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The Light Dragoons. [from the Richmond, Va., dispatch, August 15, 1899.]

Recollections of a celebrated military command.

Big men's names on the rolls.

Judge Crump, Colonel Dodamead, Colonel Evans, Doctor Gibson, Dick Haskins, John M. Gregory, Joe Mayo, Colonel Tompkins members.

I knew Mr. S. S. Sublett, now dead, and I have been privileged, in the friendship, of the estimable contributor, Charles Montriou Wallace. His excellent son will, it may be hoped, for many years yet, honorably sustain the name, but if the father survive me, I shall not complain. As is relentless fate, a large majority of these worthies are also dead. Most of them have long gone to their reward.—Ed.

The following list has been given me for publication in the Dispatch by Mr. Samuel S. Sublett, of Sublett's, Powhatan county. He will be remembered by our elderly citizens as the courteous and hospitable proprietor of the Columbian tavern in the good old days of unreconstructed Virginia.

Mr. Sublett tells me he was of the famous Richmond Light Dragoons for eight years, during which time he never missed but one roll-call. He has appended to the list of names a pencil-sketch of the company's flag, which he had the honor to bear on parade-days as flag-sergeant. Its colors are red, white, and blue, displayed in separate bands or bars, with a sprinkling of stars—the old thirteen. [367]

“I think,” says my venerable friend and correspondent, ‘you knew all these men as well as I, for they were of our best citizens. I know not if any of the old troopers survive, excepting Samuel S. Cottrell, Robert B. Snead, John O. Lay, Bob and Bunny Crouch, and myself. Time tells a mighty tale!’

The old trooper refers in loving terms to the officers who commanded respectively the Henrico and Chesterfield dragoons. ‘There was,’ he says, ‘a mutual understanding between them and the captain of our company to dine every recurring Fourth of July, 22d of February, and 19th of October, at such places as each commander in turn might designate by a card of invitation. Our dining-days found us sometimes at Buchanan's Spring or Fairfield, or Bloody Run, or Ritchie's Spring, or the Farmer's Hotel, in Manchester. Oh! these were bully times.’

They were, indeed. Do not the poets feign the old times to be always the best, the new to be always the worst? Scan the list above given, and say if it be possible now to make another like it.

The first commander of the reorganized troop, 1840-41, was John M. Gregory, who became subsequently one of Virginia's most popular governors. Both his predecessors and successors in command of this famous company were gentlemen of note in the military annals of Richmond. What must have been the pride of these brave old captains, who saw in their ranks none but equals, what their confidence who knew if an emergency arose every man would answer the call of the bugle!

This pathetic story of Dick Gaines, the black bugler of the troop, is told by Mr. Sublett: ‘Do you remember,’ he says, ‘our noted horn-blower? After the Southampton war he went crazy on music. He used to walk the streets of Richmond blowing a fife, as if his whole soul was in it. I have known him to stop in front of the old Columbian tavern and blow continuously for an hour or more. This would be a little before the packet was booked to leave its landing, at the head of the basin. If any of our guests happened to be going that way Dick would accompany them, with grave military steps, and continue his march as far up as the old armory, all the while blowing till the boat turned the bend at the Tredegar and was lost to sight.’

The Richmond Light Dragoons was in existence before and subsequent to the war of 1812. When the startling news came to Richmond, Tuesday, the 23d day of August, 1831, that the negroes of Southampton had risen, and were putting to death its white inhabitants [368] without regard to age, sex, or condition, the troop, under command of Captain Randolph, marched on the instant, with full ranks, to the infected district. The Artillery Battery, Captain Richardson commanding, followed at slower gait. The Public Guard, stationed at the old armory, were deemed to be sufficient for the protection of the city. No other volunteer company than the two mentioned appears to have been in existence at the time. A cavalry company was hastily formed to take the place of the departing one. The city was said to be in its usual state of undisturbed composure. Patrollers doubtless assisted the night watch on their beats, but no mention is made of their service by the newspapers of that period.

Nothing worthy of note occurred during the march of the Richmond troops southward, save this ludicrous incident, which was told me many years ago by one of Captain Randolph's men:

Dick Gaines, the aforesaid black bugler, having gone beyond the troop as they were passing through a thick wood, fell unawares upon an ambush of patrollers, who, seeing a horseman, booted and spurred, and mistaking him for General Nat. Turner, or other black rebel, fixed their triggers to shoot him. Dick, surprised as much much as they, wheeled about face, and ducking his head below the neck of his horse, to escape a volley, dashed wildly back to the troop, who, suspecting the cause of his discomfiture, greeted him with laughter, loud, long, and uproarious. When Captain Randolph, by forced marches, arrived at Jerusalem, the rising had been quelled, the rebels killed, captured, or dispersed. Their general was in hiding, but not long, for a hunter's dog, it is said, discovered the cave in which he lay.

General Eppes was in command at Jerusalem, the centre of the disturbed district—his regiment of volunteers supported by a company of United States regulars from Fort Monroe.

The suburbs of Jerusalem swarmed with militia from the Tidewater counties of Virginia and North Carolina; patrollers watched every by-road, or were in force on every suspected plantation. The rising was not as general as the leaders expected it to be. The most of the negroes remained loyal to their masters. But had it been more formidable, the white militia of the county alone would have been able to suppress it.

Roll of Dragoons.

Allen, William.

Apperson, James L.; dead. [369]

August, Thomas P., colonel; dead.

Austin, John D.

Austin, Isaac O., corporal.

Baker, David, Jr.; died recently, aged 80.

Blankenship, Radford.

Beveridge. John W.; dead.

Braxton, E. M.

Brown, John, lieutenant.

Binford, N. B.

Cabell, Dr. J. Grattan, lieutenant; dead.

Chevallie, John, of Chevallie's and Gallego Mills.

Chevallie, Pierre, of Chevallie's and Gallego Mills.

Cocke, Edward F.

Cottrell, Samuel S., corporal; dead.

Crenshaw, Lewis D.; dead.

Crenshaw, Leroy A.

Crump, W. W., lieutenant; Judge, dead.

Crenshaw, William G.

Crouch, Bunny.

Crouch, Robert N.

Darracott, James.

Darracott, William.

Dupuy, James B.; dead.

Downey, Mark; dead.

Dodamead, Thomas, sergeant; dead.

Duval, Robert R., lieutenant; dead.

Dupuy, Colonel Martin, corporal; dead.

Enders, John; dead.

Eustace, Dr. William S.; dead.

Evans, Thomas J.; dead.

Featherston, E. M.

Ferguson, James B.

Gibson, Charles Bell, surgeon.

George, William O., lieutenant.

Goulden, James, sergeant.

Goulden William.

Grant, James H., lieutenant.

Grubbs, P. W., lieutenant.

Gregory, John M., captain.

Gwynn, Walter, captain; major-general Virginia troops.

Graves, Bat. [370]

Graves, William.

Haskins, Richard O., lieutenant; known as colonel.

Hastings, Samuel, corporal.

Hatcher, Benjamin, corporal.

Higgins, John O., corporal.

Haines, William.

Hancock, Frank.

Hill, Charles B.

Hodges, Alvis.

Hodges, Alpheus.

Hubard William J.; sculptor.

Hurt, William S.

Harrison, William M., lieutenant.

Haxall, Bolling W.

Hobson, John D.

Jarvis, Augustus, sergeant.

Johnson, Dr. Carter, surgeon.

Johnson, Thomas Tinsley, corporal.

Johnston, Peyton, corporal.

Kelley, M.

Lawson, Peter.

Lay, John O.

Luck, C. B.

Lumpkin, William L.

Lumpkin, Robert.

Mayo, Joseph, captain; known as the Mayor.

May, James.

McCance, Thomas W.

Macmurdo, John R.

Mills, Dr. Charles S.

Macmurdo, C. W., Sop. lieutenant.

Marx, Dr. F., lieutenant.

Miles, G. Z., corporal.

Parker, Jabez.

Peyton, Thomas Jefferson.

Rice, Titus C.

Roberts, Robert R.

Roddy, Dr. F. W.

Robinson, Poiteaux, lieutenant.

Roper, Benjamin W., sergeant.

Robertson, Wyndham, captain. [371]

Sheppard, Nathaniel.

Skipwith, Dr. Robert.

Smith, Frank J.

Sheppard, John M., captain.

Seabrook, Mr.

Sizer, John T.

Snead, Robert B.

Spencer, Dr.

Sublett, Samuel S., flag sergeant.

Schwagerli, Charles, bugler.

Taylor, Thomas P.

Taylor, Dr. R. R.

Taylor, George.

Tinsley, J. S. B.

Tompkins, William H.

Tompkins, C. Q., captain.

Trent, Dr. William Reynolds.

Tucker, Benjamin.

Tinsley, William N.

White, Peter K.

Whitfield, John F.

Willis, William.

Worth, John J., captain.

Womble, John E.

Wood, William S.

Wren, John F. [From the Richmond, Va., Times;, July 16, 1899.]

Sinking of the Jamestown. Mr. Robert Wright tells how it was done at Drewry's Bluff.

In the newspaper accounts of the death of the late Major A. H. Drewry references have been made to the fight at Drewry's Bluff and the sinking of the Jamestown.

Mr. Robert Wright, of Richmond, performed a most important part on that occasion. He was a great admirer of Major Drewry, [372] and in speaking of what took place in the memorable fight at the Bluff, said to a Times reporter:

His death recalled to my mind one of the trying times and one of the important deeds that our navy did. I doubt but few are living to-day that took part in fortifying and defending Drewry's Bluff and obstructing the river at that point, to save Richmond, at the time the iron-clad Galena, Monitor and some gunboats attacked Drewry's Bluff.

After the fight off Newport News and Hampton Roads, and Norfolk was evacuated, and the Merrimac was blown up by the orders of Commodore Tatnall, the James river fleet, as it was called, was ordered to Drewry's Bluff.

The officers and crew of the Confederate fleet, which was composed of the Yorktown (or Patrick Henry), Jamestown, Beaufort, Raleigh, Teaser and Merrimac deserve great credit. They mounted the heavy guns in position on Drewry's Bluff and stood behind them, and it was no easy work in getting the heavy ordnance up the steep hill from the river. They had to work day and night to be ready to meet the enemy.

At the time the Federal fleet attacked Drewry's Bluff the Confederates had but few heavy guns mounted, compared to what were in position three months later, but the river was so strongly blockaded that it was almost impossible for the fleet to pass by, if they silenced the guns on the bluff. The obstructions consisted of rows of piles and stone, filled in between, and extending out from each side of the river to the channel, leaving an opening for the Confederate gunboats to pass through.

The day before the battle, Captain Barney, of the Jamestown received orders from the Navy Department to sink the ship in the open of the obstructions. The Jamestown was put in the passage way of piles, and all hands received orders to leave the ship and go on the Bluff, except myself, who was assistant engineer, and midshipman D. M. Lee, a brother of Fitz Lee.

Mr. E. Manning, chief engineer, gave me orders to sink the ship, which I did by taking out the plug of the sea-cock. Midshipman D. M. Lee and myself remained on board until the ship went down. The Jamestown was sunk lengthwise in the channel and her bow standing up the river. Canal boats, laden with stone, the steamboat Curtis Peck and the steamboat Northampton were sunk outside of the piles, thus making a very strong blockade.

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