Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Englishman passes through

Today at Brandy Station: June 20, 1863

From the Colonel Arthur J. L. Freemantle Diaries.

Armed with letters of introduction from the Secretary at War for Generals Lee and Longstreet, I left Richmond at 6 a.m. to join the Virginian army. I was accompanied by a sergeant of the Signal Corps, sent by my kind friend Major Norris, for the purpose of assisting me in getting on. We took the train as far as Culpeper, and arrived there at 5:30 p.m., after having changed cars in Gordonsville…The weather is quite cool after the rain of last night…Culpeper was, until five days ago, the headquarters of Generals Lee and Longstreet; but since Ewell’s recapture of Winchester, the whole army had advanced with rapidity, and it was my object to catch up as quickly as possible. On arriving at Culpeper, my sergeant handed me over to another myrmidon of Major Norris, with orders from that officer to supply me with a horse, and take me himself to join Mr. Lawley, who had passed through for the same purpose as myself three days before. Sergeant Norris, my new chaperon, is cousin to Major Norris, and is a capital fellow. Before the war he was a gentleman of good means in Maryland and was accustomed to a life of luxury. Although he was unwell when we arrived, and it was pouring with rain, he proposed that we should start at once – 6p.m. I agreed, and we did so. Our horses both had sore backs, were both unfed, except on grass, and mine was deficient of a shoe. They nevertheless traveled well, and we reached a hamlet called Woodville, fifteen miles distant; at 9:30. We had great difficulty in procuring shelter; but at length we overcame the in hospitality of a native, who gave us corn for our horses, and a blanket on the floor for ourselves.

Some would call Colonel Freemantle in today's terms a military attache. But in fact, his visit to North America was unofficial, hence he was a tourist. A Englishman from the Coldstreams Guards, he travelled through the south in the spring of 1863, catching up with Lee's Army in time for the Battle of Gettysburg. The Freemantle Diaries is a wonderful read, and gives a very fair treatment (no real bias) of his experiences.

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