packed away and the key given to Sarah. For nearly four years we were absent. During that time the house was occupied, on several occasions, as headquarters, by Generals of our own army in command at Marshall, permission of course being given. Sarah, for the credit of the establishment, as she told us afterwards, produced the silver and had it constantly in use. When we returned, not a single piece was missing; though, in the meantime the War had ended, and she was free to come and go as she chose, and could easily, in the lawlessness of the time, have decamped with her prize, with no one to gainsay her. When, on our return home after weeks of waiting in fear and anxiety for my father's safety, at last tidings were brought us that he was in our neighborhood - it was to Sarah that we confided the fact, and through her connivance, under cover of night, he entered his home. It was Sarah who watched with us and stood on guard through the long weary hours
while we sat together and talked over the plans for the future - and it was Sarah who saw in the early dawn that the coast was clear for her master - her master no longer - to make his escape from his foes!
Then again there was Henry, my brother's body servant during the War. In looking back it seems strange that officers in the army, at a time when they were barely existing on a third of a pound of bacon a day and a little corn meal, should have decreased their slender store by sharing it with servants. But those were the good old days and the good old ways, and I, for one, would never have changed them! Now one of my father's admirers in Texas had sent to him at Richmond a very beautiful Mexican saddle, heavily mounted in silver, and he, caring little for such vanities and always delighting to give to his children, promptly transferred the valuable present to my brother. Henry's pride in his young master's grandeur was unbounded, and he polished the handsome silver mountings with unwearied zeal, and I doubt if the suggestion ever occurred to his simple mind as to how sensible it would be to convert a portion of those jingling chains and buckles into some good digestible article to appease the ever-present hunger of both master and man. After General Johnston's surrender, and when my brother determined to make his way across the river to join Kirby Smith, he
had to part from Henry. That Henry should leave him voluntarily never occurred to either of them. He left him at a point in Alabama and told him to wait with the horse and famous saddle until he should receive orders to come. And there he remained for weeks, faithful and obedient. When at last my brother wrote for him he sold the horse and the saddle, according to his orders, and with the proceeds made his way home, where he appeared one day to give an account of his adventures and expenditures. Can these instances of faithful service be matched in any negro to-day, after nearly forty years of freedom?
The negro in slavery before and during the War, was lazy and idle - he will always be that - but he was simple, true and faithful. What he has become since his emancipation from servitude is a queer comment on the effect of the liberty bestowed upon him. But that is going very far afield and away from our subject.
The great events in the county were the barbecues and the commencements. The former were generally the means of gathering the politicians who made stump speeches, and instructed the people as to the proper way to construe the Constitution, and duly inculcated the doctrine of States' rights. Here, over a great pit, spanned by iron rods, were laid and roasted huge beeves and hogs, the dispensing of which savory viands, on immense tables spread under the shade of the
branching oaks, was good to see, and better to smell, and best of all to taste.
Then the Commencements were the events of the year. The "sweet girl graduates" in their filmy white robes and dainty ribbons, with compositions in hand, astonishing the dear old country papas and mamas, by "words of learned length and thundering sound", and blushing and simpering under the admiring gaze of the youthful swains. I knew of one of these, after an occasion of the sort, expressing his feelings of admiration in rather an original way, by sending his lady love a magnificent watermelon with its dear little curly tail tied with a blue ribbon! This youthful enthusiast bore the euphonious appellation of Alonzo Womack, and some cruel, unfeeling one, with a prophetic eye to the possible result of a mutual consumption of the luscious gift, made the following suggestive couplet:
With a pain in his stomach."
From Marshall, my thoughts naturally drift back to Austin where we spent two winters before my father's election to the United States Senate.
I wonder if my descendants, should they ever read these memoirs, will be shocked at the levity of an ancestress who frankly acknowledges that the most vivid recollection left on her mind is a grey merino pélisse and black beaver hat and
plumes with which her small person was decked during the winter of 1859. At the house where we spent the winter I do remember several interesting people.
One of these was "Tom" Ochiltree, whose name has since attained wide celebrity. He was then clerk of the Texas Senate, young and full of spirit and mischief and cleverness, of a kindly temper and fond of children.
A little girl of six, staying in the house with him, became deeply enamoured, and used to weep bitterly when her elders, to tease her, would declare that his locks, which were of an intensified Titian tint, would set the house afire.
At this date occurred the event, which was to transport me from the quiet life I had led into that vast theatre whereon was acted the greatest tragedy of modern times, and in which those nearest and dearest to me played prominent parts. From their intimate connection with the chief actors in those tragic days I have been taken behind the scenes, and enabled from tale of lip and pen to write this chronicle.
I well remember the night we sat waiting together for news from the Capitol, when suddenly the sound of music was heard and the shouts of the crowd coming to announce the election of my father to the United States Senate. In a short time thereafter we went to Washington, by way of Galveston, where we took the steamer for
New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi River to Memphis, from where the railroad carried us to our destination.
I remember my delight in that journey. New Orleans, with its foreign air and beautiful shops; the old St. Charles Hotel, where we stopped for a while, that our wardrobes might receive a finishing touch at the hands of the modistes and milliners, whose good taste was proverbial. Then the week on that river palace, the old John Simonds, one of the famous boats of the day. Such luxury of living, even in these times, could not be excelled. And the delicious leisure of it, the lack of hurry and bustle. A week to go from New Orleans to Memphis!
When we reached Washington, we joined the colony at Brown's Hotel, where the atmosphere was as distinctly Southern in character as it was Northern at Willard's, the rival house. Among the many interesting people at "Brown's" were Senator Clement C. Clay and his brilliant wife. Mrs. Clay was a woman of great vivacity, and rare charm of manner; her cleverness and wit made her a delightful companion, and her lively sallies at the great fancy ball, in the winter of '58, where she personated "Mrs. Partington," with a young friend in attendance as "Ike," will long be remembered
Here, I saw, for the first time what was then called "dollar jewelry," and this was when Mrs.
Clay came down to dinner one night, very elegantly gowned, her ornaments being a beautiful set of carbuncles, which sparkled and glowed in the lamplight. After having called attention to her new acquisitions and had them duly admired, she laughingly confessed that she had purchased the gems at the "dollar store" as a present for her maid. This happy, buoyant temper enabled her to bear up under the sorrows of the coming years, when her husband, sent as a Commissioner from the Confederacy to Canada, was, on his return, imprisoned on a charge of complicity with the assassination of Lincoln (fancy Clement Clay, the noblest, kindest, most gentle of men, in the character of an assassin!), and though released after months of suffering and hardship, never recovered his health or spirits. Photography was in its infancy at this time, and the little "cartes de visite," which then the fashion to present to one's friends, show what a wide step has been taken between those crude attempts and the finished works of art of this day.
Among the many prominent personalities who
crowd my memory for recognition are Senator
and Mrs. Slidell, of Louisiana, and their lovely
daughters, one of whom afterward married Baron
Erlanger, of Paris. Mr. Slidell will probably be
best remembered by his connection with the Trent
affair. Mrs. Slidell and her daughters were on the
vessel when her husband was removed and
were taken with him on board the United States ship. In making the removal, the story goes, and was generally believed, though I cannot vouch for its accuracy, a Federal officer laid a restraining hand on Miss Slidell's shoulder, whereupon she very promptly raised her own and administered an emphatic rebuke for his temerity by a sound slap on the cheek. A rhymster of the day celebrated the fact in a song, of which the following couplet was the refrain:
bumper for the gallant girl,
Who slapped the dastard Tory oh!"
The winter of '60 saw us again in Washington with our quarters changed to "Wormley's." This was more than forty years ago and was in the dawn of Wormley's fame as a caterer - indeed, I believe ours was the first family to lodge with him in the house, which was afterward a synonym for delightful living and even in those days the acme of comfort. I can recall now, in these degenerate times of discomfort and bad servants, the admirable service rendered, and the delicious dinners furnished us, and with a sigh of regret confess to myself that if we have progressed in some matters we certainly have retrogressed in others.
In our drawing room in "I" Street were often gathered many of the distinguished men of the day - and I, a child of fourteen, would sit quietly by, listening to the talk and hearing
the great questions of the hour discussed. The war
clouds were growing black and threatening, and even
the children felt the impulse of the time. My great
delight was to go to the Capitol and hear my father
speak in the Senate, and he never had a more ardent
admirer of his fiery eloquence than the little
daughter in the gallery, who listened to the debates
with beating heart; but with the most supreme
confidence in his wisdom and power to vanquish all
JOHN C. BRECKENRIDGE - JEFFERSON DAVIS - JUDAH P. BENJAMIN - R. M. T. HUNTER - LOUIS T. WIGFALL, THE WRITER'S FATHER - A FAMOUS DUEL - LETTERS TO AND FROM MRS. WIGFALL IN 1861 - THE EVACUATION OF FORT SUMTER.
IN thinking of the men who made the South famous in the Senate at that day, the Vice-President, John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky, naturally comes first to mind. With what inimitable dignity and grace he presided as President of the Senate - even his worst enemies according him praise for the justice and impartiality of his rulings. He was a delightful man to know well, and I shall never forget the charm of his conversation. His keen sense of humor, fund of anecdote, and the fascinating cordiality of his manner, made a lighter setting to the sterner qualities of his character which came out fully when, throwing in his fortunes with the young Confederacy, he served in the field as Major General, and in the Cabinet as Secretary of War. Brilliant he was and debonair, the highest type of a Kentucky gentleman, statesman and soldier. I remember him in London
in 1867, broken in fortune and retired to private life from the exalted position he had held; just the same noble gentleman and delightful companion he had ever been, with spirit undaunted, and sense of humor undiminished. He told us a droll story, illustrating this latter trait. When he was in London at the time of which I have spoken, he was much sought after as a celebrity and among many other invitations received one from the Countess of Blank to luncheon. This lady at the same time had advertised for a footman, stating, as is usual in such cases, the required height, etc., a footman being considered more or less desirable according to his dimensions. Now General Breckenridge was a man of very magnificent proportions. Mistaking the hour he reached the house before the appointed time and by some accident was ushered into Lady Blank's presence without being announced. The day was in June; owing to the heat, the blinds were drawn, letting in a subdued light; Lady Blank, glancing at the advancing figure, to the astonishment of the visitor greeted him thus:
"Have you a reference from your last place?" The General took in the situation instantly, and with a twinkle in his eye unobserved by his hostess, answered respectfully,
"Yes, my lady."
"What were your duties?" was the next query.
"Well, my lady, in
the last three places I held,
I was Vice-President of the United States, Major General in the Confederate Army, and Secretary of War of the Confederate States of America!"
"Oh! General Breckenridge," stammered Lady Blank, utterly overcome with confusion, and averting her face. Laughing heartily, he advanced with his hands outstretched, and assured her that his vanity was so tickled at the implied compliment to his figure that he quite forgave her mistake.
Jefferson Davis was afterward to be the most famous of that remarkable group of men. He was a man of scholarly attainments, polished manners, and of quiet and grave demeanor. His integrity of purpose, pure patriotism and high courage were never questioned by those who knew him best. My father's intimacy with him was of the closest, and he loved and esteemed him as a friend and admired him as a man, until, in the last, unhappy years of the Confederacy, an estrangement grew up between them, owing to differing views as to the conduct of affairs, of which I shall speak more particularly hereafter.
As showing the softer side of Mr. Davis's character, I recall my father's telling us one day, when he went to see him in Washington on some grave matter of state, that he found the future President of the Confederacy in his library, lying flat on his back, with two or three of his little children climbing over him.
As I write the names of others in that famous group, the familiar faces rise before me. Benjamin, the silver tongued; I can see him now in the attitude he always assumed when speaking, leaning slightly forward, with one hand resting on his desk, while his softly modulated voice and clear enunciation, the purity of his English and the wonderful flow of language delighted his auditors. However hot and furious the debate, the soft tone of his voice was never raised in anger, nor his placid manner the least ruffled or disturbed.
Not so the fiery Georgian, Tombs, who would thunder out his anathemas in a manner commensurate with his zeal and earnestness in the defence of his principles.
Senator R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, was a man of great force. My father, in his characteristic way, said of him, "I don't know what we Southern men would do without Hunter; he is the only one among us who knows anything about finance!"
As the fateful winter of '61 wore on, the Southern Senators began to drop off, one by one, with the secession of their states, until, at last, my father was left almost alone in his place. Texas not having seceded, he held his ground and refused to give up his seat in the Senate, until his state had passed the ordinance of secession.
During this time he stood
at bay, surrounded by
enemies, the champion of the South; vindicating
the right of the Sovereign States to secede, under the Constitution, appealing to the Northern Senators for a peaceful solution of the "irrepressible conflict," and hurling back, in the faces of their defamers, the calumnies against the Southern States. It was then that he and Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, contended in a memorable debate on the issues of the day. This contest excited unusual interest, from the fact that Preston Brooks, of South Carolina, whose attack on Sumner is known to the world, had fought a duel with my father in 1841, in which they were both wounded. Preston Brooks was shot through the hip, and my father through both thighs. The latter was twenty-three years old and Preston Brooks twenty- two at the time. My father's second was John Laurens Manning, afterward Governor of South Carolina, and the second of Preston Brooks was Pierce M. Butler, afterward also Governor of the State. My father had been in several affairs of honor before this; but never fought another duel after his marriage. He seldom mentioned the subject, but when asked for his opinion would state with an earnestness of conviction, as refreshing as it was real, that he was a firm believer in the code duello as a factor in the improvement of both the morals and the manners of a community! He held that it engendered courtesy of speech and demeanor - had a most restraining tendency on the errant fancy, and as
a preservative of the domestic relations was without an equal. His fame, as a marksman, was known throughout the State. As a funny illustration of that, General Hampton used to tell a story, that as he was riding one day through his plantation, he met a negro on the road who touched his forelock respectfully and to whom he stopped and spoke. He was sure the man was one of his own slaves, from the direction from which he came, but from idle curiosity asked the question, "Whom do you belong to, Sambo?" Sambo straightened himself and with an air of great importance replied, "Colonel Wigfall, sah, de best shot in Souf Callina, sah!" This was such a barefaced misappropriation of ownership, as Colonel Wigfall's home was in another part of the state, that General Hampton laughed heartily and saved the story as too good to be lost. But this is a digression.
Chandler, of Michigan, was another Republican
Senator who was especially violent in his
denunciations of the South. On one occasion he
made a very virulent attack, saying in the course
of his speech many bitter things of the seceded
states; finishing up with the statement that if
certain contingencies came about, he would "leave
this country and join some other nation - even the
Comanches he would prefer to this Government
in such a case." My father rose in answer and
stated in a grave tone of remonstrance, "that he
trusted the Senator would think better of this
resolve, for the Comanches had already suffered too much from contact with the whites!"
At this time, March, 1861, the Provisional Government of the Confederate States was already established in Montgomery, Ala. The Southern people were still hoping for a peaceful solution of their difficulties by the evacuation of Fort Sumter. In anticipation of leaving Washington and in view of the uncertainty of their movements, my parents had sent my sister and myself, children of eight and fourteen years of age, to remain temporarily with my maternal grandmother at Longwood, a suburb of Boston. My father writes at this time in a letter to my brother at school:
"Political matters are in statu quo, ante bellum. The war has not yet begun, but I believe it will before the end of summer, though the general impression here is that we will have peace.
"When I get to Montgomery I'll write you fully all the news, and my impressions as to the political conditions present and to come. Ben McCulloch was here yesterday. He came on to buy Colt's pistols for a Mounted Regiment in Texas, which he is authorized by the Confederate States to raise. He has gone to Richmond where I'll meet him to- morrow. Morse went on to Hartford to buy the pistols. (The indictment against Governor Floyd has been dismissed by the Government. There never was the slightest ground for indicting him. Andy Johnson was reported in the
Republican papers here as using very offensive language in reference to Governor Floyd. The Governor addressed him a note to-day enquiring as to the correctness of the report and Andy, of course, disclaimed it. So the matter ended.)"
March 24th. My mother says: "Your father has gone over to-day to Alexandria to meet McCulloch. McCulloch arrived here last night and went right to Mr. Gwin's. It was deemed imprudent by his friends for him to remain in Washington on account of the part he took about the Forts in Texas, and they advised him to go to Alexandria, so your father has gone there to see him. . . . No news has yet come of the evacuation of Fort Sumter."
Again, "Richmond, March 29, 1861. We got here
Tuesday . . . and are staying at the Spotswood
House. Mr. McCulloch is here to buy arms for
Texas, and your father is assisting him in making
the arrangements necessary. . . . I see by today's
paper that the Senate has adjourned and what is
more is that Sumter has not yet been evacuated.
I don't believe Jeff Davis will allow them to
trifle with him much longer, and should not be
surprised at any time to hear that he was
preparing to take it. . . . I attended the Convention
yesterday. . . . The friends of secession seem
confident that Virginia will join the South, but
differ about the time. We went to an elegant dinner
yesterday given to us by Mr.& Mrs. Lyons. The party was composed of twenty, and among them were Mr. Tyler, Mr. McCulloch, etc. Mrs. Lyons is one of the loveliest people I have seen in a long time. Mr. Lyons told me that the people here would never allow the removal of the guns that have been ordered to be sent to Fortress Monroe. He said there were about fifty of them, and it was fully determined that the order should not be executed. I think they are some miles from this city and would have to pass through here to get to Old Point. This is a fine looking old place, and reminds me of Charleston."
CHARLESTON, April 2nd, 1861.
"We arrived here yesterday morning and I find very little change in the appearance of things since we were here eighteen months ago. You meet a good many soldiers, but that is about the only difference. The people are strongly in hopes that Fort Sumter will be evacuated very soon. Some think to-day, and that the reason why it has been put off so long was on account of the New England elections. Your father has gone down to-day to visit the fortifications and has had the Lady Davis put at his command."
CHARLESTON, April 10, 1861.
"You see we are still here and it is quite impossible to say for how long a time. Your father has been with General Beauregard almost constantly
since we came, until yesterday, when General Beauregard requested him to go on his staff, and since then he has been actively engaged in carrying out his orders. I suppose you know the condition of things from the papers - that the administration after their professions of peace have determined to re-inforce the Fort at all risks, and we are in hourly expectation of the arrival of the storeship and the fleet sent to protect it. General Beauregard is only waiting for the arrival of the troops from the country to make the attack on the Fort. He is quite confident of the result, and God grant he may be right. We are all anxious enough as you may suppose." At this date my father sent the following telegram to President Davis at Montgomery:
CHARLESTON, 10 April, 1861.
"No one now doubts
that Lincoln intends War. The
delay on his part is only to complete his preparations.
All here is ready on our side. Our delay therefore is
to his advantage, and our disadvantage. Let us take Fort
Sumter, before we have to fight the fleet and the Fort.
General Beauregard will not act without your order. Let
me suggest to you to send the order to him to begin the
attack as soon as he is ready. Virginia is excited by the
preparations, and a bold stroke on our side will complete
her purposes. Policy and Prudence are urgent upon us to
begin at once.
Let me urge the order to attack most seriously upon you.
"L. T. WIGFALL."
President Davis sent in answer from Montgomery the following letter:
"April 12th, 1861.
"My dear friend,
"Your despatch reached me after I had directed one to be sent, which anticipated your wish so fully that you might have imagined it to be an answer if the dates had been reversed. I shall attend to your request about the pistols. The Secretary of War, to whom I handed your letter, has not replied; but there can be no difficulty too great to be overborne by your anxiety in the matter.
"As ever your friend,
"A want of vigilance let Anderson pass from Moultrie to Sumter. I hope your guard boats, steamers and launches are under competent and faithfully watchful of officers. "
The following letter is from my mother, sent to me to Longwood, Massachusetts:
CHARLESTON, April 11th, 1861.
" . . . Your father was gone all night with Captain Hartstein, seeing to placing light boats, with fires of pine wood, in the harbor, for the
purpose of detecting the approach of the enemy's boats. He has gone again to-day and will not return until evening. . . . A demand for the surrender of the Fort was made to-day, but the answer has not yet come. In case of Anderson's refusal (of which there is little doubt), the fire of the batteries on him will open at 8 to-night. God grant the Fort may be surrendered before the arrival of the Fleet, for although I believe General Beauregard is prepared on every side, yet I should feel all danger were over if we had the Fort. It will be a night of intense excitement and although I can't help feeling shivery and nervous, yet I am not as much alarmed as I might be, and something tells me it won't be so bad after all I am going down after a while to walk with Mrs. Chesnut on the Battery and will add more when I hear the answer Anderson returns."
"I was awakened about half past four, this morning, by the booming of a cannon, and it has been going on steadily ever since - the firing is constant and rapid - with what results we don't yet know. Your father has gone to Morris's Island to obtain a report from the command there, and in order to avoid the guns of Sumter he has taken Major Whiting's row boat, so as to run in by the Inlets. I don't know how long he will be gone."
"11 o'clock. The news we hear so far is good.
No one killed on Morris's Island so far - and a breach reported in Fort Sumter. The iron battery is working well and the balls from Sumter have no effect on it. All is excitement of the most painful kind. Another story is that the Harriet Lane which was off the bar last night has been fired into and injured."
My father writes to my mother:
" . . . I take a moment to write you a line to say that I am well and that all is well. I cannot return till General Beauregard comes. I am very busy examining the position of the different batteries and arranging Infantry to support them in case a landing should be attempted. They are, you know, entirely out of the reach of the guns of Sumter. I have not been to Cummin's Point, but hear a good report. The Iron Battery stands fire admirably, and has dismounted two of Sumter's barbette guns. Not a single accident up to this time on our side. Thought that Sumter suffered this morning from the effect of shells - as Anderson is keeping his men at the casemates. He has thrown no shell, and probably has none; or perhaps, no guns from which to throw them. He has been throwing 32 solid shot at the iron battery
battery, and they break to pieces, and fly off without making the slightest impression. Dr. St. Julien Ravenel has just come in and says that up to this time no one has been hurt. The wind is very high and I cannot hear the firing, but they still keep it up. I have been on the upper part of the Island, and am about to mount my horse again. We have just held a council to distribute the forces for the night, and before mounting I write to make you easy and assure you that all is well.
My mother writes:
"Saturday, April 13.
"The news is
glorious for us. No one hurt on our
side, and no damage of any consequence to our
batteries. Your father has been at Morris's Island all
yesterday, and all night. He however wrote me not
to expect him and I did not feel uneasy, as Captain
Hartstein told me it was utterly impossible for boats
to land with such a high sea. This morning Fort
Sumter is on fire
(produced from the shells it is
thought). They say the flag is at half mast and has
been so all the morning - a sure sign of distress.
The fleet will try to relieve him, of course, but it
will be in vain, and thus, I trust in God, this business
will end. Heaven has favored our side, and we are all
grateful to a Kind Providence. I doubt if your father
returns before night."
The following letter, written from Charleston to the New York Times, gives a very fair account of the surrender of Fort Sumter and my father's connection with the affair. A Southern newspaper says:
"The gallantry, chivalry, and heroism of this distinguished son of the South is even applauded by those from whom we least expected a word of commendation. The following is an extract of a letter written from Charleston to the New York Times, to which we invite the especial attention of our readers, both on account of its fairness, as well as of its correct representation of the interview which came off between Senator Wigfall and Major Anderson:
" 'Mr. Wigfall's exploit was as gallant and chivalrous as any deed of modern times. - Stationed on Morris Island, where he had been on foot or in the saddle since the commencement of the attack, he no sooner saw the second barracks in flames and the flag staff shot away, than he resolved to make his way to the Fort and persuade Major Anderson to desist from a resistance manifestly so unavailing.
" 'Despite the remonstrances of those around him, he embarked in a skiff, and with three Negro oarsmen and a coxswain, pulled over to the Fort. He was scarce a hundred yards from shore when they hailed to him to return, "The Stars
and Stripes were again flying." - He literally turned a deaf ear to this call, and pushed on, brandishing his sword, to which he had tied his white handkerchief as a flag of truce. From the batteries of Fort Moultrie balls and shell were aimed at the skiff. The white flag was invisible at that distance, and the boat, only noticed when nearing the Fort, if not carrying reinforcements, had no business there. A thirty-two pound ball struck the water within five yards of her, and was followed by a shell which came near proving fatal. The Africans strained every nerve to get under the lee of the fort, and the officers at the batteries observing that the boat never swerved from her course, inferred that Wigfall must have been in it, thereby acknowledging his more than Palmetto recklessness and daring.
" 'On touching the wharf, the volunteer sprang
ashore, and finding the gate burst open by the
flames, made his way round to an open port hole
on the town side of the fort, through which with
the aid of a loose piece of timber which he placed
beneath it, he swung himself from a protruding
gun into the embrasure. He stumbled unchallenged
upon one of the garrison, who did not know where
Major Anderson was. The fire was still raging,
the heat intense, and the smoke insufferable.
Shells were still exploding above, and from
time to time within the fort, from the mortars on
Sullivan's Island. He worked his way up to a
group of officers and men standing near a casemate - "Was Major Anderson there?" "No!" Before the party had recovered their surprise at the apparition, Major Anderson came up from the quarter Wigfall had just left. He saw the sword and white handkerchief -
" ' "Whom have I the honor of addressing?"
" ' "Col. Wigfall, of Gen. Beauregard's staff."
" ' "May I inquire your business with me?"
" ' "I have come to say that you must strike your colors. Your position is untenable. - You have defended it gallantly. It's madness to persevere in useless resistance. You cannot be reinforced. You have no provisions. - Your ammunition is nearly exhausted, and your fort is on fire."
" ' "On what terms do you summon me to surrender?"
" ' "Unconditional. Gen. Beauregard is an officer and a gentleman. He will, doubtless, grant you all the honors of war, but speciali gratia."
" ' "Well, I have done all that was possible to defend this fort."
" ' "You have. Haul down your flag."
" ' "But your people are still firing into me."
" ' "Hoist a white one. If you won't, I will, on my own responsibility."
" 'A shell burst in the ground within ten paces of them as they were speaking. Major Anderson invited the Ex-Senator into a casemate; a white
flag was hoisted, the firing ceased, and what is called the "battle of Fort Sumter" was over.
" 'All parties concur that Wigfall's performance was an act of heroism and high humanity. There can be no doubt that Major Anderson and the garrison were in that state of morbid exaltation which is the forerunner of martyrdom. They were ready to see their magazines explode and "die in their tracks."
" 'You know all the details of the capitulation and have, doubtless, done justice to the delicacy and generosity of the rebel general in requiring no parole, besides according all the honors of war to the gallant defenders of Sumter.
" 'Newspaper correspondents have generally exaggerated the jubilation in this city at the evacuation of Fort Sumter. There were no bonfires, no illuminations, and far less exuberances of conviviality than I have often witnessed during a race week. On the contrary, there were manifestations of thankfulness - of the relief afforded by the removal of a great anxiety.' "
The following communication was received by my father from General Beauregard and his answer is appended:
"My dear Colonel:
"Will you do me the favor to prepare for the files of my office a clear and concise statement of the main facts of yesterday's proceedings, so
far as they related to yourself, and to Sumter, for use hereafter if required.
G. T. BEAUREGARD."
"Head Quarters, Confederate States Army,
"CHARLESTON, South Carolina,
"I have the honor to report that between one and two o'clock this afternoon, the flag having fallen at Fort Sumter, and its fire having ceased, I left Morris's Island, with the consent and approval of General Simons to demand the surrender of the work, and offer assistance to the garrison.
"Before reaching the Fort the flag was again raised. On entering the work I informed Major Anderson of my name and position on the staff of the Commanding General, and demanded the surrender of the Fort to the Confederate States.
"My attention having been called to the fact that most of our batteries continued their fire, I suggested to Major Anderson that the cambric handkerchief, which I bore on my sword, had probably not been seen, as I crossed the Bay, and requested him to raise a white flag; which he did. The firing then ceased from all our batteries - when Major Anderson lowered his flag and surrendered the Fort.
"The time and manner of the evacuation are to be determined by General Beauregard.
"Before the surrender I expressed the confident belief to Major Anderson that no terms would be imposed, which would be incompatible with his honor as a soldier, or his feelings as a gentleman - and assured him of the high appreciation in which his gallantry and desperate defence of a place, now no longer tenable, were held by the Commanding General.
"Major Anderson exhibited great coolness, and seemed relieved from much of the unpleasantness of his situation by the fact that the proposal had been made by us that he should surrender the work, which he admitted to be no longer defensible.
"I take great pleasure in acknowledging that my success in reaching the Fort was due to the courage and patriotism of Private William Gourdin Young, of the Palmetto Guard; without whose aid I could not have surmounted the obstacles.
"I have the honor to be with the highest respect.
"LOUIS T. WIGFALL.
"MAJOR D. R. JONES,
"Asst. Adjutant General,
"Confederate States Army."
MRS. WlGFALL'S LETTERS FROM MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, AND FROM RICHMOND - A RHODE ISLAND CORRESPONDENT - A HUMOROUS INCIDENT - THE OBSERVATIONS OF A GIRL OF FOURTEEN - HER JOURNEY FROM BOSTON TO BALTIMORE.
A FEW days after the fall of Sumter my father was on the way to Montgomery where he arrived April 24th to attend the session of the Congress which convened on the 29th, and to which he came as Deputy from the State of Texas.
My mother writes:
"MONTGOMERY, April 26.
"The people here are all in fine spirits, and the streets are so lively and every one looks so happy, that you can scarcely realize the cause of the excitement. No one doubts our success. . . . I suppose the chief fighting will be in Maryland and Virginia. . . . This is a beautiful town and much larger than I expected to see it. There are a great many gardens, and as beautiful flowers as I ever saw anywhere. Several bouquets of the most superb flowers were presented to your
father the night he spoke here and, of course, I had the benefit of them. The streets are very wide, and five of them unite, and diverge on the square opposite us. Something like Washington."
"29th: I have been this morning to witness the
opening of Congress, and hear the President's
message. It was an admirable one, worthy of his
reputation. It gives such a fair and lucid
statement of matters, as they now stand, that I
am sure it will do good abroad, if not at home.
. . . This afternoon I went with Mrs. Chesnut to
call on Mrs. Davis. I am going tomorrow to
her reception. . . . You allude to reports
given in the Northern papers of the Fort Sumter
affair. It is only what might have been expected
of them, that they would garble and misrepresent
the truth; but I must confess that Major Anderson's
silence, and the disingenuous bulletin he sent
to Cameron have surprised me. He takes care
not to tell the whole truth,
and any one to read his
statement would suppose he had only come out on
those conditions, whereas, he surrendered
unconditionally - the
U. S. Flag was lowered without
salute while your father was in the fort. This
was seen, not only by your father, but by the
thousands who were on the watch, and it was
only owing to General Beauregard's generosity
(misplaced, it seems, now) that he was allowed
to raise it again, and to salute it on coming out
of the Fort, and take it with him. . . . And
this conduct too, after the kind and generous treatment he met with from the Carolinians. Judge Ochiltree is here and tells me Tom is a private in a company that Capt. Bass has raised in Marshall. . . . The drums are beating here all the time, and it really makes me heartsick when I think about it all.
"I don't think though that the military enthusiasm can be very high at the North as I see they are offering $20 additional pay to volunteers a month. That fact speaks volumes. I suppose it is to be accounted for in the anxiety to get rid of the mob population who might be troublesome at home."
A Northern woman who was a native of Rhode Island, but who had lived all her married life in the South, returned after her widowhood to Providence to be among her people. The following letter was written by her to my mother:
May 13th 1861.
" . . . We are always delighted to hear from you - and indeed your letters and Louis's are the only comfort we have in this Yankee land surrounded by people who have no sympathy with us, and who only open their lips to revile the South and utter blood-thirsty threats. This morning an amiable lady wished she had Jeff Davis in front of a big cannon. This feminine wish was
uttered in the cars when L. and F. were going in to Boston. We have now sufficient proof of how much stronger hate is than love of country. Where was the patriotism of Massachusetts when the country was at war with the English in 1812? I lived then at the South, and was ashamed of my countrymen who refused to assist in the war. Massachusetts, which was the leading state of New England, refused to let her militia leave the state and when the U. S. troops were withdrawn, to fight in other places, applied to the Federal Government to know whether the expenses of their own militia, who were summoned to defend their own State, would be reimbursed by the Government. When our capitol at Washington was burned with the President's House and Treasury buildings, and other public buildings, why did they not go to meet the British? On the contrary, they rejoiced at the English victories, and put every obstacle they could in the way of the government. Now they are subscribing millions, and urging every man to go and fight their own countrymen. It is not patriotism; it is hatred to the South and woe is me, that I must live here among such people. God grant you success. It is a righteous war and all the bloodshed will be upon the souls of those who brought it on.
". . . I think, however, that you at the South are wrong to undervalue the courage and
resources of the Northern States. They are no doubt less accustomed to the use of firearms - there are very few who know how to ride, and they are less fiery in their impulses. They are less disposed to fight, but they are not cowardly where their interests are concerned; and will fight for their money. Where their property is at stake they will not hesitate to risk their lives, and at present there is no lack of money. The women are all roused, and are urging their relatives on; while some of the young ladies are exceedingly anxious to imitate Florence Nightingale, and distinguish themselves in the Army. The boys are parading about with red shirts and guns; and their wise mothers are admiring their military ardor.
"I would not advise you of the South to trust too much in the idea that the Northerners will not fight; for I believe they will, and their numbers are overwhelming. You know an army of ants can kill a wounded horse. It is a mistake, too, for you to suppose that it is only the lower orders, who are enlisted. I have heard of a good many of the most respectable young men, who have enlisted for three years. I suppose there are a good many counter jumpers and Irish among them; but still there are many very decent persons who have gone to the wars. I hear that with Gov. Sprague no less persons than W. G. and M. J. have gone. Are you not alarmed? Think of M.
Pray keep out of his way! I wonder what his Quaker progenitors would say, could they look out of their graves? He has not an ancestor, on either side, for as far back as they can be traced, who was not a broad brimmed Quaker. Little F. has had some skirmishes with the girls on Politics; but there has been no bloodshed; and the last I heard of it is, they said 'anyhow' she was 'a smart little thing and talks very well.' L. does not walk out alone: she always goes into Boston with F. or me. By the way - I hear it said they have got enough cotton at the North to supply their factories for a year? Can it be true? If so, I think there has been a great mistake somewhere The only thing that will bring these people to their senses is to stop the importation. I was surprised to see the other day that a cargo of rice from Savannah was stopped, and the vessel was allowed to sail with a load of cotton!"
My mother writes:
"May 23rd, 1861.
" . . . Congress has adjourned to meet in Richmond on the 20th July. The President has begged your father to act on his staff. . . . "
RICHMOND, May 30th.
"After a terribly fatiguing journey we arrived here safely yesterday morning. We left Montgomery on Sunday night, at 8 o'clock, and travelled night and day, until yesterday morning.
"The President was everywhere most rapturously received. . . . I was all packed to start for Texas, when your father found that the President was so unwilling for him to go back at that time, that he determined to accept the position of Aide and at least act in that capacity until the opening of Congress, which will be on the 20th July. So here we are. These Virginians seem likely to overwhelm your father with their attentions and kill him with kindness - for yesterday he had to make no less than four speeches.
"The whole country as we came through was like a military camp. The cars crowded with troops, and all as jubilant as if they were going to a frolic, instead of to fight. The President is to take the field; but I don't know the exact programme, and if I did it would not be safe to write it - for there is no telling who may read our letters now-a-days. Your father of course will go with him. It seems strange to me that I don't feel more frightened."
The President and his party were established at the Spotswood Hotel where they gathered round them a distinguished group.
My mother writes:
"June 11th and 14th.
"We are still at the Spotswood Hotel but I don't know whether we shall continue very long.
The President and his family will move next week to the place selected for them. I hear it is very handsome and the City Council has bought and put it at the disposal of the Government. They have also given Mrs. Davis the use of a nice carriage and horses and seem disposed to do all they can to show their joy at the exchange from Montgomery. . . . So far all is quiet here and I can yet scarcely realize that we are at war, actually.
"I drove out with Mrs. Davis yesterday to one of the Camp grounds and it was really a beautiful, though rather sad sight to me, to see them drill and go through with their manoeuvres, Poor fellows! how many will never return to their homes! . . . There are several camp grounds in the neighborhood, and people throng them every afternoon and unless you engage a carriage in the morning, it is very hard to procure one."
To show how the humorous side of life runs parallel with its serious side I will relate a little incident. Col. and Mrs. Bradley Johnson, of Maryland, were in Richmond at that time eagerly engaged in equipping a regiment of Marylanders for the field. Mrs. Johnson was having the clothing made for the men.
One day at the President's table, where she was dining, she told the assembled company of a contre-temps, which had occurred, a real tragedy - in view of the difficulties surrounding her enterprise.
The undergarments of the men, by some unfortunate accident, inexplicable, and most deplorable, had all been cut out for the same leg! The lady was in real grief over the mishap, and, in spite of the ludicrousness of the situation, the company were so in sympathy with her trouble, that even the most frivolously inclined forbore to smile - except Mrs. Davis, who could not repress her mirth; but laughed long and unrestrainedly, much to the discomfiture of Mrs. Johnson, to whom it was no joking matter.
At this time my parents began to feel great anxiety at their separation from my sister and myself; who were still at Longwood. near Boston. They had been in correspondence for some time with the relatives with whom we were staying; but it was difficult to arrange matters, and in the meanwhile all communication was rapidly being closed between the North and South.
I give below some extracts from letters written by myself, a child of fourteen - dated:
"LONGWOOD, near Boston,
"April and May and June, 1861.
" . . . Isn't the news from Sumter delightful. When I read the account in a paper, I felt like crying for joy. No one sympathizes with me here, except Grandmama, and I feel like a stranger in a foreign land.
"Everybody here is groaning, and deploring the
taking of Sumter. Uncle B. says that Boston was the scene of great excitement to-day, all the military were getting ready and everyone is on the lookout for war in earnest. . . .
"I went into Boston to-day and you never saw such confusion; the State House steps and grounds were crowded with men, some to see, and some to volunteer.
"Grandmama had a letter from Mama, written in the
midst of the firing of the guns at Sumter. One of Uncle B.'s
last puns (you know how fond he is of making them) was
the following. 'What does the man who robs and catches
the Governor of South Carolina get? Poor Pickings.'
(Governor Pickens.) I have just returned from seeing a
company of Zouaves drill, their manoeuvres were
miserable (!) and if this is a specimen of Northern chivalry,
I don't think we have much to fear. Everybody here knows
who we are, and whenever I go out the people stare and
gaze at us. This evening I found little Fanny surrounded by
girls, who were questioning and teasing her. She seemed to
be perfectly able to maintain her position, and she said,
'she gave them as good as they sent;' they all
amused at he answers, and said they liked to hear her; she
talked so 'funny.' One of the girls soon after
came up to
where I stood and said she thought the girls 'hadn't
to tease Fanny.' This is one of their common expressions,
and another is that they
'admire' to take a walk, or play on the piano. Grandmama and I went into Boston the other day and to my joy I saw a photo of President Davis in one of the windows. I immediately purchased it. The Babcocks are coming to take tea with us this evening, and I anticipate a good deal of pleasure in seeing Emma. She is lovely as ever and I am sure you would like her. We are fast friends and I made her promise she would read Mr. Davis's message, and as a reward I shall give her a very small piece of the flag staff you sent me. She is a very sensible girl and in all our discussions we never get the least excited or vexed. 'Abe Lincoln!' is her hero, and 'Jeff Davis' is mine; but there is one thing she never can explain, namely, 'Abe's' flight through Baltimore! But we agree in almost everything else. She thinks Napoleon the greatest man that ever lived, and so do I, and that is a never failing source of conversation.
"Mrs. Lincoln is now in Boston, and I suppose the Republicans are all flocking to see her, and she is asking them 'How they flourish?' Boston is in a whirl of excitement; troops drilling and volunteering all the time - the stores and houses all decked with flags. . . . Dear Papa, won't you send us each a small flag of South Carolina, and the Confederate States? I am very anxious to see them. Yesterday evening Aunt F. got an invitation to attend a meeting of ladies to make shirts,
and sew for the different regiments; she, of course, is not going. A poor set of creatures they must be if they can't furnish their own shirts! . . . Uncle B. has just bought the Sun announcing the secession of Virginia. I feel as if I can't contain myself I am so glad. Poor Uncle B. looks as if he had taken a blue pill - he takes everything so to heart; it is deplorable to see him. Aunt F. is in hopes that all the States will now follow and that will be the means of securing peace."
My father in the meantime had been conferring by letter with Mr. William T. Walters, of Baltimore, as to the best means of getting us through the lines. The following letter was written by me to my brother at the Military School of the University of Virginia just about two weeks before we finally succeeded in making the arrangements for our departure.
"July 15th, Longwood, near Boston.
". . . I received your last letter several days ago, and I had a letter from Mama about the same time, telling Grandmama to send us on by the first good opportunity, but the way Mr. Walters said was the only way we could go would not have been safe, and I am now anxiously awaiting news from Mama as to whether we shall go to Fortress Monroe, and let Papa send a flag of truce, and get us or not. My trunks were all packed ready to start at a minute's notice, when we received Mr.
Walter's letter, telling us that the only way of reaching Richmond was by going through Winchester, to which you know the troops are making a general movement.
"You may imagine how I felt. When Mr. Walters wrote the last time, all was different, and I fully expected to go home. I had already pictured our meeting. I almost felt your kiss and I heard Papa calling us 'his darlings' and Mama's dear voice, and in one moment all was gone, and I glanced out of my window and instead of Richmond, I saw miserable old Boston. I felt as if my heart would break.
"You ask me in your last if I am not 'isolated' - that is exactly the word. With the exception of Emma Babcock, and her family, there is not a soul here that cares whether I go or stay, or that I could call a friend; but if nobody likes me, there is some satisfaction in knowing there is no love lost. If I did not follow your injunction, and never believe what I see in Republican journals I should have an awful time of it; for they make out the most desperate case. All the C. S. soldiers are poor, half starved, naked, miserable wretches that will run if you stick your finger at them; who are all waiting for a chance to desert, etc., and become loyal citizens to King Abraham, the First, and prime minister, General Scott. The Southerners are defeated in every engagement; all the killed and wounded are on their side, and none are
injured on the other. Such is about the summary of their statements - mais je ne le crois pas, and so they don't disturb my mind much. I saw that Papa had gone disguised as a cattle drover to Washington, to pick up information for the President! That is about a specimen of their stories. Mama writes me in her last that you have joined the Military School at the University of Virginia, and would enter the army in three months, if you wished to, at the end of that time. I suppose you are very glad. I don't wonder and wish I could go too. I sit down to the piano every day and play 'Dixie' and think of you all away in 'the land ob cotton,' etc."
Mr. Walters's letter, to which allusion is made, is here given and it was determined, after all, that this was the only feasible plan to get us through the lines.
BALTO., 9th July, 1861.
MRS. FRANCES M. CROSS.
"I have this moment received your letter dated yesterday and have just telegraphed Mr. Bucklin. Since I had the pleasure of writing you last it has become vastly more difficult to get to Virginia, and this very day the Federal Government has taken possession of the steamers composing the line via the Patuxent River - the most desirable route - leaving at present, but the one open by
way of Balto.& Ohio R. Road, to a point near Harper's Ferry, thence by stage to Winchester and Strasburg, and thence by Railway via Manassas Junction to Richmond.
"To pass the Federal Pickets near Harper's Ferry, it would be necessary to have the pass of the War Department at Washington. This I have no doubt I can procure, and, as I before intimated, it would give me great pleasure to undertake the charge of your grandchildren. As I communicated by telegraph, 'It is possible, but very difficult to get to Virginia now.' As I am not aware how important it is to get the children to Virginia, I am unable to advise you in the matter, but have merely set down the facts in relation thereto. If the children do leave, may I ask the favor of you to write, or telegraph me.
W. T. WALTERS."
Finally the arrangements being all made we started off on our adventures - being placed by my Uncle in charge of a responsible gentleman, who was to take us to Baltimore, and deliver us into the care of Mr. Walters.
We were cautioned to be very quiet, to express nothing at what we heard or saw, and to be as unobtrusive as possible in our demeanor. I shall never forget my emotions the day we started. In the crown of my hat I had concealed a package
of letters to be delivered in Richmond, and my importance in my own estimation was not a little enhanced by the possession of this delightful secret. We made the journey to Baltimore without mishap or adventures of any kind - and when we reached the station, and alighted from the car, I noticed a gentleman eagerly scanning the passengers, as they passed him. As we approached he came forward, asked a question in an undertone, which was answered with equal caution, and we were hurried into a carriage, and driven rapidly to Mr. Walters' house on Mt. Vernon place, where we were received by Mr. and Mrs. Walters with the greatest cordiality and affection. On refreshing ourselves after our journey, we were taken in to dinner, where my eyes fairly danced with delight at beholding in a wine glass at each cover, a dear little Confederate flag; placed there in honor of the two little guests. After a short period our kind host and hostess bid us goodbye, and we were again on our travels; it not being deemed safe for us to remain in Baltimore.
Mr. Walters' brother now took charge of us, and we were rapidly driven six or seven miles in the country, to a hotel called "Paradise," near Catonsville and a veritable "Paradise" it proved to the two tired little children who were received with open arms by the kind ladies at the hotel. There we spent the night, and in the morning were again on our travels.
On taking the train near the Relay House we found on board a number of the members of the Maryland Legislature, on their way to Frederick, at which place the Governor had convened the Legislature; Annapolis, the capital of the State, being under the control of Federal troops. When we reached the Point of Rocks, we left the train, and had dinner at the country tavern, where we sat at table with a number of Federal soldiers, our appearance under such circumstances, exciting no little interest and curiosity. Mr. Walters had with him an "open sesame," in the shape of a pass from General Simon Cameron, Secretary of War; and we were given every facility to proceed on our journey. At a signal, which had of course been pre-arranged, a boat put off from the Virginia side, bearing a white flag of truce, and our sensations may be imagined as we saw the little craft approaching, which was to bear us over the swift, beautiful river into the dear land of "Dixie." Our luggage being put on board we soon followed, and were rowed across the river without mishap. On reaching the shore we found a large comfortable carriage and a pair of horses waiting for us, and we were soon driving through a deep woods, where the sweet air and refreshing shade were very grateful after the glare, dust and heat of our journey. It seemed like a story in fairyland, where the magic of the good fairy, at every turn, provides the thing most needed. Being furnished with
fresh horses, we travelled almost all night, stopping to rest but a few hours; and then taking the train at Gordonsville, arrived in Richmond in the afternoon. We drove at once to the Spotswood Hotel to join my mother. Not knowing the hour we would arrive, she had gone out to the Camp of the 1st Texas Regiment, which my father was commanding, to witness the presentation by the President of a beautiful Texas State Flag, which she had made for the Regiment. Nothing must do but we must follow, as soon as possible. When we reached the camp the ceremony was over, and my father was reviewing his Regiment.
As the carriage stopped, word was carried forward of our arrival - and we were immediately surrounded by numbers of friends, eager to greet the little travellers; and my father, hurriedly dismounting from his horse, and leaving the regiment in charge of another officer, rushed forward to meet us! He returned with us to Richmond, and there, as we reached the Spotswood, coming down the stairs, we saw my mother; her beautiful face lit up with joy, and her fair arms held out to welcome us. She was clad, I remember, in a lilac-colored gown, of some soft material, made in the fashion of the day, with the long angel sleeves falling away at the shoulder, while a filmy lace cape covered her neck, leaving the throat bare. As I remember her that day, I love best to think of her. Then we were fêted and caressed to our
heart's content; took tea with the President and his party that night, where our heads were completely turned by the attentions shown us, and where we gave, to an appreciative audience, a full account of all our adventures "coming through the lines" - and the one query from all our eager auditors was, "What do they think of the battle of Manassas?"
LETTER FROM GENERAL BEAUREGARD - THE "CARY INVINCIBLES" - TURNER ASHBY - WILLIAM PEGRAM - JOHN PELHAM - WILLIAM LATANÉ - THE SEVEN DAYS BATTLE AROUND RICHMOND."
ON July 8th, about two weeks before this time, General Beauregard wrote the following letter to my father in Richmond:
MANASSAS JUNCTION, Va.,
July 8th, 1861.
"My dear Col.,
"I believe we are about to be attacked by the enemy, who has been increasing his forces rapidly in the last few days. He no doubt has at present on this side of the Potomac at least 30,000 men - and probably as many in or about Washington; and I am informed on good authority, that he is crossing over reinforcements in large numbers every night; so that very shortly we probably will be attacked by about 40,000 men! What do you suppose is my effective force to resist this attack? About 15,000 effective men! How can it be expected that I should be able to maintain my ground, unless reinforced, and that immediately?
I am determined to give the enemy battle no matter at what odds against us - but is it right and proper to sacrifice so many valuable lives (and perhaps our cause) without the least prospect of success?
"I think not; but I hope that it will delay the forward movement of the enemy, and give our friends time to come to the rescue!
"I have applied two or three times for the most essential things required here. To obtain anything with despatch, I have to send a special messenger to Richmond. Is that the way to direct and control the operations of an army in the field? Cannot that evil be remedied? I am sure it could, if properly represented to the President.
"I am afraid General Johnston is no better off than I am - but his section of the country is, I believe, more easily defended, being wooded and mountainous.
"My troops are in fine spirits and anxious for a fight They seem to have the unbounded confidence in me!
"Oh! that I had the genius of a Napoleon to be more worthy of our cause and of their confidence! If I can only get the enemy to attack me - as I am trying to have done - I will stake my reputation on the handsomest victory that could be desired.
"Yours very truly,
"G. T. BEAUREGARD."
"Col. L. T. WIGFALL,
"Member of C. S. Congress, Richmond, Va.
From Richmond, July 21st my mother writes:
"No news except that Gen. Johnston has joined Beauregard with a large force. A part of his troops are left still at Winchester, but the greater part are with him. The President went down to-day, but I don't know exactly in what capacity, whether he will command or not. . . . The troops are pouring in, and a general battle at Manassas is expected very soon. We brought up by one train, upwards of 50 prisoners brought from Winchester, and crowds gathered on the way, at every roadside station, to see 'the Yankees.' I was almost sorry for them."
"9 o'clock. You will have heard that we have gained a second victory, and a 'glorious though a dear bought one,' Mr. Davis telegraphs, at Manassas. Only some of the deaths are known as yet; Lieut. Colonel Johnson of the Hampton Legion and poor Col. Bartow they say are killed; Wade Hampton slightly wounded. All Beauregard's staff are safe. Poor Mrs. Bartow is here, but does not yet know the sad tidings. The enemy they say were in full retreat. All is excitement here and the people seem almost wild.
23rd. "We have been in the greatest excitement over our glorious victory. I am curious to know what the effect will be at the North - whether they will be panic stricken or exasperated to frenzy at such a defeat. Poor old Scott! If he had only
died after the Mexican War, how much better it would have been for his military fame. They say that the trunks of some of the men were actually directed to Richmond! In the next fight I suppose of course the President will take the field. He got down too late this time - just as they had begun to retreat. . . .
"The fact is the fight took place sooner than he had expected, and he had made no preparations for engaging in it. Don't however repeat anything I may say to you on such subjects."
29th. "I send you the 'Examiner' of to-day, which has full extracts from the Northern papers - about the battle. Some of the handcuffs were shown at the Hotel, yesterday, but I did not happen to see them. 'Tis however a fact - how many exactly I don't know - but there are certainly a great many taken."
About August 10th, my father's command was ordered to Manassas, and from there to Dumfries, he having received in October his commission as Brig. General - commanding the Texas Brigade.
We joined him at Dumfries, a quaint little village on the Occoquan river, and were there several months.
My father's headquarters were at the little
village tavern, where we spent some happy weeks,
going out every afternoon to see the dress parade
of the Regiments and wandering by the lovely
Occoquan river, where the big cannon guarded the shores from the enemy's approach. Soon we returned to Richmond.
Congress was in session, and my father resigned his command, shortly after this, to take his seat in the Confederate Senate. I remember little of that journey to Richmond, except the sweetness of the woods through which we drove to the railroad, and our calling a halt under a persimmon tree, which hung heavy with luscious fruit, made delicious by the severe frosts which had fallen. We gathered an abundant supply, and drove on in the crisp air, which we would have enjoyed more, had it not heralded the approach of winter, and the rains and snows, which we knew would bring hardships to our brave soldiers in camp.
The early enthusiasm of the first few months of the war was now deepening into grim determination at all hazards, and into a realization that war, with all its accompanying horrors, was upon us. Provisions increase in price, and the difficulty of obtaining supplies of proper clothing, was already felt.
The Army soon went into Winter Quarters, and the letters from camp rejoiced the hearts of anxious mothers with the accounts of the snug contrivances for comfort. The luxury of sleeping on a board floor was descanted on, and the possession of a stove promised warmth and comfort in the long winter days and nights of rain and snow, Richmond
was enlivened, from time to time, by the furloughs granted to officers and men, and opened her hospitable doors to cheer and brighten the hours of their brief holiday.
The President was inaugurated on February 22nd and many of the officers had leave for a few days to witness the ceremony, which made it a gay week in Richmond.
Many of the private houses received boarders, as the reduction in the purchasing power of their incomes, through the depreciation of the currency, was already severely felt by the people. Yet this was not done for the sake of profit alone. The enormous influx of strangers from other states had to be accommodated. These were brought here by the presence of the Government, and the proximity of the Army of Northern Virginia, which drew to Richmond hosts of anxious relatives, who waited through the weary weeks and months for occasional tidings, and possible glimpses of their loved ones.
Social pleasures, however, were not neglected and music and song and the dance made merry the hearts of the gallant soldier boys, who came from the wet, and mud, and discomfort of the camp.
Among the many lovely women in Richmond at
this time were the two Misses Cary, of Baltimore,
and their cousin, Miss Constance Cary, of Virginia.
The former two had come across the lines after
experiencing many thrilling adventures on the
way. In a letter written at the time I find the following: "The young ladies who seem to be the greatest belles are the Miss Carys, of Baltimore . . . They are very beautiful and are commonly known by the name of the 'Cary Invincibles.' "
Constance Cary was also a very lovely girl, and even in those days was noted for a facile pen, which from time to time delighted her many friends with charming little productions. Miss Cary, as is well known, married Mr. Burton Harrison, President Davis's private secretary, and has since attained widespread note from the clever fictions of which she is the author.
In the meantime, my sister and myself had been entered at Miss Pegram's on Franklin, Street, which was then the fashionable school in Richmond. With all the distractions of the time it was hard work to keep the girls at their books. It was difficult to fasten one's attention on ancient history and "belles lettres," when such very modern history was being made in our midst, and such "beaux soldats" were marching, with drums beating, and banners flying, by our very doors. Richmond has always been famed for its lovely women, but I venture to assert that there has never been a larger assembly of beauties than that collected at Miss Pegram's School during the war.
Early in the spring, rumors were rife in Richmond of the approach of McClellan's army and in May the great battle of Seven Pines was fought,
when General Joseph E. Johnston was wounded, and after which General Lee was placed in command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
There were four brilliant young soldiers in that great army who especially held the love and admiration of the people - Turner Ashby, commanding General Stonewall Jackson's Cavalry; William Pegram, the "Boy Artillerist"; John Pelham, commanding Stuart's Horse Artillery, the "Gallant Pelham," as General Lee called him; and William Latané. Each in turn was to immortalize his name and glorify the good cause for which he fought, and each in turn, amid the din of battle and the shouts of victory, was to give his life for his country.
William Latané lost his life, June 13, 1862,
"leading his squadron in a brilliant and successful
charge, the enemy routed and flying before him"
- so writes General J. E. B. Stuart in his order,
and adds "his regiment will want no better battle
cry, than 'Avenge Latané.' "
General Robert E.
Lee announces the victory with "the loss of but
one man, the lamented Captain Latané." The
following account of the burial and the peculiar
circumstances surrounding it, were given to me
by a member of the family and is repeated here
"John Latané, a Lieutenant in
his brother's company, took charge of the body
and with a cart and driver tried to return to Richmond.
Finding this impossible, as the enemy were
in the possession of the country all around - he went to 'Westwood,' the home of Dr. Brokenbrough, who was then a surgeon in the Army. The enemy approached and he, to avoid capture, was obliged to leave his brother's remains and escape on foot."
Then followed the scene "portrayed by Washington's brush and Thompson's pen" - and also described in a private letter, which, after the war, was published in Blackwood's Magazine and is now given here.
"Mrs. Brokenbrough sent for an Episcopal clergyman to perform the funeral ceremonies, but the enemy would not permit him to pass. Then with a few other ladies, a fair haired little girl, her apron filled with white flowers, and a few faithful slaves who stood reverently near, a pious Virginia matron read the solemn and beautiful burial service over the cold, still form of one of the noblest gentlemen and most intrepid officers in the Confederate Army. She watched the clods heaped upon the coffin lid; then sinking on her knees, in sight and hearing of the foe, she committed his soul's welfare and the stricken hearts he had left behind him to the mercy of the All-Father."
John R. Thompson writes in the closing stanza of his poem:
when Virginia, leaning on her spear,
'Victrix et Vidua,' the conflict done;
Shall raise her mailéd hand to wipe the tear,
That starts as she recalls each martyred Son,
No dearer memory shall hold its sway
Than thine, beloved, 'lamented Latané.' "
Among my papers I find next a letter written by my mother after an illness, during that awful time known as "The Seven Days Battle around Richmond."
RICHMOND, June 25th, 1862.
" . . . I am getting a great deal better, and went out this afternoon to take a drive with your father. We stopped at Genl. Johnston's to see how he was, and Mrs. Johnston came out and sat in the carriage with me. He is recovering rapidly, but will not be in the fight, which has in fact, begun. There has been very heavy firing all the afternoon, and there will be a regular attack made at daybreak to-morrow, if the present plan is followed out. I presume it will be, as Genl. Jackson is to move into position to-night, and of course, has to be supported. This was agreed upon last night. What has caused the fight this afternoon we do not know - but I trust it is all right. Jackson and his forces are to make the attack on the rear, and I trust it has all been so planned that McClellan will find himself glad enough to take the road away from, instead of on to Richmond."
"I wrote you your
father had acted as Aide to
Genl. Longstreet. After we got home last evening,
your father determined to go to Genl. Longstreet's Headquarters, to see if there had been any change in the programme since the night before. He did not get back till nearly twelve o'clock - and at that time, the original plan was to be carried out - and he accordingly was off at four o'clock this morning. Strange to say, however, there seems to be an impression in town, that there has been no fighting to-day; not a gun has been heard, and everyone has been on the lookout for tidings. Halsey came in just before dinner and he has heard nothing of it - so I am afraid (I was going to say) that something has disconcerted the plan and I feel quite impatient for your father's return. He said he would be back some time to-night."
"Friday night, 27th.
"Yesterday afternoon I took a drive with Halsey and as soon as we got on Church Hill we heard the cannon and it seems the fight had begun at 3 o'clock in the afternoon instead of at daylight as it had been arranged. Your father got back after twelve last night. The news was all good as you have seen, I suppose. We had driven them from Mechanicsville and taken several batteries, etc. The battle was to be renewed this morning at daybreak, and accordingly, off went Papa, and I don't expect to see him again until midnight or maybe to-morrow. Robert Nicholas, however, told me about sundown that he had left him well
an hour or two before and that the Yankees had been driven back six miles. All the accounts we have yet received, altho' meagre, yet agree that we are in hot pursuit and the enemy trying to get away. God grant that our victory may be complete! I will write more to-morrow when I can tell you what your father says. Good night."
"Your father did
not come last night, dear L.
I got a note from him early this morning. Thank
God, he was unhurt! and remained to look up our
wounded Texans. So far our victory has been
brilliant, but oh! at what sacrifice of life! Poor
Col. Marshall (1st Texas) is killed; so is Lieut.
Col. Warwick. His poor mother's heart will be
broken, I fear. (He was an only child.) The
Major of the Regiment, too, is dangerously
wounded. Genl. Hood is not hurt or was not
when your father wrote. God grant your father
may be safe now! He expected to be up all night
collecting and caring for our wounded. We have
heard no cannon to-day and don't know whether
the fighting has continued or not. Cousin Lewis
has just been here and says he hears 1,500 prisoners
have already arrived, and among them 2 generals.
There are all sorts of reports, one, that we have
taken eighty officers above the rank of major.
Your father thought the battle would be over
to-day. I am almost afraid to believe it. Halsey
has not been at all in the direction of the fight. He is guarding the batteries on the extreme right, and the contest has all been on the left. He has got his commission for 2nd Lieutenant - or rather, I have got it here for him."
"Another note from your dear father this morning. It was written last night, the other side of the Chickahominy at Headquarters. He says they were still driving the enemy before them and that operations would begin again at daybreak, and that he hoped it would be over to-day. I shall not expect him back until it is entirely concluded. He says the slaughter has been terrible, but our success glorious."
Subjoined is a short note from the pen of Mrs. James Chesnut, the wife of Senator Chesnut, of South Carolina. Mrs. Chesnut was one of the most brilliant women of her time and as warmhearted as clever, as is shown by this little note. If she had written a volume the tragedy of which she told could not have been more graphically described.
"My dear friend,
"My heart is heavier to-day than it has been since this murderous war began. I daresay I have told you, over and over, as I always talk of what is uppermost, that my cronies in Columbia, my
bosom friends, were Mrs. Preston, Mrs. McCord and Mrs. Izard. Captain Cheves McCord, only son of my friend, lies dead at a Mr. Meyers' only a few doors below us. I did not know he was here. Mr. Chesnut had a letter from him yesterday dated Fredericksburg. He was wounded at the Second Manassas, two balls in his leg, and one in his head. Contrary to the advice of his doctors, he had rejoined his company, and this is the end. He died in convulsions from a pressure on the brain. His mother is expected by every train - poor thing - I could not sleep for thinking of her. She seemed to have but one thought in this world - 'My Son.' He is barely twenty-one - is married - his wife a beautiful girl - unfortunate and miserable and wretched is it all!
". . . I will try to see you as soon as possible, but I will not, as I had hoped, take the box with you. This unhappy boy, lying dead so near me, makes the thought of theatres hateful to me just now. . . . I feel you are too true hearted a mother not to sympathize.
"Your friend, M. B. C."
JEFFERSON DAVIS WRITES TO L. T. WIGFALL - NOTES FROM GENERAL LONGSTREET AND GENERAL LEE - HOME GOSSIP - PRINCE POLIGNAC - LETTERS FROM GENERAL HOOD - FROM THE AUTHOR'S BROTHER IN CAMP NEAR FREDERICKSBURG - FROM GENERAL JOHNSTON - FROM THE AUTHOR'S FATHER - FROM J. A. SEDDON.
THE autumn opened with dispiriting news from the West. Beauregard had been superseded and rumors were rife that a demand had been made on the administration for the removal of General Bragg. While we did not know certainly that this was a fact, there was no question but that dissatisfaction was felt in many quarters with President Davis's policy and conduct of affairs, my father's intimacy with him began to decrease, and strained relations to take the place of their former friendship. Notes asking for consultations to discuss pressing matters which formerly began "Dear Wigfall" - as the time ran on into the autumn were commenced "My dear Sir."
One of these letters is given.
"Oct. 11, 1862.
"GENL. L. T. WIGFALL,
"My dear Sir:
"It has been suggested to me that you thought Holmes had failed in his duty at Malvern Hill, by being too slow in getting into position, and in that connection I wish to say to you that he was ordered up from his position on the South side of James River to aid in the attack upon McClellan's Army and if possible to prevent it from reaching the James River. It being then supposed that the enemy would endeavor to reach a landing some distance above Curl's Neck. He moved down the River Road, taking Gen. Wise and his brigade with him, to the position indicated, where I found him on Monday morning, most advantageously posted. He had made a thorough reconnoissance and fully explained to me his position and plan of operations. He was then about a mile to the right of the place where I found you with Gen. Longstreet's staff and where I met Genl. Lee. Genl. Lee had ascertained that the enemy was taking a different route by what was known as the Quaker Road and he ordered Genl. Holmes to advance and take position on that road to intercept the enemy's retreat. He did so promptly, and waited at the place indicated with his infantry for the approach of the enemy. They did not come, but halted and offered battle before reaching Poindexter's farm. Genl. Holmes
thus fulfilled all his orders and proved as well his gallantry, as his candor, by subsequently expressing his regret that no one knew enough of the ground to have indicated to him what afterward was found to have been feasible, to wit, an attack upon the enemy's left and rear. It may be that such remarks have led you to suppose that he was directed to do something which he failed to perform. If so, I am sure that your fairness needs only to have the facts distinctly pointed out to you. Genl. Lee reconnoitred the ground as far as he was able and I did the same thing in person - whilst Genl. Holmes was in position and under a heavy fire from the enemy's gunboats. Genl. Lee certainly attributed no shortcoming to Genl. Holmes and it never occurred to me that any blame was fairly to be attached to him. I write this in justice to the individual but am urged much more by the consciousness of his peculiar fitness for the command to which he has been assigned.
"Your friend JEFFER. DAVIS."
In a letter from Genl. Longstreet allusion is made to the break in the friendship between my father and the President.
"CULPEPER C. H., Nov. 7th, 1862.
"My dear General,
"Your kind favor of 17th ulto. was duly received. I have been waiting to have your son's decision before writing. . . .
"I heard yesterday that you and the President had had an unpleasant interview. It is no business of mine, but I would like to take the liberty to beg you not to allow anything to bring about any difference between you. We think that all our hopes rest upon you and the hopes of the country rest upon the army. You will readily perceive what weight you have to carry. Most truly and sincerely yours,
"J. B. LONGSTREET."
October found us delightfully situated in a comfortable house on Grace Street. General and Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston, ourselves, and Major Banks, composed our "Mess." The house stood back from the street with a large garden in front, now, in the fall, fragrant with the aromatic scent of that sweetest of all flowers, the white chrysanthemum, which grew in great profusion in the old-fashioned borders. General Johnston was still suffering from his wound and too unwell to report for duty for some weeks. One great trouble in Richmond during the winter of '62 was the want of fuel, and prices began to mount up fabulously, and the suffering among the poor was great. Our men in the field, too, began to feel the difficulty of getting warm overcoats and proper clothing.
The snow began as early as November 9th. I say in a letter to my brother of this date:
"We had quite a snow-storm day before yesterday, and it is still very cold. I am afraid our poor
soldiers will suffer dreadfully from the weather this winter, as I heard yesterday that we had upwards of 10,000 men without shoes!
"Genl. Johnston is improving, and speaks of reporting for duty in two weeks, but Papa says he doubts if he is able."
"Mama sends you by Capt. Sellers the buffalo robe and blanket and also a cake of soap, which will be sufficient for present emergencies - and as soon as another occasion offers she will send some more. Mama says as soap is $1.25 a cake you must economise! Capt. Sellers will also take the flag that Mama has had made for the 1st Texas; the tassel on it is one taken by Col. Brewster, from the field of Shiloh, just where Sidney Johnston fell, and of course therefore enhances the value of the flag. We are expecting to leave Richmond next week for Amelia, to return in January when Congress meets. Genl. Johnston reported for duty yesterday and we suppose he will be given command of the Department of the West. They are expecting to leave by Wednesday of next week, so you see there will be a general breaking up of our nice little 'Mess.' I am really very sorry; for Mrs. Johnston is a sweet lovely person. . . . Mama has promised to leave us with her next Summer when she and Papa go back to Texas. There have been several distinguished
visitors at our house last week - viz., Prince Polignac; an M. P.; and our Bishop General Polk. Yesterday Major Daniel (Examiner) and Col. Myers dined here. Mrs. Elzey and the General were here evening before last: he is to have another operation performed on his jaw, poor fellow, and he looks miserably."
It was now a frequent occurrence for foreigners of distinction to come to the Confederacy and in many instances to enter the army and fight valiantly for the cause. Prince Polignac was a typical Frenchman in appearance; a fiery little man; erect in figure with a keen black eye, white teeth that showed brilliantly when he smiled, and a dark waxed mustache which lent a fierceness to his expression that I remember impressed me very much. He offered his services to the Government, and was given the command of a brigade of Texans in the Western Army. And just here comes an anecdote which I cannot forbear telling, as an illustration of American humor in general, and Texas wit in particular.
It needs little reflection to see how the peculiar name of Polignac would strike the ear of the irreverent Texan, with the evident possibility, not to say necessity, of ludicrous transposition. And it is equally evident that the name, at once suggesting itself as appropriate, was that of the little animal which bears such a malodorous reputation.
Probably, most of these Texan soldiers had never seen a Frenchman before; they had never tested Prince Polignac's prowess. He was certainly, both in appearance and manners, unlike any of the Rangers, whom it had been their happy fate to follow in other battles, and as they glanced at the dapper little Frenchman, they shook their heads ominously, and with derisive laughter dubbed him "Polecat!" It was impossible that such a soubriquet should have been given and uttered frequently, secure in the Prince's ignorance of the vocabulary, without his curiosity being aroused, and questions following which finally discovered to him the play upon his name, and the meaning of the word. He maintained a discreet silence, and never revealed his knowledge, nor his indignation, until one day - when the brigade being ordered into battle he had his revenge. As the order was given to charge, he raised himself in his stirrups and brandishing his sword aloft he led his men in person, shouting at the top of his voice, "Follow me! Follow me! You call me 'Polecat,' I will show you whether I am 'Polecat ' or 'Polignac!'" And he did. With an answering shout they followed him, and that battle over, never had a word of ridicule more for the gallant little Frenchman, who led them on to victory.
I cannot refrain here from paying a tribute to the Texas troops by giving a letter written to my father by General Robert E. Lee in praise of them.
"HEAD QUARTERS ARMY, W. Va.,
Sept. 21st, 1862
"GEN. LOUIS T. WIGFALL,
"I have not yet heard from you with regard to the new Texas Regiments which you promised to endeavor to raise for this Army. I need them much. I rely upon these we have in all tight places and fear I have to call upon them too often. They have fought grandly, nobly, and we must have more of them. Please make every possible exertion to get them in, and send them on to me. You must help us in this matter. With a few more such regiments as those which Hood now has, as an example of daring and bravery, I could feel much more confident of the results of the campaign.
"Very respectfully yours,
"R. E. LEE,
"C. S. VENABLE,
"Maj. and A. D. C."
The following characteristic letter was received a little later from General Hood alluding to these same regiments from Texas.
"DIV. HD. QRTS.
"Near Culpeper, Nov. 17, '62.
"My dear Genl.:
"I wish you would let me know so soon as you are informed that the new Regiments are on their
way to Richmond. If they came on as independent Regiments I wish to recommend a Brig. Genl. For them.
"If I can I will come to Richmond about the time the Regiments come on.
". . . Well, I think Mr. Burnsides is coming in a few days, and what a fight! I think we will whip him badly. Our army is in good trim for an old-fashioned fight.
"Give my kindest regards to your family.
"J. B. HOOD.
"GEN. L. T. WIGFALL,
In a letter from my brother dated Camp, near Winchester, Oct. 24th, 1862, he writes of Genl. J. E. B. Stuart and Stonewall Jackson.
"I had a very pleasant visit to Rosser's Camp where I spent the night. On my way down I met Genl. Stuart and stopped and had some conversation. He was in as high spirits as ever, and told me particularly to tell you, when I wrote, that in his recent raid into Pennsylvania he got nothing but 'Apple butter' and 'Dry water.' You know he is a 'Total Abstinence Man' in practice. The next day I rode down to Shepherdstown about eight miles from Camp with Rosser and through the town to the river bank (the Potomac) where our cavalry pickets are stationed. The
Yankees who still picket entirely with infantry have their lines on the opposite bank. While I was in that neighborhood Jackson's Corps, and McLaw's Division from this Corps, were hard at work destroying the B.& O. R. R. They have also torn up the track of the road between Winchester and Harper's Ferry and it will be a long time before these roads can be repaired. I put my last postage stamp on this letter and I understand there are none in Winchester."
In a letter from my mother she writes:
"RICHMOND, Nov. 26th 1862.
" . . . Genl. Johnston got his orders only day before yesterday. He is to have command of the three armies of Bragg, Kirby Smith and Pemberton, but not West of the Mississippi, as I understand. He expects to get off on Saturday, and his wife goes with him."
On the date mentioned Genl. Johnston left Richmond for the West and in a letter from me to my brother dated, Amelia Springs, Dec. 5th, 1862, I find this recorded:
"Mama and Papa returned last Saturday; they having come with General Johnston and staff and Mrs. Johnston, on a special train from Richmond, and parted from them at this place.
" . . . What is the general impression as to
Fredericksburg? Will your battery be in the engagement, if there is one? The rain is pouring and Mama hopes it will prevent Burnside from advancing. . . . "
My brother writes from camp the following letter:
"CAMP, near Fredericksburg,
Nov. 23rd, 1862.
" . . . We reached here on yesterday afternoon, having left Culpeper on Wednesday about twelve o'clock. We were on the road three days and a half, and it rained every day but the last. So you see that we have been enjoying ourselves. The Yanks were to have begun the shelling of Fredericksburg on yesterday, but they did not keep their word. We met yesterday, ladies on foot in all the mud and wet, five and six miles from the town, the women and children having been ordered to leave the place in anticipation of the opening of the fight. What kept the enemy from fulfilling their threats I don't know. They demanded a surrender and the authorities refused; they then gave the citizens until nine o'clock the next morning to move out the women and children: they afterwards deferred it until two in the afternoon, but when two o'clock came the Yankee shells did not. The citizens in this section all accounts have suffered terribly from the presence of the Yankees in their midst and I think are
prepared to undergo any privations rather than see the enemy again among them.
"I am much obliged for the things sent me - especially the razor, as cats are very scarce in camp and cream more so.
"We had a magnificent supper last night consisting of preserved salmon, sardines, pepper vinegar, beefsteaks, biscuits and butter and real coffee. It was quite a shock to my system, I assure you. . . . "
My mother writes:
"Dec. 5th, 1862.
" . . . We are all painfully anxious about Fredericksburg. It has been raining hard all day and hailing this evening, and if there has been no advance yet I think Burnside will have little chance of doing anything this winter. . . . Genl. Johnston carried quite a numerous staff with him to the West and I hope with all my heart that he will win fresh laurels there."
Immediately on reaching Chattanooga General Johnston wrote the following letter to my father which I give in full.
"Dec. 4th, 1862.
"My dear Wigfall:
"After a perilous journey, I arrived a little after twelve last night, having been delayed by three
railroad accidents. A telegram from the Ad. Genl. urges me, in the name of the President, to reinforce Pemberton, who 'has fallen back from his positions by advance of very superior force of the enemy' with 'a sufficient force of Genl. Bragg's command.' 'Genl. Holmes has been peremptorily ordered to reinforce him - but his troops may be too late,' I am told. Genl. Pemberton in falling back, moves towards Vicksburg, where Holmes must cross the river - every step he makes, therefore, brings him nearer to his reinforcements. But as this march is in a direction exactly away from Bragg, and the enemy's army is between, every day's march makes a junction of the latter with Pemberton more difficult. I proposed the order to Holmes more than two weeks ago. Had it been given then, his troops would now be near Vicksburg, and we should be secure of our possession of the Mississippi. As matters now are, the enemy being between our armies, and probably superior to any one of them, their junction must be difficult - impossible, if his troops are well directed. I have not had time yet to learn if the movement of Bragg's troops is practicable, and if so, what time will be necessary for it, nor what Pemberton's force is, nor that of the enemy - nor where he is - nor in what direction he proposes to move. Under such circumstances a much wiser man, than any I know, might fail to plan wisely. The thing to be done is to urge
Holmes to expedition. Do tell the Secretary of War to do so.
"The President does not consider, in estimating the time Bragg's movement may require, what an obstacle the Tennessee is. Nor that Vicksburg at least, will secure Holmes's junction.
"Nobody ever assumed a command under more unfavorable circumstances. If Rosecranz had disposed our troops himself, their disposition could not have been more unfavorable for us.
"My suggestion to the President, referred to above, was to unite the troops of Pemberton and Holmes and attack Grant. It was about the 15th ulto. Genls. Cooper and G. W. Smith were present.
"I shall join Bragg at Tullahoma tomorrow; the railroad arrangements make it impracticable sooner. All the information necessary to me is still to be gained.
"Mrs. J. sends cordial regards to Mrs. Wigfall and yourself.
"Very truly yours,
"J. E. JOHNSTON.
"C. S. Senate."
Upon the receipt of this letter from Genl. Johnston, my father sent immediately the following communication to Secretary of War, Mr. James A. Seddon.
"December 8, 1862.
"My dear Sir:
"I have just received a letter from Genl. Johnston which causes gloomy forebodings as to our future in the West. Pemberton, he says, has fallen back before a superior force and he, Johnston, is ordered to reinforce him with troops from Bragg's command. Consider the position of their different armies. As Pemberton falls back he will be each day one march further from Bragg. Grant is between them, with, I suppose, a superior force to either. If he falls upon either before their junction, may he not destroy him and then turn upon the other? When Bragg crosses the Tennessee river Grant may turn upon him at any moment. How long will it take to cross the Tennessee without Birago trestles or pontoon boats? Before his raid into Kentucky, Bragg was some two or three weeks in effecting a crossing. Holmes, Johnston writes me, has been ordered to reinforce Pemberton, but he does not say with what force. In that movement, it seems to me, lies our only hope of safety. Let me beg you will urge upon Holmes the utmost energy and promptness in his movements. I trust that his whole force has been ordered across. Vicksburg should be the objective point in this campaign. That being safe, as I think it would be, upon the junction of Pemberton and Holmes, the destruction of Grant's Army should be our next
object. Political considerations should weigh nothing in the movement of troops. A distinguished writer upon the art of war, says, that political objective points, if adopted during a campaign, must be in accordance with the principles of strategy, and that when that is not possible, then they should be adjourned till after a decisive victory. When Oldham and Bob. Johnston were badgering me for not joining them in insisting that all the troops from the other side of the river should be returned, I told them that if I had control of the army every soldier from Arkansas and Texas should be brought at once to this side so that Bragg might at once crush Buel. The debate was published and I have to see the first man from Texas who does not approve my course. I mention this to show, that those who oppose the concentration of our troops, be it on one side, or the other, of the river, on political grounds, are mistaken as to public opinion. Our people are full of good sense and patriotism, and they will not refuse the means necessary to secure success. Let us save Vicksburg and then crush Rosecranz and then I am indifferent whether you winter the army in Kentucky or Missouri.
"One word more as to the policy to govern in the West. The valley of the Mississippi should be the échequier of operations and the armies of the West should be under one head. On whichever
side of the river the enemy appears, he should be met with our whole force, and crushed. If he appears on both sides, concentrate on one, and crush him there, and then cross and crush him again. I trust that the last battle has been fought by us with inferior numbers. Whenever the enemy divides, concentrate and crush; and then 'follow up the hand,' as at ten pins when you make a ten strike. I am induced to write you more fully on this subject from a conversation I had with Boteler during my last visit to Richmond in which he was urging the propriety of giving Jackson a separate command. The entire army of Virginia should continue under Lee. I write you freely and unreservedly because I know you will not misunderstand me, nor regard my advice as obtrusive. I would be obliged if you would answer this letter, as I feel great anxiety and uneasiness as to the fate of Pemberton's Army. I am writing currente calamo and in great haste and beg that you will excuse this scrawl and believe me very truly and sincerely,
"LOUIS T. WIGFALL.
"HON. J. A. SEDDON
"P. S. Have you any information as to the state of things at Fredericksburg? If not, what is your conjecture? Does Burnside simply wish to get into Fredericksburg, claim a great victory à la McClellan and winter there?"
I do not find among my papers the answer from Mr. Seddon to this letter, but that he gave it careful attention cannot be doubted, as he says in answer to a previous letter.
". . . When you write to me, mark your letter on the outside 'Private' and then it will come under my own eye. . . . I shall always receive with gratitude the suggestions of your fuller knowledge and riper experience. . . .
"Most cordially yours,
"J. A. SEDDON."
But General Johnston's letter of December 15th, 1862, shows that his suggestions were not complied with. He writes as follows:
"CHATTANOOGA, Dec. 15, 1862.
"My dear Wigfall:
"On my return from Murfreesboro' a day or two ago I had the pleasure to find your letter, and the President. The latter is on a military tour, and has taken immediate command in this country. Unless he is greatly mistaken Mr. Seddon has not carried our point and reinforced Pemberton with Holmes's troops. On the contrary he says that H. has not had orders on the subject - requests or suggestions instead - which he thinks himself unable to comply with and therefore will not comply with. Pemberton must be reinforced.
I have no other resource than the troops on this front, and must draw upon them. This has blown away some tall castles in the air. I have been dreaming of crushing Grant with Holmes's and Pemberton's troops, sending the former into Missouri, and with the latter, Bragg and Kirby Smith, marching to the Ohio. Our troops beyond the Mississippi seem to be living in great tranquility.
"Bragg's troops are in fine condition. Healthy looking and well clothed. In fine spirits too. I see no evidence of the want of confidence and dissatisfaction of which we heard so much in Richmond.
"A great mistake has been made in the arrangement of my command. Mississippi and Arkansas should have been united to form it. Not this state and Mississippi, which are divided by (to us) an impassable river and impracticable country. The troops in Middle Tennessee could reach Fredericksburg much sooner than Mississippi. Then Genl. Holmes's communications depend upon our possession of the Mississippi. It is certainly his business to at least assist in the maintenance of his communications. The troops in Arkansas, as having a common object, could be naturally united.
"You perhaps see no special object on my part in troubling you with this, and in truth I have no other than putting my troubles before one, who
has a head to comprehend grand war, and a heart to sympathize with me.
"I start, this afternoon, to Pemberton's Army. About 9,000 men are ordered from Bragg's - and I hope to bring back a great many stragglers who are scattered over the country S. W. of us.
"A telegram from the War Department to the President gave us information of the fighting at Fredericksburg on Saturday. What luck some people have. Nobody will ever come to attack me in such a place.
"Mrs. J. wrote to Mrs. Wigfall a day or two ago. This mild climate is very favorable to her. She is in excellent health and spirits.
"I hope that you have good accounts of Halsey - of his health, I mean, for professionally there can be no doubt. Present me cordially to Mrs. Wigfall and the young ladies.
"Very truly yours,
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
From Jackson, General Johnston wrote the following letter.
"JACKSON, Jany. 8th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall:
"Mrs. Johnston, who arrived evening before last, brought me your letter, which had come to Chattanooga before she left it. Your military criticism has been more strongly called for since
the writing of that letter. And no doubt it has been made. I can't help thinking myself that we ought to have won at Murfreesboro'. You think I am sure, that we ought to have renewed the attack on the morning of the 1st, instead of postponing it nearly two days, when the enemy had reorganized his forces behind intrenchments. You think too, that having failed to attack on the 1st, we should either have turned the fortified position or cut off supplies from the enemy by our cavalry.
"The present state of things fully confirms the opinion I expressed to the President here that this command of mine is a nominal one, imposing upon me responsibilities which I cannot possibly meet. It is not a unit; the armies of Bragg and Pendleton have different objects. They can't be united without abandoning one of them. I can have no command when they are not united except by taking the place of Bragg or Pemberton, which could not have been intended. As it would work great injustice to the officer thus superseded, without probabilities of benefit. I cannot, from an intermediate point, direct the operations of the two armies. No man could do it well; these departments are too completely separated to form one proper command - they ought to be separated. Tell Mr. Seddon so. Had I been in Tennessee I could have done nothing except by depriving Bragg of his command. Here in the recent
battle I did nothing - not choosing to supersede Pemberton. I have asked the President to take me out of a position so little to my taste. It is very like being on the shelf with the responsibilities of command. . . . I have just read a slip from the N. O. Delta, giving account of a glorious affair at Galveston; but am afraid to believe it. You will see it of course long before this reaches you. Mrs. Johnston is looking extremely well and I trust much to this mild climate for continued good health.
"I have an office and staff here, but very little office work. Mrs. Johnston desires to be cordially remembered to Mrs. Wigfall, yourself and the young ladies.
"Yours as ever,
"J. E. JOHNSTON.
"C. S. Senate."
LIGHT-HEARTED BOYISH LETTERS FROM CAMP - SCHOOLGIRL FROLICS - A SOUTHERN BARBARA FRIETCHIE - CHATTANOOGA - ANECDOTE OF "STONEWALL" JACKSON - FAMILY LETTERS TO AND FROM RICHMOND.
IN reading over the letters written at this period (the Winter of '62-'63), the thing that strikes me is the tone of cheerfulness and hope that runs through all of them. It had not dawned yet on the minds of anyone that success was not assured. Jackson was the idol of the people and everything was anticipated of him when the spring campaign should open. The confidence in Lee was absolute; and no one doubted that he would carry all before him. The fact that provisions were scarce; that prices were phenomenally high; that the purchasing power of our currency was depreciating daily; seemed to make no impression on the temper or spirits of the people. At this time it was frequent for individuals to run the blockade, or come through the lines, and their advent was hailed with delight by their friends to whom they brought welcome presents in the shape of shoes, and other necessities, which it was difficult to procure in Richmond.
The Virginia housekeeper, famed for her hospitality and good living, had hard work to produce a tempting menu for her guests. It would have been droll (had the cause not been so tragic) to note the stress laid upon a fair supper, on the rare occasions when it was forthcoming. For they still had "parties," as they were called, and if, by good fortune, ice cream and cake and "real" coffee appeared, the delightful fact is duly recorded.
The letters from camp were cheering - no complaining at hardships. Men reared in luxury who had worn "purple and fine linen" all their lives, were the best soldiers in the field and the most cheerful bearers of the burden of camp life, and of the terrible marches through the scorching suns of summer, and through the winter's wind and rain. And the poor boys, many of them little more than children, who had come from the far south, sickened and died of homesickness and disease, in camp and hospital - yet we find no record of complaint or of desire expressed to give up the fight. Some of the letters from camp at this time give the spirit of the men in the war. My brother, a boy of eighteen, writes the following boyish nonsense from
"CAMP near Culpeper,
"Nov. 15th, 1862.
"As Capt. Bachman is going down to Richmond on business I take this opportunity of 'tellin' 'em
huddy fur me, an' ask 'em for sen' me sumfin.' As this is a strictly business letter I will proceed to enumerate the articles desired. Primo, one large black valise. Item, a plenty of writing paper (this is my last half sheet) and envelopes and a few postage stamps. Item, one buffalo robe and blanket. Item, the horseman's overcoat of which I wrote in my last, and which was to be made of the heavy bluish grey cloth now at the Qr. Mrs. Clothing depôt in Richmond or any other suitable stuff, with long skirts and cape and lined throughout with woolen stuff and at the Qr. Mrs. dept. which will be cheaper, 'vich it is a very good thing,' all of the aforesaid to be accomplished through the instrumentality of the 'ubiquitous Banks.' Item, the coat to be double-breasted. Item, if the coat is not finished by the time of Capt. Bachman's return don't send it by him! Item, My BOOTS! Item, some soap and a tooth brush. Item, my red silk sash. Item, one of my razors - my shaving brush and soap. Item, if possible to be procured, one travelling toilet glass - this last very important! Our horses are getting more than they can eat - and we ourselves fare very well, so far as an abundance of beef and bread is concerned. We got a little Sorghum molasses the other day and have had some sweet cakes which were very good, I assure you. We have a battery drill and are at the manual of the piece every day - and altogether camp life is
somewhat endurable though Mama's pen-knife won't compare to it in dullness. I was at Genl. Hood's Head Quarters this morning. Since he has got to be a Major Genl. he has moved into a house and I suppose intends to live in style! . . . "
And again from Camp near Chesterfield Station:
". . . My home is in a wild pine grove and sweetest melancholy, poesy's child, keeps watch and ward over my innocent spirit. I sit on my bench and muse on the time when the Yank-Yanks shall meet me in battle array and when, 'Virginia leaning on her spear,' I shall retire on my laurels with one arm and no legs to some secluded dell to sigh away my few remaining years in blissful ignorance. But a truce to such deep Philosophy. We are all jogging along as usual. All the day I long for night, and all the night I long for its continuance. In fact it is very disagreeable to get up to attend Reveillé roll-call, as I do every fourth morning, and it is vastly more pleasant to remain in my comfortable (?) bed and have no other care upon my mind than that of keeping warm with the least exertion possible. But then comes that inevitable too-diddle- tooty, too-diddle-tooty, &c., &c., &c., and up I have to jump and go out in the cold to hear that Von Spreckelson and Bullwinkle are absent and look at the exciting process of dealing out corn
in a tin cup. . . . The snowing began before daylight yesterday morning and kept it up with scarcely an interval until late last night. It fell to a depth of about nine inches. This morning, the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas Regiments came by our camp, marching in irregular line of battle, with their colors gotten up for the occasion, and with skirmishers thrown out in advance, and passing us, attacked the camp of the 3rd Arkansas, which is immediately on our right. A fierce contest ensued, snow balls being the weapons. The Texans steadily advanced, passing up the right of the camp; the Arkansians stubbornly disputing their progress, and their shouts and cheers as they would make a charge, or as the fight would become unusually desperate, made the welkin ring. A truce was finally declared and all four regiments marched over the creek to attack Anderson's brigade. After crossing they formed in line, deployed their skirmishers, and at it they went. The Georgians got rather the best of the fight and drove them back to the creek, where they made a stand and fought for some time. They then united and started back across the Massoponax for Genl. Law's brigade. Just before arriving opposite our camp they saw another brigade coming over the top of the hill behind their camp (i. e., Anderson's) and back they went to meet them. How that fight terminated I don't know. . . . I suppose this rain and snow will retard the movements
of the enemy too much for them to attempt to cross for some time to come. . . . Yesterday and to-day have been lovely days and I trust that the weather will clear up and continue so. I expect Burnside feels very grateful for the interposition of the elements to give him an excuse for deferring a little longer the evil day on which he is forced to attack us or be decapitated. . . . I saw in my ride the other day a body of Yankees, apparently a Regiment, drawn up in line, firing. They were using blank cartridges I suppose. This looks as though they had some very fresh troops. If that is the case they had better keep them out of the fight, as they will do precious little good in it. . . .
"Christmas eve we went to see the Hood's Minstrels perform. One of the best performances was 'We are a band of brothers' sung by three make-believe darkies, dressed entirely in black, with tall black hats and crêpe hatbands, looking more like a deputation from a corps of undertakers than anything else - and was intended, I suppose, as a burlesque upon Puritanism. At all events it was supremely ridiculous. . . . I understand that several of the tailors in Charleston have committed suicide lately, driven to it by the ruinously low rates at which their wares (no pun intended) are now selling. They can only obtain two hundred and fifty dollars for a second lieutenant's uniform coat and pantaloons. Poor wretches!
They should bear their burdens with more patience, however, and remember that (according to the newspaper) the hardships of this war fall on all alike and must be endured by high and low, rich and poor, equally. I saw Col. Jenifer who told me he had met Papa and Mama at a party at Col. Ives's in the city of Richmond. Isn't that dissipation for you? Do they have cake 'and sich' at parties now, or is it merely 'a feast of reason and a flow of soul?' And in conclusion tell me of my overcoat. Have you seen it? If not, has anybody else seen it? If not, how long will it be, in all human probability, and speaking well within the mark, before somebody else will see it?. . . My old one has carried me through two winters and is now finishing the third in a sadly dilapidated condition. There is a sort of 'golden halo, hovering round decay,' about it, which may perhaps be very poetical, but is far from being practical as regards its weather resisting qualities. . . . "
In this spirit of lightheartedness wrote the soldier boys from their camps in the mud and rain and discomfort of every kind. In Richmond too the young people managed to make merry, as young people will, under adverse circumstances. The girls made the best show possible with their meagre wardrobes - and fortunate were the extravagant ones of other days who had a multiplicity of garments, from which to levy supplies,
to cut and make over to suit the fashion of the day.
On Franklin Street, on any fine afternoon during
the winter, it was a lovely sight to watch the
promenaders going up and down. The officers,
on leave for a few days, made the best of their
holiday, and the pretty girls were decked out in
the best finery they could muster. The sun shone
and hearts were light and the shadow of Appomattox
was still so far away that not even the cloud as
big as a man's hand had showed itself. The school
girls too, in spite of the troublous times, found
many ways to amuse themselves. One day,
when the snow lay thick on the ground, we
were all at luncheon, when we heard a great
shouting in the street, and with one accord rushed
to the windows to see the cause. We found a
regiment marching by, on their way through
town, to the railway station. They were footsore
and weary, ill clad and worse shod; but the
flag was flying and they held their heads up and
stepped out bravely, as the bevy of girls appeared
on the doorsteps and greeted us with a great shout.
We rushed in again and came out speedily, with
our hands and aprons full of bread, and everything
portable from the table. There was a halt, and we
ran out in the street and passed on our refreshments
from man to man. They laughed in great glee
and cheered and shouted - and then such a
frolic ensued, for one of the mischievous girls
threw a snowball in their midst! This was "a
dare" and they took it! All discipline was at an end and the snowballs flew thick and fast - as they filed past us on their journey, alas! to battlefields from which many, indeed, most of them, would return no more. We went hungry till supper time; but were so glad to have cheered them on their weary way. One of the interesting incidents that occurred at this time was the arrival of Miss Hetty Cary from Baltimore. She had just been released from Fort McHenry, where she had been imprisoned for wearing a white apron with red ribbons, the Confederate colors! I remember seeing her at a dance at Mrs. Pegram's which is thus described in a school girl's letter.
"We had a glorious time - plenty of ice cream, cake and officers; the latter predominating. When the evening was a little advanced we were honored by the presence of the beautiful Miss Hetty Cary and we danced until nearly 3 o'clock." Of all the women I have ever met I think she was the most beautiful - and combined with great loveliness of person, a brilliancy of wit, which made her remarkable. At this time, having just come through the lines, she was dressed in the last mode, and shone resplendent in an exquisite violet moiré with pink roses in her hair. This last was Titian tinted and rippled back from her fair low forehead. Her complexion was lilies and roses; and her figure magnificent. She was indeed a beauty. It is told of Miss Hetty
Cary that, on one occasion, when Federal troops were passing through Baltimore, she stood at an open window of her home and waved a Confederate flag. One of the officers of a regiment passing below noticed the demonstration and calling it to the attention of the Colonel asked: "Shall I have her arrested?" The Colonel, glancing up and catching a glimpse of the vision of defiant loveliness, answered emphatically: "No: she is beautiful enough to do as she - pleases."
Though anticipating events by two years, I will mention here that Miss Cary married General John Pegram, who was killed in battle three weeks from her wedding day.
There are many now who recall those two processions up the aisle of old St. Paul's.
As I have said, it was not uncommon for people to slip back and forth through the lines. My mother writes at this date:
"Your father has gone to introduce Burke (the scout) to Mr. Seddon. He wanted to know the Secretary of War and to tell him, I suppose, his impressions of his visit to New York. He spent a week there and has just got back!"
General Johnston writes from Chattanooga giving an account of his perplexities.
CHATTANOOGA, Jany. 26th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall:
"I have asked the government by telegraph if any additional troops, new or old, can be furnished for Bragg's Army, but have had no reply. Will you suggest to Mr. Seddon that we are in a very critical condition in Tennessee? The enemy has fully supplied his losses, I am officially informed, while our army has received stragglers and exchanged prisoners amounting to about a third of our killed and wounded. Such being the case, if there is any truth in arithmetic, another battle must drive us still farther back. If driven across the Cumberland Mountains we can not hold East Tennessee and once in possession of that country Rosecranz may choose his point on our South Eastern or Eastern frontier from Richmond to Mobile. It is of the utmost importance therefore to reinforce Bragg. The conscription is operating very slowly. Can no mode of expediting its enforcement be adopted? I cannot draw upon Pemberton, for his force is far too small now. I proposed the bringing to him 18,000 or 20,000 troops from Arkansas, none of whom ever came. The enemy is again at Vicksburg, too, in heavier force, and doubtless with a different plan - probably to attempt to attack from below instead of from the Yazoo.
"Bragg has done wonders, I think - no body of troops has done more in proportion to numbers
in the same time. At Murfreesboro' he killed, wounded and took 17,000 and within the three weeks preceding 7,500. His own loss in all that time about 9,000. My own official position does not improve on acquaintance. It is little, if any, better than being laid on the shelf. I have endeavored to explain this to the President, but he thinks it essential to have one here who can transfer troops from this department to Pemberton's and vice-versa. That would be extremely well if either department could possibly spare troops, even for a short time, but that is not the case, each having too few for immediate purposes and the distance and character of the intermediate country such as completely prevents them from aiding each other, except an occasional cavalry movement. It is an attempt to join things which cannot be united. It would require at least a month to send 10,00 men from one of the two armies to the other. Each department having its own commander and requiring - indeed having room but for one. You perceive how little occupation I can find. I can not unite the two armies - because they are too far apart, and each is required where it is. Nor can I take command of one because each has its proper commander, and yet the country may hold me responsible for any failure between North Carolina and Georgia and the Mississippi, for I am supposed to be commanding in all that country. After commanding
our most important, and I may add, best army for a year, it is hard to lose that command for wounds in battle and to receive a nominal one. I must confess I cannot help repining at this position. The President, however, evidently intends that I shall hold a high position and important one; but I think he mistakes the relation between Tennessee and Mississippi.
"I flatter myself that I have never been so garrulous before and won't be so again.
"We rarely see Richmond papers, so I don't know what you are doing for us. My cordial regards to Mrs. Wigfall and the young ladies.
"If you can help me out of my present place I shall love you more than ever. It will require diplomacy and cunning, however, and I don't think you strong in the latter.
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
General Johnston writes again from
"Feb. 14th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall:
"I have several times taken the liberty of asking you by telegraph to try to get R. A. Howard made Brig. Genl., Schleicher made a Capt. of Engineers and the McLean, of Bull Run, in whom you and Mr. Clay were so much interested, put into the
Qr. Mrs. dept. As these things were all for the benefit of the military service, in which you take as much interest as any soldier or citizen of the Confederacy, it is unnecessary for me to apologize. Let me now ask you to consider the services of the Army of Tennessee. Our principal officers and the most intelligent of our friends in Nashville estimate the loss of the enemy in the battle of Murfreesboro' at not less than 20,000 - the force which inflicted that loss could not have been much more than 30,000. More effective fighting is not to be found in the history of modern battles. The enemy fell back to a very strong position, where he received reinforcements, on account of which our army abandoned the ground; the general being urged to do so by those under him of high rank. This Army of Tennessee has had a hard time of it and a thankless one. My object now is to persuade that in the neighborhood of Murfreesboro' it was well commanded and fought most gallantly, inflicting upon the enemy more harm in proportion to its members, if my memory is not at fault, than any army of modern times. So if you thank any troops for fighting well, these, it seems to me, should be included. I desired Gen. Harris, of Missouri, to say so to you. I am especially interested in this matter because the thanks of Congress would have a good effect upon the troops who feel that others have received the compliment for far less marching and fighting. Bragg has
commanded admirably in Tennessee and made the best use of his troops of all arms.
"I have been very busy for some time looking for something to do - to little purpose, but with much travelling. Each of the three departments assigned to me has its general and as there is no room for two, and I can't remove him appointed by the Prest. for the precise place, nothing but the post of Inspector General is left to me. I wrote to the President on the subject - trying to explain that I am virtually laid upon the shelf with the responsibility of command, but he has not replied, perhaps because he has no better place for me. I should much prefer the command of fifty men.
"Very truly yours.
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
As I sit and think of the many memories that mark the passage of those wonderful four years some seem to stand out in bold relief and arrest the mind. Far down the street one day in the early spring we heard the tramp, tramp, of many feet and the unearthly, mournful sound of the dead march. We knew what it was. They were bearing to his last resting place the "gallant Pelham," the young Alabama hero, who had commanded Stuart's Horse Artillery and laid down his life at Kellysville on March 17th, in the first great Cavalry battle of the war. We watched the sad procession file past the door and the music
floated to our ears like the wail of a human voice. We wept in sympathy - for one so brave, so young, so fair. Such scenes were now frequent and we were soon called upon to bear the heaviest grief yet laid upon the people, who were to be whelmed in sorrow before the end should come.
My mother writes to my brother, then with Fitz Lee's Cavalry Division:
May 11th, 1863.
"We are all saddened to the heart to-night by hearing the death of our hero Jackson! In addition to our own irreparable loss, it will put new life and courage into our cruel foe. It will cause mourning all over our land and each person seems to feel as if he had lost a relative. I feel more disheartened about the war now than I have ever felt before. It seems to me, it is to be interminable, and what a wretched life of anxiety it is to look forward to! I suppose the death of Jackson has affected us all and I can't help thinking it will put new life into the enemy and give him courage to make another attempt very soon. You see by the papers they claim having taken almost as many prisoners as we have and I am sure the loss of Jackson has turned the last fight into a calamity, if not a curse. I expect you will think I am really blue - but you know Jackson has been my hero and favorite for a long time. We must, though, hope on, hope ever!"
Another letter says:
"I have just come up from witnessing the funeral procession of dear 'old Stonewall.' I never saw a more solemn scene and hope never to see another such. This morning early I went to the Governor's and saw the body lying in state. He looks perfectly natural, more as if he were asleep than dead. No one seems to know who will succeed to his command."
A touching incident concerning this great man was told me by one of the Maryland men who wore the Grey and served under Jackson, and in whose own words I give it:
"Our Battalion was in winter quarters and stationed at Genl. Jackson's Headquarters a few months before the battle of Chancellorsville - a short time before his death. It was Genl. Jackson's custom every afternoon to have a meeting for prayer, in a large tent. He sent over an invitation to the members of our Battalion to be present, saying he would like very much to have us come. One afternoon I went over to the prayer meeting tent and as I approached nearer I heard some one praying aloud - in earnest supplication - and the words of the petition, in their beautiful simplicity were like those of a little child. I did not know at first who it was. When the prayer was ended I perceived it was Genl.
Jackson. After the prayer there was a pause and Dr. Lacy, his Chaplain, told him that the young men present would like to hear a few words from him. But his modesty was such that he could not be induced to speak a word. I was deeply impressed by the simple childlike faith of this great soldier - to save whom any man among us would have died."
At this time thousands of Federal prisoners were taken through Richmond. An extract from a letter says, "They formed a perfect army and as they marched in the middle of the street one could scarcely realize they were actually prisoners, if it had not been that their arms had been taken from them, and that they were guarded on each side by our men, who you may be sure looked proud enough as they escorted them."
My mother writes, May 17th, 1863, to my brother:
"I send you, with our letters, a pound of candy and a box of Guava jelly which was given me. I know you have no sugar, and I have no doubt that although you will laugh at the idea you will nevertheless enjoy the sweets. Mrs. McLean (Gnl. Sumner's daughter) has been staying with Mrs. Davis for three weeks, waiting for a passport from the Yankee Secretary of War, and Mrs. Chesnut told me the other day that it had been
peremptorily refused - so I doubt if Rose will be able to get to Baltimore to her children. We are all very anxious to know the next move. I heard yesterday that Genl. Stuart was to go immediately on an extensive raid, but your father says it is not so. Genl Lee is still here. Your father is talking of going up with Genl. Stuart in the morning."
Prices in Richmond had now taken another rise and board in private houses with poor fare was $240 a month, so all persons not obliged to be on the spot were leaving for quiet places in the country, where cheaper rates could be secured. This was difficult too, for it was imperative for one's peace of mind that these retreats should be on a line of railroad and within reach of tidings from the army.
The following letter, written by my brother in pencil, bears date May 2, 1863, and gives a description of a skirmish just before the battle of Chancellorsville.
"We have had a glorious fight this afternoon. Drove the Yankees from the start and kept them going as fast as we could follow until dark. Major Beckham and Capt. Breathed and I were with my Howitzer which was the first piece of Artillery fired. The fight began about half past five. The first shot the Yankee Artillery fired was a spherical case: one of the bullets struck me on the
arm. It was however, entirely spent. Three of our pieces and one of McGregor's were the only ones of the Horse Artillery engaged. I wrote last night, but don't know whether you got it. Don't look to hear from me until the fighting is over, for there are no mails. It is all mere chance as to getting a letter to you. Out of our three pieces we only lost one man. He was killed. I write by moonlight on a limber chest and on Yankee paper. Our men in the highest possible spirits. Everything is bright."
I wrote in answer:
RICHMOND, May 15th.
" . . . Lieut. J. called to see Mama and delivered both the letter and the overcoat. The letter was by far the most welcome of the two, as we had heard so little from you since the battle. . . . Though your first letter written by moonlight on a limber chest was the most romantic, the last was by far the most satisfactory and interesting.
"Hood's Division passed through several days ago and we girls had our usual fun, waving, &c., &c. Quantities of prisoners, thousands at a time, have passed also. 3,000 went through on the day that General Jackson's funeral took place. Quite a misfortune happened last night in the way of the Tredegar Iron Works taking fire - or being
set on fire as some people believe by Yankee spies. Genl. Anderson they say has lost an immense amount of money and it will seriously retard the making of arms. Mama is thinking of leaving town Monday, for what destination she does not know. She and Papa both think it useless to wait in Richmond for information of a pleasant locality, so they have determined to get on the cars and travel till they come to some agreeable stopping place. They will then write me of their whereabouts and I will join them, as soon as my examinations will be over, which will be the end of June. There is no news of any sort at present in Richmond. Everything jogs on as usual - and the devotees of the Capitol and Franklin St. take their usual promenades, and with the exception of a new face now and then, and a little variation in the way of stars and gold lace, all is the same as when you were here last winter. Richmond is looking beautifully just at present but in a few weeks the heat and dust will have become intolerable."
My father and mother had intended making the journey home to Texas this summer of " '63," but news that a number of ironclads had succeeded in running past Vicksburg had interfered with their plans.
A number of the Texas delegation made the attempt and had to return to Richmond to try the
Nassau route. This perilous journey was afterward made the next summer of '64 by my father and mother, under more terrible circumstances than those that now existed, as will be told in due time.
All accounts now pointed to a forward movement of the Army and the heavy-hearted mothers and wives contemplated a tragically anxious summer.
SOCIAL LIFE IN RICHMOND - HALSEY WIGFALL'S LETTERS FROM THE FRONT - GETTYSBURG - LETTERS FROM GENERAL HAMPTON - FROM GENERAL STUART - FROM GENERAL LONGSTREET - A TOURNAMENT - HUMOR IN A HOSPITAL.
IT IS curious to note how youth will extract gayety and pleasure out of adverse surroundings. I find recorded in letters at this time, in spite of the gnawing anxieties which were weighing down the hearts of all serious people, that sundry delightful parties were organized to partake of strawberries and ice cream at "Pizzini's," the famous confectioners of the day in Richmond. Expeditions were planned to Drewry's Bluff with a band of music in attendance, and, of course, with the usual accompaniment of the delightful officer, who, equally, of course, was either halt, lame or blind, as all whole men were at their posts in the field in June, 1863. Serenades, too, were in order, and I find that on our return from one of the aforesaid strawberry feasts, about twelve o'clock on the same night Ella - had a charming serenade of a full brass band from one of her
admirers. This combination of serenade, with strawberries and ice cream, seemed to fill the cup of joy to the brim.
June 5th found my father and mother at Orange Court House in comfortable quarters, luxuriating in the country air and fruit. The fare too was rather more abundant and of better character. There we joined them a few weeks later. The house was filled to overflowing with women and children - families of officers in command in the army near by. General J. E. B. Stuart, the gallant Cavalry leader, was at Culpeper Court House and there on the night of June 4th a ball was given, to which flocked all the Virginia belles of the country side, as one can fancy - for this was the flower of the chivalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. One can imagine the scene - the jingling of spurs and clanking of sabres, to the merry tunes of the fiddle and the banjo, and the old story repeating itself in the telling, as is, and ever will be, the case, "when youth and pleasure meet to chase the glowing hours with flying feet."
On the morrow a great review was held of the Cavalry at Brandy Station in the broad open country surrounding that place, and General Lee was present in person. An immense concourse of people gathered to see the sights, and a beautiful spectacle it was, with the sun shining from the summer sky on that brave array - though the gold lace was somewhat tarnished and the gay uniforms
showing signs of wear. Yet the gallant forms that wore them, dashing hither and thither in the manoeuvres, embodied in the eyes of the watchers all the graces and daring of the dauntless cavalier. Upon them they rested their hope - and the thought that failure should come to J. E. B. Stuart and his gallant corps never darkened the sky of that glorious June day.
That night the Federal Cavalry attacked the encampment and the battle of Brandy Station passed into history - the Federals being repulsed and driven across the Rappahannock.
Then came Stuart's raid into Pennsylvania, and the battle of Gettysburg.
My mother writes to my brother:
"ORANGE C. H., June 27th, 1863.
". . . I was very glad to get your note of the 18th June, and only wish I knew where you were now. We are all an anxious set of women at present. Mrs. Gordon (J. B.) leaves to-day for Winchester to try and hear something of her husband. He commands Lawton's old brigade. . . .
"We are all much delighted with the accounts from the Yankee papers - of their alarm and dismay - but it seems unaccountable, after their disgraceful and barbarous treatment of our people that we should not be repaying them in their own coin."
From the letter alluded to, written in pencil on a scrap of paper, I make the following extract:
RECTOR'S X ROAD, June 18th, 1863.
"I have written L. twice in the last two weeks and the reason I did not write you after the fight (Brandy Station) was that you were so close (Orange C. H.) I did not think you would feel uneasy at not hearing from me. The best proof you can have of my safety, except hearing so positively, is by hearing nothing. Moving with the Cavalry here to-day and there to-morrow, it is impossible to keep up a regular correspondence.
"The wounded are always sent to the rear and if I am ever unfortunate enough to be placed in that category I shall certainly let you know. So till you hear positively to the contrary make your mind easy on my account. We marched from Starke's Ford the day your letter is dated (14th) and came up by Amisville, Gaines' X Roads, Flint Hill, Orleans, Piedmont on the Manassas Gap R. R., Paris, Upperville and Middleburg to Dover Mills, which we reached yesterday afternoon and where we engaged the Yankee Cavalry and Artillery. I was detached from the battery in command of the Whitworth gun of my section. This piece lost none. The other piece of my section and one of Johnston's three pieces each lost one man killed. These were the only men of the battery
lost. The drivers of the Whitworth in trotting through a gate ran against one of the posts and snapped the pole short off. . . . We were falling back at the time so there was no chance to repair it. The enemy was flanking us so we were forced to fall back, making a circuitous route and striking the turnpike between Upperville and Middleburg late last night. The battery is about to move now, so good-bye. You must not expect to hear from me regularly but write yourself frequently."
The next letter from my brother was written just after the battle of Gettysburg, on the march - dated July 7th, 1863. Camp near Williamsport, Maryland.
He was at this time not nineteen years old.
"Since the 13th of June, inclusive, there has not been a day on which we have not marched. Our battery and two guns of McGregor's were with the cavalry, Fitz and W. H. F. Lee's brigades and Hampton's on the expedition round the enemy. We started on the march the 24th of June and reached our lines at Gettysburg the 2nd of July just before night. Genl. Hampton captured a train of 200 wagons and burnt some of them within seven miles of Georgetown, the Yankee army lying at Frederick. We brought into our lines at Gettysburg one hundred and sixty odd. We reached
this place yesterday afternoon while a fight was going on for the possession of the ford, the enemy endeavoring to drive us from it. The battery was not engaged however. Orders have just come to move.
"July 8th. We are now near Funkstown. Young Winston is going over the river this morning and may go as far as Hanover. Everything is wet around, it having rained nearly all night and there is not much chance for elegant letter writing. We were engaged on the third day of the fight at Gettysburg with a battery of the enemy at long range. It was opposite the left of our line where the Cavalry was fighting. Tell Mama to write to L. for me if she is not with you and until we halt for a day or two at least you may not expect to hear much or often from me. Give my best love to dearest Mama and L. and little F. Good-bye dear Papa and believe me as ever,
"Your affectionate son,
On July 8th my mother writes: "We are all excited by the news that came yesterday. Owing to the weather or fear of the trains being taken, we have had no mails from Richmond until yesterday and then only a stray paper, but that tells us there has been another battle. Your father does not think that Halsey was in it - but I can't help feeling anxious till I hear more about it."
These were the first tidings that came to them of the battle of Gettysburg. Later I find a letter dated
"ORANGE C. H., July 16th, 1863.
"It is some time since I have written to you, my dearest son, but the uncertainty of your getting letters make it almost useless to write. The note you sent in pencil by Mr. Winston came yesterday and was thankfully received. 'Tis the only tidings we have had of you for weeks except from Col. P., who told me you were well up to the 23rd of June, and your father saw an officer on the cars who said he had seen you on the 4th. Your note bears date a week later. Write, my child, whenever opportunity offers. You cannot tell the intense anxiety and uneasiness of those left at home. We have all been watching with painful interest the course of our Army since it crossed the border, and although late accounts have cast a gloom upon us, we all feel assured that Lee will yet do something to make them tremble as much as they are now exulting over our misfortunes. Troubles seen to thicken upon us all at once. The fall of Vicksburg and the attack on Charleston when so many of the troops have been withdrawn are enough to dispirit us, but we are not dismayed, but believe that all will yet be right. The most sickening feature is the prolongation of the war. Groaning, however, will do neither you nor me any good, so a truce to it."
"I had a long letter from Mrs. Johnston dated July 5th. She had not then heard of the fall of Vicksburg, but fully expected it as did we. Genl. Johnston wrote fully to your father June 28th, and told him it was utterly impossible with his 25,000 men, scarcely then equipped, to relieve the place and that if Kirby Smith could do nothing it must fall. Mrs. Johnston encloses me a letter to her from her husband, which is so noble and manly in its tone that I don't wonder that she is proud of him. . . .
"F. has just come in with a letter from Genl. Hampton to your father. He writes from Charlottesville, says he is doing well and hopes in a few days to go home. Genl. Hood came with him to Staunton where he is under the care of Dr. Darby, requires nothing but good nursing and generous diet and proposes to pay us a visit if he can."
The letter alluded to from Genl. Hampton is as follows:
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, July 15th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall,
"Hood and myself came to Staunton together and he remained there under charge of Darby. He is doing well and his arm will be saved. All he needs now is good nursing, together with cheerful- company and generous living. He proposes to pay you a visit if he can get rooms at Hiden's, so do drop him a line. Halsey was well up to the time of my
leaving Gettysburg, the 4th instant. I have been handled pretty roughly, having received two sabre cuts on the head - one of which cut through the table of my skull - and a shrapnel shot in my body, which is there yet. But I am doing well and hope in a few days to be able to go home. Suppose you meet me at Gordonsville as I pass? Our Army is in good condition after its terrible and useless battle.
"The Yankees will be defeated if we can get at them on fair ground. We could better have stormed the heights of Stafford than those of Gettysburg.
"I had a large leather trunk, canvas covered, and with 'W. H.' printed on each end. Will you do me the favor to enquire for it? It was put on the cars at Culpeper C. H. With kind regards to Mrs. Wigfall, I am,
"Yours very truly,
"HON. L. T. WIGFALL."
My mother writes:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, July 22nd.
"As you see this was written before I had heard of the return of our Army to Va. . . . Your father returned on Sunday from Richmond and says young Lee told him he had left you well two days before. We came here on Monday. The
people in the house where we were in Orange determined to take no more boarders. They say their supplies have given out, etc. We are staying here at Dr. Dice's on the Ridge. It is a beautiful spot and just near enough to the centre of the town to be a pleasant walk. How I wish you could pay us a little visit! Now you have got back to 'old Virginny's shore' I hope to hear from you occasionally. The Administration party is bitter against Genl. Johnston, but the public will sustain him and it isn't thought true that he is to be superseded. I have just done writing Mrs. J. a long letter. . . . "
The following letter from my brother gives an account of his experiences during Stuart's expedition:
"CAMP NEAR LEETOWN,
"JEFFERSON Co., Va., July 18, 1863.
". . . I wrote a short note to Papa from near Funkstown on the other side of the river on the 9th inst., though I have very great doubts as to whether it ever reached you. The battery is in very bad condition as to horses and is out of ammunition. Two of the guns got some of the latter before we recrossed the river, leaving the other two without and I was left with them and have consequently been in the rear ever since the cavalry fight near Boonsboro', Md. on the 8th inst. All the guns are now in the same condition, but
the Ordnance officer of the Division, Capt. John Esten Cooke, perhaps better known as Tristran Joyeuse, Gent., has sent to Staunton for ammunition and as Lt. Johnston has gone to Richmond I shall be done for the present with 'Company Q.' I think that when we reached Westminster Md. on Genl. Stuart's expedition round the Yanks, I was a little the richest specimen of a Confederate officer that you, at all events, ever saw. My boots were utterly worn out. My pantaloons were all one big hole as the Irishman would say: my coat was like a beggar's - and my hat was actually falling to pieces, in addition to lacking its crown, which loss, allowed my hair, not cut, since sometime before leaving Culpeper, to protrude, and gave me a highly picturesque finish to my appearance. I fortunately there got a pair of boots, a pair of pantaloons and a hat which rendered my condition comparatively better. We left Union in Loudon Co., Va., on that expedition on the morning of the 24th of June - and reached the lines of our army at Gettysburg, Adams Co., Penn. late in the afternoon of the 2nd of July. During that time the harness was off the horses only twice. You should have seen the Dutch people in York Co. turning out with water and milk and bread and butter and 'apple butter' for the 'ragged rebels.'
"I was quite surprised at the tone of feeling in that part of the State. In two or three instances I
found people who seemed really glad to see us and at scores of houses they had refreshments at the door for the soldiers. The people generally seemed not to know exactly whet to expect and I don't think would have been at all astonished if every building had been set on fire by us as we reached it, nor would a great many have been surprised if we had concluded the business by massacring the women and children!
"I stopped at a house in Petersburg, Adams Co., Penn. and almost the first question addressed me by the daughter of the house, a girl of eighteen or twenty and a perfect Yankee, was whether our men would molest the women! I told her not, and she seemed to feel considerably reassured. It was this same girl who told me in all seriousness that she had heard and believed it, that the Southern women all wore revolvers. I suppose, of course, by this time you have seen from the papers who has been killed, wounded and captured and have very little doubt that you know more about these points than I do, myself, for beyond hearing the report that Genl. Lee's Headquarters are at Bunker Hill and that the Infantry are beyond Martinsburg and some little inkling of the position of portions of the Cavalry Division I am in the same condition as honest John Falstaff before he formed the acquaintance of Prince Hal, and 'know nothing.'
"I received yesterday a double letter of the 23rd
of June from you and Mama, the first since I left Rector's X Roads on the 18th of that month. Gen. Lee has issued an order curtailing all transportation except that for the Corps and General Reserve Ordnance trains. This is evidently getting ready for another move, but whether it is in order to cross the Potomac again or to fall back behind the Rappahannock, or merely to be in readiness for any movement of the enemy, is more than your correspondent is aware of."
At this time, the latter part of July, 1863, my father wrote to Genl. J. E. B. Stuart asking for a few days' leave for my brother to visit us. His answer is given below, and although containing some personal allusions is inserted as being of interest, coming from such a hand.
"HD. QRS. COV., DIV. A. of N. VA.
"I regret very much that a state of affairs, so different from what you expected, exists here. Instead of 'no active operations' you suppose, we are in a fight nearly every day and on the 4th especially Halsey's gun was particularly engaged at Fleetwood and under very heavy fire, and I am gratified to inform you that Maj. Beckham speaks of him as 'a very fine officer' in which our expectations were not disappointed,
"You will readily understand that such an
officer cannot be spared in such times to visit home - but should there be a period when an engagement is not daily expected in which the Horse Artillery will not necessarily take part, I will cheerfully approve his absence.
"I was truly glad to hear the favorable accounts you gave of Hampton's, Butler's and Hood's wounds, and sincerely hope that all three of those glorious fellows will be in the field again for the next fight. Hampton I fear will not soon be with us His wound must have been very severe. Baker, Black and Young were all three wounded in a fight the other day (2nd). The first mentioned is a Brigadier Genl. and will command the four N. C. Regiments.
"Present my kindest regards to Mrs. Wigfall and any other friends you may fall in with, and believe me,
"J. E. B. STUART."
At Charlottesville, about August 1st we were joined by General Hood, then recovering from a wound in the arm. He remained about a fortnight and then with General Longstreet left to join General Bragg in the West. General Longstreet, writing to my father at this time, says:
"RICHMOND, Sept. 12th, 1863.
"I am on my way to join Bragg, but have some hope that I may not visit your friends at Camp
Chase. If I should get that far in the enemy's country, however, I hope that I may be able to bring your friends to see you! . . . Hood's Division are en route and the most of my command are rapidly moving on to Bragg. I hope that we may be with him in ten days more.
"Do not forget me because I have gone so far away from you.
"I would write more, but if I should start to go further into matters I should write more than I have time to write or you would be inclined to read. I will reserve it for a general talk
"Most sincerely yours,
Soon after their arrival in the West, on September 20th, the battle of Chickamauga was fought and General Hood, then barely recovered from his wound in the arm, was struck in the thigh by a minié ball which fractured five inches of the bone. His thigh was taken off - four and a half inches below the body and yet he recovered and on October 8th, about three weeks after, I find it recorded: "We believe Genl. Hood will recover. He believes it, and is already asking when he will be able to take the field."
Many officers and soldiers were in Charlottesville in the fall of 1863, recovering from their wounds, and their presence in all the stages of convalescence infused a spirit of gaiety to the little town. Picnics
were organized in the bright autumn days to historic Monticello. It was difficult to secure any mode of conveyance; but old "Uncle Guy's" hack, the only available coach, was often called into requisition, while the remainder of the party would be mounted on sorry looking nags, and though the riding habits were the worse for wear, rather nondescript costumes the rule, and the attendant cavaliers in a more or less disabled condition, yet we enjoyed ourselves. That the gallant colonel had lost his eye in his country's service made the unsightly black patch a badge of honor - and the old ragged, faded jacket with the hole in it, showing where the minié ball had just missed the brave heart beneath it, invested the boy captain with added charm. One day we had a Tournament in the grounds at Monticello. Some of the Knights - with only one arm to use - holding the reins in the teeth and dashing valiantly at the rings with wooden sticks, improvised as spears for the occasion. I remember on that day - among the company, there was a young officer connected with the Commissary Department, and stationed in Charlottesville. He had on a beautiful new uniform and was mounted on a fine black horse; where or how he had procured either we could not divine; and he formed a great contrast in his finery to the rest of the party. The girls eyed his elegance askance, and one and all felt the contempt for him that all Southern women had for a man in
those days who had never "smelt powder." The men looked on in amusement at the caracollings of the fiery steed which made evolutions and pranced and danced for the benefit of the ladies. Finally on our way home in his efforts to display his horsemanship the noble steed became unmanageable, and his rider's "vaulting ambition" having "o'er leaped itself," he literally "fell on t'other side" - in a huge mud puddle in the road. How we all laughed, as he arose crestfallen; the beautiful uniform a ghastly wreck and his humiliation complete. I suppose we ought to have been sorry for him - but in those days the "stay at homes" had no sympathizers. For the men in the field, and for the men in the hospitals, the Southern woman's heart overflowed with love and gratitude and her hand was ready ever to minister to their wants.
There is a droll story told of one of these ministering angels in the hospital when she approached the bedside of an ill soldier. He looked wan and weary and infinite pity filled her heart. "Can I not do something for you?" she asked. "Would you like me to bathe your face?" He raised his eyes and looked at her, replying in dead earnest, with real gratitude for her good intentions, and not the slightest appreciation of the humor of the situation:
"I have had it washed seventeen times to-day, Miss, but you can do it again if you want to!"
In a letter from my mother, dated Charlottesville, October 25th, she writes: "I hope you will be able to pay us a visit at Xmas in Richmond. We are looking forward with much pleasure to the winter, in spite of the prospect of having nothing to eat nor wear! We hear to-day that Genl. Hood is doing exceedingly well and would be in Richmond this winter. He is going first to pay Gen. Hampton a visit in Columbia. Mr. B. has been with him since his wound and wrote to your father that he was in fine spirits and bore it admirably. Genl. Hampton is expected on very soon."
The tidings reached us at this date that my brother had had his horse killed under him and I find the record on a little scrap of paper - the ink faded and barely legible.
"CAMP NEAR FOX'S FORD,
"RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER, Oct. 13, 1863.
"We are once more on the campaign. We had a running fight day before yesterday fighting all day. My little grey was killed under me at the first position we went into. The battery lost four killed and wounded, three of them from my section. We crossed at Raccoon Ford that morning and camped at Brandy Station that night. We are about to move and I must close. Love to all. Goodbye, dearest Mama. In haste,
"Your affectionate HALSEY."
"CAMP AT MANASSAS, Oct. 16, 1863.
"I wrote to Mama on the 13th a few lines which I hope she received. We have been marching every day since. We fired a few shots day before yesterday, but were not replied to. One of the best soldiers of the battery, however, was mortally wounded by a stray minié ball. We had a fight yesterday taking several positions. At one of them we had three guns fighting about twelve across Bull Run at Blackburn's Fort. They were however about two thousand yards and only one of our men was hurt - his leg shot off. One of the guns also had its axle shot in two. It was a pretty lively place I can assure you. We have lost six men and six horses killed and disabled since crossing the Rapidan besides several other horses slightly wounded. We are now at the place we camped last night, horses harnessed but not hitched, and it is much later than we have been in camp for several days, usually marching shortly after sunrise. . . . "
"CAMP AT BUCKLAND.
"Oct. 19, 1863.
" . . . We have had another fight to-day. We marched from between Gainesville and Bristow Station before day and passed that station and Catlett's and then up the Warrenton road which we left about half way between the two places,
taking the road leading to Buckland four miles from Gainesville on the Warrenton and Alexandria Turnpike. We got in position about twelve hundred yards from Battery 'M,' 2nd U. S. Artillery, six guns. We had two. We lost four wounded, Lt. Shanks and Lt. Johnston among the number, neither dangerously however. I shall get Lt. Shanks, who starts for Warrenton directly, to take this. I think that the Army is on the retreat and when we get back I will write a full account of our doings.
"On the 19th Hampton's Division was on the turnpike West of Gainesville and ours about midway between Gainesville and Bristow Station. Before daylight we marched to Bristow, then down to Catlett's and from there across the country by Auburn which lies about half way between Catlett's and Warrenton. At Auburn we left the Warrenton road and took that leading to Buckland which is four miles from Gainesville to the West. Meanwhile Stuart with Hampton's Division had been retiring before the Yankees along the turnpike before Warrenton. Then when the Yankees thought everything was getting along finely, the whole of Fitz Lee's Division came in on their flank and before night we had them back on their Infantry supports and some even of the latter on their way to Richmond. . . . "
General Johnston wrote to my father from
MERIDIAN, NOV. 12th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall,
"I received your letter of the 2nd yesterday and tried in vain to find the person who brought it. It was left with Col. B. S. Ewell A. A. G. by a contractor on his way to the Trans-Mississippi Country. . . . I congratulate you with all my heart upon Halsey's narrow escape. To have a horse killed under one puts a tall feather in his cap. (I hope, however, it was not the sorrel mare.) Even at present prices [horses were worth at this time about $3,000] I'd freely give a good horse to the same fate.- I have been having a very quiet time since July. Almost a peace establishment so we have gone to house keeping. I say we, for Mrs. Johnston joined me two weeks ago. I think Fanny would be delighted to see the style with which her namesake trots up to the door when she sees her mistress in it. Her mistress enjoys it greatly. I am at last making a report.
"Very truly yours,
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERACY - WHAT ONE WOMAN ENDURED - HIGH PRICE OF FOOD AND CLOTHING - A FALSE ALARM - A PROPOSAL TO RECRUIT THE ARMY OF THE CONFEDERACY WITH SLAVES.
AT this time the deepest anxiety was felt for the success of our cause in the West - and my father's advocacy of General J. E. Johnston's being given the control of affairs in that department was earnest and persistent. But it was disregarded by the President; and led to a severance of their friendly relations. While he never varied in his estimate of the President's sincerity, integrity and patriotism, nor ceased to admire the pure and noble character of the man - he never could justify his absolute refusal to waive his private judgment in the crisis of his country's trial and hearken to the appeals of men whose patriotism and judgment he should have regarded as certainly the equals of his own. That he erred, erred fatally, no one cognizant of the state of affairs at the time can doubt; but it is equally sure that the penalty of his mistakes was borne with a dignity and serene courage which excited the admiration
of the world. In modern times there has been no such spectacle as that frail old man, the chief magistrate of eight millions of people, lying manacled in a dungeon, bearing vicariously the sufferings and penalties of his people! He may have erred - but when the fetters were placed upon him the Southern people forgot everything but that he was their first and only President.
In a letter written by my father at this time he says: "Davis is still in the West and is not expected back for a week or ten days. He seems determined to sustain Bragg and Pemberton, cost what it may to the Country. John A. Wharton of Texas has been lately made a Major General of Cavalry. He told me when here that the dissatisfaction with Bragg was universal in the Western Army and a general desire to be commanded by Johnston. I got a letter from Seddon a few days ago saying that the President was determined to keep Bragg in command, not that he thought him a great General, but that he was better than any with whom he could replace him. That is, than Johnston or Longstreet."
My mother writes:
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Nov. 26th, 1863.
". . . We hear to-night that the Army is to move, it is thought to Fredericksburg.
"The news from the
West has made every one
look very blue - and I should think Mr. Davis would feel very uncomfortable with such a weight to carry. . . . What is to happen next no one can tell. We are all quite busy getting ready to go to Richmond. We leave here Monday, Dec. 1st. . . . I had a letter from Mrs. Johnston a few days ago. She was with her husband at Meridian. I expect he feels very keenly his present position; it is certainly an odd one - for such a general, at such a time - no army and nothing to do. I suppose you have seen by the papers that Genl. Hood is in Richmond. We hear that Dr. Darby is going to Europe to buy a leg for him, so Gen'l Ewell told your father; he is up here at present with his wife."
I find in another letter of December 5th: "Gen. Hood is in town and Dr. Darby has gone to Europe to procure a leg for the General with the money contributed by the Texas Brigade. Gen. Hood looks remarkably well and bears his misfortune with the greatest cheerfulness."
General Johnston writes:
"BRANDON, Dec. 14th, 1863.
"My dear Wigfall:
"I see in the newspapers reports of resolutions of what is called the Mississippi campaign. One of them calling for the correspondence connected with it.
"Let me suggest that the campaign really commenced in the beginning of December, 1862 - and that my connection with it dates from November 24th of that year - the day on which I was assigned to supervision of Bragg's, Pemberton's and Kirby Smith's Commands. If investigation is made it should include that time, to make it complete. Or if correspondence or papers are called for begin with the order of November 24th just referred to. At that time we had the means of preventing the invasion of Mississippi and those means were pointed out by me in writing, as well as orally, to the Secretary of War in your presence. Such a publication would justify me fully in the opinions of all thinking men. It would show that while it was practicable I proposed the true system of warfare. That I could not go to Mississippi sooner than I did, and that I was 'too late' to repair the consequences of previous measures and never had the means of rescuing Vicksburg or its garrison.
"Very truly yours,
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
The following letter from a South Carolina mother gives a picture of the time and the suffering of our women during the war. The writer was one of a family who for generations had had large wealth and had lived all her life surrounded by luxury.
"Dec. 15th, 1863.
"I have passed many anxious months lately, in this siege of Charleston. My only child and son was at Fort Sumter, a First Lieutenant in the 1st Regular Artillery Regiment. He passed through the first attack in April safely - though occupying a post of danger, but, on the 17th of August, in the attack upon Sumter from the enemy's land batteries, on Morris Island, my poor boy was wounded by a fragment of a 200-pound parrots shell: he was slightly cut in the back of the head and wounded in two places in the shoulder; and picked up insensible. I went to him as soon as the news reached us of his being wounded, but was but two days in Charleston, when we were roused from our slumbers, at two hours past midnight, by the enemy shelling the town filled with sleeping, helpless women and children. The next day I left with my wounded boy to return to my quiet home in Georgia. He was with me but ten days, when he returned to Charleston, though he had not then recovered the use of his right hand and arm, which had been, from the severe contusions on the shoulder, entirely paralyzed. He had been in command of his company, at Sumter, since the first of the attack, his captain being absent on sick leave, so that he was anxious to return to duty and has been ever since, for the last three months, at a battery on James Island, near Fort Johnson, where I am again anxious
about him. He is a devoted son, and the trial to me of having the boy so constantly exposed to danger is almost more than I can bear. . . . I had hoped you were spared the anxiety of having an only son in the service, so young as he is, I can truly feel for you, but then he is not your only child. You have daughters at home to cheer and comfort you. I never wished until this cruel war that my son had been a daughter, but we must believe it is ordered for the best. I was made very happy last week by my son's return to us on a short leave - he makes everything bright and joyous for me and I miss him sadly when away. If we had only had a navy to fight for us, as the army has done, this war would have ended in a few months, I imagine; and now, who can see the end of it? With the coming spring instead of peace and joy, when the earth is all beautiful and smiling, we are told to prepare for another fierce attack of our cruel foe and more carnage and blood and slaughter await us. My heart sickens at the thought. I heard from Aunt N. from New York, December 6th. She seems very miserable about us all, and wishes I were in New York to share some of the many comforts they enjoy. Much as I once liked New York, I never desire to see it again and would rather starve and die here than live and grow fat under Lincoln! They have no idea, even our Southern friends there, of the feelings aroused in our hearts by this war. I am
busy getting John ready to return to his post on James Island. As it breaks my heart to think of the poor boy being on picket all night in the rain and having only dry hominy and cold water for breakfast, I am scouring the country to buy syrup and eggs and a few comforts to keep him from starving.
Poor little mother heart, how it beat and throbbed with pain and anxiety, and with it all, no talk of wanting to give up the fight. Such women as these were the rule, not the exception; such women as these were the mothers, who made the soldiers in the armies of the Confederacy.
The winter of '63-'64 saw us back in Richmond. The Army of Northern Virginia was inactive during the latter part of the winter but made a campaign of heroic endurance without parallel, for suffering and privation. With no proper shelter, half clothed, many without shoes, and barely enough food to keep away starvation, they bore the rigors of the season, the cold rains and snows, the dreary days and long nights of discomfort with no blankets to cover them, without a murmur. The currency was now so depreciated that the pay of the highest officers was inadequate for their wants. With cornmeal at $50 a bushel; beans at $60; bacon at $8 and sugar at $20 a pound it was almost impossible to procure the necessaries of life in Richmond - and yet I do not
remember during that winter of suffering and anxiety, ever to have heard the eventual success of our cause questioned. The spirits of the people generally were bright and buoyant. The question of clothes became a burning one, and many were the devices resorted to in order to meet the needs of the occasion. Early in March Dahlgren's raid around Richmond took place and struck terror into the hearts of the women and children when the character of the orders captured on his person were known. It was stated and believed at the time that he and his command had volunteered for this expedition. He was repulsed and lost his life in the attempt, which resulted in absolute failure. The orders found on his person were explicit, and most extraordinary, when viewed in the light of the usual rules governing civilized warfare. He was ordered to burn the city of Richmond, and the oakum and turpentine to carry out this purpose were found with him. He was ordered to sack and loot the city, then filled with helpless women and children - and to the mercy of God we owe it that he was prevented from carrying out his purpose, and that an awful crime against civilization and humanity was not committed. My father said at the time, and I have lived to see his prophecy come true, that in future years no one would believe that such orders had been given or such an expedition organized, but these are facts nevertheless. All during
that early spring the alarms in Richmond of an attack on the city were frequent; and at any hour of the day or night would be heard the sound of the alarm bells ringing and all the remaining men in the town, the clerks and civil officers, would gather up their arms and rally to the defence of their homes and the protection of their families. It was a wretched time of anxiety almost unbearable.
I recall one night particularly when I had been beguiled into reading until a late hour the charmed pages of Dickens's "Tale of Two Cities." It was about one o'clock and all the household were fast asleep; when far down Main Street I heard the clattering of many hoofs, and the shouts of soldiery. I rushed to my father's door, and called him. He dressed with all haste, and buckled on his sword and pistol, which lay always ready to hand. Then he calmed and quieted the terrified women and children who had been aroused by the noise. A moment we waited, as the sounds came nearer and nearer. We were sure the Yankees were upon us - and I must confess that for the first and only time during the war I felt terrified. As the troops came in sight they slackened their pace and to our joy, we found it was a company of Fitz Lee's Cavalry clattering through the town and for pure mischief rousing the sleeping inhabitants. How we cheered them when we saw the "red heart" gleaming on their grey coats, and knew that we
could go to our beds in peace and sleep safe and sound with Fitz Lee's men on guard!
The following letter from General Johnston suggested a method for recruiting the army.
"DALTON, Jan. 4th, 1864.
"My dear Wigfall:
"It is necessary to recruit this army promptly to enable it to hold its ground against Grant's forces. Remember that it was unable to move forward even before it had been weakened by the defeat of Missionary Ridge, and Longstreet's march into East Tennessee, and the enemy strengthened by his victory and 25,000 men brought from Mississippi by Sherman.
"I propose to substitute slaves for all soldiers employed out of the ranks - on detached service, extra duty, as cooks, engineers, laborers, pioneers, or any kind of work. Such details for this little army amount to more than 10,000 men. Negroes would serve for such purposes, better than soldiers. The impressment of negroes has been practiced ever since the War commenced - but we have never been able to keep the impressed negroes with an army near the enemy. They desert. If you can devise and pass a law to enable us to hold slaves or other negroes with armies, this one can, in a few weeks, be increased by the number given above - of soldiers - not conscripts. Is not this worth trying? We require promptness here
and this is the only prompt way of sending us soldiers. The proposed modifications of the conscript law are good, but then operations cannot help us in the present emergency. The plan is simple and quick. It puts soldiers and negroes each in his appropriate place; the one to fight, the other to work. I need not go into particulars in this matter. You understand it as well as I. Now do apply your energy and zeal to it. There is no other mode by which this army can be recruited before spring - and there is no other so good as this. Speak to General Sparrow and Mr. Miles for me on this subject. I would write to them both but am so pressed for time as to be unable to do so.
"As ever yours,
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
FROM CAPTAIN WIGFALL ON GENERAL HOOD'S STAFF - AFTER THE BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS - THE WOUNDED ARRIVE AT CHARLOTTESVILLE - JOURNEY FROM ATLANTA TO MACON IN A HOSPITAL TRAIN - GENERAL JOHNSTON SUPERSEDED BY GENERAL HOOD - MRS. CLAY'S TRIBUTE TO THE FORMER - THE EVACUATION OF ATLANTA.
IN THE month of February, 1864, my brother joined General Hood in the West, as one of his staff, and writes from Dalton, date March 21st:
". . . I have just returned from a ride with some of 'the staff' looking at the country. I think Gen. Hood is quite anxious for a fight and I have no doubt will distinguish himself whenever it does come. He brought a carriage up from Atlanta when he came, but has sent it back, and rides everywhere on horseback. He is out nearly every day and rides from twelve to fifteen and twenty miles without dismounting.
" . . . I heard a sermon yesterday from Gen. Pendleton, who I wrote in my last to Papa is out here inspecting the artillery of the army. He read the service, and it had a very familiar
sound with the exception of the hymns, which were from the prayer book, but sung to the regular old Camp-meeting tunes, through the nose. . . .
April 9. . . . The sham battle of General Hardee's Corps took place on Thursday, and was witnessed by a large number of ladies from all parts of the State. There was a party of them at Gen. Hood's for several days and the evening after the battle we had a dance at Hd. Qurs. to which was gathered 'the beauty and the chivalry.' It was a decided success and was almost fashionably crowded. I indulged slightly in the galop and deuxtemps and wish L. could have seen me. There are to be some tableaux a few miles below here at a country house on the railroad Monday evening, to which the General and his staff are invited. I expect there will be a good deal of gaiety in Dalton, (that is, for the army) until the war begins, which from all appearance is as far off as ever. Tell Papa that the army is very much 'down on' Congress for the ration bill and ask him to be sure and have it remedied as soon as the session begins. I have heard several plans proposed by officers for inviting one or two members of Congress now with the army to a 'one ration a day dinner.' Something of this sort, for instance: The entertainer would be very generous and have the whole day's ration served for dinner. He would divide the pound and a quarter of meal, the quarter of a pound of hominy and the
third of a pound of bacon into three parts and give his guest one, take one himself and set one aside for his servant. However, we all live in hope of the better time coming."
"April 29. . . . There was a review to-day of all the infantry and artillery of the army. The reviewing officer was Gen. Johnston, who rode down the line, halting opposite each brigade to receive its salute. He then took his position and the troops marched in review past him. Mrs. Johnston was there and a good many other ladies and I expect enjoyed the spectacle though the wind was high and the dust insufferable. Mrs. Johnston spoke to-day of your and Fanny's being with her this summer. I have no doubt you will have a very pleasant time indeed, and if the Army is inactive I shall doubtless be able to run down to see you. . . .
"We are barely managing to exist on the third of a pound of bacon. We keep up our spirits however, and hope for the time when Congress shall intervene in our behalf and satisfy the Oliver Twists of the Army. A friend of one of our mess the other day sent a turkey and you should have seen our countenances as we prepared to devour him. . . . "
In the Spring of 1864 board in the country towns in Virginia was hard to obtain at any price and $300 was charged a month in Charlottesville for poor accommodations and wretched fare.
I find this item, May 3rd, 1864: "It is very uncomfortable at Mrs. - as they allowance each person to butter, etc. Things are in a dreadful state. Have you tried to get your shoes mended? I am completely unshod, as my boot gave way entirely yesterday in my walk with F."
The battle of the Wilderness took place at this time and a letter from Charlottesville, May 9th, gives the following:
". . . Charlottesville is in a whirl of excitement and the ladies go in crowds to the dépôt to assist the wounded, who come in train after train. We are all going this afternoon laden with ice-water, buttermilk, etc., to see what we can do. Dr. C. is going with us and I hope we will do some good. It was urged by Mr. Meade in church yesterday that the ladies should render their assistance, as upwards of four or five thousand are expected this afternoon.
"There is nothing new this morning. Everything is very favorable and yesterday evening there was a rumor that Grant, being defeated, was entrenching, and Lee, also; the latter to send troops to Richmond, which is threatened on the south side and has only 14,000 at present. Beauregard in command. It is also said that Pickett had driven the enemy back below Petersburg. There are thousands of rumors and we are satisfied with knowing we have been victorious thus
far. Gen. Longstreet passed through here yesterday, painfully, but not seriously, wounded in the shoulder.
"I told you in my last the package had come safely and I will be very careful of it. The prices for mending shoes are so exorbitant that I expect I had better wait and have them mended in the country."
As the summer advanced the journey to Texas, which necessitated crossing the Mississippi river, and which had been abandoned by my father and mother the previous summer on account of the perils to be incurred, became imperative. It was determined to undertake it at all hazards, though it involved a separation of months from their children, uncertainty of the fate of an only son, who was daily exposed to danger in the army, and the encountering of difficulties which were enough to have deterred even the bold spirit of my father, to say nothing of my mother, whom the anticipation must have filled with dread. With the quiet heroism of the women of that day, she never faltered where duty led, and I find no record of any hesitation or question as to her sharing my father's dangers on that journey to the home from which he had now been absent nearly four years. As it was, of course, impossible that we should accompany them, my sister and I (then girls of twelve and seventeen years of age, respectively,)
were left in the charge of Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston at Atlanta; General Johnston being then in command of the Army of Tennessee.
Mrs. Johnston was temporarily settled in a little house, furnished with cots, tables and chairs borrowed from the hospitals, and some few articles lent by kind friends in an effort to make the wife of the commanding General a little more comfortable. We had also the General's mess chest with its supply of table cutlery, spoons, etc., "six of everything," and the other members of the party brought in to the general aid of the establishment all we could "muster" in the way of additions to the store. Here we were quiet for a few weeks, when the position of affairs at Atlanta became so uncertain that General Johnston thought it best for us to be sent to Macon. In a letter written to my mother on her journey (which reached her at Meridian, Mississippi,) I say:
"MACON, July 11th, 1864.
". . . You see by the heading of my letter that already we have been forced to leave Atlanta - not that it has fallen, but Mrs. Johnston received a letter from the General in which he advised her to send us off at once - to remain until the fate of the city was decided either one way or the other. Col. Brewster and Brother (who came from camp near Atlanta for a conference) agreed with her in thinking it best for us to go -
as the machinery, government stores and wounded from the hospitals were being removed, and there was no telling how soon it might be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to get away. Mrs. Johnston will remain till the last moment practicable, and then, in case of a rush to the cars, she has her carriage in which she can come. The plan is now, if Atlanta falls, for her to come immediately to Macon, and try to get a house. Col. Ewell (of Gen. Johnston's staff) is obliged to have an office in the rear of the Army, and this will be as convenient a place as he can procure. If she fails in getting the house or rooms here, she will try to be accommodated at some little village on the way between here and Atlanta; and I rather think she would prefer this arrangement as it would bring her nearer the army. If au contraire Atlanta should not fall, we will return to her as soon as that fact is decided; and the same will be done as soon as she gets settled in her new quarters, (wherever they may be) if obliged to move. In the meantime we are with Mrs. Clay."
I shall never forget the horrors of that journey from Atlanta to Macon. We left in a hospital train, filled with wounded, sick and dying soldiers, in all imaginable stages of disease and suffering. My little sister and myself and one other lady were the only other passengers on the train,
except the officer put in charge of us to see us safe to our journey's end. I never imagined what a hideous, cruel thing War was until I was brought into direct, contact with these poor victims of "Man's inhumanity to man." For this was no modern hospital train with scientific arrangements for hygiene and the relief of suffering. There was scant supply of the common comforts, and even decencies of life - no cushions nor air pillows for weary heads; no ice to cool the fevered thirst; no diet kitchen for broths and delicate food for these half starved sufferers; no wine or brandy to revive the failing pulse and stimulate the weakened vitality; not even medicine enough to check the ravages of disease; nor anæsthetics nor anodynes to ease their agonies - for the supply of medicines and anodynes was daily diminishing, and they could not be replaced, as our foes had declared them "contraband of war!" There was not even a place in that crowded car where the sick could lie down; but, packed in as close as possible on the hard uncomfortable seats, they made that journey, as best they might, in uncomplaining martyrdom. I reached Macon sick at heart over the suffering I had witnessed and was so powerless to avert.
We heard from our travellers from various points
on their route before they reached the Mississippi
river; the last tidings being dated "Jackson, July 29."
They were then on the eve
of starting, having been detained there three days, making arrangements for the adventure.
An ambulance, drawn by mules, had been secured, and in this, as small a portion of luggage had been stowed as it was possible to manage with, and the journey to the river began. It was four months before we heard from them again. In the meantime, events had been occurring rapidly - and on July 17th, General Johnston was removed from the command of the Army, and General Hood put in his place. I find in a letter from my brother, who was on General Hood's staff, the following account:
"ATLANTA, July 31st, 1864.
" . . . You doubtless have heard before this reaches you of the removal of General Johnston, and the placing of Gen. Hood in command of the Army. The dispatch was received the night of the seventeenth, and Genl. Johnston's farewell address bore that date. The three corps commanders next day telegraphed to Richmond requesting that the order should be revoked, but it was refused. This is what I understood and I think it is true. Genl. Hood accordingly assumed command that day, the 18th. Gen. Johnston went into Atlanta that morning and left for Macon next day. I rode into town in the evening to say good-bye and saw Mrs. Johnston and himself. No one could ever have told from his countenance or manner that anything unusual had occurred.
Indeed he seemed in rather better spirits than usual though it must have been at the cost of much exertion. An universal gloom seemed cast over the army, for they were entirely devoted to him. Gen. Hood, however, has all the qualities to attach men to him, and it was not a comparison between the two, but love for, and confidence in, Gen. Johnston which caused the feeling I have before alluded to. Gen. Hood, as you will see, assumed command under circumstances of no ordinary difficulty. He has applied himself, however, heart and soul to the task and I sincerely trust will bring us out of the campaign with benefit to the country and honor to himself. The Administration, of course, is compelled to support him both with moral and material aid, and that assistance which was asked for by General Johnston unsuccessfully will no doubt be afforded now. A portion if not all of Gen. Roddy's command is now on the way, if it did not reach here to-night. If Gen. Forrest is thrown on the road in their rear everything will be as we want it. Time will tell us all. On the 20th, Stewart and Hardee advanced on the enemy in their front and drove them a short distance before them capturing some prisoners and one or two stands of colors. On the 22nd, Gen. Hardee's corps which had been moved the night before to a position on their flank, attacked and drove the enemy from their vidette line, their skirmish line and two main lines of works, and held them,
capturing some twelve hundred prisoners, eight guns, and thirteen stands of colors. Gen. Wheeler with his cavalry drove a brigade of infantry from their works and through Decatur which is seven miles from town on the Augusta R. R., capturing some two or three hundred prisoners and one gun. A portion of Cheatham's corps, (Gen. Hood's old corps) drove the enemy from the first main line of works in their front, but were forced to retire, bringing off however three or four hundred prisoners, five stands of colors and six pieces of Artillery.
"The fruits of the victory were fifteen guns, eighteen colors and between eighteen and nineteen hundred prisoners. There was another fight on the 28th in which three Divisions were engaged. They drove the enemy into slight works which they had erected, but did not take the works. The attack was made to prevent the enemy's gaining possession of a road. Major Preston, son of Gen. John S. Preston, was killed in the fight of the 20th by a cannon shot. He was universally regretted. Gen. Stevens of South Carolina was mortally wounded in the same fight and has since died. On the 22nd, Gen. W. H. T. Walker was killed and Gen. Gist and Gen. Smith, commanding Granbury's Texas brigade, wounded. On the 28th Gen. Stewart, Gen. Loring, and Gen. Johnson, who received his appointment as Brig. Gen. on the march to the fight, were wounded. Gen. Ector
was wounded during an artillery duel - and has lost his leg. Col. Young, whom you remember to have seen at Charlottesville, is now commanding the brigade. Gen. Mackall, Gen. Johnston's Chief of Staff, has been relieved at his own request, and Genl. Shoep, formerly Chief of Artillery of the Army, is now Gen. Hood's Chief of Staff. Col. Beckham is Chief of Artillery of the Army and will I suppose be made Brigadier. I am messing at present with Gen. Hood, am living in a house, and have a room all to myself. I write very frequently to L., generally every two or three days. The last letter I received was dated the 24th. Mrs. Johnston had obtained a large house in a very pleasant part of the town and would move into it in a few days. L. and F. will be with her there and L. says she thinks she will spend a very pleasant summer comparatively 'when these awful battles are over.'
"Genl. Stephen D. Lee has taken command of Gen. Hood's old corps. He told me he had heard you were on your way across the river and I suppose by this time you are safely in Louisiana. The Yankee cavalry has been very actively at work on the railroads in Georgia and Alabama for the last week or two. A force which had cut the road between here and Macon, only tearing up a mile and a half, were pursued by our Cavalry and when they reached the West Point R. R. came upon some of Roddy's forces on the cars, were
held in check until some of the pursuers came up, and from all accounts it seems that the only ones of them who will get back to their lines will be the fugitives who can make their way through the woods. Remember me to all the servants."
As recorded in the preceding letter, General Johnston, immediately on his removal, left for Macon with Mrs. Johnston and his staff. The feeling of indignation at his removal was generally expressed and the people did all in their power to show their sympathy and respect. He bore his trouble with an outward stoicism which was pathetic, since we, who knew and loved him, were so fully aware of the agony of mind and heart he suffered. But no word escaped his lips, whatever his thoughts may have been. I shall never forget a scene which occurred at the church door on General Johnston's first appearance at service after his removal. Mrs. Clement Clay, wife of the former United States Senator from Alabama, had, with her husband, the warmest admiration and affectionate friendship for General Johnston. She was as impulsive and demonstrative, as he was shy and reserved. Her feelings of indignation at his removal were at a white heat. She not only felt incensed, but she wanted everyone to know that fact and the depth of her sympathy. They had not met since his arrival in Macon, and, catching sight of the old hero, as with reverent
mien and modest air he moved with the crowd through the church door, she rushed up to him with hands outstretched, and rising on tip toe imprinted on his bronzed cheek a warm kiss of love and sympathy, in the face of the whole congregation. The effect was magical. A low murmur went around among the people, tears sprung into many eyes, as they saw the blush mount to his brow at this spontaneous tribute to the love which we bore him. Mrs. Clay had only expressed our feelings, and, surrounded by a half laughing, half tearful crowd, the old General made his way down the church steps and hurried homewards.
We were delightfully fixed in a large roomy house, of the architecture and style so often seen in the extreme South - three stories high, with tall pillars reaching from the roof to the piazza, thus affording shade to the whole structure without preventing the passage of air. The house was on the outskirts of Macon and faced a beautiful valley - beyond which rose a range of hills. From this broad piazza I saw the only battle I witnessed during the War. Stoneman, with three brigades, attempted to take Macon, but he was met by the Militia, which was composed mostly of men unfit for active service, and of the convalescent soldiers, and was kept away from the town. When he attempted to retreat he was met by our cavalry, and surrendered himself with five hundred of his command. Our people pursued
the remainder, capturing many more and all the artillery. From "our coign of vantage" on the piazza, we could see the smoke issuing from the guns and then after an interval hear the report, though we were too far off to see much of the fight.
At this time we received information that my father and mother had crossed the river in safety; but the details of that perilous trip were not told till their return in December.
All during that anxious summer we hoped and feared, as the news would be brought us now of victory, and now of defeat, while our gallant General, chafing in his enforced inactivity, spoke never a word of approval or disapproval of the conduct of the campaign.
I find in a letter, written by myself to my mother, the following:
"MACON, Sept. 4th, 1864.
" . . . I have no news to give you and must confess that things just at present look rather blue. The intelligence that comes from the front is all confused. We know that Hardee attacked the enemy and with his one corps held his position till night, when he was flanked and driven back four miles. . . . Hood, with the rest of the army, is in Atlanta; the army thus being cut right in two. Reports cam yesterday and to-day that Atlanta has been evacuated. I have heard nothing from Brother, but suppose from that fact that
he is all well. Every face looks anxiously expectant and we can only hope for the best. Before this reaches you it will be decided, I suppose.
"Genl. Johnston received a very flattering letter from the citizens of Macon not long ago, offering him the house, in which we now are, for as long a period as he desires it. The old General was very much gratified at the compliment, but of course signified his refusal."
My brother, who was on General Hood's staff, writes to my father after the evacuation of Atlanta, giving an account of the affair:
"CAMP near LOVEJOY'S STATION,
"Sept. 14, 1864.
"When my last was written Sherman had not developed his intentions, and we were all in the dark as to what he would do next. After drawing back his line from our right and centre, he pushed these troops round in rear of his original right and crossing the West Point and Atlanta R. R. struck for the Macon road. On the night of the 30th Aug., Hardee's Corps started from the neighborhood of East Point, six miles below Atlanta, for Jonesboro', sixteen miles further in the direction of Macon - opposite which was McPherson's Army. You know Sherman's Army is composed of McPherson's old Army, commanded since his death by Howard; Thomas's Army and Schofield's
Army. Lee's Corps followed Hardee and next day they attacked this fraction of the Yankee force, but failed to make any impression. There was therefore nothing left but to evacuate the place, which was done that next night. Lee's Corps was drawn away from Hardee after the fight and covered the flank of the troops marching from Atlanta to effect a junction with Hardee. . . . Gen. Hood is making every exertion to get ready for the fall campaign and preserves his equanimity perfectly.
"A few days after the army was reunited, Sherman retired his forces to the neighborhood of Atlanta and the campaign came to an end. He is doubtless preparing for another advance before the stoppage of operations by bad weather. He stripped the citizens of the country that he has abandoned to us, and yesterday there was application made at Jonesboro' for rations for one thousand destitute people in that vicinity. He has signalized his retirement to Atlanta by an order exiling every white man, woman and child from the place, regardless of political opinion. The reason given is that it is to the interest of the United States.
"I feel confident that the first of December will see Sherman North of the Etowah River. His line of communication is too long, his means of transportation consisting as it does of a railroad. You must be sure and come up to the Army as you
pass on your way to Richmond. I have a great deal to say that I do not like to entrust to a letter.
"Genl. Patton Anderson was severely wounded on
the 31st, as was Genl. Cumming, of Georgia, and
Gen. Finly, of Florida. I suppose you will have heard
of Governor Lubbock's appointment as Aide to the
President. He was in Atlanta just before the
evacuation, accompanied by Tom Ochiltree. Genl.
G. W. Smith's Georgia Militia have been furloughed
for thirty days to give them an opportunity to gather
their crops" (!)
THE MISSES WIGFALL IN CHARGE OF MRS. JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON - A CHEERFUL HOUSEHOLD - MRS. TOBY'S "PARTY"- THE APPROACH OF GENERAL SHERMAN CAUSES A RUSH FROM MACON - A LOUISIANA SWAMP - CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI IN DUGOUTS.
WHEN October came General Johnston gave up the house which had sheltered us during the past anxious months, as it was not deemed prudent, in the present state of uncertainty, to attempt any settled plans. There was no telling how soon, now, we might be obliged to evacuate Macon. Genl. Johnston's opinion was, that after the conclusion of the sort of armistice then existing, that active operations would begin again immediately. Sherman, taking advantage of the short respite, had already laid in immense supplies in Atlanta and said openly that he could march to Augusta, Mobile or Macon. We therefore, in view of these uncertainties, broke up our household and went to Vineville, a suburb of Macon, where we joined forces with the family of General Mackall, General Johnston's Chief of Staff, and messed together in a snug little house at the end of the village
street. Here we formed a cheerful household with the young people of the family, and the young officers on the staff. Little did we care that the mid-day meal consisted of one course of corn bread and sorghum molasses. We kept brave faces and spoke brave words to cheer each other, though there was gnawing anxiety tugging at our heart strings day and night for our noble armies in the field, and deadly fears for the loved ones exposed to hourly danger. In spite of all this, or, it may be, because of all this trouble and sorrow, on the principle of whistling to keep one's courage up, there were many homes, in other days famed for their generous hospitality, which still in this fair Georgian town opened their doors and called the young people aside to make merry, if possible, for even a few hours - and many a pleasant evening we spent with music and song and dancing. The young officers passing to and fro on sick leave, or during periods of cessation of hostilities, having a two or three days' furlough, would find delight in these little glimpses of a brighter side of life. There was in Macon, at this time, a Mrs. Toby, a charming matron, who was noted for her love of young people, and her delight was to have informal gatherings upon every available occasion. There was also in our household a young officer of the staff who was of a serious turn of mind, cared little for the society of the more frivolous sex and who consequently was a continual target for
the mischievous pranks of the young ladies, who teased him unmercifully. Practical jokes were played upon him, which he bore with an equanimity and amiability unexampled, and hard to comprehend, until the sequel showed that he was only biding his time for a goodly revenge.
This came, after a consultation with Mrs. Johnston, who was full of life and vivacity and ever ready to further the gaiety of young people, and who suggested, that in the well known hospitality of Mrs. Toby, he might find the long sought opportunity for vengeance.
The plot, as concocted, was that the young ladies of the house were to be invited to a "party" at Mrs. Toby's, that lady's name being used for an entertainment which had existence only in the imagination of the conspirators, and which, of course, was never to take place. The following letters were composed and written by Mrs. Johnston and the young officer and delivered at intervals - as required by the situation. In reading over these foolish little letters, which caused such merriment at the time, I have thought what a pathetic picture was presented - of that brave old General, with heart bowed down with sorrow for his country's peril, and bitterness at his own enforced inability to help her in her hour of need, forgetting for the moment the tragedy of the times, to indulge in the innocent mirth produced by a practical joke. The first letter was as follows:
"My dear Mrs. Mackall:
"We understand a large party has made preparation to storm us this evening. Mr. Toby is eager for the amusement and kindly consents to overcome his aversion to such 'villainous surprises,' (as Sherman would say) and receive the company. Please make my regards to the young ladies and ask them to join us and fetch any agreeable beaux they can find. All the gentlemen of your house are expected. I hope Mrs. Johnston and yourself will come as lookers on. We are such near neighbors that you should not regard the inclemency of the weather. Some warm gumbo will cheer the inner man and gum shoes and thick mantles protect you from the storm. Don't disappoint us.
A. V. TOBY."
"NOV. 2nd, Wednesday.
The reception of this invitation, which was delivered in all seriousness and without our having a suspicion of the wicked intention veiled in its smooth phrases, created a flutter of excitement among the girls in the household. Acceptance of the offered delight was a foregone conclusion, but the burning question of apparel loomed up in the foreground. What could we wear? We retired to the upper regions and called Mrs. Johnston to our council. We rummaged among our meagre resources, and spread out for critical inspection
the results of our search. I selected an old crimson silk which had done faithful service in the past on many a festive occasion, and a faded lavender gown, with an ancient cut, and skimped proportions, was the choice of the other eager young aspirant for pleasure. An old sycamore tree grew in the yard and its boughs were heavy with lovely green balls, which suggested themselves to my excited fancy as a beautiful decoration for the hair. This latter, by the way, had to be crimped and curled - so we remained up stairs all day, close prisoners, ripping and remaking the old dresses; and refused even to come down to the corn bread and sorghum repast, owing to the crimped and frizzed condition of our tresses. Mrs. Johnston would appear at intervals with suggestions and advice and on returning to the lower regions, if our ears had been attuned to suspicion, we might have wondered at the sounds of laughter and merriment that invariably greeted her return. As night approached and we began to make our toilettes - the conspirators relented. We heard afterwards that the dear old General remonstrated and said "it was a shame" to impose further on our innocence and credulity. So Mrs. Johnston appeared up stairs with the second note - and still we never suspected.
"Dear Mrs. Mackall:
"The young gentlemen are more particular
about the weather than I am - and having notified me that I was not to be 'surprised' tonight have greatly disappointed me. If the young ladies partake of my annoyance, I hope they will also partake of the pleasure I anticipate of seeing them some early evening under more auspicious circumstances. I would even now beg your family and friends to come, but am afraid the gumbo would be a poor inducement.
"A. V. TOBY."
Upon the receipt of this artful epistle, we sighed our disappointment, donned our sober garments and went down stairs, where we were greeted by the conspirators with many expressions of regret. The next morning at the breakfast table - the third and last note was handed in by the grinning darkey, who knew some joke was being perpetrated. I can see now the old General's grim visage relaxing into a smile, as with shouts of laughter the note was passed round the table and read by each in turn.
"VINEVILLE, NOV. 4, 64.
"My dear Mrs. Mackall:
"My maid Amanda, on a visit yesterday to your servants, learned that preparations were being made by the young ladies for a large party to be given, as she was informed, by me. Imagine my
amazement, when I tell you that though always glad to do anything for the enjoyment of young people, I was wholly innocent of any such purpose on this occasion. I fear they have been made victims of one of those silly, stupid, practical jokes, in which I never could see any amusement! I do not envy the person whoever he be, who can enjoy the disappointment of two such charming creatures as the 'Fair Rose of Texas' and 'the Nymph of the Alabama' in the realization of fancied triumphs of dazzling glances, and bewitching smiles, dreams of delicious tête-a-têtes, divine galops and ecstatic waltzes - ambrosial gumbo. (?) They have my heartfelt sympathy. Amanda tells me too, that all day long they were pent up, up stairs, patient martyrs to 'crimps,' (Mr. Toby can't bear me in 'crimps' - says I look like the head of Medusa - horrid man!) - that the entire toilette was arranged. Just think of the crimson silk and the sycamore balls - the killing lavender!
"I cannot close without expressing my contempt for the person who so cruelly and maliciously amused himself at their expense. It can be no other than a young man, one of those unappreciative, indifferent, ungallant, 'frisky' creatures of these degenerate days. I am sure that that highly chivalrous gentleman, Capt. Mackall, will become perfectly furious at this disclosure of the plot, and will not be pacified, swearing vengeance on the author! Woe be to him! if caught. I am
too angry to write more. The sad thought of 'how it might have been!'
"TOBY? or not TOBY?
That is the question.
"Tell the young ladies to be sure and bring Capt. Mackall to see me. I hear he is 'coming out.'
It is needless to add that Mrs. Toby was guiltless of any and all of these effusions but Mrs. Johnston and Captain Mackall could not claim equal ignorance of their composition.
This little laughing interlude was of short duration, for graver matters soon absorbed our attention. Sherman was threatening Macon and we were making ready to leave on his nearer approach. The small-pox was becoming also a serious menace and knowing the crowded condition of the little town and the insurmountable difficulties surrounding its sanitary conditions, we were very uneasy. Vaccination was universal and we wore little bags of asafetida next the skin to ward off the infection. I don't remember whether this was Mrs. Johnston's own idea of an efficient preventive, or not, but I know all the young people in our household were similarly decorated.
At last the dreaded day came when we were forced to fly for safety. The rush for the cars was tremendous. Through the kindness of Mr. Cuyler,
the President of the road, a car was reserved for a number of his friends and acquaintances, and we were lucky enough to secure two seats and one for Captain Miller, who was sent in charge of us. Mrs. Johnston remained behind, to leave next day with the General. I shall never forget that journey. I was ill with fever and headache from my arm, which had "taken" violently from vaccination. I was separated from father and mother; my only brother exposed to hourly danger, news of his safety from day to day being impossible to obtain; with the care and responsibility of a young sister upon me and flying before a ruthless foe to take refuge among strangers. And I not eighteen years old at the time! As our poorly equipped train lumbered slowly along, cumbered with its heavy load, we had time enough for reflection on the terrible situation of affairs. Our objective point was Columbia, that fair little Carolina town, which had not yet fallen into the enemy's hands, and was still a haven for the distressed refugees flying before Sherman's advancing army. At night-fall we reached a way station, and there came to a halt. A raid was threatened and trains were unable to pass beyond that point. The terrified women and children were flocking into the little village, and the only inn, a small frame building, could not even give cover to the crowds that swarmed in from every quarter. We alighted from the train and made an investigation of the
prospects for a night's lodging. We could not even find a seat in the small sitting room filled to overflowing with women, children and babies; and the stifling atmosphere caused us to beat a swift retreat. What to do we did not know, or where to find shelter. Captain Miller was at his wits' ends - when the question was promptly settled by our determining to spend the night on the platform. A chair was found, and seated on the bare boards, with my head on my muff, with the chair for a support and with my little sister lying on my lap, we spent the night. I was so exhausted from illness and fatigue that I was soon lost to a sense of all the trouble and terror, and slept the hours away in utter unconsciousness.
In the early morning we were aroused and, hurrying on board the train, proceeded on our way to Columbia, and thence to Greenville, where kind friends received us. Here we remained in quiet for some weeks, when one happy day, to our utter delight, my father made his appearance, having successfully accomplished the journey to Texas and recrossed the Mississippi river. He had now come for us to join him and my mother on their way back to Richmond. In life, there are always hours that stand out in bold relief against the negative tints of daily events. The joy of that meeting is as fresh to-day as if it were yesterday, and the rapturous delight of being safe once more in the haven of father and mother love
as vivid as the pain and sorrow of the separation. And now we heard the story of the journey. How they had traveled through the Louisiana swamps, with the mosquitoes as big as "woodchucks" almost, ("gallinippers" they were styled), swarming around them, the mules struggling bravely with the heavily laden ambulance over the corduroy roads, my father on the alert day and night, fearing the approach of the enemy.
I give the following notes to show the surrounding circumstances:
"IN THE SWAMP, Sunday Morning.
"I start on this morning to discover whether the enemy are still on the river or near to Shields, obstructing the upper road. I advise you to return to Miller's and will despatch you there the condition of affairs.
"The road over which I am passing can not be passed by any wheel conveyance. I deem it my duty to inform you of this fact. Were there a chance for you I should say come, but as it is I must say the route is impracticable. Should the upper route be free of the enemy's presence, it remains for you to determine whether you will run the risk attendant on it. I believe from all that I have heard, after the most diligent inquiries, that should the enemy have gone, you can pass in safety to the river - of course, there may
be enemies there at any time, but such risks fade into utter insignificance compared with this road. You have to pass down the river eight miles, but under cover of night I scarcely think there can be much danger. Should I find the enemy still on the river I will advise you immediately of it. I would suggest that as the only practicable means of solving the difficult problem of reaching the East bank of the Mississippi, that you recross the Black River and proceed to Trinity, getting from Col. Purvis, who commands a regiment now stationed there, an escort who know the roads and country, being residents of that part of the state, and proceed to Columbia, crossing the Ouachita River at that point and proceeding via Bayou Macon and St. Joseph road to St. Joseph or Boninsburg. It is with sincere regret that I should find such a course the only one possible for you, but the difficulties on this route, naturally much greater than I had supposed, have been greatly augmented by the recent rains.
"The nearest route for you to St. Joseph or Boninsburg would be to cross the Ouachita at Harrisonburg, but as the Bayou Louis, three miles from Harrisonburg, may not be crossable, I give you the other route. Col. Purvis can inform you whether you can cross Bayou Louis, and if you can would take that road.
"I do not know whether I can cross the river at the point near to which I shall debauch from
this road or not. If you think it necessary for me to go with you to Boninsburg I will go, although I do not know the road and it will delay me very much. I deem it my duty, however, to assist you to the last extremity.
"H. F. DOUGLAS,
"Lt. Co. Eng."
"IN THE SWAMP, Sunday Morning.
"Should you conclude from information from Col. Douglas that it is best for you to risk going out the upper road and thence down the bank of the Mississippi river, you will order the Sergeant and the man he has with him to accompany you to the Bayou - where, if there is no enemy, we will meet you. Should you decide not to come that route and determine to proceed to St. Joseph's, you can take him with you to Mrs. Liddell's, which is within a mile of Trinity, and send him to Col. Purvis, commanding at that point - sending this note, by which Col. Purvis is to understand that it is Genl. Buckner's order that he send an officer with an escort of ten men with you to St. Joseph's, who know the country well. In which event you will please order the Sergeant to return to Alexandria. I will only add that I fully concur with Col. Douglas that it is an utter impossibility for any vehicle to come the route we are now
travelling and I should not be at all surprised if some of our animals found it to be their last journey. With great respect, I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"H. T. FOOT, JR.,
"A. A. Gen.
"P. S. - The suggestions which I have made are intended for your information in case accident should befall me."
When, after many vicissitudes and tribulations, the bank of the river was reached without encountering the enemy the most difficult part of the journey was still to be made. When the width of the river is remembered, that the enemy's gun boats were lying in plain sight, ready to send a shot in any direction that suited their errant fancy, the situation may be imagined, and when to this is added a description of the mode of conveyance proposed and successfully put in use, the account seems almost incredible. Two long "dugouts" - i. e., trunks of trees hollowed out in the centre, were procured. The ambulance was then driven into the water and the "dugouts" placed beneath the wheels, and the mules swimming bore the ambulance across the river. In the night the passage was made; and lying clearly defined up and down the broad waters were the Yankee gunboats, their grim shapes looming like the awful monsters they were, with power to hurl
death and destruction in an instant, should even a suspicion arise of the daring travelers on their way over the Father of Waters in that frail craft. And when I remember who was seated there, so calm and composed - in all that danger and terrible risk - my gentle mother, the most feminine of women, I am lost in admiration of her amazing courage. In telling of it all her comment was: "And the mules would snort; and made such a dreadful noise that we expected every moment the gunboats would hear and send a shot across our bows!" But they reached the shore in safety and we were now on our way to Richmond for the fateful winter of 1864.
CAPTAIN WIGFALL WRITES FROM NEAR NASHVILLE, DECEMBER 5, 1864 - THE FIGHT AT FRANKLIN - MARCHING TO TENNESSEE - RETURN TO RICHMOND - A SORROWING MOTHER.
THE following letter written from near Nashville by my brother, is given here:
"AT MRS. OVERTON'S,
"Six Miles from Nashville,
"On Columbia Turnpike,
"Dec. 5th, 1864.
"I wrote you a short note from the other side of Franklin the morning after the battle. I have not written oftener because I have been unwilling to trust letters to the mail, as I suppose communication has been interrupted between Macon and Augusta. We left Florence, Alabama, on the 21st of November; we reached Columbia and after remaining in front of the place two or three days it was evacuated by the enemy who then took position on the north bank of Duck River, immediately opposite the town. There was some
artillery firing and sharp shooting across the river and it was in this on the 28th that Col. Beckham was wounded. I have not heard from him since the morning of the 1st. when he was doing well, but the wound is so severe (the skull fractured) that I fear he will not recover. In fact the surgeon said there was a bare possibility of his surviving. His loss will be very severely felt. It is hard enough to be killed at all, but to be killed in such an insignificant affair makes it doubly bad.
"The fight at Franklin was very severe - while it lasted, and though our loss was heavy, everybody is in the finest humor - and ready for the fight again whenever Gen. 'John B.' gives the word. Col. Cofer, Provost Marshall Gen. of the Army, told me the other day that he had taken particular pains to find out by enquiring the feelings of the men and that the morale of the army was very much improved by the fight, and that the men would go into the next with double vim and impetuosity.
"Our men fought with the utmost determination and if we had had three hours more of daylight I feel as confident as possible that we should have been to-day in Nashville. The Yankees are now in their works around the city and our main line is at one point only twelve hundred yards from theirs. We have captured three engines and about twenty cars and I hope before long to hear the shriek of the locomotive once more. The
country we have marched through for the past fifty miles is one of the gardens of the world. The lands are very fertile, the plantations well improved and the people before the war were in the possession of every comfort and luxury. The destruction, too, caused by the Yankees, is not to be compared to that in other sections occupied by them. There has been no part of the Confederacy that I have seen which has been in their possession and has suffered so little.
"Our Army, in leaving Tennessee, on both occasions previously, passed to the East of this portion of the state, so that an Army has never before marched over it. The Yankees too have held it a long time and I imagine considered it permanently in their possession. We reached this place on the night of the 2nd. There are several young ladies from Nashville here who are very pretty and agreeable and the most intense Southerners. The enemy was forced from his position north of Duck River by a flank movement which placed the whole army except, two Divisions, near his communications. He fell back to Franklin that night and the next day, the 30th November, was the battle of Franklin.
"Dec. 8th. I have heard this morning of poor Beckham's death. What a cruel, hard thing is war! The individual suffering, however, is the public gain. Over the road, on which moved Cheatham's Corps, was hung, just at the Tennessee
State line, an inscription in these words: 'Tennessee, A grave, or a free home.' A good many graves have been already filled - but better we should all meet that fate than fail to gain the prize we struggle for. As he passed over the line, Gen. Hood received a formal welcome into the state from Governor Harris, who has been with us since we took up the line of march for Tennessee. If we can gain Nashville, what a glorious termination it will be for the campaign. Even if we fail in this, for I fear the fortifications are too strong, and hold the enemy in his lines round the city, it will be one of the grandest achievements an army has ever performed. Think of it! Starting from Lovejoy's thirty miles beyond Atlanta on the 18th Sept., here we are on the 8th Dec. in front of Nashville with the enemy cooped up in his works and the fruits of two years hard marching and fighting lost to him. . . .
"Dec. 11. There was communion service held at the house this morning. Dr. Quintard officiated and prayer was offered up for the Confederate Congress for the first time publicly in this country, I suppose, since our army retreated from the state. It is bitterly cold. Fortunately the troops are lying quiet and can have their fires to keep warm by. I feel, I assure you, for the poor fellows in the skirmish line in such weather.
"In each brigade a detail has been set at work making shoes for the barefooted men from leather
obtained in the country. They are making some twenty pairs a day in each brigade, and in addition, there is a large supply coming from the rear, so you see we are getting on finely.
"The Quartermasters and Commissaries too are hard at work getting other supplies and the R. R. is in operation from Pulaski to Franklin. We have gotten into a real land of plenty and I sincerely trust we shall never leave the State except it be to enter Kentucky. I don't believe myself that the Yankees will allow us to enter Winter Quarters, even should we desire it, without a fight. Of course, in order to make a fight they must leave their entrenchments, and if they attack us in ours or allow us to attack them without works, I feel not the slightest fear of the result. . . . "
We made the journey to Richmond with all possible speed, my father being eager to be at his post in the Senate; and on our arrival we took up our quarters at "The Spotswood." We found the spirit of the people unchanged. Our reverses in the field were acknowledged; our diminishing resources were apparent to all; shot and shell and disease had decimated our gallant armies; the land ran red with blood and the wail of the widow and the orphan was heard above the roar and din of battle; yet no voice was raised to cry, "Hold, it is enough. Ultimate defeat was not contemplated,
nor discussed as a possibility. And the women, of all the women in the world the most gentle and feminine, and upon whom the suffering and sorrow of the time pressed most heavily, the women of the South, were, if possible, more indomitable in their courage than the men! It was the "tender fierceness of the dove," while into their own gentle breasts they received each wound by which a hero fell. Of them, as of the Blessed Sorrowing Mother, may be truly said, "Yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also."
I have in my mind, as I write, a picture that comes before me whenever I hear of the suffering of the women of the South. I was on a train, after Appomattox, and seated across the aisle were two figures, a mother and her son. She had journeyed from her far-away home in Alabama to the hospital in Richmond to find her boy and bring him back with her. She found him, sitting there waiting for her, blind and helpless, a minié-ball having passed through his head just back of the eyes, absolutely destroying the optic nerve. How she had made that journey, in weariness and painfulness with the hope deferred and the sickening terror of what awaited her at the end, we can never know. She was of the class called "poor white," her faded calico gown was worn and patched; her cheek was pale and the eyes deep-set and pitiful beyond words. At her side sat a patient figure; the hands folded in pathetic idleness;
the sightless eyes closed. His life work done; his young manhood yet in its dawning!
The war is over: and he, blind and helpless as an infant, is journeying to his desolate, ruined home, one among the thousands of the wrecks from the armies of the South! But in the heart of the poor old mother there was still room for a great joy - he was blind and helpless - but - he was alive! She had him safe, and the spirit of her mother love seemed hovering over him and enfolding him with the wings of peace.
UNFALTERING HOPE AND FAITH OF THE SOUTH - LETTERS TO SENATOR WIGFALL FROM GENERAL WADE HAMPTON, VICE-PRESIDENT ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS AND GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE - A WAR PICTURE FROM NORTH CAROLINA - CHARACTER SKETCH OF GENERAL HOOD.
No INSTANCE of the absolute faith of our people, even at this late day, in the success of our Cause, is more convincing than their investment of money in Confederate bonds, during these last months of the war.
Many circumstances could be related in evidence of this fact; but one will suffice. My grandmother, in Providence, Rhode Island, had succeeded by some means in sending to us through the lines $1,000 in gold. Without a moment's hesitation this precious metal was transmuted into Confederate bank notes, a large package of which, consisting of 500- and 100- dollar bills I have with me now, a constant reminder of the implicit faith in the success of the good Cause that was lost. I am sure my father would have felt he was recreant to his country if he had admitted to himself that Confederate money was not as good as gold. It
may not have been of the wisdom of this world, but it was beautiful, and I am glad he did it and I keep my bank notes and shall leave them to those that come after me, as an infallible proof that the civilization of the old South produced a race of men, who maintained what they believed to be their constitutional rights, sacrificed every material gain, and, giving freely of their own lives and the lives of their sons, would not withhold the baser treasures of silver and gold.
General Wade Hampton writes to my father at this time the following:
"HD. QRTS., Jan. 20th, 1865.
"My dear Wigfall:
"Your message to me by Mr. Davis reached me a day or two ago. As I am about to start to S. C., I anticipate your letter by writing at once to you. It gave me great pleasure to see your return mentioned.
" . . . We are passing through a fiery ordeal but if we 'quit ourselves like men' we must be successful. I do not allow myself to contemplate any other than a successful issue to our struggle.
"I have given far more than all my property to this cause, and I am ready to give all. Genl. Lee thinks that I may be of some service in South Carolina and I go to see what I can do there. . . .
I am going to fight for my State and I am willing to fight anywhere. The record of the cavalry which has fought under my command, is that this campaign has been an honorable one, and I take great pride in it. They have been successful in every fight - not a few - have captured large supplies of arms and taken not less than 10,000 prisoners. So I leave the record good. . . . What will be done with the Army of Tennessee? You know how highly I regard Hood, how much I esteem him. but it was a mistake to remove Johnston. The army had perfect confidence in him and I am convinced that they will not fight as well under anyone else as under him; therefore do I regard his removal as a national calamity. And if the President would reinstate him it would not only restore public confidence, but would strengthen the President greatly. I wish, my dear Wigfall, that you would forget the differences of the past and try to re-establish the intimate relations that once existed between Mr. Davis and yourself. You can aid him greatly and you can serve the country by giving him counsel. . . . I wish that I could have seen you before leaving this State, as there is much I want to talk to you about. But I hope to meet you in brighter times when my heart is not so oppressed by public and private anxieties. . . . But I bate not one jot or tittle of our claims and I shall fight as long as I can wield my sabre. I hope your family
are well. Give my kindest regards to them and believe me to be,
"Very sincerely, your friend,
"Hon. L. T. Wigfall,
"Write to Columbia."
The following letter written to my father by the Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens, is given in full:
"13 Feb., 1865.
"HON. LOUIS T. WIGFALL,
"I am here sick - laid up on the way - was taken quite unwell night before last, but am better now and hope to be able to go on tomorrow. I am about thirteen miles from Charlotte on the road to Columbia. I drop you a line in fulfilment of my promise to write to you merely to say that I find spirit and vitality enough in the mass of the people as far as I have met with them on my way here. All that is wanting is the proper wisdom and statesmanship to guide it. But our ultimate success, in my deliberate judgment, will never be attained, never can be, without a speedy and thorough change of our policy towards the masses at the North. We must show that we war against the doctrines and principles and power of the radicals there - the fanatics, the abolitionists and consolidationists - which we should do,
and say anything in our power in a manly way to enlist the sympathy and action of all the true friends there of Constitutional liberty. We should show them we are fighting their battles as well as our own. If we go down; if our liberties are lost in these waters, theirs will be too. We must make them allies in a common struggle. We must not be deterred from this by any such ghosts as the goblin of reconstruction. On this point the future must be left to take care of itself. Congress ought to pass, before it adjourns, some such resolutions as the three first that were reported to the House by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 of those Resolutions are now quite as opportune as they were when reported. For the remaining Resolution in that series one might be substituted embracing some of the ideas in them and appealing from the authorities at Washington to all friends of Constitutional liberty at the North - invoking an adjournment of the questions of strife from the arbitrament of arms to the forum of reason - upon the great principles of self Government, on which all American institutions are founded. On this line if our people can endure for two years longer - all may yet be well. But my word for it, the only peace that the sword alone will bring us in fighting the United North will be the peace of death and subjugation.
"ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS."
The following letter was written by General Lee to my father in answer to an appeal to allow the Texas Brigade to go home to recruit the shattered regiments - after an absence of four years. How little they could have anticipated the near approach of the end (this was just two months before Appomattox) to be contemplating that long journey to Texas and a happy return.
"Army N. Va.,
"8th February, 1865.
"HON. LOUIS T. WIGFALL,
"I have received your letter of the 3rd inst. with reference to permitting the Texas Brigade to return home to recruit.
"No troops in the Army have earned a better title to indulgence than the brave Texas Brigade, and to none would I more willingly grant any privilege consistent with the interests of the service. I have no doubt but that they would return, and I hope they would realize all you promise in the way of recruits. But it is impossible for me to detach any men from this army now. I do not think that we shall remain long inactive. Operations on our right have already begun, and there are indications of movements in other quarters in which this army has an immediate concern.
Such is our great want of men, that the absence of even four hundred would be severely felt, especially four hundred of our best troops. I see no way to accomplish your wish except by first bringing some regiments or a brigade from Texas to take the place of these now here. If that can be done I need not say how much pleasure it would afford me to let the old brigade go home, and how pleased I should be to see it return augmented to a Division.
"I do think it extremely important that some of the troops west of the Mississippi should be brought to this side.
"The enemy has brought away a large part of the force with which he has been operating in the West, and concentrated upon our eastern armies. I think we must do the same with ours, and will be greatly obliged for any assistance you can render to accomplish it.
"We are greatly in need of men.
"Your obt. servt.,
"R. E. LEE,
Ah! the pathos of this letter! Our great General could not spare four hundred men; while his adversary had all the world from which to draw recruits!
In the meantime, the brave Army of Tennessee,
under the gallant Hood, so far from fulfilling the bright hopes of its leader, returned from a disastrous campaign with decimated ranks, and Sherman, in his march to the sea, was devastating the fair country through which he passed.
The following letter, written to me by Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston, the wife of the Commander of the Army of Tennessee, gives a picture of the time:
"CHARLOTTE, N. C.,
"Feb. 19th, 1865.
" . . . I take advantage of this sweet, quiet Sunday afternoon for a little chat with you. It is so quiet in my little nook and the bright sunshine outside looks so cheerful and calm that 'tis hard to realize the terrible storm of war that is raging within a few miles of us, or the scene of excitement and fatigue I have gone through myself. At last Sherman has planted himself upon Carolina soil, and the pretty little town of Columbia, we learn to-day, has been partially destroyed; and alas the poor women and children, who were forced to remain there, of their fate we know nothing; but oh horrors, have everything to fear from the nature of the savages who are desolating their homes. What a sight it was to see the poor people flying almost terror stricken to know what they could do - many leaving with only little bundles of clothes - and many compelled to
remain, for they had nothing but God to look to for shelter. . . . I left at the last moment on the car that brought the powder out. We only saved our clothes. How fortunate we were to do that, for many saved nothing. We left with the roar of the cannon in our ears!
" . . . I arrived here, after spending two days and nights on the road - three hundred poor women on the car ahead of us - none of us able to get rooms. A gentleman came down to the cars at twelve at night and brought me to this home and gave me this delicious little room, and here I am quite sick, with a Doctor visiting me. I am waiting to hear from the General to know what to do. Oh these terrible times of shipwreck - everything looks hopeless to me now, and then if we are to go down - we are so far apart that we can see nothing of each other, but the glimpse of a pale face as it sinks out of sight! What a glorious struggle our brave people have made for their liberties! The sight of this town to-day is lamentable: women hunting in every direction for shelter - and the people themselves beginning to move off for a safer place."
General Johnston, in a letter to my father, says:
"Genl. M. Cook, U. S. A., told several of our officers made prisoners by him, but rescued by Wheeler, that Genl. Sherman said, on learning of
the change of Commanders of our army, that heretofore we had fought as Johnston pleased, but hereafter 'twould be as he pleased!"
A braver man, a purer patriot, a more gallant
soldier never breathed than General Hood.
Aggressive, bold and eager, the "Fabian" Policy of
General Johnston was opposed to all the natural
impulses of his nature. He revelled in "a fight,"
and firmly believed he could lead his troops to a
victorious conclusion in the active operations he
inaugurated on taking command of the Army of
Tennessee. Though, as stated, he remonstrated on
General Johnston's being removed from command,
yet I have no doubt his soldier heart beat with eager
hope, as he was called to take his place, and he saw
in fancy his brave army marching to victory. He was
a man of singular simplicity of character and charm
of manner--boyish in his enthusiasm - superbly
handsome, with beautiful blue eyes, golden hair and
flowing beard - broad shouldered, tall and erect - a
noble man of undaunted courage and blameless life.
We made the journey with him homeward when the
war was over. I can see him now - we were in a
baggage car, seated on boxes and trunks in all the
misery and discomfort of the time. He sat opposite,
and with calm, sad eyes looked out on the passing
scenes, apparently noting nothing. The cause he
loved was lost - he was overwhelmed
with humiliation at the utter failure of his leadership - his pride was wounded to the quick by his removal from command and Johnston's reinstatement in his place; he was maimed by the loss of a leg in battle. In the face of his misery, which was greater than our own, we sat silent - there seemed no comfort anywhere. And the ending of his life, years after, was even more sombre - dying by the side of his wife with yellow fever and leaving a family of little children to mourn a father, who, though unsuccessful in the glorious ambition of his young manhood, left to them the precious heritage of a stainless name, linked ever with the highest courage and purest patriotism.
GENERAL JOHNSTON REINSTATED TO COMMAND THE ARMY OF TENNESSEE - HIS SENTIMENTS ON THE SUBJECT - THE SURRENDER AT APPOMATTOX - SENATOR WIGFALL ESCAPES IN DISGUISE - THE LAST BALL OF THE CONFEDERACY- RETURN OF MAJOR WIGFALL - POEM ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG.
GENERAL LEE having been made Commander- in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, a communication was sent to him dated Feb. 4th, 1865, from the Confederate Senate asking him to assign General Johnston to the command of the Army of Tennessee. After the fall of Columbia this was done.
"C. S. SENATE CHAMBER,
"4th February, 1865.
"GENL. R. E. LEE.
"Sir: The undersigned beg leave earnestly but respectfully to recommend the assignment of Genl. Joseph E. Johnston to the command of the troops lately composing the Army of Tennessee. We are induced to make this suggestion by information derived from such sources as to leave us no
room to doubt its correctness, that the Army referred to is seriously disorganized, and that the surest, if not the only means of effecting its speedy reorganization, and of restoring its discipline and efficiency in time for the approaching campaign, will be the immediate return of its former commander, whose assignment to that position is universally desired by the Officers and Soldiers of that Army. We are further persuaded that among the people of those important and principal States of the Confederacy which have looked to the Army of Tennessee as furnishing their chief defence against the forces with which the enemy is seeking to overcome them, the desire is not only general, but intense, that the principal Army designed for their protection should be placed under the command of Genl. Johnston. And we are convinced that the gratification of their wishes on this point would materially assist in dissipating the feeling of despondency which undoubtedly prevails to a considerable extent in those States, and do much towards restoring public confidence and reanimating the hopes and courage of the people.
"In making this suggestion to you, we assume
that under the recent Act, by virtue of which, you
have been appointed General in Chief of the Armies
of the Confederate States, the right and duty of
assigning the General Officers to command our
different Armies, are devolved upon you. Such we believe was the intention of Congress in passing the Act, and such we trust will be its practical construction.
"In conclusion we beg leave to assure you that in recommending the assignment of Genl. Johnston to the command in question, we have been influenced by an imperative sense of duty, and by a firm conviction that what we have advised, would be promotive of the public good, if indeed it be not essential to the public safety.
"With high respect,
"Your obdt. Servants,
"R. H. Walker, Ala.
A. T. Caperton, Va.
Landon C. Haynes, Ten.
Waldo P. Johnson, Mo.
A. H. Garland, Ark.
Jos. C. Watson, Miss.
H. C. Burnett, Ken.
James L. Orr, So. Ca.
Geo. G. Vest, Mo.
W. E. Simms, Ken.
W. A. Graham, No. Ca.
W. S. Oldham, Texas.
Wm. T. Dortch, No. Ca.
A. G. Brown, Miss.
Louis T. Wigfall, Texas."
"ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS,
"V. P. C. S. A.
"A. E. MAXWELL, Flo.
QRS. Armies C. States,
ascertained that a change was necessary, before it
"I do not consider that my appt. as Gen. in chief
of the Armies of the C. States, confers the right
which you assume belongs to it, nor is it proper that
it should. I can only employ such troops and
Officers as may be placed at my disposal by the War
Dpt. Those withheld or relieved from service are not
at my disposal.
"I have the honor to be,
"Your most obdt. svt.,
"Honble. A. H. Stephens,
CHAMBER, "My dear Sir:
assignment of Genl. Joseph E. Johnston to the
command of that Army.
"Very truly and respectfully,
after taking command of the
little remnant of the army, wrote to my father the
following letter - which gives a clear idea of the
feeling between these two great men, Lee and
"RALEIGH, March 14th, 1865.
"My dear Wigfall:
"What you write me of Lee gratifies me beyond
measure. In youth and early manhood I loved
and admired him more than any man in the world.
Since then we have had little intercourse and have
become formal in our personal intercourse. A good
deal, I think, from change of taste and habits, in one
or the other. When we are together former feelings
always return. I have long thought that he had
forgotten our early friendship: to be convinced
that I was mistaken in so thinking would give me
inexpressible pleasure. Be assured, however, that
Knight of old never fought under his King more
loyally than I'll serve under Gen. Lee. [In another
letter he speaks of serving under Gen. Lee 'as
loyally as my father served under his in the first
revolution.'] I have suggested to him what seems
to be the only course for us, should Sherman
endeavor to join Grant. . . .
"As ever yours,
It seems almost
incredible and yet it is a fact that
several entertainments were given in Richmond
in January and February, 1865. The most
notable of these was at the beautiful home of the
Welfords which was filled with guests who
danced at what, I believe, was the last ball of the
Confederacy. Grandmothers' satins and brocades
figured on the occasion; and I warrant no lovelier
group of women, nor company of more gallant
gentlemen, were ever gathered. How the fiddles
scraped and the music swelled for "the dancers
dancing in tune;" while they shut their ears and
would not hear the minor key that wailed the ruin
of our hopes. And the grim shade of Appomattox,
looming dark already on the horizon, stalked ever
nearer and nearer.
In a letter from Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston, dated
"Charlotte, North Carolina, March 15th, 1865," I
find this record: "Charlotte is in a state of great
excitement to-day, at the arrival of the President's
family, on their way South. What does it mean?
Everybody seems to think it is the prelude to the
abandonment of Richmond. How sad it seems
after such a struggle as that noble army has made
to keep it! These terrible dark hours, when will
they be past?"
A week before its evacuation we left Richmond.
It was a lovely evening late in March.
as I saw around me the wide world revive
As the train pulled out
and ran slowly across the
long bridge over the James, we watched with
aching hearts the sunshine lingering with loving
light on the towers and spires of this city, which
is veritably "set on a hill" - and the light shining
there seemed but a reflection of the glory which
shall for all time linger around her as the Capital
of the Confederacy.
We stopped in Raleigh and there heard of the
fall of Richmond and the surrender at Appomattox.
There we were joined by several of the Cabinet
and Members of Congress and traveled in company
with them to Georgia.
After General Johnston's surrender, which followed
on April 26th - and the capture of the President -
it became necessary in order to escape
arrest, that my father should make all possible
effort to conceal his identity, and endeavor to
make his way across the Mississippi river as
speedily as might be, where Kirby Smith was
still commanding the remnant of an army. To
this end he donned the garb of a private soldier,
shaved off his beard and procured a borrowed
parole. I have it yet.
"APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE, VA.,
"The Bearer, pri.
J. A. White, of Co. M. First
Regt. of Texas Vols., a paroled Prisoner of the
Army of Northern Virginia, has permission to
go to his home, and there remain undisturbed.
"JNO. N. WILSON, CAPT.
The next step was to
secure a large covered
wagon, in which could be stowed away the few
belongings we had with us, and four strong mules
to draw the load. Then an escort of paroled Texas
soldiers was found, among whom my father took
his place. Some kind friend provided a saddle
horse for me; and clad in a homespun dress, and
with my head covered by a poke sun-bonnet I
rode alongside of the wagon. We were apparently
a family of country people moving from one State
to another; and that a number of soldiers tramped
along in company with us excited no
surprise, as the country side was full of these poor
tired, heart broken travelers, making their way back
to their ruined homes. It is recorded of one of these
pitiful wayfarers, that he wandered at eventide to the
door of a farmhouse, and accosted the woman
standing there, with "Stranger, whar's the
spring - have you got any milk? I am so
don't know where I am going to sleep to-night." But
to return to our journey. Our plan was to travel direct
through the State of Alabama to Montgomery. And
this we did, riding one hundred miles through the
State. Of course we had no money; that is, what the
outside world called by that name. We had thousands
of our dear old Confederate Currency, in $100 and
$500 bills, (with Stonewall Jackson's head engraved
in one corner, and the Confederate banner draped
over General Washington, on the Great Seal, with
"Deo Vindice" underneath it, on the other) but some
kind friend had given us a large box of tobacco,
which was as good as specie any time for a trade -
so we went on our way - not rejoicing - alas! far
from it; but with heavy hearts - while my father
tramped the weary miles on foot among the Texas
boys, who were proud enough to have the company
of their former General and Senator in such unceremonious
guise. And you may be sure they never told who he
was. All things come to an end; and nearing Montgomery
we stopped over night at Governor Fitzpatrick's
plantation, and had a rousing welcome and the
best accommodations for tired travelers. My
father and the Governor had much to talk over.
When last he had seen him he was United States
Senator from Alabama, and possible candidate
for the Vice-Presidency on the Breckinridge ticket.
And now! Well, the next morning we continued
on our way, and nearing Montgomery we caught
sight of the first Federal pickets. I can feel now
over again that suffocating sensation that sent the
blood surging through the veins at sight of them.
It was all over indeed!
Here we parted from my father, who was to
make his way with the soldiers, home to Texas,
as it was not safe to go with us, through towns and
in the ordinary mode of traveling by railway and
boat. We were received into the hospitable home
of Mrs. Knox on the outskirts of Montgomery.
Here, even the stress and straits of war had not
been able to make an impression on the delightful
luxury of her well appointed home. Oh! the bliss
of those delicious beds and the sweet linen sheets
and the comfortable meals. It seemed like a haven
of rest after that terrible journey. In a few days
Governor Watts, true friend and noble patriot,
with heart and hand open to share his all with his
countrymen, came for us and took us to his home,
where plans were made for our reaching our
ultimate destination. Here we waited for some
weeks, hoping for tidings from my brother, who
we had heard was making his way in our direction.
One evening, about dark, I was standing at the
gate, watching down the road, with hardly a
thought or hope of his appearing, when, far up
the dusty highway, I saw him coming. He walked
slowly, unlike the brisk step I knew of old; absolute
dejection was in his mien, and he had no joyous
greeting to give me. His uniform was worn and
soiled, and he had taken from his collar the gold
stars of his rank. Somehow I had no word to say. We
stood and looked at each other. Finally, we found
speech, and to my query, "What are you going to
do?" he answered, "I am on my way across the river
to join Kirby Smith." I laid my hand upon his
shoulder, and paused a moment, "Have you not
heard," I said, " Kirby Smith has surrendered."
hands of our women made it!
high o'er our hosts it floated,
we wept, and watched, and waited
they marched o'er vale and mountain
are the loved hands that bore it!
hand of vandal shall touch it!
LOUISE WIGFALL WRIGHT
"JAS. M. BAKER, Flo.
"W. H. Taylor,
"A. A. G."
"13 Feb., 1865.
"I had yesterday the honor to receive your letter of the 4th inst., recommending the assignment of Genl. Jos. E. Johnston to the command of the Army of Tennessee. The three corps of that Army have been ordered to So. Ca., and are now under the command of Gent. Beauregard, two of them having already arrived in that Deptmt. I entertain a high opinion of Gen. Johnston's capacity, but think a continued change of commanders is very injurious to any troops, and tends greatly to their disorganization. At this time as far as I understand the condition of affairs, an engagement with the enemy may be expected any day, and a change now would be particularly hazardous. Genl. Beauregard is well known to the citizens of So. Ca., as well as to the troops of the Army of Tennessee, and I would recommend that it be certainly
"R. E. LEE,
Honl. A. E. Maxwell,&c.,
"10th February, 1865.
"A letter has been addressed to you, urging the assignment of Genl. Joseph E. Johnston to the command of the Army in front of Sherman. This letter has been numerously signed by Senators, of whom I was not one. I did not sign because I did not wish to embarrass you. But my opinion is, that such an assignment would have a most beneficial effect. If I am to trust the manifestations which I have witnessed from certain members of Congress, there is nothing which could be done, which would so much revive hope, as the
"R. M. T. HUNTER."
W. H. Taylor, A. A. G."
"I have just received yours of February 27th. I have been for two weeks looking for an opportunity other than by mail, to send you a letter. But all are reported to me too late.
"J. E. JOHNSTON."
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive
With all her joyous birds upon the wing,
I turned from all she brought to those she could not bring."
April 10th, 1865.
THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
"Requiescat in Pace"
'Twas baptized in our mother's tears!
And drenched with blood of our kindred,
While with hope for those four long years,
Across vale and plain we watched it,
Where the red tide of battle rolled
And with tear-dimmed eyes we followed
The wave of each silken fold.
Through the dust and din of the fight,
We caught the glint of the spear-head
And the flash of its crimson light!
While the blood of the men who bore it
Flowed fast on the reddened plain,
Till our cry went up in anguish
To God, for our martyred slain!
By our lonely household fire,
For the mother gave her first born,
And the daughter gave her sire!
And the wife sent forth her husband,
And the maiden her lover sweet;
And our hearts kept time in the silence
To the rhythmic tread of their feet.
While our banner rose and fell,
Though victory often crowned it,
As the Northern hosts can tell!
But the whole world was against us:
We fought our fight all alone.
To the conquerors Want and Famine,
We laid our standard down.
Stilled are the brave hearts and true!
Watching nor waiting can bring them,
Weeping is all we can do!
Light from our banner has faded,
We, in its shadow forlorn
Have only our mem'ries left us,
And our battle flag drooping and torn!
'Tis shrined in our heart of hearts,
With dearest, holiest mem'ries
And the burning tear drop starts
While laurel we weave and cypress,
For the fair, the brave, the good;
The only stain on our banner
Is the stain of our heroes' blood!
"ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS,
"V. P. C. S. A.
"A. E. MAXWELL, Flo.
QRS. Armies C. States,
ascertained that a change was necessary, before it was made.
"I do not consider that my appt. as Gen. in chief of the Armies of the C. States, confers the right which you assume belongs to it, nor is it proper that it should. I can only employ such troops and Officers as may be placed at my disposal by the War Dpt. Those withheld or relieved from service are not at my disposal.
"I have the honor to be,
"Your most obdt. svt.,
"Honble. A. H. Stephens,
"My dear Sir:
assignment of Genl. Joseph E. Johnston to the command of that Army.
"Very truly and respectfully,
General Johnston, after taking command of the little remnant of the army, wrote to my father the following letter - which gives a clear idea of the feeling between these two great men, Lee and Johnston.
"RALEIGH, March 14th, 1865.
"My dear Wigfall:
"What you write me of Lee gratifies me beyond measure. In youth and early manhood I loved and admired him more than any man in the world. Since then we have had little intercourse and have become formal in our personal intercourse. A good deal, I think, from change of taste and habits, in one or the other. When we are together former feelings always return. I have long thought that he had forgotten our early friendship: to be convinced that I was mistaken in so thinking would give me inexpressible pleasure. Be assured, however, that
Knight of old never fought under his King more loyally than I'll serve under Gen. Lee. [In another letter he speaks of serving under Gen. Lee 'as loyally as my father served under his in the first revolution.'] I have suggested to him what seems to be the only course for us, should Sherman endeavor to join Grant. . . .
"As ever yours,
It seems almost incredible and yet it is a fact that several entertainments were given in Richmond in January and February, 1865. The most notable of these was at the beautiful home of the Welfords which was filled with guests who danced at what, I believe, was the last ball of the Confederacy. Grandmothers' satins and brocades figured on the occasion; and I warrant no lovelier group of women, nor company of more gallant gentlemen, were ever gathered. How the fiddles scraped and the music swelled for "the dancers dancing in tune;" while they shut their ears and would not hear the minor key that wailed the ruin of our hopes. And the grim shade of Appomattox, looming dark already on the horizon, stalked ever nearer and nearer.
In a letter from Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston, dated "Charlotte, North Carolina, March 15th, 1865," I find this record: "Charlotte is in a state of great excitement to-day, at the arrival of the President's
family, on their way South. What does it mean? Everybody seems to think it is the prelude to the abandonment of Richmond. How sad it seems after such a struggle as that noble army has made to keep it! These terrible dark hours, when will they be past?"
A week before its evacuation we left Richmond. It was a lovely evening late in March.
as I saw around me the wide world revive
As the train pulled out and ran slowly across the long bridge over the James, we watched with aching hearts the sunshine lingering with loving light on the towers and spires of this city, which is veritably "set on a hill" - and the light shining there seemed but a reflection of the glory which shall for all time linger around her as the Capital of the Confederacy.
We stopped in Raleigh and there heard of the fall of Richmond and the surrender at Appomattox. There we were joined by several of the Cabinet and Members of Congress and traveled in company with them to Georgia.
After General Johnston's surrender, which followed
on April 26th - and the capture of the President -
it became necessary in order to escape
arrest, that my father should make all possible effort to conceal his identity, and endeavor to make his way across the Mississippi river as speedily as might be, where Kirby Smith was still commanding the remnant of an army. To this end he donned the garb of a private soldier, shaved off his beard and procured a borrowed parole. I have it yet.
"APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE, VA.,
"The Bearer, pri. J. A. White, of Co. M. First Regt. of Texas Vols., a paroled Prisoner of the Army of Northern Virginia, has permission to go to his home, and there remain undisturbed.
"JNO. N. WILSON, CAPT.
The next step was to secure a large covered wagon, in which could be stowed away the few belongings we had with us, and four strong mules to draw the load. Then an escort of paroled Texas soldiers was found, among whom my father took his place. Some kind friend provided a saddle horse for me; and clad in a homespun dress, and with my head covered by a poke sun-bonnet I rode alongside of the wagon. We were apparently a family of country people moving from one State to another; and that a number of soldiers tramped along in company with us excited no
surprise, as the country side was full of these poor tired, heart broken travelers, making their way back to their ruined homes. It is recorded of one of these pitiful wayfarers, that he wandered at eventide to the door of a farmhouse, and accosted the woman standing there, with "Stranger, whar's the spring - have you got any milk? I am so hongry, I don't know where I am going to sleep to-night." But to return to our journey. Our plan was to travel direct through the State of Alabama to Montgomery. And this we did, riding one hundred miles through the State. Of course we had no money; that is, what the outside world called by that name. We had thousands of our dear old Confederate Currency, in $100 and $500 bills, (with Stonewall Jackson's head engraved in one corner, and the Confederate banner draped over General Washington, on the Great Seal, with "Deo Vindice" underneath it, on the other) but some kind friend had given us a large box of tobacco, which was as good as specie any time for a trade - so we went on our way - not rejoicing - alas! far from it; but with heavy hearts - while my father tramped the weary miles on foot among the Texas boys, who were proud enough to have the company of their former General and Senator in such unceremonious guise. And you may be sure they never told who he was. All things come to an end; and nearing Montgomery we stopped over night at Governor Fitzpatrick's
plantation, and had a rousing welcome and the best accommodations for tired travelers. My father and the Governor had much to talk over. When last he had seen him he was United States Senator from Alabama, and possible candidate for the Vice-Presidency on the Breckinridge ticket. And now! Well, the next morning we continued on our way, and nearing Montgomery we caught sight of the first Federal pickets. I can feel now over again that suffocating sensation that sent the blood surging through the veins at sight of them. It was all over indeed!
Here we parted from my father, who was to make his way with the soldiers, home to Texas, as it was not safe to go with us, through towns and in the ordinary mode of traveling by railway and boat. We were received into the hospitable home of Mrs. Knox on the outskirts of Montgomery. Here, even the stress and straits of war had not been able to make an impression on the delightful luxury of her well appointed home. Oh! the bliss of those delicious beds and the sweet linen sheets and the comfortable meals. It seemed like a haven of rest after that terrible journey. In a few days Governor Watts, true friend and noble patriot, with heart and hand open to share his all with his countrymen, came for us and took us to his home, where plans were made for our reaching our ultimate destination. Here we waited for some weeks, hoping for tidings from my brother, who
we had heard was making his way in our direction. One evening, about dark, I was standing at the gate, watching down the road, with hardly a thought or hope of his appearing, when, far up the dusty highway, I saw him coming. He walked slowly, unlike the brisk step I knew of old; absolute dejection was in his mien, and he had no joyous greeting to give me. His uniform was worn and soiled, and he had taken from his collar the gold stars of his rank. Somehow I had no word to say. We stood and looked at each other. Finally, we found speech, and to my query, "What are you going to do?" he answered, "I am on my way across the river to join Kirby Smith." I laid my hand upon his shoulder, and paused a moment, "Have you not heard," I said, " Kirby Smith has surrendered."
hands of our women made it!
high o'er our hosts it floated,
we wept, and watched, and waited
they marched o'er vale and mountain
are the loved hands that bore it!
hand of vandal shall touch it!
LOUISE WIGFALL WRIGHT