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