previous next

Affairs at Fredericksburg.

the threat to shell the town — reply of the Council — Compromise of the Federal--firing into the Trains — Explanations, &c.

Fredericksburg, Va., Nov. 24, 1862.
John Grant, Jr., Agent Associated Press:

In company with many refugees and others from Fredericksburg, we got aboard the midnight train for the doomed city on Friday night last, and proceeded to Fredericksburg, where we arrived last at dawn. Here a sight met our case such as we never before witnessed, and hope and believe that its like shall never again be seen during this war.

Women and children were leaving in every direction, old and infirm men were bearing on their backs such of their household goods as they possessed. Every avenue leading from the town was lined with those who were thus giving the highest proofs of their devotion to the cause and fidelity to principle in turning their backs upon their homes without any reasonable expectation that they would ever again look upon them, save in ruins. Yet no one murmured; all seemed grateful that our Government had elected in favor of the destruction of the city, rather than giving it over into Yankee hands.

A short history of the whole affair I will give you. On Friday, at noon, Gen. Patrick crossed over under flag of truce, bearing the following communication:

Headq'rs Right Grand Division,
Camp near Falmouth. Va.
Nov. 21, '62.
To the Mayor and Common Council of Fredericksburg:
Gentlemen--Under cover of the houses of your city, shots have been fired upon the troops of my command. Your mills and manufactories are furnishing provisions and the material for clothing for armed bodies in rebellion against the Government of the United States. Your railroads and other means of transportation are moving supplies to the depots of such troops. This condition of things must terminate, and by direction of Major- General Burnside, commanding this army, I accordingly demand the surrender of the city into my hands, as the representative of the Government of the U. States, at or before 5 o'clock this afternoon, (5 o'clock P. M. to-day) Falling an affirmative reply to this demand by the time indicated, sixteen (16) hours will be permitted to elapse for the removal from the city of the women and children, the sick, wounded and aged, which period having elapsed, I shall proceed to shell the town.

Upon obtaining possession of the town, every necessary means will be taken to preserve order and secure the protective operation of the laws and policy of the United States Government.

I am, very respectfully.
E. V. Sumner,
Brevet Major-General U. S. A, Com'g.

This communication, so soon as received by the Mayor, elicited this response, which it is proper to say, was prepared in consultation with the military authorities:

Mayor's Office,Fredericksburg. Nov. 22, 1862.
To Brevet Major General E. V. Sumner, Comd'g U. S. Army:

I received at twenty minutes before five o'clock this afternoon your communication of this date.

In reply, I have to say that this communication did not reach me in time to convene the Council for the consideration and to furnish a reply by the hour indicated, 5 P. M. It was sent to me through the hands of the commanding officer of the army of the Confederate States near this town, to whom it was first delivered by consent of General Patrick, who bore it from you, as I am informed, and I am authorized by the Commander of the Confederate army to say that there was no delay in passing it through his hands to me.

In regard to the matters complained of by you, viz; the firing of shots upon your troops, this occurred on the northern suburbs of the town, and was the act of the military officers commanding the forces near here, for which neither the citizens or civil authorities of the town are responsible.--In regard to the other matters of complaint, I am authorized by the latter officer to say that the condition of things therein complained of, shall no longer exist; that your troops shall not be fired on from the town, that the mills and manufactories here will not furnish any further supplies of provisions or clothing for the Confederate troops, nor will the railroads, or other means of transportation here, convey supplies from the town to the depots of such troops; outside of the town the civil authorities of the town have no control; but I am assured by the military authorities of the Confederate army near here that nothing will be done by them to infringe the conditions herein named as to matters within the town; but the latter authorities inform us that while their troops will not occupy the town, they will not permit yours to do so.

You must be aware that there will not be more than three or four hours of daylight within the 16 hours given by you for the removal of the sick and wounded, women and children, the aged and infirm from this place. And I have to inform you that while there is no railroad transportation accessible to the town, because of the interruption thereof by your batteries, all other means of transportation within the town are so limited as to render the removal of the classes spoken of within the time indicated an utter impossibility.

I have convened the Council, which will remain in session, awaiting any further communication you may have to make.

Very respectfully, your ob't servt,
M. Slaughter,Major.
A true copy from the original — Tests:
G. F. Chew, C. C.

This communication was sent across the river at 12 o'clock at night. About 3 A. M. the following communication was received:

Headq'rs Right Grand Division, Camp near Falmouth, Nov. 21, 1862.
The Mayor and Common Council of Fredericksburg, Va.,
Your letter of this afternoon is at hand, and in consideration of your pledges that the acts complained of shall cease, and that your town shall not be occupied by any of the enemy's forces, and your assertion that a lack of transportation renders it impossible to remove the women and children, sick, wounded, and aged, I am authorized to say to you that our batteries will not open upon the town at the hour designated.

General Patrick will meet a committee or representatives from your town tomorrow morning at o'clock, at the Lacey House.

Very respectfully, your ob't serv't,
E. V. Sumner,
Brevet Major-General Commd'g Division.

An interview having thus been invited, at 9 A. M. Mayor Slaughter, Dr. J. G. Wallace, J. L. Harye, Jr., W. A. Littele, and W. S. Scott, on the part of the citizens, and Gen. Kershaw, on behalf of the military, proceeded, at the hour named, to the opposite shore, but were not received, as the following note will explain. It will also be seen that an apology was made for firing on the train which left carrying out the departing citizens:

Headquarters Right Grand Division, Near Falmouth, Va., Nov. 22, 1862.
to the Mayor of Fredericksburg, Va.:
The invitation given to you in my letter of last night was in these words:

General Patrick will meet a committee or representatives from your town to morrow morning at 8 o'clock, at the Lacey House. The invitation was only for the civil authorities of Fredericksburg, but I have no objection to the committee being accompanied by one or two military persons. If you wish to meet General Patrick, he will be at the Lacey House at 2 o'clock to day. The firing upon the train this morning was through mistake, and contrary to orders. I should much regret to learn that any departing families had been injured.

Very respectfully,
E. V. Sumner,
Brevet Major-General U. S. Army.

At 2 o'clock, pursuant to invitation, the aforementioned committee, accompanied by Gen. Kershaw, proceeded across the river. After an interview of half an hour's length, the committee returned with word that a final answer might be expected from Gen. Sumner during the evening. --About 6 P. M., the following note was received from Gen. Sumner, which up to this writing closes all conferences, and the town still stands:

Headq'rs Right Grand Division, November 22d, 1862.
To the Mayor and Common Council, Fredericksburg, Va.:
I am authorized to say that so long as no hostile is made from the town, it will not be I have also to say that there will be no firing upon the cars before 11 o'clock A. M. to-morrow.

I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
R. V. Sumner,
Brevet Major-General, U. S. A., Comd'g.
A copy from the original — Tests.
G. F. Chew, C. C.

It is proper to add that a unanimous vote of the Council sanctioned the reply made by the Mayor, and that a large and deeply interested attendance of spectators testified, by their applause, their full measure of responsibility for, and endorsation of, the course pursued by their legal representatives. It is but due to Mayor Slaughter to say that during Yankee occupation, until arrested, and since the

present troubles, he has man aged the arduous and responsible duties of his office with great prudence and delicacy, and has won the esteem of every citizen and of all who are familiar with his laborious duties and the conscientious manner in which they have been discharged.

As for the citizens, their determination is to let the old ship go down in the tempest, but surrender they never will. The women and children have all left. A great many males, however, still remain to watch their property.

All is quiet at this writing. X.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
E. V. Sumner (6)
Patrick (5)
M. Slaughter (3)
Kershaw (2)
G. F. Chew (2)
J. G. Wallace (1)
R. V. Sumner (1)
W. S. Scott (1)
Associated Press (1)
W. A. Littele (1)
J. L. Harye (1)
John Grant (1)
Commd (1)
Burnside (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 22nd, 1862 AD (3)
November 21st, 1862 AD (2)
November 24th, 1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: