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miles, with instructions to prevent any person leaving his premises.
were, to operate with reference to the rear of the artillery and troops, and not with reference About nine A. M., on the twenty-ninth, some to the trains, save the leaving of a single regiof Wise's cavalry dashed into the camp in a ment in their rear. The plan which I adopted reckless manner, cheering, and were received was this: that there should be one unbroken with a volley, which resulted in the death of the line of troops and batteries on one side of the Major, and capture of some twenty-five, among road; and that the trains should move in like whom was Captain Ruffin. The troops lay in manner on the other side. That so long as the position all day, awaiting in anxious suspense troops moved the trains could move; but that the movements of the enemy, somewhat en- upon any detention of the troops the wagon couraged by the arrival of supports from the trains must be halted. Batteries, ammunition, White Oak Swamp, at six P. M. My command and hospital wagons had the preference. When was relieved by that of General Slocum, and in extensive openings bordered the road, steps obedience to orders from General Keyes, took up were taken to shorten up the trains by moving the line of march to James river, where it arrived in several columns. Reports frequently came in safety, with its train and artillery, at nine A. M. in of the movements of the enemy in various on the thirtieth, having been on the road, with-quarters, and on the reception of one of these, out sleep, in expectation of meeting the enemy, General Smith formed line of battle for some the whole night. time to co-operate with me.
I placed Wessell's brigade in position not far from Turkey Creek, Naglee's brigade not having joined. The enemy having commenced his attack upon the columns en route, my command was placed in line of battle by General Keyes about 3:30 P. M., on the extreme right, and entrusted with the defence of the reserve artillery. For a long time it was the only command on the ground. Early on the first of July, General Slocum was placed on my left (Malvern Hill), and in conjunction with him arrangements were made for the defence of our portion of the
About twelve o'clock M., Colonel Averill passed by with his fine command, bringing up in excellent order and time. As every command, everything from the direction of Turkey Creek, ambulance, wagon, and straggler, had gone by the rear guard, I directed General Wessell to draw in his pickets and detachments, and move on and take up a position in the rear of General Naglee. About five o'clock P. M., it was evident that, owing to the terrible condition of the roads, the whole country being flooded with water, which had poured down upon the clay that the train could not reach its destination soil uninterruptedly since early in the morning, that night, and, without protection, would fall into the hands of the enemy rapidly advancing.
other side of Kimagen's Creek, with Miller's I placed Wessell's brigade in position on the battery and seven small companies of cavalry. The brigade of Naglee, he being unwell, was
During the day my detachments at Turner's and Long's Bridge, and Jones' Ford, were compelled to withdraw, to avoid being destroyed by the overwhelming force on the opposite side of the Chickahominy. They reported the enemy had already crossed at Jones' Bridge in consid-placed in supporting distance this side of the
creek. Soon after, the enemy opened with artillery upon the train for the purpose of creating confusion and stampeding the animals. Two additional regiments were sent to reinforce At midnight I was advised that the army General Wessell. Judicious dispositions were would immediately commence its movements to made by him, and every step taken to keep the Harrison's Landing, some seven miles, and that train of wagons moving through the night my command would constitute the rear guard. across the creek. At daylight on the third, the After consultation it was deemed best, in case crossings of the stream were well nigh impassof there being only one road, that the brigades able, the rain having continued through the of Wessell and Naglee should cover the rear night. The drivers and animals were exhausted alternately, with the needful supply of artillery. by want of food and great exertion, and the At half past one A. M., I was in my saddle aid- prospect for the balance of the train being ing General Wessell in forming his line of bat-passed was exceedingly dubious. New roads tle on the heights, a short distance this side the were cut through the woods, teams were doubheadquarters of General McClellan. Miller's led and fresh ones sent for. The enemy's pickbattery only was retained; all the principal by-ets were around us, and his advance columns roads were picketed with cavalry. Naglee's bri- not far distant; doubtless held in check by the gade was formed about a mile in the rear, on a fire of the gunboats. commanding position. Stationing myself in the road, I gave my entire time and personal attention to the supervision of troops, batteries, and trains. Long trains of wagons and ambulances converging from every quarter towards the road, it became a very important question how to dispose of them, under my instructions, which
The work proceeded slowly but surely through the day, and at seven o'clock P. M. on the third I had the proud satisfaction of reporting for the information of the headquarters Army of the Potomac that the last vehicle had crossed the creek. The opinion is ventured that the history of military operations affords no instance where
a train of like magnitude and value was moved so great a distance in the presence of the enemy, and in the face of so many material obstacles, with so trifling loss.
pushing on many miles from Bottom's Bridge to
As usual, all the members of my staff were As soon as the train was fairly out of the way active, and rendered great assistance. It is due I brought the rear guard to this side, where I to Surgeon A. B. Crosby, that I should acknowestablished my line of battle, along the crest of ledge his untiring devotion to the sick and the the creek, my left resting on the James river. wounded. That he should have deemed it necOn the fourth I called the attention of the Gen-essary to tender his resignation is to be much eral-in-Chief to the advantages of this line, and regretted. after an examination he was pleased to adopt it. The timber on the opposite side has been slashed down to the James, also in the ravine and up to the crest of the creek on one side, which is lined with rifle-pits and batteries. Numerous roads have been cut, giving free communication between the reserves and the front.
The artillery under Captains Regan, Miller, Brady, Fitch, Lieutenants Morgan and Mink, was in excellent condition and responded promptly to every call of duty. With such batteries I felt confident of more than ordinary success in any encounter with the rebels.
The severe labors that have devolved upon me since taking the division have prevented my finding out many deserving of notice, and I de
General Ferry, with Thirty-ninth Illinois, Thirteenth Indiana, Sixty-second and Sixty-seventh Ohio regiments, was assigned to my divis-sire to thank every officer and soldier in the ion on the sixth instant. The record of these troops in the Shenandoah Valley is highly creditable, and gives promise of brilliant conduct when opportunity offers.
General Naglee was entrusted with a highly responsible and trying command at Bottom's Bridge and the railroad, which he discharged with zeal and fidelity. His troops at Dispatch Station were brought in at the night time. His batteries and sharp-shooters inflicted severe punishment upon the enemy when pressing upon the approaches to the bridges. In consequence of the absence of General Naglee no report has been received from that brigade, and I am embarrassed with respect to the details thereof. His report, as soon as received, will be sent forward to accompany this.
General Wessell has labored most faithfully, night and day, since I joined the division, and displayed the greatest interest in the service, under very critical circumstances. In the midst of difficulties and dangers his judgment seemed most reliable.
General Palmer led the advance from the White Oak Swamp, and made excellent dispositions, of which I am happy to make mention. Colonel Russell, Seventh Massachusetts, was in advance of the advance as usual, and exhibited his anxiety to meet the foe with his fine regi
Colonels Farniman, Ninety-sixth New York; Lehman, One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania; Rose, Eighty-first New York; Belknap, Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania; and Lieutenant-Colonel Durkee, Ninety-eighth New York, are all meritorious officers who have rendered the country good service, and exert a salutary influence upon their troops. Colonel Greggs, Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, was of great assistance in these movements, scouring the country and watching the enemy. Captain Keenan, Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, deserves especial notice for untiring and valuable services. When he was in the saddle no movement of the enemy escaped his eye. Lieutenant C. H. Morgan, Fourth artillery, displayed extraordinary zeal,
command for the cheerful and faithful manner in which they have discharged duties incessant and arduous, by day and by night. Chickahominy and White Oak Swamp will bear evidences of their industry for generations. While the late severe service has not been so brilliant as that which fell to other troops, it will even be deemed honor enough to have been a member of that division which held the troops of Jackson at bay across the Chickahominy, destroyed all the bridges, which led the advance of the Army of the Potomac from White Oak Swamp, and covered the rear safely during the great strategic movement from (Malvern Hill) Turkey Creek to Harrison's Point.
I am, very respectfully
Your obedient servant,
Brigadier General, commanding Division.
VISIT OF MESSRS. GILMORE AND
On the sixteenth of July, 1864, J. R. Gilmore,
When the far-away Boston bells were sound. ing nine, on the morning of Saturday, the six
teenth day of July, we took our glorious Massachusetts general by the hand, and said to him: "Good-bye. If you do not see us within ten days, you will know we have gone up.'"
cials-Major Henniken of the War Department, a young man formerly of New York, but now scorning the imputation of being a Yankee, and Mr. Charles Javins, of the provost guard of Richmond. This latter individual was our shadow in Dixie. He was of medium height, stoutly built, with a short, thick neck, and arms and shoulders denoting great strength. He Good-looked a natural-born jailer, and much such a character as a timid man would not care to encounter, except at long range of a rifle warranted to fire twenty shots a minute, and to hit every time.
"If I do not see you within that time," he replied, "I'll demand you; and if they don't produce you, body and soul, I'll take two for one-better men than you are and hang them higher than Haman. My hand on that. bye."
At three o'clock on the afternoon of the same day, mounted on two raw-boned relics of Sheridan's great raid, and armed with a letter to Jeff. Davis, a white cambric handkerchief tied to a short stick, and an honest face-this last was the Colonel's-we rode up to the rebel lines. A ragged, yellow-faced boy, with a carbine in one hand, and another white handkerchief tied to another short stick in the other, came out to meet us.
"Can you tell us, my man, where to find Judge Ould, the Exchange Commissioner?" "Yas. Him and t' other 'change officers is over ter the plantation beyont Miss Grover's. Ye 'll know it by its hevin' nary door nur winder [the mansion, he meant]. They's all busted in. Foller the bridle-path through the timber, and keep your rag a-flyin', fur our boys is thicker 'n huckelberries in them woods, and they mought pop ye, ef they did n't seed it."
Thanking him, we turned our horses into the "timber," and, galloping rapidly on, soon came in sight of the deserted plantation. Lolling on the grass, in the shade of the windowless mansion, we found the Confederate officials. They rose as we approached; and one of us said to the Judge-a courteous, middle-aged gentleman, in a Panama hat, and a suit of spotless white drillings-"We are late, but it's your fault. Your people fired at us down the river, and we had to turn back and come overland."
"You don't suppose they saw your flag?" "No. It was hidden by the trees; but a shot came uncomfortably near us. It struck the water, and ricochetted not three yards off. A little nearer, and it would have shortened me by a head, and the Colonel by two feet."
"That would have been a sad thing for you; but a miss, you know, is as good as a mile," said the Judge, evidently enjoying the "joke."
"We hear Grant was in the boat that followed yours, and was struck while at dinner," remarked Captain Hatch, the Judge's adjutant a gentleman, and about the best-looking man in the Confederacy.
"Indeed! Do you believe it?"
"I don't know, of course;" and his looks asked for an answer. We gave none, for all such information is contraband. We might have told him that Grant, Butler, and Foster examined their position from Mrs. Grover's house about four hundred yards distanttwo hours after the rebel cannon-ball danced a break-down on the Lieutenant-General's dinnertable.
We were then introduced to the other offi
To give us a moonlight view of the Richmond fortifications, the Judge proposed to start after sundown; and as it wanted some hours of that time, we seated ourselves on the ground, and entered into conversation. The treatment of our prisoners, the status of black troops and non-combatants, and all the questions which have led to the suspension of exchanges, had been good-naturedly discussed, when the Captain, looking up from one of the Northern papers we had brought him, said:
Do you know, it mortifies me that you don't hate us as we hate you? You kill us as Agassiz kills a fly-because you love us."
"Of course we do. The North is being crucified for love of the South."
"If you love us so, why don't you let us go?" asked the Judge, rather curtly.
"For that very reason-because we love you. If we let you go, with slavery, and your notions of empire,' you'd run straight to barbarism and the Devil."
"We'd take the risk of that. But let me tell you, if you are going to Mr. Davis with any such ideas, you might as well turn back at once. He can make peace on no other basis than independence. Recognition must be the beginning, middle, and ending of all negotiations. Our people will accept peace on no other terms."
"I think you are wrong there," said the Colonel. "When I was here a year ago, I met many of your leading men, and they all assured me they wanted peace and reunion, even at the sacrifice of slavery. Within a week, a man you venerate and love has met me at Baltimore, and besought me to come here, and offer Mr. Davis peace on such conditions."
"That may be. Some of our old men, who are weak in the knees, may want peace on any terms; but the Southern people will not have it without independence. Mr. Davis knows them, and you will find he will insist upon that. Concede that, and we'll not quarrel about minor matters."
"We'll not quarrel at all. But it's sundown, and time we were 'on to Richmond."
"That's the Tribune cry," said the Captain, rising; "and I hurrah for the Tribune, for it 's honest, and-I want my supper."
We all laughed, and the Judge ordered the horses. As we were about to start, I said to him:
"You've forgotten our parole."
"Oh, never mind that. We'll attend to that at Richmond."
Stepping into his carriage, and unfurling the flag of truce, he then led the way, by a "short cut," across the corn-field which divided the mansion from the high-road. We followed in an ambulance drawn by a pair of mules, our shadow-Mr. Javins-sitting between us and the twilight, and Jack, a "likely darky," almost the sole survivor of his master's twelve hundred slaves ("De ress all stole Massa-stole by you Yankees"), occupying the front seat, and with a stout whip "working our passage" to Richmond.
Much that was amusing and interesting occurred during our three-hours' journey, but regard for our word forbids my relating it. Suffice it to say, we saw the "frowning fortifications," we "flanked" the "invincible army," and at ten o'clock that night, planted our flag (against a lamp-post) in the very heart of the hostile city. As we alighted at the doorway of the Spotswood Hotel, the Judge said to the Colonel :
"Button your outside-coat closely. Your up uniform must not be seen here.' The Colonel did as he was bidden; and without stopping to register our names at the office, we followed the Judge and the Captain up to No. 60. It was a large, square room in the fourth story, with an unswept, ragged carpet, and bare, white walls, smeared with soot and tobacco juice. Several chairs, a marble-top table, and a pine wash-stand and clothes-press straggled about the floor, and in the corners were three beds, garnished with tattered pillowcases, and covered with white counterpanes, grown gray with longing for soapsuds and a wash-tub. The plainer and humbler of these beds was designed for the burly Mr. Javins; the others had been made ready for the extraordinary envoys (not envoys extraordinary) who, in defiance of all precedent and the "law of nations," had just then "taken Richmond."
A single gas-jet was burning over the mantlepiece, and above it I saw a writing on the wall" which implied that Jane Jackson had run up a washing-score of fifty dollars!
I was congratulating myself on not having to pay that woman's laundry-bills, when the Judge said:
"SPOTSWOOD HOUSE, RICHMOND, VA., "July 17, 1864. "Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, etc.: "DEAR SIR: The undersigned respectfully solicit an interview with President Davis.
"They visit Richmond only as private citizens, and have no official character or authority; but they are acquainted with the views of the United States Government, and with the sentiments of the Northern people, relative to an adjustment of the differences existing between the North and the South, and earnestly hope that a free interchange of views between President Davis and themselves may open the way to such official negotiations as will result in restoring PEACE to the two sections of our distracted country.
"They therefore ask an interview with the President, and awaiting your reply, are
"Truly and respectfully yours."
This was signed by both of us; and when the Judge called, as he had appointed, we sent ittogether with a commendatory letter I had received, on setting out, from a near relative of Mr. Davis-to the Rebel Secretary. In half an hour Judge Ould returned, saying: "Mr. Benjamin sends you his compliments, and will be happy to see you at the State Department."
We found the Secretary-a short, plump, oily little man in black, with a keen black eye, a Jew face, a yellow skin, curly black hair, closely trimmed black whiskers, and a ponderous gold watch-chain-in the north-west room of the "United States " Custom House. Over the door of this room were the words, "State Department," and round its walls were hung a few maps and battle-plans. In one corner was a tier of shelves filled with books, among which I noticed Headley's, "History," Lossing's " Pictorial," Parton's " Butler," Greeley's "American Conflict," a set of Frank Moore's "Rebellion Record," and a dozen numbers and several bound volumes of the "Atlantic Monthly," and in the centre of the apartment was a black-walnut table, cov
ered with green cloth, and filled with a multitude of "state papers." At this table sat the Secretary. He rose as we entered, and, as Judge Ould introduced us, took our hands, and said:
"I am glad, very glad, to meet you, gentlemen. I have read your note, and "-bowing to me-" the open letter you bring from Your errand commands my respect and sympathy. Pray be seated."
As we took the proffered seats, the Colonel, drawing off his “ duster," and displaying his uniform, said:
"We thank you for this cordial reception, Mr. Benjamin. We trust you will be as glad to hear us as you are to see us."
"No doubt I shall be, for you come to talk of peace. Peace is what we all want."
"It is, indeed; and for that reason we are here to see Mr. Davis. Can we see him, sir?" "Do you bring any overtures to him from your Government ?"
"No, sir. We bring no overtures and have no authority from our Government. We state that in our note. We would be glad, however, to know what terms will be acceptable to Mr. Davis. If they at all harmonize with Mr. Lincoln's views, we will report them to him, and so open the door for official negotiations."
"Are you acquainted with Mr. Lincoln's views?"
"One of us is, fully."
“Did Mr. Lincoln, in any way, authorize you to come here ?"
"No, sir. We came with his pass, but not by his request. We say, distinctly, we have no official, or unofficial, authority. We come as men and Christians, not as diplomatists, hoping, in a frank talk with Mr. Davis, to discover some way by which this war may be stopped."
"Well, gentlemen, I will repeat what you say to the President, and if he follows my adviceand I think he will-he will meet you. He will be at church this afternoon; so, suppose you call here at nine this evening. If anything should occur in the meantime to prevent his seeing you, I will let you know through Judge Ould."
Throughout this interview the manner of the Secretary was cordial; but with this cordiality was a strange constraint and diffidence, almost amounting to timidity, which struck both my companion and myself. Contrasting his manner with the quiet dignity of the Colonel, I almost fancied our positions reversed-that, instead of our being in his power, the Secretary was in ours, and momently expecting to hear some unwelcome sentence from our lips. There is something, after all, in moral power. Mr. Benjamin does not possess it, nor is he a great man. He has a keen, shrewd, ready intellect, but not the stamina to originate, or even to execute, any great good or great wickedness.
After a day spent in our room, conversing with the Judge, or watching the passers-by in the street-I should like to tell who they were
and how they looked, but such information is just now contraband-we called again, at nine o'clock, at the State Department.
Mr. Benjamin occupied his previous seat at the table, and at his right sat a spare, thin-featured man, with iron-gray hair and beard, and a clear, gray eye, full of life and vigor. He had a broad, massive forehead, and a mouth and chin denoting great energy and strength of will. His face was emaciated, and much wrinkled, but his features were good, especially his eyesthough one of them bore a scar, apparently made by some sharp instrument. He wore a suit of grayish-brown, evidently of foreign manufacture, and, as he rose, I saw that he was about five feet ten inches high, with a slight stoop in the shoulders. His manners were simple, easy, and quite fascinating; and he threw an indescribable charm into his voice, as he extended his hand, and said to us:
"I am glad to see you, gentlemen. You are very welcome to Richmond."
And this was the man who was President of the United States under Franklin Pierce, and who is now the heart, soul, and brains of the Southern Confederacy!
His manner put me entirely at my ease-the Colonel would be at his, if he stood before Cæsar-and I replied:
"We thank you, Mr. Davis. It is not often you meet men of our clothes, and our principles, in Richmond."
"Not often-not so often as I could wish; and I trust your coming may lead to a more frequent and a more friendly intercourse be
tween the North and the South."
"We sincerely hope it may."
"Mr. Benjamin tells me you have asked to see me, to"
And he paused, as if desiring we should finish the sentence. The Colonel replied:
Yes, sir. We have asked this interview in the hope that you may suggest some way by which this war can be stopped. Our people want peace-your people do, and your Congress has recently said that you do. We have come to ask how it can be brought about."
"In a very simple way. Withdraw your armies from our territory, and peace will come of itself. We do not seek to subjugate you. We are not waging an offensive war, except so far as it is offensive-defensive-that is, so far as we are forced to invade you to prevent your invading us. Let us alone, and peace will come at once."
"But we cannot let you alone so long as you repudiate the Union. That is the one thing the Northern people will not surrender."
"I know. You would deny to us what you exact for yourselves the right of self-government." "No, sir," I remarked. "We would deny you no natural right. But we think Union essential to peace; and, Mr. Davis, could two people, with the same language, separated by