National Tribune, 2/28/1901

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From the National Tribune, Thursday, 2/28/1901

VISIT TO HISTORIC SPOTS.
A Connecticut Veteran Finds That Old Landmarks in the South Have Disappeared.

EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: On Christmas I left home for a trip in the South. On arriving at Washington, I purchased a holiday excursion ticket to Richmond for $4.85. The time required for the trip was about three hours. Just think of it: in 1861 over 2,000,000 soldiers started to go to Richmond. It required four years' time, cost hundreds of thousands of lives and a sea of money. It is plain to be seen that our troops made a mistake in not sticking to the railroad and purchasing a holiday excursion ticket. The trip is a very pleasant one.

[The author here describes Fredericksburg in a paragraph - not transcribed.]

On arriving at Richmond I heard cannonading, but as I knew the "war between the States" was over long ago, I innocently supposed that they were celebrating my entry into their city. I wondered how on earth they could have known that I was coming, but I presumed some one had telephoned from Washington that I was on my way. On arrival I was somewhat humiliated to learn that the supposed celebration of my entering was blasting for a canal. Thus our earthly hopes are blasted. They are damming up the James River, turning the water into this canal for the purpose of grinding out electricity. They are building a bridge there three miles and 300 feet in length.

I went to visit Byrd Island, where many of our soldiers were entertained during the war, and what was my surprise to find that I was not allowed upon the island. I managed, however, to get both feet over the bridge before I was ordered off. How different from 38 years ago. The boys "on the other side" were very much pleased to show our boys the place, and allowed them to stay there as long as they wished, providing they did not die in the meantime.

I next visited Belle Isle, where I received better treatment. On entering the place I saw a man with a dog; but as I have great confidence in my ability, I marched up to him without fear and asked him some questions. He informed me that he was too young to know anything about the war, but very kindly referred me to a carpenter, who was employed on the island in repairing buildings for the iron works. He gave me considerable information about the island, when the boys were sojourners there; also introduced me to another soldier "on the other side," and I can assure you I had a very pleasant time. I asked if all the soldiers' bodies had been removed to the soldiers' cemetery, and was told that many of them still remained buried on the island.

I visited the Jeff. Davis Mansion, and a beautiful place it is, too. The shaft of the Merrimac is in front of the house. The mansion is used as a Museum at the present time. I went to the Capitol of the Southern Confederacy, and also took a look at the beautiful hotel; I think it is called the Hotel Jefferson. It is a grand building, beautifully furnished, and the citizens of Richmond are justly proud of it; even in North Carolina I was asked several times if I had seen that hotel.

[author describes the remainder of his trip through the south - not transcribed]

I had a very pleasant time, indeed, on my trip. I spent a couple of days in Washington, and am now home again and at work. - W. L. BLACKMAN, Co. B, 10th Conn.

[Comrade Blackman served three years with his regiment. He is now a certified public accountant and President of the Allentown Business College, Allentown, Pa.]

 

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