Press enter after choosing selection

War-days In Richmond

War-days In Richmond image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The firat of the days whsn war seemed to be brought vividly noar to us was May 31, l!S()2, when J.ilmson assaulted that portion of McClellan'a troops which had been advancpd tü tho west si.l.' ut' the Cbickahowiny, aud had thero been cut off froia the umin body of tho ariny by tho sudden rise of tho river, wasínng awsiy the bridge on wbich thuj' had erossed. Por those waiting and watching witJbin the city, tho day nieined endloss. Until sunset tho cannonade was iuci -.ssitiit, and feitrfully distinct. Altbough it had boen our lot to reinain so uear the Bcene of tho great opening conflict of th'e war, the iirst Ma'nassas, that ■ im-d to be sharing thofierco excitement huur by Lour, nnd thrilled with every swayingof tho tido of battle; althouph vu had said to ourselves, after the lh'st boom ot' the tirst cannon on that awful day, tiiat thore could uever uguin bc iii our heurts a& emotion so st: and wild- yot the later duye in lïichmond disprovod our boast, and wo carne tu know Buch houra of agonized expectimcy, suoh sleeplossnights aud stern idftlrtii 8 of death and snfifering, as hd not entered within our iuuiginings beforo. üurkness brought a lull in the oannonading, und wo. slcpt littlo that night, kcowing that tho dawn would bohold a reopening of hostilitics. What a day folio wed 1 Never had such a Sunday been known in hithertoquiot Richmoud. Intolerably long, iilled with confusión, and unliko Sunday in STerything lmt the servioe nnd oominunion lor which ISt. Paui's was thrown open. Tho firo begau at er.rly dawn, and all bolieved that the general ongageuient, to ciiy, had begun. were ulive with offioers, gallop:i];; to and fro, covered with battle and mud ; men slightly wounded, limping trom tha field, ambulances, litiits, every Tehicle tbat tho city could produce, incessantly going and returning, laden with ita ghastly burden; : of every rank and Btation hurrying abont, their faces puin with emotion but their há&da strongly aerred to deeds of mercy ; old non nieuting tho ambulances that bore their dying sons, children crying, all the day through, until its dreary clcsc ! Tho loctnre rooms of tho different churchea vvere thrown open, and orowded with ladies, eewing tho rough beds, for which the sürgGons were calling, as fast igerg and machines could ily. oward eveniag, men in every stage of niutilation, living and dead, hepod together, wero brought in by hundreds. Kvery man was needed, aud ovory hand responded with all its energy. For two or three daya our whole time was spent. in the impromptu hospital, whero saany a iViendless suiï'erer had been sheltered. Ou Wednesday carne a day of soro trial. Our young cousin lt had been missing ever since tho battle, and we üad I een tonuented with oonjectures regurding his fato. Advertisements and iuquiries wero c-quallv frnitlesa, and, not tent Nvith the rcgister-books, wc scarcheu tho different hospitals. The heat was inteuse, the sim pouring down upon the brick paveuienta, unooolud tor (Uiys, mi til oiir feet and heads chcd in commoii, is we walked through the lower part of tbc city, gainiug adimsaion to ofte hospital aftec the othor, md iuiiiinji away, disappcinted aud buarti-ick, fioin all. This was warindeed in i!l its punoply ofttrrors! At the St. Charles Hotel, large, deserted building, the great.drbary rooms were thronged witu patie&tsWounded unto death, niany of theu lay ujion the bare boards, with only u blnu ket or bavefsaok tor a j'illow; alono, uiiwatched, in the lust agouy - here an arm gonu ; tht'ïe olie log, or both.; ngain, n great banaage, stiil' with blood, covering half the face, where the dust und fiiesdid wliat the niemy s balie had lct't undone. Our hcarts were broken with the hopole'ssness of it all and our owu weakueee. We went from oim to the other, oarrying water, bishing U' files, arranging t!:,1 hard pillows, bending ovor cach tuce with a sickening dread lost li 's ehould bc among them. But it was not, thank heaven, orin any of the hotpitals, for, in a few daya, the young iiiiui iippeared ; elightly wounded, hc hiul been lelt bchiud, while his regiment went on, umi had been untible to coniiiiunieate with his frieilds for Bi diiys. The condition of things in' the Si Charles, and other improvised hospitals, wus mueh itnproTed, we wero glad to learn, by the offsring of pew-ouehions froni all the city uhuTchcg, whioh, luid toftether, forioed a.not uucomfortublo bed AH tlie. dinner, breakfasi and upper tables ovoi the town omptied their oontents into basïets for the benefit of the i i in, aad rare old winea were diseatombec fruui iiuiuy a heretoïoie ohary cellar. Again, 011 the 27th oí June, Richmom knew a day of unwonte.d stir. The, soven days' fight before hei gatea liad begnn AH daring tho day Bverypointcommiwidingavicw iu direotiou of the battle was orowded witb. would-be loukers on ; hill-sides and liousu-tops were a niass of eager, awie-striöken people, iuid fur into tlio iiight tbty kopt vigil, watchhig tbc flery mght of the bonib, and liateiing to the Bollen ror of tho cannon. A gad and weaiy Beatón was tliat for tho belea.guxed city. From tito front, :imost daily, were brought back her BOUS, dead or wonoded. Evury lioueo was tlirown open, and dedicatcd to scones of suifering. llourly, alniost, a long, wailinj; dirgc from BOmfi military band announctd the passage of an oíticnrs funeral tlirougli the stroet? ; and, indeed, so crowded with this sad vork were the churches and cemetcries during the day, that several finierais took place at night, and the .luly nioon lookbd down on many lomn pageant within the boundaries of lovely Hollywood. Who could nuuiber those uithouort:d finierais outside the waliis of Kinhuiond, whuruthc hard-fought battle-fieldb'wero soarred with graves of ficiend :iin lbo "in 0110 rod burial blent:1" Let 08 doal with brighter things. And eren after those gloomy days Biohmond had brighter things toboast of. Thi: winter of '63 was perhap the gayest period of the eiitiro war. Strange, that while vi' were in daily incroasing uced of hixurius, even of things Uöcoss.iry, society should havo gone ko feverishly into halls, tbeatrioals, reviews and camp picnics. Shut in us vo wero froiu tho outer woild, gainiug all our uews of soience, literature, 'irt and iVishion through tbs medium of occasional Xorthern and Knglish journals, per underground express, we seerap.d to lind relief in meeting togethor aiul making light of hardships. Now bogan the roign of expertier.ts. Petty shii'ts, ander tho halo of patriotic gelf-denial, became thinge to laugh over in hüiiBfliokia distinguished of old for luxuriouB huspitality. Numbers of btately matrons and shrinking youug girls ?firo p-lufl ai' sitiiaf innq ah fili'rta ín tlu different governmental departruents, i where tbey met togüther oveiiy day, froin ! nino to throo, coming homo to n dinner oí : salt pork, fggs (in parenthesis, did we 1 not learn the iive húndred different ] ods of cooking an egg?), pot atoes and i 1 ! -,u Sotnetdmes there was a pie of i (bied fruit, or u cake With sorghum ino-' '. lassee taking tho piuco of sugur, miaced ] driod peaches, iu place of citrón, drieil ; apples trying vory hard to rnetamoiphosp J themsclves into raisins, everything, in I short, contríving a "doublé debt to jay" l in our moagre stcre -rooms. i Luidics piaited straw hats around tlie 1 e vening lampa ; se wed gloves of ' ki] and shoes of eloth. Pins a' one time i beoame so acaree that wo bogan to dream of a bucolic state ot' cxistouci', when we i nhould use " thorns pluckud froiu tku : May bosh." The dress problem was, confessedly, c voy trying. Ilomespuu, juuntily made, i served very wcll tbr iiioriiing purposes, but in the ovening entertainment . thing more was needéd. The treatinent of a silk diss in those days was vciy much euch a ojie as the North i woman in "The Doctor" suggestud to i lier "talleor." ' Tuk nu.' this peteut ; thoo mini bind it, and tap bind it, and turn it rangsidü up, tapside down, hind pait foirid." In this strait was inaugurated tho "Ladi(;s' Exchange," and a itinarkablo afluir ] it was, kept by a mulatto woman, in whosn lifinds Were depositad uil kinds of i iinei"3-, under str et bé;il oí' sccrccy, to be eo'd or ezchanged for souicthing else. i Tlio interior of that woman's littlo room was at once a comioal sight, and asad o:io. Hanging apon nord and hooks, heaped i upon the tables, was overy varioty oi' garmentb, in rich iiud simple fabrica. State robes of vel vnt thathad known their i ter dï.ys in the gilded saloons of Wash ington ; sal i esses irora Pariman workt-hopg, t)int had run their brief career at Newpoi iv York; gauzy nuslins of Xew Orleans ; var! lace, from ihicn it must hai ta fair ownor uany sigh to part - eaoh in its turn iug for itsoll', and telling its tale as he plausible vender vrould have beun at í loss to !'. " ■ Once a week wcro held tho " Starvaion Parties," which became buch au iiujortant item in Bichmond .social Ufe. A mail Bubscriptión frota the male memers secured good musió for tho season; he ladies sucoessively opening their ïousp?, and everybody agreeing iv disicnso with the material tonsideration ot' vinos nul gupper. This "Starvation Jlub" grew in popularity, and auoieroua i mado to admit new members, while all the distiuguifehed vistors to the capital wereforuiaily presen ted for invitation. It was not uncoinnion o .i the leader of tho Germán reirrshug himself behind the door, in tho genLeinen'e dressing room, with abiscuit, or a young gentleman and hiu fair danseuse enjoying an orimge together inasecluded. iazza, in the pauses of a wultz. We had very little of theater-going in Jichmond. It was never popular iu the ;owu siocti tho horrors enaotëd long ago on tilo site of tho present Monumental zhuroh. Thu best pooplo raroly went to he theater on Broad street, whero a l'Ir. 50rsay ügden presided ovor the legitinate dramiv, interspersed with negro minstrelsy and jokes of' tho poriod. fcjo that society grasped at a Bubstitute, and had charades, pantominies, and tablcaux, to which every ouo contributüd cast-off milineiy, and where many a military hero shom.' in borrowed glories upou a, coutracted stage. ?.i:iiketing in thosn days became rather Butcher'a meat was scarce, and dearitlniost bevond oidiuaiy means, save iis an uuusuul treat. Thu lilue-backs of Confedérate njouey grew ularmingly plentiful, and socuied tor us lesa and loss. Early in the ándala of Confedérate States ourrency there liad been a brief period ot individual ñutos, promptly supit ; and a pious, church goii; i u.s uonfronted by a document like this turuing up iu hor : '■ Guod for ono drink, John Smith." Iu the matter of letter-paper, we, who had been wout to pride ourselved on the daintj lavende? i.r ureaw-laid sheets oí Gitn brede, nionograuiined and nestel, tolt it to Lo a Bevere blow, whon all that ■■ could procure was a species of paper jaundicöd in hue, ooarge 111 texturo, and envelopes of wall or wrappiiig-pap.r to pond. liut 1 find inj-solf transgressing the limits of ui y Bpace in i':viving these odds and ends ot' war experience. Already, ia the years that have ela] s ■!, tbal inue una its surroundings seem curiously remóte, inJ olothe tlieiiiselvus in the garboi respectable antiquity. Let us pray tlnit, for generations to come in our lund, thev may nevor know ïunewal !-


Old News
Michigan Argus