This page contains interesting and provocative bits of history that you may have seen at some point in time but forgotten where you initially came across it. Click on the link to read the article . . .

17) Virginia Clerks 1888

16) Slave Document in Virginia 1813

15) April is Confederate History Month

14) USS William D Porter (DD579)

13) History of the Dollar Bill

12) Fort Boykin Interpretative Text

11)Civil War Trails Signs

10) Battle of Smithfield

9)  1860 Census Smithfield

8)  Arlington Cemetery Christmas

7)  Errors in Predicting History

6) WWII Piggyback Hero

5)  Patriots Day Revisited

Return to Home Page

4)The Year of 1902

3) Search on for Civil War veterans in New York cemetery

2)  Remember July 4

1)  The Origin of "Taps" (played at military funerals)

24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotion

Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. In the British Army, a similar call known as Last Post has been sounded over soldiers' graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is unique with the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.

Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) at the end of the day. Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for Extinguish Lights was the one set down in Silas Casey's (1801-1882) Tactics, which had been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union General Daniel Butterfield for his brigade (Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July, 1862.

Daniel Adams Butterfield (31 October 1831-17 July 1901) was born in Utica, New York and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was the eastern superintendent of the American Express Company in New York when the Civil War broke out. Despite his lack of military experience, he rose quickly in rank. A Colonel in the 12th Regiment of the New York State Militia, he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The 12th served in the Shenandoah Valley during the the Bull Run Campaign. During the Peninsular Campaign Butterfield served prominently when during the Battle of Gaines Mill, despite an injury, he seized the colors of the 83rd Pennsylvania and rallied the regiment at a critical time in the battle. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of heroism.

As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days end and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Day's battle. These battles took place during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The call, sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.

The highly romantic account of how Butterfield composed the call surfaced in 1898 following a magazine article written that summer. The August, 1898 issue of Century Magazine contained an article called The Trumpet in Camp and Battle, by Gustav Kobbe, a music historian and critic. He was writing about the origin of bugle calls in the Civil War and in reference to Taps, wrote:

In speaking of our trumpet calls I purposely omitted one with which it seemed most appropriate to close this article, for it is the call which closes the soldier's day. . . . Lights Out. I have not been able to trace this call to any other service. If it seems probable, it was original with Major Seymour, he has given our army the most beautiful of all trumpet-calls.

Kobbe was using as an authority the Army drill manual on infantry tactics prepared by Major General Emory Upton in 1867 (revised in 1874). The bugle calls in the manual were compiled by Major (later General) Truman Seymour of the 5th U.S. Artillery. Taps was called Extinguish Lights in these manuals since it was to replace the Lights Out call disliked by Butterfield. The title of the call was not changed until later, although other manuals started calling it Taps because most soldiers knew it by that name. Since Seymour was responsible for the music in the Army manual, Kobbe assumed that he had written the call. Kobbe s inability to find the origin of Extinguish Lights (Taps) prompted a letter from Oliver W. Norton in Chicago who claimed he knew how the call came about and that he was the first to perform it.

Norton wrote:

Chicago, August 8, 1898

I was much interested in reading the article by Mr. Gustav Kobbe, on the Trumpet and Bugle Calls, in the August Century. Mr. Kobbe says that he has been unable to trace the origin of the call now used for Taps, or the Go to sleep , as it is generally called by the soldiers. As I am unable to give the origin of this call, I think the following statement may be of interest to Mr. Kobbe and your readers.. .. During the early part of the Civil War I was bugler at the Headquarters of Butterfield s Brigade, Morell s Division, Fitz-John Porter s Corp, Army of the Potomac. Up to July, 1862, the Infantry call for Taps was that set down in Casey s Tactics, which Mr. Kobbe says was borrowed from the French. One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison's Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made it s way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing. I think General Butterfield is living at Cold Spring, New York. If you think the matter of sufficient interest, and care to write him on the subject, I have no doubt he will confirm my statement. -Oliver W. Norton

The editor did write to Butterfield as suggested by Norton. In answer to the inquiry from the editor of the Century, General Butterfield writing from Gragside, Cold Spring, under the date of August 31, 1898 wrote:

I recall, in my dim memory, the substantial truth of the statement made by Norton, of the 83rd Pa., about bugle calls. His letter gives the impression that I personally wrote the notes for the call. The facts are, that at the time I could sound calls on the bugle as a necessary part of military knowledge and instruction for an officer commanding a regiment or brigade. I had acquired this as a regimental commander. I had composed a call for my brigade, to precede any calls, indicating that such were calls, or orders, for my brigade alone. This was of very great use and effect on the march and in battle. It enabled me to cause my whole command, at times, in march, covering over a mile on the road, all to halt instantly, and lie down, and all arise and start at the same moment; to forward in line of battle, simultaneously, in action and charge etc. It saves fatigue. The men rather liked their call, and began to sing my name to it. It was three notes and a catch. I can not write a note of music, but have gotten my wife to write it from my whistling it to her, and enclose it. The men would sing , Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield to the notes when a call came. Later, in battle, or in some trying circumstances or an advance of difficulties, they sometimes sang, Damn, Damn, Damn, Butterfield, Butterfield.

The call of Taps did not seem to be as smooth, melodious and musical as it should be, and I called in some one who could write music, and practiced a change in the call of Taps until I had it suit my ear, and then, as Norton writes, got it to my taste without being able to write music or knowing the technical name of any note, but, simply by ear, arranged it as Norton describes. I did not recall him in connection with it, but his story is substantially correct. Will you do me the favor to send Norton a copy of this letter by your typewriter? I have none. -Daniel Butterfield

On the surface, this seems to be the true history of the origin of Taps. Indeed, the many articles written about Taps cite this story as the beginning of Butterfield's association with the call. Certainly, Butterfield never went out of his way to claim credit for its composition and it wasn't until the Century article that the origin came to light.

There are however, significant differences in Butterfield's and Norton's stories. Norton says that the music given to him by Butterfield that night was written down on an envelope while Butterfield wrote that he could not read or write music! Also Butterfield's words seem to suggest that he was not composing a melody in Norton s presence, but actually arranging or revising an existing one. As a commander of a brigade, he knew of the bugle calls needed to relay troop commands. All officers of the time were required to know the calls and were expected to be able to play the bugle. Butterfield was no different-he could play the bugle but could not read music. As a colonel of the 12th N.Y. Regiment, before the war, he had ordered his men to be thoroughly familiar with calls and drills.

What could account for the variation in stories? My research shows that Butterfield did not compose Taps but actually revised an earlier bugle call. This sounds blasphemous to many, but the fact is that Taps existed in an early version of the call Tattoo. As a signal for end of the day, armies have used Tattoo to signal troops to prepare them for bedtime roll call. The call was used to notify the soldiers to cease the evening's drinking and return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final call of the day to extinguish all fires and lights. This early version is found in three manuals the Winfield Scott (1786 -1866 ) manual of 1835, the Samuel Cooper (1798-1876) manual of 1836 and the William Gilham (1819?-1872) manual of 1861. This call referred to as the Scott Tattoo was in use from 1835-1860. A second version of Tattoo came into use just before the Civil War and was in use throughout the war replacing the Scott Tattoo.

The fact that Norton says that Butterfield composed Taps cannot be questioned. He was relaying the facts as he remembered them. His conclusion that Butterfield wrote Taps can be explained by the presence of the second Tattoo. It was most likely that the second Tattoo, followed by Extinguish Lights (the first eight measures of today's Tattoo), was sounded by Norton during the course of the war.

It seems possible that these two calls were sounded to end the soldier's day on both sides during the war. It must therefore be evident that Norton did not know the early Tattoo or he would have immediately recognized it that evening in Butterfield's tent. If you review the events of that evening, Norton came into Butterfield's tent and played notes that were already written down on an envelope. Then Butterfield changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. If you compare that statement while looking at the present day Taps, you will see that this is exactly what happened to turn the early (Scott) Tattoo in Taps. Butterfield as stated above, was a Colonel before the War and in General Order No. 1 issued by him on December 7, 1859 had the order: The Officers and non-commissioned Officers are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the first thirty pages, Vol. 1, Scott's Tactics, and ready to answer any questions in regard to the same previous to the drill above ordered Scott's Tactics include the bugle calls that Butterfield must have known and used.

If Butterfield was using Scott's Tactics for drills, then it is feasible that he would have used the calls as set in the manual. Lastly, it is hard to believe that Butterfield could have composed anything that July in the aftermath of the Seven Days battles which saw the Union Army of the Potomac mangled by Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Over twenty six thousand casualties were suffered on both sides. Butterfield had lost over 600 of his men on June 27th at the battle of Gaines Mill and had himself been wounded. In the midst of the heat, humidity, mud, mosquitoes, dysentery, typhoid and general wretchedness of camp life in that early July, it is hard to imagine being able to write anything.

In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that it is not General Butterfield who composed Taps, rather that he revised an earlier call into the present day bugle call we know as Taps. This is not meant to take credit away from him. It is only to put things in a correct historic manner. Following the Peninsular Campaign, Butterfield served at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam and at Marye's Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Through political connections and his ability for administration, he became a Major General and served as chief of staff of the Union Army of the Potomac under Generals Joseph Hooker and George Meade. He was wounded at Gettysburg and then reassigned to the Western Theater. By war's end, he was breveted a brigadier general and stayed in the army after the Civil War, serving as superintendent of the army's recruiting service in New York City and colonel of the 5th Infantry. In 1870, after resigning from the military, Butterfield went back to work with the American Express Company. He was in charge of a number of special public ceremonies, including General William Tecumseh Sherman's funeral in 1891. Besides his association with Taps, Butterfield also designed the system of Corps Badges which were distinctive shapes of color cloth sewn on to uniforms to distinguish units.

Butterfield died in 1901. His tomb is the most ornate in the cemetery at West Point despite the fact that he never attended. There is also a monument to Butterfield in New York City near Grant's Tomb. There is nothing on either monument that mentions Taps or Butterfield's association with the call. Taps was sounded at his funeral.

How did it become associated with funerals? The earliest official reference to the mandatory use of Taps at military funeral ceremonies is found in the U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891, although it had doubtless been used unofficially long before that time, under its former designation Extinguish Lights.

The first use of Taps at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Since the enemy was close, he worried that the traditional 3 volleys would renew fighting.

During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery - A of the 2nd Artillery - was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position, concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave on account of the proximity of the enemy, and it occurred to Captain Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most ceremony that would be substituted. The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac, and finally confirmed by orders. Colonel James A. Moss Officer's Manual Pub. George Banta Publishing Co. Menasha Wisconsin 1913 Elbridge Coby in Army Talk (Princeton, 1942), p.208 states that it was B Battery of the Third Artillery that first used Taps at a military funeral.

This first sounding of Taps at a military funeral is commemorated in a stained glass window at The Chapel of the Centurion (The Old Post Chapel) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The window, made by R. Geissler of New York and based on a painting by Sidney King, was dedicated in 1958 and shows a bugler and a flag at half staff. In that picture a drummer boy stands beside the bugler. The grandson of that drummer boy purchased Berkeley Plantation where Harrisons Landing is located. The site where Taps was born is also commemorated. In this case, by a monument located on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation. This monument to Taps was erected by the Virginia American Legion and dedicated on July 4, 1969. The site is also rich in history, for the Harrisons of Berkeley Plantation included Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison, both presidents of the United States as well as Benjamin Harrison (father and Great grandfather of future presidents), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

It must be pointed out that other stories of the origin of Taps exist. A popular one is that of a Northern boy who was killed fighting for the south. His father, Robert Ellicombe a Captain in the Union Army, came upon his son's body on the battlefield and found the notes to Taps in a pocket of the dead boy's Confederate uniform. When Union General Daniel Sickles heard the story, he had the notes sounded at the boy's funeral. There is no evidence to back up the story or the existence of Captain Ellicombe. As with many other customs, this solemn tradition continues today. Although Butterfield merely revised an earlier bugle call, his role in producing those 24 notes gives him a place in the history of music as well as the history of war.

As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, "Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep." As the years went on many more versions were created. There are no official words to the music but here are some of the more popular verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.


Jari A. Villanueva, jvmusic@erols.com is a bugler and bugle historian. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Kent State University, he was the curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/tapsproj.htm at Arlington National Cemetery from 1999-2002. He has been a member of the United States Air Force Band since 1985 and is considered the country's foremost authority on the bugle call of Taps.

His website, www.tapsbugler.com includes a history of Taps, performance information and guidelines for funerals, finding buglers for sounding calls, many photos of bugles and buglers, music for bugle calls, stories and myths about Taps, Taps at the JFK funeral, ordering his 60 page booklet on Taps (24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions) and many links to bugle related sites. Jari is also working on book on the History of Bugle Call in the United States Military.

Return to Top of Page

REMEMBER JULY 4

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means and well educated. They signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed ... The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:

"For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.

Return to Top of Page


Search on for Civil War veterans in New York cemetery

Historian-turned-detective seeks for information on ordinary people during an extraordinary time

By LARRY McSHANE

Associated Press

NEW YORK - Beneath twin marble gravestones in the Green-Wood Cemetery lie the Prentiss brothers, buried along with their 135-year-old tale of sibling love and hate.

The Baltimore natives fought on oppo- site sides in the Civil War, each convinced their cause was just. Their house divided only was healed during a battlefield reunion after both were badly wounded in the 1865 siege of Petersburg, Va.

Each died within months, one in a Washington hospital, the other at a third brother's Brooklyn home. Dr. John Prentiss, a surgeon for the Union, interred his brothers side by side.

Sitting in an office at Green-Wood, Jef- frey Richman recounts the saga of Clifton and William Prentiss. Their tale is one of dozens rediscovered since Richman mounted a search this year for the estimated 6,000 Civil War veterans buried inside the landmark cemetery.

"We have some amazing stories that we're coming across," says Richman, the cemetery's official historian. "It's a lot of detective work, trying different ap-

 

proaches to try to find as many of these veterans as possible."

Like any detective, Richman stays busy chasing leads — some gleaned from ancient index cards and grave registries, others sent in by Civil War buffs or veterans' relatives.

He's pored over history books, like
1879's "Camp and Field Life of the Fifth New York Volunteer History." He's
searched ancient newspaper archives.
He's even perused 140-year-old box scores of baseball games played by soldiers on the cemetery grounds.

Richman doesn't work alone. In May, 60 volunteers walked through the 478-acre cemetery in search of potential veterans' graves. A similar effort was undertaken in September, with 80 people turning out — including retired educator Susan Rudin.

"My husband and I are interested in the history of ordinary people during extraordinary times," said Rudin, who is helping assemble biographies of the soldiers. "It makes history more alive."

Her favorite Green-Wood Civil War vet-
eran was Albert Johnson, a Confederate colonel from Louisville, Ky. Johnson moved to a Brooklyn mansion after the war, helping develop the borough's mass

 

transit system.

Johnson is one of several hundred positively identified Civil War veterans. Another is Louis Napoleon Stodder, Boston-bom but buried in Brooklyn. The Union soldier was at the wheel of the ironclad Monitor during its historic clash with the Merrimac; he suffered an injury when a Confederate shell struck its turret.

Among Stodder's neighbors is Alois
Brau, who enlisted in the Union army at age 15, survived the war between the states, then returned home to don a tuxedo and run a dance studio.

It's no surprise that Green-Wood, home to nearly 600,000 permanent "residents," would serve as such a historical repository-

The cemetery is as much a New York institution as the Brooklyn Bridge or Central Park — and it predates both by decades. Founded in 1838, it gains residents at the rate of nine funerals per day.

Among its more famous residents: "Wizard of Oz" star Frank Morgan, composer Leonard Bernstein, and newspaperman Horace Greeley. There's the infamous, too:

mobsters Albert Anastasia and "Crazy
Joey" Gallo, and corrupt politician "Boss"

 

Tweed.

The new project has several goals: locating all the vets, getting them proper gravestones, and publishing a book about the Civil War through the lives of those buried in Green-Wood.

"I can tell the story of Gettysburg with
10 different people on the field that day," says Richman. "All New York guys, and all here at the cemetery."

That group includes Sgt. Nathaniel
Carlton, killed during the fighting at Gettysburg's "railroad cut," and Gen. Henry Slocum, who survived the three days of bloody fighting to become one of Brooklyn's leading citizens.

The cemetery plans to pick up the cost of the new headstones as part of the project. Any money generated by the book would be donated back to the cemetery to cover costs.

Some stories are stranger than others.
Col. J. Lafayette Riker, a balding, bearded officer, found himself facing court-martial for allegedly shacking up in his tent with a woman posing as an Army private.

He was acquitted of the charges, but
there was no happy ending: He died at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Va., on May 31,1862.

 

Return to Top of Page


YEAR OF 1902

This ought to boggle your mind -- I know it did mine! The year is 1902 ... a little more than one hundred years ago ... what a difference a century makes! Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1902 . . .

Life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 Percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st-most populous state in the Union. The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee cost fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

One in ten U.S. adults couldn't read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."

18 percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

Just think what it will be like in another 100 years . . .

Return to Top of Page


1860 Census Smithfield

DRAFT

1860 Census, Free Schedule, Smithfield

Population: 422 White and 55 Black/ Mulatto, all free in 83 households, eight of which were black households.  Assets are in parentheses.  Known Civil War soldiers are underlined.  Names of Afro-Americans are in bold type

The Town was primarily a retail/ residential community.  There were 23 Merchants, 12 clerks, one factor, five apprentices, and also 12 spinsters.  Cornelius Goodwin ($0), F. E. N. Wills ($1400), and Arthur Pendleton ($0) were tailors.  Elizabeth Stephenson ($0),  C. F. Vallentine ($0) & Lucy Adams ($0) were milliners.  James H. Whitehead ($250) and John F. Ranson ($400) were boot and shoemakers.  There were only 11 Servants listed, all black, all living with seven of the 75 White households.  Free Afro-American households were Ann Gross ($0), Amanda Joyner ($0), Mary A. Scott ($40), Doris Hardy ($0), Robert Bailey ($20), Benjamin Gardner ($40), Martha Holliway ($0), and Lizzy Harris ($20).  

 

James P. Holliway ($800), R. T. Edwards ($350), Wiloughly Riggin ($100), F. A. B. Watson ($3000), Wm.

M. Moody ($0), John W. Parr ($100), William J. White ($0), and Phinias Parr ($0) were CarpentersWm.

G. Rouse ($500) was a cabinetmaker, and William H. Barlow ($0) was a painter.  Laborers were Charles

Parr, Davis Wilson, & Bobb Bailey.  Jesse Hodges ($5300), Thomas D. Hodges ($0), & Joseph Hodges

($100) were ShipwrightsThomas J. Armstead ($50), William Weston ($500), & Thomas A Hodges ($0)

were ship carpenters. Charles Lipscomb ($0) was a calker.  Wm H. Jordan, Jr ($0), James Davis ($0),

Henry Tynes, Robert Bailey ($20), Benjamin Gardner ($40), Tom Scott were sailors.  George Cowper

($30), Robert Cowper, William G. Cowper, & Samuel Bailey ($25) were oystermen, and Michael Battin

($0) was a fisherman. Ironically, Jordan ($0) was a seaman, though his father ($51470) was very wealthy.

 

Manufacturers: Isaac D. Cofer ($700), Madison M. Crocker ($1150), A. W. Layman ($500), & R. F.

Barrett ($5500) were blacksmiths.  William W. Cofer ($1850), A. J. Cofer (($1850), & James A. Johnson

($400) were couch makers. William Folk ($5200), William Folk, Jr. ($0) Samuel Folk ($0), & John

Herring ($50) were saddlers- makers of furnishings for horses.  George Murry was a watchmaker ($150). 

 

Managers: Edwin Morrison ($12900) managed one of the two hotels in Smithfield, Soloman J. Wilson ($45000) managed saw & gristmills, & James Scott ($6500) managed the cotton gin on Scott’s Factory Rd.

 

George Wilson ($35355), Octavius Goodrich ($20950), Wm. H. Day ($30000), T. F. P. P. Cowper ($19200), Willis Wilson ($47000), James N. Atkinson ($31000), and Archibald Atkinson ($91100) were listed as Farmers.  Archibald Atkinson had been a United States Congressman, and also owned the old customhouse in Battery Park, Virginia.  Cowper had recently moved from Ragged Islands to the old 1750 Courthouse/ Butler House.   

 

James B. Southall ($19000), John R. Purdie ($2950), and William D. Southall ($11500) were Physicians, and C. C. Chalmers ($9500)was the Drugist.  Cornelia Lightfoot ($0), Julia Field ($500), and Mary Scott ($0) were Schoolteachers, and Anna Scott ($0) was the Music Teacher.  Robt. H. Whitfield ($57000), J. S. Wilson ($2000), and C. B. Hayden ($21625) were Lawyers

 

John A Jordan was the Deputy Marshall ($3000), and Benjamin Bidgood ($300) was the Postmaster.  Archibald Atkinson, C. B. Hayden, S. Junius Wilson, and John Robinson Purdie, the town’s most distinguished citizens, were the first Mayors of Smithfield from 1852 - 1866.

 

Joseph E. Potts ($0) and Patrick Robert ($4200) were the Methodist and Episcopal Clergymen respectively.  Mallory T. Dickson ($12000) and George W. Purdie ($300) were listed as Gentlemen, both were 46 years old.

 

The most affluent were the merchants, farmers, and lawyers: John E. Adams ($92700), Archibald Atkinson ($91100), Robt. H. Whitfield ($57000), James Thomas ($56930), and Wm. H. Jordan ($51470).  Many of those with respectable employment were poor.  The oldest residents were Elizabeth Ponsonby, 92 years old, and Doris Hardy, 83 years old.  A cursory review of the 1860 Slave Schedule suggests Smithfield residents could have owned 200 to 300 slaves.

Return to Top of Page


Battle of Smithfield

The Battle of Smithfield (Monday, February 1, 1864) was a much broader action than is generally related, ranging from the Nansemond River, Chuckatuck Creek, Scott’s Factory Road, Smithfield, Pagan Creek, Forts Boykin and Huger, and Ivor.  It is involved at least five U.S. gunboats, three army gunboats, one transport, and two armed launches, virtually the whole Hampton Roads armada at that time. 

Under acting United States Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee, grandson of Richard Henry Lee, General Graham aboard the transport Long Branch accompanied by the army gunboats Flora Temple and the General Jesup proceeded from Newport News toward Jamestown in search of a south side Rebel force.  The Long Branch landed 90 soldiers, consisting of a howitzer squad, 20 cavalry, and various infantry, at Smithfield at 1:25 P.M. on Sunday, January 31, 1864.  They were to advance toward Chuckatuck where it was believed there was a Confederate force. 

At 3:00 P.M. Branch ordered the Flora Temple up Chuckatuck Creek to occupy the attention of the Confederates at Chuckatuck.  The gunboat U.S.S. Commodore Morris and the army gunboat Smith Briggs were ordered up the Nansemond River to land troops at Holladay Point with orders to proceed to Chuckatuck Village.  Thus was initiated a pincer movement. 

Meanwhile, the Flora Temple went aground in Chuckatuck Creek, the Long Branch and General Jesup coming to her assistance and eventually dislodging her.  These three vessels retired to the mouth of the Chuckatuck Creek by early nightfall and were in the Nansemond River by 8:00 P.M.  Conditions were very foggy.  By this time the U.S. infantry that had been originally landed at Smithfield under Federal Captain John C. Lee, Company I, 99th New York, had retired toward Smithfield (8:00 P.M.) pursued by Confederate soldiers. 

General Graham, contacted by the U.S.S. Commodore Barney, ordered at 4:00 A.M., February 1, 1864, the Smith Briggs to Smithfield.  Conditions were still very foggy.  The Flora Temple and General Jesup had already been ordered to proceed up Chuckatuck Creek at daylight with the same purpose as before as a distraction.  Graham’s infantry expedition to Chuckatuck from the Nansemond River was renewed at 7:00 A.M, February 1, 1864. 

At 11:30 A.M. the Smith Briggs met the U.S.S. Shokokan off the mouth of the Pagan River.  Two armed launches from the U.S.S. Minnesota, Admiral Lee’s flagship, had been put under tow by the Shokokan, which proceeded up the Pagan River.  When they could go no further because of the Shokokan’s draft, the Smith Briggs with these same two armed launches, each with 23 men, proceeded to Smithfield. 

The Smith Briggs arriving too late was captured.  Federal losses were two wounded, 17 killed, and 144 captured.  One Confederate was killed.  The Commodore Morris reported that the Smith Briggs’ magazine blew up at 3:50 P.M, it thereby sinking.  The U.S.S. Commodore Jones, searching for survivors, reported February 6, 1864 that Richmond had ordered Sturdevant’s Confederate troops at Ivor to proceed toward Smithfield.  Apparently, the Confederate Signal Corps at Fort Boykin or Fort Huger had picked up on Federal movements and had relayed the information up the James River to Richmond.  Union Private John Lyman of the 152nd Regiment Volunteers, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, rescued by the Commodore Jones inshore at Day’s Neck, reported Sturdevant had 500 men, which included 40 cavalry. 

Thus, the Battle of Smithfield was an extensive operation. 

                As an aftermath, on March 31, 1864, at 4:00 A. M. union troops under acting Master Wilder captured a signal corps of 20 confederates up Chuckatuck Creek at Cherry Grove in Isle of Wight County, probably the original object of the January 31, 1864 expedition.  The captured were taken aboard the U. S. S. Commodore Barney. 

Return to Top of Page


Civil War Trails Signs

Places, Events, & Persons connected with Isle of Wight Civil War History

  August 21, 2008 Civil War Trails Meeting

Suggested Signs & Location Ft Huger- Type Signs

1. Beaverdam Baptist Church or Carrsville Fire Department                           2

*                Company F, 61st Virginia Regiment with history

                Hood’s March down Old Myrtle Road to Providence Church

                & Longstreet’s Siege of Suffolk.  Desperate House

2. Zuni                                                                                                                    1

                Actions along the Blackwater/ Roger Pryor/ Camp Huger

3. Windsor                                                                                                            3

                Windsor area residents in 1860/ Windsor Station

                Miss Sally Eley, LaSalle Corbell & General Pickett

*                Company D, 16th Virginia Regiment & history/ General Mahone

4. IW Courthouse                                                                                                                2

                Various IW engagements relative to the Siege of Suffolk

                & IW Court proceedings during the War years.  Mary Boykin Chesnutt. Edmund Ruffin, Roger                      

                Pryor, Randall Booth.  Trump Town Entrenchments.  Underwood/ Hankins Duel

5. Smithfield                                                                                                          5

*              1860 Census for Smithfield- Population 477.                                                

                John Robinson Purdie/ Otelia Butler/ Trinity UMC

*                Smithfield Light Artillery Blues with history

*              Battle of Smithfield/ Cowper Diary

                Free Negroes & Slaves.  Mother Howard.

6. Fort Boykin.  (Fort Huger already done.)                                                       15

*              15 – 16 Interpretative Signs

7. Carrollton Fire Department or Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge                2

                Monitor & Merrimac.  Raleigh Colston

*              Actions on Chuckatuck Creek.  General Pickett, Local Soldiers

8. St. Lukes Church                                                                                   1

                Surry Light Artillery & Map

Total                                                                                                                       31 to 35

Historical Homes Other Possible Sites

Ashburn                                                                                Battery Park/ Todd House

Eley                                                                        Rescue/ Goodwin’s Point

Boykin’s Tavern                                                  Benns Church Encampment

Todd’s Battery                                                     Mill Swamp Church

Mills Daughtrey                                                   Blackwater Bridge

Scott’s Factory                                                     Old Courthouse/ Butler House

Charles Driver Jordan                                   Morrison House

Joseph Jordan                                                      Pembrook Decatur Gwaltney House

Charles Wrenn’s Old Place                               Smithfield Station Site/ Smith Briggs

Crocker-Womble House                                    Macclesfield/ Lt Governor Leopold Cowper/ Robert Whitfield

Thomas Darden House                                    Ivy Hill Cemetery

Goodrich House                                                  

Locust Grove

Pruden House

William Scott

Long Nancy Tynes

William H. Vaughan

Wolftrap

Young

The Rocks

Old Castle

Bethany UMC/ Bidgood Church/ Camp Bee

Uzzell’s UMC

Carroll’s Bridge                                    Underlines indicate candidates for Historical Highway Markers

 

 

The Isle of Wight Rifle Grays & the Isle of Wight Avengers, i.e.

16th Virginia Regiment, Company D & 61st Virginia Regiment, Company F

                                                                By Thomas Finderson

In April 1861, the men of Windsor organized the Isle of Wight Rifle Grays under Captain Meredith H. Watkins.  It included the six Robert brothers, all of whom survived the war.  By July 1861 the Grays were accepted into the Confederate Army as Company D, 16th Virginia Regiment under VMI graduate Colonel Raleigh Colston.  Colston’s command was scattered from the Fairgrounds, Camp Withers, and Huger Barracks, all in Norfolk, to Craney Island and Sewell’s Point.  On December 24, 1861 Colston was promoted to Brigadier General. 

Hence, by the spring of 1862, Colonel Charles Crump & Lt. Colonel Joseph H. Ham were elected to command the 16th Virginia, Captain George Hines Jordan & 1st Lieutenant William S. Chapman now commanding the Grays.  The City of Norfolk, its position no longer tenable, was abandoned in May 1862, and the 16th Virginia and Company D were transported to Gordonsville in Orange County, as a reserve for General Lawrence Branch’s North Carolina brigade.  On June 4, 1862, near Richmond, the 16th Virginia was attached to William Mahone’s brigade, with which it would remain for the rest of the war. 

                The 16th Virginia participated in the Seven Days Battles at Richmond including Malvern Hill, Stephen A. Eley becoming 2nd Lieutenant of the Grays.  At Second Manassas, the last words of the wounded Colonel Crumpwere “Come on, boys, I am with you till the last!”, but he was hit a second time and killed.  Brigadier General Mahone and Lt. Colonel Ham were also wounded.  Major Richard Whitehead then assumed command of the 16th Virginia, Ham and Whitehead alternating command through the rest of the war, depending on who was fit for duty.

                The 16th Virginia Regiment in September 1862 would tie down General William B. Franklin’s whole Union Corps at Crampton’s Gap for hours, saving Stonewall Jackson’s operation at Harper’s Ferry and allowing General Lee opportunity to concentrate his army for the Battle of Antietam.  This action was one of the great stories of heroism in the Civil War.             

                The Isle of Wight Grays and the rest of the 16th Virginia would now join the Isle of Wight Avengers and the rest of their 61st Virginia Regiment at Fredericksburg.  Most of the Avengers had enlisted at Beaverdam Church in Isle of Wight County.  Under Captain William E. Barnes and 1st Lieutenant William H. Powell the Avengers had been stationed at the Forrest Entrenchment Camp near Portsmouth in 1861 and had moved under Captain Joseph H. Holland and 1st Lieutenant William H. Lawrence to Petersburg and Fort Darling in May 1862.    By August 1862 the 61st Virginia guarded Richmond and constructed bridges.  Most importantly, in November 1862 the 61st Virginia acting alone was the vanguard of Lee’s Army at Fredericksburg, keeping Burnside from crossing the Rappahannock.  There the Isle of Wight Avengers & the rest of the 61st Virginia would become attached to Mahone’s brigade and their fellow Isle of Wight Grays, fighting at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. 

                By 1864 this brigade of Mahone’s had a reputation as being one of the best disciplined in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Furloughs were low, even for officers.  There were religious services and grammar classes.  Mahone even created an elite battalion of five 38-man companies of his best sharpshooters.  With two long-range, globe-sighted rifles they could hit targets at 1000 yards.       

                The 61st & 16th Virginia were present at one of the dramatic incidents of the war.   On May 6, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness, Mahone’s brigade, now under Colonel Weisiger, attacked Union General Winfield Hancock’s Corps on its left flank. Generals James Longstreet & Micah Jenkins, reconnoitering Hancock’s position, were seriously wounded possibly by the Isle of Wight Avengers or Grays.  Longstreet was Lee’s most trusted Lieutenant after Stonewall Jackson, who was wounded in similar manner by his own men.  Jenkins later died.

                On July 30th, 1864, Major General Mahone’s division, including 61st & 16th Virginia, defeated Union forces, just southeast of Petersburg, at the Battle of the Crater in vicious and terrible hand-to-hand fighting, causing 4000 Union casualties.  This action was the first that exploded underground mines on a large scale.  The Confederate government commemorated the special gallantry of the 16th Virginia, which captured fifteen stands of colors, by placing seven of their names on the Roll of Honor.  The Grays’ Corporal Solomon V. Butler, who enlisted at Windsor, was so honored. 

                On October 27, 1864, 61st and 16th Virginia helped defeat Union forces at Burgess’s Mill, southwest of Petersburg.  This action kept open for an additional five months the South Side Railroad from Lynchburg to Petersburg, thus saving Lee’s supply line for the winter of 1864 - 1865. 

                On April 3, 1865, with Lee in retreat, Mahone’s division and the 61st & 16th Regiments left the Petersburg siege lines for the last time, forming the rear guard of the Army of Northern Virginia.  At the Appomattox Courthouse surrender, Mahone’s division was the most intact of Lee’s divisions and one of the few units Lee could have called upon to repel their adversary.  This cohesion in terrible circumstances can be attributed to Mahone’s discipline.   

                As a lad the great author Douglas Southall Freeman observed the 1903 reunion at Petersburg & the reenactment at The Crater of Mahone’s old brigade.  Freeman later said,

 

                “I was much moved by the sight of those old men as they climbed the hill.  Afterward, I saw some of them in front of a Hotel in Petersburg and observed that a few were lame and some were blind and they were not far from the end of their course.  I said to myself that if nobody wrote the history of that great army, those men would be cheated of their place in history and I resolved then to write the story.” 

 

Thus the 61st & 16th regiments and their other compatriots from Mahone’s old brigade were the inspiration of Freeman’s great biographies of Lee & his Lieutenants. 

 

                                                                                DRAFT

                                                                The Smithfield Light Artillery Blues

                                                19th Battalion, Company A, Virginia Heavy Artillery

                                                                by Thomas Finderson

                In April 1861 the Smithfield Light Artillery Blues was formed under the command of Captain James F. Chalmer.  Dr. William D. Southall of Smithfield was their physician.  By June they were ordered to Old Town Point at Portsmouth, remaining there until the Spring of 1862.  On June 21, 1862 they became part of the 19th Battalion, Virginia Heavy Artillery under the command of Major J. Wilder Atkinson and were stationed at the Richmond perimeter, part of the 19th Battalion participating in the fighting at Savage Station.  In general command of all Richmond artillery was Colonel Thomas Smith Rhett.  .  

                In August 1862, the 10th and 19th Battalions were assigned to Battery Number 2, southeast of Richmond, and would remain sister battalions throughout the war, Major William Allen of Surry first commanding 10th Battalion.  There they established a hospital.  Soon after the 19th Battalions was moved to Battery Number 8, one mile north of Richmond, and built another hospital.  In November 1862 the 19th Battalion had 390 men almost half reporting sick.  Work progressed on the Richmond fortifications with guns coming from the Tredegar Iron Works. 

                In early January 1863 the 19th Battalion was reduced to four companies.  The batteries surrounding Richmond were divided into two sections, the 10th and 19th Battalions manning the first section on the eastern side of the city.  In May Major Atkinson was promoted, and Dr. Nathaniel R. Cary was elected to command the 19th Battalion.  Most of the summer was spent in the continuing construction of the Richmond’s defensive lines and providing guard details for prisons and government facilities.  Colonel W. H. Stevens’ inspection reported that the work at batteries 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, & 10 was in good progress.  The 10th and 19th Battalions remained near Richmond for the rest of the year, each manning 63 guns with seven men to a gun.  “A week before Christmas, President Davis, General Robert E. Lee, General Ewell, and Colonel James Chesnut inspected the artillery fortifications ringing the city.  Mary Boykin Chesnut noted the event in her famous diary.” 

                The Heavy Artillery would become very active in 1864.  First, on February 4, 1864 thirty men were reassigned from the 10th and 19th Battalions to the Confederate Engineer Regiment.  On the 20th, Captain Chalmers of Smithfield was ordered to exchange his Springfield muskets for an equal number of Mississippi Rifles.  On March 1, 1864, 19th Battalion was ordered to proceed immediately to the intersection of the intermediate lines with the Brooke Turnpike with rations on hand and 30 rounds of ammunition in their cartridge boxes.  The movement was in response to the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid on Richmond.  Afterwards, Colonel Stevens reported that the artillery had been “handled exceedingly well”.  In May 1864, the 10th & 19th Battalions were shuffled around to meet the rumored advances of Union General Benjamin Butler. 

                In late May 1864 Confederate Colonel Archer Anderson in his inspection of Richmond artillery defenses stated “As infantry, imperfect . . . :  as heavy artillery good.”  However, more drills were ordered, and part of 19th Battalion was ordered to the Mechanicsville Turnpike and the Intermediate Lines.  Also, the battery on the Williamsburg Road was transferred from the 19th Battalion to the 10th Battalion. 

                In June, with Grant beginning to lay seige to Petersburg, portions of the 10th and 19th Battalions Heavy artillery were ordered to the Mill and Varina roads and to the exterior lines around the New Market road.  On July 30, 1864, below Petersburg, was fought the Battle of the Crater, which caused much excitement among the heavy artillery.  The 19th Battalion was issued two Coehorn mortars in August, which they placed between the Central Railroad and the Meadow Bridge Road.  In November 1864, 19th Battalion was at Battery Number One, just southeast of Richmond. 

 

                On January 1, 1865 the heavy artillerists were scattered and they were no longer acting as a unit.  On January 9, 1865 the Heavy Artillery and Reserves were organized into one brigade under Lieutenant Colonel John C. Pemberton, who commanded as Lieutenant General at the surrender of Vicksburg.  After exchange he had resigned his commission, but, remarkably, in 1864 accepted the rank of lieutenant colonel with command of the artillery defenses at Richmond.  Pemberton’s four heavy artillery battalions had a strength of 1002 men.  Also, Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield assumed command of the Chaffin’s Bluff Artillery Brigade, to which the 19th Battalion would soon transfer.  With Major Cary on leave Captain Chalmers of Smithfield took temporary command of the 19th Battalion.  On January 29, 1865 the 19th Battalion was ordered to abandon the intermediate Lines and report the next day to Chaffin’s Farm, east of Drewry’s Bluff.  

                In the first two months of 1865 more than half of Pemberton’s cannoneers deserted, died, or had been reassigned.  Such was the decline of the Confederacy.  The 10th and 19th Battalions remained at their positions in the Richmond defensive line and at Chaffin’s Bluff with little movement until Richmond was evacuated on April 2, 1865.  Night blindness was becoming a problem due to the lack of nutrition. 

                On their retreat to Appomattox Courthouse, Confederate Captain Ballard with the 10th & 19th Battalions complimented their Federal captors at Sailor’s or Saylor’s Creek:

                “. . . Their infantry then appeared in solid line.  They moved steadily forward, reached the creek [Sailor’s Creek] which we had so recently crossed, waded through as we had done, dressed up their line, and continued their advance to within thirty or forty paces of our line, the order was given to charge.  In a moment we were on our feet yelling like demons and rushing upon their line.  It has always been a mystery to me why they did not then and there wipe our little band from the face of the earth.  It may be that the very audacity of our charge bewildered and demoralized them.  At any rate they broke and fled just before we reached them. . .

                 . . . Crutchfield was killed, and Adjutant Wilson shot through the leg, which had to be amputated.  I received a slight wound in the shoulder, which, however, did not incapacitate me.  After the enemy had retreated across the creek, we gathered up our handful of men and fell back to our original positions. . . A young cavalry officer riding in among us, begged us to surrender, telling us that we were entirely surrounded, and that further resistance was useless.  It was so gallant an act no one attempted to molest him. 

                In the mean while the infantry, which had been driven across the creek, had reformed and were advancing in force.  Our men then threw down their arms, and we were prisoners of war.  I remember that in the hot blood of youth, I broke my sword over a sapling, rather than surrender it.  When the infantry, which we had so recently repulsed, came up to us again, it was with smiling faces.  They commenced opening their haversacks, offering to share their “hard tack” with us, which in our famished condition we most eagerly and gratefully accepted.  They, moreover, complimented us on the gallant fight we had made.  In this connection, I will add that we were always treated with every consideration by the veterans at the front.  It was only when we fell into the hands of the provost guard that any harshness was shown.  About dusk that evening we were taken back across Sailor’s Creek, and camped that night in an old field. . . “

                The original Smithfield Light Artillery Blues lost at least twelve soldiers, killed, wounded, and captured at Sailor’s Creek, including 2nd Lieutenants William Folk and Francis Watson, both of Smithfield, and John Jordan, Deputy Marshall of Smithfield in 1860.  The Army of Northern Virginia and a Blues’ remnant finall y surrendered April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse. 

 

References:

Benjamin Trask, 16th Virginia Regiment, H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Va, 1986

Benjamin Trask, 61st Virginia Regiment,  H. E. Howard, Inc, Lynchburg,  Va. 1988

Jeffery Weaver, 10th & 19 Battalions, Virginia Heavy Artillery, H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Va, 1996

Helen King, Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Va., 1993

Robert Stiles, Four Years Under Marse Robert, Morningside House, Inc., Dayton, Ohio, 1988

The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War, Plate 77, Smithfield Library, Smithfield, Va. 

 

                                Dr. John Robinson Purdie’s Twelve Questions on Secession

                                                                by Helen Haverty King

 

                “The Masonic Lodge No. 18 in Smithfield has on file among its records a diary of Dr. John Robinson Purdie kept from November 10, 1860 to April 28, 1865.  This is an account of one man’s anguish at the secession of the slave states from the United States.  Dr. John R. Purdie was the son of Dr. John Hyndman Purdie and the great-grandson of George Purdie who came to Smithfield as early as 1753 from Dumbarton, Scotland.  During the Civil War Dr. Purdie served as mayor of Smithfield for two years.  He was an outstanding Mason, having served as Grand Master of the Lodge of Virginia for two terms.  He was known as Smithfield’s early historian.

                In the entries for December 1860 in his diary, he wrote:

 

                My mind is continually haunted by the specter of dissension.  The question constantly arises; what shall we accomplish by secession?  Will it secure the repeal of the “Personal Liberty Bills?”  Will it prevent private combinations, secret missions, incendiary publications?  Will it enable us to recover our slave after he reaches the North? Should a master be so bold as to pursue his fugitive into the territory of our northern neighbor (then foreign) will his being a citizen of a southern confederacy procure him any facilities for assisting and possessing his property?  Will this political remedy, secession this political panacea prevent Jno Brown raids or suppress Captain Montgomery practices?  What does experience teach: from among the many thousands of fugitive slaves that have escaped to Canada, has one ever been recovered? . . . If by the merest possibility, a treaty could be negotiated for the restoration of fugitive slaves, it is very certain named evils would not be thus prevented.  But we have no treaty for the rendition of fugitive, with any nation.  Our nearest neighbors have not yielded on that point –Great Britain, Spain, Mexico, France and Holland have colonial possessions near us but so far as my acquaintance with diplomacy extends, we can claim no fugitive slaves under our treaties with them.  Then he must be a credulous visionary indeed, who can hope for such an arrangement with our northern neighbors when our proposed new republic has taken her place in the family of nations.  If on this very question, the United States should permit the federal compact to be dissolved rather than yield it, would dissension and the formation of a slave republic on her southern border, make the United States government more practicable towards the restoration of fugitive slaves?  Then, there is but one other resort among nations for the redress of grievances; reprisals with inevitable result, war – the impressible conflict would then begin, if it is not now already progressing . . .

                There are about 200,000 voters in Virginia, of whom only 35,000 are owners of slaves.  Do you suppose the 165,000 non-slave holders are so destitute of knowledge and penetration, as not to discern when reason and calm reflection assert themselves, that secession, civil war, standing armies, onerous taxation, destruction of trade, commerce and manufacturing (which are the legitimate precursors of pauperism, starvation and death) have been inflicted on them only to foster the slave interest? . . . From what I have hastily set forth, you must plainly discern that I am opposed to secession: nor will I vote on one who advocates it for the causes now existing. 

                On January 24, 1861, Dr. Purdie posted twelve questions in the post office.  He called them “Some question for plain men which candidates for the convention are requested to answer.”  They were as follows:

 

1st—What complaints of the South against the North will secession remove?

2nd—Will secession annul the election of A. Lincoln?

3rd –Will it cause Black Republicans to love and respect us?

4th –Will it prevent the escape of our slaves?

5th –Will it facilitate their recovery from the Northern States?

6th –Will it repeal the Personal Liberty bills which Jonson, a Senator from Georgia, asserts “have not operated to prevent the execution of the Fugitive Slave Laws”?

7th –Will it insure the execution of the Fugitive Slave laws, which Mr. Rhett & other statesmen of South Carolina have pronounced palpably “unconstitutional”?

8th –Will it secure protection to slaves in the territories?

9th –Will it widen our vicinity with an anti-slave country?

10th –Will it prevent hostile incursions into slave states?

11th –Will it diminish the expenses of government or lessen the taxes on the people?

12 –Will secession promote the interests of our people?

 

“If these twelve questions cannot be answered affirmatively, what will secession accomplish?” Dr. Purdie wrote. 

                Dr. Purdie left the twelve questions displayed in the Smithfield Post Office until the Virginia Convention passed the Ordinance of Secession.  Then he took the questions down and filed them away.  He was a native Virginian and was determined to go with his state with heart, mind, and body. 

 

                Colonel Morrison wrote:

                At this time in the history of our country there was no political doctrine more univerally accepted by the southern people than that of  “State Sovereignty”. 

                Without entering into a discussion of the questions involved it is considered pertinent to say that when the election to ascertain whether the people of this county stood for or against secession, there were eight hundred and sixty-one registered voters in the county and the same number were cast in the said election and every vote was for secession.  This, too, in the face of the fact that the county was practically an anti-slavery county, for we read in the records an exceptionally large number of deeds of manumission and in the wills a great many clauses of the same character. . . . “

 

Reference: Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia , Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 1993, Chapter 9, Helen Haverty King.

  

                                                OUR VISITORS FROM NORTH CAROLINA

                                                                 by Gary Trout

                 On a hot August day in 1861, the Fourteenth Regiment North Carolina Volunteers arrived in Isle of Wight County, having marched some twenty-three miles from Suffolk.  they established a camp near Bidgood’s Church (now Bethany United Methodist) on what is now Bethany Church Road.  The camp occupied both sides of the highway, officers’ tents on one side and companies’ tents on the other.  One member of the regiment commented: “It was an ideal camping ground, in a high level sandy country.”  these Carolina boys were from counties across the state including Anson County on the South Carolina border, Buncombe in the west near Asheville, and Halifax County in the east near Roanoke Rapids.  They remained in the camp for eight months, leaving in April of 1862 to cross over the James River to support General Magruder and his army on the Peninsula. 

                To provide an idea of the size of this body of men, a regiment consisted of ten companies.  Each of these companies employed up to one hundred men.  The required complement of officers and men would probably exceed one thousand.  Early in the Civil War these companies were generally full, which was not the case as the conflict wore on. 

                Remaining in Isle of Wight through the winter months would require the regiment to construct more substantial, weatherproof quarters to protect against the elements.  “October came and the weather became pinching, which admonished us that winter quarters were in order.”  The officers selected a site nearby, some ten acres in size, to contain the quarters and parade ground soon to be named “Fort Bee”.  The men set to work constructing log barracks with “stick and mud” chimneys using the abundant pine trees in the area.  Evidence of this camp can be seen in the area.  It is possible to walk all four sides using the mounds as a guide.  Pits, probably used as wells, are also still visible. 

                Camp life at times could become mundane.  However, these boys were very proud of their new home and on special occasions encouraged civilians to visit.  These included some of the officers’ wives as well as the local folk.  There were junkets to Mr. Wrenn’s place on Burwell’s Bay for peach brandy, for which the men developed a fondness. 

                The Fourteenth Regiment had a picket post at the mouth of Tormentor Creek, where it emptied into Burwell’s Bay.  This post was located on what is now Dr. Wendell Pile’s property.  Each company was required to spend a week on guard duty at that location.  While there the men were given fish and oysters in abundance by the local Negroes working their boats in the water around Fort Boykin.  Evidently the watermen felt some measure of protection because of the guns in the fort. 

                At the end of their stay in Isle of Wight, the Fourteenth was ordered across the James to join General Magruder on the Warwick River.  “While regretting to leave, still we were very desirous to be active participants in the great drama being enacted, fearing the war would close before we had an opportunity to strike one blow for our freedom.”

                Little did they realize the hardships to come and how they would long for the comfort of camp life they had enjoyed at “Fort Bee”.

 Reference: Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia , Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 1993, Chapter 9, Helen Haverty King.

 Note: Brigadier General Bernard Bee was killed at the Battle of First Manassas.  He was famous for giving Stonewall Jackson his epithet by saying in the height of battle “There stands Jackson like a stonewall”. 

Return to Top of Page


Fort Boykin Interpretative Text

                                                                  DRAFT

 FORT BOYKIN

     INTERPRETATIVE TEXT

AUGUST 5, 2007 – APRIL 3, 2008

         BY

THOMAS FINDERSON & ALBERT BURCKARD

     INTRODUCTION

This interpretative 2007 – 2008 text for Fort Boykin is intended to compliment the older signage already there, though not altogether consistent with that signage.  The text is a continuation of the Fort Huger 2007 interpretative text.   This signage may be added in 2009 or 2010.  Brochures should include a map of the fort so tourist can identify and find the fort’s features during the walking tour.  Hopefully, the traverses on the river bank and gun positions at the angles can be cleaned up and grass established.  Curtains need to be cut back to their ivy cover as a new generation of saplings are growing along their edges.  Large trees and ornamental plantings should be left untouched. Five signs now would greatly help the interpretation of the fort rather than wait a year or two to do a kiosk and 12 – 15 signs.  An 1861 State flag, flag pole, benches, and three heavy guns, one from each type at the fort, might be added to the fort.  The work could be done in phases. 

 

Authors of the 2007 – 2008 Fort Boykin interpretative text:

Thomas Finderson & Albert Burckard

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                                                                          PAGE

 

    KIOSK—PEMBERTON, COLSTON, PRYOR, LANIER, HANKINS* with pictures.

                      Must obtain original 1861 Fort Boykin map.       

1. ENCAMPMENTS               

 

2. ISLE OF WIGHT AND SURRY SOLDIERS & KNOWN ISLE OF WIGHT

    AND SURRY SLAVES THAT WORKED ON THE FORT. 

               

3. DIAGRAM OF FORT BOYKIN                -- GARY TROUT

               

4. LIFE OF THE CAMP*                                                

-----------------------------

5. PARAPET, TRAVERSES, EMBRASURES, GUNS, BOMBPROOFS, MAGAZINES,

    SHOT FURNACE AND SKETCH OF PARAPET FEATURES. 

6. WAR ON THE JAMES

 

7. FORT BOYKIN UNDER FIRE

 

8. SHELLING OF FORT BOYKIN AND FORT HUGER                                                                                 

 

9. FORT BOYKIN REPORT – LIEUTENANT WATTER

 

10. SOLDIER’S POEM* -- PRIVATE BENJAMIN WASHINGTON JONES

 

11. OTHER POETRY BY SIDNEY LANIER*, e.g. ‘Beautiful Ladies’, & ‘Hoe Cakes’

                                                                                              written at Burwell’s Bay. 

12. PICTURE COLLECTION OF CIVIL WAR PARTICIPANTS

      3rd & 9th Virginia Regiments, Chaplains

13. HISTORICAL NOTES

 

14. AFTERMATH*                                                                                                                   

      *-- POETRY

    VARIOUS LISTS

                ISLE OF WIGHT, CAMPANY E, 9TH VIRGINIA REGIMENT

                ISLE OF WIGHT, COMPANY K, 3rd  VIRGINIA REGIMENT

SURRY LIGHT ARTILLERY, COMPANY I, 3rd VIRGINIA REGIMENT

KNOWN ISLE OF WIGHT & SURRY SLAVES & FREE NEGROES WHO

WORKED ON FORT BOYKIN—must go to Richmond to obtain

 

    MAPS OF FORT BOYKIN

    REFERENCES

Copyright

All rights reserved

 

 

Fort Boykin

1862

 

“Kiosk” sign at parking lot

 

(Map from Va. Hist. Society)

 

FORT BOYKIN

                                                                        July 1861 – May 1862

                                                           Gateway to the Confederate Capital

 

The American Civil War brought conflict directly to those living along the James River’s south shore in Isle of Wight County. A deep navigable channel just off shore at Hardy’s Bluff and Fort Boykin made these strategic military positions.  These sites controlled river transportation and, therefore, access to Richmond.  Hence, the struggle for their control by Confederate and Union forces. There were four naval assaults or actions against these forts in May 1862 with 100 – 400 Confederate soldiers defending against ships and sailors of the Union James River Blockading Squadron.

 

Forts Huger and Boykin were part of Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder’s defense line facing Federal forces using Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort as their base of operations. Begun in July 1861, this series of trenches, other earthworks and forts extended from Gloucester Point on the left, southwest across the Virginia Peninsula and across the James River here to Forts Huger and Boykin. This defensive line was established to effectively block the peninsula land approach to the Confederate Capital in Richmond and to close the York and James Rivers as supply routes for the Union armies.

These considerable defenses held until May 4, 1862 when General Magruder abandoned the line in the face of overwhelming siege forces brought to bear by Union Major General George Brinton McClellan. With the land route cleared, Federal forces focused on the Confederate forts blocking the James River. Union warships then trained their guns on Fort Boykin to the south and Fort Huger. Despite accurate cannon fire from these forts, they were no match for the heavy enemy shelling in May 1862 from ironclads and other warships of the Federal fleet.  The bombardments convinced southern forces that these forts were untenable, and they were abandoned.  U.S. Marines landed and occupied Forts Huger and Boykin on the 17th and 18th of May respectively to find most of the guns “spiked,” the carriages burned and structures within the forts destroyed.

This “reduction” of Forts Huger and Boykin opened the James River to the Union fleet for the next 50 miles up to the strong Confederate position at Drewry’s Bluff eight miles southeast of Richmond. Although southern land forces continued to operate freely within the interior of Isle of Wight County, Forts Boykin and Huger never again impeded the Federal advance to Richmond.

 

JOHN CLIFFORD PEMBERTON

                                                                                PICTURE

Locally, John Pemberton was brigade commander of 3rd Virginia, 13th North Carolina, and 14th North Carolina regiments in late 1861.  These regiments were under Colonels Roger Pryor, William Pender, and Junius Daniel, respectively.  Pemberton’s headquarters was in Smithfield, Virginia.  John Pemberton of Pennsylvania graduated from West Point in 1837.  He was made first lieutenant in 1842 and served under General Worth in the Mexican War, being breveted captain for conspicuous bravery at Monterey.  At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned his commission and entered the Confederate army.  He engaged in organizing the artillery and cavalry of the State of Virginia, in which task he was eminently successful.  In February 1862 he was promoted to major general with command of the department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and in the same year was promoted lieutenant general.  In 1863 he succeeded General Van Dorn and took command of Vicksburg, which surrendered to General Grant on July 4, 1863.  After exchange he resigned his commission, but in 1864 accepted the rank of lieutenant colonel with command of the artillery defenses at Richmond.  After the war his life was spent in retirement in Virginia and later in Pennsylvania. 

 

[Encyclopedia Americana, 1940]

 

RALEIGH COLSTON

                                                                        PICTURE

                On December 24, 1861 Raleigh Colston was promoted to Brigadier General, assuming General John Pemberton’s command at Smithfield, Virginia.  Colston was born in Paris and was adopted by a Virginia physician.  He was a graduate of VMI and became a French professor there.  Colston watched the Battle between the Monitor and C.S.S Virginia, March 8, 1862, from the Ragged Islands in Isle of Wight.  He commanded a brigade, which included 3rd Virginia Regiment, at Seven Pines, and he and General Rodes commanded the lead divisions of Stonewall Jackson’s overwhelming attack at Chancellorsville.  After the war he was master of a military school in North Carolina.  Later he accepted a commission in the army of the Egyptian Khedive.  Returning to the United States, he took a minor position in the War Department.  He died in poverty. 

 

[Benjamin Trask, Sixteenth Virginia Regiment]

 

ROGER ATKINSON PRYOR

                                                                                PICTURE

Colonel Roger Pryor’s 3rd Virginia Regiment guarded Fort Boykin from July 1861 to April 1862.  Pryor was commissioned a colonel in the volunteer forces of Virginia, May 3, 1861.  He graduated from Hampden-Sidney College and studied law at the University of Virginia.  He was associated with various newspapers and was editor of The South, an ultra-secessionist newspaper in Washington.  In 1859 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and in 1861 was elected to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. 

                On May 23, 1861, the Ordinance of Secession was submitted to the vote of the people of Virginia.  Union sentiment was strong in Portsmouth.  The first fifteen men of Portsmouth’s Marion Rifles, as they appeared on the Rifles’ roll, were allowed to go to the Courthouse to vote.  When it was discovered that fourteen had voted against secession, Pryor, present in Portsmouth, refused to let any more from the company go in town to vote. 

                Pryor moved his command to Camp Huger near Zuni Station on June 7, 1861 and then to Day’s Neck and Fort Boykin on the James River about six miles from Smithfield on July 2, 1861.  He commanded 11 companies of the 3rd Virginia Regiment of Infantry at nearby Camp Cook and Camp Pemberton, including the Surry Light Artillery and Isle of Wight’s James River Heavy Artillery.  Later, he would become a Brigadier General, eventually commanding 3rd Virginia Regiment again at Gaines Mill, Frayser’s Farm, 2nd Manassas, and Antietam.  He would resign and join as a private, Company E, 3rd Regiment, Virginia Cavalry, and would become a scout of noteworthy reputation.  General James Kemper then commanded 3rd Virginia Regiment at Fredericksburg, Suffolk, and Gettysburg.  After the war Pryor went to New York City and spent the remainder of his life there as a jurist, capping his career with his appointment to the New York State Supreme Court in 1894. 

 

 

[Lee Wallace, 3rd Virginia Regiment]

                SIDNEY LANIER

                                                                                     PICTURE              

Sidney Lanier (2nd Battalion, Macon Volunteers) was stationed at Norfolk in 1861-1862.  From May 1863 to October 1864, he was stationed at Burwell’s Bay with the signal corps.  He became one of the great poets of the South, his early poetry singing the beauty of the nights at Burwell’s Bay.  Without instruction he learned to play the guitar, piano, violin, and flute.  “In his hands the flute was transformed into a voice that set heavenly harmonies into vibration”  At 14 he entered Oglethorpe College, Georgia and graduated with distinction.  Years later, he was lecturer on English literature at John Hopkins University. 

“He joined the Confederate army as a private.  He loved “our forests of live-oak beautifully braided and woven with intricate shades of the vine.”  He and his brother Clifford were devoted friends of the Hankins family, owners of Bacon’s Castle in Surry county, and the brothers often visited Bacon’s Caste when they were in the army and on duty at Burwell’s Bay.  Virginia Hankins, or ‘Ginna’, as she was called, rejected Sidney Lanier’s May 1867 proposal of marriage ”solely because of the obligation she felt towards her motherless younger brothers and sisters.” ”

Below is an excerpt taken from Flute Concerto of Sidney Lanier by Myrtle Whittemore, which includes a poem, written by Lanier to Virginia (Ginna) in 1864 while he was stationed at Burwell’s Bay:

“. . . At once Sidney was reminded of the last note he had received from Ginna:

Do you remember the “Brown Bird” in the Drama of Exile by Elizabeth Barrett, whose song as he sat on his tree in Paradise was the last sound heard by Adam as he fled with Eve, “along the glare”?  So, O Friend, do I send my cry for you across these broad stretches of moonlight that lie between us. 

                At a flash he composed in reply his little “Impromptu,”and later carried it over to the Castle to read.  Sitting outdoors on the grass beneath the trees, he said to Ginna, “Want to hear the little poem I wrote a week ago in reply to your note?  I scribbled it off by moonlight, on the shore of Burwell’s Bay, like a lecturer interpreting a panorama.”

 

To G. H.; ALIAS ‘MY LOVE BIRD’

“Thou most rare brown Bird on thine Eden-tree,                “O, never was a night so dark as I!

All heaven-sweet to me                                                      But thou hast sent a sigh

Cometh thy song of Love’s high royalty                   Of love, as a star would send a beam, to fly

And Love’s deep loyalty,                                                   Downward from out the sky

And Love’s sweet-pleading loneliness in thee.                And light a heart that’s dark enough to die.                     

 

“Our one-star yonder uttereth her light,                                “And so, O mine exquisite Silver-Beam,

Her silver call to Night,                                                     Let me forever dream

Who, wavering between the Dark and Bright,                That I as Night and thou a Star, whose stream

On-cometh with timid flight,                                            Of light like love shall seem,--

As one that could not choose ‘twist wrong and right.                Whose love-light thro’ my dark shall ever gleam!”

Burwell’s Bay 1864                                Sidney Lanier

 

In early 1867 Sidney Lanier sent the following poem to Virginia Hankins:

 

“’Twas Winter when I met you first,                        “Ah, cold crypts love the baby-green

“’Twas Winter when I saw you last:                                         That sleeps so bravely on their breast,

But O, a Spring did bud and burst                                                For this, they sacrifice their sheen,

And bloom, ere that one Winter passed.                  With this, they satisfy their rest.

 

“Green grass on tombs of long ago—                     “So are you loved, from out the grave

A sweet fresh Life in Death’s own land—                    Of duty, walling me around,

Is what you were to me.  You know                                 Yet I am all content, all brave:

How hard it was to drop your hand.                                   I wait, I wait.  Sound, Trumpet, sound!”

               

VIRGINIA HANKINS

        PICTURE

The letters of Sidney Colin Lanier (1842 - 1881) and Virginia Wilson Hankins (1843 - 1888) sometimes rise to great beauty.  They always loved each other.  She was in many ways a very practical woman to love poetry and a poet.  She sold Bacon’s Castle in 1872 to provide for her brothers’ and sisters’ education and became a schoolteacher, learned in Latin, French, and German.  The family moved to Richmond.  She wrote poetry and an unpublished novel.  She never married.  She died December 24, 1888 and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery. 

From Letter to Virginia Hankins from Boykin’s Bluff dated July 1863 by Sidney Lanier:

“              If my Little One has longed for me, half as often as have I for her, in the days since I saw her, - - - she will certainly have no difficulty in pardoning this greeting of pure and deep Friend’s Love, which my heart irresistibly insists on sending her this morning.

                You know, darling Friend, Liebchen, Thou dear Violet whom I have found growing amid the cold Alpine Summits of cold human-hearts, (even my pen, you see, caresses you!) - - you know, it is my theory that there is no extravagance of pure love which is not sweet, and pardonable-.  And so, my fingers are eager to write down for you the passionate love-letters that are crowding in my soul at his moment, the genuine, free forthgushings of a friendship which will contentedly allow itself to be characterized by no other word except this - - - - Infinite -.  . . . .”    Your Unchanging Friend, Sid

From Letter to Virginia Hankins dated July 28, 1864 by Sidney Colin Lanier:

“ . . . . Shall I tell you how, each night, a dainty, white hand, with the sweet blue veins branching over it, presents itself to me in the darkness, and how, when I have seized it, and pressed it to my bosom and covered it with a thousand kisses, I whisper, “Good Night, Ginna,” – and then turn me to my sleep, content, as if I had said a prayer?  Shall I speak to you of the thrill that comes to me with my salutation, “Good-Morning, Little One,” which I utter when I awake, and which then quivers and glitters like a drop of dew upon the unfolding flower of my life for all that day?  Shall I describe to you how all the Stars at night seem to me Love-lights in a myriad brown eyes, that look down on me lovingly and softly, and into which I gaze until my soul fails and grows dim with an infinite, sad yearning to draw near you?

                Dearest Brown-Eyes, these things belong to the holy kingdom of the Inarticulate--.  In a silence deep as Night, I brood over my dear dream of you; -- and I believe that I have a license to die, in having entered into so high a place in such a heart as yours --.  And so; -- content in a love which has ceased to question itself, and which, self-unconscious as a flower, quietly awaits its own outblushing and unfolding, careless whether it turn out a flower of Love or a flower of Friendship, certain that it will be beautiful and perfect and all-satisfying in either event,  -- -- I live, begging that the Unknown One may fold you in his Infinite Arms as lovingly as would I in my finite ones, did not the mysterious Fate-Wall rise so high between you and your most loving and yearning                        Colin

 

                James DeWitt Hankins, Virginia’s brother, was a law student at the University of Virginia at the outbreak of the war.  He was a member of the Jefferson Society, a literary society.  He was commissioned June 22, 1861 as first lieutenant of artillery, Fourth Regiment, Virginia Militia.  Later, he was Captain of the Surry Light Artillery and served through Appomattox.  He was killed by William Underwood in a so called “duel” on October 18, 1866 at Isle of Wight Courthouse not Surry.  The tragedy created intense excitement throughout the surrounding country where the families of both parties were well known.  At the request of Virginia Hankins, Lanier wrote “In Memorian” for her brother and his esteemed friend.”

 To J. D. H.

(Killed at Surrey C. H., October, 1866)

Dear friend, forgive a wild lament                                                    Grave walls are thick, I cannot see thee,

Insanely following thy flight.                                                      And the round skies are far and steep;

I would not cumber thine ascent                                                    A-wild to quaff some cup of Lethe,

Nor drag thee back into the night.                                                      Pain is proud and scorns to weep.

 

But the great sea-winds sigh with me,                                          My heart breaks if it cling about thee,

The fair-faced stars seem wrinkled, old,                                        And still breaks, if far from thine.

And I would that I might lie with thee                                        O drear, drear death, to live without thee,

There in the grave so cold, so cold!                                                       O sad life—to keep thee mine                                                                                                                                        1866                                        Sidney Lanier

 

ENCAMPMENTS

 

Soldiers guarding here outside the fort were primarily from the Third Virginia Regiment.  They were from the cities of Portsmouth and Petersburg and the counties of Norfolk, Dinwiddie, Southampton, Nansemond, Surry, Isle of Wight, and Halifax. 

From July 1861 to April 1862, the Third Virginia Regiment had two encampments, one at Camp Cook a half-mile to the east of Fort Boykin and a winter encampment at Camp Pemberton (Old Castle) about ¾ mile to the south of Fort Boykin. 

The Fourteenth North Carolina Regiment had an encampment at Camp Bee near Bidgood’s Church (Bethany Church) three miles west of Fort Boykin. Somewhere in the general area were the Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment, possibly stationed at St. Luke’s Church.  These forces were in compliance with orders from Headquarters, Virginia Forces, Richmond, June 30, 1861, which directed that a sufficient force was needed for the protection of the battery being erected at Fort Boykin.  These various infantry regiments and other cavalry and artillery units, up to 4000 men, were under the command of General John C. Pemberton later of Vicksburg fame, then General Raleigh Colston, all being under Major General Benjamin Huger. 

 

Inside Fort Boykin Lieutenant Poindexter commanded soldiers from 3rd Virginia in early July 1861 followed by Lieutenant Fitzgerald in mid-July.  Fitzgerald created a stir in Richmond by the rude way he took command.  He ordered ammunition from the magazines and fired several rounds.  He left the guns loaded, and laborers would not work on the slopes in front of the guns. 

 

From August 5, 1861 to late November 1861, Captain Alexander Callcote, who lived three miles north of Antioch Church (Windsor), commanded the James River Heavy Artillery inside Fort Boykin.  Late December or early January 1862, the Isle of Wight Blues and James River Heavy Artillery switched their stations at Barrett’s Point (Crittenden) and Fort Boykin, Captain Archibald Duck from Smithfield commanding the Blues inside Fort Boykin, replacing Callcote’s command.   The Isle of Wight Blues were inside Fort Boykin during the heavy May 8, 1862 bombardment by Union gunboats, U.S.S Galena, Aroostock, and Port Royal.  Most of the soldiers from the Heavy Artillery and the Blues were from Isle of Wight, enlisting at Isle of Wight Courthouse, Smithfield, Fort Boykin, Mills Swamp Church, or Barrett’s Point. 

 

Third Virginia Regiment Infantry

                                                                Colonel Roger A. Pryor, Commanding

                                                                                1861

Company                               Captain                                                  Name/ Locality

 

A                                             James Choate                                   Dismal Swamp Rangers                 Norfolk County

 

B                                             Alonzo Jordan                                    Virginia Riflemen                Portsmouth

                                                John Wrenn

 

C                                             John Griffin                                     Dinwiddie Greys

                                                Henry Orgain

 

D                                             William Hood                                      Southampton Greys

 

E                                              James Scott                                       Cockade Rifles                      Petersburg

 

F                                              William Arthur                                    Nansemond Rangers

 

 

G                                             Reuben Clements                                                Rough and Ready Guards                Southampton

                                                Henry Howard

 

 

H                                             John Deans                                     National Infantry Grays        Portsmouth

                                                                                                               

I                                               Thomas Ruffin                                     Surry Light Artillery

                                                James DeWitt Hankins

 

K                                             Alexander Callcote                             James River Artillery                 Isle of Wight

 

L                                              James West                                      Halifax Rifles

 

[Lee Wallace, 3rd Virginia Regiment]

 

LIFE OF THE CAMP

 

Typically, soldiers arrived in the area at Windsor or Zuni station via railroad and would then march to their respective camps in Smithfield, Fort Boykin, and Fort Huger.  They drilled or worked from 7:00 A.M. to 4 P.M. except for an hour at noon.  Dress parade was from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. daily.  Soldiers would take turns standing Picket Guard.  However, when there was too much sickness, Picket Guard could be every other night for six hours.  The soldiers lived in tents and picturesque log huts. 

Rations were bacon, beef, rice, flour, and sugar, supplemented by wild game such as squirrels or raccoon, which the soldiers could find in the surrounding forest.  Husksters sold vegetables, fruits, chickens, and eggs.  Strong coffee was made in huge kettles on campfires.  Cider and beer were sold in camp by sutlers, but no whiskey was allowed, though there were attempts to smuggle it inside in the barrels of muskets.  However, there were few brawls, and most soldiers were “moral” men and maintained “good order and discipline”.  Good humor was prevalent. 

The soldiers passed the time writing letters, singing and reading, playing cards and marbles, even gambling for money.  In the first year of secession, most soldiers were afraid the war would pass them by.  Occasionally, there were visits from friends, delegations, or ladies in the community.  The men “read the Bible among themselves, and sometimes held social prayer together.”  Reverends John Ward (Mills Swamp Church) & Thomas Hume, Jr. (Portsmouth) were chaplains.  In late November or early December 1861 General Huger (pronounced Hu-gee according to schoolteacher and Confederate soldier Benjamin Washington Jones) made a tour of inspection of Isle of Wight.  On Sunday, December 15, 1861, at Camp Pemberton near Fort Boykin, there was a grand review of area troops involving 4000 infantry, cavalry, and artillery troops under senior Colonel Roger A. Pryor. (3rd Virginia Regiment by Lee A. Wallace & Under the Stars and Bars by Benjamin Washington Jones, Surry Light Artillery, C.S.A.)

 

“. . .though the soldier, many a time, is both hungry and sorrily clad, he is ever ready for a song, and many a lively air, or national ode, is heard in or about our Camp at the ‘stilly hour of even’, before, the final roll call and tattoo.  Several of the boys sing well.  All of them try to sing at times.  But I think Lieutenant Foreman is listened to more than the rest.  Did you ever hear Wallace Foreman sing?  When he strikes in on sweet ‘Annie Laurie’ or the ‘Bonnie Blue Flag’, all the rest stop to listen.  But it is when he is threading his way with a loving heart through his own ‘My Maryland’, that his soul seems to melt in tenderness, till his song vibrates and recedes, almost like harp notes borne away by the evening breeze.  He is tenderest then, for his heart is touched. . . ….But better and sweeter far than these, are the songs of praise that we often hear from some tent at night, where the professed followers of Christ have assembled for a little time of prayer and thanksgiving, ere they retire to heir humble beds.  Then it is that the low and measured cadence of ‘Nearer, my God, to thee’, or ‘How firm a foundation’, or ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’, falls on the ear of the listener with soothing and hallowing effect. . …. .And then, when the last hymn has been sung, and the men all lie down to rest, some one somewhere, in Camp, who has been listening to the songs of praise, and whose heart feels the holy inspiration of the hour, strikes up with ‘Home, sweet home’, and as the tenderly sweet and heart-stirring solo floats softly out over the Camp, many a rough soldier, who weeps not for wounds or blood dashes a ‘tear from the eye’, while his bosom yearns for one sight more of the dear old home, so far away, and of the loved ones he has not seen in so many long months, and perchance, may never see again.”  [Under the Stars and Bars by Benjamin Washington Jones]

 

“And this is ‘broom day’, and our camp has to be swept again.  On these occasions one man, at least, for each tent, has to fall in with his broom, and help to sweep the camp all over.  These sweepings occur once a week, if the weather permits, and all debris has to be gathered up and burned.  It is a sanitary regulation for which all can see the utility, and there is very little complaining about it.  It becomes absolutely necessary when a body of men are camped long at one place.  But some of the boys do not take to the task very kindly, but are disposed to shirk and shift about whenever they can.  Some men will shirk at anything – but eating.  And some of the prankish ones, when they are forced to take up the broom, contrive to raise all the dust they can, especially about the tents of the officers, or of any comrade they wish to tease a little, in which case they soon render themselves a general nuisance.”  [Under the Stars and Bars by Benjamin Washington Jones]

 

PARAPET, TRAVERSES, EMBRASURES, GUNS, BOMBPROOFS, MAGAZINES, SHOT FURNACES

 

The 1862 parapet and raised gun positions along the river bluff have eroded back into the fort and down the embankment.  One could not have seen over the original parapet standing on the floor of the fort.  There are ten partial traverses remaining along the river bluff.  Traverses were mounds of dirt that protected the fort’s guns, magazines, and soldiers from enemy fire.  There were six 32-pounders, probably mounted in embrasure, which means there was an opening in the parapet to allow the gun to fire, i.e. the gun did not fire over the parapet.  There were six columbiad, eight inch guns, probably mounted “en barbette”, which means the guns were on a raised mound or terreplein and fired over the parapet, i.e. there was no opening in that section of the parapet.  The soldiers would seek shelter in bombproofs during periods of heavy enemy fire.  Bombproofs were large earthen enclosures usually below the ground with roofs of timber and sod. 

 

Gunpowder and shells were kept in brick magazines protected by traverses and ventilated to prevent premature explosion of stored shells and powder.  Shot furnaces heated balls of shot for firing at enemy ships.  Facing the Bay and counting from the right, the middle magazine is at the fourth traverse.  The shot furnace was immediately behind the middle magazine, where the road is now.  There are no traces of it left.  Probably, the six, 32-pounders were immediately left and right of the fourth traverse.  Probably, the 8”-columbiads occupied the other gun positions shown on the 1861 map of Fort Boykin. 

 

The 1861 map of Fort Boykin shows only one entrance at the far west side of the fort, where the pathway goes down to the beach.  Apparently, the modern, vehicle entrance on the south side did not exist in 1862 and has destroyed a previous gun postion. 

 

DIAGRAM OF PARAPET/ PICTURE OF 8”GUN, PLATFORM, AND TERREPLEIN

 

WAR ON THE JAMES RIVER

 

Civil War came to southeastern Virginia with a vengeance. Union forces held “Fortress” Monroe throughout the war and it became the strategic base for early attempts by the North to take the Confederate Capital of Richmond. The large casemated masonry fort at Old Point Comfort is at the tip of the peninsula bounded by the York and James Rivers. After the dramatic but indecisive “clash of the ironclads” between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads, Union forces quickly captured Norfolk and the major Gosport naval base in Portsmouth. The CSS Virginia, drawing too much water to go to Richmond and its coal supply captured, was destroyed and “the world’s best natural harbor” was ceded to Northern forces.

 

Southern forces remained, however, solidly in control of the James River from Ragged Island and Todd’s Battery in Isle of Wight County up to Fort Boykin and Fort Huger and then north across the river to the batteries on Mulberry Island. This prevented any successful campaign up the peninsula to take Richmond because the James River was the essential supply route for US Army forces operating there.

 

Clearing, refurbishing, and construction to expand the colonial-era Fort Boykin, guarded by the 3rd Virginia Regiment, began June 30, 1861 on this high natural bluff overlooking the James River.  Five 32-pounders were first able to fire from prepared positions in mid-July 1861.

 

From this bluff, Fort Boykin’s guns could hit ships in the main channel. This channel trails toward the “Ghost Fleet” ships to your front. Confederate guns on Mulberry Island on the far shore could fire on Union ships attempting to use the shallower channel nearer the Newport News side of the river.

 

Beginning in May 1862 Federal naval forces began a concerted riverine assault to “reduce” the Confederate forts along the James River. One by one, beginning with Forts Boykin and Huger, these heavy gun batteries on both banks of the river fell to the overwhelming firepower of the Union fleet. The decisively strong Confederate gun battery at Drewry’s Bluff prevented farther access up the James River. But eventually, in May 1864, Federal forces established a base near City Point (now Hopewell) Virginia. Operating from this base, General Grant besieged Petersburg and finally took Richmond in April 1865.

 

FORT BOYKIN UNDER FIRE

 

The North Carolina and Georgia regiments and the 3rd Virginia Regiment minus the Surry Light Artillery crossed the James River in April 1862.  These regiments would become part of General Magruder’s retreat up the Peninsula toward Richmond. 

Ordered by Abraham Lincoln, the first recorded assault by Union ships on this fort was at 8:00 A. M. on Thursday, May 8th, 1862. Under Commander John Rodgers of the famous Rodgers family, the USS Galena, an experimental ironclad, fired over 300 exploding shells from its Parrot rifles and Dahlgren smoothbore guns onto Fort Boykin. The bombardment lasted three hours.  The Galena was close enough to this fort that the fuses on the projectiles were set to explode after only five seconds. This accomplished Rodger’s intention of “…disconcerting the aim of the rebels…” here at the fort and enabled the wooden ships USS Aroostook and Port Royal to “run by” in the direction of Richmond.  The Galena then proceeded to engage Fort Huger higher up the river. 

 

                                             (USS Galena – Illustration # 11)

 

(Drawing of USS Galena)

Next, and as a result of the destruction of the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) by its’ own crew on 11 May, 1862, Flag Officer Goldsborough, aboard his flagship USS Minnesota of the James River Blockading Squadron, ordered another attack on Forts Boykin and Huger. The loss of the powerful CSS Virginia cleared the way for the little USS Monitor with its’ larger guns to join the fray. On Monday, May 12th, Fort Huger engaged the USS Naugatuck and the famed Monitor now commanded by Lieutenant Jeffers, however, with no success.  Fort Boykin was silent and may have been unoccupied at this time. 

 

Confederate soldier Benjamin Washington Jones stated in Under the Stars and Bars that on Wednesday, May 14th, a fleet of seven or eight federal gunboats “…saluted Fort Boykin with a shell or two.  As there were only a few militia at the place, the resistance was feeble, and the fleet passed on, and turned its attention to Harding’s Bluff . . . the men there made a stout resistance . . . for more than an hour.”   The militia may have been the Smithfield Light Artillery Blues as it usually was constituted, mostly those too young and too old for the regular service.  Fort Boykin was probably abandoned at this time.

Federal forces landed May 17th  & 18th at Forts Huger and Boykin respectively only to find, in the words of Flag Officer Goldsborough, “The guns were spiked, carriages burned, and magazines blown up…”  with the result that “the James River is now open from its’ mouth up to …Drewery’s Bluff.” Union soldiers also found the “secession flag still flying” at both forts and hoisted American ensigns.  Apparently, the main Confederate forces in the area now, the Isle of Wight Blues, Fort Huger soldiers, and the Surry Light Artillery, had abandoned, finally and for the last time, both forts sometime between May 14th and 17th, 1862, falling back to Zuni Station or Ivor, then marching north toward Petersburg.  Only Major John P. Wilson, Jr.’s small guard from 5th Battalion of Virginia Volunteers and possibly the home guard Smithfield Light Artillery Blues remained. 

 

THE SHELLING OF FORTS BOYKIN AND HUGER

                                  A REBEL ACCOUNT OF THE AFFAIR                 

 

                           Fort Huger, Hardy’s Bluff, James River, May 8, 1862.

    Three of the enemy’s gunboats – two of them iron-clad – came up at eight o’clock this morning to Fort Boykin (commanded by Captain John U. Shivers) and opened fire, discharging about three hundred rounds of shell and rifle shot. The Fort, which had only five mounted guns, returned the fire until ten o’clock, when order were given to spike the guns and burn the quarters. A fine company of light artillery and infantry had started from Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, to participate in the fight, but learning that the above orders had been given, they returned.  The three gunboats then moved up the river eight miles, to the fort on Hardy’s Bluff, and at eleven o’clock the guns at this Fort opened fire, which was returned by the boats continually until two o’clock. After firing over two hundred rounds of shell and rifle, they passed up the river out of range of the guns at the Fort, we having fired the first and last gun. Our flag waved gloriously throughout the engagement.  Not a man was killed in the Fort, and only three were wounded.

   Capt. J. M. Maury, (captain of the Fort,) during the entire engagement of three hours and a half, was as cool and collected as if only performing the daily practising of his guns on the Fort; also, Captain A. J. Aiken, of the Varina artillery, and Capt. Branch, of White’s artillery, and their respective officers – all their names I did not learn; nor can too much praise be given to the men in each company, obeying every order from their officers bravely and cheerfully, as if they had faced a hundred battles instead of this their first battle. It would have pleased their friends to have witnessed how gallantly they fought.  After the battle, Captain Maury caused the men to be drawn up in a line at the Fort, and stated if there was a man that did not wish to remain in the Fort and fight with him, to step out of the ranks, and he would allow him to leave the Fort and get out of the range of the guns.  Not a man moved, not an eye quivered; but with one universal cry of “No! no! no! we will fight!”  Can such men be conquered?   

Richmond Dispatch

May, 1862

 

FORT BOYKIN REPORT

Marines and naval forces of the U. S. S. Minnesota landed at an abandoned Fort Boykin on May 18, 1862 and surveyed the fort. 

From Union Lieutenant John Watters Report dated May 19, 1862:

“. . .         The fort is an earthwork of very elaborate plan and great extent, displaying a prodigious amount of labor and good engineering skill in its projection.   Its form or outline is a polygon of five unequal sides, with bastions at the angles.  The front is the longest side, being on the river, and presents the indented or cremaillere line. . . The length of the front of this work is about 800 feet, and it is about the same in depth . . . It is surrounded with a deep ditch . . .The interior of the work is traversed in all directions with bombproof traverses on the flanks of the curtains, and the bombproof shelters, and the magazines, carefully finished with sods; It contains three magazines, one of which had been blown up when the work was evacuated; two bombproof shelters for troops, which would shield 500 men, a parade ground, and space for quarters, not many of which had been built, as the troops were supplied from an extensive enclosed camp about a mile in the rear in which I was informed a regiment had been quartered for the purpose of building this fort , and had worked on it daily from the middle of June, 1861, to the beginning of the present month. 

                In evacuating this strong work, after the fight with our gunboats, the rebels burned the gun carriages and spiked the guns, having evidently, made the attempt to remove them, but being in too great haste.  They blew up one of the magazines, destroyed the shot furnaces, and burned their camp in the rear, which was well provided with log houses and stockaded. 

                We finished the work of destruction inside the fort by blowing up the other two magazines and burning some houses, and also the bombproofs. . . .

                This fort, although covering a great extent of ground, and having been built with great care, mounted but a comparatively small number of guns, thirteen being all that remained.  Some had been removed; they were found some distance back on the road to Smithfield . . . The guns had all been mounted in barbette, and except one, which was mounted in the rear, had all been placed on the river front. 

                Six were heavy 8 inch columbiads . . .Six others, double fortified navy 32s . . . One navy 42 pounder carronade, mounted in bastion to the rear, overlooking the camp.  [Total,] 13 guns.

                The guns had all been spiked and the carriages set on fire . . .”

 

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volumes 6 & 7, Washington Government Printing Office, 1898.  Letter dated May 19, 1862, written from the U.S.S. Minnesota, from Lieutenant John Watters to Commander A. Ludlow Case.

 

The guns came from Fort Powhatan near Hopewell via the James River and from Norfolk via Zuni Station and the Norfolk to Petersburg railroad.  The 42 pounder carronade probably was at the angle on the parade ground near the main entrance.  Rock Wharf was just to the west of the fort near The Rocks, the home of General Francis Marshall Boykin, II.  Army stores, bricks, and lumber came in from this long wharf.  Fort Boykin, commenced June 30, 1861, was constructed under the orders of Captain T.M.R. Talcott, assisted by 2nd Lieutenant W.G. Turpin.  In 2007 most of the parapets along the river bluff no longer exist, having eroded down the embankment. 

 

FROM ‘ALONG THE LINES BY OLD BERMUDA’ BY BENJAMIN WASHINGTON JONES,

SURRY LIGHT ARTILLERY, FORMERLY COMPANY I, 3RD VIRGINIA REGIMENT

WRITTEN TO LUCY ANN BELL, MAY 20, 1864

JUST AFTER THE BATTLES OF PORT WALTHALL AND 2ND DREWRY’S BLUFF

 

“ . . .Yet little recks the sleeping soldier                    PICTURE OF BENJAMIN JONES

For hurtling shell, or foe,

In dreams his willing feet are turning

The halls of Long Ago --

The school, the home, the gentle mother,

Rise up before his gaze --

And now he meets a coy, fair maiden,

His friend of other days,

 

‘Tis sweet to dream, when dreams are joyful,

Though dangers lower, the while;

‘Tis bliss to trace the pathway backward,

Where scenes of childhood smile;

O, might such dreams forever linger!

O, might the moments stay!

Why, turn the stars so quickly westward;

Why comes so soon the day?

 

Ah! blissful dreams are soonest scattered --

The fairest rose soon dies --

When hearts would fain dream on forever,

Storms first disturb the skies;

Sharp through the camp calls loud the bugle --

The friendly night hath sped --

The soldier’s sleep-in rudely broken,

His happy dreams are fled!”

 

Benjamin Washington Jones was stationed near here at Camp Cook in August 1861 and at Camp Pemberton (Old Castle) in December 1861.  “He was born on a farm near Pearson’s Swamp in Surry County, February 22, 1841.  He had no formal schooling beyond that of any poor farm boy, but at an early age acquired a determination to learn on his own by persistent study.  He became proficient in English and mathematics, and learned to read Latin and Greek.  Early in life he developed an intense interest in history and literature, especially poetry.  The Bible and dictionary were his constant companions.  At the age of twenty, when he enrolled as a private in the Surry Light Artillery, Jan 22, 1861, his occupation was listed as a teacher.” 

 

From 1873 – 1899 he was editor successively of The Rural Messenger, The Sun, the Atlantic Homestead, the Virginia Democrat, weekly newspapers.  “Jones was a farmer for most of his life and was active on behalf of agricultural interest.  He published a small volume of poetry, Petals; or Spring Leaves of Fancy.  He was a member of the Deal-Crenshaw Camp of Confederate veterans.  He published Under the Stars and Bars, his memoirs of the Civil War, in 1909.  He died January 14, 1918 and was buried in his garden near the story and a half house, which stood back from the road between Runnymede and Moore’s Swamp Baptist Church.  He and his wife Lucy had two sons and two daughters.” 

[Lee A. Wallace, Jr, Introduction to Under the Stars and Bars]

KNOWN SLAVES AND FREE NEGROES THAT WORKED ON FORT BOYKIN

 

In the general area, Captains E.T.D. Myers and John Clarke assisted by Lieutenant C.T. Mason. had “a force of at least 1000 hands” for construction, mostly slaves and Free Negroes.  They came from as far as Prince Edward, Campbell, Caroline, Charlotte, and Halifax counties.  They were provided with barreled meat, rough clothes, and common tobacco.  They lived in tents and slept under blanket rolls.  Dr. Southall and Dr. Vail provided for their medical care.  Construction was made difficult by the lack of wheelbarrows.  Free Negroes manned and unloaded boats.  The boats that frequented the area were the Northampton, Anacosta, Tempest, and Seaboard and brought in army stores, lime, bricks, lumber, and timber.  Detailed invoices exist listing nails and paper to wagons and molasses.  Labourers were paid 50 – 62 ½ cents per day and payroll name lists exist.  (We will detail specifically to Fort Boykin after trip to the Richmond Library.)

 

Historical Notes on Fort Boykin

Portsmouth’s Virginia Riflemen, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company B, was made up of disbanded, Portsmouth soldiers of the pro-Union Marion Rifles. 

 

The ladies of Petersburg (Cockade Rifles, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company E) presented the 3rd Virginia Regiment, September 24, 1861, at Camp Cook a blue silk state flag (1861) bearing the arms of Virginia on one side and Justice with the scales on the other. 

 

The Nansemond Rangers, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company F, were stationed at Godwin’s Point (Rescue), Isle of Wight, June 30, 1861.

 

Southampton’s Rough and Ready Guards, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company G, were presented a flag described as being the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy on one side, and the state flag on the other.  The flag was largely the work of Judy and Lucy Thomas, sisters of Major George Thomas, U. S. Army, all of Southampton County.  Thomas, who sided with the Union and became a major general, was celebrated as the “Rock of Chickamauga”.  The Guards were stationed at Stonehouse Wharf, today’s Tyler’s Beach. 

 

The  Surry Light Artillery, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company I, was stationed at Smithfield, Virginia at the Masonic Lodge and Trinity Church grounds, June 23, 1861.  They were detached from 3rd Virginia after early April 1862 and operated as a local home guard until mid-May 1862.  Locally, they would bring up the rear on the south side after the Confederate retreat up the Peninsula toward Richmond in May 1862.  In May 1864, the Surry Light Artillery helped turn back Union General Butler’s host from its advances on Port Walthall on the Appomattox River and the second Drewry’s Bluff, saving Petersburg and Richmond from capture and “the Confederacy from ruin twelve months before the collapse of the Southern Republic”.  

 

Walter Wrenn enlisted June 23, 1861 at Smithfield in the James River Heavy Artillery, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company K.  He was born in Isle of Wight and was educated at Hanover Academy and the University of Virginia.  He went abroad in 1858 and studied at the Universities of Paris, Dresden, and Berlin, returning home in 1860.  He was elected 1st Lieutenant, Co. K.  In April 1862 he was appointed Captain on General Pryor’s staff.  He was sited for gallantry at Williamsburg.  He was killed at Second Manassas, August 20, 1862, while charging with the 4th Alabama. 

                “He fell in the moment of Victory

                Cheering on the charge

                Official report 2nd Battle of Manassas

                He was bred a scholar

                and died a Christian soldier.” – Ivy Hill Cemetery

His brother Fenton Wrenn was appointed Sergeant Major, 3rd Virginia Regiment, May 1862. Elected 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company K, after Seven Pines he was wounded at Antietam in Sept. 1862. On furlough, he rejoined his regiment October 1862 and was killed at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. 

 

Camp Cook was named after James Watkins Cook, an affluent planter, who owned the plantation east of Fort Boykin and plantations  in Greensville, and Southampton counties and in Alabama.  He knew Colonel Roger Pryor and Edmund Ruffin of Surry County before the War and all three were delegates to the Southern Convention at Montgomery.  Supposedly Pryor was offered the “honor” of firing the first gun at Fort Sumter but declined in favor of Ruffin.  Cook gave the Surry Light Artillery its first two field guns, being two old Revolutionary War vintage guns, which they used in practice. 

 

The Greer family bought an overgrown Fort Boykin in 1908.  After much labor, they turned the fort into “a place of beauty with flowers, shrubbery, a large formal flower garden, and a wild flower garden.”   Acquired in 1950 by sisters, Susan, Elizabeth, and Ella Jordan, the last private owners of the property, the fort was later given to the Commonwealth of Virginia by will.

 

Fort Boykin was an active fort (1677) during Bacon’s Rebellion according to the Journal of the ship Young Prince and a lookout during the Revolutionary War according to the pension affidavits of Jesse Crocker and Samuel Corbit.  (Dorman, Va Revolutionary Pension Applications, Vols 24 & 23, pages 85-86 & 19) 

 

AFTERMATH

The Isle of Wight Blues probably withdrew from Fort Boykin, May 8-12, they or the militia, leaving its flag flying.  Sergeant Noah Pond, Surry Light Artillery, had the dangerous duty of blowing up one of its three magazines. 

The Isle of Wight Blues, 9th Virginia Regiment, Company E, would become part of Armistead’s storied Brigade, Pickett’s Division.  Sergeant W. L. Turner, Isle of Wight Blues, related that he was in the hospital during the Gettysburg campaign and very few of his 9th Virginia companions returned. 

 

Isle of Wight’s James River Heavy Artillery, 3rd Virginia Regiment, Company K, at Fort Boykin from August through November 1861, and the rest of 3rd Virginia Regiment would become part of Kemper’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division. 

These companies were part of Pickett’s famous charge, 3 July 1863 against the Federals on Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Callcote of Isle of Wight being in command of 3rd Virginia Regiment for a brief moment before being killed.  3rd Virginia lost 36% of its soldiers.   9th Virginia Regiment was virtually destroyed suffering 75% casualties. 

 

                “Greencastle streets were a stream of steel

With the slanted muskets the soldiers bore

The roar shuddered and shook the fields

The tramp and the rumble of Longstreet’s corps.

 

Bands were blaring the Bonnie Blue Flag

The banners bourne were a motley many

And watching that grey column wind and drag

Was a slip of a girl we’ll call her Jenny.

 

A slip of a girl what needs her name

Her eyes a flame, her lips a quiver

As she stood and stared with a loyal shame

On the steady flow of that steely river.

 

And the storm grew dark in her angel eyes

The time had not tamed or a lover sighed for

And she went and girded her apron wiles

In the flag she loved that her brothers died for.

 

Then out of the doorway they saw her start

Pickett’s Virginians were marching through

The hot little foolish heroes heart

Armed with the stars and the sacred blue. 

 

Clutching the folds of red and white

Stood she and bearded those ranks of theirs

Yelling, shrilling with all her might,

Come on and take it the man who dares.

 

Ah! Pickett’s Virginians were passing through

Supple as steel and brown as leather

Musty and dusty of hat and shoe

Wanted to hunger and worn of weather.

 

Fearless, fearless an army’s flower

Sterner soldiers the world never saw

Marching grimly that summer’s hour

To death, failure, and fame forever.

 

Then there rose from the ripple and ranks a cheer

Pickett saluted with bold eyes beaming

Sweeping his hat like a cavalier

His tawny locks in the warm sun streaming.

 

And fierce little Jenny her courage fell

As those gray lines flickered with friendly laughter

And Greencastle streets gave back the yell

That Gettysburg slopes gave back soon after.

 

So they cheered for the flag they fought

The generous glow of the stubborn fighter

Loving the brave as the brave man ought

And never a finger was raised to fright her.

 

And on they marched though they knew it not

Through that warm green June into the shocking inferno

To the sound of the shell and the musket shot

To the charge that has won them the name eternal.

 

And she knew at last as she hid her face

What had lain at the root of her childish daring

A trust in the men of her own brave race

The secret of faith in the foe’s forbearing.

 

And she wept to the roll of the rumbling guns

And the steady tramp of the marching men

Were a memory only when day was done

The stars in the fold of the blue again.

 

Thank God the day of the sword is done

And the stars in the fold of the blue again.”

 

                                                                Mrs. Helen Cone

Acknowledgements:  The 2007 - 2008 interpretation of Fort Boykin owes much to the published works of Helen Haverty King,  Lee A. Wallace, Benjamin H. Trask, and Benjamin Washington Jones.

 

KNOWN SOLDIERS THAT SERVED INSIDE FORT BOYKIN

 

List of 93 soldiers of Company E, 9th Virginia Infantry, Isle of Wight Blues

Helen Haverty King, Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia, pages 536-541, 1993.  Benjamin Washington Jones, Under the Stars and Bars.

 

Captains

Howell, Henry P.

Duck, Archibald

Shivers, John W.

Edwards, Lenius Barton

 

Lieutenants:

Hack, John

Dick, Robert Thornton

Chapman, Richard Franklin

Hall, Mathew

Edwards, David D.

Wilson, Junius Watson

Bassett, H. H.

 

Alman, William J

Archer, Henry Frank

Atkins, David N

Atkins, Exum

Atkins, James

Bassett, H. H.

Batten, Elias J

Batten, Frank

Batten, James H

Batten, Monroe

Bell, Hillory

Betts, John D

Brock, David

Bryant, Thomas

Butler, John D

Butler, Kent

Butler, Thomas

Butler, William Henry

Carson

Chapman, Richard Franklin

Daniel, Thomas H

Delk, S. S.

Dick, Robert Thornton

Doyle, William

Driver, William H

Drummond, William T

Duck, Archibald

Edwards, B

Edwards, David D

Edwards, Joshua

Edwards, Lenius Barton

Edwards, Richard C

Edwards, Richard H

Flake, Junius W

Fulghum, Charles

Garner, David

Garrison, James R

Godwin, John

Godwin, Jonathan

Godwin, Mills

Goodson, Andrew J

Griffin, Thomas

Hack, John

Hall, George

Hall, Mathew

Holford, William

Holland, Samuel H

Howell, Henry P

Johnson, Archibald

Johnson, B. F.

Johnson, Benjamin Robert

Johnson, Edwin E

Johnson, James Allen

Johnson, Joseph F. H.

Johnson, Robert

Johnson, William A

Jolliff, John

Lewis, M

Moody, Phillip

Moody, William M

Nelms, Elijah

Norsworthy, William J. W.

Parr, Frank

Parr, Phenius M

Pitman, Cornelius

Pitman, John D

Pitman, P. H.

Pitman, Phenius M

Pitman, Richard H

Pitt, Thomas

Powell, Charles W

Powell, Cornelius

Powell, Henry James

Powell, John

Pruden, John

Pruden, John Henry

Shivers, John W

Sikes, William H

Spivey, Samuel T

Stephens, Jesse

Summerell, William

Turner, James

Turner, William Lewis

Urquhart, K. M.

Vellines, Isaac

Vellines, Marsden John

Walters, John

Waters, William

White, Watson D

Wilson, George Washington

Wilson, Junius Watson

Wrench, William F

Wright, Nathaniel

 

KNOWN SOLDIERS THAT SERVED INSIDE FORT BOYKIN

 

List of 173 soldiers, Company I, 3rd Virginia Regiment, James River Heavy Artillery, Captain Alexander Callcote, Commanding.

Helen Haverty King, Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia, pages 528 - 536, 1993.

 

Adams, George

Atkins, Moses

Atkins, M. T.

Atkins, G. F.

Atkins, Jos.

Baker, Alexander

Baker, Calvin

Baker, James

Barlow, Ansolem

Barlow, John William

Batten, Archer

Batten, Edwin

Batten, Frank

Batten, Monroe

Bell, Edwin

Bell, F. B.

Bell, Thomas Bolling

Blackwell, Robert

Betts, John

Boykin, James

Bracey, Solomon

Bunkley, Joseph

Burns, William

Callcote, Alexander

Carson, Edgar

Channell, C. C.

Chapman, R. H.

Chapman, Robert

Corbett, John

Coulter, George

Coulter, James

Crocker, George

Crocker, Joel

Crocker, Joshua

Crocker, Madison

Crowder, James

Darden, William

Davis, George

Davis, Thomas

Delk, Benjamin

Delk, Owighton

Delk, Sidney

Dews, Edwin

Dews, William

Driver, John

Edwards, Benjamin

Edwards, B. K.

Edwards, Charles

Edwards, George

Edwards, James

Edwards, Jesse

Edwards, Jordan

Edwards, J. R.

Edwards, Jos.

Edwards, Jos. T.

Edwards, Junius

Edwards, Lenius

Edwards, Miles

Edwards, Patrick

Eley, James

Eley, John

Flake, Joseph

Fulgham, Josiah

Fulgham, M. L.

Fulgham, Patrick

Gale, Joseph

Gale, Samuel

Gale, William

Garner, John

Garner, Merrit

Gay, Henry

George, C.

Godfrey, William

Godwin, John

Godwin, J. T.

Godwin, W. H.

Goodson, Samuel

Goodson, T. N.

Gray, G. T.

Gray, Joel

Gray, J. E.

Gray, J. L.

Gray, Leburtus

Gwaltney, B. L. W.

Gwaltney, Bernard

Gwaltney, J. F.

Gwaltney, J. T.

Gwaltney, P. D.

Gwaltney, W. H. I.

Gwaltney, W. R.

Hall, John

Hall, James

Holland, James R.

Holland, James M.

Holland, Mallory

Holland, Seabird

Johnson, Dempsey

Johnson, James

Johnson, Jesse

Jones, Abraham

Jones, Benj.

Jones, Ezekiel

Jones, Henry

Jones, H. L.

Jones, Isaac Newton

Jones, J. W.

Jones, Jacob

Jones, James

Jones, Junius

Jones, William

Joyner, James

Key, Jesse

Kimball, Blake

Little, Adoniram

McCoy, William

Millington, Josiah

Moody, Henry

Moore, James

Morriss, George

Nelms, Benjamin

Nelms, Williams

Nelson, William

Norsworthy, John

Outland, Benjamin

Parkinson, Mills

Parr, Adolphus

Pinner, George

Pond, Edward

Pond, I.

Pond, Lenius

Powell

Rogers, Gilbert

Rollins, J. D.

Sanford, N. G.

Schofield, Addison

Stallings, Andrew

Stephenson, James

Stephenson, Willilam

Stringfield, Augustus

Stringfield, Chapman

Stringfield, E. W.

Thomas, J. H.

Thorne, William

Tomlin, John

Tomlin, William

Turner, Adolphus

Turner, Benjamin

Turner, Henry

Turner, J. O.

Turner, James

Turner, John

Turner, Jordan

Turner, L. T.

Turner, Nat

Vellines, John

Vellines, Thomas

Vellines, William

Wail, William

Walker, Isaiah

Ward, John

White, N. J.

White, W. J.

Whitley, James

Whitley, John

Wiley, Albert

Wiley, John

Williford, Richard

Williford, Samuel

Wilson, Josiah

Womble, Lewis

Wrenn, Fenton

Wrenn, Virginius

Wrenn, Walter

 

ORIGINAL SURRY LIGHT ARTILLERY – 54 soldiers

Under the Stars and Bars by Benjamin Washington Jones

 

Captain Thomas W. Ruffin

1st Lieutenant James DeWitt Hankins

2nd Lieutenant Ira O. Crenshaw

1st Sergeant William R. Barham

2nd Sergeant Theophilus J. Berryman

3rd Sergeant T. Bolling Bell

4th Sergeant Joseph H. Pitman

Commissary Sergeant Joel W. Whitley

1st Corporal John H. Bell

2nd Corporal Bolling T. Jones

3rd Corporal Edwin S. Spratley

4th Corporal Samuel A. Moody

 

Privates:

Bailey, James

Bell, Edwin

Berryman, Joseph

Brown, Nicholas

Casey, Roger

Cockes, Littleton

Clayton, William

Collier, R. M. J.

Davis, John

Deuell, James

Edwards, William

Edwards, John

Foreman, Wallace

Goodrich, Whitfield

Garon, Joseph

Gwaltney, Benjamin

Harris, John

Holleman, Edmund

James, William

Johnson, Lewis

Johnson, Willliam

Jones, Isaac

Jones, Benjamin

Judkins, John

Judkins, W. B. O.

King, James

King, Joseph

Little, William

Moody, James

Pond, Noah

Presson, John

Roberts, Henry

Rowell, George

Rowell, Henry

Rowell, Patrick

Rowell, Thomas

Savedge, Richard

Seward, John

Spratley, James

Thompson, Robert

References for Fort Huger/ Fort Boykin Research:

 

W. Thomas Smith, Quarterly Bulletin, Volume 25, No. 4, Archeological Society of Virginia, June 1971.

 

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volumes 6 & 7, Washington Government Printing Office, 1898. 

 

Lee A. Wallace, 3rd Virginia Infantry, H. E. Howard Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1986.

 

Benjamin Trask, 9th Virginia Infantry, H. E. Howard Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1984.

 

Benjamin Trask, 16th Virginia Infantry, H. E. Howard Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia, 1986.

 

G. Howard Gregory, 53th Virginia Infantry and 5th Battalion Virginia Infantry,     H. E. Howard Inc., Appomattox, Virginia, 1999.

 

Benjamin Washington Jones, Under the Stars and Bars, Press of Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio, 1975

 

Robert B. Case, Andrew Talcott (1797 - 1883) – Robert B. Case, Virginia Beach, Virginia, October 1995.

 

The Legend History and Archaeology of Fort Boykin In Virginia, Edited by Floyd Painter, The Chesopiean Archeological Association, 1982.

 

Richmond Dispatch, May, 1862.

 

The Encyclopedia Americana, Americana Corporation, New York, New York, 1942.

 

Warren Ripley, Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, Prommotory Press, New York, New York, 1970

 

Edwin Olmstead & Wayne E. Stark & Spencer C. Tucker, The Big Guns, Museum Restoration Service, Broomfield, Ontario, 1997.

 

Richard P. Weinert, Jr. & Colonel Robert Arthur, Defender of the Chesapeake-- The Story of Fort Monroe, Leeward Publishing, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland, 1978. 

 

Virginia Engineer Department, Records, 1861-1865.

 

Naval Official Records, Series 1, Volume VII, Logbook of the U.S.S. Susquehanna, Page 730

 

Helen Haverty King, Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Donning and Company, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 1993

 

(John Frederick Dorman, Virginia Revolutionary Pension Applications, Volume 24, pages 85-86 & Volume 23, page 19.)

 

Sig Cofer Dashiell, Smithfield – A Pictorial History, Donning Company/Publishers, Norfolk, Virginia, Pages 87-88, 1977.

Return to Top of Page


Reasons to keep an open mind


"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
        --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
        --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
        --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
        --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
    --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
        --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
        --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
        --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
        --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."
        --Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
        --Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
        --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
        --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
        --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"
        --Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
        --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."
        --Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
        --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
        --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
        --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
        --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
        --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".
        --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

Return to Top of Page


History of the Dollar Bill

The link below is a MicroSoft PowerPoint SlideShow ... Click on the link to open (run) it, or RIGHT-click on it and select "Save Target As" to save it to your computer where it can be opened in the PowerPoint Program or with the PowerPoint Reader.

Interesting Bit Of History.pps


Unlucky Saga of USS William D Porter (DD-579)

USS William D Porter (DD579) ... "Don't shoot, we're Republicans"

A BIT OF HISTORY THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW OF!!!!!!

From November 1943, until her demise in June 1945, the American destroyer
'William Porter' was often hailed - whenever she entered port or joined
other Naval ships - with the greetings: 'Don't shoot, we're Republicans!'
For a half a century, the US Navy kept a lid on the details of the incident
that prompted this salutation. A Miami news reporter made the first public
disclosure in 1958 after he stumbled upon the truth while covering a reunion
of the destroyer's crew. The Pentagon reluctantly and tersely confirmed his
story, but only a smattering of newspapers took notice.

In 1943, the Willie D as the Porter was nicknamed, accidentally fired a live
torpedo at the battleship Iowa during a practice exercise. As if this
weren't bad enough, the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt at
the time, along with Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, and all of the
country's W.W.II military brass. They were headed for the Big Three
Conference in Tehran , where Roosevelt was to meet Stalin and Churchill. Had
the Porter's torpedo struck the Iowa at the aiming point, the last 60 years
of world history might have been quite different.

The USS William D Porter (DD-579) was one of hundreds of assembly line
destroyers built during the war. They mounted several heavy and light guns,
But their main armament consisted of 10 fast-running and accurate torpedoes
that carried 500-pound warheads. This destroyer was placed in commission on
July 1943 under the command of Wilfred Walker, a man on the Navy's fast
career track.

In the months before she was detailed to accompany the Iowa across the
Atlantic in November 1943, the Porter and her crew learned their trade,
experiencing the normal problems that always beset a new ship and a novice
crew. The mishaps grew more serious when she became an escort for the pride
of the fleet, the big new battleship Iowa .

The night before they left Norfolk , bound for North Africa , the Porter
accidentally damaged a nearby sister ship when she backed down along the
other ship's side and her anchor tore down her railings, life rafts, ship's
boat and various other formerly valuable pieces of equipment. The Willie D
merely had a scraped anchor, but her career of mayhem and mishaps had begun.

Just twenty four hours later, the four-ship convoy, consisting of Iowa and
her secret passengers, the Willie D, and two other destroyers, was under
strict instructions to maintain complete radio silence. As they were going
through a known U-boat feeding ground, speed and silence were the best
defense. Suddenly, a tremendous explosion rocked the convoy. All of the
ships commenced anti-submarine maneuvers. This continued until the Porter
sheepishly admitted that one of her depth charges had fallen off her stern
and exploded. The 'safety' had not been set as instructed. Captain Walker
was watching his fast track career become side-tracked.

Shortly thereafter, a freak wave inundated the ship, stripping away
everything that wasn't lashed down. A man was washed overboard and never
found.

Next, the fire room lost power in one of its boilers.

The Captain, by this point, was making reports almost hourly to the Iowa on
the Willie D's difficulties. It would have been merciful if the force
commander had detached the hard luck ship and sent her back to Norfolk . But,
no, she sailed on.

The morning of 14 November 1943 dawned with a moderate sea and pleasant
weather. The Iowa and her escorts were just east of Bermuda , and the
President and his guests wanted to see how the big ship could defend herself
against an air attack. So, Iowa launched a number of weather balloons to use
as anti-aircraft targets. It was exciting to see more than 100 guns shooting
at the balloons, and the President was proud of his Navy. Just as proud was
Admiral Ernest J King, the Chief of Naval Operations; large in size and by
demeanor, a true monarch of the sea. Disagreeing with him meant the end of a
naval career. Up to this time, no one knew what firing a torpedo at him
would mean.

Over on the Willie D, Captain Walker watched the fireworks display with
admiration and envy. Thinking about career redemption and breaking the hard
luck spell, the Captain sent his impatient crew to battle stations. They
began to shoot down the balloons the Iowa had missed as they drifted into
the Porter's vicinity.

Down on the torpedo mounts, the crew watched, waiting to take some practice
shots of their own on the big battleship, which, even though 6,000 yards
away, seemed to blot out the horizon. Lawton Dawson and Tony Fazio were
among those responsible for the torpedoes. Part of their job involved
ensuring that the primers were installed during actual combat and removed
during practice. Once a primer was installed, on a command to fire, it would
explode shooting the torpedo out of its tube.

Dawson , on this particular morning, unfortunately had forgotten to remove
the primer from torpedo tube #3. Up on the bridge, a new torpedo officer,
unaware of the danger, ordered a simulated firing. "Fire 1, Fire 2," and
finally, "Fire 3." There was no fire 4 as the sequence was interrupted by an
unmistakable whooooooshhhhing sound made by a successfully launched and
armed torpedo. Lt H. Steward Lewis, who witnessed the entire event, later
described the next few minutes as what hell would look like if it ever broke
loose.

Just after he saw the torpedo hit water on its way to the Iowa and some of
the most prominent figures in world history, Lewis innocently asked the
Captain, 'Did you give permission to fire a torpedo?' Captain Walker's reply
will not ring down through naval history... although words to the effect of
Farragut's immortal 'Damn the torpedoes' figured centrally within.
Initially there was some reluctance to admit what had happened, or even to
warn the Iowa . As the awful reality sunk in, people began racing around,
shouting conflicting instructions and attempting to warn the flagship of
imminent danger. First, there was a flashing light warning about the torpedo
which unfortunately indicated it was headed in another direction.

Next, the Porter signaled that it was going reverse at full speed! Finally,
they decided to break the strictly enforced radio silence. The radio
operator on the destroyer transmitted "'Lion (code for the Iowa ), Lion, come
right." The Iowa operator, more concerned about radio procedure, requested
that the offending station identify itself first. Finally, the message was
received and the Iowa began turning to avoid the speeding torpedo.

Meanwhile, on the Iowa 's bridge, word of the torpedo firing had reached FDR,
who asked that his wheelchair be moved to the railing so he could see better
what was coming his way. His loyal Secret Service guard immediately drew his
pistol as if he was going to shoot the torpedo. As the Iowa began evasive
maneuvers, all of her guns were trained on the William D Porter. There was
now some thought that the Porter was part of an assassination plot.

Within moments of the warning, there was a tremendous explosion just behind
the battleship. The torpedo had been detonated by the wash kicked up by the
battleship's increased speed.

The crisis was over and so was Captain Walker's career. His final utterance
to the Iowa , in response to a question about the origin of the torpedo, was
a weak, "We did it."

Shortly thereafter, the brand new destroyer, her Captain and the entire crew
were placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda for trial. It was the first
time that a complete ship's company had been arrested in the history of the
US Navy.

The ship was surrounded by Marines when it docked in Bermuda , and held there
several days as the closed session inquiry attempted to determine what had
happened. Torpedoman Dawson eventually confessed to having inadvertently
left the primer in the torpedo tube, which caused the launching. Dawson had
thrown the used primer over the side to conceal his mistake.

The whole incident was chalked up to an unfortunate set of circumstances and
placed under a cloak of secrecy. Someone had to be punished. Captain Walker
and several other Porter officers and sailors eventually found themselves in
obscure shore assignments. Dawson was sentenced to 14 years hard labor.
President Roosevelt intervened; however, asking that no punishment be meted
out for what was clearly an accident.

The destroyer was banished to the upper Aleutians . It was probably thought
this was as safe a place as any for the ship and anyone who came near her.
She remained in the frozen north for almost a year, until late 1944, when
she was re-assigned to the Western Pacific.

Before leaving the Aleutians , she accidentally left her calling card in the
form of a five-inch shell fired into the front yard of the American base
commandant, thus rearranging his flower garden.

In December, 1944, she joined the Philippine invasion forces and acquitted
herself quite well. She distinguished herself by shooting down a number of
attacking Japanese aircraft. Regrettably, after the war, it was reported
that she also shot down three American planes. This was a common event on
ships, as many gunners, fearful of kamikazes, had nervous trigger fingers.

In April, 1945, the destroyer was assigned to support the invasion of
Okinawa . By this time, the greeting "Don't Shoot, We're Republicans" was
commonplace and the crew of the Willie D had become used to the ribbing. But
the crew of her sister ship, the USS Luce, was not so polite in its
salutations after the Porter accidentally riddled her side and
superstructure with gunfire.

On 10 June, 1945, the Porter's hard luck finally ran out. She was sunk by a
plane which had (unintentionally) attacked underwater. A Japanese bomber
made almost entirely of wood and canvas slipped through the Navy's defense.

Having little in the way of metal surfaces, the plane didn't register on
radar. A fully loaded kamikaze, it was headed for a ship near the Porter,
but just at the last moment veered away and crashed along side the unlucky
destroyer. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sunk out of sight, but
then it blew up underneath the Porter, opening her hull in the worst
possible location.

Three hours later, after the last man was off board, the Captain jumped to
the safety of a rescue vessel and the ship that almost changed world history
slipped astern into 2,400 feet of water. Not a single soul was lost in the
sinking. After everything else that happened, it was almost as if the ship
decided to let her crew off at the end.

Kit Bonner, Naval Historian

Return to Top of Page


Confederate History Month Remembered

April is the month during which we recognize those who fought in the Civil War, Confedrate History Month.  It has been estimated that at least 650,000 lost their lives in the War Between the States, also known as The Civil War.  A well known historian and student of the War indicates that there is actually no way of knowing just how many lost their lives in the conflict but there could have been as many as approaching 750,000.  No one will ever know exactly.  Some of you receiving this e-mail are in some way related to the person described in it, Archibald Allen Redd.  Many of you are not related but may find it interesting.

Archibald Allen Redd was born in Isle of Wight County on March 22, 1842.  He died on July 31, 1920 at the age of 78.  He is buried at the Colosse Baptist Church Cemetery along side his wife, Frances Cynifie Spivey Redd, near the main pathway through the center of the cemetery.

Archibald Allen Redd was a brick mason by trade and was a Civil War Veteran.  He served in the 41st Virginia Infantry and enlisted on 6-23-1861 at Cypress Chapel, Nansemond County, Virginia for 1 year.  He was noted to be an illiterate farm laborer and was re-enlisted for War in March, 1862 and received a $50 bounty for re-enlisting.

Archibald Allen Redd was wounded in action by a minie-ball in his right hand at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862.  He was in the hospital at Petersburg from July 16, 1862, and remained there until 10-9-1862.  From March, 1863 to April 1863, he was at the CSA General Hospital at Farmville; detailed as a light duty hospital nurse,  Howard's Grove, Richmond from May, 1863 through July, 1863;  nurse, Jackson Hospital in Richmond from July, 1863 to September, 1863.  Guard at CH 3 and 4 from 12-63 to 3-64.  Transferred to Invalid Corp on 4-23-1864.

Archibald may have had a  brother namely Robert Redd (?), a farm laborer, who enlisted on 6-23-1861 at Cypress Chapel.  Medical Discharge 1-5-62 for chronic enlargement of liver and spleen and abdominal dropsy.  5 feet 3", brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Another possible relative of Archibald was one Alfred Redd.  Alfred was with the Beaver Dam Avengers.  He enlisted on 8-28-1861.  Teamster to Div. Train- captured at Burgess Mill.  Sent to Pt. Lookout, Maryland 10-31-1864.  Exchanged 2-10-1865.  Member of Mahone's Brigade.  Died 6-18-1889 in Isle of Wight County.  Husband of Angeline Redd (1821 to 1903 or 1904).  Alfred and Angeline (Ann) Spivey Redd were the parents of Indiana Redd Spivey.  Indiana Redd Spivey was the husband of Irvin Exum Spivey.  Indiana (Anna) and Irvin Exum Spivey were the parents of Ruth, Alfred and Lud.

Archibald Allen Redd also had a brother named Charles Redd who wrote a letter dated November 30, 1870 addressed from Mason Fayette Co., Tennessee.  According to Leona Redd Spivey, Charles also served in the Civil War but nothing was ever heard from him by the family following his writing and sending  said letter addressed to "Dear Brother" to Archibald.  A typed copy of this letter transcribed from the original handwritten letter is attached to this writing.  A picture of Archibald Allen Redd is also attached to this writing.

Archibald Allen Redd and Francis Cynifie Spivey Redd had the following children:  Charles Cephas Redd,  Benjamin A. Redd;  John A. Redd and Dosia Redd Ballard.

Archibald Allen Redd and Frances Cynifie Spivey Redd lived in a house which is still standing.  It is located on Little Norfolk Road and was later occupied by Guthrie and Alma Ballard.  The house is now vacant and in disrepair.  Frances died in 1930, some ten years after Archibald.  Her half sister, Indiana Redd Spivey also died in 1930.  Note:  It is noted that according to Leona Virginia Redd Spivey, one of Frances' grandchildren,  Frances was raised by one Blake Spivey.  I have no other information about who Blake Spivey was.

Note:  Other Confederate Veterans buried at Colosse Baptist Church Cemetery are:  Elisha Carr; Spencer Carr; Mills Babb; Irving Jenkins; J. P. Rhodes; James Parker; John Coggin; James Rhodes; Samuel Turner and James Crumpler.

This gives anyone interested a little more insight into some of the history of Archibald Allen Redd, some things he did and what he looked like.  We all should honor him as a soldier who fought for that in which he believe.

                                      Archibald Allan Redd

The above article was made on April 26, 2014 by Lud Lorenzo Spivey, Great Great Grandson of Archibald Allen Redd ... We can only imagine what war is like.  The men listed above saw it first hand.  May it never happen again.

Return to Top of Page


Slave Document in Virginia 1813

19th Century Virginia [Slavery] - Legal Manuscript Document from Virginia, 1813
Commonwealth of Virginia manuscript document (DS), twice signed "Andw Woodley" 7.75 x 8, dated July 1813, detailing the use of seven slaves and an ox chain for constructing a blockade across Pagan Creek, successfully preventing the British from invading Isle of Wight County as payment to a plantation owner by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In August of 1619, slavery was first introduced in Jamestown, one year before the Pilgrims landed. The practice grew at a rampant rate throughout the agricultural South, and the status of "slave" quickly became legally recognized. It would take over 200 years of bloody revolts, legal acts and finally, the Civil War, until the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in 1865, officially abolishing slavery and acts of involuntary servitude. Document reads, in full: "1813 July. The Commonwealth of Virginia. To Andw Woodley --- Dr. For 2 ox Chain 6 feetlong. 48th @1/. $8.00. 15 days work of 3 Negroe Men 5 days each 2/3 5.63. 16 days work of 4 Negroe Men 4 days each d[itt]o 6.0.[total] $19.63...do Certify that the Chains was had for the purpose of throughing a Boom a Cross Pagan Creek & the labour was perform in throwing up a brest work and assisting about sd. Boom during our last or 2nd Invation of the Enemy by order of the Commanding officer. Old Town. Andw. Woodley." A "Boom" was a chain of connected floating timbers serving to obstruct navigation. The Boom was successfully thrown across Pagan Creek by seven of Andrew Woodley's slaves. According to the 1810 Federal Census, Andrew Woodley had 49 slaves. On June 26, 1813, the British launched an attempt to enter Pagan Creek, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, but were turned away by U.S. artillery and infantry. In fine condition, with slight separations at the edges of folds, repaired on verso with glassine.
Circa:
19th Century

Return to Top of Page


Send questions & comments to:  Historian/President

Problems with web site ... contact:  Webmaster

This Page Updated:May 05, 2017