previous next
[81]

“ Oh, never mind that. We'll attend to that at Richmond.”

Stepping into his carriage, and unfurling the flag of truce, he then led the way, by a “short cut,” across the corn-field which divided the mansion from the high-road. We followed in an ambulance drawn by a pair of mules, our shadow--Mr. Javins--sitting between us and the twilight, and Jack, a “likely darky,” almost the sole survivor of his master's twelve hundred slaves ( “De ress all stole Massa — stole by you Yankees” ), occupying the front seat, and with a stout whip “working our passage” to Richmond.

Much that was amusing and interesting occurred during our three--hours' journey, but regard for our word forbids my relating it. Suffice it to say, we saw the “frowning fortifications,” we “flanked” the “invincible army,” and at ten o'clock that night, planted our flag (against a lamp-post) in the very heart of the hostile city. As we alighted at the doorway of the Spotswood Hotel, the Judge said to the Colonel:

Button your outside-coat up closely. Your uniform must not be seen here.

The Colonel did as he was bidden; and with-out stopping to register our names at the office, we followed the Judge and the Captain up to No. 60. It was a large, square room in the fourth story, with an unswept, ragged carpet, and bare, white walls, smeared with soot and tobacco juice. Several chairs, a marble-top table, and a pine wash-stand and clothespress straggled about the floor, and in the corners were three beds, garnished with tattered pillow-cases, and covered with white counterpanes, grown gray with longing for soapsuds and a wash-tub. The plainer and humbler of these beds was designed for the burly Mr. Javins; the others had been made ready for the extraordinary envoys (not envoys extraordinary) who, in defiance of all precedent and the “law of nations,” had just then “taken Richmond.”

A single gas-jet was burning over the mantlepiece, and above it I saw a “writing on the wall” which implied that Jane Jackson had run up a washing-score of fifty dollars!

I was congratulating myself on not having to pay that woman's laundry-bills, when the Judge said:

You want supper. What shall we order?

“ A slice of hot corn bread would make me the happiest man in Richmond.”

The Captain thereupon left the room, and shortly returning, remarked:

The landlord swears you're from Georgia. He says none but a Georgian would call for corn bread at that time of the night.

On that hint we acted, and when our sooty attendant came in with the supper things, we discussed Georgia mines, Georgia banks, and Georgia mosquitoes, in a way that showed we had been bitten by all of them. In half an hour it was noised all about the hotel that the two gentlemen the Confederacy was taking such excellent care of were from Georgia.

The meal ended, and a quiet smoke over, our entertainers rose to go. As the Judge bade us good-night, he said to us:

In the morning you had better address a note to Mr. Benjamin, asking the interview with the President. I will call at ten o'clock, and take it to him.

“Very well. But will Mr. Davis see us on Sunday?”

“ Oh, that will make no difference.”


What we did there.

The next morning, after breakfast, which we took in our room with Mr. Javins, we indited a note — of which the following is a copy — to the Confederate Secretary of State:

Spotswood House, Richmond, Va., July 17, 1864.
Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, etc.:
dear sir: The undersigned respectfully solicit an interview with President Davis.

They visit Richmond only as private citizens, and have no official character or authority; but they are acquainted with the views of the United States Government, and with the sentiments of the Northern people, relative to an adjustment of the differences existing between the North and the South, and earnestly hope that a free interchange of views between President Davis and themselves may open the way to such official negotiations as will result in restoring peace to the two sections of our distracted country.

They therefore ask an interview with the President, and awaiting your reply, are

Truly and respectfully yours.


This was signed by both of us; and when the Judge called, as he had appointed, we sent it — together with a commendatory letter I had received, on setting out, from a near relative of Mr. Davis--to the Rebel Secretary. In half an hour Judge Ould returned, saying: “Mr. Benjamin sends you his compliments, and will be happy to see you at the State Department.”

We found the Secretary — a short, plump oily little man in black, with a keen black eye, a Jew face, a yellow skin, curly black hair, closely trimmed black whiskers, and a ponderous gold watch-chain — in the north-west room of the “United States” Custom House. Over the door of this room were the words, “State Department,” and round its walls were hung a few maps and battle-plans. In one corner was a tier of shelves filled with books, among which I noticed Headley's, “History,” Lossing's “Pictorial,” Parton's “Butler,” Greeley's “American conflict,” a set of Frank Moore's “Rebellion record,” and a dozen numbers and several bound volumes of the “Atlantic Monthly,” and in the centre of the apartment was a black-walnut table, covered

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (4)
Charles Javins (3)
J. P. Benjamin (3)
Parton (1)
Robert Ould (1)
Frank Moore (1)
Lossing (1)
Jane Jackson (1)
Jack (1)
Headley (1)
Horace Greeley (1)
Benjamin F. Butler (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 17th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: