Hunting a Channel.

Jan. 22. The light-draught boats are engaged in finding and making a channel across the bar, or swash as it is called, of sufficient depth of water to enable the large steamers to cross into the sound. One great trouble about that is if they find one today it will all be filled up tomorrow We shall have to wait till calmer weather before we can cross.


A schooner came alongside today and left us rations of steamed pork, hardtack and condensed sea water. This was a very timely arrival as we have been very short of water for two or three days and pretty much everything else. Rattlesnake pork will taste pretty good again after a few days’ fast. Condensed sea water is rather a disagreeable beverage, but still is a little ahead of no water at all. I think, however, it might be made palatable by adding about nine parts whiskey to one of water. This water and pork is all manufactured here on the spot. They have a sort of rendering establishment where they make it, but I cannot believe that the pork would take a premium in any fair in the country unless it was for meanness.

A Ripple of Excitement.

Another rebel steamer came down the sound to-day to take a look at us and see how we are getting along. One of our boats gave chase and I reckon got a shot at her, as we heard reports of artillery. Those fellows are just smart enough to keep out of our way; I hope they will always be so. I have no great desire to shoot the cusses, but still if they get in my way, and I think they ought to be shot, I suppose I shall do it.

The theatre up in the saloon is a great success. They have just got out a new play, a kind of burlesque, entitled the Rasper Brothers, and large posters are sent over the boat announcing the unprecedented success of the Rasper Brothers; playing nightly to crowded houses and hundreds turned away; none should fail of witnessing this highly moral drama.

Old Dan.

Old Dan is having a terrible fit of the blues. He cannot understand why we were sent to this God-forsaken place. I tell him that God has not forsaken it but has sent us here to save it; and Dan, with a big oath, swore that it was not worth saving. I said to him: “You are seeing it at its worst. This is a famous watering-place; a great summer resort.” He thinks it might do first rate for a watering place; but cannot conceive of anyone who would want to resort here. He thinks the greatest mistake he has made in this whole business was in not running away as I advised him to, while at Annapolis.


Wednesday Jan’y 22d 1862

Nothing new today. Saw two of “Shorts & Smith” “Greek fire Bomb” burnt south of the Presidents House. It was (or appeared to be) quite a success. The Streets and crossings are worse than I have ever seen them before in this City. Called at Mr Hartleys for Julia on my return from the Prests, staid there an hour. On reaching home we found Ed Dickerson, who spent an hour or two here. He made my wife a present of a Bll of fine apples today, sent up by a cartman. They were very acceptable, and very fine quality “Baldwins.”


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.


To Mrs. Lyon

Cairo, Wednesday p. m., Jan. 22, 1862.—The boys are all in good health and spirits. The mud has dried up so that it is comfortable getting about on foot. A steamer that passed Sulphur Springs the next evening after you left there, with a regiment, the 55th Illinois, on board, has just arrived here. Wouldn’t we have had a nice time had we got off on a steamboat?

We are very well situated. The boys have fixed up the barracks (each company has a building by itself) so that they are very comfortable. Our quarters at one end are almost as good as a parlor. We have three coal stoves, one in the quarters and two in the barracks, and have no difficulty in keeping dry and warm.

We are gratified with the victory at Somerset, Ky., over Zollicoffer. It shows how western men fight. We shall whip them every time we meet them on anything like equal terms—up west here. Deserters from below say that the rebels fear and dread the Northwestern troops. When the grand expedition starts down the Mississippi the blows will fall thick and fast and most effectually on secession.


London, January 22, 1862

For life here is by no means what it is cracked up to be. The Trent business coming first destroyed all our country visits, for people have given up inviting us, on the just supposition that we would n’t care to go into society now. The small list of friends that we have are not always so American as one would like. So we generally dodge “exposure” as much as possible. But I am personally flabbergasted by the explosion of my Manchester bomb, or more properly, the return of the boomerang which has made me too notorious to be pleasant. The Times gently skinned me and the Examiner scalped me with considerable savageness. For myself I care about as much for the Times or the Examiner as I do for the Pekin Gazette; but, unfortunately, the American Minister in London is at this time an object of considerable prominence; an eyesore to an influential and somewhat unscrupulous portion of the community. Accordingly I form a convenient head to punch when people feel vicious and pugnacious. I have, therefore, to change the metaphor, found it necessary to take in every spare inch of canvas and to run (on a lee-shore) under double-close-reefed mizzen to’ gallant skysails, before a tremendous gale. In other words I have made myself as little an object of attack as possible. This reduces my means of usefulness to almost nothing and I might just as well be anywhere as here, except that I can’t leave the parent birds thus afloat on the raging tide.


We are sometimes anxious still and are likely to be more so. The truth is, we are now in a corner. There is but one way out of it and that is by a decisive victory. If there’s not a great success, and a success followed up, within six weeks, we may better give up the game than blunder any more over it. These nations, France probably first, will raise the blockade.

Such is the fact of our position. I am ready for it anyway, but I do say now that McClellan must do something within six weeks or we are done. This war has lasted long enough, to my mind.

There is precious little to tell you about here. France has again renewed her proposal to raise the blockade and there has been a discussion, or a battle about it. Prince Albert was strongly for peace with us, and now that he is dead it is understood that the Queen continues to favor his policy. Besides her, the King of Belgium has come over and is pressing earnestly for peace. His great object always is to counteract French influence when it points to war. We have a majority (probably) in the Cabinet of neutrality men, nor do I know whom to call the leader of the war-party in the Ministry. You must not misunderstand Palmerston. He means disunion, but not war unless under special influences.

We gave a dinner last week to Bishop Mcllvaine, and I went with mamma another day to breakfast with Mr. Senior. Met there the chief man of the Times, Lowe. He never speaks to any of us, and I certainly should n’t care to seem to make up to him. . . .


January, ‘62.

To-day we are going out to look up some nurses for Will Winthrop’s regiment, and then to the Senate. I forgot to tell you a pretty story we heard the other day from Mrs. Gibbons, our Quaker lady friend. She is a very sweet, kind old lady, and she and her daughter have been out at Fall’s Church getting the hospital there into working order, and showing them how to nurse and cook for the sick, and, thanks to them, one poor fellow who was dying was nursed back into the right road and is now nearly well enough to go home with his father, who, meantime, had been sent for. He, a plain well-to-do farmer from Western New York, was so overcome with gratitude to Mrs. G. and her daughter, that he entreated the young girl to go home with him and be his daughter! “He would do all in the world for her and she should be an equal sharer with his son in the farm of 300 acres,” and it was said (Mrs. Gibbons told us) in the most delicate, genuine way, without any allusion to the young Lieutenant and probably without the least idea of “making a match.” Of course the young girl declined, and then he went to the mother to ask if she hadn’t other daughters like herself for whom he could do something to show his gratitude. Isn’t it like some old ballad? . . .

The management of the jail was before the Senate yesterday and we heard the discussion, and left just before the bill was passed, requiring the release of all persons not committed for crime, which means, principally, the contrabands. Mr. Grimes, the chairman of the Committee on District affairs, abused Marshal Lamon roundly for his bad management and his insolent exclusion of congressmen from one of the institutions which it is their duty to supervise. Georgeanna sent Senator Dixon a note asking if, while the subject is before Congress, something can’t be done about separating children committed for petty crimes, from hardened criminals. . . . There ought to be a reformatory school attached to every jail.


January 22. — The Memphis Argus of this date holds the following language: “We are every day called upon to record the farcical freaks of Federal legislation, that transpire in the Lincoln Congress, as a part of the extraordinary history of the times. The bills proposing the indiscriminate confiscation of Southern property, and the disfranchisement of Southern citizens, have been already alluded to by us as measures of atrocity such as no truly civilized and Christian nation could endorse. We notice from the late Northern papers, that this pretended right of legislation for the Confederate States is still claimed by the Washington Parliament, and that we are to have a happy exemplification of it in a bill which one Mr. Hutchins, of Ohio, has announced that he will soon introduce into the lower house of that august body.

“This measure very humanely proposes that the enlightened and Christian North shall assume complete control over the ignorant and barbarous South, reducing all her States to the condition of a territorial or provincial government, and then immediately abolish slavery within their limits. This is another specimen of that wild and ferocious fanaticism which has seized on the Northern mind since the war began—a fanaticism which neither thinks, nor hears, nor sees, but feels, and raves, and burns. If Congress passes the measure, which is a more violent form of the bill introduced by Senator Baker, last fall, in the upper house of that body, the world may well regard it as an imitation of the vile and unmitigated iron despotism which Russia once maintained over Poland, and Austria over Hungary. But, happily for the South, the issue is not now one of legislation, but of the sword—not one of the ballot, but of the bayonet The more violent and ultra the measures introduced into the Lincoln Congress, the deeper the gulf between the Northern and Southern people for all future time.”

—The Ninth German regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Solomon, who so greatly distinguished himself under General Sigel at Springfield, Mo., left Milwaukee to-day for Fort Leavenworth, well armed and equipped.

—A Proclamation was issued to-day at Hatteras, N. C, by Marble Nash Taylor, loyal Provisional Governor of North-Carolina, congratulating the people of his State upon their deliverance from rebel thraldom by the “invincible arms of the Republic,” He calls upon all well-disposed persons to cooperate with this friendly army in restoring to their commonwealth the “ancient and inalienable rights” so recently lost. For this purpose, he announces the establishment of a Provisional Government for North Carolina, and appoints the 22d of February, an anniversary so sacred, as the day on which the ordinances of the Convention of November 18, 1861, will be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection. In order, also, that the State may resume her participation in the councils of the Union, he directs that, “upon the same day aforesaid, the polls be opened for the election of representatives in the Congress of the United States to fill existing vacancies.”—(Doc. 18.)


Tuesday Jan’y 21st 1862

Weather continues soft and unpleasant, a light rain nearly all day. Battle in Kentucky and death of Zollicoffer confirmed. “Sesesh” must now take a succession of hard Knocks. Our troops are now disciplined and more in Earnest. In the office a[s] usual. Went down to the National this evening, spent an hour or two in Mr Shorts room. Saw his partner in the “fire Bomb,” Lyman B Smith, Mr Jewett the Engraver of Buffalo, Maj Chapin from over the River, the “Ellsworth” Regt. I came home about 10 o’clock. The Maj thinks there is to be an advance soon. People are waiting for it with a great deal of impatience. Our armies are in good condition and eager for a “fight” everywhere.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.


Tuesday, January 21, 1862. — Colder, but still raining. What a flood this will cause if it’s general, as I think it is.

After being aroused by Thomas building a fire, I fell into a doze and dreamed. I thought Lucy had come and was in the room opposite to mine. I seemed to be partially asleep, and couldn’t awake. She came in and stood by the bedside, not very affectionate in manner. I tried to arouse and succeeded in telling her how much I loved her. She was kind but not “pronounced.” I thought, as I happened to see little Joe in her arms, that she was waiting to see me notice him and was hurt that I had not done so sooner. I spoke up cheerfully, held out my arms for him. I saw his face. He was a pretty child — like Webb, with sister Fanny’s eyes, a square forehead, but his face looked too old, bright, and serious for a boy of his age; looked as a child of two or three years who had lost flesh.

I also dreamed during the night of being at home — anxiously, so anxiously, looking at the newspapers for news from the Cairo expedition; feared it would be defeated; reflected on the advantages the enemy had in their fortifications over an attacking party, and began to feel that the news must be disastrous.


Jan. 21. The weather still continues in an unsettled state. Although not so rough as it was, it is still too rough to attempt to do much. All the vessels of our fleet are now here, except those that were lost and the schooner with the signal corps. Nothing has been heard from her, and we are beginning to think that she too may be lost. Albert Tucker of company B died this morning, and his body was taken ashore and buried on the beach this afternoon. It is a sad sight to see men die and be buried here on this low, lonely sand-bar.


He lies on the beach, the cold waters beside.

And lonely and sad was the death that he died.

No mother mourns o’er him, no fond fair one weeps

Where far from the land of his fathers he sleeps.

But the mad swelling waves and the wild birds career

O’er the wet sandy grave of the young volunteer.


January 21.—The expedition which left Cairo, Ill., on the 10th inst, consisting of nearly five thousand men of all arms of the service, under command of Brigadier-General McClernand, returned to camp to-day, having been absent about ten days. The object of the expedition was to penetrate the interior of Kentucky, in the neighborhood of Columbus, on the Mississippi, and towards Mayfield and Camp Beauregard. The expedition was highly successful, having reconnoitered the country within a mile and a half of the enemy’s entrenchments at Columbus, by which fears of an attack were excited in the rebel camps. Several mounted rebel pickets were taken prisoners during various reconnoissances on the way; rebel couriers from Columbus were captured, and a number of roads, not mentioned on the maps, were discovered. The enemy’s position at Columbus was fully ascertained, and the existence of many loyal citizens proved.—(Doc. 17.)

—A Report by Adjutant-General Harding to Governor Gamble, shows that thirty-three thousand eight hundred and eighty-two Missouri troops have entered the Federal service for three years, or during the war; of which twenty-five thousand are infantry, three thousand artillery, and six thousand cavalry. The number of militia organized under the Governor’s call for six months men is upward of six thousand.

—Lieutenant Ammen, commanding United States gunboat Seneca, reported to Commodore Dupont that the negroes in the neighborhood of Port Royal, S. Ct, were anxious to obtain arms, confident of their ability to use them with effect.


Camp Union, Fayetteville, Virginia, January 20, 1862. Monday.— This is the birthday of sister Fanny. Dear, dear sister, so lovely, such a character! She would have been forty-two years old today. Now six years — six years next June — since she left us.

Rained during the night. Warm, and probably more rain today. This is the January thaw. The mud is beaten down by the rain. The thunder roaring now. Very few thunder-storms; not more than three or four since we came to western Virginia.

A pleasant lull in the storm gave me a chance for a parade last evening, or rather the adjutant asked if we should have one. I, supposing him to be joking, said, “Yes, the weather is so favorable.” He ordered it and I was caught. I got a captured Caskie Cavalry sabre, slung it across my shoulder, and went through with [it]. We returned in column by companies closed in mass. The men marched well in the mud and it went off with spirit.

Spent the evening reading the [Cincinnati] Gazette of the 16th, eating peaches with Avery and Gardner, and listening to their tales of life on the plains and in Mexico. Avery’s story of the Navajos running off goats and sheep and his killing an Indian will do to tell Birch.


Bird’s Point, Mo., January 20, 1862.

It goes confounded good once more to stand on boards, and be able to sit down without wet coming through a fellow’s pants. If I write and tell you where we’ve been, you won’t read it, and if I don’t write all about it you’ll scold, so of the two I’ll choose the first and tell you all I know. We got on the steamer “Aleck Scott” last Tuesday morning with five days’ rations and started down the river through very heavy floating ice. ‘Twas a very cold day and full three inches of snow lay on the ground. We landed at Fort Jefferson and camped for the night. By some mismanagement our tents and equipage failed to come and we had to cook the bacon we had in our haversacks on sticks over the fire, for supper, and sleep out on the snow, without tents to protect us from the wind. That was a sweet old night! Next day we shouldered our knapsacks, blankets all wet by a rain from 2 to 5 in the morning, and awful heavy, and tramped about ten miles in a southeast direction, through Blanville, Ballard County; and camped on Mayville Creek. Again we lay on the snow and frozen ground with feather beds of brush, and at 9 next morning started on the road to Columbus. We went out to Little Meadows which is about eight or nine miles from Columbus, and halted. Taylor’s battery was with us and they now unlimbered and planted their guns to cover all of the four or five roads which lead from here to the river. McClernand’s brigade of six or seven regiments, and Cook’s of two regiments, were in advance of us with 1,000 cavalry, and I think that we acted here as a reserve, for them to fall back on if repulsed in a fight. We waited here two hours and then formed again and returned to our camp of the previous night. It had turned warm by this time and the slush was six inches deep on our backward march. Slept in the mud that night and remained in camp all next day, during which it rained every hour. Friday night it rained in a small way all the time, and in the morning, (if you remember when you have too many clothes in a tub of water how the water will “slosh” when you press the clothes) you’ll understand my “condish.” I had my blanket spread on some stiff brush, and Mr. Aqua surrounded brush, and every time Wills turned, brush would bend and water would slosh and blanket would leak and upshot was, Wills was damb’d wet, but too spunky to get up until he’d had his nap. Saturday we got out of “provish,” and at 1 p.m. we struck tents, and thought we were off for home sure. But we only marched back a few miles and camped at Elliott’s Mills. Here, by orders from the colonel, we killed two hogs for the company, and he took what cornmeal we wanted from the mill, and we supped sumptuously. Here although the mud was deep we slept finely. There was a cypress swamp near and the bark can be torn into the finest shavings. That was just as good as we wanted. Sunday we started for the river and of all the marches, that beats! We waded through at least eight streams from one to two feet deep and five to ten yards wide. I had shoes, and after wading the first stream, I cut all the front upper off to let the water out handier. I made it gay and festive after that. Object of expedish, don’t know, don’t care, only know that it did me good. I feel 100 per cent better than I did when I started. Col. Pitt Kellogg has brought me my commission as 1st lieutenant in his regiment, and I am adjutant in the 3d batallion, Major Rawalts. I go to Cape Girardeau the last of this week.


Navy Department, January 20, 1862.

Flag-officer D. G. Farragut,

Appointed to command Western Gulf

Blockading Squadron,

Sir: When the Hartford is in all respects ready for sea, you will proceed to the Gulf of Mexico with all possible dispatch, and communicate with Flag Officer W. W. McKean, who is directed by the inclosed dispatch to transfer to you the command of the “Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. . . . There will be attached to your squadron a fleet of bomb-vessels and armed steamers enough to manage them, all under command of Commander D. D. Porter, who will be directed to report to you. As fast as these vessels are got ready they will be sent to Key West to await the arrival of all, and the commanding officers, who will be permitted to organize and practice with them at that port.

When these formidable mortars arrive and you are completely ready, you will collect such vessels as can be spared from the blockade, and proceed up the Mississippi River and reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans, when you will appear off that city and take possession of it under the guns of your squadron, and hoist the American flag therein, keeping possession until troops can be sent to you. If the Mississippi expedition from Cairo shall not have descended the river, you will take advantage of the panic to push a strong force up the river to take all their defenses in the rear.

As you have expressed yourself perfectly satisfied with the force given to you, and as many more powerful vessels will be added before you can commence operations, the Department and the country require of you success. . . . There are other operations of minor importance which will commend themselves to your judgment and skill, but which must not be allowed to interfere with the great object in view—the certain capture of the city of New Orleans.

Destroy the armed barriers which, these deluded people have raised up against the power of the United States Government, and shoot down those who war against the Union; but cultivate with cordiality the first returning reason which is sure to follow your success.

Respectfully, etc.,

Gideon Welles.


Monday January 20th 1862

Another wet mudy day. The Govt Teams are in constant motion and the streets are a complete bed of mortar three or four inches deep over the roadway and two or three inches over the crossings. News rcd today of a Victory of my old friend Schoepf over Zollicoffer in Kentucky. Will get more news in reference to it tomorrow (probably) if true. The citizens are much alarmed now on account of the prevalence of the Small pox in the City. It is in fact all over the City. Betwen my house and the patent office, down 9th street which I travel every day, there are five cases. The Small Pox Ambulance with the Yellow flage carrying Soldier patients is seen every day in the streets. It is generaly given a wide berth. Called with wife this evening at Mr Pecks and Mr Bartletts. Wife got a letter today from Mrs Brownson which was quite gratifying with its photograph of Willie Brownson as Midshipman at the Naval School at Newport R.I.


The three diary manuscript volumes, Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865, are available online at The Library of Congress.


January 20, 1862.

The papers north are all anxiety to have McClellan march upon the enemy, and so we shall probably have to turn out of this pleasant camp before long. Already preparations for campaigning are being made, by clearing out a lot of superfluous stuff that the men have loaded themselves down with; it is wonderful what a lot of accumulations soon gather in a camp, and how difficult it is to get rid of it. In order to be ready for moving, I bought a horse the other day from Bell’s friend, Lieutenant Bailey, quartermaster Lincoln Cavalry; a dapple gray, fifteen hands, six years old, very handsome, and a good goer. I tried him at their camp, and fell in love with him at once; Bailey mounted him, and showed off his jumping; he cleared the kitchen, ditches, and everything else in range in beautiful style, and looked like a deer. I paid one hundred and fifty dollars for him and bought also a saddle, bridle, halter, holster, and everything quite complete and necessary for the campaign. Seth took charge of him and thinks him the finest horse in the army. He is a fine goer, carries his head superbly, and I shall take great pride in riding him. A few days after I bought him, I was ordered to report to brigade headquarters and to my surprise, Fiske notified me that he was going home on sick leave, and that the general, at his suggestion, was going to detail me as acting adjutant-general of the brigade till he got back. Up to this time, I had never spoken to a real general, and looked upon French as a fearful and wonderful being. He is magnificent in phisique; and the beau ideal of an old soldier, stepping as though he owned the earth; always followed by an orderly, either on foot, or horseback, ready to answer his slightest call. He is a splendid horseman, and everything about him is magnificent. He has a peculiar habit of winking with both eyes, which seems extremely curious, and until you get used to it, you are troubled to keep from laughing, which would be a dreadful thing. To this modern Hector, I was presented by Fiske. He received me very pleasantly, asked several questions, and then requested me to move over in the morning with my belongings, and assume the duties of adjutant general. I returned to regimental headquarters as proud as d’Artagnan and reported to the colonel the result of my interview. The colonel was proud of his adjutant being selected in preference to any other, and congratulated me on having been called upon for this duty. Seth is mighty conceited about the change from regiment to brigade headquarters, and feels the promotion quite as much as I; he looks more dignified than ever, and says confidently, that it is only a question of time when we shall go on the staff of the commander-in-chief.


Westwood, Hanover County, January 20,1862.—I pass over the sad leave-taking of our kind friends in Clarke and Winchester. It was very sad, because we knew not when and under what circumstances we might meet again. We left Winchester, in the stage, for Strasburg at ten o’clock at night, on the 24th of December. The weather was bitter cold, and we congratulated ourselves that the stage was not crowded. Mr. _____ and the girls were on the back seat, a Methodist clergyman, a soldier, and myself on the middle, and two soldiers and our maid Betsey on the front seat. We went off by starlight, with every prospect of a pleasant drive of eighteen miles. As we were leaving the suburbs of the town, the driver drew up before a small house, from which issued two women with a baby, two baskets, several bundles, and a box. The passengers began to shout out, “Go on, driver; what do you mean? there’s no room for another; go on.” The driver made no answer, but the women came to the stage-door, and began to put in their bundles; the gentlemen protested that they could not get in—there was no room. The woman with the baby said she would get in; she was “agwine to Strasburg to spend Christmas with her relations, whar she was born and raised, and whar she had not been for ten year, and nobody had a better right to the stage than she had, and she was agwine, and Kitty Grim was agwine too—she’s my sister-law; and so is baby, ’cause baby never did see her relations in Strasburg in her life. So, Uncle Ben!” she exclaimed to the driver, “take my bag, basket, and box by you, and me and Kitty and baby, and the bundles and the little basket, will go inside.” All this was said amidst violent protestations from the men within: “You can’t get in; driver, go on.” But suiting the action to the word, she opened the door, calling, “Come, Kitty,” got on the step, and thrust her head in, saying: “If these gentlemen is gentlemen, and has got any politeness, they will git out and set with Uncle Ben, and let ladies come inside.” A pause ensued. At last a subdued tone from the soldier on the middle seat was heard to say: “Madam, if you will get off the step, I will get out.” “Very well, sir; and why didn’t you do that at first? And now,” said she, looking at a man on the front seat, “there’s another seat by Uncle Ben; sposen you git out and let Kitty Grim have your seat; she’s bound to go.” The poor man quietly got out, without saying a word, but the very expression of his back, as he got out of the stage, was subdued. “Now, Kitty, git in, and bring the little basket and them two bundles; they won’t pester the lady much.” The door was closed, and then, the scene being over, the passengers shouted with laughter.


Our heroine remained perfectly passive until we got to the picket-post, a mile from town. The driver stopped; a soldier came up for passports. She was thunder-struck. “Passes! Passes for white folks! I never heard of such a thing. I ain’t got no pass; nuther is Kitty Grim.” I suggested to her to keep quiet, as the best policy. Just at that time a Tennessee soldier had to confess that he had forgotten to get a passport. “You can’t go on,” said the official; and the soldier got out. Presently the woman’s turn came. “Madam, your passport, if you please.” “I ain’t got none; nuther is Kitty Grim (that’s my sister-in-law); we ain’t agwine to git out nuther, ’cause we’s gwine to Strasburg to spend Christmas with my relations, and I ain’t been thar for ten year, and I never heard of white folks having passes.” “But, madam,” began the official ——— “You needn’t to ‘but, madam,’ me, ’cause I ain’t agwine to git out, and I’d like to see the man what would put me out. This is a free country, and I’se agwine to Strasburg this night; so you might as well take your lantern out of my face.” “But, madam, my orders,” began the picket. “Don’t tell me nothing ’bout orders; I don’t care nothing ’bout orders; and you needn’t think, ’cause the Tennessee man got out, that I’se agwine to git out—’cause I ain’t. Ain’t I got three sons in the army, great sight bigger than you is? and they fit at Manassas, and they ain’t no cowards, nuther is their mother; and I ain’t agwine to git out of this stage this night, but I’m gwine to Strasburg, whar I was born and raised.”

The poor man looked non-plussed, but yet another effort; he began, “My dear madam.” “I ain’t none of your dear madam; I’se just a free white woman, and so is Kitty Grim, and we ain’t no niggers to git passes, and I’se gwine ‘long this pike to Strasburg. Now I’se done talking.” With this she settled herself on the seat, and leant back with a most determined air; and the discomfited man shut the door amid peals of laughter from within and from without. In a few minutes we were quiet again, and all began to settle themselves for sleep, when the silence was broken by our heroine: “Kitty, is you sick?” “No,” said Kitty. “Well, it is a wonder. Gentlemen, can’t one of you take Kitty’s seat, and give her yourn? she gits monstrous sick when she is ariding with her back to the horses.” There was a deathlike silence, and my curiosity was aroused to know how she would manage that point. After a few moments she began again. “Kitty, is you sick?” “No,” says Kitty, “not yit.” “Well, I do wish one of you gentlemen would give Kitty his seat.” Still no reply. All was becoming quiet again, when she raised her voice: “Kitty Grim, is you sick?” “Yes,” said Kitty, “just a little.” “I knowed it; I knowed she was sick; and when Kitty Grim gits sick, she most in gineral flings up!” The effect was electric. “My dear madam,” exclaimed both gentlemen at once, “take my seat; by all means take my seat.” The Methodist clergyman being nearest, gave up his seat and took hers. The change was soon effected amidst the most uproarious laughter, all feeling that they were fairly outgeneraled the third time. From that time until we reached Strasburg, at two o’clock, she kept up a stream of talk, addressed to the baby, never interrupted except once, when the quiet-looking soldier on the front seat ventured to say, “Madam, do you never sleep?“Never when I’m a-travelling,” was the curt reply; and she talked on to the baby: “Look at all them mules—what a sight of fodder they must eat! The Yankees come down to fight us, ’cause we’se got niggers and they ain’t got none. I wish there warn’t no niggers. I hate Yankees, and I hate niggers too,” etc., until we got to Strasburg. She then called out to “Uncle Ben” not to carry her to the depot—she was “agwine to her uncle’s.” “Whar’s that?” cried Uncle Ben. “I don’t know, but monstrous nigh a tailor’s.” One of the passengers suggested that we might be left by the cars, and had better go on to the depot. But she objected, and we had become a singularly non-resisting company, and allowed her to take—what we knew she would have—her own way.

In the mean time the cars arrived, crowded with soldiers. It was very dark and cold; the confusion and noise were excessive—shouting, hallooing, hurrahing. We passed through the dense crowd, and into the cars, with some difficulty. Mr. _____ returned to look for the baggage. At last all seemed ready, and off we went; but what was our horror to find that Mr. _____ was not in the cars! All the stories that we had ever heard of persons being thrown from the train as they attempted to get on, arose to our imagination. The darkness and crowd were great. Might he not have been thrown from the platform? We became more and more uneasy. The conductor came by; I questioned him, thinking he might be in another car. He replied, “No, madam, there is no such gentleman on the train.” At this moment the Methodist minister, who had been in the stage, introduced himself as the Rev. Mr. Jones; he knew Mr. _____; he offered me his purse and his protection. I can never forget his kindness. He thought Mr. _____ had not attempted to get on the train; there was so much baggage from the stage that there was some difficulty in arranging it; he would telegraph from Manassas when we stopped to change cars, and the answer would meet us at Culpeper Court-House. All this was a great relief to us. At Manassas he attended to our baggage; one piece was wanting—a box, which Mr. J. had seen in Mr. _____’s hands, just before the train set off; he seemed convinced that Mr. _____ was detained by an ineffectual effort to get that box on the car. At Culpeper Court-House we found J. waiting for us at the depot. Our kind and Rev. friend did not give up his supervision of us until he saw us under J’s care. We immediately applied at the office for our expected telegram; but it was not there. As it was Christmas-day, the office was closed at a very early hour, which seemed to me a strange arrangement, considering the state of the country. J. felt no uneasiness about his father, but was greatly disappointed, as he had expected to pass that day with him. I had heard in Winchester that my nephew, W. B. Phelps, had been wounded in the unfortunate fight at Dranesville, and felt great uneasiness about him; but J. had seen persons directly from Centreville, who reported him slightly wounded. This relieved my mind, but it was most unfortunate; for, had I known the truth, I should have gone on the return train to Manassas, and thence to Centreville, for the purpose of nursing him. We spent Christmas-day at the hotel, and dined with a number of soldiers. In the afternoon we were very much gratified to meet with the family of our neighbour, Captain J. The Captain is stationed here, and the ladies have made themselves very comfortable. We took tea with them, and talked over our mutual troubles: our lost homes—our scattered families and friends.


The next morning the train came at the usual hour, bringing Mr. _____. Some difficulty in putting a small box of books on the car had caused a slight detention, and as he was almost in the act of stepping on board, the train moved off, and there he was, left in the dead of a winter’s night, without shelter, (for, strange to say, there is no stationhouse at Strasburg,) without light, and with no one to whom he could apply for assistance. He walked back to the village, and there, to use his own expression, he “verily thought he should have to spend the freezing night in the street.” At a number of houses he knocked loud and long, but not a door was opened to him. At last a young man in an office, after giving scrutinizing glances through the window, opened his door and gave him a chair by his fire, assigning as a reason for the difficulty in getting accommodations, that the number of disorderly soldiers passing through the village made it dangerous to open the houses during the night. At daybreak he got on a freight train, hoping to find at Manassas the means of getting to Culpeper Court-House that night. In this he was disappointed, and had a most unpleasant trip on the train, which did not reach Manassas until sunset. There he found no place to sleep, and nothing to eat, until a colonel, whose name he unfortunately has forgotten, invited him to his quarters in the country. He accepted the invitation most gladly, and as it was very dark, he took a servant as a guide, who proved to know no more about the way than he did; so that both blundered and stumbled along a muddy lane, over fences, through a corn-field, over the stalks and corn-beds, until, by what seemed a mere accident, they came upon the longed-for house and found rest for the night. Next morning we joined him on the train, delighted to see him safe and sound, feeling that “all’s well that ends well;” we proceeded pleasantly on our journey. J. accompanied us as far as Gordonsville, that he might have two hours with his father. That evening we reached this place after dark, and found a house full of friends and relatives—the house at S. H. also full—so that it was a real family gathering, as in days of yore; and to add to our pleasure, our dear W. B. N. was at home on furlough. Here we see nothing of war, except the uniform of the furloughed soldiers and the retrenchment in the style of living. Desserts and wine are abolished; all superfluities must go to the soldiers. In some respects we are beginning to feel the blockade; groceries are becoming scarce and high in price, but the ladies are becoming wonderfully ingenious—coffee is so judiciously blended with parched corn, wheat or rye, that you scarcely detect the adulteration. The dressy Southern girls are giving up their handsome bonnets, wrappings, and silk dresses; they are perfectly willing to give up what once they considered absolutely necessary to their wardrobes. They say they do not enjoy such things now; they are, however, bright and cheerful; they sing patriotic songs to their furloughed friends, and listen with undying interest to anecdotes of the battle-field, with tears for the fallen, sympathy for the wounded, and the most enthusiastic admiration for deeds of daring, or for the patient endurance of the soldier. It is delightful to see the unanimity of feeling, the oneness of heart, which pervades Virginia at this time; and we believe it is so throughout the South.



We were, however, soon saddened by a letter from Centreville, from a comrade of our dear Willie Phelps to my brother, saying that the wound was more severe than it was at first supposed. He immediately set out for Centreville, but none of us dreamed of real danger. The reports came from him less and less favourable; I wanted to go to him, but the letters were discouraging to me—” There was no room for me; ladies would be in the way in so small a hospital;” and some strange hallucination and blindness to danger led us to abandon the idea of going to him. We knew that he had lost his arm, but did not dream of danger to his life. His mother, at her home in Covington, Kentucky, saw his name among the wounded, and notwithstanding the cold and ice, set off alone—came through Pittsburg and to Baltimore without difficulty, thence to Washington; but there no passport could be obtained to come to Virginia. Her son was but twenty miles off, certainly wounded; she knew no more. She applied in person to the proper authorities: “Is your son in the rebel camp?” was asked. “Then no passport can be given you to visit him.” She remembered that General McClellan (who had been a friend in the old army of her son-in-law, General Mcintosh) was in the city. She drove to his house. Mrs. McClellan expressed great sympathy for her, and for “your son, the interesting young man I met with in Cincinnati,” but regretted that General McClellan was too ill to be spoken to on any subject; he was under the influence of anodynes, etc, etc. She then drove to the house of Mr. Chase, who had been for many years at the bar with her husband, and on most friendly terms. The servant replied pompously that Mr. Chase never saw company at that hour. She then sent for Miss C. The daughter very politely regretted that her father could not be seen until the next day at ten. She could do nothing but return to the hotel for another night of suspense. Next morning, in passing through the parlours, she encountered a lady from her own State, who greeted her pleasantly; she was preparing to entertain her friends—it was New Year’s day. “Won’t you be with us, Mrs. P.? You may meet some old friends.” An apology for declining the invitation was given, by a simple statement of her object in coming to Washington. “Where is your son?” “In the Southern army.” “Oh,” she exclaimed, “not in the rebel camp! Not a rebel!” and she curled her loyal lip in scorn. “Yes,” was the quiet reply, “he is what you call a rebel; but it is the honoured name which Washington bore;” and with a spirit not soothed by her countrywoman, she passed on to the street, got into a carriage, and proceeded to the house of Mr. Chase. It was ten o’clock—surely there could be no obstacle now. He soon entered—she introduced herself and her subject. Mr. C. was polite, but professed to be able to do nothing for her: “I am not the proper person to whom such an application should be made.” “I know that; but to whom shall I apply?” He said, “He did not know how to advise her; the case was a difficult one; your son is in the rebel camp; I think that you cannot get a passport.” She then, in a state of despair, exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Chase, he is the son of your old acquaintance, Mr. _____!” He was at once touched. “Are you his widow?”Yes.” “But how came your son to join the rebels?” “Because his father and myself were both Virginians; he was educated in Virginia, and his whole heart is in the Southern cause.” He immediately wrote a note to Mr. Seward, which he advised her to deliver in person ; it would probably produce the desired effect. To Mr. Seward’s she drove. The servant invited her in, but supposed that the Secretary could not attend to business, as it was New Year’s day. The note was sent up; an attache soon came down to say that the Secretary could not be seen, but that a passport would be given her, to go at least as far as Fortress Monroe—no passport could be given to go immediately to Centreville. She was thankful for this permission; but it seemed too hard that she should be obliged to go around hundreds of miles, when the object could be accomplished by going twenty.

She took the evening train to Baltimore, thence, next morning, to Fortress Monroe; she reached it in safety that evening. The boat was visited by a provost-marshal as soon as it touched the wharf, who, after examining passports, took hers, and some others, to General Wool. An answer from this high officer was long delayed, but at last it was brought. She could not land, but must return in the boat to Baltimore; it would leave for Baltimore next morning. She poured out her griefs to the officer, who, sympathizing with her story, said he would again apply to General Wool He soon returned to say that she might land, and her case would be examined into next morning. Next day she was requested to walk into General Wool’s office. He asked why she wanted to go to Virginia. The story was soon told. Then the stereotyped question: “Is your son in the rebel army?” with the usual answer. “Then,” he replied, “you cannot go.” Despair took possession of her soul. She forgot her own situation, and, with the eloquence of a mother, almost frantic with anxiety, she pleaded her cause. Even the obdurate heart of General Wool was moved. He asked her what she knew of the army at Washington, She replied, that she knew nothing; she had only seen the soldiers who passed her on the street. “What have you seen of our army here?” “Nothing, for I have been too unhappy to think of it, and only left my room when summoned by you.” “Then,” said he, “you may take the first boat to Norfolk.” The hour for the departure of the boat came, her trunk was duly searched, and she came off to the dearly-loved Confederacy. She reached Norfolk too late for the cars, and had to wait until next day. On reaching Richmond, she heard that her son had been brought to this place, and was doing well. The next evening she arrived here in a carriage, and was shocked and disappointed to find that she had been misinformed. Heavy tidings reached us that night: he was not improving, as we had hoped, but decidedly worse. At two o’clock in the morning I accompanied her to the depot, eight miles off, and we went on to Manassas; reached the junction after night, and were met by our brother and W. B. N. They knew that we would be in the cars, and came to meet us. As they approached us, I saw, by the dim light of the car lamp, that their countenances were sad. My heart sunk within me. What could it be? Why had they both left him? She had not seen them, and said to me, “Come, we must get an ambulance and go to Centreville to-night.” But in another moment the whole was told. Her child had died that morning, just ten hours before. Who can describe that night of horrors? We spent it in a small house near the depot. Friends and near kindred were full of sympathy, and the people in whose house we were, were kind and considerate. The captain of his company, a noble young friend from her own home, Covington, came to see her, and to condole with her; but her first-born was not—the darling of her heart had passed away! At daylight we were in the cars again, on our melancholy return. On the third day his dear remains were brought to us, and the mother saw her heroic son, in his plain soldier’s coffin, but beautiful in death, committed to God’s own earth, having fallen in a glorious cause, in the faith of the Gospel, and with a bright hope of a blessed immortality. The young Kentucky friend who accompanied his remains told her his last words, which were a wonderful consolation to her: “Tell my mother that I die in the faith of Christ; her early instructions have been greatly blessed to me; and my last word is, Mother.” This was said in extreme weakness. He soon slept, and never awoke in this world. One young soldier said to me that night, at Manassas: “He was one of the bravest men I ever saw, and met death like a soldier.” Another said: “He died like a Christian.” Scarcely had we buried him, when news was brought us that her younger, now her only son, was desperately ill on the steamer “Jamestown,” on James River—he belongs to our navy. She hurried to Richmond, and thence down the river to the steamer, but found him better. He was soon well enough to accompany her to this place. She had left her home suddenly, and must return to it; so, after a few days with her boy, who is now decidedly convalescent, she has left him in our care, and has set off on her weary way home. She will probably meet with no difficulties on her return, from officials, as she has passports through our lines; but she has a lonely, dreary way before her, and a sorrowful story for her young daughter at home. God be with her!


January 20.—The Confederate schooner Wilder, from Havana, was captured in Mobile (Ala.) Bay, three miles below Fort Morgan. The schooner, seeing the Union cruiser approach, made for the beach, but had no time to save any thing before the cruiser came within range.

The Unionists lowered their launches, boarded the schooner, lowered the colors, and commenced discharging the cargo into their launches within three hundred yards of the beach. Capt. Ward, of the Wilder, says he had set English colors before he left. As regards the fight, he says that the enemy came up in their launches. Some of Capt. William Cottrill’s scouts met them and fired a few volleys, but did little or no damage. A despatch was sent to the Captain, who came down at about eight o’clock in the evening with reinforcements, and went into the engagement in good earnest, killing about twenty-five or thirty, that is, all that were in one launch, and some others in another launch. The Unionists fired several rounds of shots and shells from the steamer, and also several rounds from the howitzers on the launches and musketry, but not doing the slightest damage to any one on our side. One of the steamers drew off, and her place was filled by another, which also took part in the engagement, but with no effect. At night the steamer came alongside and towed the schooner off. Afterward, Captain Cottrill’s men picked up one of their small-boats which was pierced from stem to stern with bullets.—Mobile Tribune.

— Dr. George Blackball, a surgeon in the rebel navy, died at Norfolk, Va., this day. He was, before his death, in charge of the general hospital at the above place.

—The Secretary of War, at Washington, this day issued the following:

This Department recognizes as the first of its duties to take measures for the relief of the brave men who, having imperilled their lives in the military service of the Government, are now prisoners and captives. It is, therefore, ordered that two Commissioners be appointed to visit the city of Richmond, in Virginia, and wherever else prisoners belonging to the army of the United States may be held, and there take such measures as may be needful, to provide for the wants and contribute to the comfort of such prisoners at the expense of the United States and to such extent as may be permitted by the authorities under whom such prisoners are held.

—The Eighty-first New-York regiment, Colonel Edmund Rose, left Fort Ontario this morning for Albany, en route to the seat of war.

—The Richmond Examiner, of this day, has the following:

The times when the cat-o’-nine-tails was the instrument of naval discipline, and soldiers were strapped to the ground, and their backs mangled with the scourge, have passed, for us at least, into the traditions of another generation. We arc shocked, however, to hear that a navy punishment has been invented in our army which surpasses the horrors of the scourge, and has borrowed its suggestion from the punishments of the Inquisition. It is the thumb torture.

The mode of punishment is to hang the soldier by stramps on the thumb, so that his toes may scarcely touch the ground, and the weight of his body depend from the strained ligaments. We are informed, by testimony that does not admit of question, that this horrid punishment has been practised in a portion of the army on the Potomac, and has been witnessed in the case of two or three men subjected to the torture.

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