An English officer's Experience in the Confederate.
"An English officer," who seems to have been treated with the most distinguished consideration by the Confederate
authorities, has just published in a London paper an account of a two months tour through the Confederate States
He entered the Confederacy
, and travelled from one end of it to the other.
A portion of his story relative to a visit to Richmond
The rail to Wilmington
was open, and as that was the shortest way to Richmond
, I took the train, and reached Wilmington
about 1 A. M., where a steam ferry carried the passengers across the harbor.
We were kept waiting in an awfully cold night, crowding round the doors of the railway cars; and as it was a case of first come first served, those who got in first secured a seat, whilst those who did not were forced to stand.
The usual uncertainty attending Southern railway traveling prevented me from making any calculation as to the time of reaching Richmond
we "missed connection, " which means that the train had gone off without waiting for us, and we had the agreeable prospect of passing twenty-four hours at one of the most miserable places I ever saw. Even in peace time it has a bad name, and during the present state of things it has become ten times worse than before.
Two dreary houses, dignified by the name of hotels, received the passengers.
I was fortunate enough to obtain a bed; two soldiers of the Confederate army occupying the other bed in my room.
We even procured the luxury of a fire, and, whilst sitting round it, my two companions discussed their campaigns, and, in doing so, described two battles at which I had been present on the opposite side.
It was very amusing to hear their descriptions, especially that of one man, who gave me an account of his charging squares and performing other prodigies of valor, no such squares, to my certain knowledge, having existed.
I did not tell them that I had seen the battles from another point of view.
there is an important bridge across a river, on which a guard was stationed, as it was supposed to be an object of attack of the Federal
, who occupied parts of the country lying in the vicinity near the coast.
After our twenty-four hours delay a train arrived and carried us on to Petersburg
, a large, well built town, near the James river
Omnibuses, driven by niggers, conveyed us through the town to the Richmond railway station, and on my way I took the opportunity of asking the "intelligent contraband" who was driving me whether the Yankees
had any gunboats on the James river
. "Oyeth, massa," was the answer, "them Yankees have got three thousand gunboats down there." This awful piece of information ought, of course, to have been forwarded to President Davis
, if he had been in the same habit of acquiring information from "intelligent contrabands" as the other President
The train conveyed me to Richmond
, where I arrived about seven o'clock P. M., very glad to have accomplished the long journey from Mobile
Of all the expeditions I have made, the ride I took out of Richmond
to the scene of the old battle fields of the Chickahominy
was to me the most curious.
Six months previously I had been encamped with the Federal
army for a month within four and a half miles of the city, and now I was about to visit the same localities from the opposite side.
To do this I hired a wretched horse — horses are scarce articles at Richmond
— and started off alone to find my way to the Chickahominy
, feeling sure, when once there, of knowing every inch of the ground.
After leaving the town I passed the redoubts which encircle it — earth works thrown up hastily during the war — and found the guard stationed on the road.
However, my pass ensured me every civility, and I was put in the right way of reaching Newbridge, on the Chickahominy
Very soon the country showed palpable signs of war — fences broken down and destroyed, houses burnt — in short, a fertile country had become a waste.
I looked in vain for the lines of earthworks which I was led to believe had prevented the advance on Richmond
of the Federal
army: they did not exist; a very small trench and breastworks being the only signs of any fortification.
Still I rode on, expecting to meet some traces of field works, until I found myself among the well-remembered places facing the heights, from which I had often watched the Federal
batteries play on the very ground I was riding over.
There was the house which I remembered served as a mark for the Federal artillery; there was the steep piece of road down which, through a telescope, I had watched the Confederate
wagons hastening to avoid the fire.
In fact, I almost seemed to have two separate existences, and imagined that I should see myself and former companions appear on the opposite heights.
My ride was stopped by the bridge (called Newbridge) having been destroyed.
Men were engaged in repairing it; the muddy stream of the Chickahominy
flowing on, unconscious of having separated two vast armies, and played so considerable a part in a great struggle.
Across the deserted fields, the former stations of the Confederate
pickets, I made my way; then through the abandoned Federal camps and entrenchments, across the country, and through the woods, and among the numerous graves of those who fell at Fair Oaks
and the seven days battles, until I reached the redoubt, the scene of Hooker
's fight, where the last battle was fought with the object of advancing on Richmond
The battles which succeeded it were for existence, not victory.
The country was deserted; a solitary sportsman looking for partridges was the only person I encountered.
Where were all those I had known so intimately six months before?
Some were killed in those last disastrous battles; most had left the army in disgust, or been driven from it by the politicians at Washington
I crossed the rail, and returned to Richmond
by the road which passes the Seven Pines
, from which the battle of that name is called.
must be singularly changed from what it was two years ago — then a State capital, as little known to fame as any other of the numerous capitals of the various States--now the centre of the Confederacy
and the object for which vast armies are contending.
It is a pleasant town on the left bank of the James river
, whose winding course can be seen for many miles from one of the numerous little or which it stands.
There is still traffic in the streets; the theatres are open; ladies riding and driving (the latter usually in ambulances instead of carriage) pass not unfrequently and the whole town appears endeavoring under difficulties to keep up an appearance of peace and prosperity.
When I was there but few soldiers ware to be seen in the streets; they were concentrated in front of Fredericksburg
, where battle was daily expected.
The crowded sts of the hotels, filled with officers, the appearance every now and then of some rough looking cavalry or artillery, the enormous hospitals which cover one of the hills overlooking the river, the iron clads built and in course of building on that river — all told of war. Although great confidence was felt in Gen. Lee
and his army, yet a certain uneasiness existence to the result of the approaching battle.
In the event, however, of utter defeat, and the occupation by the Federal
, the determination had been formed to leave nothing but its ashes to receive the enemy.
, who formerly command the Nashville
, was kind enough to show me the new Marrimac
, to which he had been appointed.
She differs slightly from her namesake and is armed with very large rifled guns, made at the foundry at Richmond
She is destined to cooperate with the Fort
's Bluff, in order to ensure the safety of Richmond
from any attempt at attack which might be made from the James river
. Two other iron clads were in the course of construction--one built by contributions from the ladies of Richmond
On the land side, a circle of bastioned field works guard the town; they are insignificant compared with the works round important European
towns, but are as strong or stronger than the lines of Yorktown
, which for so long a time field in check the Federal
It was an easy matter enough to get into Richmond
, but quite the reverse to get out again, and so on to Washington
A flag of truce boat for exchange of prisoners frequently went down the James river
, but no passenger were allowed on board; and in the present state of affairs, when any day might bring news of some great conflict, the authorities were chary about granting passes.
Still they were very kind, and I was told I might make my way across the lines by what is called the underground railway.
The officer in charge of the secret service furnished me with a pass in the event of my meeting any Confederate pickets, and directed me to make my way by rail to Culpeper Court-House, and then as best I could to Alexandria
, from which places the journey to Washington
was easy enough. * * * * *
Thus terminated my rapid two months travelling through the Confederate States
; and, from all I have seen and heard, I feel full convinced that no danger will ever frighten, or bribes of power induce, the States of the Confederacy
to join again the Northern Union.
They are unanimous; there is no party feeling in the South
; they have confidence in their President
, their Government, and their Generals
; and in all these respects how great is the contrast they present to the States of the North