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Thanksgiving service on the ‘Virginia,’ March 10, 1862.

[The following has been furnished by a participant in the impressive exercises chronicled.]

It would seem that everything had already been said that history would care to remember of this famous iron-clad monster of the ocean; and yet the labors of the future historical compiler would be [249] incomplete without the following account of a most impressive scene that occurred on board of the Confederate steam frigate Virginia (nee Merrimac, U. S. N.) at the Gosport Confederate States Navy Yard, in grateful acknowledgment to Almighty God for the distinguished victory gained in Hampton Roads on Saturday and Sunday, the 8th and 11th days of March, 1862. This most appropriate and solemn service of praise and grateful adoration was offered on the gun-deck of the steamer, at the special request of the officers and crew—all hands being there assembled—at 12 o'clock noon, on Monday, March 10th, by the Rev. J. H. D. Wingfield, the assistant rector of Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va.

The Address.

My brave and distinguished friends:
If there be an ambition in the soul of man more prominent or more esteemed among men than another, it is that of deep and earnest gratitude for blessings vouchsafed. It is that one universal thread which binds all hearts in one, uniting that one to the heart of Him who sits the enthroned Potentate of the Universe. If ever there was a time which called loudly for the exhibition of this holy emotion, it is the great and illustrious present. If ever there were individuals or a people who should anxiously desire to manifest it in words and deeds by some public and appropriate exercise, you are the men; we, the citizens of the Confederate States of America, are the people. The present is undoubtedly an occasion when, after some special manner, we should render to Him who presides over the destinies of nations, and who is the Sovereign Ruler of events, the sacrifical offering of praise and grateful adoration. For, over and above the ordinary occurrences of this most wicked and unrighteous war which call forth our gratitude to the great God of heaven and earth, this is a signal mercy—an extraordinary, if not miraculous deliverance. And as we set up in conspicuous places the statues of heroes and of illustrious patriots who have well deserved the praise and honor of their fellow-countrymen, thus upholding their memory to future generations, and inciting others to the imitation of their valorous deeds, just so should we, as it were, in the loftiest and securest apartments of the soul, erect mementoes of the gracious dealings of a kind and watchful Providence, in order that our spirits, surveying the brilliant record of past distinguished services, [250] may be kept always attuned to praise and gratitude. Then, undoubtedly, as we have already stated, the mercy for which we are at this time assembled to express our thanksgiving with the voice of grateful adoration deserves to be classed amongst the special and extraordinary mercies of Jehovah's merciful and gracious providence. When, a few days ago, at the suggestion of our highly-esteemed President, we observed a day of solemn fasting, humiliation and prayer, on account of our recent disasters, men's hearts sank within them, and there was a dread at every throb of the electric wire, lest it should bring to us fresh tidings of calamitous reverse and defeat. We had heard of the surrender of our little army and the destruction of a portion of our utterly inadequate fleet at Roanoke, while the dispatches from the far West were sadly disheartening. Truly were our spirits downcast and disquited. But now, now! how suddenly all is changed! The sunshine of a favoring Providence beams upon every countenance! Our arms have been marvellously crowned with a brilliant success! A handful of men, as it were, have defeated thousands! Heroes have suddenly arisen who have made themselves names high up on the monuments of fame, which shall never, never perish! Officers and crews have alike shown themselves equal to the most fearful emergencies! And the happy result is that the fierce weapons of our insolent invaders are broken; the enemies' mighty ships are spoiled; our long-blockaded port is once again thrown open, and our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude at the great and glorious victory!

And now, whom are we to thank for all this? Doubtless I may take upon myself the liberty of expressing, on the part of the people, their acknowledgment to you, individually and collectively for this distinguished and valorous deed. Our Government cannot be too lavish in tendering the thanks of the nation to the wise and gallant men who, by their undaunted bravery and their prudential counsels and by their unhesitating devotion to their country's sacred cause, have rolled back the tide of invasion from our immediate shores. But thine hand, O Lord God Almighty! and Thine alone hath really brought about this happy result! Thine, O Lord, is the greatness! Thine, O Lord, is the power! Thine, O Lord, is the victory! Thine, O Lord, is the majesty! And, therefore, are we now assembled to bring before the Lord our God the glorious tribute of our praise and thanksgiving.

‘I invite you, therefore, my brave friends, without any further remarks, to join me in this act of gratitude to the Almighty, who has [251] afforded you the opportunity to render such distinguished service to your country, and to the cause of justice and true liberty. Lift up your hearts in sincerity and truth, that the words of your mouth may be acceptable in the sight of the Lord, your Saviour and vindicator. In his infinite mercy and goodness the most blessed and glorious Lord God has preserved your life from every harm. When death-shots were falling around you thick and fast and heavy, He rescued you from the jaws of fearful destruction. Let us, therefore, humbly present ourselves before His Divine Majesty to offer the sacrifice of grateful praise and adoration, remembering in your prayers your own individual preservation, and forgetting not the sufferings of your wounded officers and companions in arms, and the sorrows of the afflicted friends and relatives of those who have gallantly fallen upon the altar of their country.’

Hereupon followed suitable prayers;(original and from the Book of Common Prayer) of Thanksgiving for the victory; of supplication in behalf of the wounded, and the bereaved friends and relatives of the heroic dead; and a general prayer in behalf of the Confederate States, their rulers, and their valiant men of war—all falling to the deck upon their knees and bowing their heads in reverance and godly fear. During this solemn and most impressive scene, while the earnest voice of the young divine was pouring forth eloquent words of gratitude and praise into the ear of the Lord God of Sabbaoth, the weather-beaten faces of many of the gallant seamen were observed to be bathed in tears, and trembling with emotions. Surely, I thought, as I turned away from such an affecting scene, God cannot refuse to accept such an act of thanksgiving; our cause cannot but prosper when the men who are engaged in it recognize the hand of the Almighty in each event, and trust entirely to His guidance, protection, and blessing.


How Major J. N. Opie led a charge. [from the Richmond Dispatch, November 29, 1891.]

A graphic story of a dash through the Federal cavalry at brandy Station.

What I relate are facts which actually befell me; no shenanagin about it. The greatest cavalry battle ever fought on the American [252] At early dawn the Federal advance guard crossed the Rappahannock river, and charged our outposts with such vigor that they entered our camp at their heels. Most of my regiment, Sixth Virginia, had turned their horses out the evening before, so that not more than fifty of us were prepared to mount. Our reveille was the crack of the pistol and carbine of the foe. These fifty men were quickly mounted, formed, and ordered to charge. Not a moment was to be lost, as some of the enemy's advance were in our artillery camp.

An untamed horse.

I was the unfortunate possessor of an untamed and untamable Buchephalus that Alexander might have ridden, but that no rider on earth could control. I had experienced this on three former occasions. But what could I do, charge or not charge, that was the question. Although I knew full well that my wild charger would lead the van, of course I must charge. In our front was a heavily-wooded forest of pine scrub and black jack, through which ran a narrow country road. No time was to be lost, therefore there was little ceremony. The usual commands—trot march, gallop, charge—were omitted, and the gallant Shumate, who mustered the fifty, simply yelled ‘Charge,’ and away we flew down the winding road through that dark and dismal forest, all yelling like so many Comanche Indians. As the arrow from the bended bow flew my fiery horse. I had taken the precaution to put a jaw-breaking bit on his bridle, but it was of no avail.

A furious ride.

He bowed his neck, and placing his mouth against his breast I was helpless, and away he fairly flew. What must I do to be saved? What could I do? Jump. No; pull off the road I could not; stop I could not. Away, away we went; my horse seemed wild with fury. I looked around, but there was no one in sight. We had left the others far behind. I knew that in a few seconds one poor and solitary cavalryman would be rushing into the midst of the foe. Oh, how I pulled, and how often I said whoa, whoa, sir, may be imagined, but all in vain.

A cavalry line.

As the cyclone sweeps over the prairie flew my mad horse. One moment more and I see drawn up across my path a double <*> [253] in the unwilling effort. It may be, I thought, they will see my predicament and let me through; it may be they will not fire; but how could they know that my horse was running away.

The horse killed.

They must have thought the devil was coming, for up went at least a hundred carbines, a crash, a cloud of smoke, and with one terrible plunge and a groan my furious steed fell in the woods, pierced by several balls. How I escaped God only knows. In a few moments I heard our boys come thundering down the road. A volley from the Federal line, but onward they went, and I mounting a horse belonging to a lieutenant of Company H, who was killed here, joined in. We broke this regiment, the Eighth New York, Lieutenant Owen Allen killing its brave commander, Colonel Davis. Then came the English Illinois, and quicker than some of us came we went.

The dash.

That night after the battle was over—for it lasted all day—the boys overwhelmed me with compliments. Never saw such dash! such courage! Charles O'Malley, Murat! and so on. But what was the laughter and merriment when I innocently observed, confound it, boys, my horse ran away with me.

The Confederate army. [from the Richmond Dispatch, September 13, 1891.]

Its Number—Troops furnished by States—its losses by States, and contrasted with Grant's forces in 1865.

To the Editor of the Dispatch:
Will you please answer the following questions in your Sunday's issue:

1. What State furnished most troops to the cause, on a basis of population and irrespective of population?

2. Did any one State furnish one hundred and twenty-eight thousand to the Southern Confederacy; if so, what State?

3. What was the total number of the Confederate forces?

4. Which State lost most in killed and wounded during the war? An answer to the above will be very much appreciated by an

Old Subscriber.


To get information to answer this question we wrote to General Marcus J. Wright, agent of the War Department, in the collection and compilation of Confederate records, and he answered as follows:

war Department, publication office war Records 1861-1865, Washington, September 9, 1891.
The questions propounded by your correspondent are difficult, and in the present light of official information cannot be answered accurately.

We know of but one official statement of the forces of the Confederate army ever made. This was a report of General S. Cooper, adjutant and inspector-general, made march 1, 1862. The total of Confederate forces as reported by him at that date, including armed and organized militia, was three hundred and forty thousand two hundred and fifty-grand total officers and men.

I think it probable that the Confederate Government had more troops at that date than at any time during the war.

In this report Virginia has three battallions for the war—fifteen hundred; for twelve months, seventy-one regiments and nine battalions, two regiments, a number of battalions of artillery, and, in the language of the report, ‘many independent companies, nine regiments, and one battalion cavalry, &c.’ Virginia militia is put down at seven thousand, making a grand total of fifty-five thousand four hundred and fifty of regular troops (for twelve months and the war) and seven thousand militia.

Tennessee is credited in this report with one regiment for the war, fifty-three twelve-months' regiments, one regiment and eleven battalions of cavalry, and a number of artillery companies.

I give you the two highest.

The best estimate which has been made of the total number of Confederate troops during the war is from six to seven hundred thousand.

As to what State lost the most in killed, wounded, and missing during the war I cannot answer. When all the reports, which will be published in the War Records volumes, which have been obtained shall be published an approximate estimate may be made.

Very truly yours,


The great disparity between the forces of Grant and Lee in 1865 is exhibited in the following reminiscence of Hon. Thomas S. Bocock, who died August 5, 1891, near Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. It is a report in the Dispatch of August 15, 1891, of an interview with Dr. J. D. Pendleton, clerk of the Senate of Virginia:

Some time during the earlier part of 1865 General John C. Breckinridge, then Secretary of War of the Confederate States, invited the Virginia delegation in the House of Representatives to meet him at the War Department for the purpose of holding a conference with them on a matter of grave importance, in which they were vitally interested. Mr. Bocock was then Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress and accompanied the delegation.

Lee's forces and Grant's.

Shortly afterwards Mr. Bocock and some friends were invited to a supper at the Exchange Hotel to be given by the sheriff of one of the upper counties, but the sheriff who had been fighting ‘the tiger,’ had lost his thousands of ‘Confederate shucks,’ and failed to put in an appearance. Mr. Bocock and Dr. Pendleton were present, however, and a few other invited guests. Mr. Bocock was a fine talker, and while the evening waned entertained the gentlemen with an account of the visit of the Virginia delegation in Congress to Secretary-of-War Breckinridge in his office at the War Department. General Breckinridge said that General Robert E. Leel had written to President Davis stating that he only had on his rolls about forty-six thousand men fit for duty; that General Grant's forces were of such superiority in numbers that he could make a united attack along his (Lee's) entire line from Richmond to his right flank in Dinwiddie county and yet have a sufficient force to turn his flank and attack his rear. These considerations made one of two things imperative—either to have reinforcements or retire with his army from the State of Virginia and surrender the Confederate capital.

How matters stood.

As to reinforcements the Secretary explained that the transMis-sissippi troops refused to leave their State. Louisiana was in possession of the enemy and no aid could be expected from that quarter, and Governor Brown, of Georgia, was raising trouble about [256] having Georgia troops leave the State while it was invaded by the enemy, to say nothing of the desertions from General Joe Johnston's army while retreating before Sherman's victorious march to the sea.

‘When General Johnston was told this by me,’ said Dr. Pendleton, who was in the city several days last week, ‘he declared that the statement of his men deserting was without foundation of fact.’

General Breckinridge then asked the delegation what advice they had to offer.

Mr. Bocock's advice.

Mr. Bocock, who acted as spokesman, asked General Breckinridge what proportion of the Army of Northern Virginia did the Virginia troops constitute?

To this General Breckinridge replied that the greater portion of General Lee's army were Virginians.

Mr. Bocock then asked to what point did the Confederate Government propose to remove and make a stand, and General Breckinridge replied: ‘To some point in Northern Georgia,’ as this seemed to be the most eligible rallying ground.

Speaker Bocock then proceeded to give his reasons in opposition to the proposed evacuation of Virginia, and, among other facts, cited the statement of the Secretary concerning the action of the trans-Mississippi troops and the desertion of the Georgians as the Confederate army fell back in their State, and left their homes in the hands of the enemy. He claimed that the same reasons would obtain among the Virginia troops, and that it would be impolitic to surrender the State to the Federal troops without another struggle.

Knew what was coming.

The next day Senators R. M. T. Hunter and Allen T. Caperton met General Breckenridge, and he laid the same condition of affairs before them. Whatever advice they may have given in those dark days of the Confederacy is not stated, but it is certain that the struggle, forlorn as it was, was continued, and that the knowledge of its utter hopelessness was well known to General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Government in the early part of 1865, several months before the decisive day of Appomattox.

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