Doc. 168.-the burning of Hampton, Va. August 7-8, 1861.
, a native of Darien, Conn.
, and a resident of Hampton, Virginia
, for the past five years, carrying on a general variety of business in that village, was there at the firing of the place by the rebels.
At about half-past 11 o'clock on Wednesday night the rebels arrived at Hampton
, and completely surrounded the place.
The poor inhabitants, at least all that were left, were sound asleep, and awakened by the sharp firing of the rebel pickets and the Union
troops of Colonel Weber
, who were posted on the other side of the creek.
It was now about twenty minutes past twelve o'clock on Thursday morning when Mr. Scofield
noticed about six houses down town being fired through the weather boards with flambeaux or torches, apparently saturated with tar. An old female slave walked through the place and awakened those that had not heard the firing.
All was bustle and confusion.
hurriedly dressed himself in a light suit lying handy to his bed, and by the time he had on his pantaloons and shirt he heard loud knocks at the front door, and before he could get out of the door his bed-room was already set on fire by one of the torches.
In the confusion he escaped, but heard some one say, “We want you,” and Mr. S. asking who addressed him, was answered that it was a member of the North Carolina regiment. Mr. Scofield
, however, escaped, having been fired upon once by a pistol shot, but fortunately escaped unhurt.
On the outskirts of Hampton
, going toward Old Point
, he met an old acquaintance formerly of Hampton
, belonging to the cavalry, who answered to a question why Hampton
was fired, that the “cursed Yankees,” having had possession of the place once and evacuated it, they (the rebels) might not get another opportunity, and they would set fire to it at once and keep them from having the same for winter-quarters.
Mr. Wilson Jones
, an old and gray-headed gentleman, and his wife, (Unionists
,) the coroner of Hampton
, Mr. Kennon Whiting
and lady, and several other prominent citizens of Hampton
, are at Old Point
, under the protection of the old flag they were born under, being kindly cared for by Major-General Butler
The village is a complete wreck; every house is gutted with the exception of about five at the north and south end of the town, which are the residences of Mr. Moody
, the sutler at the fort; Miss Eliza Jones
, (a brick building;) the Episcopal
parsonage; the house of Joseph Phillips
, H. Clay Whiting's store and warehouse, and one or two small frame houses on the outskirts.
The reason of these being spared was that the rebels had no time to prosecute their hellish work further, being closely pressed by Colonel Weber
's men, and the wind blowing southwest swept through the middle of the town, leaving these buildings untouched.
was endeavoring to save the bed of Mrs. Kenner
, the lady with whom he boarded, and had already procured a wheelbarrow for the purpose of carrying it off, when within about three minutes five rifle balls struck within ten feet of him. These missiles came from the Turner regiment of Colonel Weber
, firing at the rebels from the opposite side of the creek.
estimates that there must have been at least five hundred rebel troops in the village, and, from what he can learn, a reserve of upward of five thousand were stationed on what is called the cross-roads, on the outskirts of Hampton
The enemy was well supplied with a quantity of ladders, carried on wagons, which had ropes attached.
This would appear as if the rebels intended to get inside of our lines and use the ladders in scaling.
However, the rapid and well-directed firing of the Twentieth regiment skirmishers drove them back, and cautioned them that by further advancing they would meet with a well-prepared and resolute check.
One resident of Hampton
was seen to set fire to his own dwelling, giving as an excuse that Gen. Magruder
gave orders to destroy every thing they could not hold.
very much regretted to leave the place, having buried the wife of his bosom in the churchyard there, having lost every dollar he possessed in the world; and when the old church toppled over on her grave, his feelings may be better imagined than described.
Being compelled to fly for his life, he had no opportunity to take any thing with him, and is now thrown on the world penniless, after a weary toil of eighteen years, having two motherless children to support.
He estimates his loss at about eight thousand dollars. This morning he returns to Darien, Connecticut
, to join his relatives.
The general impression was prevalent that the firing of Hampton
was done by order of General Butler
Even such an opinion was expressed within our lines.
But Mr. Scofield
emphatically declares that the rebel General Magruder
gave the order to burn and desert the village.
The Union troops, when compelled by the necessities of war to burn a place, spare the inhabitants by giving them ample and timely warning, which the enemy in this instance did not do. Without a word of caution and warning, they set fire to the dwellings and stores, and that the entire number were not burned is no fault of theirs, but attributable to our gallant troops who so completely dispersed them.
, in getting away, fell in with five little children of a poor man, a resident of Hampton
, sitting on the river bank, shivering in their night clothes, their mother being with them.
She asked him if he had seen any thing of her husband, who had returned for some clothing.
It was a pitiful sight to behold.
An English captain, arriving from Norfolk
under a flag of truce, reports that among the rebels there the story was told that Hampton
was fired by the troops of General Butler
, Aug. 12
N. Y. Tribune narrative.
A “Confederate” account.
We have full and interesting particulars of the burning of Hampton
, and of the series of events leading thereto.
The town was destroyed by order of Gen. Magruder, and by the forces under his-command
On Thursday morning last, about daybreak, Gen. Magruder
marched a considerable force in the direction of Newport News, and drew up in line of battle.
After waiting there for some time, the enemy declining to give battle, our forces were marched within a mile and a half of Hampton
, and again drawn up to give battle, if the enemy should show himself.
In the mean time, a copy of a late New York Herald
happened to be obtained by Gen. Magruder
, in which was a letter disclosing despatches from Gen. Butler
, received at Washington
, stating that it would be necessary for him to reoccupy Hampton
, in order to be able to retain the large force of “contraband” negroes that he had collected.
With this notice of the intended reoccupation of Hampton
by the Federal
forces, Gen. Magruder
decided to destroy the town.
Previous to the destruction of the town, information was received through a scout, and confirmed by the circumstance of an additional Federal steamer having arrived in the Roads
, that reinforcements had arrived at the fort, for the purpose, doubtless, of responding to Butler
's demand for the reoccupation of Hampton
It appears that Hampton
had been evacuated by Butler
's forces, in the first instance, on account of a panic originated by a balloon exploration.
About 700 of our men, under the command of Capt. Phillips
, had gone in the direction of the town, on a search for “contraband” negroes.
The balloonist reported to Gen. Butler
that 10,000 men were marching upon Hampton
, and in consequence of the report the town was hastily ordered to be evacuated.
Two sections of the bridge were torn up by the retreating party.
The town was burned to the ground on Wednesday night by the order of Gen. Magruder
The expedition for its destruction was composed of the Mecklenburg Cavalry
, Captain Goode
, Old Dominion Dragoons, Captain Phillips
, York Rangers, Captain Sinclair
, Warwick Beauregards
, Captain Custis
, and six companies of the Fourteenth Virginia regiment, the whole force being under the command of Col. James J. Hodges
, of the Fourteenth.
The town was most effectually fired.
But a single house was left standing.
The village church was intended to be spared, but caught fire accidentally, and was consumed to the ground.
Many of the members of the companies were citizens of Hampton
, and set fire to their own houses — among
others, Captain Sinclair
fired his own home.
In the early part of the night, about 11 o'clock, a skirmish took place at the bridge, between a small detachment of our forces, composed of Capts. Young
's companies, and a German regiment on the other side.
The firing continued for about half an hour, the night being as dark as pitch, and only illumined by the flashes of the musketry.
Our men were instructed to fire below the flashes of the enemy's guns, and the screams of his wounded told of the execution of our shots.
Our men were uninjured, one receiving a bullet through his blanket, and another being grazed on the cheek by a musket ball.
A member of the expedition that fired the town relates evidences of some of the foulest desecrations of these houses and homes of our Virginia
people by their former Yankee occupants.
In many cases, the parlors of the houses were allotted to the filthiest uses of nature, while the walls of the rooms were garnished by the obscenest expressions and the vilest caricatures.
We have been shown a number of caricatured letter envelopes of the Yankee
soldiers, which were gathered as trophies.
One is of an American eagle bearing aloft “Jeff. Davis
” by the most available portion of his pantaloons.
Another is of “Uncle Sam's Bantam,” threatening to “crow while he lives,” to which there is an addendum
in pencil, “crows where no one can hear him, and very hard to find.”
The fortifications of Hampton
, erected by Butler
's troops, and left standing, are described as of the most complete kind, and as extending entirely across the town.
A ditch 18 feet deep, with rampart and embrasures for the heaviest cannon, with other works of defence, had been constructed.
Newport News has not been evacuated.
It continues in the possession of the enemy, who is about 4,000 strong.
The defences are said to be complete, the only approach to the place being commanded by nine columbiads.
The present force of the enemy at Old Point
is estimated at 6,000.
was erecting strong fortifications at Bethel
, 250 men being daily employed on the works.
It was supposed that a man of the name of Paschal Latimer
had perished in one of the burnt houses of Hampton
There was no other casualty known to have occurred.--Richmond Examiner
, Aug. 12.