John. T. Trowbridge: The South: a tour of its battle-fields and ruined cities, a journey through the desolated states, and talks with the people: being a description of the present state of the country -- its agriculture -- railroads -- business and finances...; L. Steebins: Hartford, Connecticut; 1866. pp. 153-205
LIBBY, CASTLE THUNDER, AND BELLE ISLE.
STROLLING along a street near the river, below the burnt district, I looked up from the dirty pavements, and from the little ink-colored stream creeping along the gutter, (for Richmond abounds in these villainous rills,) and saw before me a sign nailed to the corner of a large, gloomy brick building, and bearing in great black letters the inscription,
Passing the sentinel at the door, I entered. The ground floor was partitioned off into offices and store-rooms, and presented few objects of interest. A large cellar-room below, paved with cobble-stones, was used as a cook-house by our soldiers then occupying the building. Adjoining this, but separated from it by a wall, was the cellar which is said to have been mined for the purpose of blowing up Libby with its inmates, in case the city had at one time been taken.
Ascending a flight of stairs from the ground-floor, I found myself in a single, large, oblong, whitewashed, barren room. Two rows of stout wooden posts supported the ceiling. The windows were iron-grated, those of the front looking out upon the street, and those of the rear commanding a view of the canal close by, the river just beyond it, and the opposite shore.
There was an immense garret above, likewise embracing the entire area of the floor. These were the prison-rooms of the infamous Libby. I found them occupied by a regiment of colored troops, some sitting in Turkish fashion on the floor, (for there was not a stool or bench,) some resting their backs against the posts or whitewashed walls, and others lying at length on the hard planks, with their heads pillowed on their knapsacks.
But the comfortable colored regiment faded from sight as I ascended and descended the stairs, and walked from end to end of the dreary chambers. A far different picture rose before me, - the diseased and haggard men crowded together there, dragging out their weary days, deeming themselves oftentimes forgotten by their country and their friends, - men who mounted those dungeon-stairs, not as I mounted them, but to enter a den of misery, starvation, and death.
On the opposite side of the same street, a little farther up, was Castle Thunder, - a very commonplace brick block, considering its formidable name. It was still used as a prison; but it had passed into the hands of the United States military authorities. At the iron-barred windows of the lower story, and behind the wooden-barred windows above, could be seen the faces of soldiers and citizens imprisoned for various offences.
Belle Island I had already seen from the heights of Richmond, - a pleasant hill rising out of the river above the town, near the farther shore. The river itself is very beautiful there, with its many green islets, its tumbling rapids sweeping down among rocks and foaming over ledges, and its side-dams thrown out like arms to draw the waters into their tranquil embrace. My eye, ranging over this scene, rested on that fair hill; and I thought that, surely, no pleasanter or more healthful spot could have been selected for an encampment of prisoners. But it is unsafe to trust the enchantment of distance; and after seeing Libby and Castle Thunder, I set out to visit Belle Island.
I crossed over to Manchester by a bridge which had been constructed since the fire. As both the Richmond and Danville, and the Richmond and Petersburg railroad bridges were destroyed, an extraordinary amount of business and travel was thrown upon this bridge. It was shaken with omnibuses and freight-wagons, and enveloped in clouds of dust. Loads of cotton and tobacco, the former in bales, the latter in hogsheads, were coming into the city, and throngs of pedestrians were passing to and fro. Among these I noticed a number of negroes with little bundles on their backs. One of them, a very old man, was leaning against the railing to rest. [author goes on to describe a redundant conversation with this man]
I kept on to Manchester, passed the great humming mills by the river-side, and turning to the right, up the Danville railroad, reached Belle Island bridge after a brisk fifteen minutes' walk. Crossing over, I entered the yard of a nail-factory, where some men were breaking up heavy old iron, cannons, mortars, and car-wheels, by means of a four-hundred pound shot dropped from a derrick forty feet high. Beyond the factory rose the pleasant hill I had viewed from the city. I climbed its southern side, and found myself in the midst of a scene not less fair than I had anticipated. Behind me was a cornfield, covering the summit; below rushed the river among its green and rocky islands; while Richmond rose beyond, picturesquely beautiful on its hills, and rosy in the flush of sunset.
But where had been the prisoners' camp? I saw no trace of it on that slope. Alas, that slope was never trodden by their feet, and its air they never breathed. At the foot of it is a flat, spreading out into the stream, and almost level with it at high water. Already the night-fog was beginning to creep over it. This flat, which was described to me as a marsh in the rainy season, and covered with snow and slush and ice in winter, was the "Belle Isle" of our prisoners. Yet they were not allowed the range even of that. A trench and embankment enclosing an oblong space of less than six acres formed the dead-line which it was fatal to pass. Within this as many as twelve thousand men were at times crowded, with no shelter but a few tattered tents.
As I was examining the spot, a throng of begrimed laborers crossed the flat, carrying oars, and embarking in boats on the low shore looking towards the city. They were workmen from the nail-factory returning to their homes. One of them, passing alone after his companions, stopped to talk with me at the dead-line, and afterwards offered me a place in his boat. It was a leaky little skiff: I perched myself upon a seat in the bow; and he, standing in the stern, propelled it across with a pole.
"Where were the dead buried?" I asked.
"The dead Yankees? They buried a good many thar in the sand-bar. But they might about as well have flung 'em into the river. A freshet washed out a hundred and twenty bodies at one time."
"Did you see the prisoners when they were here?"
"I wasn't on the Island. But from Richmond anybody could see their tents hyer, and see them walking around. I was away most of the time."
"In the army?"
"Yes, sir; I was in the army. I enlisted fo' three months, and they kept me in fou' years," he said, as men speak of deep and unforgiven wrongs. "The wa' was the cruelest thing, and the wust thing fo' the South that could have been. What do you think they'll do with Jeff Davis?"
"I don't know," I replied; "what do you think?"
"I know what I'd like to do with him: I'd hang him as quick as I would a mad dog! Him and about fo'ty others: old Buchanan along with 'em."
"Why, what has Buchanan done?"
"He was in cohoot with 'em, and as bad as the baddest. If we had had an honest President in his place, thar never'd have been wa'."
From the day I entered Virginia it was a matter of continual astonishment to me to hear the common people express views similar to those, and denounce the Davis despotism. They were all the more bitter against it because it had deceived them with lies and false promises so long. Throughout the loyal North, the feeling against the secession leaders was naturally strong; but it was mild as candle-light compared with the with the fierce furnace-heat of hatred which I found kindled in many a Southern breast.
The passage of the river was delightful, in the fading sunset light. On a bluff opposite Belle Island was Hollywood, the fashionable cemetery of Richmond, green-wooded, and beautiful at that hour in its cool and tranquil tints. As we glided down the river, and I took my last view of the Island, I thought how often our sick and weary soldiers there must have cast longing eyes across at that lovely hill, and wished themselves quietly laid away in its still shades. Nor could I help thinking of the good people of Richmond, the Christian citizens of Richmond, taking their pleasant walks and drives to that verdant height, and looking down on the camp of prisoners dying from exposure and starvation under their very eyes. How did these good people, these Christian citizens, feel about it, I wonder?
Avoiding the currents sweeping towards the Falls, my man pushed into the smooth waters of a dam that fed a race, and landed me close under the walls of his own house.
"This yer is Brown's Island," he told me. "You've heerd of the laboratory, whar they made ammunition fo' the army?" He showed me the deserted buildings, and described an explosion which took place there, blowing up the works, and killing, scalding, and maiming many of the operatives.
Passing over a bridge to the main land, and crossing the canal which winds along the river-bank, I was hastening towards the city, when I met, emerging from the sombre ruins of the burnt district, a man who resembled more a wild creature than a human being. His hands, arms, and face were blackened with cinders, his clothes hung upon him in tatters, and the expression of his countenance was fierce and haggard. He looked so much like a brigand that I was not a little startled when, with a sweeping gesture of his long lean arm and claw-like fingers, he clutched my shoulder.
"Come back with me," said he, "and I'll tell ye all about it; I'll tell ye all about it, stranger."
"The explosion, - the explosion of the laboratory thar!"
Dragging me towards Brown's Island with one hand, and gesticulating violently with the other, he proceeded to jabber incoherently about that dire event.
"Wait, wait," said he, "till I tell you! " - like the Ancient Mariner with skinny hand holding his unwilling auditor. "My daughter was work'n' thar at the time; and she was blowed all to pieces! all to pieces! My God, my God, it was horrible! Come to my house, and you shall see her; if you don't believe me, you shall see her! Blowed all to pieces, all to pieces, my God!"
His house was close by, and the daughter, who was "blowed all to pieces," was to be seen standing miraculously at the door, in a remarkable state of preservation, considering the circumstances. She seemed to be looking anxiously at the old man and the stranger he was bringing home with him. She came to the wicket to meet us; and then I saw that her hands and face were covered with cruel scars.
"Look!" said he, clutching her with one hand, while he still held me with the other. "All to pieces, as I told you!
"Don't, don't, pa! " said the girl, coaxingly. "You mustn't mind him," she whispered to me. "He is a little out of his head. Oh, pa! don't act so!."
"He has been telling me how you were blown up in the laboratory. You must have suffered fearfully from those wounds!"
"Oh, yes; there was five weeks nobody thought I would live. But I didn't mind it," she added with a smile, "for it was in a good cause."
"A good cause!" almost shrieked the old man; and he burst forth with a stream of execrations against the Confederate government which made my blood chill.
But the daughter smilingly repeated, "It was a good cause, and I don't regret it. You mustn't mind what he says."
I helped her get him inside the wicket, and made my escape, wondering, as I left them, which was the more insane of the two.
But she was not insane; she was a woman. A man may be reasoned and beaten out of a false opinion, but a woman never. She will not yield to logic, not even to the logic of events. Thus it happens that, while the male secessionists at the South have frankly given up their cause, the female secessionists still cling to it with provoking tenacity. To appeal to their intelligence is idle; but they are vulnerable on the side of the sentiments; and many a one has been authentically converted from the heresy of state rights by some handsome Federal officer, who judiciously mingled love with loyalty in his speech, and pleaded for the union of hands as well as the union of States.
[Next few chapters describe the work of various commissions distributing rations in Richmond, and the Unionist sentiments in Richmond]
IF temples are a token of godliness, Richmond should be a holy city. It has great pride in its churches; two of which are noteworthy.
The first is St. John's Church, on Church Hill,- a large, square-looking wooden meeting-house, whose ancient walls and rafters once witnessed a famous scene, and reechoed words that have become historical. Here was delivered Patrick Henry's celebrated speech, since spouted by every schoolboy, - " Give me liberty or give me death!" Those shining sentences still hang like a necklace on the breast of American Liberty. The old meeting house stands where it stood, overlooking the same earth and the same beautiful stream. But the men of that age lie buried in the dust of these old crowded church-yards; and of late one might almost have said that the wisdom of Virginia lay buried with them.
On the corner of Grace Street, opposite my hotel, I looked out every morning upon the composite columns and pilasters, and spire clean as a stiletto, of St. Paul's Church, with which are connected very different associations. This is the church, and (if you enter) yonder is the pew, in which Jeff Davis sat on Sundays, and heard the gospel of Christ interpreted from the slave-owners' point of view. Here he sat on that memorable Sabbath when Lee's dispatch was handed in to him, saying that Richmond was lost. The same preacher who preached on that day, still propounds his doctrines from the desk. The same sexton who handed in the dispatch glances at you, and, if you are well dressed, offers you a seat in a good place. The same white congregation that arose then in confusion and dismay, on seeing the President go out, sit quietly once more in their seats; and the same colored congregation looks down from the nigger gallery. The seats are still bare, - the cushions that were carried to the Rebel hospitals, to serve as mattresses, having not yet been returned.
Within an arrow's shot from St. Paul's, in the State Capitol, on Capitol Square, were the halls of the late Confederate Congress. I visited them only once, and found them a scene of dust and confusion, - emblematical. The desks and seats had been ripped up, and workmen were engaged in sweeping out the last vestiges of Confederate rule. The furniture, as I learned, was already at an auction-room on Main Street, selling under the hammer. I reported the fact to Mr. C, of the Union Commission, who was looking for furniture to be uSevensed in the freedmen's schools; and he made haste to bid for the relics. I hope he got them; for I can fancy no finer stroke of poetical justice than the conversion of the seats on which sat the legislators of the great slave empire, and the desks on which they wrote, into seats and desks for little negro children learning to read.
It was interesting, by the light of recent events, and in company with one who knew Richmond of yore, to make the tour of the old negro auction-rooms. Davis & Co.'s Negro Bazaar was fitting up for a concert hall. We entered a grocery store,- a broad basement room, with a low, dark ceiling, supported by two stout wooden pillars. "I've seen many a black Samson sold, standing between those posts; and many a woman too, as white as you or I." Now sugar and rice were sold there, but no more human flesh and blood. The store was kept by a Northern man, who did not even know what use the room had served in former years.
A short ride from the city are two cemeteries worth visiting. On one side, Hollywood, where lie buried President Monroe and his doctrine. On the other side, Oak Wood, a wild, uncultivated hill, half covered with timber and brush, shading numerous Confederate soldiers' graves. Here, set apart from the rest by a rude fence, is the "Yankee Cemetery," crowded with the graves of patriot soldiers, who fell in battle, or died of slow starvation and disease in Richmond prisons; a melancholy field, which I remember as I saw it one gusty September day, when wild winds swept it, and shook down over it whirling leaves from the reeling and roaring trees.
Lieut. M, of the Freedmen's Commission, having invited me to visit Camp Lee, about two miles from the city, came for me one afternoon in a fine large carryall, comfortably covered, cushioned, and carpeted.
"Perhaps you will not feel honored," he remarked, as we rattled up Broad Street, "but you will be interested to know that this is General Robert E. Lee's head-quarters' wagon.
You are riding on the seat he rode on through the campaigns of the last two years. Your feet are on a piece of carpet which one of the devoted secessionists of Richmond took up from his hall-floor expressly to line the General's wagon bottom, - little thinking Yankee boot-soles would ever desecrate it! After Lee's surrender, this wagon was turned over to the quartermaster's department, and the quartermaster turned it over to us." I was interested, indeed; I was carried back to those sanguinary campaigns; and I fancied I could see the face of him sitting there where I sat, and read the thoughts of his mind, and the emotions of his heart, in those momentous nights and days. I imagined the plans he revolved in his brain, shut in by those dark curtains; what he felt after victory, and what after defeat; the weariness of body and soul; the misgivings, the remorse, when he remembered his treason and the folly of Virginia, - for he certainly remembered them in the latter gloomy periods, when he saw the black cloud of doom settling down upon a bad and failing cause.
Camp Lee, formerly a fair ground, was the conscript camp of the Confederacy. I had been told many sad stories of young men, and men of middle age, some of them loyal, seized by the conscript officers and sent thither, as it were to a reservoir of the people's blood, whose stream was necessary to keep the machinery of despotism in motion. I paced the grounds where, with despairing hearts, they took their first lessons in the art by which they were to slay and be slain. I stood by the tree under which deserters were shot. Then I turned to a very different scene.
The old barrack buildings were now the happy homes of a village of freedmen. Groups of barefooted and woolly-headed negro children were at play before the doors, filling the air with their laughter, and showing all their ivory with grins of delight as I passed among them. The old men took off their caps to me, the wise old aunties welcomed me with dignified smiles, and the younger women looked up brightly from their ironing or cooking as I went by. The young men were all away at their work. It was, with few exceptions, a self-supporting community, only about a dozen old or infirm persons, out of three hundred, receiving aid from the government.
A little removed from the negro village was a cottage formerly occupied by Confederate officers.
"In that house," said the Lieutenant, "is living a very remarkable character. You know him by reputation _____, formerly one of the ablest writers on 'De Bow's Review,' and considered the great champion of slavery in the South."
"What! the author of ____? " a somewhat celebrated book in its day, and in the latitude for which it was written; designed to set forth the corrupt and perishable nature of free societies and progressive ideas, and to show that slavery was the one divine and enduring institution.
"The very man. He is now a pauper, living on the bounty of the government. The rent of that cottage is given him, and he draws rations of the Relief Commission. He will be glad to see you; and he has two accomplished daughters you will be glad to see."
Accordingly, we called upon him; but, declining to enter the house, we sat under the stoop, where we could look across the desolate country at the sunset sky.
Mr.___, an emaciated, sallow, feeble old man, received us affably, and talked with us freely on his favorite topics. He had lived to see the one divine and enduring institution die; but civilization still survived; and the race that found its welfare and happiness only in bondage seemed pretty well off, and tolerably happy, - witness the negro village close by; and the world of progressive ideas still moved on. Yet this great champion of slavery did not appear to have learned the first lesson of the times. All his arguments were the old arguments; he knew nothing but the past, which was gone forever; and the future to him was chaos.
His two daughters, young and accomplished, came and sat with us in the twilight, together with a vivacious young lady from Richmond. On our return to the city, Miss ____ accompanied us, with their visitor. The latter proved to be an audacious and incorrigible little Rebel, and regaled us with secesh songs. I remember a few lines.
"You can never win us back,
Though we perish in the track
Of your endeavor!"
"You have no such noble blood
For the shedding:
In the veins of Cavaliers
Was its heading!
You have no such noble men
In your abolition den,
To march through fire and fen,
[Following chapter, relating Southern attitudes towards emancipation, not transcribed]
AT nine o'clock one fine morning, Major K-, the young Judge-Advocate of the Department of Virginia, called for me by appointment, accompanied by an orderly bringing a tall war-horse General Terry was so kind as to furnish for my use.
I was soon mounted, and riding out of the city by the Major's side, - down the long, hilly street, past the Rocketts, by the left bank of the river, taking the New-Market Road. First we came to a circle of detached forts surrounding the city; a few minutes' ride farther on brought us to a heavy continuous line of earthworks surrounding the first line. These were the original fortifications of Richmond. Crossing a desolate undulating country of weeds and undergrowth, we reached the works below Laurel Hill, of more recent construction, and of a more formidable character. The embankments were eighteen feet high from the bottom of the ditch. This was some six feet deep and twelve broad. There were two lines of bristling abatis. These, together with the wooden revetments of the works, had been levied upon by the inhabitants in search of firewood.
Three quarters of a mile beyond we came to the heavy intrenchments of the Army of the James. Between the two lines were the picket-lines of the opposing forces, in places no more than three hundred yards apart. Here the two armies lay and watched each other through the last weary Autumn and Winter of the war. The earth was blotched with "gopher holes," - hasty excavations in which the veteran videttes proceeded at once to intrench themselves, on being sent out to a new post. "It was astonishing," said the Major, "to see what a breastwork they would throw up in a few minutes, with no other tools than a bayonet and a tin-plate. The moment they were at their station, down they went, scratching and digging."
We had previously stopped at Laurel Hill, to look across the broken country on the south, at Fort Gilmer, which the troops of General Foster's division charged with such unfortunate results. The Major, then serving on Foster's staff, participated in that affair. "I never can look upon this field," said he, "without emotion. I lost some of my dearest friends in that assault."
So it is in every battle: somebody loses his dearest friends.
We rode on past the Federal works into the winter-quarters of the army, -a city of huts, with streets regularly laid out, now deserted and in ruins. Here and there I noted an old fashioned New-England well-sweep still standing. The line of works was semicircular, both ends resting on the river. Within that ox-bow was the encampment of the Army of the James.
We next visited New-Market Heights, where Butler's colored regiments formed unflinchingly under fire, and made their gallant charge, wiping out with their own blood the insults that had been heaped upon them by the white troops. "The army saw that charge, and it never insulted a colored soldier after that," said the Major.
We then galloped across the country, intending to strike Dutch Gap Canal. Not a habitation was in sight. Vast fields spread before us, and we rode through forests of weeds that overtopped our horses' heads. We became entangled in earthworks, and had to retrace our course. More than once we were compelled to dismount and tear our way through abates and chevaux-de-frize. The result was, we lost our bearings, and, after riding several miles quite blindly, struck the James at Deep Bottom. Then up the river we galloped, traversing pine woods and weedy plains, avoiding marsh and gully, and leaping ditches, past Aiken's Landing, to a yellow elevation of earth across a narrow peninsula, which proved to be Dutch Gap.
The canal was there, - a short, deep channel connecting the river with the river again. The James here describes a long loop, seven miles in extent, doubling back upon itself, so that you may stand on this high bank, and throw a stone either into the southward-flowing or the northward-returning stream.
The canal, which cuts off these seven miles, is four hundred and eighty-six feet in length and fifty in depth from the summit of the bank. It is one hundred and twenty-two feet broad at the top, forty at the bottom, and sixty-five at the highwater level. On the lower side the channel is deep enough for ships. Not so at the upper end, - the head that was blown out having fallen back and filled up the canal. At high water, however, small vessels sometimes get through. The tide had just turned, and we found a considerable body of water pouring through the Gap.
Different accounts are given of the origin of the name of Dutch Gap. It is said that a Dutch company was once formed for digging a ship-canal at that place. But a better story is told of a Dutchman who made a bet with a Virginian, that he could beat him in a skiff-race between Richmond and City Point. The Virginian was ahead when they reached the Gap; what then was his astonishment, on arriving at City Point, to find the Dutchman there before him. The latter had saved the roundabout seven miles by dragging his canoe across the peninsula and launching it on the other side.
Riding up the Richmond road, we stopped at the first human habitation we had seen since leaving Laurel Hill. We had been several hours in the saddle, and stood greatly in need of refreshments. The sight of a calf and a churn gave us a promise of milk, and we tied our horses at the door. The house had been a goodly mansion in its day, but now everything about it showed the ruin and dilapidation of war. The windows were broken, and the garden, out-houses, and fences destroyed. This proved to be Cox's house, and belonged to a plantation of twenty-three hundred acres which included Dutch Gap. Looking at the desolation which surrounded it, I could hardly believe that this had formerly been one of the finest farms in Virginia, worked by a hundred negroes, and furnished with reapers, threshers, a grist-mill, and saw-mill, all of which had been swept away as if they had never been.
We found lying on a bed in a dilapidated room a poor man sick with the prevailing chills. He had some bread and milk brought for us, and gave us some useful hints about avoiding the torpedoes when we should reach Fort Harrison. He described to us the depredations committed on the place by "Old Butler "; and related how he himself was once taken prisoner by the Yankee marines on the river. " They gave me my choice, - to be carried before the admiral, or robbed of my horse and all the money I had about me. I preferred the robbing; so they cleared me out and set me free."
I said, "If you had been taken before the admiral, you would have got your liberty and saved your property."
His voice became deep and tremulous as he replied: " But I didn't consider horse nor money; I considered my wife. I'd sooner anything than that she should be distressed. She knew I was a prisoner, and all I thought of was to hurry home to her with the news that I was safe." Thus in every human breast, even though wrapped in rags, and guilty of crimes against country and kindred, abides the eternal spark of tenderness which atones in the sight of God for all.
Taking leave of the sick man, we paid a brief visit to the casemates of Fort Harrison, then spurred back to Richmond, which we reached at sunset, having been nine hours in the saddle and ridden upwards of forty miles.
Another morning, with two gentlemen of General Terry's staff, and an orderly to take care of our horses, I rode out of the city on the Nine Mile Road, which crosses the Chickahominy at New Bridge; purposing to visit some of the scenes of McClellan's Richmond campaign.
Passing the fortifications, and traversing a level, scarcely inhabited country, shorn of its forests by the sickle of war, we reached, by a cross-road, the line of the Richmond and York River Railroad. But no railroad was there; the iron of the track having been taken up to be used elsewhere.
Near by was Fair Oaks Station, surrounded by old fields, woods, and tracts of underbrush. Here was formerly a yard, in which stood a group of oaks, the lower trunks of which had been rendered conspicuous, if not beautiful, by whitewash: hence, "fair oaks."
It was a wild, windy, dusty day. A tempest was roaring through the pines over our heads as we rode on to the scene of General Casey's disaster. I asked an inhabitant why the place was called "Seven Pines." "I don't know, unless it's because there's about seven hundred."
He was living in a little wooden house, close by a negro hut. " The Yankees took me up, and carried me away, and destroyed all I had. My place don't look like it did before, and never will, I reckon. They come again last October; Old Butler's devils; all colors; heap of black troops; they didn't leave me anything."
He spoke with no more respect of the Confederates. " We had in our own army some of the durn'dest scapegalluses! The difference 'twixt them and the Yankees was, the Yankees would steal before our eyes, and laugh at us; but the Rebels would steal behind our backs."
On the south, we found the woods on fire, with a furious north wind fanning the flames. The only human being we saw was a man digging sweet potatoes. We rode eastward, along the lines of intrenchments thrown up by our troops after the battle; passed through a low, level tract of woods, on the borders of the Chickahominy swamps; and, pressing northward, struck the Williamsburg Road.
Colonel G, of our party, was in the Fair Oaks' fight. He came up with the victorious columns that turned back the tide of defeat.
"I never saw a handsomer sight than Sickles's brigade advancing up that road, Sunday morning, the second day of the battle. The enemy fired upon them from these woods, but never a man flinched. They came up in column, magnificently, to that house yonder; then formed in line of battle across these fields, and went in with flags flying and bayonets shining, and drove the Rebels. After that we might have walked straight into Richmond, but McClellan had to stop and go to digging."
We dismounted in a sheltered spot, to examine our maps, then passed through the woods by a cross-road to Savage's Station, coming out upon a large undulating field. Of Savage's house only the foundations were left, surrounded by a grove of locust-trees. My companions described to me the scene of McClellan's retreat from this place, - the hurry, the confusion, the flames of government property abandoned and destroyed. Sutlers forsook their goods. Even the officers' baggage was devoted to the torch. A single pile of hard tack, measuring forty cubic feet, was set on fire, and burned. Then came the battle of Savage's - Station, in which the corps of Franklin and Sumner, by determined fighting, saved our army from being overwhelmed by the entire Rebel force. This was Sunday again, the twenty-ninth of June: so great had been the change wrought by four short weeks! On that other Sunday the Rebels were routed, and the campaign, as some aver, might have been gloriously ended by the capture of Richmond. Now nothing was left for us but ignominious retreat and failure, which proved all the more humiliating, falling so suddenly upon the hopes with which real or fancied successes had inspired the nation.
[Next chapter, XXVII, describes the author's visit to Petersburg, and has not been transcribed.]