Monday, February 28, 2011

Beautiful Downtown James City

Today at James City: February 28, 1864

Kilpatrick has left Stevensburg today on his ill-fated raid on Richmond. As part of the deception and attempt to confuse the Confederates south of the Rapidan, Brig. Gen. George Custer took portions of his command on a raid into Albermarle County. Along with these movements, infantry from the Army of the Potomac also made demonstrations across the Rapidan.

John Haley of the 17th Maine took part in this event. From his diary, he gives us a description and his opinion of James City.

"...we turned off toward Cedar Mountain and shortly came to James City. This busy metropolis consists of the following valuable real estate: two dwellings, one with barn attached, one old carpenter shop, and an old mill – all expecting to tumble to pieces soon. Why such a pigmy hamlet should be called a city is a mystery. The main avenue is a lane terminating in a pasture into which we marched. Another lane intersects this one and passes over hillock dignified by the high-sounding title of Thoroughfare Mountain.
We halted in the shadows of this hill and formed a line to of battle to support the 6th Corps, which has advanced to Madison Court House and Charlottesville. They crossed the Ravenna River near one of these places ...
We who were left here passed the day “seeing the town,” getting acquainted with the names of the streets and public buildings. At night a storm of sleet and rain set in, but we are provided for such an emergency and have tents up, well stockaded with boards from James City."

Haley's diary can be found in the book "The Rebel Yell and Yankee Hurrah: the Civil War Journal of a Maine Volunteer: Private John W. Haley, 17th Maine Regiment," Edited by Ruth L. Silliker

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Old Slave

I apoligize for the significant gap in blog entries.

Today at Brandy Station: February 23, 1864

From a letter sent by Pvt. Joel Molyneux, 141st Pennsylvania Volunteers, to his sister, which can be found in "Quill of the Wild Goose," edited by Kermit Molyneux Bird.

"Our Hq. Qrs is at the plantation of a man by the name of Ririe. He has three slaves.... One old chap is 101 years old, and I have been having a talk with him of old times. He can remember of times before the Revolution. He lived then near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay; says he remembers the big snow storm and that it was so deep that it covered up all the houses; that it began to snow of a Friday and it snowed for a week; that they burned up everything in the houses for wood and then dug up on top and went on the crust and carried the wood. The sheep and cattle died because they could not find them.
He heard the cannons when Lafayette came to this country to fight. I suppose it was at Yorktown, but he did not get to see Lafayette. He said that he was “right smart old” at the time of the War of 1812, and remembered a considerable of what happened then. ...
He says he has had three wives that had been sold and could not tell how many children. He has all his faculties good yet. Is quite smart. Stands up straight. Says he can walk 20 miles in a day, easy. He has never been whipped – would fight first, run away, etc., then come back when he got ready..."

How much Ririe's slave states is true or not, we will never know. But it does sound like Joel had some interesting conversations.