Friday July 11, 1862
Camp of the Rockbridge Artillery--1st Brigade
Jackson's Corps--Army of Richmond
On the Mechanicsville Road 3 miles from the city
Mrs Wm. M. Blackford, Lynchburg
My Dear Mother
I am at last
once more with my company and take an early
opportunity to write and give an account of myself
for the week that has elapsed since I saw you
I wrote you a short letter Saturday night which
I hope was received. I return now to the time of
leaving home, Thursday of last week, with Mrs.
Leftwich under my escort. The journey was pleasant
enough until we got 1 1/2 miles below Amelia C.H.
on the Danville R.R., where, owning to the shame-
ful neglect of the proper authorities to keep the
track in proper order several cars ran off and
were more or less smashed and several persons
killed and wounded, viz 2 white and 1 colored man
killed, another colored man mortally injured, yet another
seriously so, and 2 or 3 persons painfully, though
I hope not severely bruised. Where the accident
occurred there was an interval of s[?] rail, and
the rotteness of the cross ties, added to the frail
nature of the [staples?] caused the wreck of the cars
without any injury to the locomotive, of the break
age being continuous, e.g. the car in front of the one
I was in was pretty much destroyed, mine but little
hurt, and the one behind it very much so. I was
seated about 10 feet from the front of the coach
on the platform of which Mssrs. Little & Kent
were killed by the car before them backing upon
and crushing them. They were much mangled,
at least Little was, and presented a fearful appearance
My own escape, and that of all in my vicinity
was narrow and most providential: another
instance of the excellent mercy of God which
I have in the past few months so often had
occasion particularly to acknowledge & adore.
Soon after the accident occurred and while we
were all debating what was best to be done
Dr Cheatham, a hospitable gentleman resi-
ding within 1/2 mile of the spot came over and
invited 10 ladies & 10 gentlemen of the number
contained in the cars to come over to his house.
I was very glad of the invitation, particularly on
Mrs. Leftwich's account, and accepted it in her
behalf and mine. She went on with a party
of ladies to the house while I went first up to
the C.H. to send telegrams to Richmond & Lynchburg
Among the passengers were Mr. Wm L. Clark and his
Daughter Miss Julia whom I knew well in Winchester
They were coming to Richmond to see Major f. B. Jones
of the 2d Va. Inf. (Mr. C's son-in-law) badly wounded.
I went with them, another lady from Winchester
and subsequently became acquainted with a
Miss Emma Taylor, of Mt. Airy, and a Miss Chinn
to whom she introduced me, all passengers, and
old Dr. Cheatham's guests. In short we had a
remarkably pleasant party and Mrs. Leftwich
as well as myself found them very agreeable
She is so thoroughly well-bred and polite,
and so thoughtful of everyone, that she cannot
fail to conciliate and make friends generally.
We all remained at Dr. Cheatham's until
10 o'ck. the next morning and then returned to the RR
but the train did not get down until 7 o'clock.
We were entertained with the greatest kindness by
Dr. & Mrs Cheatham who steadfastly refused any com-
pensation whatever. They are parishioners and friends
of Rev. P. Farley Berkeley, and live only 3 miles from him.
Their hospitality will be long remembered by our
party. We had a long time to wait on the side
of the R.R. but the day was pleasant, there was
plenty of shade and we had plenty to eat, in
short it was a very good 4th July picnic, im
promptu though it was. I shared with my
Winchester friends a part of the contents of my
haversack (not even yet quite exhausted), but our
combined wants did not take from it more
than enough to render it convenient to carry.
It was 9 o'ck before we reached Richmond and
owing to the lateness of the hour I accepted an
invitation to stay at Mr Alex Rutherfoord's
where I met a very kind reception. I took
leave of them the next morning after breakfast,
leaving a polite invitation from Mr. & Mrs. R to make
their house my home during my stay in the city.
Saturday was a day of much vexation and
annoyance. I got my pass from Gen. Winder,
the commandant of the post, to whom I was
ordered to report, in the morning, but neither
from him nor the War Department, or any other
source could gain any reliable information
as to the exact position of our Division, or
the route to take to get to it. All agreed
it was in Charles City co. about 30 miles
below the city, but no one could say precisely
where. From this time until Tuesday, so con-
tradictory were the reports of Jackson's where-
abouts, and so impossible was it to arrive
at any idea of the route by which to
reach him that I, together with a half
dozen others of the same division and therefore
in the same guest as myself, did not so
much as start, though fixing several times
to do it. Meanwhile I used every exertion
to get the desired information, bestowing several
hours every day on its pursuit, but with no success
Saturday was a fair though very hot day, and like
it in this respect was each successive one I
spent in Richmond. I had some difficulty in find-
ding uncle Lewis, who is no longer at the Naval Hospl
but detached from the this as the attendant Surgeon for
examining at the Marine Recruiting Rendezvous in Broad
between 8th & 9th Sts. This however but nominal
duty so he gives most of his time to volunteer prac-
tice in the Baptist Female Institute Hospital for Woun-
ded in 10th between Clay and Marshall Sts. Since the
late battles there is naturally demand for more
surgical attendance in the hospitals than the
army staff affords, so his aid is gratefully received.
The B.F. building is excellently adapted for a
hospital and is capable of accommodating 200; by
this time probably has this many. Uncle Lewis says
he does this practice to which he gives many hours
daily--partly from love for the cause, and the sake
of humanity--partly because he would otherwise become
weary of having nothing to do. His lodgings are in
a house in Main St., one door above 7th, left hand side
going up street. He takes his meals at a restaurant.
I went to see cousin Mary Gwatkin Saturday morning
She was very king in tendering me her hospi-
tality, which I gratefully accepted during a part
of my stay in town, though less fully than I might
have done but for her having such a housefull.
I staid with Uncle Lewis at night and sometimes
took a meal with him, and at other times, by
invitation with other friends in town. I enjoyed
greatly several cold baths I got at Mr Gwatkins
as well as other home comforts kindly placed
at my disposal by my kind host and hostess.
Col. Withers, of the 18th Va., who was so badly woun
ded in the battle of Friday 27th ult., is, as you know
Mr. Gwatkins' guest and, by the way, he is doing
wonderfully well, having been severely wounded
three times. With him are his wife, mother-in-law
and daughter (about 14,) and, when I left there, his
brother and brother-in-law. Both of these are in
the army and will return to it soon, I imagine.
Besides these are one or two sick soldiers and two
more severely wounded. the latter elicited my
special interest, and I shewed them a good deal of attention
though one of their friends is, by cousin Mary's invitation,
staying with them, as special nurse. He is from the same co.
The two wounded are young gentlemen named
Marshall, nephews of the Hon Mr. M. of La., who was
one of Cousin Mary's boarders during the late session of
Congress. Upon leaving R. their uncle begged Cousin
Mary and she promised to look after them in case any
of his nephews were wounded. There are 5 bros with
2d La., all in one co. I believe; two of whom were
unfortunate enough to have to claim the fulfilment
of this promise. They are gentlemen in manner
etc. as they doubtless are by birth and education.
Uncle Lewis is their surgeon. Owing to the difficulty
in getting regular and competent medical service
Cousin Mary asked him to undertake these cases
which he cheerfully did, as it is but a square
out of his way in his daily walk to the B.F.I. Hosp.
One of them is wounded in the fleshy part of the
thigh, and suffers but little: the other has
undergone amputation of his right arm about
5 inches below the shoulder and is a great sufferer
still, though his case is doing well.
Sunday morning I attended service at St. Paul's Church
and enjoyed it very much. Being the first Sunday
of the month it was a Communion occasion.
The full service was had--morning prayers, litany
and communion, which, though generally in hot
weather perhaps inexpedient, was very agreeable
to one who has heard any part of it as seldom as I
do now. After the litany was introduced with
beautiful appropriateness the prayer provided
"In time of War & Tumults"; the prayer for the sick , amended
to suit, "the sick and wounded of our army" the prayer
from the 'forms used at sea' for the preservation against
the prayer for persons under affliction (peculiarly appropriate for a Richd congregation)
our enemies ^ and a special prayer in behalf of the
preservation and best interests of the C.S. soldiers.
To these were added the admirable thanksgiving
for victory taken from the 'forms used at sea', and
a thanksgiving for the preservation from danger in
the recent battles of many soldiers then present. The latter
was a slight modification of either one or other of the
last two forms among the 'Thanksgivings' in the Prayer Book
"For a Recovery from Sickness" --or "For a safe return from sea."
The services altogether were most interesting and de-
lightful, affording at once one of the best indications
of the resources and flexibility of the liturgy, and of the
strange inconsiderateness of those clergymen who seem
to pay little or no attention to the peculiar exigencies
of the times in their rendering of it. I received the
Holy Communion for the first time since Christmas
Day when I was in Winchester. I trust it may
not be so long again before I am allowed so com-
fortable a privilege. It gave me pleasure to observe
among the communicants a good number of soldiers
from privates up to colonels. The music was very
sweet, and there was plenty of it, Te Deum, Trisagion
etc.: I have seldom enjoyed anything more of
the kind. The leading voice and the one that best
pleased me was that of Mrs. Rives (née Macmurdo.)
It was a pleasant sight to observe among the
most serious and, I believe may be truly said, the most
devout, partakers of the Holy Communion the President
of the Confederate States. His whole demeanour and ap-
pearance in church has always struck me as modest
and reverent, in Every way just what it ought to be.
The pew I was invited by a friend to occupy happening
to be but 3 or 4 doors above Mr. Davis' I could not help
noticing as I walked out the prayer book his excel-
lency carried under his arm; it has the most or-
thodox appearance, being at least an octavo volume,
bound in heavy morocco and suitably gilt.
I dined on Sunday at the house of Mr. James Dunlop
(Dunlop, Moncure & Co.) Cor. Franklin & 15th Sts. I was at
the University Military School, a year ago, with his son,
who met me in the vestibule and courteously invi-
ted me to his pew and afterwards home to dinner.
The received me with much kindness, and enter-
tained me--and several other gentlemen guests--handsomely.
I was invited back again to tea, but did not accept
the invitation, though much pleased with them all.
Sunday afternoon I spent chiefly in visiting
wounded friends and acquaintances; among others
Charles boyd, of Lbg, badly wounded in shoulder & arm.
That night I went to church with Miss Julia
Clark, at St. Paul's--I may state here that her brother
in-law Major F.B. Jones, of the 2d. Va. Inf., finally expired on Thurs
day in Richmond, and was interred at Hollywood.
Saturday evening I spent with my friend Thos. M. Dudley, Jr.
at his father's house. Mr. D., like many others of the
excellent citizens of Richmond has his house full just now.
Major John C. Haskell, of So. Ca. (younger brother to my
particular friend Mr. T. Haskell) lost his arm in one of the
late battles and his brother Joseph is seriously sick,
and both Mr. D.'s guests. Their father and mother have
of course come on to R., and are with them. I met
and was exceedingly pleased with both. Mr. H. father
already knows. They have 5 sons in the service; my
friend William is a captain in the 18th So. Car., Gregg's Brigade.
The circumstances of John Haskell's wounding are par-
ticularly honourable to him. I give them in brief. He is
Chief Commissary to a Division but having nothing to do in
his line at the time was on the field near one of our most
distinguished Major generals during the battle--(which, I forget)
A volunteer was called for to carry an important message
to another officer high in command. The duty was a dangerous
one but John Haskell promptly offered to carry it, did so &
was subsequently very efficient under the direction of the officer
to whom he carried the dispatch in the active duties of a staff
officer until his right arm was shattered. It was subsequently
taken off at the shoulder joint. All these gallant offices
he performed entirely voluntarily, his duty properly speaking
not calling him into danger at all.
On Monday I made various visits to friends & acquain-
tances in the city, and met many of hers. I found
a large number of people I knew in Richmond,
among the surgeons for example various old college mates
I went to see my friend John Strother, whom I
found well though much saddened by the recent
death of his brother Sidney who fell in Friday's battle
He reminded me of a wish expressed by himself
and Mrs. S. last winter when I was in Richmond to
the effect that I should be one of the Sponsors in
Baptism for his child. by a singular coincidence
the desired clergyman and both the sponsors happened
to be in Richmond at the same time, the former,
Rev. O.A, Kinsolving of Middleburg (who married them)
the latter John Henry Powell, brother to Mrs. S., now
of Halifax, and myself, of the C.S.A. the ceremony
was accordingly fixed to take place at John's father's
house where they reside--Monday evening at 6 o'clock.
His father and mother were both absent in Dan-
ville, but there were present other members of the
family and a few friends, a pleasant little party.
The Sacrament was impressively and solemnly ad-
ministered, and the whole ceremony was very in-
teresting. Francis Powell Strother is now my godson.
I remained to tea at Mr. Strother's and passed
a very pleasant evening. It is not often I enjoy
the pleasure of meeting so many old & valued friends.
John Powell is in very delicate health and wholly
incapable of entering the military service. He has
been discharged without hesitation not subject to conscription.
On Tuesday in compliance with the advice of an
officer of Jackson's Corps, who professed to be informed,
our little party who were trying to get hither
determined to go by the Y.R.R.R. by Savage's Station
ten miles from town, and go thence by wagons said to be constantly
running to and fro to our Division. We went out by
a train at 4 P.M. but ascertained before alighting at
the Station by an officer of the 23d. Va. just from
his regt. that the Division was about to march
when he left it at 5 that morning, he knew not
whither, but probably returning toward Richmond.
No wagons went there nor any one from whom
we could get information so we had nothing to do
but return to town to await further developments.
We did so and on Wednesday learned positively that
the Division would be at this point Thursday, so we
had nothing to do but wait in town for its coming.
At Savage's Station and for some distance this side
there are indications of the immense destruc-
tion of commissary, and other stores, ammunition etc.
lately by the enemy in their retreat. The waste
was enormous; for hundreds of yards along the R.R.
the gutters are filled with dried apples, molasses
etc. and the ruins of even more valuable articles
are everywhere visible, close to the R.R. This has drawn
immense swarms of flies which invaded the cars
much to our annoyance and accompanied us back
to town. You can imagine nothing like it except
the Plague in Egypt. The remains of large quantities
of cannon ammunition of every kind are found in
the branches and little creeks about the Station. They
are all carefully removed and carried to Richmond.
I saw tons of shot and shell in our train going up
--all abut the powder of course perfect. This is gut one
item of the many stores recovered in a partially damaged state.
At Savage's Station the Yankees left- in whole town
of large hospital tents a large number of their sick
and wounded. I saw them there and was told they
contained 1500 to 2000 Yankees. Some 3 or 4 miles
this side of Savage's Station the R.R. crosses the line
of Yankees fortifications of whose completeness you have
prob[ab]ly heard so much. A little further on it passes
in close proximity to the scene of the battle of Seven
Pines; yet again in sight of where the hottest
part of Thursday's battle was fought; at least so I
was told. For miles on either side of the R.R.
between Richmond and Savage's there are the
indications of Yankees and Confederate camps
It made me shudder to see h ow near the
miserable invaders had been to our beloved capitol.
In deed every day there seems to us here some
new reason to thank God for the merciful
deliverance he has lately granted us against
our ruthless enemies--I trust the valour
of our troops may be again blest to the
same end wherever the "Young Napoleon" sees
fit to make another advance on us
your affectionate son L. M. Blackford
[written sideways in left hand margin of page 16]
I will write again immediately and fill out my narrative of events etc.
since I saw you last. My love to all at home.