The burial of Latane. [from the Richmond Dispatch, July 19, 1896.] a touching incident of the Civil war recalled.
During the Confederate reunion recently held in Richmond many good stories were told, many anecdotes related, many gallant deeds recalled of the valor and gallantry of some favorite son, and many tributes of love and respect paid to the noble women of the South, past and present. In view of this last, it might not be inappropriate at this time to recall an incident of the struggle between the North and South that is in a measure familiar to all of those that still cherish the tenderest memories of the dead Confederacy; but the true facts of which are known to a comparative few. If the Confederate veterans, when discussing the thrilling events of the early 60's, had gone out to Hanover Courthouse, a few miles from Richmond, and then journeyed to ‘Summer Hill,’ the estate of Mrs. Mary Page Newton, widow of Captain William B. Newton, Confederate States army, they would have found in the family burying-ground a grass-covered grave, but with no monument to the honor of the sleeping soldier beneath, no epitaph to his virtues, or to tell how and when he died. There among the whispering pines lies the remains of William Latane, captain of the Essex Troop, 9th Regiment, Stuart's Brigade. ‘The Burial of Latane’ has been made  familiar to history by a poem by John R. Thompson, published in ‘ The University Memorial,’ and a painting under the same title, by William D. Washington, which was afterwards extensively copied. Washington's original painting is said to have sold for $10,000, and was afterwards destroyed by a fire in New York. The ‘copies’ were numerous, and many of them can still be found in the North, as well as the South, as the subject was one that excited general interest. The fact is not generally known, however, that the figures in the picture are all taken from models, who sat for the picture in Richmond, and are not the likenesses of the originals that figured in the pathetic scene of the burial at ‘Summer Hill,’ on the 14th of August, 1862. Captain Latane, who was a mere boy, was killed on the road from Hanover Courthouse to Old Church. At that time McClellan's army was close on to Richmond, and was in possession of the country surrounding Hanover Courthouse. Captain Latane's brother was first lieutenant of the same company, and when his brother was killed Lieutenant Latane took charge of the body, hoping to find friends to bury it. He found a negro boy driving the mill-cart from ‘Westwood,’ the home of Dr. William S. R. Brockenbrough, and the adjoining place to ‘Summer Hill,’ Mrs. Newton being a niece of Mrs. Brockenbrough's. Mrs. Brockenbrough took charge of the body, and, as a Federal picket was in possession of ‘Westwood,’ Lieutenant Latane was supplied with a horse by Mrs. Brockenbrough, and at once rejoined his command. This was on the 13th of August, 1862, and on the following day Captain Latane was buried at Summer Hill. The picture is a correct portrayal of the burial, with the exception of the mythical figures. An Episcopal minister was sent for to read the services, but he was not allowed to pass the pickets, and as the men were all in the army, the funeral had to be conducted by the ladies of the two households, assisted by a few family servants that were too faithful to run away or that were too infirm for the Yankees to carry. It was indeed a scene worthy the language of any poet, the brush of any artist. Though a stranger to them personally, the young captain's cause was their cause, and his principles their principles, so tenderly and gently they placed him in his grave, and the young girls covered him over with flowers. Mrs. Newton read the burial service of the Episcopal Church, and as the grave was being filled by the faithful negroes the ladies sang ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ and ‘Rock of Ages.’ Besides Mrs. Newton, there were present Mrs. Brockenbrough and her little daughter, supposed to be the  child in the picture; her two nieces, Misses Maria and May Dabney; Mrs. Dr. J. Philip Smith, and Miss Judith White Newton, afterwards Mrs. Edwin C. Claybrook. A thread of romance has always been wound around the incident, which was possibly due to Thompson's poem and Washington's painting. It is said that young Latane's sweetheart requested a picture of the tragic affair, and when this idea was suggested to the artist, he made his picture as true to life as possible, only substituting other figures for the originals. Mr. Washington visited ‘Summer Hill’ for the purpose of getting the correct scenery, and in this respect his picture is true to nature. Mrs. Newton is still living at Summer Hill, and Mrs. Brockenbrough is at the church home in Richmond. The rest of those present at the burial have themselves now gone to join the ‘silent majority.’ Captain Latane was a brother of Bishop Latane, of the reformed Episcopal Church, who now lives in Baltimore, and the ladies that buried young Latane were the near kin of Bishop Newton, of the Episcopal Church of Virginia, although at that time the two families did not know each other. Bishop Latane, in speaking recently of his brother's death, said that his family had often thought of moving their brother's remains to Hollywood, in Richmond, or to the old home in Essex county, but Virginia homes are changing hands so often now, that they had decided to let him sleep in the graveyard at Summer Hill, where he was tenderly placed by sympathetic friends.
R. C. S. > Baltimore, Md., July 12.