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United States soldiers, many of them drunk and
boisterous; that she and her sisters were advised,
so unruly were they, to leave the premises, which
they did; that about five o'clock P. M. she was told
of the College being on fire and advised to return
as the house in which she lived was in great dan-
ger. This she did, and soon after the college
was a smoking ruin; and that there is no doubt
of the destruction having been designedly effected
by drunken United States soldiers."

Mrs. Maria T. Peyton deposes essentially to
the same facts respecting the fire on the ninth of
September, resulting in the burning down of the
building; and further deposes that she went to
Lieutenant Colonel Smith, who, by the capture of
Colonel Campbell, became the commandant of
the Post and the Regiment which was its garrison,
the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and told him
there was a rumor the town was to be fired. Hq



Did Yankees Destroy the College? 69

replied, "No such orders had been or would be
given." A short time after, the affiant saw the
college on fire, and immediately said to Colonel
Smith, "See, sir, the destruction has begun." He
replied that it had but that it would be now im-
possible to save the building for want of buckets.
He said farther he had a set of drunken soldiers,
and that it would take two sober men to control
one drunken one. The affiant turned again to
Colonel Smith and said, "Do, sir, try and save
William and Mary College, for it will be a stigma
on the page of history if you suffer it to be lost."
He replied, "I have no means of putting out the
fire; it cannot now be saved." The affiant dis-
tinctly understood from Colonel Smith that no
order had been given to burn the College, but
that it was done by drunken soldiers whom he
could not control."

These ladies would have been very remarkable
if they could have given even after a few hours,
an accurate account of what happened in a time
of such intense excitement. The affidavits were
drawn with the express purpose of getting an
indemnity from Congress, and that Miss Southall
was aware of this is evident from her last sen-
tence, "There is no doubt of the destruction hav-
ing been designedly effected by drunken United
States soldiers." This is not evidence. Let us
see if it is a fair conclusion from what she swears
to.

She swears that on the evening of the eighth



70 Life in Tent and Field

(the day before the destruction) the college build-
ing was on fire — [this is not corroborated by any-
one else] that she met three United States sol-
diers; one of them told her if the College was not
burned that day it would be the next. As a Con-
federate force came into Williamsburg that night
and occupied the College, it is not reasonable to
suppose that United States troops would be on the
College grounds, nor does the remark attributed
to the soldiers sound at all probable.

She swears that early the next day a detach-
ment of Southern Cavalry entered, and after a
short contest retired, the last of them leaving by
ten minutes after ten o'clock A. M. It is possible
Miss Southall did not know that the Southern
Cavalry entered the town the evening of the.
eighth and occupied the college grounds. I was
told in Williamsburg of their entry that night,
and it appeared to be generally known. The
"History of the College of William and Mary"
(page 60) says that after the beginning of the
war in 1861 the college was seized by the (South-
ern) military and used as a barrack. What more
probable than that they should go into their old
barrack on the college ground, where they could
lie concealed and make ready for their early
attack.

The camp of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry
was a mile to the east of Williamsburg toward



fVhat Miss Southall Saw in the College Yard 71

Yorktown. The Southern Cavalry attacked be-
fore it was fairly light, and took many prisoners
and scattered the rest of the Regiment several
miles farther east. The inference would be
from Miss Southall's testimony that the contest
occurred in Williamsburg instead of more than
a mile away. Why is she so accurate in regard
to the time of the Confederates leaving, "ten min-
utes after ten o'clock A. M." ? Because the person
who prepared the affidavit knew that the college
building was on fire before noon of that day, and
wanted to show that the Southern troops got away
before the fire occurred.

She swears that "shortly afterwards the col-
lege yard was crowded with United States sol-
diers, many of them drunk and boisterous." As
all the United States soldiers, except those who
were taken prisoners, were driven several miles
to the eastward it was impossible for any of them
to be in Williamsburg at that time. What Miss
Southall saw in the college yard were prisoners
that General Shingler, the Confederate officer,
brought in. The crowd of soldiers, Federal and
Confederate, would appear to her very boisterous
and she would not care to get very near them.
Miss Southall doubtless intended to swear to the
truth as far as her recollection of events, which
must have been very confused, served her. The
affidavit for her signature was skillfully drawn



•72 Life in Tent and Field

with the sole object of getting an appropriation
from Congress.

Mrs. Maria T. Peyton's deposition must be
the product of a dream. She says she went to
Colonel Smith and told him there was a rumor
the town was to be fired, and a short time after
saw the college on fire and appealed to him to
save the college, saying, "Do, sir, try and save
William and Mary College for it will be a stigma
on the page of history if you suffer it to be lost."
At the time she made this pathetic appeal and
saw the college building on fire. Colonel Smith
and his regiment were several miles away toward
Yorktown, and not an officer or man of the Fifth
Pennsylvania, except those who had been taker
prisoners, could have been in or near Williams-
burg. If Mrs. Peyton did not dream it, she cer-t
tainly drew on a vivid imagination.

The facts of the case are as follows : —

1st. The detachment of Southern Cavalry 9c-
cupied the college the night of the eighth and
morning of the ninth of June, 1862. At dawn
the morning of the ninth they surprised the Fifth
Pennsylvania Cavalry at Fort Magruder, a mile
distant from Williamsburg, and drove them away
from Williamsburg toward Yorktown, taking
many prisoners.

2d. The fire must have started about the time
the Southern troops left, as when I passed the



Fire Result of Accident 73

building the afternoon of the ninth it was entirely
consumed.

3d. I was in Williamsburg two days. While
there I saw no soldiers of the Fifth Pennsylvania,
nor of any other United States Regiment.

4th. It was generally believed in Williams-
burg when I was there that the fire was the result
of carelessness on the part of the Southern troops.

5 th. That there were only two affidavits, and
those so improbable, to support a claim for "in-
demnity," shows that the inhabitants of Williams-
burg at the time of the fire did not believe it was
caused by Federal soldiers.

The statement by Mr. J. L. Slater, published
in the JVilliam and Mary College Quarterly in
January, 1903, has little importance as bearing
on the destruction of the building.

From William and Mary College Quarterly,
January, 1903.

The following statement was made by the late
Mr. J. L. Slater, of Williamsburg, in 1895 :

"I was ten years old In 1862. I remember dis-
tinctly the day the Federal troops burned the Col-
lege. In the morning General Shingler, at the
head of some Confederates, drove In the Federal
pickets, and Colonel Campbell, who commanded
the Federals formed a line of battle at Fort
Magruder. Shingler formed his line and charged
the Federals, who broke and fled to Yorktown.



74 Life in Tent and Field

I remember Shingler returned with so many Fed-
erals, including Campbell himself, that we all
thought that the Federals had come back bringing
Shingler and his men captive. The Confederates
left the town early the same day, and the Fifth
Pennsylvania Cavalry, reinforced by the Sixth
New York, encamped near the College. One of
the officers came down town to an eating place
near my mother's residence. A soldier, seemingly
intoxicated, rode up and asked the boy who was
holding a horse whose horse that was. He re-
plied, 'Captain Henniss,' I think. The soldier,
with an oath, ordered the boy to call the Captain
out. The Captain came out and the soldier or-
dered him to mount. He refused, when the sol-
dier drew his pistol and shot him. I saw the whole
thing. The wounded officer was carried into my
mother's house. While he lay in bed the soldier
came in again and drew a pistol on him and said,
*D — n you, you shot my horse, and I will shoot
you in bed.' He was put out by some soldiers.
The Captain said he was not one of his men, the
Sixth New York, but the Fifth Pennsylvania.
Next morning about daybreak the Captain died in
my mother's arms. The troops of the Fifth
Pennsylvania threatened me if I told on their
comrade, and though the soldier was arrested
nothing could be proved on him.

"Later in the evening I was at the College gate
searching, at the Captain's request, for the Cap-
tain's First Lieutenant, when I saw the College
on fire. Going home, I met one of the Fifth
Pennsylvania Cavalry, who was cursing and say-



Death of Captain Hannahs 75

ing, 'I burned that d — d College, and I intend
to burn this d — d town.' I was young then, but I
remember these events vividly.

"J. L. Slater."

There are errors in this affidavit of Mr. Slater,
as might be expected. In evidence taken at the
time, a citizen of Williamsburg who lived opposite
Mrs. Slater, testified that he saw the affair, that a
man took Captain Hannahs' horse from the negro
boy who was holding him, and started to ride
away, when Captain Hannahs came out and seized
the bridle. The man drew a pistol from Captain
Hannahs' holster and shot him. The location and
direction of the wound confirm this man's story.
Others in Williamsburg told me the same story.

When I reached Captain Hannahs he could not
utter a sound. He was shot from above through
the lungs, the ball going down from the neck
through the left lung into the right lung. The
blood welled up into his throat so as to prevent
his speaking.

If, when he was first taken into the boy's
mother's house, before my arrival, he could speak
and ask the boy to find his lieutenant, it must have
been near noon, and the boy saw the fire then
for the first time. This is confirmation of the
fact that the College was on fire before any Fed-
eral troops got into the town.



76 Life in Tent and Field

It is to be hoped that Southern chivalry and
regard for the truth will lead to the correction
of the history of the College in regard to the
fire, and at least give the North the benefit of
the doubt.



CHAPTER X

AUTHOR PROMOTED TO FIRST LIEUTENANT. GEN-
ERAL BURNSIDE AND BATTLE OF FREDERICKS-
BURG. LAYING OF PONTOON BRIDGE. HORSE-
BACK RIDE WITH A VIRGINIA GIRL. A
MALODOROUS STORY.

I learned indirectly, soon after my return to
Yorktown in June, 1878, of my promotion, by
Governor Morgan, to First Lieutenant. The offi-
cial notice reached me in November with orders
to report to Captain Heermance, commanding
Company "C," Sixth New York Cavalry, then
at Falmouth, Virginia. I reached Washington by
boat and at once proceeded by horseback to Fal-
mouth. The roads were in horrible condition and
I was pretty tired when I got to the Regimental
Camp at Falmouth. The Regiment was all out
on picket. Captain Heermance had a tent up with
a little stove in it, the pipe going out through the
canvas in the back of the tent. He also had for
a bed a large box in which rifles had been shipped.
It was about six feet long and two feet wide, and
in it were one or two blankets. All this looked

77



78 Life in Tent and Field

very luxurious to me. I was not deterred by the
bed's resemblance to a coffin, but after a supper
of coffee and hardtack was soon sound asleep in
it. I was awakened in the morning rather sud-
denly by a bucket of cold water thrown over me.
My servant had started a fire in the stove and
the hot pipe had set the back part of the tent on
fire. He tried to extinguish it with a bucket of
water, most of which landed on me.

My disappointment at being without a comfort-
able tent was not comparable to Heermance's on
his return from picket that night, wet, tired, and
covered with mud. His reception of his new Lieu-
tenant was not as cordial as it might have been..
His language was the only warm thing about it.
We, however, patched up the tent as well as possi-
ble and continued to use it on our return from
picket duty along the Rappahannock.

Before I left Yorktown President Lincoln's
long-suffering patience was exhausted, and he had
relieved McClellan from command of the Army
of the Potomac and had appointed General Burn-
side to succeed him.

General Ambrose Burnside, up to the time of
his appointment to the command of the Army of
the Potomac, had been with this Army only about
two months, having previously gained reputation
by a successful campaign in North Carolina.

He was a man of fine character, pure patri-



General Burnside 79

otism, and undoubted ability. He selected the
route for an advance on Richmond via Fred-
ericksburg instead of that via Gordonsville which
McClellan had intended. His plans were ap-
proved at that time by the best military authori-
ties and have not been condemned since by mili-
tary critics.

He could have occupied Fredericksburg with-
out much opposition If the pontoons had been fur-
nished at the time they were promised. The
delay gave Lee time to perfect his defense.

Burnside's direct attack on Fredericksburg as
it turned out was a terrible mistake. He was in-
fluenced to it by two considerations. One was
the opposition and criticism of those West Point
officers who were personal friends of McClellan.
The other was the state of affairs at the North.
The November election had just been held, and
resulted in the election of a number of Copper-
heads who condemned Lincoln's administration
and all his appointments.

Fredericksburg occupies a position on a high
slope facing the Rappahannock, while between the
city and the river Is about half a mile of river flats.
On the Falmouth side, where our army was lying,
the bluffs rise abruptly from the river bank. We
could see the enemy camps and the soldiers work-
ing on the earthworks about Fredericksburg.

Our Army was In a constant state of excitement,



8o Life in Tent and Field

expecting every day to make an attack. Rains
were frequent, with cold weather and consider-
able snow, and the mud was getting deeper and
the roads getting worse, if any worse were
possible.

Our soldiers were imperfectly provided. They
were largely without overcoats and blankets, and
their shoes and uniforms were worn out by the
hard labors of the summer. To add to their dis-
comfort they were sometimes short of rations,
which were plain enough at the best, consisting
of meat, hardtack, beans or rice, and coffee — no
luxuries. However, they were not the kind to
complain. They did resent the criticisms of the
Northern papers, which accused the Army of
living in luxurious idleness.

On the evening of December tenth, orders were
given to the Army to make preparation to move.
Early the next morning it was all in motion. Soon
after day the Engineer Corps began to lay pon-
toons. With other officers, I sat on the high
bank overlooking the river, and witnessed a scene
of the most intense interest. From the high
ground on our side, one hundred and fifty cannon
were throwing shells into Fredericksburg and the
enemy's earthworks, while the shells from the
enemy's guns were bursting among our batteries.

On the river flats opposite us the enemy had a
line of rifle pits. They were, as I remember them,



How Pontoons Are Laid 8i

about twelve feet long, three feet wide, and five
feet deep. Each one contained from three to five
men. On our side, lying prone on the ground,
were Berdan's sharpshooters ready to pick off any
man who exposed himself in the rifle pits.

The pontoons arrived each one on a wagon
drawn by six horses. Riding in each boat were
an officer and several men. The first two boats
to arrive were in the water in a few seconds filled
with men lying in the bottom, and started from
shore, while an officer stood up and directed their
course. They continued under fire from the rifle
pits, to the other side of the river. When they
reached the opposite bank the men who were in
the bottom sprang up with fixed bayonets and
rushed toward the rifle pits. I saw two or three
men fall. The sharpshooters and artillery on our
side made it almost sure death for the men in
the pits to expose themselves.

While the two boats were crossing, the pontoon
bridge began to go down, and was laid and ready
for use in an incredibly short time. Six or seven
men took a boat from a wagon and slid it into the
river. These men then took their places in the
boat — two at the oars, and the other four, two at
the bow and two at the stern, to drop the anchors
the minute the boat was in its proper place. When
distant from the shore the length of the string-
pieces on which the floor of the bridge was to



82 Life in Tent and Field

rest, it was swung parallel with the stream and
anchored with two anchors at each end. At the
same time another was passing, and another and
another, and all the same distance apart. String-
pieces were held up, one end resting on the shore
and dropped onto the first boat. While they were
being fastened others were dropped from the first
to the second boat, others from the second on
to the third, and so on. All the time other men
were bringing the floor planks and putting them
in place.

It seemed that almost while one held his breath
the bridge was laid, and the infantry in column
of fours, rifles at shoulder, were crossing and
forming on the other side. Soon thousands of
men were marching steadily in line across the river
flats toward the heights of Fredericksburg. The
men in the rifle pits had surrendered and were sent
to our side of the river.

As our troops approached the enemy's entrench-
ments we could see them drop, then waver, and
when near the entrenchments break in confusion.
Sixteen thousand men on our side, and half that
number on the other side, fell at the battle of
Fredericksburg. In January following, General
Burnside was relieved from command, and Gen-
eral Hooker appointed to succeed him.

The winter was very severe, with frequent
snows and rains. The cavalry had little chance



Picket Duty 83

to make themselves comfortable as they were em-
ployed on picket duty and moved from place to
place.

February 23, we were ordered to a place near
Acquia Creek. The snow was a foot deep. Be-
fore we had time to form a camp we were ordered
out, on a rumor that J. E. B. Stuart, the rebel
Cavalry General, was making a raid around our
Army. The Regiment moved to a place called
Ebenezer Church, where we remained in line all
night. At daybreak in the morning we started
to find Stuart but failed to overtake him.

That night I was detailed in charge of a picket
where three roads met. It rained heavily and
was so dark I could not see to find my pickets. I
stood beside my horse all night in a pouring rain,
without moving out of my tracks. In the morn-
ing the regiment started to return, and had gone
two or three miles before my picket was relieved.
We returned to camp on the twenty-seventh, hav-
ing traveled seventy to eighty miles through swol-
len streams and Virginia mud. During the two
days and nights we were on the march I was wet
through and absolutely without sleep and without
food.

Early in March following, I was detailed Com-
missary of Subsistence to the Second Brigade of
the First Cavalry Division. My duties were to
keep my Regiment supplied with rations, that is,



84 Life in Tent and Field

with whatever the Subsistence Department fur-
nished in the way of food. My first station was
at Acquia Creek, where the three Regiments com-
prising the Brigade, viz., the Sixth New York, the
Eighth New York, and the Seventeenth Pennsyl-
vania, came for their supplies. Here I remained
about two months, till the battle of Chancellors-
ville. While here I had a small, stern wheel^
steamboat to bring supplies from Alexandria up
the creek. It had a flat bottom and drew so little
water the boys used to say it could run anywhere
over a heavy dew.

A farmer lived near my camp, who drew a seine
in the Potomac River and kept me supplied with
fresh fish, in return for which I gave him empty
barrels and boxes in which to ship his fish to
Washington. He had a rather attractive looking
daughter who was an expert horsewoman. We
went for a ride together one day, she mounted on
my thoroughbred mare, and I on a powerful sorrel
horse. In crossing a wide field we encountered
one of those Virginia ditches in which the 4.irt
from the ditch is thrown up on one side and a
hedge grown on it. To cross it a horse has to
clear both ditch and hedge. Her mare cleared it,
but my horse balked and I could not force him to
try it, and had to ride nearly a mile around to
join my companion.

I recall a rather amusing incident at Acquia



A Lucky Escape 85

Creek, The commissary tent, from which stores
were issued, was near that in which I slept. I
heard some lively rattling of boxes and barrels one
morning in the commissary tent, and rushed in to
see what was going on. Just as I stepped inside
a little striped black and white animal ran past
my feet. I stooped quickly and picked him up
and dropped him into an empty barrel. An odor
which I luckily escaped told me what the animal
was. We dropped the barrel into the water and
let it float out a ways, when a shot from my re-
volver ended the little fellow's career.



CHAPTER XI

fight of the sixth new york cavalry at
todd's tavern, hooker's plans for the

DESTRUCTION OF LEE's ARMY. GENERAL
DEVIN ORDERS KEENAN's CHARGE WHICH
SAVED THE ARMY FROM DESTRUCTION. HE
says nothing about the "noble SMILE."
STONEWALL JACKSON KILLED.

The latter part of April I followed my Brigade
to Falmouth and crossed the Rappahannock with
General Devin as a member of his staff. Most of
the Cavalry (about eight thousand) had gone
with General Stoneman to cut the enemy's line of
supply South of Fredericksburg. The Second
Brigade (Devin's) were the only mounted troops
left.

Seven Companies of the Sixth New York, under
Lieutenant Colonel McVicar, were attached to
and furnished orderlies to General Slocum com-
manding the Twelfth Corps.

McVicar was a Scotchman and, as I am in-
formed, had been at one time a gunner's mate in
the British Army. He lived some time in Canada.

86



How Troops Were Officered 87

At the outbreak of the Civil War he was livinor
in Rochester, N. Y., and was employed by Fred
Douglas in getting runaway slaves safe into Can-
ada. Douglas was a protege of Horace Greeley,
editor and founder of the New York Tribune.
Through Douglas' influence with Greeley, Gov-
ernor Seymour of New York appointed McVicar
Lieutenant Colonel of the Sixth Regiment New
York Cavalry. This is a fair illustration of the
way in which the Army was oflicered. Perhaps it
was the best that could be done at that time, but.
it took many months to make good officers out of
raw material and to rid the Army of the incapable.

McVicar was anxious to do something and be-
sieged General Slocum to give him a chance. He
was finally sent on a reconnoissance towards Spott-
sylvania Court House. McVicar asked Slocum
how far he should go, and the General told him to
go until he met the enemy. Slocum, like most of
the Generals in the Army of the Potomac, thought
the Cavalry of little account except to furnish
mounted orderlies for the Infantry generals.
McVicar started without any definite idea of
where he was going or what he was going to do.

Toward night, when he had gone several miles,
Stuart's Confederate Cavalry were on the road
behind, unaware of the Federal force ahead. The
Sixth New York Regiment formed in an open
space facing the enemy, and when they were within



88 Life in Tent and Field

hailing distance the bugle sounded the charge.
McVicar, at the first fire, was shot through the
head. He was doubtless a brave man. Other
qualities besides bravery are, however, essential
to a successful commander.

In the darkness of the woods many of the men


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