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the fierce assault of IVimble and of Armistead. Splendid memories,
well deserving a nation's pride. But in all this the story is but
half told, and now the managing control has, with liberal and broad
appreciation of its duties and obligations thrown wide the door to
the survivors of the Confederate commands to complete the record,
worthy in its entirety to be engraved ' with an iron pen, in lead, upon
the rock forever.'

" The first to avail themselves of the privilege thus accorded is
the regiment to which I had the honor of belonging, known then as
the First and afterwards as the Second Maryland infantry, and we,
the survivors, are here to mark the point gained within the opposing
lines, at the close of the second day's engagement, and further to
indicate the movement made on the following morning, of the nature
of a forlorn hope, when the handful left were well-nigh destroyed.

" The history and character of that command are in some points
peculiar, and it is not altogether inappropriate that to it should have
been reserved the honor and the privilege of being the first Confed-
erate organization to mark its place and indicate its deeds upon
this field. Strictly a volunteer organization at the outstart, it
retained that feature, soon in great degree peculiar to itself, till the
close of its existence. Again, the men who, with the courage of
their convictions, left their homes in Maryland to cast their fortunes
with the South were no mere agitators or disorganizers. The his-
toric names of the Goldsboroughs and the Johnsons, the Halls and
Steuarts, the Tilghmans and the Howards, the Pacas, the Carrolls,
and the Barneys, the Stones and Lloyds who filled our ranks give
token of no churlish or ignoble blood, the descendants of the men
who formed their State and who made the history of their colony,
whether by sword or pen, to shine with peculiar lustre, even in the
brilliant period of the revolutionary epoch, these men but put in
practice the lessons they had learned from childhood when they
staked their honor and their all and offered up their lives upon the
altar oi devotion in the effort to maintain the principles of their
political faith.

" The representatives in the Confederate service of this phase of
Maryland sentiment were scattered far and wide, attached to various

444 Southern Historical Society Papers.

and widely-separated commands. The attempts to unite them in
one command lor many reasons failed, and it thus happened that the
Second infantry, in some sense to be considered the successor of the
old First that fought at Manassas, was the only Maryland organiza-
tion of that arm in the service, and its members consequently felt as
a body and as individuals a peculiar pride that upon them, small
though their numbers were, fell in large degree the duty and the
obligation of upholding the honor of their native State. This monu-
ment will tell whether or not that honor was safely lodged and cared

" The part played by the regiment in this connection is not long to
tell. The morning of the 29th of June found it in camp near Car-
lisle, under field officers Lieutenant Colonel Herbert and Major
Goldsborough. It was attached to the brigade of General George
H. Steuart, in Johnson's division, Ewell's corps. When the com-
mand moved from camp on that morning, it was w^ith ill-concealed
dissatisfaction that the men found the movement to be, as they
supposed, one of retreat. It was not until the morning of the 1st of
July that the movement was so far developed that its aggressive
character became plain. When the sounds of the engagement then
progressing at Gettysburg first struck upon their ears as they reached
the crest of the ridge that shuts in the Cumberland valley upon this
side, and the word was passed along the line, "Close up, men;
close up ; Hill's corps is in," the wild shouts and hearty cheers, and
quickened pace, showed how ready they were for the fray.

" Passing over the scene of the first day's engagement, they biv-
ouacked f )r the night in the open ground to the north and east of the
town, sharing in the general belief that before the dawn of another
day they would be called upon to charge the heights frowning in
their front. It was with something of a feeling of dismay, certainly
with one of disappointment, that the tired men were roused Irom
their slumbers on the following morning to find the sun high in the
heavens and no movement made. From their somewhat exposed sit-
uation they were moved to the protection of the wo(jded ground, still
further to the east, and there, in anxious anticipation, they awaited
the signal for advance, which they knew could not be long delayed.
At last, abcjut four in the afternoon, the signal-gun was fired. In an
instant the roar and din of over two hundred field-pieces filled the
air, telling but too plainly what work would be required of them be-
fore many moments had passed.

The Maryland Confederate Monument at Gettysburg. 445

" The fire slackens, and their veteran experience tells them that
the infantry is now to be called into action. The command is given,
and steadily the line moves on, closer and closer still, to the fooj. of
the heights, where are the serried lines of infantry and the numberless
batteries posted too far above our own to be engaged with pros-
pect of advantage. The balls begin to tell before Rock creek is
gained. Crossing that the difficult. ascent begins; the fire thickens
and the shrieking shells fill all the air with horrid sound, but still the
line moves on over the huge projecting rocks, men falling at every
step, till at last, bv nine at night, the position is reached that is to be
marked by the stone we rear to-day. Herbert is down, and the line
is fearfully thinned ; but it is no time to count the losses — only tmie to
think of the enemy in front and upon the flank. For the tired men
there is to be little rest or sleep, for, wedged in as they are in dan-
gerous proximity to the very vitals of the Federal line, the position
must be held, no matter at what hazard, and scarce a man can be
spared from the active watch. They know, too, that the work before
them when the morning dawns is to be of more trial still, and so they
pass the night, not knowing when the fierce rush may be made in the
attempt to hurl them from their place, knowing nothing of sup-
port to the right or to the left, trusting that all is well and ready
when the command is given for further sacrifice.

"When the daylight comes they find themselves almost alone.
They stand upon the extreme left of the line, with only the fraction
that remains of the Tenth Virginia further on. The position seems
scarcely tenable when, after having lain for hours under a withering
fire of infantry and artillery, the order comes for a charge upon the
works to the right and front. The men are no novices in the art of
war, and they know that the move is desperate. But the order is
imperative, and it is not their part to question — only to obey. Our
gallant brigadier, with a full heart, passes along the line, changes the
direction, sees that all is ready, then, with bright blade waving high,
with clear command, cries, 'Forward!' and leads the way.

" It was but a little way to go. As the line, well preserved, passed
into the opening just beyond, a burst of flame and shot and shell
seemed to sweep the devoted band from earth. To advance was im-
possible — the odds ahead were too fearfully apparent ; to remain was
simple madness. There was no alternative, and so the order to retire
was given, and when the little handful was assembled, under the com-
mand of the gallant Torsch, further down the slope, the survivors

446 Southern Historical Society Papers.

looked around with wonder that even they were left ahve. Of the
four hundred who started to cHmb the slope more than two hundred
fell; some, in the confusion of the night's engagement, had wandered
into the enemy's lines ; all of the staff and Murray, the first captain,
gone ; Murray dead nearly at the foot of the entrenchments. Such
is the simple story that this tablet tells.

" Comrades, we have together shared trials and dangers that knit
our hearts as one, by ties the strongest that man can know, and of
all the memories that cluster about our hearts there are none that
appeal more strongly to our tenderest affections and to our pride than
those that are immediately recalled by our ceremonies of to-day, and
I cannot but feel and give expression to the feeling that I have been
honored far above my deserving in having been selected as the organ
of your feelings and affections on an occasion such as this. Conscious
of the many obligations under which your unvarying kindness and
goodwill laid me when associated together in the honorable career
of arms, I rely upon your kindness and forbearance if I have not
come up to the full measure of your expectations. In few and sim-
ple words I have recalled the story we would not willingly let die.
A tongue more eloquent and a heart less full might have done it
ampler justice.

"Comrades, we go to our homes when our ceremonies are over
conscious of having performed a most sacred duty. In the time to
come some one of us may stand under the shadow of this monu-
ment to tell of the labor and work of dear companions gone, to those
who know of our days of sacrifice and devotion only as matters of
old tradition, and the reply may rise to the lips, 'And yet you failed,'
and you shall say. ' Not so; not so. Failure is in duty left undone.
Obeying the call of sacred obligation, we did our part as best we
might, trusting for our justification to the God that ruled our hearts
and had our cause in hand. To Him and to His will we bowed.'

"And now. sir, it is my duty and my great pleasure to turn over
to the charge of the Association which you represent this memorial
of the deeds of the sons of Maryland whose cause was lost in the
clash of arms. You will guard it well, not as a tribute to the cause
that's dead, but as an added page to the great record you have in
charge — a record which belongs to no section and to no time, the
joint heritage of the North and of the .South, and of right to be
transmitted in all its fullness to the ages yet to come."

A Visit to Beauvoir. 447

A Visit to Beauvoir — President Davis and Family at Home,


Richmond, Va., August ist, 1886.

A trip from Richmond to Beauvoir, by the Richmond and Dan-
ville route to Atlanta, the Atlanta, West Point and Montgomery to
Montgomery, and thence by the Louisville and Nashville railway, is
quick and comparatively comfortable, even at this season. Leaving
here at 2 A. M. on Thursday we reached Beauvoir — a flag station
on the Louisville and Nashville, half-way between Mobile and New
Orleans — at 4:40 P. M. Friday.

The first questions asked are, "Where is Mr. Davis's house?"
"Is Mr. Davis at home?" The grounds are pointed out as running
down to the station, the large vineyard of Scuppernong grapes form-
ing a pleasing contrast to the sighing pines around, and soon the
large yard, shaded by live-oaks, is seen, and the dim outlines of the
cottages and mansion, as we hurry along the road to the house of a
relative on the beach, several hundred yards below. But I was
greatly disappointed to learn that Mr. Davis had received a summons
to his plantation up on the Mississippi river, and had lelt several days

I had, however, a very pleasant time — gazing on the beautiful Gulf,
breathing its salt breezes, dipping in its brine, catching fish every
morning for breakfast, making some very pleasant acquaintances,
etc. — and made a most enjoyable visit to Beauvoir, where Mrs. Davis
and Miss Winnie entertained me in most agreeable style.


At this and subsequent visits I had ample opportunity of seeing the
house and grounds. The house is a large, double-framed building,
painted white, and contrasting very pleasantly with the foliage in
which it is embowered. A wide veranda runs around it, and a broad
hall through the centre makes a very pleasant sitting-room in the
summer. On either side of the main building, and a few yards from
it, are very neat cottages, also white, and in the rear are ample and
convenient out-buildings. The house is very well furnished, mostly
with handsome old furniture, the walls are adorned with some fine
pictures — some of them copies of the masterpieces of the old mas-

448 (Southern Historical Society Papers.

ters — and the rooms are tastefully decorated with bric-a brae and
pretty ornaments, many of which are the products of the deft fingers
and good taste of Mrs. Davis and her accomplished daughters.

Books, carefully selected from standard authors, adorn the tables
or grace the shelves. In a word, the stranger who knew nothing of
the occupants would have only to glance through the rooms to see
at once that this is an abode of culture, refinement, and taste.

The grounds are ample, the live-oaks and their hanging moss are
very beautiful, the Gulf of Mexico laves the beach in front of the
house, and is certainly one of the most beautiful sheets of water that
the sun shines upon. The grounds are certainly very beautiful as
they are, but are capable of great improvement, and one could not
repress the wish that our honored Confederate chief had the means of
making them all that his cultivated taste would suggest.

And yet it is a source of gratification to old Confederates that our
great leader has this quiet retreat, where, away from the rushing
crowd, on the soil of his loved Mississippi, breathing the healthful
breezes of the Gulf that washes the southern shores of the Confed-
eracy, in the shades of his own home and in the bosom of his family,
he can spend tlie evening of his busy life, and fill out the record of
his great duties and heroic deeds. But it ought to be added that his
needed rest and quiet are often broken by visitors — loving admirers
who are anxious to pay their respects and do honor to the greatest
living American ; but too often mere curiosity-hunters, some of
whom partake of his hospitality and then go off to write all manner
of slanders about him.


I would not be guilty of drawing aside the veil that conceals from
the world the privacy of the home, or parading before the public
even the names of our noble women; but the deep interest which our
people take in all that concerns this noble family must be my excuse
for saying some things which otherwise might not be admissible.

Those who knew Mrs. Davis in other days, as a Senator's or Sec-
retary's wife, in Washington, or as "Mistress of the White House"
and "first lady" of the Confederacy, in Richmond, would find no
difficulty in recognizing her now; for, though time has wrought some
changes in her, she is the same bright, genial, cultivated, domestic
woman, who is equally well qualified to grace the parlor, preside at
a State dinner with historic men as her guests, attend to the minutest

A Visit to Beauvoir. 449

details of her housekeeping, or visit her neighbors, or look after the
needy poor.

She is one of the finest conversationalists I ever met, and her repol-
lections of society and events in Washington, in Richmond, and in
Europe, and of the prominent men and women with whom she came
in contact, are simply charming, and would make a book of rare in-
terest were she disposed to turn her attention to authorship. Devoted
to her husband, and taking a natural pride in his fame ; an affection-
ate mother, who delights in her children and grandchildren ; affable
and pleasant with her neighbors ; a noted housekeeper and fine
economist, and a charming entertainer of visitors, she strikes all who
know her as worthy to share the fortunes and comfort the declining
years of our chief, as she was worthy to share his honors and reign
in society at Washington and at Richmond.

She speaks in the most cordial terms (as does Mr. Davis) of Rich-
mond and Richmond people, and inquires very affectionately after
some of her special friends.

Miss Winnie Davis, the single daughter, who was born in Rich-
mond not long before the close of the war, is one of the most thor-
oughly educated, accomplished young women whom I have ever met.
At the same time she is simple, affable, and sweet in her manners, a
brilliant conversationalist, a general favorite, and every way worthy
of her proud lineage and happy inheritance as "Child of the Con-

Mrs. Hayes, the only other living child, was on a visit to Beauvoir,
but was sick, and I had not the pleasure of seeing her; but I heard
her spoken of in the warmest terms of admiration by some of the
neighbors. I saw her four sweet children — and what pets they were
with their grandfather, whose love of children is one of his strong
characteristics !


Returning from a several-days' trip to Meridian, I was delighted
to find that Mr. Davis had returned from his plantation, had done
me the honor of calling at my brother-in-law's to see me, and was
awaiting my arrival.

Those who knew him in Richmond during the war might not
recognize him at once, as over twenty years have left their im-
press upon him, and he now wears a full beard instead of being
closely shaven as then. But the handsome face, the courtly grace
of his bearing, the fiash of his eagle eye, his cordial manners, genial


450 Southern Historical Society Papers.

humor, and almost unrivalled eloquence of conversation, soon bring
back the Confederate President— the indomitable leader, the un-
flinching patriot, the high-toned, Christian gentleman, whom true
Confederates will ever delight to honor.

Seventy-eight years of an eventful life are upon him, his health is
not strong, and his physical powers begin to weaken, but his intellect
is as clear as ever, and his heart as warm as ever for the land he has
loved so well, and for which he has toiled, and suffered, and sacrificed
so much.

I shall not be guilty of betraying to the public the confidence of
private conversation, as at this and subsequent interviews, at his own
home, he spoke freely of men and events and measures from that full
knowledge and intimate acquaintance, and in that perfecdy charming
manner which make his lightest utterances of unspeakable value.

But there are some things of which I may, without impropriety,
write, and which I know will be of deep interest to our people.

Mr. Davis loves to talk of his home, the Gulf coast of Mississippi
and its advantages, his pictures, his books, questions in English litera-
ture, science, the arts, etc., in all of which he is perfectly at home and
talks charmingly; his cadet life at West Point and the men he knew
there, who were afterwards famous; the Mexican war and his ser-
vices, of which he speaks very modestly, but the brilliancy of which
all the world knows; his services in the United States Senate and as
Secretary of War, and the men with whom he came in contact while
serving in these high positions ; his travels abroad, etc. , etc.

But he seems to delight especially to talk of the Confederacv ; its
splendid rise, its heroic struggle, its sad fall, when "compelled to
yield to overwhelming numbers and resources." He seemed tho-
roughly familiar with the minutest details of all the Departments of
the Government. He gave some very interesting details of experi-
ments made while he was Secretary of War, on the question of
whether to cast guns hollow or to bore them out from solid castings,
and spoke of the laudable pride with which Rodman sought him
when he had prepared some cannon-powder, and exclaimed, " Eureka,
eureka ! "

He gave a very interesting account of some experiments made by
Professor Bartlett, of West Point, under his direction, on the proper
size and shape of bullets. The experiments failed, but last year at
Beauvoir he got to thinking over it, and thought that he discovered
the cause of the failure.

He at once wrote to Professor Bartlett, giving him his theory, but

A Visit to Beauvoir. 451

received from him a very kind reply, in which the Professor said that
he was now too old and infirm to make new experiments, and that,
besides, he had lost their original memoranda and calculations.

He spoke with commendable pride of what progress the Confede-
racy had made in creating material of war, until at the end of the
struggle the best powder in the world was made at the Confederate
mill under charge of General Rains. He said that while a prisoner
at Fortress Monroe he was told that the powder which produced the
best results in firing at iron plates was some of this powder captured
from the Confederates.

He talked freely, and in the most interesting manner, of the causes,
progress, and results of the war, and, while fully accepting its logi-
cal results, he seems profoundly anxious that our children should be
taught the truth, and that our people should not forget or ignore the
great fundamental principles for which we fought. As for allowing
the war to be called " The Rebellion" and our Confederate people
" Rebels," he heartily repudiated and condemned it. " A sovereign
cannot rebel," he said, " and sovereign States could not be in rebel-
lion. You might as well say Germany rebelled against France, or
that France (as she was beaten in the contest) rebelled against Ger-

He said that once in the hurry of writing he had spoken of it as
" the civil war," but had never used that misnomer again.

He spoke of many of our generals and of the inside history of
some of our great battles and campaigns, telling some things of
great interest and historic value, which I do not feel at liberty to
publish now.

After speaking in the most exalted terms of Lee and Jackson, their
mutual confidence in each other, and their prompt co-operation, he
said: "They supplemented each other, and, together, with any fair
opportunity, they were absolutely invincible." He defended Jack-
son against the statement made by some of his warmest admirers
(even Dr. Dabney in his biography) that he was not fully himself in
failing to force the passage of White Oak swamp to go to the help
of A. P. Hill at Frazier's Farm. He said that he thought that a
careful study of the topography would show that Franklin's position
was the real obstacle to Jackson's crossing.

He spoke warmly of the magnificent fight which A. P. Hill, after-
wards supported by Longstreet, made that day — a battle which he
witnessed — and told some interesting incidents concerning it.

Early in the day he met General Lee near the front, and at once

452 Southern Historical Society Papers.

accosted him with " Why, General, what are you doing here? You
are in too dangerous a position for the commander of the army."

"I am trying," was the reply, " to find out something about the
movements and plans of those people. But you must excuse me,
Mr. President, for asking what you are doing here, and for suggest-
ing that this is no proper place for the commander-in-chief of all
our armies."

" Oh, I am here on the same mission that you are," replied the
President, and they were beginning to consult about the situation
when " gallant little A. P. Hill " dashed up and exclaimed, " This is
no place for either of you, and, as commander of this part of the
field, I order you both to the rear."

" We will obey your orders," was the reply ; and they fell back a
short distance, but the fire grew hotter, and presently A. P. Hill gal-
loped up to them again and exclaimed, ' Did I not tell you to go
away from here ? and did you not promise to obey my orders ? Why,
one shell from that battery over yonder may presendy deprive the
Confederacy of its President and the Army of Northern Virginia of its
commander." And with other earnest words he finally persuaded
the President and General Lee to move back to a more secure place,

Mr. Davis spoke in the warmest terms of praise of A. P. Hill.
"He was," he said, " brave and skillful, and always ready to obey
orders and do his full duty." Reminding him that General Hill was
killed at Petersburg " with a sick-furlough in his pocket," having
arisen from a sick-bed and hurried to the front when he heard that
the enemy was moving, he said, " Yes, a truer, more devoted, self-
sacrificing soldier never lived or died in the cause of right."

Speaking in general of the Seven Days' battles around Richmond,
he said that we accomplished grand results, and that the failure to
annihilate McClellan's army was due chiefly to the fact that when
General Lee took command there were at headquarters no maps of

Online LibrarySouthern Historical Society. cnSouthern Historical Society papers (Volume 14) → online text (page 47 of 61)