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A blog of Nineteenth Century history, focusing, but not exclusively, on the American Civil War seen through the prism of personal accounts, newspaper stories, administrative records and global history.
A thousand tales. A miscellany. A maze of historical tangents.

A Capitol View

A Capitol View
Images of 1861 juxtaposed- Union Square, New York vs. Capitol Square, Richmond

Friday, January 17, 2014

Following the Greek Cross . . . through the Penninsula

FOLLOWING THE GREEK CROSS OR, MEMORIES OF THE SIXTH ARMY CORPS By Thomas W. Hyde, Brevet Brigadier-General of Volunteers

"Our marches were short and slow from Williamsburg to the vicinage of Richmond. Going through that ancient burgh where was the College of  William and Mary, and where all thegirls were patriotically clustering about the Confederate hospitals, we seemed a while in the world of Thackeray's Virginians*, and almost expected to see the coach of Madame Esmond.
The next night the moon shone clear upon our picket lines, and upon the roofs of a stately mansion far in front. A spirit of adventure led Connor and me to slip through our guards and ride a few miles out into the rebel land, in the belief that if there, the enemy must be asleep. We rode up the long avenue of elms, up to the ancient and hospitable looking veranda, and, leaving our horses in charge of an orderly- began to explore the premises. Doors and windows were wide open. Half-packed trunks were lying about, and all tokens bore witness to the hurried flight of the family. We lighted candies and explored the grand old rooms, looking at ourselves in the ancient pier glasses, and made acquaintance, in its sadness and desolation, of a Virginia homestead of the olden time when the county families vied with the nobility of the England from whence they came. A trembling black butler soon appeared and served us old Madeira in quaint decanters. We sent his fellow-servants to act as sentinels and warn us of the approach of the enemy, and made careful exploration of the mansion. In the third story a distinct snore became audible, and when we had summoned its author, and fully expected to bring in a rebel brigadier-general, we found we had only waked a stray signal officer of ours who had lost his way and put up there for the night.  As others less appreciative would, no doubt, have taken the Madeira, we loaded up our steeds with it and a memento or two. Mine was a feather pillow, which luxury was soon after purloined from me in turn. While we were looking over the library of choice books, the darkies gave the alarm, and we were at once in the saddle galloping across country toward the distant haze that concealed our faithful pickets. Such little episodes sweetened the usual grind of campaigning of which mud and hard-tack, rain and marching, were the salient features.

As we drew nearer and nearer to Richmond,one day we came to a crossing where four roads met. Above it was a weather-beaten and timeworn sign-board that no doubt was doing duty when Washington marched with Braddock; its legend read, with hand pointing westward, "21 miles to Richmond ; " beneath it another was nailed of the new pine of a bread-box, with a large hand pointing in the opposite direction, and "647 miles to Gorham, Maine " showed
unmistakably that some of our fellow-citizens had passed that way."

* A reference to William Makepeace Thackeray's 1857 novel The Virginians

This is a cross posting from New Kent County History

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