This is the verbatim transcription of John Washington's MEMORYS OF THE
PAST, Microfilm, Library of Congress. In order to render the recollections
as true to the original as possible, I have reproduced Washington's text
with paragraph breaks, misspellings, capitalization of words, and use of
commas, periods, and parentheses as he used them. Whereas some of Washington's
conventions, such as overcapitalization of words, appear meaningless, others
may hold clues to his inmost thoughts. Regardless, it seems important for
readers to see the text as close as possible to the original. Except to
denote potentially confusing errors, such as occasional doubling or omission
of words, sic will not be used. Professor Shifflett plans to publish this
recollection, either as an edited narrative or as a novel on the Civil
War homefront. He invites readers' comments and suggestions.
MEMORYS OF THE PAST 15
I was born (in Fredericksburg Virginia: May 20th 1838.) a Slave to one Thomas R. Ware Sr. who I never had the pleasure of knowing, )I Suppose it Might have been a doubtful pleasure.) as he died before I was born.
When I was about 2 years of age My Mother (who was also a Slave) was
hired to one Richard L. Brown in Orange County, Virginia, about 37 miles
from Fredericksburg, and I was taken along with her. But I will not promise
to narate the incidents of that Jurney as I did not keep a Diary at that
age in a Slave State. My reccelotions of my early childhood has been no
doubt the most plasant of my life. My Mother taught me to spell at a very early age (between 4 years and 8)
When at this time of Life I look back to that time and, all its most [vivid?] reccolections. I see Myself a Small light haired boy (very often passing easily for a white boy.) playing Mostly with the white children on the farm, in Summer Evening among the Sweet-Scented cloverfields after the Butterflys Wading the Brooks and with pin hook and line Startling the [finny?] life.
Now in the Great Forrest Surrounded with dogs in quest of the Hare and
Opossum, often on the top of Some Neighbouring Mountain trying with My
young eyes, to get a View of Fredericksburg in the distant about 37 Miles
The View from all points was splendid, the Westward View, North and Northwest a few Miles distant was the "Blue Ridge Mountains," But still nearer was the Rappid Ann River 3 miles distant, the nearest ford being "Willis Mills," where I used to Stand and Wonder at the River Damed over, and the Great Old Moss covered Wheel Slowly revolving and throwing the Water off in beautiful Showers.
And Orange Court House, where I was carried once behind the family careage,
along with the White children to see a Circus. And in the great Crowd during
a Violent thunder Storm I was lost. and the careage arrived at home Without
me. and Mother and all thought I had fallen asleep in My Seat behind the
careage and and [sic] been washed off in the
"Mountain Run," which was very high and had to be forded, by the horses.
I Wandered about the Street at the Court House. (there was but one Street) until dark and I had began to Cry and Wonder Where I should Sleep, for I did not know any one in the village, and could not think what I should do. and the crowds of Country people were clearing the place very rapidly
When all at once My Godmother found me and soon had me Safely packed
away among a lot of Comforts and Countelpins [?] in an Old Lumbering ox
cart going to the Next farm to my home. When I arrived safe at about Sunlite
next Morning. Amidst
A Man was just getting ready to come and look for me.
I was never allowed to go to another Circus at Orange Court House.
Once in a Month there used to [sic] Meetings held for Divine Services (on the 4th Sundays I think) at "Mount Pisgah" Meeting house Situated on the East end of the farm Where Two Roads intersected. I know they were "Baptists," because the used to Baptize in the Creek close by.
To these Meetings Mother hardly ever failed to attend and take me with
her, the church a Large frame building with Gallerys around for colored
people to Sit in. Fall pine tres Surrounded the building and
the horses and mules used to be fastened during the Services.
Cakes, Candy and fruits, used to be sold there under those great pine trees, on Sundays; which, to my Eyes was always a great treat. I loved very much to go to the Meeting House, as it was called then, because I never failed to come home With a load of cakes candy and .c [for etc.].
These are my first reccolections of attending a church and to-day in my 35th year [this could also be 38th year; it is important in establishing the year the recollections were recorded] the Memory is bright as events of to-day.
Minute events of my reccolection will not likely interest you, so I
must pass on with a glance at some of the
most important events.
Very early in my infancy Mother taught me that memorable little childs
prayer not yet forgotten:
"Now I lay me down to sleep"
I pray the lord my Soul to Keep"
and then the "Lords Prayer" when I got older.
The Usual Routine of farm work went on for a long time (it seemed to me)
The slaves were treated kindly, and every Sunday Morning the weeks Rations
were issued to them from the great meal house.
Harvest time a festival of pies and Meats fruits and vegitables would be Set out in the yard on a great table in the Shade and the reapers and binders, Men and Women Seemed So happy merry and free, for whiskey was not Withheld by the "Boss." [First indication that slaves are used in wheat or corn cultivation. Also notice how the harvest is being used as a time to reward slaves, likely as a means to get more work out of them].
And then hog killing time (near Christmas) when great fires were kindled
and large Stones made red hot, then placed into great hogsheads of water
until it bioled for Scalding the hogs. and Every body was busy, noisey
merry. Every one of the Slaves were permitted to raise their own hogs, and fowls, and have a garden of their own from the Eldest Man to Me -- often at night Singing and dancing, prayer Meeting or corn shucking.
"A Corn Shucking" is always a Most lively time among the Slaves,
they would come for miles around to join in Singing, Shouting and yelling
as only a Negro can yell, For a good supply of Bad Whiskey, corn Bread
and Bacon and cabbage. [Indicates that Washington is aware of what is being
exchanged in this event]
At Christmas time the Slaves were furnished with their new cloths hats
or caps Boots and Shoes. from the oldest to the little children they would
be Summonsed to the "great House," as they called it (the owners)
and each Man and Woman would receive their Christmas gift namely Flour,
Sugar, Whiskey, Molases etc. according to the number in the family and
they would go to their "cabins and for the next six days have a holiday,
and make thing [sic] lively with Egg-nogg, Opossum, Rabbit, Coons and Everything
of the kind.
At about 4 years of age Mother learned me the alphabet from the "New York Primer." I was kept at my lessons an hour or Two each night by My Mother;
My first great Sorrow was caused by seeing one Morning, a number of
the "Plantation Hands," formed into line, with little Bundles
Straped to their backs, Men, Women and children. and all Marched off to
be Sold South, away from all that was near and dear to them, Parents, Wives
husbands and children; all
Separated one from another, perhaps never to meet again on Earth.
I Shall never forget the weeping that Morning among those that were left behind, each one expecting to go next.
It was not long before all on that farm was doomed to the Same fate.
and those that did not belong to the "Planter" had to be sent home to their owner.
The farm, and farming implements, Stock and everything was Sold. and Mr Brown removed to western Virginia.
Mother with me and four other *children was sent to Fredericksburg Va.
*Louisa, Laura, Georgianna and Willie.
where we all arrived safe after 2 days tracel in an Old "Road Wagon" Soon thereafter My Mother was sent to live to herself, that is to earn her own, and four little children's living without any help from our owners 9simply Doctors Bills).
Poor Mother struggled hard late and early to get a poor pittance for
the children all of which was to Small to help her. I was kept at the house
of the "Old Mistress," all day to run erands and wait on the
table (or any thing else that I could do. N.B. At this time (of the fall
of 1848)Mrs Taliaferro our old mistress, she having married a Mr. Frank
taliaferro who had since died, boarded at the "Farmers Bank,"
N.W. cor. of George and Princess Anne [?]
Streets. Mother lived in a little house on George St. Bet Sophia St. and the River.
I was dressed every Morning (except Sunday in a neat white Apron and clean Jacket and Pants and Sent up to the Bank to see What Mistress might want me to do. Possibly she would have nothing at al for me to do, and if no, I would be ordered to sit down on a footstool, in her room for hours at a time when other children of My age would be out at play.
On Sundays I was dressed in my Sunday cloths (without the Apron) and
Sent to the Baptist Church," cor Hanover and Sophia Sts of which the
old Mistress was a Strict member.
I used to have to sit where the old Lady could see me.
As proof that I was there at al at that time the White and Colored occupied the Same Church. Only all the slave solored Sat in the gallery on each Side, and the Free Colored Sat in the gallery fronting the Pulpit.
In the Afternoon of Sundays the Colored People used to have Meetings in the Basement of the church. to which I was regularly Sent and and [sic] Ordered, to bring home the text in Order that the Old Mistress might know whether I had been there or not.
Now the result of all this compulsory church attending was just the
reverse of what was desired viz: I became a thorough hater of this Church
and consequently, I resorted to all kinds of Subterfuge imaginable to Stay away from Church.
I would go to the church door and there wait, until the Minister would announce his text then commit it to Memory, So I could tell When I wnet home. This No Sooner done than I would hasten off to the river to play with Some boat or any thing in Preference to Sitting in church.
I Soon became a confirmed Liar: on account of being compelled to go to church.
TOO MUCH that one Church, I was scarcily ever allowed to go elsewhere.
I had now arrived at the age of between ll and 12 year [In other words 1849 or 1850], and had began to see Some of the many trails of Slavery.
Mother lived alone and maintained us children for about 2 years, perhaps, When Mrs Taliaferro came to the conclusion that Mother with My Sisters Lousia, Laura, Georgianna, and brother Willie would have to be sent to Staunton Virginia, to be hired to one R. H. Phillips.
Accordingly they were, all fitted out with New dresses, Shoes and Bonnetts,
With Mothers best cloths and some other few
articles, and then was in readiness for their long jurney across the Blue Ridge Mountains in the month of December 1850 about Christmas.
The Night before Mother left me, (as I was to be kept in hand by the Old Mistress for especial use) She, Mother, came up to my little room I slept in the "white peoples house," and laid down on my Bed by me and begged me for her own sake, try and be a good boy, Say my Prayers every Night, remember all she had tried to teach me, and always think of her.
her tears mingled with mine amid kisses and heart felt Sorrow She tucked the Bed cloths around me, and bade me good night.
Bitter pangs filled my
heart and though I would rather die, on the Morrow Mother and Sisters and Brother all would leave me alone in this Wide world to battle with temptation, trials and hardships.
Who then could I complain to When I was persecuted; who then Would come early the cold winter Mornings and call me up and help me do my hard tasks; whose hands )patting, me upon the head would sooth my early trials.
then and there my hatred was kindled Secretly against my oppressors,
and I promised Myself If ever I got an opportunity I would run away from
these devilish Slave holders. The Morrow came and with tears
and Lamentations cars left with all that was near and dear to me on Earth.
A Week afterwards I heard they had all arrived safe in Staunton.
We Wrote often to each other as circumstances Would admit. Of Course,
the White people had to write and read all the letters that passed between
us. About this time I began seriously to feel the need of learn to write
for myself. I took advantage of every opportunity to improve in Spelling.
I had to attend to cleaning Mr. William Wares Room and he kept a large
quantity of Books on hand among them "Harpers New Monthly Magazine,"
I used to take much pleasure in reading (but
imperfectly) Short Stories, which soon induced me to look for the Book
with lively interest each month. Two young Men (white) used to sleep with
Mr Wm Ware of nights, named Roberts and they assisted me very much in Spelling
only. For it postively forbidden by law to teach a Negro to Write,
So I had to fall back upon my own resources.
Learning to Write.
My Uncle George, Mothers Brother was one day in the lot Where I lived
with Mrs Ware and noticed me trying to copy the Writing Alphabet as shown
in "Comleys Spelling Book," of that time, principally used by
those trying to learn to read or Write. So he asked me what I was trying
to do. I replied I am trying to Write, see here and seizing the pen, he
wrote the following lines on a peice of Wallpaper,
"My Dear Mother,
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well,"
he when you can do that much you you [sic] can Write to your Mother.
He was at best a poor white, but the copy that he had just given me was
as good as the best penmanship would have been because I could not get
a Teacher of my kind or a Copy Book that I could understand. However I
availed myself of the first chance I had to buy a 12 cent copy book, which
was a most Wretched concern, and With its help I was most Successful in
laying the foundation of a very bad Writer, for there Was nothing like
form or System about the thing. About this time I, by some means or other,
attracted the attention of the Rev Wm J. Walker, who was
one day hanging paper in the house Where I lived.
Seeing my efforts at writing he kindly stopped, and wrote me a very
good copy of the alphabet from which I soon learned to write Some kind
of an inteligable hand and am Still trying to improve--But having never
had a regular course of Spelling taught me, I am in consequence very defficient
in every branch of a common and also[?] action. So those who may be tempted
to read this paper may possibly learn for the first time the disadvantages
of Slavery, with some of the attending evils.
SUNDAY School. Visit to Staunton etc.
The Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg is Situated in the North East corner of Princess Ann and George Streets, surrounded on the North and East by the grave yard; reaching [?] on Princess Ann Street about Midway the Square Was a Small one Story brick in which I used to go to Sunday School Sundays afternoon and was taught the Cathacism and verses of the Bible was read to us to get by heart.
I do not think much good resulted from this School for we was not permitted
to learn the A.B.C,s or to Spell, but Mrs Taliaferro was most zealous in
sending Me to just Such places on
Sundays as she would by this Means know where I was by asking Miss Olivet Hanson, My Teacher, by the way she was a most kind and gentle Lady and I often now think of her Sweet face and blue eyes, and feel a Spark of gratitude for the efforts on her part, for I really know She would have Learned me to read and wright if the laws had permitted her so to do.
Notwithstanding Such Stringent rules as there was laid down for Me on
Sundays I resorted to leing and decption in order to get a few hours Play
that was not allowed to me during the Week. Often I would steal some bodys
boat and and [sic] with a lot of a bad boys as I could find go up or down
the river for a row instead of going to
to [sic] church where I was sent.
I had the greatest love for the river and boats, and Such risks as I passed through then for fun, I would not now undertake for any price. On Sunday in the early part of June or July 1852 I was ordered to church (in the afternoon, as uaual) and instead of going, I met a party of Boys on my way to church, and we soon made an agreement to go across the River, and to "Coalters Fishing Shore." [Is this near Chatham?], which was a nice Secluded place for bathing. So we went and was Soon into the river in great glee.
But while we were all Some What afread that the Overseer or Some one
would drive us off -- one of the Boys
cried out here comes the Overseer!
All of us hastened out of the water to get our cloths and hide in the
bushes to get them on. I unfortunately [?] in some vines of "Poison
Oak," remained hid long enough to see there Was no one after us. When
after playing among the and livelots [?] Wild flowers and Black berrys
till near Sundown We went to our homes, Most of us with a lie our Mouths,
all passes off well until the latter part of the following wek: When I
broke out all over with "Poison Oak,"Mrs Taliaferro nor any one
in the house knew positively that it was the pison Oak as they had not
the least idea that I had been near any such pison or even in the
cuntry any where atal. But they Supposed I might have gotten hold of a peice in putting in wood a few days before.
Of course I told them I had not been in the Country any where. the Docter
told Mrs Taliferro I had the humor in the Blood, and after a due course
of "Castor Oil," "Epsom Salts," etc etc advised that
I be sent out in the country for a few weeks, in order to Save My Life.
And as the Old Lady was awful afread of Sickness and the Doctors Bill,
She concluded I Should be sent to Staunton, Virginia and allowed to Stay
about 4 Weeks. I was delighted with the proposition and for fear She Should
change he [sic] Mind, I very conveniently began to get Sicker than ever.
But hearing her somark [?] one day that she thought I was too Sick to travel, I made haste to be almost well the next day.
In due time my cloths were made ready and packed in a letter valeze: with the following inscription on a Brass plate on the end: Redmon, U.S.N. that was the name of the former owner.
And in charge of Mr Phillips and his famely one night I bid farewell
to my friends and was soon whirling over R.F.P. Railroad on the way to
Arriving in Staunton the Second day after leaving home; the Meeting between Mother and Sister and Brother was a most happy one. And long remembered.
I had traveled from Fredericksburg to Hanover Junction; by the "Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac RailRoad," and thence to Woodville: by the "Virginia, *Central Rail Road,: where we took stages and continued the jurney across the Blue Ridge Mountin, arriving in Staunton about 11 ,oclock P.M. on the Second Night from home.
I remained in Staunton about 2 or 3 months, where I really enjoyed Myself Visiting the Mountins and many other interesting places.
The "Deaf and Dumb Institution,"
*Now called he "Chesepeake & Ohio R.R,"
"State Insane Asylum," "Virginia Female Institute," and all combined to teach me the same sad lesson viz: the White Man's power and oppression of the Colored Slave.
In October Mr Phillipps, one day, told me I would have to get ready and go back home to Fredericksburg, that week by the first opportunity (?) [his question mark]
Now the opportunity that they so much needed was, that Some White Person
should take charge of my body and See to its safe delivery in Fredericksburg.
To be Sure they might write me a pass and put me in charge of a poor white
Stage Driver, but he could only take me about 40 miles on my Jurney, Where
I would have to be transferred to the cars: and in fact had to be transferred
that there was a fare [?] possibility that I might make my Escape and get to Some free State! Of course provided I would to such a disgraceful act:
However within a few days from the time I was notified a "white Man," one Dr Dowling, was duly charged with the responsibility of "Seeing me Safe home."
We left Staunton one afternoon, after a sad and affecting parting with
Mother and Sisters and Brother. My heart was full and my Voice choked with
emotions and Mother and children wept, as only those do, who do not know
that they may ever meet again on Earth. indeed either one might be Sold
on the Auction Block next day. The Afternoon we left Staunton, about 2
or 3 O,clock
was a chilly dull looking day, so frequent in the autumn, we crossed the "Blue Ridge," about dusk in a dense fog So thick tat the horses attached to the Stage could be be Seen from the Windows. We Stopped at the little village of Cotville for the Night. That is till 2 O clock A.M. When we got up and resumed our jurney to Woodville. And about 7 O clock that morning was snugley seated in the Eastward bound train.
An Accident occured on the train about 3 miles West of Charlottesville to one of the Colored men employed on the train he was walking on a plank outside of the Mail Car.
The plank about 10 inches wide ran length way the car from one end to
the other. So by holding on to
an iron Rod above, one might pass to and fro without going through the mail car. this man whose name was Scott was passing to the front of the car when he steped upon an Orange peeling or Something or in passing by a fence that projected too near the cars he was dashed to the ground, violently and his skull fractured. Some of the passengers Seeing the accident Informed the Conductor who had the Train backed and taken the man into the Car in which I was Seated (the Niggers Car) the blood flowed freely from the wounded man's head and ears until the Train arrived at Charlottesville where he was removed and Died afterwards I heard. Another Accident.
The Locomotive broke down dusk [sic] as we Stoped in at Charlottesville
We were called in to breakfast but I could not eat any thing after seeing
So much blood. Meantime A Hand Car [?] had been Sent to the Next Station,
Dinwiddie, for a Freight Locomotive awaiting there for our Train pass.
[?] After we had been detained Several hours, and was just in the act of
Hastin [?] on our Jurney again with the broken Engine repaired a little
by the Engineer, The Freight Locomotive have in Sight [sic] and after Some
disput between the Engineers in reference to who Should take the train,
Mostly Our first Engineer Claimed that Our Engine ("Blue Ridge")
would probably draw us to Gordonsville quicker than the Old Freight Engine,
to whih that Engineer replyed if the Blue Ridge was
allowed to Start with the Mail train and should break down he would not render any assistance, again: So it was decided that the Freight Engineer and Locomotive, should take the Train to Gordonsville and Moseby, with the "Blue Ridge," should follow and take the Freight from Dinwiddie to Gordonsville.
when our Train arrived at Dinwiddie we could do Nothing as [?] the Crippled
Locomotive behind us, but just before we arrived at the next Station, we
had a good view of the "Blue Ridge," and freight train coming
at fine Speed after us until we reached Gordonsville much behind time,
and too late to Stop for Dinner. the Hotel propritor Sent in to the Train
by waiter enough
of ham Sandwiches for all the passengers, Gratis.
We then Changed Engines fo a beautiful one, the "Rock Fish." We left the "Blue Ridge" at Gordonsville and I never Seen it since.
The "Rock Fish," Made Splendid time to "Hanover Junction," where I changed cars For Fredericksburg there. Cars did not arrive at the Junction until about 8 O clock P.M.
Consequently I had several hours to look around about the Junction. there nothing of interest worth noting here. It was about 7 years before I seen it again.
About 8. O'clock that night the Train From Richmond Stoped and I was
soon Seated into a dark Car with a lot of county mail bags and Boxes
around me with no living Soul except myself. I was not doomed to Solitude long however: the Cars had been running but a Short time when one of the agents with a lantern in hand came into the car, Exclaimed hilow boy! what are you doing in here in the Dark: I told him I thought this was the Colored peoples car; Where is your Master I soon told him who I was traveling with, Well come along with me, said he, and led the way into another car which I found well lighted, comfortable, quite full of white passengers, mostly asleep. I also soon fell asleep and was awake up in Fredericksburg.
The white people seemed very glad to see me
probably being relieved from anxiety of my possible escape to Freedom!
The years of 1853 - 54 was passed in the usual routine of Slave life with its many Sorrows and fears and fiting [?] hopes of Escape to Freedom. So far as I was concerned I was kep unusually close, never permitted to pass the limits of the lot after Sundown without a permission and limited time to return which must be punctually obeyed if I had any desire to go out again in a reasonable time.
On Sundays the Same of "Rules" [sic] mentioned in Chapter
5 was Strictly Enforced which if disobeyed at any one time would be Sufficient
cause to keep me in many Sundays
thereafter. Imagine a boy about 16 or 17 years of age in good health with many rolicking fun loving companions playing in full Sight of the house, on a bright Sunday Morning in the Mounths of May or June, with a beautiful Season ling [?] County spread out for miles around visible to the naked Eye; with the Sweet Scent of Clover, Locust Blossoms, Hunnysuckle, Apple, Cherry, and various Fruit Trees almost Ripened, and all nature Clothed with beauty, that can not be describe -- and that boy only permitted to See all this from an open window.
Not permitted to go out and See and Smell the Work of Him, who created
Imagine Such a case, I say, and you will have a very faint glimmer of my case at that time.
I was very Seldom alloed to visit any partys of young company except Fairs which was held for the benefit of one of the Colored Churches as there was not but Two The "African Baptist," and "Little Wesley" Methodist. Some time a fair would be opened at a private house for the benefit of some poor person trying to make up money to finish paying for them selves or otherwise afflicted.
But nothing of the kind could be had without a permit from the Mayor
of the Town. Such speficying the times the fair should be closed, which
had to be
Strictly adhered to. All Such "Fairs" had to be held During the "Easter," "Whitsuntide" or "Chirstmas Hollidays."
To these fairs some times I was permitted to go which to me was almost
a heavenly boon. It was at one of these fairs I frequently met Miss Annie
E. Gordon, having received an Introduction through a friend in a Easter
Singalar manner [?]. It was as follows, I had wrote a Valentine a few months
previous for a friend of mine. Austin Bunday who had it Directed to this
young Lady. I then obtained a promise from him that I would accompany him
to his next visit to this Lady and be introduced under the assumed name
of Mr John Bunday his Brother.
This plan was duly carried out and Miss Annie Gordon was fully Satisfied that it was My true name - Until the Hollidays of "Easter," or Whitsentide 1853. When by an accedent, She over heard Some other Young Ladies of my acquaintance Call me by my right Name. when she asked me what it Meant, and I then told her of the fact, She Seemed Some what annoyed, but it was alright in the course of time. I had conceived a particular fancy for this Young girl at first Sight.
I was then very bashful and backward in Speech with probably no kind
of idea of love making. Only this girl had a Sad, but very pretty face,
and Shy half Scared look as if she
thought I would bite her. She talked but little in My presence and then So low you might have thought she was talking to herself. So I some time visited her at her Mothers or saw her at the Churchs and in the Street. I did not visit her often for a long time afterward.
The African Baptist Church was situated on the N.E. cor. of Sophia and
Hanover Sts (At the time I am Speaking of the "White people,"
worshipped in the upper part of the Building and the "Colored people,"
in the Basement.) In the Spring of 1855, A great Revival of Religion prevailed
among both White and Colored people of that church and a great many was
added to its membership. Among these that joined at
that time was many young Men and young women of my particular friends.
It was during the revival that I was Sincerely troubled about the Salvation
of my Soul. And about the 25th of May I was converted and found the Saviour
precious to my Soul, and heavenly joys Manifested, and began to be felt
at that time, are Still like burning coals; fanned by the breeze (after
a laps of Nearly 17 years) and is to this day the most precious assurance
of My life, God grant me more faith and a better understanding, for these
things let rocks and hills this lasting Silence breake; And all harmonious
human tonnges their Saviours praises Speak. I was Baptised in the Rappahannock
River at Fredericksburg, Va. by Rev. Wm
F. Broaddus June 13th 1856.
And many happy moments have I spent with the Church in its Joys and Sorrows at that place. I was permitted to attend divine Service on Sundays but at nights I was not allowed to go out but little - During my Close imprisonment (I do not know what else to call it) The "Word of God," was to me a Source of Unfailing pleasure. I became a close reader of the Bible. And wrote many comments on different Chapters which has since been lost.
It was during the autumn of 1856, that I Experienced my first attack
of Sickness of any duration which soon developed itself into
a Severe and protracted case of Typhoid Fever which wore itself off in "Chills and Fevers," about 3 months from the commencement.
Be it said to their credit that Mrs. Taliaferro and her son Wm Ware was the most attentive to me during my whole sickness. I could not have been better attended to by my nearest Relations.
I have often wished it had pleased "Devine Providence," to have taken me from this world of Sin then - When I had not, as Now Seen so Much of the Exceeding "Sinfullness of Sin."
I Remained on the lot in service with Mr Ware and his mother, until
January 1st 1869. When I was hired to Wm
T. Hart, next door, Where I had to Drive Horses, Attend a cow, help in the Garden and everything else like work. But to me the change was very agreeable indeed all Sunday and night restrictions was removed except what was really necessary. My Clothing was abundant and good. My opportunities to make money for Myself was increased tenfold. I lived with Mrs Hart one year 1859.--
January 1st 1860 I went to live with Messrs Alexander & Gibbs, tobbacco
Manufactoeres, where I, in a month or Two learned the art of preparing
Tobacco for the Mill. We were all "Tasked," to Twist from 66
1/8 to 100 lbs
per day. All the Work we could do over the task we got paid for which was our own money, not our masters in this way some of us could make $3.00 or 4 extra in a week.
The Factory weeks began on Saturdays and ended on Fridays, When the Books were posted and all the men that had over work were paid promptly on Saturday.
But if any one failed to have ample time [?] the Boss [?] would be generally
reported to -- In a Tobacco Factory, the "Twisters," generally
have one or Two boys, sometimes Women, for Stemming the Tobacco to be "Twisted;"
The Factory is kept bvery clean, and Warmed in Winter. from early Morning
till late at Night could be heard
The Noise of the Machinery and Singing of the hands in one incessant
din. in a Tobacco Factory Some of the finest Singing known to the Colored
Race could frequently be heard -- I was only permitted to live one year
in consequence of the Threating position of the Southern States. the firm
of Alexander & Gibbs suspended operation. this year in the Factory
was to me more like "Freedom," than any I had known Since I was
a very small boy. we began Work at 7 . o clock in the Morning Stoped from
1. to 2. o clock for dinner -- Stopped Work at 6 P.M. If we chose to make
Extra work We began at any hour Before 7. and Worked Some time till 9.
Sesession of South Carolina, and the threatened close of business between
the North and South, caused the Suspension of work in this factory early
in December 1860.
January 1st 1861. I was Sent to Richmond, Va to be hired out. I had long desired to go to Richmond. I had been told by My friends it was a good Place to make money for Myself and i wanted to be there.
So with a great many of old Friends, I was placed in the Care of Mr
Hay Hoomes, hiring agent, and (on the Cars) Started to Richmond where We
arrived about 3 O,clock
the Same day. And I was hired to one Zetelle, an Eating Saloon keeper. there was no Liquors kept there.
I lived with him six months When he Sold the place to a man named Wendlinger. both of these Men Were loch [?] mean and course. they treated their Servants cruelly after Whipping them their selves or Sending them to the Slave jail to be whipped, Where it was done fearfully for 50 cents.
I got along unusually well with both men, Especially the latter.
I was living there when the Southern Slave holders in open Rebellion
fired on Fort Sumter. little did they then think that they were Firing
the Death-knell of Slavery, and little did I think that my deliverance
was So near at hand.
the firing on Fort Sumter occurred April 12, 1861, and from that time forward Richmond became the seat of the Rebellion. Thousands of Troops was Sent to Richmond from all parts of the South on their way to Washington, as They Said. and So many troops of all discription was landed there that it appeared to be an impossibility, to us, Colored people; that they could ever be conquored.
In July 1861. the 21st day the Union Army, and the "Rbels met at
Bull Run and a great battle was fought and the Union army was defeated.
[no closed quote] Already the Slaves had been Escaping into the Union armys
lines and Many therby getting of [sic] to the Free States. I would read
the papers and eagerly watched fhem for tidings of the war which had
began in earnest, almost every day brought news of Battles. the Union troops was called "Yankees and the Southern "Rebs." It had now become a well known fact that Slaves was daily Making their escape into the Union lines. So at Christmas 186?, I left Richmond, having been provided with a pass and fare to Fredericksburg Va.
I told Mr Wendlinger and my fellow Servants good by They expected me back the 1st of January again to live with them another year.
Soon after I arrived in Fredericksburg I Sought and obtained a home
for the Year of 1862, at the "Shakespear House," part of the
time as "Steward," and the balance as Bar-keeper -- My Master
was not pleased when he heard of my intention to remain in Fredericksburg
year; he Seemed to thinkI wanted to remain too near the "Yankees," though he did not tell me these words.
The War was getting hoter Every day, and the Unakees had approached Within a few Miles of the Town more than once. The later part of February, 1862, the Rebs began to withdraw their forces from the Aquia Creek Landing which was then the terminus of the "Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad." Early in March the Rebs began to fall back from the Potomack River.
The Town was now filled with Rebel Soldiers, and their Outrages and dastardly acts toward the colored people can not be told. It became dangerous to be out atal of nights.
The Whites was hastening their Slaves off to Safer places of refuge.
A great many Slave Men were sent into the Rebel army as Drivers, Cooks, Hostlers and any thing Else they could do.
The firm of Payton & Mazine who hired me were both officers in the Rebel Army. the first Captain in the 30th Regiment of Virginia; the later was a Lieutanant in the Same Regiment, was at home, on the Sick list, and in charge of the Hotel.
About the last of March there was a good deal of talk about Evacuating
Fredericksburg, Which was Soon after Commenced. by the 15th of April Most
of the Troops had been Withdrawn. On the night of the 15th or 16th the
Yankees advanced and had a Skirmish and drove in the Rebel picketts
with Some of them Wounded and the others Most frightfully Scared.
The Proprietors of the Shakespear now told Me the house would have to be closed very Soon in consequence of the near approach of the Yankees; and that I would have to go to Saulsbury, North Carolina to Wait on Capt Payton the balance of the Year.
I could not very well Make any objection as the Pirin [?] had always treated Me well and paid Me besides for attending the Bar for them, When I was hired only for a Dining room Servant. I was easily induced to change from the Dining room for $37.00 and Extra Money every Week.
So When I was told that I would have to go to Saulsbery
I became greatly alarmed and began to fear that the object in Sending me down there, Was to be done to get me out of the reach of the Yankees. And I Secretly resolved not to go But I made them believe I was Most anxious to go.
In fact I made them beleive [sic] I was terebeley afred of the Yankees, any Way.
My Master was well satisfied at My appearant disposition, and told Me
I was quite Right, for if the Yankees were to catch me they would Send
me to Cuba or cut my hands off or otherwise Maltreat Me. I of course pretended
to beleive all they said but knew they were lieing all the while. As Soon
told me When I had to Start, I Intended to conceale Myself and Wait
the approach of the Yankees and When once in the lines I intended to go
to Detroit, Michigan Where I had an Uncle living.
April 18th 1862, Was
Gppd-Friday," the Day was a mild pleasant one with the Sun shining
brightly and every thing unusually quite [?]. the Hotel was crowded with
boarders who was Seated at breakfast a rumor had been circulated among
them that the Yankees Was advancing, but nobody Seemed to beleive it, until
Every body Wa Startled by Several reports of canon.
Then in an instant all Was Wild confusion as a calvary Man dashed into te Dining Room and Said "The Yankees is in Falmouth." Every body was on their feet at once, No-body finished but Some ran to their rooms to get a few things, officers and Soldiers hurried to their Quarters Every Where was hurried Words and hasty foot Steps.
Mr Mazene Who had hurried to his room now came running back called me
out in the Hall and thrust a roll of Bank notes in my hand and hurridly
told me to pay off all the Servants, and Shut up the house and take charge
of every thing.
"If the Yankees catch Me they will kill me So I can't Stay here," "Said he" and was off at full speed like the Wind. In less time than it takes me to Write these lines, every White Man was out the house. Every Man Servant was out on the house top looking over the River at the Yankees for their glistening bayonets could easily be Seen I could not begin to express My New born hopes for I felt already like I was certain of my freedom now.
By this time the two Bridges crossing the River here was on fire the Match having been applied by the retreating rebels. 18 vessels and 2 steamers at the Wharf was also burning.
In 2 hours from the firing
of the First gun, Every Store in town was closed. Every White Man had
run away or hid himself Every White Woman had Shut themselves in doors.
No one could be seen on the Streets but the Colored people. and every one
of them Seemed to be in the best of humor. Every rebel Soldier had left
the town and only a few of them hid in the Woods West of the town Watching.
The Yankees turned out to be the 1st Brigade of "Hings [?] Division,"
of McDowells Corps, under Brigader Genl Auger, having advanced as far as
Falmouth they had stoped on Ficklins, Hill over looking the little town.
Genl Auger discovered a rebel Artillery on the opposite Side
of the river, who after Settng fire to the Bridge was firing at the Piers trying to knock them down the "Yankees" Soon turned Several Peices loose on the rebels who after a few Shots beat a hasty retreat; coming through Fredericksburg aa break neck speed as if the "Yankees" was at their heels. Instead of across the river Without a Ford, and all the bridges burnt.
As Soon as I had Seen all things put to rights at the hotel, and the
Doors closed and Shuters put up, I call all the Servants in the Bar-Room
and treated them all around plentifull. and after drinking "the Yankees,"
healths, I paid each one according
to Orders. I told them they could go just Where they pleased but be Sure the "Yankees," have no trubble finding them.
I then put the keys into my pocketts and proveeded to the Bank Where my old Mistress lived Who was hurridly packing her Silver-Spoons to go out in the County, to get away from the "Yankees." She as Me with tears in her Eyes What was I going to do. I replyed I am going back to the Hotel now after you get through "Said She," child you beter come and go out in the country with me, So as to keep away from the Yankees," Yes Madam "I replyed" I will come right back directly. I proceeded down to
Where Mrs Mazene lived (the Proprietors Wife) and delivered the keys
to her. [follows with a map of the locations he is talking about]
Safe in the Lines.
After delivering the hotel keys to Mrs Mazene I then Walked up Water St above Coalters Bridge Where I noticed a large crowd of the people Standing eagerly gazeing across the river at a Small group of officers and Soldiers who was now approaching the river Side and immediately raised a flag of Truce and called out for Some one to come over to them. A White Man named James Turner, Stepped into a Small boat and went over to them.
and after a few Minutes returned with Capt. Wood of Harris Light Calvary, of New York. Who as Soon as he had Landed proceeded up the hill to the crowd among Which was the Mayor, "Common Council," and the Corporation Attorney, Thomas Barton.
Capt Wood then in the name of
Genl Auger, commanding the U.S. Troops on the Falmouth Heights demanded the unconditional Surrender of its Town. Old James Gaston was bitterly opposed to Surrendering, Saying "the Confederacy had a plenty of Troops yet at their command." Then Why did they burn all the Bridges When We appeared on "Ficklins Heights?" demanded Capt wood -- Gaston was Silent. "The Orders are "continued Capt Wood" that if any further attempt is made to burn Cotton or any thing else, or if any Trains of Cars Shall approach or attempt to leave the town Without permission of Genl Auger the Town Will be immediately fired upon.
The Mayor and "Common Council" hesitated no longer. Notwithstanding
James Barton's objection, and
Capt Wood then informed the Mayor that he would be required to come over to Genl Augers Headquarters the Next Morning at 10. 0.clock, and Sign the proper papers. He then bid them all good evening and having again entered the little Boat he Was Soon rowed across the River and in a few Minutes there after he was Seen mounted on horse back and being joined by Scores of other Horsemen, that had not been Seen While he was on our Side of the river. Evidently having been concealed in the Woods near by.
As Soon as the Officer had left the Constables was told to order the
Negroes home Which they did, but While we dispersed from thereabout, a
great many did not go home just then. I hastened off in
the direction of home and after making a circuitous route, I 'm in company with James washington, my first Cusin and another free Colored Man, left the town near the Woolen Mills and proceeded up the road leading to Falmouth [,] Our object being to get right opposite the "Union Camp," and listen to the great number of "Bands" then playing those marching tunes, "the Star Spangled Banner," "Red White and Blue," etc.
We left the road just before we got to "Ficklin's Mill," and walked down to the river. The long line of Sentinels on the other Side doing duty colose to the Waters Edge.
Very Soon one of a party of Soldiers, in a boat call out to the crowd
Standing arround Me do any of you want to come over -- Every body Said
No. "[missing opening parenthesis] I
hallowed out, "Yes I Want to come over." "All right -- Bully for you," was the response. and they was Soon over to Our Side. I greeted them gladly and Stepped their Boat. As Soon as James, Saw my determination to go, he joines Me, and the other Young Man who had come along with us -
After we had landed on the other Side, a large crowd of the Soldiers
off duty, gathered around us and asked all kinds of questions in reference
to the Whereabouts of the Rebels" I had stuffed My pockets full of
rebel Newspapers and, I distributed them around as far as they would go
greatly to the delight of the Men. And by this act won their good opinions
right away. i told them I
was most happy to See them all that I had been looking for them for
a long time. Just here" [?] one of them asked me I Guess you ain't
a Secessish," then. Me "Said I," Why know colored people
ain't Secessh" why you ain't a Colored Man are you "Said he."
Yes Sir I am I"I replyed." and a Slave all my life. All of them
Seemed to utterly astonished. "So you Want to be free inquired one."
by all Means "I answered." "Where is your Master? Said another.
In the Rebel Navy, "I said." well you don't belong to any body
then, "Said Several at once" the District of Columbia is free
now. Emancapated 2 Days ago. I did not know what to Say, for I was dumb
With Joy and could only thank God and laugh.
they insisted upon My going up to their camp on the Hill, and continued to ask all kinds of questions about the "rebs." i was conducted all over their camp and Shown Everything that could interest me
Most kind attention Was Shown me by aa Corporal in Company H, 21st New York State Volenteers. He Shared his meals and his bed with me and Seemed to pity me with all his Manly heart, his name was "Charles ladd,"[?] But our aquaintance was of Short duration
A few Weeks thereafter the army advanced and had Several Skirmishes and I never Seen him again.
It was near night before I thought of returning home, (for though there
was not as yet any of the "Union Troops" in Frederick
sburg) the Town was right under their guns and a close Watch was being kept on the Town.
When My friends (the Soldiers) and Me arrived at the River Side We found the Boat drawn out of the Water and all Intercorse forbiden for the Night. My cousin and his friends had recrossed early in the afternoon.
So I found I should have to remain with my new found friends for the
Night. However I was well aquainted in Falmouth and Soon found the Soft
Side of a Wooden Bench; at Mrs Butlers who had given up an outside room
for the use of Some Soldiers and 3 or 4 of us. A good fire was kept burning
at night in an old fashioned fire-place.
A Mos Memorable night that was to me the Soldiers assured me that I was now a free man and had Nothing to do but to Stay With. They told me I could Soon get a situation Waiting on Some of the officers. I had already been offered one or two, and had determined to take one or the other. As Soon as I could bo over and get my cloths and Some $30.00 of my own.
Before Morning I had began to fee like I had truly Escaped from the
hands of the Slaves Master and With the help of God, I never Would be a
Slave no more. I felt for the first time in my life that I could now claim
Every cent that I should Work for
as My own. I gegan now to feel that Life had a new joy awaiting me.
I Might now go and come when I p0lease So I wood remain With the army until
I got Enough Money to travel further North This was the FIRST NIGHT
of my FREEDOM. It was good Friday indeed the Best Friday I had ever Seen.
Thank God -- xxxx --------- We were all astir very early Next Morning for
the Soldiers had a Sad duty to perform. the night before they captured
Falmouth, they, while advancing Suddenly in the darkness found the road
Barracaded, and the Rebels concealed, close by who fired upon the advancing
troops where the Road was cut through a hill and killed 7 and
The Funeral Was one of the most Solomn and impressive I had ever Witnessed
in My Life before. their company (Calvary) was dismounted and drawn up
in line, around the Seven mens graves, which had been dug Side-by Side
The old Family Burying ground wherein these Now Made graves had been dug
contained the Bones Some of the Oldest and Most wealthy of the Early Settlers
of Falmouth. On Some of the Tombstones coul be dimly traced The Birth-place
of Some in England, Scotland and wales as Well as Ireland. And amidst grand
old Tombs and Vaults, sorrounded by Noble Ceders through Which the April
Wind Seemed to moan low dirges, there they was not about to deposit the
(what the rebels was pleaased to term) the low born "Yankee." Side-by-Side they rested those Seven coffins on the edge of these Seven New Made graves. while the Chaplins fervant pray was safted to the Skies and after a ymn (Windham) had been sung, those Seven Coffins was lowered to their final resting place. And amidst the Sound of the Earth falling into those New made Graves, the "Band of Harris Light Calvary broke forth in dear old "Ployals [?] Hymn. and when those graves were finished there was Scarcely a dry eye present.
And with heavy hearts their companions left that little Burrying ground
Some wanting to avenge their Deaths. A few hours after the funeral, the
Mayor of Fredericks [sic] accompanied by Several
of the Leading en of the Town crossed the River and came to Headquarters , Where, the Town was formerely Surrendered. Troops was then Sent over to take possession of any thing Necessary for the "Union" Army and to guard the Town.
xxxxxAbout 3 weeks afterward I was Employed at the Headquarters of Majr
Genl Rufus King, Who Was then commanding the 1st Division of "McDowells"
Corps "Army of the Rappahannock," as Mess Servant I had left
Genl Auger's Headquarters Some two Weeks, and was Staying with My old friend
John Walters, at the "Phillips Farm," about 1 1/2 mile distant
Eastward from Fredericksburg. Genl King had taken possession of the "Phillips
House," Some 10 days previous, and one Sunday Morning While I was
the Yard of the Headquarters, looking at the officers and Soldiers, when I was accosted by Captain Charles Wood Aide-de-Camp to Genl King as follows Well My Man Where do you live? "I have been living ovber there Sir." all my life. I Answered. Who did you belong to? Thomas R. Ware Sir." Where is he now? In the Rebel Navy on Board the Jamestown. "I replyed." Ah then you belong to me! "Said he Laughing. Thank you Sir, "Said I." tuching my hat" to which there was a general Laugh among them Standing by. -- The Captain after telling me I was free to do as I was pleased, then Engaged me at $18.00 [?] per month to take charge of the General and his staff officers Mess and keep things in order generally.
I was conducted right to the
Generals kitchen Where Every thing Was placed in my charge (after an Introduction of the cook, Whose name was Ransom Law; Detailed from the 6th Wisconsin Regement as Cook) With an order to Make Some Beef Hash, Which the Officers, at Breakfast pronounced Splendid. Much to my delight, for I had my fears of being able to please them.
But I Succeeded beyond my expectations and was soon a great favorite With all, from the General to the Orderlies.
One day oon after I was Employed and When I reported to him, "He
said," John go to the Stable and tell Erastus (his hosteler) to give
you My Horse Charley. Captain Wood wants you. I bowed and hastened to the
Stable Where I
found "Charley" Saddled and Bridled already. I Mounted and the Horse being a thoroughbred I was not a little frightened at his disposition to Walk on his hind feet, instead of all four. But as Soon as I could get him in hand and look about Myself, I discovered Captain Wood with a Company of Calvary awaiting a little distance off for Me to joine them. They then proceeded down the road toward Fredericksburg I was ordered to ride next to Captain Wood and Col Fairchilds, Who was riding by the Side of each other.
When we arrived at the "Old Ferry" opposite the Town a Bridge
had been nearly completed across, built on Old Canal boats a few Minutes
delay and the last planks was laid. I now ascertained that I had been brought
along to act as a guide
in identifying the prominent Rebels of the Town, and after they had corssed the River and Entered the Town was proceeded directly to the Post-Office, then kept by one R.T. Thom. Capt Wood called me to point out Each place and to Name each person required. Mr Thom was then placed under arrest. Capt Wood then taken [sic] me and left all the Officers and Calvary, Except 2 Orderlies, and Said where is the "Shakespeare House," this way Sir: And we Soon dismounted in front of the Hotel. He entered With me and gave Mrs Payton orders that Nothing Should be Sent out of that house, Except on an Order from Genl King
From there Capt Wood "rode to the Mayor of the Town, and other
prominent Rebels, Some 25
or 30 in Number and the next morning they were Escorted to Headquarters
under arrest and were Sent to Washington City as prisoners.
Gen King Soon, after the incidents narrated in the Proceeding Chapter Stationed his headquarters in Fredericksburg at My old Home "The Farmers Bank," and as a Natural consequence Every body and Every thing seemed to take new life. There were Some few Rebel Sincerety-thizers [?] among the Colored people But they kept very quite.
Hundreds of Colored people obtained papers and free transportation to
Washington and the North, and Made their
Escape to the Free States Day after day the Slaves came into camp and Every where that the "Stars and Stripes" Waved they Seemed to know freedom had dawned to the Slave.
May 23rd "The Battle of Front Royal" Was fought and Genl King
was ordered to March to "Catletts Station," on the Orange and
Alexandria Railroad about 38 Miles from Fredericksburg, Whence a part of
the Division was transported by Railroad to Front Royal but in consequence
of an accident on the Railroad by which Several Soldiers Was killed and
Wounded, the remaining Troops, With the General and his Staff and followers
had to march overland to Hay Market, distant 17 miles -- the Servants horses
had been Sent on the last
and [sic] there being no Extra Horses John Brown (The Generals hostler) and Me and Several other (Colored) Men had to foot it with the Soldiers.
There Was Several Regiments of Infantry and Calvary, along with the Headquarters Wagons and Transports [?] but all to heavy laden to give us a ride for a few Minutes.
Many of the Soldiers laughed at us and dessed [?] to See us dismounted
as Well as they. We left "Catletts Station," about 3. o clock
in the afternoon the Weather Was very pleasant but cloudy. we Were hurried
across fields and Meadows and by paths along rugged roads and through the
Yards of Farm Houses. While the terrified Women and children huddled together
(White and Colored) as if for protection from the
invading foe. About 10. o clock that night we halted and camed for the NightSeagt [?] Coons was in command of a company of Harris Light Calvary, and Our Headquarters trains, and Soon as the Soldiers pitched their tents John Brown Me and 4 of the Generals Orderlies who was also dismounted and all of us Without tents began to look about for Some Shelters of Some kind.
We had pass a little farm House about a Mile back, And as it had began
to rain quite hard, Some one proposed that we go back and take Shelter
in one of the Out houses, Which was agreed to and we were Soon Searching
all the buildings for Some occupant, but we found the place entirely des-
ted. We Soon Made a fire in a lower Room and proceeded to Make Coffe and then to Make our Supper off of "hardTack," and Some Salt pork, While we sat partaking of Our Needed repast. We were Suddenly alarmed by hearing a horse dash into the yard and Some one in a loud Voice demand What We Were! and what We Were doing here?
Seiing our pistols and Sabres haistly and looking out the door, we found Major Coons and a Squad of Cavalry at his heels, he Swearing "like a trooper," ordered Us into camp instantly and not to leave again on perial of death.
we obeyed and followed into camp, Which was dark and Silent as the grave.
The Camp was a Marsh
Wet Spot covered with coarse grass near a Creek. the grass was too Wet
to lie on if it could be avoided -- after a Shispered consultation (no
one Was allowed to talk loud) We again one by one glided Silently out of
camp spirtirt [?] the feels reached the little Farm Hous. After Having
been told the "Gurrilas," had been there the Night before and
captured Some of our Men. and pulling an old Bedstead to peices and with
one or two fence rails Secured the two Doors, We laid Our Napsacks on the
floor against Each Door for pillows and Our pistols under our heads and
our Sabres close by for immediate Use in case of an attack, during the
We were Soon in a Sound Slumber, Sweet and refreshing from Which We did not awake until about 6. o clock Next Morning.
One of the boys in the mean time had unfastened the Door and on looking over to the Camp was not a little Surprised to find Every Man and beast gone. And Worse than all the fallen rain had hid every trace of the direction the troops had taken.
Following the road Northward Was our only hope, and With our unusal
[sic] good chance of being captured by "Mosby and his gang" of
gurillas -- Late in the after noon we came up with the rear of the army
passuring [?] the road onwardWe found Genl King and his Staff at a Tavern in the Village.
The General had Just given Orders to the Headquarters trains to go on to Gainesville on the Orange and Alexandria R.R. Where We encamped for a few days during which it rained Most of the time.
Early one morning on the fourth day I think, We received Marching orders
to Warrenton, the road a turnpike was an unusal good one for this Location,
being Well settled with Stone, over which the Wagons ambulances and troops,
moved with comparative ease the day was a beautiful one. and the road was
dotted here and there with fine and Stately old mansions, Surround [sic]
by growing wheat and corn fields, and every indication of for [sic] Wealth
About 3. o clock in the Afternoon We arrived in Site of Warrenton and Entered the Town. General King at the head of his Division With Bands [?] playing "The Star Spangled Banner" "Red White and Blue," etc. etc.--
Crowds of Rebels Stood on the Court-House Steps and looked vengance
at us as We advanced in to the Town. General King, established his Headquarters
in the Town at the Warren Green Hotel. The Troops encamped outside of the
Town on the hieghts -- The Scenery is beautiful around this town: Mountains
Hills and Valeys, being covered with Splendid vegatation this season of
the year. -- The "Fauquier white Sulphur Springs," is located
only a few mils from this place, and was much frequented before the War
Wealthy in Search of health and enjoyment during the Sumer.
The Officers and Servants had bvery good room assigned to them during our Stay here, the hotel furnishing all necessary accomodations. Our Stay was of Short duration, however. We arrived on Wednesday, and Sunday Morning Some of us went to a church on one of the Main Streets, where one of Our Chaplin was to preach.
The opening hymn had been sung a prayer and chapter read, when and [sic] orderly Was Seen to approach the pulpit, with a letter or orders in his hand -- which he handed to the chaplin and hastily retired.
After reading it the chaplin arose and Said "Every Man is hereby
ordered, to report to
his respective quarters immediately." that was enough: when the church was left -- the first news that we herd was "the rebs is advancing"xx In two hours the camps was all broken up. The Headquarters evacuated and the Calvary advancing toward "Catlett Station" again.
It was about 3 o,clock p.m. When the General with his Stall [?] and followers left the Town amidst the prayers and good will of the colored people that remained behind.
Hundreds of Colored Men, Women, and children followed us closly on foot.
Poor Mothers with their babys at their breasts, Fathers with a few cloths
in Bundles or larger children accompanying them followed close in the foot
of the Soldiers Seeming to think this would be their Surriest Way to freedom. The distance from Warrenton to Catletts Station was 12 miles and these poor Souls would be permitted to go to Washington Where they were provided for by the U.S. government as "contrabands of Aar" So they would be Sent down free of cost by the Railroad. -- We camped just below "Catletts Station" that night. and resuming our March next Morning camped at our old Headquarters oppisite Fredericksburg at the "Phillips House."
But a few days after We were ordered across to Fredericksburg and made
the Headquarters in the "Farmers Bank," My old home again this
afforded me a great pleasure of being back with old Friends, my grandmother
lived there and dept thing [sic] together for the old mistress hid away in the county.
I Occupied my old room for the first Since I had Escaped. and I Surely Was never So happy as then and probably Will not soon forget it soon -- [sic] Genl McClellan was advancing on Richmond from Fortress Monroe, about this time. and Soon the Orders Was given to advance from our Headquarters When "Gibbons Brigade" was Sent on as far as Milford Depot and Bowling Green. Genl Kirkpatrick Was Making things lively With his calvary every now and then and capturing prisoners and arms.
We were awaiting marching orders, When one day, a dispatch was Sent
hastily recalling the
the [sic] advanced troops and ordering the Evacuation of Fredericksburg
and an immediate advance to Culpeper Court House.
Sunday Morning August 10th 1862 dawned bright and warm, and the indications
of a Warm day Was apparent to every one, the Whole Division Was moving
around Falmouth Va and Calvary, Artillary, Infantry, and Wagons and Ambulances
was filling the roads that led toward Culpeper County. Information had
reached Our army that Gen Banks had been attacked at or near "Ceder
Mountain," in Culpeper County. and We were hastening
to reinforce him. Genl John A. Pope was then in charge of the Army of Virginia. and his Headquarters Was near "Banks. xxxxx
On leaving the camp at Falmouth Our Division March [sic] rapidly to "Ellis' Ford Where they Forded the river. the Infantry devesting themselves of their ponts [?] and Water not being over Waist deep there.
We found the ford guarded by the 106th New York Regiment. Our General
Stoped here from about Sunset until 2. o.clock at Night: Some of Our boy's
went to the Kitchen belonging to "Ellis'" and tryed to purchase
Some Hot Biscuit Which the colored Women were bakeing for Sale but the
Was guarded by the New York Men, Who had orders not to let our men enter. So our Boys thought they Would get even With them and later in the Night Some half dozen of them Entered the Mill and after Stealing about 30 fine Hams, turned the Water on, and left the Mill running Without any thing to grind. About 2 o.clock that night whispered orders was given for us to Mount. and after crossing the river, day broke and found us Miles away from "Ellis' Mill.
As the Sun arose above the Mountains, the air loaded with the Sick perfume of clover and Wild flowers. and the heavy Mountain dew looking like drops of Silver on the rich leaves and blossoms.
We had ridden past regim
ent after regiment of our men, and the General and his Staff was almost out of Sight a little a head, there being a turn in the road Just there, I was looking around at the beautiful mountain Scenery around me. Each Side of the road being thickly lined with low ceder and pine. When I was Suddenly Startled by the report of a Rifle near by and the Whistle of a "Minnie" ball close to my head. I drove the spurs into my horses flanks and hurried forward to rejoin our men.
We were now nearing the Battlefield, and we Were in Mementary Expectation of an attack.
About 3. o,clock General King and his Staff halted at "Strasburg"
for a rest and Lunch.
While resting here the General called me and Sent me back to the wagon train for Some Whiskey that was on hand [?], put up in pint flasks.
I rode back and found the train about 2 Miles in the rear awaiting Orders
to move onward. After obtaining the whiskey, I hastened back to Strasburg
and found the General and his Staff, had Just rode off toward Ceder Mountain.
It Was now about 5 .oc [?] and following the direction they had gone I
Soon ascertained they had left the Main Road and Crossed the fields from
Stranburg to Ceder Mountain (about 10 miles)) the road was packed crowded
and jammed with Calvary, Artillery, infantry Wagons, Contrabands, refugees
and cattle. I pressed my horse on toward the front, passing
Brigades and regiments until I had overtaken the Artillery Which was in advance. Night had now overtaken us now I Received Orders not to advance any further than the Artillery, as they were feeling their Way, to avoid a Surprise by night. The Rebel picketts had been driven in Earles [?] in the Evening.
woods on both Sides of the road here Was densely thick and we did not know what moment the Rebels Might fire on us.
we Soon approached a part of the road that was fenced in with a rough
Stone Wall of Great thickness and about 4 or 4 1/2 feet high the order
Was passed (in Whispers) to dismount and lye down on the ground Which was
We remained in that position for Some time.
Finally the Order to mount came in whispers. A portion of the Wall had
been removed in order to let the artillery, and Wagons, and Calvary pass
in Several places. After advancing Some distance up a hill We came to a
halt and camped for the Night. Soon after we got orders to water the horses
and in Squads, We proceeded to a little Stream not far off and Watered
our horses. I also filled my canteen with Water and drank freely of it,
and learned afterward that the Spring from Which it ran, had been poisoned
a few days before. The only Effects I felt from it was
rather Violent pains, with a burning thirst. I fed my horse and Slept in an ammunition Wagon that night up [sic] Bocrd of Bomb -- Shells.
Early next Morning I rode off in Search of Genl King. and found him and his Staff after a few Minutes ride where he had a kind of Shelter Made of Green Corn Stalks, from a field just across the road.
A few hours after I arrived Our Headquarters teams came up and we pitched into the hams Slicked and by Sticking a Stick through the Slices Soon broiled enough for a good Meal by holding it to the fire.
A few Shells from the rebels Soon put an end
to our cooking by the Smoke from our fire Serving them as a Mark.
During this afternoon we received orders to fall back to "Fleeet's farm Where the General established his headquarters for the time being in close proximity to Gen John Pope's Headquarters Gen Shields and Gen Banks Major Genl Pope being then in command of the "Army of Virginia." great preparations were being Made for Some important Move. Orders had Just been issued for the Discharge of all Servants Except hostlers and Cooks. Of course this did not effect my case.
But A Reward of $300.00 had been offered for my head in Fredericksburg
and knowing if
I Should be captured by the rebels I Should be taken to Richmond Va Where I was well known and no doubt be immediately hung or Shot for being With the "Yankees."
I therefore obtained permission to Visit Fredericksburg going by Way of Washington City.
Genl King willingly gave the desired permission now, as there was no fighting going on just then. The Hospitals at Culpeper Ch. was crowded with the Wounded, and the Dead had been burried from the last Battle field.
The Stars and Stripes waved proudly from the different headquarters of Generals and Colonels.
The Music from the Bands echoed and reached across hill
and Vale as cheerfully and gay as if there was none missing from the last Earthly roll-call.
But I am digressing -- having obtained My pass and money I Exchanged
My blue pants for a pair of different color and bidding farewell to my
companions in camp, with a Sad heart was Soon on my Way to Culpeper C.H.
Where I took the train for Washington and arrived about 2 . o clock that
night. Next Morning I proceeded to Genl Poopes" Headquarters on 17th
Street, oppisite the war Department, and obtained a pass to Fredericksburg.
and going to 7th Street Wharf took the Steamer Keyport (then in government
Services) for Aquia Creek and on landing I
found that there was no passengers permitted to go over to Fredericksburg till next day.
A Locomotive and train of flat cars Was waiting on the track to take
over a lot of troops of Genl Burnsides command, and While they were getting
on the train I got on with them Without the knowledge of the proper officer
of the road. and Was Soon after landed at Falmouth Station about one mile
this Side of the Rappahannock River. I walked over to the Town Where I
found My wife, as Well as might be expected; They were all greatly Surprised
to See Me. When they supposed Me to be at Culpeper County With
Genl. King. I Remained at home about one Week, Enjoying My freedom With
friends and aquaintances. the old rebel citizens Showing evident Marks
of displeasure at My appearance among them, they regarding me in the light
of a Spy or traitor to their cause. I had intended now to Stay at home
and make a living and after a While (perhaps, to go North Some where, [sic]
When My Wife Would possible be able to go With me, as the Movements of
both Armys (Union and Reble) were quite uncertain I did not know What minute
the present force under Genl A.E. Burnside might be ordered away the troops
Were continually Moving to and fro and heavy firing
had been heard, for Several Days, in the direction of Culpeper C.H.
And a great many Soldiers had crossed from Fredericksburg to the North Side of the river and disapeared Soon after, Which gave rise Soon that they Yankee was falling back. My Wife and friends advised Me not to let the Yankees leave me behind if they did fall back, as they firmly believed the rebels would take My life.
My Wife's Mother had not Spoken to her or me Since our Marriage and
She had forbidden Annie to darken her door Way again or I Should have gone
to Washington with My Wife and Settled down but as it Was my Wife was not
in a condition to travel
far Without and Elder female friend. So Mrs Jackson and others of our
friends advised me to leave at the Earliest opportunity for the Sake of
Safety. and When My Wife Should be able She could come to Washington.
Sunday afgernoon Augt. 31st 1862
About 4. oclock. P.M. Our attentiion was called to a dark smoke over
in Falmouth and going to the River Shore, we discovered that the Union
Troops Were burning their Bakery, which was very extensive and breaking
up their camp in haste. With a sad heart I returned to tell My wife, the
Casl Nem, [?]
for I knew well what it meant that our troops were Evacuating Falmouth,
I bid my wife good-by and hastened to the Headquarters of Col Kingsbury,
Provost Marshall of the Town to ascertain the facts in the case. I found
Col Kingsbury in his office and Stepping up to him Saluted him and Said
Colonel I heard Sir, that the Union troops are going to Evacuate the Town
is it so Sir. What is it to you Son [?], go out of this office: "Said
he." in a Stern commanding voice. bringing his clenched fist down
on the table in fron of him -- I beg your pardon Colonel, "I Said"
I am genl King's Mess-Servant. Well What are you doing here
I Just came down on a Visit to My Wife Sir, and don't Want to be left behind if you all are going. Well (in a Milder Voice low[?]) if you Want to get away go sight [?] across the Bridge within 15 minutes
He gave me a pass and I was Soon across the wire Bridge [?]
I had not had time to go back home for any clothing or money and I had only 50 cents in my pocket -- when I crossed the bridge I noticed shavings and Tar places at intervals on Several different piers With kegs of powder near by.
After crossing the Bridge I hastened to the Top of the Hill. At the
East end of the Bridge, and looked back at the town that had given me birth
and with a sad heart and full eyes thought of Some of the Joys I had felt
within the limits -- But now compelled to fly from it for my life, for daring to make my Escape to the Union army. and with a price fixed upon My head if caught, I could not help Weeping, (though it was not manly) as I looked back, and thought of My poor young Wife, who could not fly With me -- The Rebels was at that very minnit Swarming the Heights West of Fredericksburg. and I know not, but they might take Vengence on her as I had Escaped they could lock her up in Jail or any thing else and who would protect her.
My Soleyng [?] was interrupted by a tremendous Explosion that could
be heard for Miles around, and Shook the Earth like an Earthquake. the
Flame shot upward hundreds of feet into the air -- and as Suddenly
all was Silent as death, But the Wire Bridge was gone to ruins and the rebels victoriious Shout rang out over the Hights of Fredericksburg.
*** Between 9 and 10 o clock that night I laid down in and [sic] out
building at the Lacy Farm. With the Union Army encamped all around me.
when I awoke next Morning, a little after day light not a Soldier could
be Seen any where about. The Whole of "Burnsides" Division had
fallen back toward Aquia Creek on the Potomac River 15 miles distant. My
case was a critical one now, indeed. A rain late in the Night had completely
hid the track of the army, but I Soon Struck out for the railroad and after
following it for Some time I left it and persued the road
toward Bell-Plane Landing [?] 9 miles distant. after walking for Some
time I discovered the fresh tracks of Horses going the Same Way that I
waas, but Soon I could hear Voices. I Stoped and listened for I did not
know Whether they were Rebel gorrillas or the Union army. I hid in the
thick undergrowth close by till I caught site of a blue coat. When My heart
gave a great leap for Joy, I was Soon once More in the Union lines and
about 2 o clock arrived at Aquia Creek Landing. I found the Soldiers encamped
for Miles around and Hundreds of Steamers and Transports of all discriptions
awaiting to receive their living Cargoes, which was being shipped in all
haste. When I got there the Mail Steamer Keyport was nearly ready to leave
for washington D.C.
I had Several old passes certifying that I was a Servant at Genl Kings
Headquarters (but his headquarters was now up near Culpper Court-House)
and consequently his passes was not respected. So the Sentinel guarding
the Gang plank from the Wharf to the Steamer forbid me going aboard Without
a pass from Gen. Burnside whose Headquarters Was near by. I Stood around
a few minutes watching an opportunity When the Sentinel Stood reading another
pass. I bounded across the Gang plank and concealed Myself for a while
until the Steamer got off from the wharf. i then came out and arrived Safe
at 6th Street Wharf in Washington, D.C. on the Night of September 1st 1862.
in a hard rain My Grandmother, Aunt and her 4 children all Slept on 14th
St that Night and
next morning walked to Georgetown Where we had friends My Grandmother
aunt and the children Soon found Some place to Stay, and I obtained board
at Mrs. Boons at $2.50 per Week; My next object Was to obtain Work in order
that I Might pay my board and get a change of clothing for I Was Sadly
in need of them -- I had no trade then and knew not what to do. But Soon
Learned to turn My hand to Most anything light. there was a plenty of havy
work. Such loading and unloading vessels and Steamers but that was mostly
to heavy for me, as I was not very strong but finnally obtained a place
Bottling Liquor for Dodge & c
at $1.25 per day which lasted for Some time.