A trip through the Old Dominion.
Savannah, Ga., Jan. 9, 1876.
To the Editor of the Caledonian:
Dear Sir: We left New York Wednesday, Jan. 5th. at 3 P.M., and arrived in Washington almost midnight. Next morning we looked about the City — first at the Agricultural Building, then the White House and Patent Office. In the afternoon we visited the Capital. We first went to the House, but found the public gallery full. A one-legged door-keeper finally let us into a private gallery, where we had a good view. The subject under consideration was a reconciliation resolution in consideration of the “Centennial” year, and it was carried by a unanimous vote. Then some on the Republican side moved a resolution that in accordance with the foregoing resolution, no more wounded Union soldiers should be removed from offices within the gift of the House. This of course was merely setting backfires, and was ruled out of order by the speaker pro-tem (Clumer.) Banks sat on the Republican side but did not vote on either side, seeming to be independent in all things. Blaine was not in his seat, but Hendee, Joyce and Dennison were all there. Reagan of Texas, (late postmaster-general C. S. A.) introduced an amendment to the Constitution in regard to direct taxes.
We then went over to the Senate. Morrill (of Vermont) had just made some remarks on his currency bill, introduced the day before, and was replied to by Bogy of Missouri, who was opposed to contraction. He made several mistakes in fact, and was corrected by Morrill. Bogy looks like L. B. Harrington of your place; perhaps not quite as intelligent. The Edmunds put in a few words, also Thurman, Eaton, Sherman and Bayard. Morrill and Bogy were the only ones that spoke on the question, while the others were talking about the Resumption bill passed last winter, and trying to make capital for the Presidential election.
The most that we learned was the position of the Democratic party on the currency question. Senator Bogy was opposed to contraction, but Thurman was for resumption at the proper time and in a proper manner. Edmunds told him that his position on that subject was the same as that of a certain party during “the late unpleasantness;” the were for crushing the rebellion but against every measure that tended to accomplish that object. Now they were for resumption, but against every measure that helped its consummation.
We left Washington at 8 A.M., Friday, expecting to go along night and day. We passed across Long Bridge, Fort Runyon, down through Alexandria, which was about as dirty as usual, and then out over the old debatable ground towards the Rappahannock. Fairfax Station looks natural, consisting of a few tumble-down buildings, and a new church about ten feet square. Manassas Junction seems to have improved, and now it is nearly as large as Passumpsic village. Some of the old earth works are in sight, but most of the fighting was done about three miles north-west, on the Warrenton Pike Beauregard’s headquarters — a little white-washed house on a knoll — are pointed out by the conductor.
When I saw it then it was well on fire.
At Bristow Station we saw the cut and fill of the railroad, behind which Warren rushed his corps when A. P. Hill tried to cut him off from the rest of the army of the Potomac, in 1863. Hill did not succeed, but got whipped himself, and lost six guns. The windmill is gone. The bridge at Rappahannock station seems to have been rebuilt since 1863. When I saw it then it was well on fire.
The timber around Brandy Station has been cut off so that one hardly recognized the position of three of the biggest cavalry fights of the war. Just this side of Culpeper, in the angle between the railroad and the Woodville Pike, are the grounds of the Piedmont Agricultural Association. One thing that impressed me as being a good thing and worth imitating in Vermont, was the number of shade trees scattered about the grounds. At Culpeper I readily recognized that spot near the depot where a rebel gun stood and blazed away at our regiment (and nearly knocked a barn on to us.) till the 2d New York cavalry came up behind and captured it, still smoking, with the swab in the gun. The mate to this gun remained too long, and was captured by our regiment just the other side of town.
The Confederate cemeteries here and at Manassas seem to be going to ruin, as every thing was made of wood, and no one to care for them. From here to Charlottesville, we passed through the best part of Virginia, except the Shenandoah Valley. Vermont is too hilly and Florida too level. This region seems to be the delightful medium between the two. It is quite rolling, and we saw a great many nice houses on the swells of land, where the prospect must be very fine. Just this side of Charlottesville we pass in sight of Monticello, the home of Jefferson. Situated on the top of a high hill to the south of the railroad, and a mile beyond the town, is the University of Virginia, which has four hundred students. The railroad from here to Lynchburg was in good repair, although we did not leave it so in ‘65. It was a very expensive one to build, being either forty feet above or forty feet below the surrounding country.
He pretends to practice law, and earns about enough at that occupation to pay his bills at the other bar — say two dollars per day.
When we bought our tickets in New York, the agent told us that if we left Washington Friday we should be in Danville that night; but we found that there was no train beyond Lynchburg, and so we stayed over till the next morning, stopping at the Washington hotel, along with Gen. Jubal Early. He looks quite old, has a long beard, is bent over and uses a cane. He pretends to practice law, and earns about enough at that occupation to pay his bills at the other bar — say two dollars per day. Lynchburg is situated on a hill, and cannot be hid. The James river runs in a deep gorge here, and all the available space is occupied by the canal and the four rail roads that centre here. The city is built on the south side of the river, and the streets are the steepest I ever saw.
We left Lynchburg at 10 o’clock A.M., Sunday, and arrived at Danville about noon, where we took the cars of the Richmond & Danville R. R. and proceeded south via Greensboro, Salisbury, Charlotte, Columbia, Augusta, Millen and Savannah. We arrived at Salisbury about dark, and I tried to get something to eat from an old lady who had a table on the platform of the depot. She had boiled eggs, bread and fried squirrel, and offered to put me up a snack for one for 25 cents, or a snack for two for 50 cents. I did not care for the squirrel, and I tried to exchange it for eggs; but the old lady would make no change, her figures were a snack for one for 25 cents, or for two for 50 cents.
We rode all night, passing nearly across the state of South Carolina, and arrived at Graniteville about 8 A. M., where we stopped for breakfast. There is a large cotton factory here, employing about six hundred hands, and it is said to pay. I think there was an account of it in Harper’s within the last year. The route from here to Savannah is quite pleasant, and we arrived here almost dark, Jan. 9th, just two hours too late for the Jacksonville train, and consequently shall stay all night.
Horace K. Ide
Originally published in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian on January 21, 1876.