how about this

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Jaunt up the James VII- "North and South"

SIR: In a recent number of the Richmond Examiner, I find a letter over the signature of "A Virginian," addressed to Hon. EDWARD EVERETT, of Massachusetts. I think I cannot be mistaken in believing that you are the author of that letter. Before the war I knew the style and manner of every Virginian writer of note or promise; and no small part of their writings which they wished the world to see, or from which they hoped to gain either fame or money came before me while in manuscript. From no one of these have I read more, and with more pleasure, than from JOHN ESTEN COOKE. NO one seemed to me to possess so delicate a fancy or to be master of so graceful a style. There were always paragraphs in his communications which THACKERAY might have written. I find these characteristics in this letter to Mr. EVERETT. I do not think the last three years likely to have developed them in any other Virginian; and so I conclude that the "Virginian" who wrote the letter is yourself. That letter was copied into the NEW-YORK TIMES, and I avail myself of that medium far a reply.
Of Lower Brandon I know nothing, except from your letter. I presume that in quaint loveliness and genial hospitality it was all that you claim for it; that it furnished the original for those charming sketches of life and manners in the Old Dominion, which you never tired of writing or we of reading. I have no doubt that when Mr. EVERETT visited Virginia he was received at Lower Brandon with a cordiality not less than that which welcomed you when you visited New-York; that in his case, as well as in yours, host and guest felt that in offering and accepting hospitality, they were both receiving as well as giving honor. I think that you look back with sad memories upon those days of personal friendship, as well as upon those which followed, when pleasure and profit alike led you to send the choicest productions, of your thought and fancy to those Northern journals, at which you now fling a gratuitous sneer, hardly in keeping with your amiable nature.
I presume also that Lower Brandon has been laid waste during the war. It is not the first or only case of the kind. If I had been asked four years ago to name the two Virginians who were most likely to achieve something more than a provincial literary reputation, I think I should have named. JOHN ESTEN COOKE and DAVID H. STROTHER. STROTHER retained his loyalty to the Union; you did quite otherwise. Well, two and a half years ago, he was the possessor of a beautiful cottage at Berkely Springs, a place not unknown to you, while his father, JOHN STROTHER, was the proprietor of the hotel at the Springs. "Porte Crayon's" cottage was adorned with paintings, the work of his own cunning hand, the outgrowth of his fancy and observation. Early in January, 1862, a body of Confederate troops made a sudden dash upon the Springs. There was, I think, no resistance. Unmindful of how "the great Ernathian conqueror bade spare the house of PINDARUS," these troops cut in pieces the paintings of "Porte Crayon," and-burned his cottage. They took possession of the hotel in which the elder STROTHER lay upon a sick bed. They used his furniture for firewood, although the town was surrounded by forests, and finally went off, after plundering the place. The old man, noted for a generation for his noble character, died a week after in his wasted and outraged home. I shall not imitate your example by picking up from the filthy gutter of the Southern press vile epithets to designate the commander of the Confederate forces. They were led by THOMAS J. JACKSON, for whom you claim the character of a Christian hero. With him, as volunteer aid, came CHARLES J. FAULKNER, who had a few months before been United States Minister to France. Which do you think was the greater outrage, the breaking of the window-panes at Lower Brandon, or the mutilating the pictures at "Porte Crayon's" cottage?
And so Lower Brandon is now as desolate as "the Calypsos Isle of Blennerhassett." That, Sir, was an unfortunate allusion of yours. Was the proprietor of Lower Brandon the Blennerhassett of the modern Aaron Burr? Did he in his weakness and ambition suppose that the overthrow of a great nation was only another "Virginian Comedy;" that the Union might be set aside as easily as you fling down the scenes when the play is over? Treason may be a very gentle-manly crime, but those who undertake it should remember that it is a dangerous one. It is not well for any man to undertake to play treason.
You assure Mr. EVERETT that now "for the first time in the history of the world, have we seen a people pretending to be civilized, organizing expeditions for the pure and simple purpose of plunder and destruction, and instead of seek-ing to mitigate the miseries of a state of war, do-ing all they can to aggravate them." You of course mean it to be understood that this has been done by the Union and not by the Confederacy. It is quite possible that the Southern papers have not kept you well-informed as to the wanton destruction of property in the Confederate raids into West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri; nor of the murders and massacres of Union men in Tennessee. You probably had not seen Capt. SEMMES' account of the cruise of the Alalama, in which he tells how with a swift vessel fraudulently procured in England, manned with a crew of Englishmen raked up in the slums of Liverpool, and shipped under false pretences, he set forth on his cruise of pure destruction. You had not read how on the broad and peaceful ocean, by means of false colors, he lured within his grasp every American ship that came in sight; how he put the crews in irons and burnt every vessel, from the humble fishing-smack, or the poor whaler returning from a perilous three years' voyage, to the stately India merchantman. You had not read the fiendish exultation with which he speaks of strewing the ocean with Yankee merchandise, and lighting up the midnight sky with the blaze of burning vessels. You had not read this. I read it the very day on which I read your letter. You had not read SEMMES' own account, but you knew that in a few months he had in sheer wantonness destroyed more than sixty vessels.; that there were more than a score, of which any one was of tenfold the value of Lower Brandon. And yet you talk of the wanton destruction of property:
But even if you knew nothing of all this, a few steps out of your usual path would have taken you to the Libby Prison and the other slaughter-pens at Richmond. There you might have seen strong men in the flush and strength of manhood starved to skeletons in a month. Is this your idea of "mitigating the miseries of a state of war?" But if your fine, poetic sensibilities prevented you from looking upon such misery which you had no power to alleviate you certainly read for your papers were full of it, of the wanton burning of Chambersburgh. Did it never occur to you that each of the honored homes there laid in ashes was dear to its inmates as were the lawn and halls of Lower Brandon to their dwellers?
But the courtly family of Lower Brandon, when they abandoned the estate, left the happy negroes behind them, although "they might easily enough have removed men, women and children from tide-water, and transported them into Middle Georgia for security, or sold them at immense prices, and invested the proceeds in cotton bonds." Did it not occur to you that in writing that sentence you were overthrowing the theory of the idyllic happiness of the negroes at Lower Brandon. Do you imagine that any man or woman, black or white, can be perfectly happy, knowing that at any moment he or she is liable to be "sold at immense prices, and the proceeds invested in cotton bonds?" Knowing also that the same fate will be the heritage of their children and children's children? If these black men had been white, you would have seen in the alacrity with which some of them abandoned their "comfortable cabins, pot a feu, and garden patch," something more than a childish longing for "sojer's clothes and military grandeur." Had the dainty possessors of Lower Brandon in successive generations done so little for their slaves, that you could not conceive the possibility that some of these dusky beings might really think it worth periling their lives in the effort to do away with a system by which they and theirs might at any moment be sold, "and the proceeds invested in cotton bonds?"
You speak of some special cases of outrage and violence. Let me ask you, Sir, upon what evidence? You are estopped from bringing in the testimony of the negroes, for by your own laws not one or all of them could bear legal testimony against a white man. Have you any witness to produce whose testimony would be admitted by yourself or your courts?
But be the evils and sufferings of the war what they may, they are all of your own making, yours and such men as the owners of Lower Brandon. You sought by force and violence to destroy the Government, which alone rendered it possible that such a paradise as Lower Brandon could exist, from generation to generation. The United States never sought the war. Who attacked Harper's Ferry? Who plundered the public property at Norfolk? Who assailed Fort Sumter? Who threatened the National Capital? Who did all these and a hundred other like acts before the Union struck a blow? You of Virginia, owners of Lower Brandon and the like, did it. You did it because you thought that by so doing you would perpetuate a system by which you might forever retain the power of sending your slaves to Middle Georgia, or selling them at immense prices to the cotton-planters of the Gulf and the sugar-growers of the Mississippi. And now if you find that you have flung yourselves between the upper and nether stones of that slowly grinding mill of the gods which yet grinds so very fine, you have only yourselves to thank for it.
Commending this bit of ethics to your serious meditation, I have the honor to be, Sir, yours most respectfully, AN AMERICAN.

-New York Times, August 22, 1864

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Jaunt up the James VI- "A Flaming and Indignant Letter"

From Edward Everett Hale*
MILTON, MASS., Aug. 11, 1864
MY DEAR GENERAL BUTLER: Governor Everett sends me a flaming and indignant letter which some person unknown has addressed to him in a Richmond paper, complaining of the treatment received by the lower Brandon plantation, on James River, at the hands of our troops. The only reason Mr. Everett is addressed is that he was once or twice a visitor at the place. He says he does not suppose he can take any notice of the article; but I think he would like to make a fit answer to it. And he would be glad if you could make time enough to let him or me know if there was any special purpose which can be laid before the public to advantage of what these people call "the Raid," and how far the facts are correctly stated if you saw the article. If you can do this it will be a favor to him and to me.
Mr. Motley acknowledged with great pleasure your kindness to his son, Capt. Motley. It was his last news from him.
Pray ask Maj. Mulford the first time he goes up to see what news he can get of my friend Maj. Forbes, of our 2nd Cavalry, he is now at Lynchburg. Pray exchange him if an accidental chance appears.
In the chance that nobody sends you any books, I have ordered the fourth volume of Carlyle's Frederic the Great sent to you. In reading it, I have a dozen times been struck with things which I thought would please you; and though I know you must be familiar with those campaigns, I know you will like C s short-hand way of telling the story.
Major Stackpole telegraphed me that he wanted my testimony in Capt. King s case; and then that he should do without. I wrote him that if he would send me my report I would swear to it here if necessary.
I think of you all at head quarters constantly; and wish you all success.

Truly yours, EDW. E. HALE

-Private and official correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler: during the period of the Civil War

* The Rev. Edward Everett Hale was the nephew of Senator Everett.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Jaunt up the James V- Lower Brandon and Edward Everett

150 years ago this week the after effects of the raid on Lower Brandon enter the New York Times by way of this rather long missive. . .

THE REBEL PAPERS.; LETTER TO EDWARD EVERETT. Effects of the Bombardment of Petersburgh. What They Think of the Burning of Chambersburgh. THE EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS. MISCELLANEOUS INTELLIGENCE. A Letter to Edward Everett. CHAMBERSBURGH.
From the Richmond Examiner.
To the Hon. Edward Everett, Massachusetts:

SIR: In one of those peregrinations made by you, several years ago, in the Southern States of what was then the American Union, in which you were pleased to instruct the Virginians and others on the subject of the character of GEORGE WASHINGTON, whereof theretofore they had been deplorably ignorant, you visited, if I mistake not, the ancient seat of "Lower Brandon," on the James River, and partook for a season of that elegant hospitality which formerly held sway in its delightful halls and gardens. You may, perhaps, have forgotten your brief sojourn there, and care little to recall it. What you have since written and spoken of the Southern people induces the belief that if you retain any remembrance of the peaceful homesteads in which you were once received as a welcome and honored guest, and of the kind proprietors who greeted you with so much warmth upon the threshold, it is associated only with the wish that these homesteads may be laid waste and these proprietors reduced to beggary.
You will, therefore, be gratified to learn, beyond a doubt, that "Lower Brandon" is a ruin; and, as the journals of civilization, as well in your enlightened and humane City of Boston, as elsewhere throughout the great, glorious and free United States, are not full and circumstantial with regard to the devastations of the Federal troops, you will probably be thankful for some account, from a Virginian, of this latest acheivement of your arms. It is enough for the Northern newspapers to state, in brief, that such a mansion has been pillaged and consumed, so many acres impoverished and reclaimed to the military possession of the Federal Government. Nor do the official reports of your plundering commanders go beyond a general statement of desolation. The Federal General makes it a solitude and calls it a restoration of the Federal authority. He does not descend to the vulgar incidents of spoliation and ravage, nor narrate how he has endeavored to convert his acquired territory into a wilderness.
You may recollect, Sir, the fair lawns across which lay the walk from the river to Brandon mansion. Nowhere, I think, on this continent did the turf wear a richer green, nowhere did the roses display more grace and profusion. The darksome converts which the mocking-bird made musical; the tall elms which looked down upon the quaint old edifice and caught upon their quivering leaves the too fierce heats of the Virginia sun; the trellises of honey-suckles, murmurous with insect life; the ample width of greensward, with here and there a vase overrun with myrtle; all these surroundings gave an indescribable charm to the place, and harmonized with the repose and refinement that dwelt under the rooftree. The visitor saw all around him the evidences of taste and culture, the growth of a century or more of uninterrupted occupancy by the same family.
These lawns, you will be pleased to know, have been despoiled; not the Calypso's Isle of Blennerhassett, in the beautiful river of the West, whose mournful defacement our own WIRT described with so much pathos -- not the festive Villa Borghese, just outside the walls of Rome, when cruel war and Republican rage has shattered its foundation and prostrated its foundations, could have presented a picture of destruction more complete and -- satisfactory. If the owners of "Lower Brandon" were rebels, and upheld the ancient firm of Virginia in the hour of her agony and trial, they have been well repaid in this waste of the grounds they so loved to adorn. The traitorous turf has been cloven and cut up by the hoofs of the Federal cavalry; the rebellious roses may, perhaps, burst forth in their beauty again with the smiling Spring, but it will be only to mock the fallen state of the whole establishment; and every disloyal Dryad that frequented the copses around has been scared away into her native woods.
The Brandon House, as you may or may not remember, was a very crazy, rambling, old-fashioned, age-colored building, that would have been thought shabby in New-York or Massachusetts. Quite unlike the marine villas that sparkle on the heights of Staten Island, altogether different from the superb structures that line the banks on the Hudson and crown the hills around Boston. Not an Italian corridor, not a mullioned window about it. Bricks, small and glazed, brought out in GEORGE the Second's time from England. Rooms rather large and wainscoted, windows low and narrow, fire-places huge, staircases also objectionable as regards economy of space. What furniture these deserted rooms still contained, most of it mellowed by time, was taken out by the Federal cavalry and burned upon the lawn, as was proper. You will likewise approve the tearing down of wainscots, the breaking up the paneling of the doors, and the demolition of the stone pavements of the porticoes. Of the windowpanes, a word.
It had been the habit of the Brandon people to preserve on these fragile tablets the autographs of their visitors for many, many years past. When a party came, in the season of strawberries or in the midst of the Christmas cheer, and made pleasant holiday at Brandon, they were asked to scratch their signatures with a diamond on the panes before their departure. The names of many eminent gentlemen of England, France and the United States, were thus recorded. Your own most illustrious name was there, with the names of MILLARD FILLMORE and MARTIN VAN BUREN. The pretty custom was always honored, and looking over the inscriptions, from the more recent to those of a generation gone by, the past with its dear associations and rosy faces, long missed, but unforgotten, came back upon one in a strange, sudden sort of way, that made the eyes moist and the lips tremulous. Somebody once wrote some verses about these panes, in which the diamonds, and the bright eyes, and the far away festivities of other Christmas seasons were mixed up and made metrical in a truly memorable manner. Well, the window-panes were all smashed. Why, bless you, it was great fun for the hulking cavalrymen to knock them out with the point of their sabres! Que voulez vous!
Among the dwellers in Brandon, at the time of your visit, were a dozen or more graceful ladies and gentlemen in the gay flowing costumes, the ruffles and point lace of that stately period of which Sir ANTHONY VAN DYCK and Sir GODFREY KNELLER have transmitted to it so many charming representatives. There was the Earl of Orrey and Halifax, and Col., the Hon. WM. BYRD, of Westover, Esq.., and the Colonel's fair daughter, Mistress EVELYN, and other historical personages. They had been members of the Brandon household from the beginning, and lived on the walls of drawing-room and dining-room, giving very little trouble to anybody, and passing their time in the hours of daylight in looking placidly down on the good cheer and social enjoyment which belonged to these apartments. There was a tradition that, sometimes in the silent watches of the night, during Christmas time especially, they came down from their frames and held wassail at the board, or danced a minuet de la cour in the ruddy glow of the blazing yule.
Your satisfaction in hearing the details of the Brandon raid may possibly be lessened by the fact that the ladies and gentlemen were not made prisoners by the United States army, having accompanied the living members of the family to Richmond, when they were constrained by a well-founded distrust of Yankee chivalry, to leave their beautiful home and carry their cherished Lares and Penates with them. Ceta incommode. But there is a compensation in the thought that the negroes belonging to this estate, to the number of one hundred or more, were taken off, despite the earnest entreaties and protestations of many of them, and made to accept their freedom at the end of the cowhide and the point of the bayonet, Cela Console
Ah, the negroes! There are some facts connected with those remaining at Brandon since the commencement of the war, and their abduction therefrom, to which I beg to call your attention. The first is, that the owners of them, any time these three years, might easily enough have removed men, women and children from tide water, and transported them to Middle Georgia for security, or sold them at immense prices and invested the proceeds in cotton bonds. The owners did not do this. Not that they were blind to the danger that threatened the estate, not that they were too humane to resort to such measures. Oh, no! They knew nothing of humanity, of course. Humanity has her home in Boston. The promptings of pity, the teachings of tenderness for white or black sorrow, sickness or adversity, all the emotions that belong to what STERNE calls the "sweet sensibility of man's nature," stir not the hearts of slaveholders.
Let us suppose that the Brandon proprietors permitted the negroes to remain on the estate through the stolid inattention to their own interest which characterizes the Virginian -- because they "wern't smart." Be that as it may. Leastways, anyhow, nevertheless, notwithstanding, there the negroes did remain in close, comfortable cabins, each head of his family with his pot au feu and his garden patch to supply the same, and his picaninnies toddling around him, like little patches of shadow in the sunshine, darkly happy, these negroes, dreaming not of disturbance, a picture, as you will say, of degraded domesticity and benighted contentment. One member of the Brandon family -- of the "white folk" I mean -- had remained with them, not so much for the maintenance of discipline as for the preservation of their health, a kind doctor, doing good, as you think, but not for good's sake at all, but from motives purely mercenary, that the "property" might be kept up to a marketable standard of physique -- this "property," look you, which was all along at the mercy of the enemy, and which the owners would not sell even to save it from robbery.
Thus cared for, the Brandon negroes flourished until the Federal cavalry came down like the wolf on the fold and carried off the wooly innocents in a manner quite in keeping with Yankee philanthropy. Some of the negroes went with alacrity, pleased with the idea of "sojer" clothes and military grandeur; others bade adieu to their cabins with an intensity of grief that might have moved even a Black Republican; others again were mutinous, and could only be urged forward by the lash laid on with true Yankee ferocity (see the managerial conduct of "Lagree," a Vermont overseer, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Mrs. H.B. STOWE); and let it be understood that only such were taken, rejoicing or reluctant, as were of sound health and matured strength; the helpless infants, the aged and infirm were left behind.
One poor woman thus deserted, whose children had been torn from her arms, followed the train, howling out a heart-broken appeal that she might be permitted to accompany them. Considering how much maudlin sympathy has been snuffled in Yankee lecture-rooms and printed in Yankee newspapers, for thirty years past, about the cruel separation of black mothers from their children under Slavery, one might suppose that this appeal would have been heeded. It seems not. Her ululation soon became annoying, and this weeping, dusking Rachael was knocked down by a blow on the head from the butt end of a musket, and left senseless bleeding in the road. Thus, while their cabins were left blazing behind them, the freed blacks moved down to the Yankee boats. Poor creatures! did they know what lay before them, they might, indeed, have piteously bemoaned their fate. Many a wretched negro beyond the Potomac now bitterly laments his sad fortune of freedom; day by day the miserable exile, dying of destitution or disease in the crowded cribs of Washington or the squalid purlieus of New-York, gives his latest sigh for "Ole Virginny" --
Et dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos.¹
Such, Sir, was the calamity that overtook "Lower Brandon." It is so far from being an exceptional case, that this country seat was the only one within the enemy's lines that had not been wasted or pillaged at the close of 1863. Exceptional, in this respect, the estate was till BUTLER and Barbarism came together into tide-water Virginia.
Ah, some war-makers of the North will say, telle est la fortune de la querre² -- this is the reward of rebellion, and rebellions are not to be subdued with rose-water. Sad, very sad, we grant, but inevitable. You recollect, they add, what old KASPER told PETERKIN and WILHELMINE in the ballad about the famous victories -- there must be burning cottages and suffering of women and children, and a thousand nameless horrors in the midst of war. Yes, worthy war makers, but for the first time in the history of the world have we seen a people pretending to be civilized, nay, claiming all the civilization of a continent, organizing expeditions for the pure and simple purpose of plunder and destruction, and, instead of seeking to mitigate the miseries of a state of war, doing all they can to aggravate them.
The Brandon business was a wholly gratuitous piece of barbarity. The work of "subjugation" was not assisted by it in the least. The bombardment of Charleston, in like manner, contributes not at all to the weakening of BEAUREGARD, conduces in no degree to the reduction of the place. It is pure diabolism, the gratification of a fell spirit of hatred. Indeed, when we take into account the boasted refinement of the North, and the fiendish malignity with which they have carried fire and sword over Southern fields and into Southern dwellings; when we look at Beast BUTLER, and accept him at the hands of The Atlantic Monthly, as the representative of the culture of Boston, we may well believe that the familiar theory of the Latin poet about ingenious arts was ingenious nonsense, that after all they brutalize manners and convert men into savages.
Oh no, the spoliation of the South is not an unavoidable incident of the war. It is the very object the war has in view. Long ago has the hope of subjugation been abandoned, and this purpose of ruin has become fixed in the breasts of Northern people as the amiable alternative. The children of Massachusetts, Mr. EVERETT, are wiser in their generation than to desolate the fields they expect to divide among themselves, to deface and demolish the dwellings they hope hereafter to occupy. If they believed that the next year or the year after would find them masters of the South, they would take care not to impoverish their future possessions. When GRANT's or BUTLER's lines had fallen in pleasant places, these canny commanders would not have despoiled their goodly heritage. It is the conviction that their tenure is a fleeting one which induces them, in baffled rage, to employ the particular estate in ruining the reversion. The idea is not a new one. It occurred to LOUVOIS when he ordered the devastation of the Palatines. The historian records it as a stain upon the memory of LOUVOIS, as a lasting infamy upon the name of his Minister, that in wanton malice they determined to destroy what they were unable to retain. It was an "atrocious thought," says Lord MACAULAY, but the North now nurses it fondly, and the North has long been, serenely indifferent to the imputation of atrocity.
You will tell me, perhaps, that for one you have not relinquished the hope of subjugation, and, if I am not deceived, you undertook to show, in your discourse at the inauguration of the cemetery at Gettysburgh, that there was nothing in the blood-shed, the life-long hatreds, the wide waste and widowhood, the mutilations that may not be computed, the legacies of revenge for crimes that may not be named, of this Lincoln war, to make reconstruction and a restoration of fraternal feeling impossible. The demonstration must have been grateful to the author of the strife who sat in your hearing. But forebodings of a different kind must have filled your soul three years ago, before the first gun had been sounded, when in Faneuil Hall, (5th Feb., 1861) you invoked the name of Heaven to allow the Southern States to "depart in peace." And if you think the conquest and subjection of eight millions of people a practicable thing -- people who, during these three cruel years, have developed traits of character which have excited the admiration of mankind. It is clear that your views have undergone a most remarkable change since you addressed the noble youth of Amherst College, in the year of grace 1835, on the theme "Education Favorable to Liberty, Knowledge and Morals." In that finished oration (see Everett's Orations and Speeches, vol. first, page 703) I read as follows:

"The degree of force required to hold a population in subjection, other things being equal, is in direct ratio to its intelligence and skill; its acquaintance with the arts of life; its sense of the worth of existence; in fine, to its spirit and character. There is a point, indeed, beyond which this rule fails, and at which even the most thoroughly organized military despotism cannot be extended over the least intellectual race of subjects, serfs or slaves. History presents us with the record of numerous servile wars, and peasant wars, from the days of SPARTACUS to those of TUPAC AMARU and PUGATSCHEF; in which, at the first outbreak, all the advantages of authority, arms, concert, discipline, skill, have availed the oppressor nothing against humanity's last refuge, the counsel of madness, and the resources of despair."
Commending this bit of political philosophy to your serious mediation.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Yours most respectfully,

-New York Times, August 14, 1864

¹ "Remembers his beloved Argos, as he dies."- Virgil

² "Such is the fortune of war"

Friday, August 15, 2014

While the Army of Northern Virginia Retreats from Antietam . . .

A DISGRACEFUL ROW.- Seventeenth street, north of Broad, was the scene of a most disgraceful row about one o'clock yesterday afternoon. For some time a free fight raged. It appears that a soldier passing along, stopped at the fruit store of an Italian named Longonotti, took up an apple, and started out without paying for it. On his refusal to pay, the proprietor attempted to eject him, and a fight ensued between himself, wife, son, and soldier, the soldier getting the best of the fight. The soldier then left, but returned with several companions, broke open the door, and make(sic) an indiscriminate assault upon all persons who they encountered. The provost guard finally appeared, and the disturbance was quelled. Several citizens were arrested, but from what we can learn of the affair, the most guilty escaped.

-the Richmond Daily Examiner, September 19, 1862

This would probably be the confectionery of Joseph Longinotti at 17th street between Grace and Broad(though that would be south of Broad)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Stabbing on Cary Street

MAYOR'S COURT- August 21st, 1862.- William Smith, a semi-militaire looking individual, was charged by James A. McClure, a member of the 14th North Carolina regiment, with assaulting and stabbing him with a knife, with intent to murder. The assault occurred on Friday night last in the vicinity of one of the numerous drinking dens that abound in Cary street, notwithstanding the vigilance of the Provost's Guard. It appears from McClure's statement, that he was directed to the den as a place where he could obtain a "nip" of the "muddy ruin;" and following his direction, obtained a drink, and gave the woman in change a five dollar bill, out of which to take the price- fifty cents. The woman took the bill and went out to get the change. McClure, to keep an eye on the woman and his money, followed her out the door, across the draw near the bridge, where he was confronted by the accused, (Smith)who wanted to know what he was following the woman for. McClure replied that he was after his money, not the woman. Some other words passed, which Smith ended by drawing a knife and entering it in  McClure's back, between the shoulders, the blade penetrating several inches. His assailant was arrested and lodged in the guard-house, and McClure was sent to the hospital, and it was only yesterday that his condition warranted his appearance against the accused. The Mayor remanded the accused for the Hustings Court.
The above is the second or third case of the kind that has been brought before this court within a week or so. The plan seems to be to inveigle soldiers into these dens, and when a bill of a large denomination is presented in payment for liquor, to attempt by threats &c., to drive the customer off without his change.

-Richmond Daily Examiner, August 22, 1862

James H. McClure(the H. was for Henry) was a 26 year old farmer from North Carolina. A private in Co. H, the "Stanly Marksmen," he apparently recovered from his wounds and returned to his regiment. He appears on a . . .
List of casualties, of Brig Gen. Ramseur's Brigade, in the battles at Gettysburg, Pa. July 2 and 3, 1863
 Wounded severely in head and foot.
 and . ..
 Died 5 July, '63, from wounds rec'd at Gettysburg, Pa.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Jaunt up the James IV- The Fate of Dr. Ritchie

 The ending of a Jaunt up the James . . .

The James River from windmill Point to Dancing Point

In 1863, Mrs. Isabella Harrison, the widow of Mr. George Evelyn Harrison, late proprietor of Brandon, was warned by sagacious advisers that it would be prudent to remove her family, with such valuables as were portable, to Richmond. Reluctant to leave home and dependants, she delayed until danger of invasion was imminent before she took a house in town and filled it with furniture, pictures and other effects' sent up the river from the plantation. There were left behind her brother, Dr. Ritchie*, a son of the famous "Nestor of the Virginia Press," Thomas Ritchie of The Enquirer, two white managers, and 150 negroes, field-hands and their families, the house-servants having accompanied the ladies to Richmond.
At one o'clock, one January morning in 1864, Dr. Ritchie was awakened by a knocking at the door, and answering from a window was told that the visitors were Federal officers. Hastily arraying himself in an old pair of hunting-trousers, the first he could lay his hands upon, with dressing-gown and slippers, he admitted the unseasonable arrivals. They were respectful, but peremptory in their assertion that he must go with them immediately to the gunboat moored at the wharf. That he was a non-combatant, and simply acting here as the custodian of his widowed sister's property; that he was far from well and not in suitable garb to meet strangers, availed nothing to men acting under orders. He and the two managers were hurried down to the vessel, and from the deck saw the flames of burning "quarters,"barns, hayricks, out-houses, 2500 barrels of corn and 30,000 lbs. of bacon, rolling up against the black heavens. The negroes were routed from their cabins, the women wailing, the men paralyzed with terror all alike persuaded that the Day of Judgment had come and forced on board the transports. In the raw cold of the winter morning they were taken down to Taylor's Farm, near Norfolk. The younger men were enlisted in the army, the older men and women were set to work on the farm. Most of them returned to Brandon at the close of the war.
Dr. Ritchie and his companions were confined in a cell at Fort Monroe with several negroes, until the news of his arrest reached General Butler, who gave him pleasanter quarters and offered him many civilities.
 "I ask only for a sheet of paper and an envelope, that I may write to my sister," was Dr. Ritchie's reply to these overtures.
A Baltimore paper printed next day a sensational account of the Attack upon Brandon, heading it A, Bloodless Victory. It was the intention of the officer in charge of the expedition, the report further stated, to return and complete the work of demolition.
This article was read that morning by Mrs. Stone, Mrs. Harrison's sister, in Washington, whose husband, a distinguished physician, was Mr. Lincoln's medical adviser and friend. Newspaper in hand, Dr. Stone hastened to the President, and laid the case before him. The name and fame of Thomas Ritchie, the wheel-horse of the Old Democratic Party, were known to Mr. Lincoln, with whom humanity . always stood ready to temper justice.
"That, at least, they shall not do?" he said, on reading the threat of a return to Brandon, and instantly telegraphed orders to Fort Monroe to that effect.
 Mrs. Harrison and her sister, Miss Ritchie, had been deterred by the unfavorable aspect of the weather from coming down the river on the very night of the attack, as they had planned to do, and thus escaped the worst terrors of the scene. Arriving two days later, they found that the troops had been with-drawn, pursuant to the President's command.
They had made the most of their brief season of occupation. Not a habitable building was left standing except the manor-house, and that had been rifled of all the mistress left in it. The few pictures which were too bulky to be removed to town, had been cut from the frames and carried off. Some family portraits are still missing the sadly significant note, taken by the enemy in 1864; recording their loss in the catalogue of the Brandon Gallery. Every window pane was shattered. Those inscribed with the autographs of J. K. Paulding, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore and his Cabinet secretaries, Edward Everett, etc.,etc., were not spared. The wainscoting was ripped from the inner walls ; the outer shutters were riddled and hacked and, in aiming at the quaint, nondescript ornament on the roof, the marksmen had battered bricks and cement into holes that remain until this day.
-Colonial Homesteads And Their Stories
by Marion Harland the Author of 'Where Ghosts Walk," etc,
G. P. Putnam's Sons,New York and London
The Knickerbocker press 1912

A note on the two Brandons.
"The two plantations, Brandon and Upper Brandon, include some of the 5,000 acres granted in 1616 by King James I to Captain John Martin, Esquire, one of the founders of the Jamestown Colony, in gratitude for Martin's good services to his king and country. In 1807 upon the death of Benjamin Harrison III, a descendent of the property's early owners, the estate was divided between Benjamin III's two sons - George Evelyn Harrison receiving the Brandon manor house and acreage and William Byrd Harrison, a legacy of the remaining 3,555 acres from which he created Upper Brandon plantation."
 -Daily Press(Newport News, Va.) April 21, 1996

*Robert Ruffin Ritchie

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Jaunt Up the James III- "Proceeding up the river until within a short distance of Fort Powhattan . . ."

General Charles Kinnaird Graham

On Sunday morning the 25th of January 1864 an expedition consisting of the gunboats Flora Temple*, Smith Briggs, General Jessup and the large government steamer George Washington, under the command of Brigadier General Graham, accompanied by a force of about thirty of the harbor police of Norfolk under command of Captain Lee together with one hundred and fifty of the Twenty-first Connecticut commanded by Captain Brown left Old Point Comfort to make a reconnoissance up the James River. Proceeding up the river until within a short distance of Fort Powhattan the troops were landed at what was called the Brandon Farm. Two small howitzers were placed in position on the banks of the river. As soon as the forces were landed they made a reconnoissance back into the country some two miles and succeeded in surprising a rebel signal station which was captured with all its apparatus and appurtenances among which were messages deploring the change of sentiment in North Carolina and the possibility of the return of that State into the old Union, also information of the movement of a large rebel force through Richmond to North Carolina and letters relating to the removal to the city of Richmond of a large quantity of grain and provisions then stored at the Brandon Farm. Having secured their prisoners and all the valuables that could be removed the force returned to pay their respects to the stores on the farm which the rebels intended to transport to Richmond for the use of the Confederate army. They found the farm in charge of Surgeon Ritchie formerly of the United States navy whom they made a prisoner.
They succeeded in destroying bacon flour corn oats hay and other property to the amount of from two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand dollars. This being the estimate made by the rebels it is not likely it was exaggerated.
The gunboats had not been idle during this time but had captured a schooner laden with tobacco also a sloop not loaded On board the schooner were Jews with a large amount of money in gold and silver United States notes and Southern bank funds together with a large assortment of jewelry. The vessels were taken to Old Point Comfort with cargo and prisoners where the flotilla arrived Monday evening The following is a list of the booty brought back by the expedition Twenty two prisoners one schooner laden with tobacco one sloop light ten horses one hundred and fifty three contrabands and many other articles of importance By some mistake three of the members of the Twenty first Regiment were left behind on the return of the expedition. Finding themselves alone in the enemy's country and anticipating a rather unhealthy reception from the rebels they took to the woods where a council of war was held to determine what course to take to get back again to the Union lines Concealing themselves in the woods until night they resolved to make an attempt to reach Old Point Comfort They proceeded down the river about eight miles where they found an old boat in which they undertook to cross the river but the boat sank with them and they were forced to abandon it. They constructed a raft but that also sank and had to be abandoned Proceeding further down the river they luckily found another boat concealed in the bushes with which by constant bailing they finally succeeded in crossing. They then struck across the Peninsula in the direction of Williamsburg Traveling only at night and keeping concealed during the daytime they eluded all pickets and patrols and after three nights of rapid marching much of the way through deep swamps and tangled woods with almost nothing to eat they arrived at Yorktown bringing in with them three refugees from the rebel army. From Yorktown they were furnished transportation to Old Point Comfort and from thence to the regiment at Newport News where they entertained their comrades with the story of their sufferings and adventures.
Thus ended the expedition which had proven a great success and if we may believe their own reports was a severe blow to the rebels and the results accomplished reflected much honor upon both officers and men composing the expedition.

-The Story of the Twenty-first Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, During the Civil War. 1861-1865
William Stone Hubbell, Delos D. Brown, Alvin Millen Crane
Press of the Stewart Printing Company, 1900

*A week later an expedition consisting of these same vessels turned sour, as the Flora Temple ran aground on Chuckatuck Creek. The Flora Temple incidentally derived her name from the well known trotter of the time, the "bob tailed nag" of Camptown Races.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Jaunt up the James II- "The loss of this man was no doubt caused by his being intoxicated"

                                                    HEADQUARTERS NAVAL BRIGADE,
                                                                      Norfolk, Va., January 26, 1864.
GENERAL: Owing to the haste with which my report of the expedition of the 25th instant was made, and the fact that the contrabands were counted on board the Vessels at night, the return was incorrect. Instead of 99, the list of men, women, and children amounts to 137. The following property was likewise captured: Four horses, 3 mules, 2 telescopes, 2 pieces of duck, 5 carbines, 5 carbine cartridge-boxes and belts, 2 old muskets, and 1 old cavalry pistol.
Captain McLaughlin reports this morning that 1 of the privates of his company, Thirteenth New York Artillery, is missing. The loss of this man was no doubt caused by his being intoxicated, as every precaution was taken to prevent any of the expedition being left.
The sloop and schooner I mentioned in my official report as having been captured are now lying at anchor off this place, with prize crews on board, and await your orders as to what disposition shall be made of them.
                  I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                         CHARLES K. GRAHAM
                                                                     Brigadier-General, Commanding.
            Maj. Gen. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER,
                     Comdg. Department of Virginia and North Carolina. 

 -The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.; Series 1- Volume 33

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Jaunt up the James I

Expedition up the James River, Va.

Reports of Brig. Gen. Charles K. Graham, U. S. Army, commanding Naval Brigade.

Norfolk, Va., January 25, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following as the result of an expedition organized under my command, consisting of the gnnboats General Jesup, with two launches, each mounting a 12-pounder Dahlgren howitzer; Smith Briggs, with three launches; Flora Temple, and the transport George Washington.
The troops which accompanied the expedition, besides the crews of the vessels above named, were the crew of the gun-boat Samuel L. Brewster, Ensign Harris commanding; a detachment of 15 men of the harbor police of Norfolk, and 20 cavalrymen under command of Captain Lee, of the harbor police; 80 men from the crew of the steamer Foster, Captain McLaughlin commanding, and a detachment of 150 men and 6 officers of the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers under the command of Captain Brown.
The expedition left Norfolk at 5 p. m. on the 24th instant, sailed to Newport News, arriving about 7 p.m., when the detachment of the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers was embarked on board the steamer George Washington. The expedition again sailed about 9 p.m. for Brandon, about 7 miles from Fort Powhatan, arriving at that place about 5 a.m. on the 25th instant.
The advance guard under Captain Lee, of the harbor police, was immediately landed, followed by the two launches armed with howitzers. No opposition was made to their landing, and in the course of an hour the whole force was disembarked. The wharf on the plantation was found to be completely destroyed, and it being impossible to land the cavalry that detachment was not used. Captain Lee, pursuant to instructions, advanced a line of skirmishers, surrounding the house of Dr. Ritchie, upon whose plantation the expedition landed. The doctor and overseers were taken and brought back as prisoners, it being ascertained that the doctor was a large contractor with the Confederate Government, from papers found upon his premises.
The information being positive that there was a signal station at Mount Pleasant, on the James River, Captain Lees detachment, having been increased by the crew of the gun-boat Brewster, 31 men, was ordered to advance to that place, which was about 3 miles from the landing. Coming upon the station, they found the non-commissioned officers in command and men asleep. Six of the party were captured, 1 effected his escape. All the signal apparatus, consisting of one large and one small telescope with their stands, one signal flag, and three night . signals, with the arms and accouterments of the men, were taken.
Another detachment was sent out on the left of the landing of the expedition, which, though it did not encounter any enemy, rendered valuable service by destroying immense quantities of wheat, corn, and hay, besides sending in a number of horses and mules. Upon the plantation of Dr. Ritchie were found about 5,000 bushels of corn, large quantities of hay and grain, and 24,000 pounds pork, all of which was destroyed. 
The negroes everywhere evinced a disposition to give information, and large numbers flocked to the beach, and many of them, to the number of 80, returned with the expedition.
There were collected about 60 horses and mules, but owing to the fact that the landing was destroyed and the wind from off shore was quite high, it was almost impossible to embark them. Although officers and men labored for several hours, they were only able to place on board, by building a temporary platform, about 10.
During the operations of the force on land, which I personally superintended, the gun-boats General Jesup and Smith Briggs were ordered to proceed up the river to a position which commanded an extensive view in the direction of Richmond, both to command the neck of land Where the land forces were operating and to watch for the approach of the iron-clad Richmond, which was reported to be on the James River.
While executing this duty, the gun-boat General Jesup having the advance, two vessels made their appearance and were brought to and captured by that vessel. One of these was the sloop Birdloe, of Warwick, apparently used for the purpose of carrying wood, and was without a cargo, having 2 men on board as crew. The other was the schooner Thomas F. Dawson, of Richmond, loaded with 242 boxes of tobacco, William Henley captain, with 3 seamen and 5 foreign Jews, blockade-runners, as passengers. Upon searching the vessel a large box of jewelry was discovered, and upon the persons of the men papers proving them to be blockade-runners, also the following amount of money: $755 in gold, $656 in Treasury notes, $7,000 in bonds on the States of Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina, $347 in Confederate money, $3 in silver, $1,796.50 in Southern bank-notes, $10 in Northern bank-notes; in all, $10,567.50. Not a shot was fired at the expedition, either going or coming, and it is believed that its landing, owing to the capture of the signal party referred to, was not perceived until several hours after it was effected. Captain Lee, of the harbor police, is deserving of the most creditable mention for the judgment he displayed in making his dispositions and the celerity with which his movements were executed. Lieutenant Harris, of the General Jesup, also displayed much zeal and is entitled not only to recommendations but promotion for his services. The detachment from the Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers, under Captains Brown and Long and Lieutenants Shepard, Crane, Dutton, McKinney, and Edwards, rendered good service. In the main all the detachments behaved well, although I regret to say that some of the men gave way to intemperance, a large quantity of liquor having been found on the premises of Dr. Ritchie.
Lieutenant Bullard, one of my aides, was with Captain Lee when the signal party was surprised, and he and Lieutenant Benson, likewise of my staff, were indefatigable in the performance of the arduous duties which devolved upon them.
At 10.40 p.m. the expedition arrived at Fortress Monroe.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                          CHARLES K. GRAHAM,
                              Brigadier-General, Commanding Naval Brigade.

Major-General BUTLER,
       Comdg. Department of Virginia and North Carolina.

-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.; Series 1- Volume 33