cut away on the Hampton side. At that point our force, consisting of a detachment of Max Weber's riflemen, erected a barricade. When Gen. Butler left, every thing was quiet in the village, and there was no appearance of any thing unusual. Shortly after a rebel force came to the bridge, and commenced a vigorous attack on our force there. A sharp contest ensued, which resulted in loss to the enemy and their retreat. The rebels then commenced to fire the town. Fire was first set to the buildings nearest to the bridge. Those who committed this act of Vandalism were, to a considerable extent, former leading citizens of Hampton and owners of property, and consequently among the greatest sufferers. They distributed themselves through the village, went to the residences of the few remaining white inhabitants, and warned them to prepare for the event that was at hand. No other reason was given than that they had orders to burn the village, and that it would be done. No time was given to remove furniture or other effects, and scarcely enough to allow the terrified people to dress and escape to the street. At the house of Mr. Joseph Segar, who was absent, a faithful colored servant undertook to remove some valuables, when he was warned by the rebel charged with the duty of setting fire to the dwelling to desist. The negro, instead of obeying, kept on, only remarking that the things must be got out. The rebel then told him if he did not stop he would shoot him. “Can't help dat; massa's things must be got out,” was the reply. The chivalrous rebel fired, but missed his aim. The negro fled, and is safe, having done all that could be asked of any one. It is known that in not a few instances men fired their own property, and thus destroyed dwellings in which they had spent a good share of their lives. After the first fire had been kindled, the attacking force returned to the bridge, where another sharp contest of about twenty minutes ensued, and which resulted as before in the repulse of the rebels. It is known that they lost quite a number, as they were seen carried away, picked off by the German riflemen, who took good aim in the light of the burning buildings. No one was was hurt on our side, though the planks and barrels of which the barricade was constructed were freely pierced by bullets. Failing in the attempt to carry the bridge, the town was fired in every part, and by a little past midnight the village was a mass of flames lighting up the heavens, so that as far off as Newport News it was light enough to read a newspaper. It required no very vivid imagination to discern in the glare, smoke, and flame, the horrid features of civil war. Never before has our country furnished a scene calculated to suggest a thought like this. “Kill, burn, destroy,” was the injunction of the Charleston Mercury, and here it was literally obeyed. It was the first instance of the kind in the course of the war. How many more, and perhaps far more terrible, will there be before it is over I There were probably from 20 to 50 white persons in the village, and from 100 to 200 negroes. Terror-stricken, as they well might be, at such a midnight visitation, they fled in all directions, not knowing what fate might overtake them at any turn. One old, half-dying, speechless, and utterly helpess man, Mr. George L. Massenberg, one of the oldest inhabitants of the place, surrounded by a few devoted servants, was taken by them from his house, near the bridge, and, while the fight was going on, the flames raging, the stifling smoke surging, and bullets whizzing all around, was removed on a wheelbarrow to a point on the creek, where a small boat was found, in which he was taken in safety to our side. To-day he found security and attention in the fortress hospital. He is an undisguised secessionist, and, though the fact was as well known as any other, he received neither mercy nor the manifestation of human feelings from the rebels. But for the devotion of his servants he, no doubt, would have perished in the flames that were the legitimate consequences of his own doctrines. Mr.Jones and Mrs. Wilson Jones, two old and highly respectable people, known to sympathize with the rebellion, and about the only couple who could but did not flee when Hampton was deserted three months since, and who, notwithstanding the well-understood views of Mr. J., lived in undisturbed quiet, were roused from their slumbers and scarcely given time to dress. They did take out a very few things that were sacred in the household so long maintained, and now so rudely and suddenly set in flames, and retreated to the rear of the yard; and there they stood all night silent, solitary spectators amid the glare of conflagration, barely escaping the flames that almost lapped them in their folds. This morning, two gentlemen, old acquaintances, solicitous for their fate, set out from the fortress, and, at their own risk, went into the village and found the aged couple standing there still under the rays of the sun that were scarcely less scorching than the flames that all night had raged around them. The protection which was due to them from the rebels, but was worse than denied them, was given by the two loyal citizens, who by their acts evinced that fidelity to the Government was but humanity to man. Certain features of Mr. Jones' case are peculiarly aggravating. In the afternoon, a relative, holding an office in the Secession army, came to his house, and after enjoying his hospitalities, informed him that the order was out to burn the village. So absurd was the statement that he did not credit it. In the evening he went into the streets, where all was quiet, and no evidence of such a purpose. Rebel guards were stationed; besides this, there was nothing unusual. About ten o'clock he returned to his house and retired. Scarcely had the aged couple fallen
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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