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I. April, 1861

  • My flight from the North and escape into Virginia.
  • -- Revolutionary scene at Richmond. -- the Union Convention passes the ordinance of secession. -- great excitement prevails in the South.

April 8

Burlington, New Jersey.-The expedition sails to-day from New York. Its purpose is to reduce Fort Moultrie, Charleston harbor, and relieve Fort Sumter, invested by the Confederate forces. Southern born, and editor of the Southern Monitor, there seems to be no alternative but to depart immediately. For years the Southern Monitor, Philadelphia, whose motto was “The Union as it was, the Constitution as it is,” has foreseen and foretold the resistance of the Southern States, in the event of the success of.a sectional party inimical to the institution of African slavery, upon which the welfare and existence of the Southern people seem to depend. And I must depart immediately; for I well know that the first gun fired at Fort Sumter will be the signal for an outburst of ungovernable fury, and I should be seized and thrown into prison.

I must leave my family-my property-everything. My family cannot go with me-but they may follow. The storm will not break in its fury for a month or so. Only the most obnoxious persons, deemed dangerous, will be molested immediately.

8 O'Clock P. M.-My wife and children have been busy packing my trunk, and making other preparations for my departure. They are cheerful. They deem the rupture of the States a fait accompli, but reck not of the horrors of war. They have contrived to pack up, with other things, my fine old portrait of Calhoun, by Jarvis. But I must leave my papers, the accumulation of twentyfive [14] years, comprising thousands of letters from predestined rebels. My wife opposes my suggestion that they be burned. Among them are some of the veto messages of President Tyler, and many letters from him, Governor Wise, etc. With the latter I had a correspondence in 1856, showing that this blow would probably have been struck then, if Fremont had been elected.

April 9

My adieus over, I set out in the broad light of day. When the cars arrived at Camden, I proceeded, with the rest of the through passengers, in the boat to the navy yard, without going ashore in the city. The passengers were strangers to me. Many could be easily recognized as Southern men; but quite as many were going only as far as Washington, for their reward. They were bold denouncers of the rebellion; the others were silent, thoughtful, but in earnest.

The first thing which attracted my attention, as the cars left the Delaware depot, was a sign-board on my left, inscribed in large letters, “Union Cemetery.” My gaze attracted the notice of others. A mocking bon-not was uttered by a Yankee wit, which was followed by laughter.

For many hours I was plunged in the deepest abstraction, and spoke not a word until we were entering the depot at Washington, just as the veil of night was falling over the scene.

Then I was aroused by the announcement of a conductor that, failing to have my trunk rechecked at Baltimore, it had been left in that city! Determined not to lose it, I took the return train to Baltimore, and put up at Barnum's Hotel. Here I met with Mr. Abell, publisher of the Baltimore Sun, an old acquaintance. Somewhat contrary to my expectations, knowing him to be a native of the North, I found him an ardent secessionist. So enthusiastic was he in the cause, that he denounced both Maryland and Virginia for their hesitancy in following the example of the Cotton States; and he invited me to furnish his paper with correspondence from Montgomery, or any places in the South where I might be a sojourner.

April 10

Making an early start this morning, I once more arrived at Washington City. I saw no evidences of a military force in the city, and supposed the little army to be encamped at the west end of the Avenue, guarding the Executive Mansion.

We took an omnibus without delay and proceeded to the [15] steamer. As soon as we left the shore, I fancied I saw many of the passengers breathing easier and more deeply. Certainly there was more vivacity, since we were relieved of the presence of Republicans. And at the breakfast table there was a freer flow of speech, and a very decided manifestation of secession proclivities.

Among the passengers was Major Holmes, who had just resigned his commission in the U. S. army. He had been ordered to proceed with the expedition against Charleston; but declined the honor of fighting against his native land. The major is a little deaf, but has an intellectual face, the predominant expression indicating the discretion and prudence so necessary for success in a large field of operations. In reply to a question concerning the military qualities of Beauregard and Bragg, he said they were the flower of the young officers of the U. S. army. The first had great genius, and was perhaps the most dashing and brilliant officer in the country; the other, more sedate, nevertheless possessed military capacities of a very high order. President Davis, in his opinion, had made most excellent selections in the appointment of his first generals. The major, however, was very sad at the prospect before us; and regarded the tenders of pecuniary aid to the U. S. by the Wall Street capitalists as ominous of a desperate, if not a prolonged struggle. At this time the major's own State, North Carolina, like Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri, yet remains in the Union.

We were delayed several hours at Aquia Creek, awaiting the arrival of the cars, which were detained in consequence of a great storm and flood that had occurred the night before.

April 10-11

These two days were mainly lost by delays, the floods having swept away many bridges, which had not yet been repaired. As we approached Richmond, it was observed that the people were more and more excited, and seemed to be pretty nearly unanimous for the immediate secession of the State. Everywhere the Convention then in session was denounced with bitterness, for its adherence to the Union; and Gov. Letcher was almost universally execrated for the chocks he had thrown under the car of secession and Southern independence. I heard very many who had voted for him, regret that they had ever supported the clique of politicians who managed to secure his nomination. [16] And now I learned that a People's Spontaneous Convention would assemble in Richmond on the 16th of the month, when, if the other body persisted in its opposition to the popular will, the most startling revolutionary measures would be adopted, involving, perhaps, arrests and executions. Several of the members of this body with whom I conversed bore arms upon their persons.

April 12

To-day I beheld the first secession flag that had met my vision. It was at Polecat Station, Caroline County, and it was greeted with enthusiasm by all but the two or three Yankees in the train. One of these, named Tupps, had been questioned so closely, and his presence and nativity had become so well known, that he became alarmed for his safety, although no one menaced him. He could not sit still a moment, nor keep silence. He had been speculating in North Carolina the year before, and left some property there, which, of course, he must save, if needs be, at the risk of his life. But he cared nothing for slavery, and would never bear arms against the South, if she saw fit to “set up Government business for herself.” He rather guessed war was a speculation that wouldn't pay. His volubility increased with his perturbation, and then he drank excessively and sang Dixie. When we reached Richmond, he was beastly drunk.

Arrived at the Exchange Hotel, Richmond. A storm rages above, and below in the minds of men; but the commotion of the elements above attracts less attention than the tempest of excitement agitating the human breast. The news-boys are rushing in all directions with extras announcing the bombardment of Fort Sumter! This is the irrevocable blow! Every reflecting mind here should know that the only alternatives now are successful revolution or abject subjugation. But they do not lack for the want of information of the state of public sentiment in the North. It is in vain that the laggards are assured by persons just from the North, that the Republican leaders now composing the cabinet at Washington were prepared to hail the event at Charleston as the most auspicious that could have happened for the accomplishment of their designs; and that their purpose is the extinction of slavery, at least in the border States; the confiscation of the estates of rebels to reimburse the Federal Government for the expenses of the war which had been deliberately resolved on; and to [17] gratify the cupidity of the “Wide-Awakes,” and to give employment to foreign mercenaries.

But it is not doubtful which course the current of feeling is rapidly taking. Even in this hitherto Union city, secession demonstrations are prevalent; and the very men who two days ago upheld Gov. Letcher in his conservatism, are now stricken dumb amid the popular clamor for immediate action. I am now resolved to remain in Richmond for a season.

After tea I called upon Gov. Wise, who occupied lodgings at the same hotel. He was worn out, and prostrated by a distressing cough which threatened pneumonia. But ever and anon his eagle eye assumed its wonted brilliancy. He was surrounded by a number of his devoted friends, who listened with rapt attention to his surpassing eloquence. A test question, indicative of the purpose of the Convention to adjourn without action, had that day been carried by a decided majority. The governor once rose from his recumbent position on the sofa and said, whatever the majority of Union men in the Convention might do, or leave undone, Virginia must array herself on one side or the other. She must fight either Lincoln or Davis. If the latter, he would renounce her, and tender his sword and his life to the Southern Confederacy. And although it was apparent that his physique was reduced, as he said, to a mere “bag of bones,” yet it was evident that his spirit yet struggled with all its native fire and animation.

Soon after President Tyler came in. I had not seen him for several years, and was surprised to find him, under the weight of so many years, unchanged in activity and energy of body and mind. He was quite as ardent in his advocacy of prompt State action as Wise. Having recently abandoned the presidency of the Peace Congress at Washington, in despair of obtaining concessions or guarantees of safety from the rampant powers then in the ascendency, he nevertheless believed, as did a majority of the statesmen of the South, that, even then, in the event of the secession of all the Southern States, presenting thus a united front, no war of great magnitude would ensue. I know better, from my residence in the North, and from the confessions of the Republicans with whom I have been thrown in contact; but I will not dissent voluntarily from the opinions of such statesmen. I can only, when my opinion is desired, intimate my conviction that a great war of the sections [18] might have been averted, if the South had made an adequate coup d'etat before the inauguration of Lincoln, and while the Democratic party everywhere was yet writhing under the sting and mortification of defeat. Then the arm of the Republican party would have been paralyzed, for the attitude of the Democratic party would at least have been a menacing one; but now, the Government has been suffered to fall into the possession of the enemy, the sword and the purse have been seized, and it is too late to dream of peace — in or out of the Union. Submission will be dishonor. Secession can only be death, which is preferable.

Gov. Wise, smiling, rose again and walked to a corner of the room where I had noticed a bright musket with a sword-bayonet attached. He took it up and criticised the sword as inferior to the knife. Our men would require long drilling to become expert with the former, like the French Zouaves; but they instinctively knew how to wield the bowie-knife. The conversation turning upon the probable deficiency of a supply of improved arms in the South, if a great war should ensue, the governor said, with one of his inevitable expressions of feeling, that it was not the improved arm, but the improved man, which would win the day. Let brave men advance with flint locks, and old-fashioned bayonets, on the popinjays of the Northern cities-advance on, and on, under the fire, reckless of the slain, and he would answer for it with his life, that the Yankees would break and run. But, in the event of the Convention adjourning without decisive action, he apprehended the first conflict would be with Virginians-the Union men of Virginia. He evidently despaired, under repeated defeats, of seeing an ordinance of secession passed immediately, and would have preferred “resistance” to “secession.”

April 13

After breakfast I accompanied Gov. Wise to his room. He advised me to remain a few days before proceeding elsewhere. He still doubted, however, whether Virginia would move before autumn. He said there was a majority of 500 Union men then in the city. But the other Convention, to meet on the 16th, might do something. He recommended me to a friend of his who distributed the tickets, who gave me a card of admission.

April 14

Wrote all day for several journals.

April 15

Great demonstrations made throughout the day, and hundreds of secession flags are flying in all parts of the city. [19] At night, while sitting with Captain O. Jennings Wise in the editorial room of the Enquirer, I learned from the Northern exchange papers, which still came to hand, that my office in Philadelphia, “The Southern Monitor,” had been sacked by the mob. It was said ten thousand had visited my office, displaying a rope with which to hang me. Finding their victim had escaped, they vented their fury in sacking the place. I have not ascertained the extent of the injury done; but if they injured the building, it belonged to H. B., a rich Republican. They tore down the signs (it was a corner house east of the Exchange), and split them up, putting the splinters in their hats, and wearing them as trophies. They next visited the mansion of Gen. P., who had made his fortune dealing in cotton, and had been a bold Northern champion of Southern rights. But the general flinched on this trying occasion. He displayed the stars and stripes, and pledged “the boys” to lead them in battle against the secessionists.

During the evening, a procession with banners and torch-lights came up the street and paused before the Enquirer office. They called for Captain Wise, and I accompanied him to the iron balcony, where he made them a soul-stirring speech. At its conclusion, he seized me by the arm and introduced me to the crowd. He informed them of the recent proceedings in Philadelphia, etc., and then ceased speaking, leaving me to tell my own story to the listening multitude. That was not my fault; I had never attempted to make a public speech in my life; and I felt that I was in a predicament. Wise knew it, and enjoyed my embarrassment. I contrived, however, to say to the people that the time for speaking had gone by, and there was no time left for listening. They proceeded up the street, growing like a snow-ball as they rolled onward. At every corner there were cheers uttered for Davis, and groans for Lincoln.

Upon returning to my boarding-house (the hotel being found too expensive), kept by Mrs. Samuels, and her sister, Miss Long, I found the ladies making secession flags. Indeed, the ladies everywhere seem imbued with the spirit of patriotism, and never fail to exert their influence in behalf of Southern independence.

April 15

To-day the secession fires assumed a whiter heat. In the Convention the Union men no longer utter denunciations against the disunionists. They merely resort to pretexts and [20] quibbles to stave off the inevitable ordinance. They had sent a deputation to Washington to make a final appeal to Seward and Lincoln to vouchsafe them such guarantees as would enable them to keep Virginia to her moorings. But in vain. They could not obtain even a promise of concession. And now the Union members as they walk the streets, and even Gov. Letcher himself, hear the indignant mutterings of the impassioned storm which threatens every hour to sweep them from existence. Business is generally suspended, and men run together in great crowds to listen to the news from the North, where it is said many outrages are committed on Southern men and those who sympathize with them. Many arrests are made, and the victims thrown into Fort Lafayette. These crowds are addressed by the most inflamed members of the Convention, and never did I hear more hearty responses from the people.

April 16

This day the Spontaneous People's Convention met and organized in Metropolitan Hall. The door-keeper stood with a drawn sword in his hand. But the scene was orderly. The assembly was full, nearly every county being represented, and the members were the representatives of the most ancient and respectable families in the State. David Chalmers, of Halifax County, I believe, was the President, and Willoughby Newton, a life-long Whig, among the Vice-Presidents. P. H. Aylett, a grandson of Patrick Henry, was the first speaker. And his eloquence indicated that the spirit of his ancestor survived in him. But he was for moderation and delay, still hoping that the other Convention would yield to the pressure of public sentiment, and place the State in the attitude now manifestly desired by an overwhelming majority of the people. He was answered by the gallant Capt. Wise, who thrilled every breast with his intrepid bearing and electric bursts of oratory. He advocated action, without reference to the other Convention, as the best means of bringing the Unionists to their senses. And the so-called Demosthenean Seddon, and G. W. Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson), Lieut.-Gov. Montague, James Lyons, Judge Robertson, etc., were there. Never, never did I hear more exalted and effective bursts of oratory. And it was apparent that messages were constantly received from the other Convention. What they were, I did not learn at the moment; but it was evident that the Unionists were [21] shaking in their shoes, and they certainly begged one--just oneday's delay, which was accorded them. The People's Convention agreed to adjourn till 10 o'clock A. M. the next day. But before we separated a commotion was observed on the stage, and the next moment a Mr. P., from Gov. Wise's old district, rushed forward and announced that he had just arrived from Norfolk, where, under instructions, and with the acquiescence of Gov. Letcher, he had succeeded in blocking the channel of the river; and this would either secure to us, or render useless to the United States, certain ships of the navy, stores, armament, etc., of the value of millions of dollars. This announcement was received with the wildest shouts of joy. Young men threw up their hats, and old men buttoned their coats and clapped their hands most vigorously. It was next hinted by some one who seemed to know something of the matter, that before another day elapsed, Harper's Ferry would fall into the hands of the secessionists.

At night the enthusiasm increases in intensity, and no further opposition is to be apprehended from the influence of Tim Rives, Baldwin, Clemens, etc. etc. It was quite apparent, indeed, that if an ordinance of secession were passed by the new Convention, its validity would be recognized and acted upon by the majority of the people. But this would be a complication of the civil war, now the decree of fate.

Perhaps the occurrence which has attracted most attention is the raising of the Southern flag on the capitol. It was hailed with the most deafening shouts of applause. But at a quiet hour of the night, the governor had it taken down, for the Convention had not yet passed the ordinance of secession. Yet the stars and stripes did not float in its stead; it was replaced by the flag of Virginia.

April 17

This was a memorable day. When we assembled at Metropolitan Hall, it could be easily perceived that we were on the threshold of momentous events. All other subjects, except that of a new political organization of the State, seemed to be momentarily delayed, as if awaiting action elsewhere. And this plan of political organization filled me with alarm, for I apprehended it would result in a new conflict between the old parties-Whig and Democrat. The ingenious discussion of this subject was probably a device of the Unionists, two or three of them having obtained [22] seats in the Revolutionary Convention. I knew the ineradicable instincts of Virginia politicians, and their inveterate habit of public speaking, and knew there were well-grounded fears that we should be launched and lost in an illimitable sea of argument, when the business was Revolution, and death to the coming invader. Besides, I saw no hope of unanimity if the old party distinctions and designations were not submerged forever.

These fears, however, were groundless. The Union had received its blessure mortelle, and no power this side of the Potomac could save it. During a pause in the proceedings, one of the leading members arose and announced that he had information that the vote was about being taken in the other Convention on the ordinance of secession. “Very well!” cried another member, “we will give them another chance to save themselves. But it is the last!” This was concurred in by a vast majority. Not long after, Lieut.-Gov. Montague came in and announced the passage of the ordinance by the other Convention! This was succeeded by a moment too thrilling for utterance, but was followed by tears of gladness and rapturous applause. Soon after, President Tyler and Gov. Wise were conducted arm-in-arm, and bare-headed, down the center aisle amid a din of cheers, while every member rose to his feet. They were led to the platform, and called upon to address the Convention. The venerable ex-President of the United States first rose responsive to the call, but remarked that the exhaustion incident to his recent incessant labors, and the nature of his emotions at such a momentous crisis, superadded to the feebleness of age, rendered him physically unable to utter what he felt and thought on such an occasion. Nevertheless, he seemed to acquire supernatural strength as he proceeded, and he spoke most effectively for the space of fifteen minutes. He gave a brief history of all the struggles of our race for freedom, from Magna Charta to the present day; and he concluded with a solemn declaration that at no period of our history were we engaged in a more just and holy effort for the maintenance of liberty and independence than at the present moment. The career of the dominant party at the North was but a series of aggressions, which fully warranted the steps we were taking for resistance and eternal separation; and if we performed our whole duty as Christians and patriots, the same benign Providence which [23] favored the cause of our forefathers in the Revolution of 1776, would again crown our efforts with similar success. He said he might not survive to witness the consummation of the work begun that day; but generations yet unborn would bless those who had the high privilege of being participators in it.

He was succeeded by Gov. Wise, who, for a quarter of an hour, electrified the assembly by a burst of eloquence, perhaps never surpassed by mortal orator. During his pauses a silence reigned, pending which the slightest breathing could be distinctly heard, while every eye was bathed in tears. At times the vast assembly rose involuntarily to their feet, and every emotion and expression of feature seemed responsive to his own. During his speech he alluded to the reports of the press that the oppressors of the North had probably seized one of his children sojourning in their midst. “But,” said he, “if they suppose hostages of my own heart's blood will stay my hand in a contest for the maintenance of sacred rights, they are mistaken. Affection for kindred, property, and life itself sink into insignificance in comparison with the overwhelming importance of public duty in such a crisis as this.” He lamented the blindness which had prevented Virginia from seizing Washington before the Republican hordes got possession of itbut, said he, we must do our best under the circumstances. It was now Independence or Death-although he had preferred fighting in the Union-and when the mind was made up to die rather than fail, success was certain. For himself, he was eager to meet the ordeal, and he doubted not every Southern heart pulsated in unison with his own.

Hon. J. M. Mason, and many other of Virginia's distinguished sons were called upon, and delivered patriotic speeches. And finally, Gov. Letcher appeared upon the stage. He was loudly cheered by the very men who, two days before, would gladly have witnessed his execution. The governor spoke very briefly, merely declaring his concurrence in the important step that had been taken, and his honest purpose, under the circumstances, to discharge his whole duty as Executive of the State, in conformity to the will of the people and the provisions of the Constitution.

Before the sine die adjournment, it was suggested that inasmuch as the ordinance had been passed in secret session, and it was desirable that the enemy should not know it before certain preparations [24] could be made to avert sudden injury on the border, etc., that the fact should not be divulged at present.

April 18

In spite of every precaution, it is currently whispered in the streets to-day that Virginia has seceded from the Union; and that the act is to be submitted to the people for ratification a month hence. This is perhaps a blunder. If the Southern States are to adhere to the old distinct sovereignty doctrine, God help them one and all to achieve their independence of the United States. Many are inclined to think the safest plan would be to obliterate State lines, and merge them all into an indivisible nation or empire, else there may be incessant conflicts between the different sovereignties themselves, and between them and the General Government. I doubt our ability to maintain the old cumbrous, complicated, and expensive form of government. A national executive and Congress will be sufficiently burdensome to the people without the additional expense of governors, lieutenant-governors, a dozen secretaries of State, as many legislatures, etc. etc. It is true, State rights gave the States the right to secede. But what is in a name? Secession by any other name would smell as sweet. For my part, I like the name of Revolution, or even Rebellion, better, for they are sanctified by the example of Washington and his compeers. And separations of communities are like the separations of bees when they cannot live in peace in the same hive. The time had come apparently for us to set up for ourselves, and we should have done it if there had been no such thing as State sovereignty. It is true, the Constitution adopted at Montgomery virtually acknowledges the right of any State to secede from the Confederacy; but that was necessary in vindication of the action of its fathers. That Constitution, and the permanent one to succeed it, will, perhaps, never do. They too much resemble the governmental organization of the Yankees, to whom we have bid adieu forever in disgust.

April 19

Dispatches from Montgomery indicate that President Davis is as firm a States right man as any other, perfectly content to bear the burdens of government six years, and hence I apprehend he will not budge in the business of guarding Virginia until after the ratification of the secession ordinance. Thus a month's precious time will be lost; and the scene of conflict, instead of being in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, will be [25] in Virginia. From the ardor of the volunteers already beginning to pour into the city, I believe 25,000 men could be collected and armed in a week, and in another they might sweep the whole Abolition concern beyond the Susquehanna, and afterward easily keep them there. But this will not be attempted, nor permitted, by the Convention, so recently composed mostly of Union men.

To-night we have rumors of a collision in Baltimore. A regiment of Northern troops has been assailed by the mob. No good can come of mob assaults in a great revolution.

Wrote my wife to make preparations with all expedition to escape into Virginia. Women and children will not be molested for some weeks yet; but I see they have begun to ransack their baggage. Mrs. Semple, daughter of President Tyler, I am informed, had her plate taken from her in an attempt to get it away from New York.

April 20

The news has been confirmed. It was a brickbat “Plug Ugly” fight — the result of animal, and not intellectual or patriotic instincts. Baltimore has better men for the strife than bar-room champions. The absence of dignity in this assault will be productive of evil rather than good. Maryland is probably lost — for her fetters will be riveted before the secession of Virginia will be communicated by the senseless form of ratification a month hence. Woe, woe to the politicians of Virginia who have wrought this delay! It is now understood that the very day before the ordinance was passed, the members were gravely splitting hairs over proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution!

Guns are being fired on Capitol Hill in commemoration of secession, and the Confederate flag now floats unmolested from the summit of the capitol. I think they had better save the powder, etc.

At night. We have a gay illumination. This too is wrong. We had better save the candles.

April 21

Received several letters to-day which had been delayed in their transmission, and were doubtless opened on the way. One was from my wife, informing me of the illness of Custis, my eldest son, and of the equivocal conduct of some of the neighbors. The Rev. Mr. D., son of the late B — p, raised the flag of the Union on his church.

The telegraphic wires are still in operation.


April 22

Early a few mornings since, I called on Gov. Wise, and informed him that Lincoln had called out 70,000 men. He opened his eyes very widely and said, emphatically, “I don't believe it.” The greatest statesmen of the South have no conception of the real purposes of the men now in power in the United States. They cannot be made to believe that the Government at Washington are going to wage war immediately. But when I placed the President's proclamation in his hand, he read it with deep emotion, and uttered a fierce “Hah!” Nevertheless, when I told him that these 70,000 were designed to be merely the videttes and outposts of an army of 700,000, he was quite incredulous.

He had not witnessed the Wide-Awake gatherings the preceding fall, as I had done, and listened to the pledges they made to subjugate the South, free the negroes, and hang Gov. Wise. I next told him they would blockade our ports, and endeavor to cut off our supplies. To this he uttered a most positive negative. He said it would be contrary to the laws of nations, as had been decided often in the Courts of Admiralty, and would be moreover a violation of the Constitution. Of course I admitted all this; but maintained that such was the intention of the Washington Cabinet.

Laws and Courts and Constitutions would not be impediments in the way of Yankees resolved upon our subjugation. Presuming upon their superior numbers, and under the pretext of saving the Union and annihilating slavery, they would invade us like the army-worm, which enters the green fields in countless numbers.

The real object was to enjoy our soil and climate by means of confiscation. He poohed me into silence with an indignant frown. He had no idea that the Yankees would dare to enter upon such enterprises in the face of an enlightened world. But I know them better. And it will be found that they will learn how to fight, and will not be afraid — to fight.

April 23

Several prominent citizens telegraphed President Davis to-day to hasten to Virginia with as many troops as he can catch up, assuring him that his army will grow like a snow-ball as it progresses. I have no doubt it would. I think it would swell to 50,000 before reaching Washington, and that the people on the route would supply the quartermaster's stores, and improvise an adequate commissariat. I believe he could drive the Abolitionists out of Washington even yet, if he would make a bold dash, and [27] that there would be a universal uprising in all the border States this side of the Susquehanna. But he does not respond. Virginia was too late moving, and North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri have not seceded yet — though all of them will soon follow Virginia. Besides, the vote on the ratification in this State is to take place a month hence. It would be an infringement of State rights, and would be construed as an invasion of Virginia! Could the Union men in the Convention, after being forced to pass the ordinance, have dealt a more fatal blow to their country? But that is not all. The governor is appointing his Union partisans to military positions. Nevertheless, as time rolls on, and eternal separation is pronounced by the events that must be developed, they may prove true to the best interests of their native land.

Every hour there are fresh arrivals of organized companies from the country, tendering their services to the governor; and nearly all the young men in the city are drilling. The cadets of the Military Institute are rendering good service now, and Professor Jackson is truly a benefactor. I hope he will take the field himself; and if he does, I predict for him a successful career.

April 24

Martial music is heard everywhere, day and night, and all the trappings and paraphernalia of war's decorations are in great demand. The ladies are sewing everywhere, even in the churches. But the gay uniforms we see to-day will change their hue before the advent of another year. All history shows that fighting is not only the most perilous pursuit in the world, but the hardest and the roughest work one can engage in. And many a young man bred in luxury, will be killed by exposure in the night air, lying on the damp ground, before meeting the enemy. But the same thing may be said of the Northmen. And the arbitrament of war, and war's desolation, is a foregone conclusion. How much better it would have been if the North had permitted the South to depart in peace! With political separation, there might still have remained commercial union. But they would not.

April 25

Ex-President Tyler and Vice-President Stephens are negotiating a treaty which is to ally Virginia to the Confederate States.

April 26

To-day I recognize Northern merchants and [28] Jews in the streets, busy in collecting the debts due them. The Convention has thrown some impediments in the way; but I hear on every hand that Southern merchants, in the absence of legal obligations, recognize the demands of honor, and are sending money North, even if it be used against us. This will not last long.

April 27

We have had a terrible alarm. The tocsin was sounded in the public square, and thousands have been running hither and thither to know its meaning. Dispatches have been posted about the city, purporting to have been received by the governor, with the startling information that the U. S. war steamer Pawnee is coming up the James River for the purpose of shelling the city!

All the soldiery, numbering some thousands, are marching down to Rocketts, and forming in line of battle on the heights commanding the approaches. The howitzers are there, frowning defiance; and two long French bronze guns are slowly passing through Main Street in the same direction. One of them has just broken down, and lies abandoned in front of the Post-Office. Even civilians, by hundreds, are hurrying with shot-guns and pistols to the scene of action, and field officers are galloping through the streets. Although much apprehension is apparent on many faces, it is but just to say that the population generally are resolved to make a determined defense. There is no fear of personal danger; it is only the destruction of property that is dreaded. But, in my opinion, the Pawnee is about as likely to attempt the navigation of the River Styx, as to run up this river within shelling distance of the city.

I walked down to the lower bridge, without even taking a pocket-pistol, and saw the troops drawn up in line of battle awaiting the enemy. Toward evening the howitzers engaged in some unprofitable practice, shelling the trees on the opposite side.

It was a false alarm, if not something worse. I fear it is an invention of the enemy to divert us from the generally conceived policy of attacking Washington, and rousing up Maryland in the rear of Lincoln.

Met with, and was introduced to, Gov. Letcher, in the evening, at the Enquirer office. He was revising one of his many proclamations; and is now undoubtedly as zealous an advocate of secession as any man. He said he would be ready to fight in three or [29] four days; and that he would soon have arrangements completed to blockade the Potomac by means of formidable batteries.

April 28

Saw Judge Scarburg, who has resigned his seat in the Court of Claims at Washington. I believe he brought his family, and abandoned his furniture, etc. Also Dr. Garnett, who left most of his effects in the hands of the enemy. He was a marked man, being the son-in-law of Gov. Wise.

Many clerks are passing through the city on their way to Montgomery, where they are sure to find employment. Lucky men, some of them! They have eaten Lincoln bread for more than a month, and most of them would have been turned out of office if there had been no secession. And I observe among them some who have left their wives behind to take care of their homes.

April 29

I wrote to my agent on the Eastern Shore to send me the last year's rent due on the farm. But I learn that the cruisers in the bay are intercepting the communications, and I fear remittances will be impracticable. I hope my family are ready by this to leave Burlington. Women and children have not yet been interfered with. What if they should be compelled to abandon our property there? Mrs. Semple had her plate seized at New York.

At fifty-one, I can hardly follow the pursuit of arms; but I will write and preserve a Diary of the revolution. I never held or sought office in my life; but now President Tyler and Gov. Wise say I will find employment at Montgomery. The latter will prepare a letter to President Davis, and the former says he will draw up a paper in my behalf, and take it through the Convention himself for signatures. I shall be sufficiently credentialed, at all events-provided old partisan considerations are banished from the new confederacy. To make my Diary full and complete as possible, is now my business. And,

When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won,

if the South wins it, I shall be content to retire to my farm, provided it falls on the Southern side of the line, and enjoy sweet repose “under my own vine and fig-tree.”

April 30

Gen. Kearney has been brought here, having been taken on his way to Washington from Missouri. He manifested [30] surprise at his captivity, and says that he is no enemy; being, I believe, Southern born. I learn it is the purpose of the governor to release him. And this may be a blunder. I fear about as much from ill-timed Southern magnanimity as from Northern malignity.

The Pawnee “scare” turned out just as I thought it would. She merely turned her nose up the river, and then put about and steamed away again. It may do good, however, if it stimulates the authorities to due preparation against future assaults from that quarter.

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