Camp of the Rockbridge Artillery 1st Brigade A.V.
2 miles from Wyer's Cave Augusta co. Va
(2 miles from Port Republic Rockingham----17 miles from Stunton)
Mr, Wm. M. Blackford--Lynchburg,
My Dear Father
I despatched to you yesterday
morning or more properly speaking the evening before, three letters
through Rutledge who was going direct to Lynchburg. I hope
and presume thy have already reached you and shall there-
fore resume my narrative with the morning of Wednesday, 28th ult.
At the usual early hour our Brigade was roused and under
march for Charlestown. From our camp it was 18 miles distant.
The day was dark and showery and the road indifferent
but before we had gone very far--at least soon after
getting into Jefferson, the celebrated hospitality of the people
became evident. The good people living along the road brought
us bread and butter and meat to eat and milk to drink;
in some cases throwing open their spring houses and dispensing
their delicious contents to all who presented themselves. Of
course such things would not go anything like around to all
though a great many got at least a comfortable draught
of milk. I did myself. We were marching on quietly, not
Ferry, when, within 6 or 8 miles of Charlestown, we heard some
cannonading. Shortly afterwards we learned that a regiment
or two of cavalry and infantry and a battery of the enemy's oc-
cupied Charlestown, having shelled out of the town the company
or two of cavalry we had there quartered. We sent forward a how-
itzer and one or two Parrott guns from our Battery, some Infantry
and cavalry and leaving the rest of our force and the wagon
train in the rear succeeded in driving the enemy out of Charles-
town and sending them at a rapid pace back to Bolivar Heights.
I was in the rear myself as our smooth-bore guns--except the
howitzer were not carried to the front. After tarrying there
a couple of hours or so we were ordered forward rapidly to join
in the pursuit, which was subsequently continued 2 or 3
miles beyond Charlestown by the whole Brigade (sans the 2d Va.
which remained as Provost Guard in Winchester until next day)
We subsequently dropped back to within 1/2 mile of the
town to a very pleasant camp where we remained until
leaving Jefferson. Our passage through Charlestown resembled
that through Winchester the Sunday before in several respects.
In the first place we were detached from our main body &
going on like them rapidly in pursuit of the flying enemy,
and in the second, our reception was just such another
as the memorable one we had there, already described to you.
Charlestown is loyal to the back-bone and on account of
this fact being so well known to the dastardly foe it has
suffered peculiarly. The Yankees quartered their troops in churches
there--in all of them I think, of course much to the injury
of those edifices. Rev. Jno. Ambler told me that his church
had thus been desecrated and a good deal injured--dirtied
more than anything else. There was not the least occasion
for this on the part of the enemy as they have always ex-
cellent tents and it was spring weather. It is notorious though
that they will never stay in tents at any season when they
can get houses. As we passed through we saw the smo-
king ruins of the market house, one of the handsomest
brick edifices in the town, with Odd Fellows Hall, etc. above.
It was wantonly burnt, on the lying pretext that some one
fired on the enemy from one of the windows. This I was told
by a responsible citizen, Mr. White. They fired in the street
with the most reckless disregard of the defenceless that mor-
ning about the time of the stampede. Mr White shewed me
where a bullet hole pierced his parlour window, the curtain
and finally lodged just above the folding doors between two rooms.
I was assured by him and many others in and about Charles-
town that the insolence, and offensive bearing, together
with the actual outrages on private property and rights
practised by the invader made them feel keenly his yoke
and rejoice with a peculiar satisfaction at being relieved
of his hated presence even for a time. I very much fear that
since the enemy returned the lot of our gallant people there is even
harder than before
An incident occurred on our approach to Charlestown which
is worth recording. As mentioned before, our two brass smooth
bore six pounders were bringing up the rear, the rest of the
Brigade preceding us by several miles. We were wholly un-
accompanied and without support. Just outside of the town
on this side two turnpike converge, one, that upon which
we were coming, direct from Winchester, the other leading
from Charleston to Bunker Hill. We were trotting on quickly
cannoneers all mounted, and having no
small sketch idea the enemy were withing 2 or 3 miles
in this space of us, when upon rising a slope we
saw upon the Bunker Hill turnpike a body of about a dozen
of the enemy's cavalry pursuing a smaller number of ours. The Yankees
had probably been cut off from their main body and determined
to put a bold face on the matter by chasing some of our stragglers.
My first idea was that our two guns must be captured
as we had no support, and no small arms to defend ourselves
with, and that probably many of us would be wantonly
shot down first, for we knew the rascality of these fellows.
We were within 200 yards of them, though there were 2 fences between.
But on a sudden, and to me somewhat unexpectedly, the order
was given to unlimber, and in a few seconds the pieces
were turned in the road unlimbered, and about being charged
with canister. We had leveled on the Yankees, but had
not time to put in the load even, before they yielded to
the demand to surrender and displayed a white handkerchief.
Our own cavalry then with some hesitation--probably abashed
at our stand when they were running so fast-advanced and
receiving their arms took them in custody. This little
affair soon became widely known at least in our Brigade
and gained us some reputation, I think. It was certainly
a novel and not discreditable little exploit. Thus though
in the rear and precluded from any share in the pursuit
of the enemy we were not without some trophies to show
we had not been inactive, at least in a quiet way. I
confess myself, however no antipathy, to bloodless victories,
and I have certainly seen something of other kinds of late.
Thursday morning I breakfasted in Charlestown at the
home of Mr. N.S. White, whom you will probably recognize
as the father of my quondam pupil Miss Rebecca, of whom
you have heard me speak frequently. I was treated with the
most gratifying hospitality by Mr. and Mrs. W., and by the
whole family, all of whom seem to regard me with
kindness. Miss Rebecca was not, I regret to say, at home,
having been for some time at Mr. Powell's school in Richmond.
No courtesy or kindness was omitted during the few days I
remained about Charlestown by these good friends. The
day was spent quietly in camp. during Thursday the
greater part, if not all, of our forces came from Winchester
and other points to Charlestown, and points above it, and
that day and the next there was some skirmishing with
the enemy at Bolivar Heights where he was strongly posted
This however was chiefly with artillery and at long
range, and as is always the case with such, there
was little or no harm done. Indeed the cannonading
was almost all by the enemy, and it is really wonder-
ful how many times they can fire under such circumstances
without doing any harm. I believe all day Friday
they only succeeded in wounding one man, killing none.
That day we were ordered down to within 2 miles of
Bolivar Heights, to a point called Halltown, but after
remaining there a good while returned without doing
anything. Friday afternoon and night it rained dis
tressingly and made us pretty miserable, as usual.
Our shelters are very imperfect, and most of them hard to
put up at that, so that we often suffer greatly in rains.
Saturday morning the whole army started betimes for Winchester
I preceded the company an hour and went to town to break-
fast with and take leave of my friends the Whites. Their
hospitality and that of our people in Charlestown generally
toward the soldiers exceeds anything I have seen. Friday
night Mr. W. had 12 soldiers guests under his roof--strangers
who in distress, some sick, &tc who applied for shelter, and
Saturday morning 40 or 50, by squads, breakfasted at his
table. They never seemed to tire of attention to the Confederates.
The direct road to Winchester from Charlestown is an
excellent one, consisting of turnpike to Bunker Hill on the
Martinsburg and Winchester road and thence by the latter,
also, a fine turnpike, the rest of the way. We marched over
the pike to Smithfield, but there went to the left so as
to strike the Winchester road lower down than Bunker
Hill, in which vicinity it was removed a small force
of the enemy was hovering. We did not want to lose
the time necessary to dispose of these fellows, so we took
the other less direct and rougher road. In deed considerable
apprehension at one time was felt for our baggage
train which had been sent ahead of the army and had
gone by Bunker Hill, but it met with no interruption.
The road we took made it about 25 miles to Winchester, where
it is not properly more than 22. The weather was lowering &
showery, and this added to leaving the fair and hospitable
county of Jefferson so suddenly, and the prospect already dawning
on us-of still further evacuation of this part of the galley---com-
bined to make us all--me at least--somewhat down-hearted.
We expected to stop at our former camp 5 miles below Winchester,
but passing it without stopping we soon learned we had 10
miles further to go, and would not halt until 5 miles this side.
It was quite dark when we got into town and cold and drizzly.
I went to Mr. Williams' and supped; a most comfortable and
refreshing meal, dispensed with the accustomed hospitality
of that hospitable house, and one which really did me good.
There was quite an excitement there; Mr. and Mrs W. taking leave
of their son and getting him ready with whatever comforts he
could carry for the toilsome marches before him; the various
sick and wounded soldiers who had been their guests getting
ready to go off, or just gone; and in addition to all the
sad consciousness of all hearts that the pleasure
our own again as regarded Winchester, was now, under the
imperative pressure of military necessity, about be succeeded
by an abandonment of it again to the relentless invader. It
was a sad time. After taking leave of them at Mr. Willliams'
I went round to Mr. Barton's where I found in the parlour and
dining room the whole family was assembled. Mr. & Mrs. B., Mrs Baldwin
(née Barton) David, Strother, Robert, and Bolling, and Miss Fanny Barton;
(7th Va. Cav.)
Capt. Thom. Marshall ^ Major T. B. Jones (of 2d Va. Inf.) Marshall Jones (of same)
respectively the son-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew in law of Mr.
Barton. Besides these were a few visitors. Every male present a
soldier except Mr. B. and his youngest son Bolling, a boy of 15 years.
The eldest son now fills a new made soldier's grave, and the next to
the youngest, Randolph, is in prison (Kernstown) at Fort Delaware.
Here as at Mr. William's, the calmness, even cheerfulness, was re-
markable; but it was unnatural, because the latter at least
was forced. They were all very kind and cordial and gave
me a hearty farewell. Messrs. W. & B. both sent you their
kind regards---I shall not ever forget this last night
in Winchester; it was as gloomy as the first morning, a
week before had been joyous. But I will not dwell on the
cheerless side of the picture, particularly as we have since had
such evidences of the favour of Haven in the victories that
have crowned our arms, but will look forward to another occu-
pation of Winchester. Saturday night late, after a march of 30
miles the first brigade bivouacked. It was cold and rainy and
we put up no tents or shelters of any kind, so the night was
about as miserable as it will could be. Bed spread on the
ground with mud 3 or 4 inches deep below and rain above are
not the most comfortable. Early Sunday morning we resumed our march.
In Winchester I bought a ream of letter paper, at $3.00, and
two reams of commercial note, at $2.00, together with about
a dozen packs of buff envelopes, at 12 1/2 cts., amounting in all to $8.50,
all for you, or such members of the family as you see fit to transfer
it to. I thought myself authorized to make the purchase for
you as paper in Dixie is now so enormously high. You can send
me the money when you please. In the journey from Winchester we
had so much rain that my most careful endeavours did not avail to keep it
uninjured and I brought it with me at any rate with great trouble. I hope its value
however is not very seriously impaired; though I did everything possible to keep it dry. I beg you
will not let the Bank have any of it. I would not have taken the trouble of bringing it
with me for any but my own people. I sent the paper day before yesterday to Dr. Davis
at the University with the request he would forward it. It is in an old carpet bag with my
bed tick which I have no occasion for in summer. Let me know if you get it and
whether the paper is much injured. I regret exceedingly it should be so at all. I close
in great haste to get a chance to mail. Will write again tomorrow if we dont
remove. No time for more now from you affectionate son.
[cross hatched across the bottom of page 6]
Berkeley sends the enclosed cheque upon money
of his father's in your hands upon which he is
authorized to draw. He begs you will send it
him by the first safe opportunity as he is
much in need of money.