New York Herald, 4/13/1865

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From the New York Herald, 4/13/1865

Mr. Theodore C. Wilson’s Despatches.

CITY OF RICHMOND, Va., April 10, 1865.

Passing over the gladdening intelligence that Lee has surrendered, the firing of salutes and the joyous manifestations and gatherings on the part of the military, and no mean portion of the civilians too, your correspondent will proceed to give some details of the more important transactions going on within its limits at present date.


Along the docks the quartermaster is clearing up. Engaged in this work alone he has employed over six hundred contrabands. These are gathering in and storing all kinds of abandoned naval and ordnance stores, together with machinery and every other article of value to the government. In all, there are employed along the docks about one thousand negroes. Some are engaged in loading and unloading government vessels, others in carting, hoeing and shovelling, more in carrying, collecting and storing, and all to a good purpose.

On arriving here Captain and Assistant Quartermaster James C. Slaght was directed to establish a depot at this place for the receipt and issue of quartermasters' stores required by the Army of the James. Captain Comstock was ordered to turn over to him the captured vessels then in his possession. He had to see that competent pilots were placed on the steamers, and that the vessels were kept in good running order. Captain Delaney, who had charge of a large amount of captured property, turned the same over to Captain Slaght, who saw it safely stored and properly guarded. He afterwards, by order, sent out agents to ascertain the location of the various flour and grain warehouses, tobacco warehouses, machine shops, foundries, carpenter shops, lumber, coal, unfinished vessels, deserted dwellings, &c., in and around the city. All these he took possession of, and where needed established a guard. He also noted the location of stores of service to the government, and made a report on their contents and the names of parties claiming to own said property. So far the amount of captured property collected has been enormous, and we have not yet got at near the whole of it.


In the navy yard there is a heavy amount of lumber, and of the kind needed in shipbuilding. On the ways there is a seven hundred and fifty ton ship, two-thirds finished. Work was commenced on it in 1860. There is also a canal lighter, nearly finished, and four canal boats in course of construction.

The captured steamer Allison, as is known, is now in the Quartermaster’s employ. Also three captured tugs.


The Tredegar Iron Works not being materially injured, and the mechanics hitherto employed in them having remained behind, we can commence to run the works as soon as we feel so disposed.

The Shockoe works are in complete order. These works we have had in operation since Saturday last.


RICHMOND, April 10, 1865.

Captain J. C. SLAGHT, Acting Quartermaster: -

CAPTAIN - You are directed to immediately take possession of one of the large empty buildings in the vicinity of the steamboat wharf, and have it fitted up as quarters for colored men who may be sent to your for employment. It would be desirable to have a building so arranged that one portion can be used for cooking, and a third as an eating room and general quarters. A small building should be selected and fitted up for hospital purposes. This building should be kept well policed, and rules established for the maintenance of order and cleanliness in the building aforesaid. It is important that regular hours be designated for work and meals. All the able-bodied men must be daily placed at work and a correct record kept of the names of such men. Your will, however, make no payments to them but simply provide them with food and shelter. The subject of pay will be a matter for future consideration. A weekly report must be forwarded to this office, giving the number of colored men in your contraband force, with a brief statement of the amount of labor which they have performed. You are directed to employ all colored men who make application, or are sent to you, providing them with food and shelter, Very respectfully, &c., &c.,

Colonel and Chief Quartermaster, Army of the James.

Quite a number of the contrabands in the Quartermaster’s employ are women. These are now engaged as cooks and laundresses. The contrabands get all they want to eat, and appear to be as happy as they possibly can be. They are all of them well clothed. It is remarkable how the negro women have kept up their fat, while the white women of Richmond, taken collectively, are lean and hungry looking. The only solution to the mystery of how the women kept fat is that they were generally employed as cooks, and of course got the pick “at the things of this life” which emanated from the kitchen.


There were thirteen hospitals, capable of accommodating between twelve and fourteen thousand patients, in Richmond when our troops took possession of the city. The hospitals were beautifully located in the suburbs of the city, remarkable for their cleanliness, and well ventilated. The hospitals were all left intact, surgeons, attendants, nurses, &c., remaining with them. In some of the hospitals a portion of the more valuable property was packed up and in readiness to be sent away; but, as we entered the city sooner than it was expected the property aforesaid was not gotten off. The rebel hospitals were arranged by divisions. A surgeon was assigned to each. The two largest hospitals were the “Jackson” and the “Chimborazo,” located on Navy Hill. There were about four thousand patients in the hospitals when we got here. Of this number eighty-seven were medical officers and assistants. Among the patients were two hundred officers. None of the latter were above the rank of colonel.

We found very few sick or wounded of our army in the hospitals here. The few we did find were promptly removed to the hospitals of the Twenty- fourth and Twenty-fifth army corps.


The following order is of interest: -
Special Order - No. 95.

RICHMOND, VA., April 8, 1865.

In compliance with orders received from the Surgeon General of the army, Surgeon Wm. A. Conover, Acting Medical Director of the department of Virginia, is hereby ordered to break up all general hospitals in and around the city of Richmond, leaving sufficient accommodation for the garrison of the city, and to turn over to the medical purveyor at Fort Monroe all property captured belonging to the Medical Department not required for immediate use. Such property will be stored in some convenient warehouse until transportation can be secured for it.

By command of Major General WEITZEL.
E.W. SMITH, Assistant Adjutant General.

In accordance with the above, all patients have been removed from where we found them, and placed in one hospital - the Jackson Hospital. They will remain in this hospital until further orders, or until action is taken in the matter of their final disposition.

The Stewart Hospital has been taken as a post hospital for our men, and placed under charge of acting Staff Surgeon Palmer, who was formerly in North Carolina.


A United States dispensary has been opened here, to aid such of the citizens as are in need of medicines and who are unable to procure them by purchase. This will indeed prove a great blessing to the sick of Richmond. Medicines are scarce here, and but a very limited supply can be secured by even those who have the money to purchase then with. Already the great good accomplished by this dispensary is being widely proclaimed, and tonight many a weak pulse is beating faster than it did a week ago, and it possessor thanking God that the Yankees, the proper medicine and deliverance have come at last.


All the flying hospitals of the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth corps will remain intact.


It is the intention to send all the sick belonging to our army to Point of Rocks of Rocks Hospital and the hospital at Fortress Monroe.


The sanitary condition of Richmond is good. Still we have already commenced to introduce many needed improvements in this respect.

Surgeon Conover, who is Lieutenant Colonel and Acting Medical Director of the department, will in a few days establish a board of health, to inspect the city and take such measures as will insure its future healthy condition.


Two days ago there were two thousand sick and wounded men in Petersburg, Some belonged to our army and the rest to the rebels. They are being transferred as fast as possible to City Point, to the hospitals there. surgeon Prince is chief medical officer at Petersburg, and is working night and day to have the wounded properly and promptly attended to. This, no doubt, will prove gratifying information to all those who have friends in the army; as many of the wounded in Petersburg are from Sheridan’s cavalry and the Army of the Potomac.


The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad is not yet in working order. The line is only in repair for twenty miles out from Richmond. There is strikes the South Anna river. The railroad bridge over the South Anna was destroyed by Sheridan. Further on, and not very far apart, are three other important bridges that were destroyed by the same officer. It is expected that the government railroad construction corps will arrive here in a day or two, and then the line will be immediately repaired to Aquia creek. The rolling stock of the road is in the very best order. It is now even better than it was before the war. There are here eleven locomotives, twenty-one passenger cars and a very large number of freight cars belonging to this road.


Yesterday a train went out on this road as far as Hungary station. On it went a surgeon who had come from Washington to secure the body of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, who was killed during the famous Kilpatrick raid against Richmond. Colonel Dahlgren’s body was found buried near Hungary station. It was originally buried on the outskirts of this city, but was taken up and reburied where we found it, in order to hide it away from the Yankees. So says report.


Today the streets were full of women and boys begging for money and food. Notwithstanding it rained hard, the sidewalks were all day crowded in front of the offices and the stores where permits for rations were issued. The members of the Christian Commission are doing a great deal of good for the poor. They help them in every way they can. They deserve the highest praise for the present benefits they are bestowing on the really needy.

Passing before a place designated as one of the agencies for the issue of ration orders to the poor, I paused to observe the crowd collected in front of the door. It was, indeed, a sorry looking spectacle. The gaunt figures, sharp features and general attenuated appearance of the applicants, showed plainly enough how truly they must have suffered. Their clothes were faded and patched, and in more than a few instances cut after a pattern known to oldest inhabitant. Tonight there are fully five thousand actually suffering people in this city. These will all be attended to at once, for the government agents are acting liberally to all who apply. The applications for food amount to twelve thousand.


In a great many houses in this city are stored large quantities of tobacco and articles properly belonging to the government. These we are gradually working in as to our mill. It is a fact that in very many houses is found hid a vast amount of property that was sent by loving Union friends at the North to their relatives and friends held here as prisoners of war. Such goods are secreted in houses occupied by the relatives of rebel officers. Our detectives know places where there are shoes, blankets, jellies, socks and a variety of articles thus hid away.


We have one thousand rebel prisoners in Castle Thunder, and two thousand one hundred more in Libby prison. These are awaiting parole. Aside from the above, there are several hundred officers and privates who were roving abut the city. The officers are under parole. The enlisted men have taken the oath of allegiance, and they did it very cheerfully, too.


In the city are many rebel officers, dressed and disguised in citizens' clothes. In the houses are many of the same class, hid away. Their sin will, of course, be sure to find them out. When they see General Lee in Richmond they will, no doubt, all come forward and be paroled or take the oath of allegiance.


The mechanics, who are now out of employment, are besieging the quartermaster for work to do. Today, at the office of Captain J. C. Slaght, over four hundred applications were made for work. Some wanted employment as machinists and iron workers, and others as carpenters and clerks, and all manifested the greatest anxiety to secure something to do. It was remarked at Captain Slaght’s office that some of the applicants looked as though they were not strong enough to lift a pen. Among those who applied were quite a number who had just taken the oath of allegiance and who were dressed in full rebel uniform.


The feeling here against Jeff. Davis is very great, and increasing. If Davis was here tonight he would be lynched. On Broad street this evening a party of boys and young men evidently natives, moved along singing, “We’ll hang Jeff. Davis to a sour apple tree.”


The feeling in regard to Lee is one of respect, mixed with a mild sort of veneration. He is even now generally well spoken of. The citizens say that Lee did the best he could, but that Davis is both a scoundrel and a coward. It is reported that when Davis went away he took with him three hundred thousand dollars in gold, and that this amount is not near all the gold he has.


The feeling is strong in favor of a foreign war. Many of the rebels would willingly enlist today in our service to go and drive Maxmillian out of Mexico. Some very influential citizens remarked tome today, that if our government would receive General Lee into its service, that Lee could raise a great army in the South, and that both him and Grant could march forward and square accounts in Mexico, and then give Canada a blow. The above remarks was made in earnest, and, judging from what is said by all classes, I am convinced it has a solid foundation.


How comes it that what little there is in the stores here evidently came from England? The shoes the people wear are of English make. The paper one purchases to write on has a crown on it. In fact, it is surprising how many articles and how much property there is here that come from England – ‘that England that always observes a neutrality,’ and never helps one party more than the other, or runs a “blockade.”


The day that Richmond was captured a newsboy arrived here with an immense bundle of HERALDS, and he sold them so fast he could not move about, after landing, for more than a few yards at a time.

From Mr. C. Bohn, news agent of the Army of the James, your correspondent gets the following information: -


Circulation of the HERALD in Richmond........................4,000
Circulation of the TIMES in Richmond.................. 300
Circulation of the TRIBUNE in Richmond................ 400
Circulation of the BALTIMORE AMERICAN in Richmond......700
Circulation of the Philadelphia INQUIRER in Richmond.. 700

The present daily circulation of the Richmond Whig is ten thousand. Mr. Bohn has established an agency here for the sale and distribution of New York and all other papers.


The rush for accommodation at this hotel is very great. Major Wm. L. James, Chief Quartermaster, Fortress Monroe, and lady; Major Nelson Plato, Quartermaster; Captain D. B. Horn, Assistant Harbor Master; Dr. Eli McClellan, and several other distinguished passengers, arrived here today from Fortress Monroe, in the steamer Silas O. Pierce, Captain Tom Briggs, and are stopping at the Spottswood House.

RICHMOND, Va., April 11 - 5 A.M.


Yesterday, as on Sunday, the city was resonant with the roar of cannon - salutes fired in honor of the victories we have gained. Sunday, midnight, a salute of one hundred guns was fired by the fleet in the river, near Drewry’s Bluff. At sunrise yesterday another salute of about the same number of guns was fired by the war vessels in the harbor. At ten o’clock A.M. a grand salute of one hundred guns was fired from the square, the guns being stationed at the base of the Capitol.


Mrs. General Robert E. Lee is seriously indisposed at her residence in this city. The reverses attending the rebel arms have unnerved the lady completely. Since the occupation of Richmond the government authorities have acted with the most scrupulous regard for the feelings of Mrs. Lee. At first a colored guard was placed in front of the house she is occupying on Franklin street; but upon it being represented that “The color of the guard was perhaps an insult to Mrs. Lee,” they were withdrawn, and a white one substituted. There are some who do not think the change ought to have been made. If colored men are fit to fight down treason and restore the authority of the government of the United States, they are certainly good enough to patrol in front of the residence of the wife of a general who has used his influence and talents to cost this nation thousands of lives and millions of treasure, the matter of feeling to the contrary notwithstanding. Last evening the condition of Mrs. Lee was somewhat improved; but it is said that the shock to her constitution has been very severe, and that there is not much hope of her recovering.


Many of the merchants of this city, who closed up their stores, are opening them again and doing a brisk business. No doubt they are induced to do so when they see how fast the few traders who are here are making money, and also when they listen to the expectations from the speculators' own mouths. Many Richmond merchants are thinking of visiting New York, and other Northern cities, with a view to securing a stock of goods for the spring and summer trade. The Whig thinks that, with the unrestricted introduction of goods, business here would take a start, the like of which has not been witnessed in the course of four years past.


The city is just as full as it can be of speculators, who are trying to make money in every conceivable way. Already a restaurant has been opened, and more will soon be in readiness for business.

One enterprising gentleman, a Baltimorean, has gone into the business of gathering up the old paper in the streets of Richmond. For this purpose he has employed a number of men to act as gatherers, who are even now working hard, with hooks and carts. Owing to the destruction of a portion of the city by fire, many of the streets are literally covered with old papers and legal documents of various kinds. Many a lawyer’s musty records are scattered broadcast to the winds.


The military authorities have despatched a vessel to Norfolk for one thousand barrels of lime, to be used in the purification of the city gas at the gas works. As soon as the lime arrives, and can be applied to its purpose, the gas will be turned on and supplant the homemade tallow candles now in use.


The military authorities have posted a guard around the sites of the several banks destroyed, in the expectation of recovering some of the bullion that is said to be buried among the ruins. It is reported that a soldier dug out a strong box from the debris of the Trader’s Bank containing gold, the property of one of the foreign consuls.


The Whig is urging upon the capitalists of the city of Richmond the propriety of at once moving in the work of establishing a city railroad. The Whig says on this subject:- “The only railroad ever owned by the city was taken up in 1863 by order of the so-called Confederate government, to aid in plating gunboats, which were finished only to be blown up. Above all things, Richmond needs a street railroad, for the walks are steep and the ascent tedious. If the road is not established by domestic enterprise it will be established by Northern capital, and as a final result we think home enterprise ought to reap the benefit.”


There is a telegraph office here in full operation. The military has charge of it. The old sign now holds good: - “Despatches can be sent from here to all points East and West.” The office has not yet been opened for the benefit of the public.


Hon. I. J. Arnold, Member of Congress from the Chicago district of Illinois, left here today for City Point.

Hon. L. H. Chandler, formerly of Norfolk, is stopping at the Spottswood House.  

The band of the Eighth Connecticut, on Sunday night, serenaded several general officers at their headquarters.


The water works are again in thorough repair. A guard is stationed at the works, night and day, to protect them from injury.

Adams' Express Company is an institution. Its agent here has established an office on the corner of Main and Ninth streets, and put out a sign large enough for a business of half a million a year. Yesterday the agent opened the office, and did some business, more as a matter of accommodation than profit.


A body, supposed to be that of a white man, but so much charred and burned as to defy recognition, was found among the ruins on the basin yesterday morning. This is the only body, so far, recovered from the ruins.


It is remarkable, in moving abut the city, to notice the number of women who are dressed in mourning. The toilet of some of the ladies here is odd in one respect. They are in the habit of wearing artificial roses, with broad green leaves, on the front part of their mourning jockeys and bonnets.

Not the lest amusing is to observe the negro women. They are very merry, and sing quite lustily while sauntering through the streets. On Sunday a grinning, fat negro women promenaded the principal streets, wearing a red pink muslin dress, with a rich and elegantly trimmed velvet cloak over it. Of course there is no accounting for the tastes among the colored populations.


The rains of yesterday did not wholly extinguish the fire in the destroyed portion of the city. In many places the ruins of the buildings still smoke and smolder.


There were over three hundred negroes around the Capitol yesterday, trying to find out the officers who are to enlist them. The negroes here see the enviable condition of our colored troops, and they want to “in” at once, especially for the rations.


There was but a meagre display in the Market House yesterday. Beef and veal averaged twenty-five cents per pound. The whole market was made up of beef, veal, sausages, tripe, parsley, onions and potatoes. There was not enough in the whole lot to supply the necessities for one day of a good sized town. The country people are not yet bringing much into market. Perhaps they are afraid that if they come into town they will have to take the oath.


Many who have been residents here are going to Norfolk. Some go to see their friends, others for a change of residence.


The colored correspondent of the Philadelphia Press is here, and, as a curiosity to these people, is attracting some attention.


There are two or three editors of newspapers in limbo in Libby. One was an attach of the Richmond Examiner. They button-hole all the visitors, and tell their grievances with long faces and smooth tongues.


The hotels here are in a wretched condition. At the Spottswood, the elegant and fashionable hotel of the city, the proprietor can barely get dishes enough for the use of his guests. The guest pays four dollars per day, is furnished with a bed in the attic, stirs his coffee with a table spoon, and if cups happen to be short he gets a bowl or a shaving cup in lieu thereof. The coffee is miserable, and the tea worse. The waiters are speculative, and will not bring one enough to eat unless specially feed with a treasury note representing either twenty-five cents or half a dollar. There are but few carpets in the house. The ladies parlor, nevertheless, is well furnished, and contains among its furniture a new piano in good tune. There are both Northern and Southern ladies stopping at the house. They converse with each other but very little.


There is a strong hope that Jeff. Davis will be caught before he leaves the country. If he is caught he can be hung in Richmond with as little opposition from the citizens as in any city of the Northern States. It is perfectly astonishing how bitter the feeling is against the would be President of the Confederate States of America.


There is a direct railroad communication from Manchester to Petersburg. Special trains are constantly running on the line.

It is reported that the Virginia central Railroad will be reopened, so as to resume communication with Staunton. The Danville Railroad remains as it was when we entered the city.


The remains of Colonel U. Dahlgren were taken from here this morning, to be conveyed to Washington, D.C. They were encased in a metallic coffin, and accompanied by a military escort, as will be seen by the following order: -



RICHMOND, Va., April 10, 1865.

12. Lieutenant U. Walker, Eleventh Connecticut Volunteers, with one sergeant and six privates from the same regiment, is hereby ordered to proceed to the city of Washington, D.C., with the body of the late Colonel Dahlgren, and return as soon as possible.

The Quartermaster’s Department will furnish Lieutenant Walker all the assistance in its power. Also free transportation. By command of

Maj. Gen. WEITZEL.
D. D. WHEELER, Assistant Adjutant General.


On the same boat was sent the body of Colonel H. H. Janeway, late commander of the First New Jersey cavalry. The deceased was shot through the head in one of the cavalry engagements near Burkesville, and died almost instantly. Colonel Janeway being killed, Lieutenant Colonel Beaumont wounded and Major Hart also killed, the command of the First New Jersey cavalry devolved upon Major Robbins, who is now with the regiment in the field. The body of Colonel Janeway will be taken to Jersey City, the home of his wife and friends. The body is in charge of Captain Bowen.

While writing of the cavalry I may in this connection mention that a Major Doran, of the Twenty-fourth New York cavalry, who was dragged from the field, supposed to be dead, is now in hospital at City Point. He is wounded in three places, and although able to converse, is very weak. It is not thought that he will recover.


The people of the North can scarcely form an adequate idea of the misery and positive suffering into which families that were but a few days ago well off, and who helped to make up the fashion and gayety of Richmond, are now thrown by the fire, the change of currency and the reverses that have befallen the participators in the rebellion. Even when Jeff. Davis had his rule here, and the so-called rebel paper was of sufficient value to secure something to eat, the people had but little; now they have almost nothing at all, and are in reality thrown upon the kindness of strangers and those whom they have been affecting to despise and look upon as enemies for means of subsistence. Many well dressed persons, both men and women, walked the streets of this city yesterday who were hungry, but were ashamed to own it. The poor trash come out boldly and ask for what they want, and they get it too; but those who made up the comfortably situated and aristocrats try to conceal their sufferings, and suffer more for doing so.


Prominent citizens are doing all in their power to properly restore law and order in Virginia and revive the civil authority throughout the State.


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