Descriptions of Maryland: A Miscellany

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Descriptions of Maryland: A Miscellany

Edited by
William C. Chase

Revised Edition



Frances Trollope, On the National Road, 1830

Frances Trollope, Baltimore, 1830

Frances Trollope, Southern Maryland, 1830

Joseph Sturge, Of Slavery and Religion, 1841

Charles Lyell, Money Matters, 1842

Charles Dickens, A Trip Through Maryland, 1842

Charles Dickens on Slavery, 1842

John Robert Godley, Classes and Masses, 1843

An Englishman in Baltimore, 1845

James Dixon, Observations of Maryland, 1848

Henry Adams, A Journey to Washington, 1850

Frederick Law Olmstead, A Maryland Farm, 1853

Frederick Law Olmstead in Maryland, 1856

William Howard Russell, Spring and Summer, 1861

Anthony Trollope in Baltimore, 1861

George F. Noyes, The Battle of South Mountain, 1862

George F. Noyes at Antietam, 1862

Horace P. Batcheler, Impressions of Maryland and Americans, 1863

Colonel Harry Gilmor, A Ride Around Baltimore, 1864

Sir George Campbell in and about Baltimore, 1878

Joseph Hatton, Christmas in Baltimore, 1883

Catherine Bates, Baltimore, Mr. Walters, and the B&O, 1886

Crabs and Crabbing, c.1890

Charles Weathers Bump, Havre de Grace and the Susquehanna, 1898

J. Gordon Dorrance, Patapsco and the Art of Being Comfortable, 1919



Frances Trollope, On the National Road, 1830

Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whittaker, Treacher & Co., 1832), vol. I, pp. 270-288

I set off [from Wheeling] on my journey towards the mountains with more pleasure than is generally felt in quitting a pillow before day-light, for a cold corner in a rumbling stage-coach.

This was the first time we had got into an American stage, though we had traversed above two thousand miles of the country, and we had all the satisfaction in it, which could be derived from the conviction that we were travelling in a foreign land. This vehicle had no step, and we climbed into it by a ladder; when that was removed I remembered, with some dismay, that the females at least were much in the predicament of sailors, who, “in danger have no door to creep out;” but when a misfortune is absolutely inevitable, we are apt to bear it remarkably well; who would utter that constant petition of ladies on rough roads, “let me get out,” when compliance would oblige the pleader to make a step of five feet before she could touch the ground?

The coach had three rows of seats, each calculated to hold three persons, and as we were only six, we had, in the phrase of Milton, to “inhabit lax” this exalted abode, and, accordingly, we were for some miles tossed about like a few potatoes in a wheel-barrow. Our knees, elbows, and heads required too much care for their protection to allow us leisure to look out of the windows; but at length the road became smoother, and we became more skilful in the art of balancing ourselves, so as to meet the concussion with less danger of dislocation. . . .

The whole of this mountain region, through ninety miles of which the road passes, is a garden. The almost incredible variety of plants, and the lavish profusion of their growth, produce an effect perfectly enchanting. I really can hardly conceive a higher enjoyment than a botanical tour among the Alleghany mountains, to any one who had science enough to profit by it.

The magnificent rhododendron first caught our eyes; it fringes every cliff, nestles beneath every rock, and blooms around every tree. The azalia, the shumac, and every variety of that beautiful mischief, the kalmia, are in equal profusion. Cedars of every size and form were above, around, and underneath us; firs more beautiful and more various than I had ever seen, were in equal abundance, but I know not whether they were really such as I had never seen in Europe, or only in infinitely greater splendour and perfection of growth; the species called the hemlock is, I think, second to the cedar only, in magnificence. Oak and beech, with innumerable roses and wild vines, hanging in beautiful confusion among their branches, were in many places scattered among the evergreens. The earth was carpeted with various mosses and creeping plants, and though still in the month of March, not a trace of the nakedness of winter could be seen. Such was the scenery that shewed us we were indeed among the far-famed Alleghany mountains.

As our noble terrace-road, the Semplon of America, rose higher and higher, all that is noblest in nature was joined to all that is sweetest. The blue tops of the higher ridges formed the outline; huge masses of rock rose above us on the left, half hid at intervals by the bright green shrubs, while to the right we looked down upon the tops of the pines and cedars which clothed the bottom.

I had no idea of the endless variety of mountain scenery. My notions had been of rocks and precipices, of torrents and of forest trees, but I little expected that the first spot which should recal the garden scenery of our beautiful England would be found among the mountains: yet so it was. From the time I entered America I had never seen the slightest approach to what we call pleasure-grounds; a few very worthless and scentless flowers were all the specimens of gardening I had seen in Ohio; no attempt at garden scenery was ever dreamed of, and it was with the sort of delight with which one meets an old friend, that we looked on the lovely mixture of trees, shrubs, and flowers, that now continually met our eyes. Often, on descending into the narrow vallies, we found a little spot of cultivation, a garden or a field, hedged round with shumacs, rhododendrons, and azalias, and a cottage covered with roses. These vallies are spots of great beauty; a clear stream is always found running through them, which is generally converted to the use of the miller, at some point not far from the road; and here, as on the heights, great beauty of coloring is given to the landscape, by the bright hue of the vegetation, and the sober grey of the rocks.

The first night we passed among the mountains recalled us painfully from the enjoyment of nature to all the petty miseries of personal discomfort. Arrived at our inn, a forlorn parlour, filled with the blended fumes of tobacco and whiskey, received us; and chilled, as we began to feel ourselves with the mountain air, we preferred going to our cold bed-rooms rather than sup in such an atmosphere. We found linen on the beds which they assured us had only been used a few nights; every kind of refreshment we asked for we were answered, “We do not happen to have that article.”

We were still in Pennsylvania, and no longer waited upon by slaves; it was, therefore, with great difficulty that we procured a fire in our bed-rooms from the surly-looking young lady who condescended to officiate as chamber-maid, and with much more, that we extorted clean linen for our beds; that done, we patiently crept into them supperless, while she made her exit muttering about the difficulty of “fixing English folks.” . . .

Our second night in the mountains was past at a solitary house of rather forlorn appearance; but we fared much better than the night before, for they gave us clean sheets, a good fire, and no scolding. We again started at four o’clock in the morning, and eagerly watched for the first gleam of light that should show the same lovely spectacle we had seen the day before; nor were we disappointed, though the show was somewhat different. The vapours caught the morning ray, as it first darted over the mountain top, and passing it to the scene below, we seemed enveloped in a rainbow.

We had now but one ridge left to pass over, and as we reached the top, and looked down on the new world before us, I hardly knew whether most to rejoice that

“All the toil of the long-pass’d way”

was over, or to regret that our mountain journey was drawing to a close.

The novelty of my enjoyment had doubtless added much to its keenness. I have never been familiar with mountain scenery. Wales has shewn me all I ever saw, and the region of the Alleghany Alps in no way resembles it. It is a world of mountains rising around you in every direction, and in every form; savage, vast, and wild; yet almost at every step, some lovely spot meets your eye, green, bright, and blooming, as the most cherished nook belonging to some noble Flora in our own beautiful land. It is a ride of ninety miles through kalmias, rhododendrons, azalias, vines and roses; sheltered from every blast that blows by vast masses of various coloured rocks, on which

“Tall pines and cedars wave their dark green crests.”

While in every direction you have a back-ground of blue mountain tops, that play at bo-peep with you in the clouds.

After descending the last ridge we reached Haggerstown, a small neat place, between a town and a village; and here by the piety of the Presbyterian coach-masters, we were doomed to pass an entire day, and two nights, “as the accommodation line must not run on the sabbath.”

I must, however, mention, that this day of enforced rest was not Sunday. Saturday evening we had taken in at Cumberland a portly passenger, whom we soon discovered to be one of the proprietors of the coach. He asked us, with great politeness, if we should wish to travel on the sabbath, or to delay our journey. We answered that we would rather proceed; “The coach, then, shall go on to-morrow,” replied the liberal coach-master, with the greatest courtesy; and accordingly we travelled all Sunday, and arrived at Haggerstown on Sunday night. At the door of the inn our civil proprietor left us; but when we enquired of the waiter at what hour we were to start on the morrow, he told us that we should be obliged to pass the whole of Monday there, as the coach which was to convey us forward would not arrive from the east, till Tuesday morning.

Thus we discovered that the waiving the Sabbath-keeping by the proprietor, was for his own convenience, and not for ours, and that we were to be tied by the leg for four-and-twenty hours notwithstanding. This was quite a Yankee trick.

Luckily for us, the inn at Haggerstown was one of the most comfortable I ever entered. It was there that we became fully aware that we had left Western America behind us. Instead of being scolded, as we literally were at Cincinnati, for asking for a private sitting-room, we here had two, without asking at all. A waiter, quite comme il faut, summoned us to breakfast, dinner, and tea, which we found prepared with abundance, and even elegance. The master of the house met us at the door of the eating-room, and, after asking if we wished for any thing not on the table, retired. The charges were in no respect higher than at Cincinnati.

A considerable creek, called Conococheque Creek, runs near the town, and the valley through which it passes is said to be the most fertile in America.

On leaving Haggerstown we found, to our mortification, that we were not to be the sole occupants of the bulky accommodation, two ladies and two gentlemen appearing at the door ready to share it with us. We again started, at four o’clock, by the light of a bright moon, and rumbled and nodded through roads considerably worse than those over the mountains.

As the light began to dawn we discovered our ladies to be an old woman and her pretty daughter.

Soon after day-light we found that our pace became much slower than usual, and that from time to time our driver addressed to his companion on the box many and vehement exclamations. The gentlemen put their heads out, to ask what was the matter, but could get no intelligence, till the mail overtook us, when both vehicles stopped, and an animated colloquy of imprecations took place between the coachmen. At length we learnt that one of our wheels was broken in such a manner as to render it impossible for us to proceed. Upon this the old lady immediately became a principal actor in the scene. She sprung to the window, and addressing the set of gentlemen who completely filled the mail, exclaimed “Gentlemen! can’t you make room for two? Only me and my daughter?” The naïve simplicity of this request set both the coaches into an uproar of laughter. It was impossible to doubt that she acted upon the same principle as the pious Catholic, who addressing heaven with a prayer for himself alone, added “pour ne pas fatiguer ta miséricorde.” Our laugh, however, never daunted the old woman, or caused her for a moment to cease the reiteration of her request, “only for two of us, gentlemen! can’t you find room for two?”

Our situation was really very embarrassing, but not to laugh was impossible. After it was ascertained that our own vehicle could not convey us, and that the mail had not even room for two, we decided upon walking to the next village, a distance, fortunately, of only two miles, and awaiting there the repair of the wheel. We immediately set off, at the brisk pace that six o’clock and a frosty morning in March were likely to inspire, leaving our old lady and her pretty daughter considerably in the rear; our hearts having been rather hardened by the exclusive nature of her prayer for aid.

When we had again started upon our new wheel, the driver, to recover the time he had lost, drove rapidly over a very rough road, in consequence of which, our self-seeking old lady fell into a perfect agony of terror, and her cries of “we shall be over! oh, Lord! we shall be over! we must be over! we shall be over!” lasted to the end of the stage, which with laughing, walking, and shaking, was a most fatiguing one.

Frances Trollope, Baltimore, 1830

Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whittaker, Treacher & Co., 1832), vol. I, pp. 289-304

As we advanced towards Baltimore the look of cultivation increased, the fences wore an air of greater neatness, the houses began to look like the abodes of competence and comfort, and we were consoled for the loss of the beautiful mountains by knowing that we were approaching the Atlantic.

From the time of quitting the Ohio river, though, unquestionably, it merits its title of “the beautiful,” especially when compared with the dreary Mississippi, I strongly felt the truth of an observation I remembered to have heard in England, that little rivers were more beautiful than great ones. As features in a landscape, this is assuredly the case. Where the stream is so wide that the objects on the opposite shore are indistinct, all the beauty must be derived from the water itself; whereas, when the stream is narrow, it becomes only a part of the composition. The Monongahela, which is in size between the Wye and the Thames, is infinitely more picturesque than the Ohio.

To enjoy the beauty of the vast rivers of this vast country you must be upon the water; and then the power of changing the scenery by now approaching one shore, and now the other, is very pleasing; but travelling as we now did, by land, the wild, rocky, narrow, rapid little rivers we encountered, were a thousand times more beautiful. The Potapsco, near which the road runs, as you approach Baltimore, is at many points very picturesque. The large blocks of grey rock, now close upon its edge, and now retiring to give room for a few acres of bright green herbage, give great interest and variety to its course.

Baltimore is, I think, one of the handsomest cities to approach in the Union. The noble column erected to the memory of Washington, and the Catholic Cathedral, with its beautiful dome, being built on a commanding eminence, are seen at a great distance. As you draw nearer, many other domes and towers become visible, and as you enter Baltimore-street, you feel that you are arrived in a handsome and populous city.

We took up our quarters at an excellent hotel, where the coach stopped, and the next day were fortunate enough to find accommodation in the house of a lady, well known to many of my European friends. With her and her amiable daughter, we spent a fortnight very agreeably, and felt quite aware that if we had not arrived in London or Paris, we had, at least, left far behind the “half-horse, half-alligator” tribes of the West, as the Kentuckians call themselves.

Baltimore is in many respects a beautiful city; it has several handsome buildings, and even the private dwelling-houses have a look of magnificence, from the abundance of white marble with which many of them are adorned. The ample flights of steps, and the lofty door frames, are in most of the best houses formed of this beautiful material.

This has been called the city of monuments, from its having the stately column erected to the memory of General Washington, and which bears a colossal statue of him at the top; and another pillar of less dimensions, recording some victory; I forget which. Both these are of brilliant white marble. There are also several pretty marble fountains in different parts of the city, which greatly add to its beauty. These are not, it is true, quite so splendid as that of the Innocents, or many others at Paris, but they are fountains of clear water, and they are built of white marble. There is one which is sheltered from the sun by a roof supported by light columns; it looks like a temple dedicated to the genius of the spring. The water flows into a marble cistern, to which you descend by a flight of steps of delicate whiteness, and return by another. These steps are never without groups of negro girls, some carrying the water on their heads, with that graceful steadiness of step, which requires no aid from the hand; some tripping gaily with their yet unfilled pitchers; many of them singing in the soft rich voice, peculiar to their race; and all dressed with that strict attention to taste and smartness, which seems the distinguishing characteristic of the Baltimore females of all ranks.

The Catholic Cathedral is considered by all Americans as a magnificent church, but it can hardly be so classed by any one who has seen the churches of Europe; its interior, however, has an air of neatness that amounts to elegance. The form is a Greek cross, having a dome in the centre; but the proportions are ill-preserved; the dome is too low, and the arches which support it are flattened, and too wide for their height. On each side of the high altar are chapels to the Saviour and the Virgin. The altars in these, as well as the high altar, are of native marble of different colours, and some of the specimens are very beautiful. The decorations of the altar are elegant and costly. The prelate is a cardinal, and bears, moreover, the title of “Archbishop of Baltimore.”

There are several paintings in different parts of the church, which we heard were considered as very fine. There are two presented by Louis XVIII.; one of these is the Descent from the Cross, by Paulin Guirin; the other a copy from Rubens, (as they told us) of a legend of St. Louis in the Holy Land; but the composition of the picture is so abominably bad, that I conceive the legend of its being after Rubens, must be as fabulous as its subject. The admiration in which these pictures are held, is an incontestable indication of the state of art in the country.

We attended mass in this church the Sunday after our arrival, and I was perfectly astonished at the beauty and splendid appearance of the ladies who filled it. Excepting on a very brilliant Sunday at the Tuilleries, I never saw so shewy a display of morning costume, and I think I never saw any where so many beautiful women at one glance. They all appeared to be in full dress, and were really all beautiful. . . .

There are a vast number of churches and chapels in the city, in proportion to its extent, and several that are large and well-built; the Unitarian church is the handsomest I have ever seen dedicated to that mode of worship. But the prettiest among them is a little bijou of a thing belonging to the Catholic college. The institution is dedicated to St. Mary, but this little chapel looks, though in the midst of a city, as if it should have been sacred to St. John of the wilderness. There is a sequestered little garden behind it, hardly large enough to plant cabbages in, which yet contains a Mount Calvary, bearing a lofty cross. The tiny path which leads up to this sacred spot, is not much wider than a sheep-track, and its cedars are but shrubs, but all is in proportion; and notwithstanding its fairy dimensions, there is something of holiness, and quiet beauty about it, that excites the imagination strangely. . . .

Baltimore has a handsome museum, superintended by one of the Peale family, well known for their devotion to natural science, and to works of art. It is not their fault if the specimens which they are enabled to display in the latter department are very inferior to their splendid exhibitions in the former.

The theatre was closed when we were in Baltimore, but we were told that it was very far from being a popular or fashionable amusement. We were, indeed, told this every where throughout the country, and the information was generally accompanied by the observation, that the opposition of the clergy was the cause of it. But I suspect that this is not the principal cause, especially among the men, who, if they were so implicit in their obedience to the clergy, would certainly be more constant in their attendance at the churches; nor would they, moreover, deem the theatre more righteous because an English actor, or a French dancer, performed there; yet on such occasions the theatres overflow. The cause, I think, is in the character of the people. I never saw a population so totally divested of gaiety; there is no trace of this feeling from one end of the Union to the other. They have no fêtes, no fairs, no merry-makings, no music in the streets, no Punch, no puppet-shows. If they see a comedy or a farce, they may laugh at it; but they can do very well without it; and the consciousness of the number of cents that must be paid to enter a theatre, I am very sure turns more steps from its door than any religious feeling. A distinguished publisher of Philadelphia told me that no comic publication had ever yet been found to answer in America.

We arrived at Baltimore at the season of the “Conference.” I must be excused from giving any very distinct explanation of this term, as I did not receive any. From what I could learn, it much resembles a Revival. We entered many churches, and heard much preaching, and not one of the reverend orators could utter the reproach,

“Peut-on si bien prêcher qu’elle ne dorme au sermon?”

for I never even dosed at any. There was one preacher whose manner and matter were so peculiar, that I took the liberty of immediately writing down a part of his discourse as a specimen. I confess I began writing in the middle of a sentence, for I waited in vain for a beginning. It was as follows:—

“Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the one important, great, and only object; for the Lord is mighty, his works are great, likewise wonderful, likewise wise, likewise merciful; and, moreover, we must ever keep in mind, and close to our hearts, all his precious blessings, and unspeakable mercies, and overflowing; and, moreover we must never lose sight of, no, never lose sight of, nor ever cease to remember, nor ever let our souls forget, nor ever cease to dwell upon, and to reverence, and to welcome, and to bless, and to give thanks, and to sing hosanna, and give praise,” and here my fragment of paper failed, but this strain continued, without a shadow of meaning that I could trace, and in a voice inconceivably loud, for more than an hour. After he had finished his sermon, a scene exactly resembling that at the Cincinnati Revival, took place. Two other priests assisted in calling forward the people, and in whispering comfort to them. One of these men roared out in the coarsest accents, “Do you want to go to hell to-night?” The church was almost entirely filled with women, who vied with each other in howlings and contortions of the body; many of them tore their clothes nearly off. I was much amused, spite of the indignation and disgust the scene inspired, by the vehemence of the negro part of the congregation; they seemed determined to bellow louder than all the rest, to shew at once their piety and their equality.

At this same chapel, a few nights before, a woman had fallen in a fit of ecstasy from the gallery, into the arms of the people below, a height of twelve feet. A young slave who waited upon us at table, when this was mentioned, said, that similar accidents had frequently happened, and that once she had seen it herself. Another slave in the house told us, that she “liked religion right well, but that she never took fits in it, ’cause she was always fixed in her best, when she went to chapel, and she did not like to have all her best clothes broke up.”

We visited the infant school, instituted in this city by Mr. Ibbertson, an amiable and intelligent Englishman. It was the first infant school, properly so called, which I had ever seen, and I was greatly pleased with all the arrangements, and the apparent success of them. The children, of whom we saw about a hundred, boys and girls, were between eighteen months and six years. The apartment was filled with all sorts of instructive and amusing objects; a set of Dutch toys, arranged as a cabinet of natural history, was excellent; a numerous collection of large wooden bricks filled one corner of the room; the walls were hung with gay papers of different patterns, each representing some pretty group of figures; large and excellent coloured engravings of birds and beasts were exhibited in succession as the theme of a little lesson; and the sweet flute of Mr. Ibbertson gave tune and time to the prettiest little concert of chirping birds that I ever listened to.

A geographical model, large enough to give clear ideas of continent, island, cape, isthmus, et cetera, all set in water, is placed before the children, and the pretty creatures point their little rosy fingers with a look of intense interest, as they are called upon to shew where each of them is to be found. The dress, both of boys and girls, was elegantly neat, and their manner, when called upon to speak individually, was well-bred, intelligent, and totally free from the rude indifference, which is so remarkably prevalent in the manners of American children. Mr. Ibbertson will be a benefactor to the Union, if he becomes the means of spreading the admirable method by which he has polished the manner, and awakened the intellect of these beautiful little Republicans. I have conversed with many American ladies on the total want of discipline and subjection which I observed universally among children of all ages, and I never found any who did not both acknowledge and deplore the truth of the remark. In the state of Ohio they have a law (I know not if it exist elsewhere), that if a father strike his son, he shall pay a fine of ten dollars for every such offence. I was told by a gentleman of Cincinnati, that he had seen this fine inflicted there, at the requisition of a boy of twelve years of age, whose father, he proved, had struck him for lying. Such a law, they say, generates a spirit of freedom. What else may it generate? . . .

About two miles from Baltimore is a fort, nobly situated on the Patapsco, and commanding the approach from the Chesapeak-bay. As our visit was on a Sunday we were not permitted to enter it. The walk to this fort is along a fine terrace of beautiful verdure, which commands a magnificent view of the city, with its columns, towers, domes, and shipping; and also of the Patapsco river, which is here so wide as to present almost a sea view. This terrace is ornamented with abundance of evergreens, and wild roses innumerable, but, the whole region has the reputation of being unhealthy, and the fort itself most lamentably so. Before leaving the city of monuments, I must not omit naming one reared to the growing wealth of the country; Mr. Barham’s hotel is said to be the most splendid in the Union, and it is certainly splendid enough for a people more luxurious than the citizens of the republic appear yet to be. I heard different, and, indeed, perfectly contradictory accounts of the success of the experiment; but at least every one seemed to agree that the liberal projector was fully entitled to exclaim,

“’Tis not in mortals to command success;
I have done more, Jonathan, I’ve deserved it.”

After enjoying a very pleasant fortnight, the greater part of which was passed in rambling about this pretty city and its environs, we left it, not without regret, and all indulging the hope that we should be able to pay it another visit.

Frances Trollope, Southern Maryland, 1830

Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whittaker, Treacher & Co., 1832), vol. II, pp. 33-48, 52

The greatest pleasure I had promised myself in visiting Washington was the seeing a very old friend, who had left England many years ago, and married in America; she was now a widow, and, as I believed, settled in Washington. I soon had the mortification of finding that she was not in the city; but ere long I learnt that her residence was not more than ten miles from it. We speedily met, and it was settled that we should pass the summer with her in Maryland, and after a month devoted to Washington, we left it for Stonington.

We arrived there the beginning of May, and the kindness of our reception, the interest we felt in becoming acquainted with the family of my friend, the extreme beauty of the surrounding country, and the lovely season, altogether, made our stay there a period of great enjoyment.

I wonder not that the first settlers in Virginia, with the bold Captain Smith of chivalrous memory at their head, should have fought so stoutly to dispossess the valiant father of Pocohontas of his fair domain, for I certainly never saw a more tempting territory. Stonington is about two miles from the most romantic point of the Potomac River, and Virginia spreads her wild, but beautiful, and most fertile Paradise, on the opposite shore. The Maryland side partakes of the same character, and perfectly astonished us by the profusion of her wild fruits and flowers.

We had not been long within reach of the great falls of the Potomac before a party was made for us to visit them; the walk from Stonington to these falls is through scenery that can hardly be called forest, park, or garden; but which partakes of all three. A little English girl accompanied us, who had but lately left her home; she exclaimed, “Oh! how many English ladies would glory in such a garden as this!” and in truth they might; cedars, tulip-trees, planes, shumacs, junipers, and oaks of various kinds, most of them new to us, shaded our path. Wild vines, with their rich expansive leaves, and their sweet blossom, rivalling the mignionette in fragrance, clustered round their branches. Strawberries in full bloom, violets, anemonies, heart’s-ease, and wild pinks, with many other, and still lovelier flowers, which my ignorance forbids me to name, literally covered the ground. The arbor judæ, the dog-wood, in its fullest glory of star-like flowers, azalias, and wild roses, dazzled our eyes whichever way we turned them. It was the most flowery two miles I ever walked.

The sound of the falls is heard at Stonington, and the gradual increase of this sound is one of the agreeable features of this delicious walk. I know not why the rush of waters is so delightful to the ear; all other monotonous sounds are wearying, and harass the spirits, but I never met any one who did not love to listen to a water-fall. A rapid stream, called the “Branch Creek,” was to be crossed ere we reached the spot where the falls are first visible. This rumbling, turbid, angry little rivulet, flows through evergreens and flowering underwood, and is crossed à plusieures reprises, by logs thrown from rock to rock. The thundering noise of the still unseen falls suggests an idea of danger while crossing these rude bridges, which hardly belongs to them; having reached the other side of the creek, we continued under the shelter of the evergreens for another quarter of a mile, and then emerged upon a sight that drew a shout of wonder and delight from us all. The rocky depths of an enormous river were opened before our eyes, and so huge are the black crags that inclose it, that the thundering torrents of water rushing through, over, and among the rocks of this awful chasm, appear lost and swallowed up in it.

The river, or rather the bed of it, is here of great width, and most frightful depth, lined on all sides with huge masses of black rock of every imaginable form. The flood that roars through them is seen only at intervals; here in a full heavy sheet of green transparent water, falling straight and unbroken; there dashing along a narrow channel, with a violence that makes one dizzy to see and hear. In one place an unfathomed pool shews a mirror of inky blackness, and as still as night; in another the tortured twisted cataract tumbles headlong in a dozen different torrents, half hid by the cloud of spray they send high into the air. Despite this uproar, the slenderest, loveliest shrubs, peep forth from among these hideous rocks, like children smiling in the midst of danger. As we stood looking at this tremendous scene, one of our friends made us remark, that the poison alder, and the poison vine, threw their graceful, but perfidious branches, over every rock, and assured us also that innumerable tribes of snakes found their dark dwellings among them.

To call this scene beautiful would be a strange abuse of terms, for it is altogether composed of sights and sounds of terror. The falls of the Potomac are awfully sublime; the dark deep gulf which yawns before you, the foaming, roaring cataract, the eddying whirlpool, and the giddy precipice, all seem to threaten life, and to appal the senses. Yet it was a great delight to sit upon a high and jutting crag, and look and listen.

I heard with pleasure that it was to the Virginian side of the Potomac that the “felicity hunters” of Washington resorted to see this fearful wonder, for I never saw a spot where I should less have liked the annoying “how d’ye,” of a casual rencontre. One could not even give or receive the exciting “is it not charming,” which Rousseau talks of, for if it were uttered, it could not be heard, or, if heard, would fall most earthly dull on the spirit, when rapt by the magic of such a scene. A look, or the silent pressure of the arm, is all the interchange of feeling that such a scene allows, and in the midst of my terror and my pleasure, I wished for the arm and the eye of some few from the other side of the Atlantic.

The return from such a scene is more soberly silent than the approach to it; but the cool and quiet hour, the mellowed tints of some gay blossoms, and the closed bells of others, the drowsy hum of the insects that survive the day, and the moist freshness that forbids the foot to weary in its homeward path, have all enjoyment in them, and seem to harmonize with the half wearied, half excited state of spirits, that such an excursion is sure to produce: and then the entering the cool and moonlit portico, the well-iced sangaree, or still more refreshing coffee, that awaits you, is all delightful; and if to this be added the happiness of an easy sofa, and a friend like my charming Mrs. S——, to sooth you with an hour of Mozart, the most fastidious European might allow that such a day was worth waking for.


I now, for the first time since I crossed the mountains, found myself sufficiently at leisure to look deliberately round, and mark the different aspects of men and things in a region which, though bearing the same name, and calling itself the same land, was, in many respects, as different from the one I had left, as Amsterdam from St. Petersburgh. There every man was straining, and struggling, and striving for himself (heaven knows!). Here every white man was waited upon, more or less, by a slave. There, the newly-cleared lands, rich with the vegetable manure accumulated for ages, demanded the slightest labour to return the richest produce; where the plough entered, crops the most abundant followed; but where it came not, no spot of native verdure, no native fruits, no native flowers cheered the eye; all was close, dark, stifling forest. Here the soil had long ago yielded its first fruits; much that had been cleared and cultivated for tobacco (the most exhausting of crops) by the English, required careful and laborious husbandry to produce any return; and much was left as sheep-walks. It was in these spots that the natural bounty of the soil and climate was displayed by the innumerable wild fruits and flowers which made every dingle and bushy dell seem a garden.

On entering the cottages I found also a great difference in the manner of living. Here, indeed, there were few cottages without a slave, but there were fewer still that had their beefsteak and onions for breakfast, dinner, and supper. The herrings of the bountiful Potomac supply their place. These are excellent “relish,” as they call it, when salted, and, if I mistake not, are sold at a dollar and a half per thousand. Whiskey, however, flows every where at the same fatally cheap rate of twenty cents (about one shilling) the gallon, and its hideous effects are visible on the countenance of every man you meet.

The class of people the most completely unlike any existing in England, are those who, farming their own freehold estates, and often possessing several slaves, yet live with as few of the refinements, and I think I may say, with as few of the comforts of life, as the very poorest English peasant. When in Maryland, I went into the houses of several of these small proprietors, and remained long enough, and looked and listened sufficiently, to obtain a tolerably correct idea of their manner of living.

One of these families consisted of a young man, his wife, two children, a female slave, and two young lads, slaves also. The farm belonged to the wife, and, I was told, consisted of about three hundred acres of indifferent land, but all cleared. The house was built of wood, and looked as if the three slaves might have overturned it, had they pushed hard against the gable end. It contained one room, of about twelve feet square, and another adjoining it, hardly larger than a closet; this second chamber was the lodging-room of the white part of the family. Above these rooms was a loft, without windows, where I was told the “staying company” who visited them, were lodged. Near this mansion was a “shanty,” a black hole, without any window, which served as kitchen and all other offices, and also as the lodging of the blacks.

We were invited to take tea with this family, and readily consented to do so. The furniture of the room was one heavy huge table, and about six wooden chairs. When we arrived the lady was in rather a dusky dishabille, but she vehemently urged us to be seated, and then retired into the closet-chamber above mentioned, whence she continued to address to us from behind the door, all kinds of “genteel country visiting talk,” and at length emerged upon us in a smart new dress.

Her female slave set out the great table, and placed upon it cups of the very coarsest blue ware, a little brown sugar in one, and a tiny drop of milk in another, no butter, though the lady assured us she had a “deary” and two cows. Instead of butter, she “hoped we would fix a little relish with our crackers,” in ancient English, eat salt meat and dry biscuits. Such was the fare, and for guests that certainly were intended to be honoured. I could not help recalling the delicious repasts which I remembered to have enjoyed at little dairy farms in England, not possessed, but rented, and at high rents too; where the clean, fresh-coloured, bustling mistress herself skimmed the delicious cream, herself spread the yellow butter on the delightful brown loaf, and placed her curds, and her junket, and all the delicate treasures of her dairy before us, and then, with hospitable pride, placed herself at her board, and added the more delicate “relish” of good tea and good cream. I remembered all this, and did not think the difference atoned for, by the dignity of having my cup handed to me by a slave. The lady I now visited, however, greatly surpassed my quondam friends in the refinement of her conversation. She ambled through the whole time the visit lasted, in a sort of elegantly mincing familiar style of gossip, which, I think, she was imitating from some novel, for I was told she was a great novel reader, and left all household occupations to be performed by her slaves. To say she addressed us in a tone of equality, will give no adequate idea of her manner; I am persuaded that no misgiving on the subject ever entered her head. She told us that their estate was her divi-dend of her father’s property. She had married a first cousin, who was as fine a gentleman as she was a lady, and as idle, preferring hunting (as they call shooting) to any other occupation. The consequence was, that but a very small portion of the divi-dend was cultivated, and their poverty was extreme. The slaves, particularly the lads, were considerably more than half naked, but the air of dignity with which, in the midst of all this misery, the lanky lady said to one of the young negroes, “Attend to your young master, Lycurgus,” must have been heard to be conceived in the full extent of its mock heroic.

Another dwelling of one of these landed proprietors was a hovel as wretched as the one above described, but there was more industry within it. The gentleman, indeed, was himself one of the numerous tribe of regular whiskey drinkers, and was rarely capable of any work; but he had a family of twelve children, who, with their skeleton mother, worked much harder than I ever saw negroes do. They were, accordingly, much less elegant and much less poor than the heiress; yet they lived with no appearance of comfort, and with, I believe, nothing beyond the necessaries of life. One proof of this was, that the worthless father would not suffer them to raise, even by their own labour, any garden vegetables, and they lived upon their fat pork, salt fish, and corn bread, summer and winter, without variation. This, I found, was frequently the case among the farmers. The luxury of whiskey is more appreciated by the men than all the green delicacies from the garden, and if all the ready money goes for that and their darling chewing tobacco, none can be spent by the wife for garden seeds; and as far as my observation extended, I never saw any American ménage where the toast and no toast question would have been decided in favour of the lady.

There are some small farmers who hold their lands as tenants, but these are by no means numerous: they do not pay their rent in money, but by making over a third of the produce to the owner; a mode of paying rent, considerably more advantageous to the tenant, than the landlord; but the difficulty of obtaining money in payment, excepting for mere retail articles, is very great in all American transactions. “I can pay in pro-duce,” is the offer which I was assured is constantly made on all occasions, and if rejected, “Then I guess we can’t deal,” is the usual rejoinder. This statement does not, of course, include the great merchants of great cities, but refers to the mass of the people scattered over the country; it has, indeed, been my object, in speaking of the customs of the people, to give an idea of what they are generally.

The effect produced upon English people by the sight of slavery in every direction is very new, and not very agreeable, and it is not the less painfully felt from hearing upon every breeze the mocking words, “All men are born free and equal.” One must be in the heart of American slavery fully to appreciate that wonderfully fine passage in Moore’s Epistle to Lord Viscount Forbes, which describes perhaps more faithfully, as well as more powerfully, the political state of America, than any thing that has ever been written upon it.

Oh! Freedom, Freedom, how I hate thy cant!
Not eastern bombast, nor the savage rant
Of purpled madmen, were they numbered all
From Roman Nero, down to Russian Paul,
Could grate upon my ear so mean, so base,
As the rank jargon of that factious race,
Who, poor of heart, and prodigal of words,
Born to be slaves, and struggling to be lords,
But pant for licence, while they spurn controul,
And shout for rights, with rapine in their soul!
Who can, with patience, for a moment see
The medley mass of pride and misery,
Of whips and charters, manacles and rights,
Of slaving blacks, and democratic whites,
Of all the pyebald polity that reigns
In free confusion o’er Columbia’s plains?
To think that man, thou just and gentle God!
Should stand before thee with a tyrant’s rod,
O’er creatures like himself, with soul from thee,
Yet dare to boast of perfect liberty:
Away, away, I’d rather hold my neck
By doubtful tenure from a Sultan’s beck,
In climes where liberty has scarce been named,
Nor any right, but that of ruling, claimed,
Than thus to live, where bastard freedom waves
Her fustian flag in mockery over slaves;
Where (motley laws admitting no degree
Betwixt the vilely slaved, and madly free)
Alike the bondage and the licence suit,
The brute made ruler, and the man made brute! . . .

The same man who beards his wealthier and more educated neighbour with the bullying boast, “I’m as good as you,” turns to his slave, and knocks him down, if the furrow he has ploughed, or the log he has felled, please not this stickler for equality. There is a glaring falsehood on the very surface of such a man’s principles that is revolting. It is not among the higher classes that the possession of slaves produces the worst effects. Among the poorer class of landholders, who are often as profoundly ignorant as the negroes they own, the effect of this plenary power over males and females is most demoralising; and the kind of coarse, not to say brutal, authority which is exercised, furnishes the most disgusting moral spectacle I ever witnessed. In all ranks, however, it appeared to me that the greatest and best feelings of the human heart were paralyzed by the relative positions of slave and owner.

Joseph Sturge, Of Slavery and Religion, 1841

Joseph Sturge, A Visit to the United States in 1841 (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1842), pp. 29-37

On the 28th. [of April] we arrived at Baltimore; during a stay of two or three days, we found several persons who were friendly to our cause. There are computed to be five thousand slaves in this city, but of course slavery does not obtrude itself on the casual observer. Here, as in other countries, he who would see it as it is, must view it on the plantations.

The free people of colour in Baltimore, are alive to the importance of education. One individual told us, that in distributing about two hundred and fifty religious books, which had been sent to be gratuitously supplied to the poor of this class, he found only five or six families, in which the children were not learning to read and write. . . .

The religious public of this city appear to be doing nothing collectively, to abolish or ameliorate slavery, and with the exception of “Friends,” and the body who have lately seceded from them, I fear that all are more or less implicated in its actual guilt. I was informed not long since, even the Roman Catholics, who are more free from the contamination than many other religious bodies, had, in some part of the State, sold several of their own church members, and applied the proceeds to the erection of a place of worship. We called upon the Catholic Bishop to enquire into the truth of this, but he was from home. When at Philadelphia afterwards, in conversation with a priest, I gave the particulars, and said I should be glad to be furnished with the means of contradicting it. I have not heard from him since.

I am informed that the Yearly Meeting of “Friends” has advised its members not to unite with the anti-slavery societies, and has latterly discontinued petitioning the legislature for the abolition of the internal slave trade, and the amelioration of the slave code; such is the prevailing influence of a pro-slavery atmosphere. The code in question has of late years been rendered more severe, and the legal emancipation of slaves more difficult; yet I was pleased to learn that public opinion has in this respect counteracted legislative tyranny; that slavery has in fact become milder and the number of manumissions has not lessened.

The mischievous influence of the Colonization Society is very extensive among professing christians in Baltimore, and is paramount in the legislature of the State.

The American slave trade is carried on in the most open manner in this city. We paid a visit to the establishment of an extensive slave dealer, a large, new building in one of the principal streets. The proprietor received us with great courtesy, and permitted us to inspect the premises. Cleanliness and order were every where visible, and, might we judge from the specimens of food shewn us, the animal wants of the slaves are not neglected. There were only five or six negroes in stock, but the proprietor told us he had sometimes three or four hundred there, and had shipped off a cargo to New Orleans a few days before. That city is the market where the highest price is generally obtained for them. The premises are strongly secured with bolts and bars, and the rooms in which the negroes are confined, surround an open court yard, where they are permitted to take the air. We were accompanied and kindly introduced by an individual who has often been engaged in preventing negroes from being illegally enslaved; and the proprietor of the establishment expressed his approval of his efforts, and that when such cases come before himself in the way of trade, he was accustomed to send them to our friend for investigation; he added that slaves would often come to him, and ask him to purchase them, and that he was the means of transferring them from worse masters to better; that he never parted families, though of course he could not control their fate, either before they came into his hands, or after they left him. He said he frequently left his concerns for weeks together, under the care of his head slave, whose wife he had made free, and promised the same boon to him, if he conducted himself well a few years longer. I thought it right to intimate my view of the nature of slavery and the slave trade. . . . This he did not attempt to controvert, yet he stated in extenuation, that the law permitted the trade in slaves, though he should be as willing as any one to have the system abolished, if the State would grant them compensation for their property. He farther said, that he was born in a slave State, that his mother had been for fifty years a member of the Wesleyan body, and that though he had not joined a christian church himself, he had never sworn an oath, nor committed an immoral act in his life. He also shewed, I think, convincingly, that dealing in slaves was not worse than slave holding. On leaving the premises, we found the door of his office had been locked upon us during this conference. I subsequently learned that this person, though living in considerable style, was not generally received in respectable society, and that a lady whom he had lately married, was shunned by her former acquaintance. Such is the testimony of the slave holders of Baltimore against slave dealing, by which they condemn themselves in the sight of God and man, and add the guilt of hypocrisy to their own sin. Some time afterwards I addressed the following letter to this individual which was published in many of the American papers.

Slave Trader, Baltimore.

Since thou courteously allowed me, in company with my friend, J. G. WHITTIER, to visit thy slave establishment in the city of Baltimore, some weeks since, I have often felt a desire to address a few lines to thee. . . .

To thy remark that thy business was necessary to the system of slavery, and an essential part of it—and if slave-holding were to be justified at all, the slave-trade must be also—I certainly can offer no valid objection; for I have never been able to discover any moral difference between the planter of Virginia and the slave dealer of Baltimore, Richmond and Washington. Each has his part to act in the system, and each is necessary to the other. And if the matter were not in all its bearings, painfully serious, it would be amusing to witness the absurd contempt with which the slave owner of Maryland or Virginia professes to look upon the trader, whose purchase of his surplus slaves alone enables him to retain the residue in his possession; for it seems very evident that the only profitable part of the system in those States, at the present time, is the sale of the annual increase of the slaves.

In passing from thy premises, we looked in upon the Triennial Convention of the Baptists of the United States, then in session in the city of Baltimore, where I found slave-holding ministers of high rank in the church, urging successfully the exclusion from the Missionary Board of that Society, of all those who, in principle and practice, were known to be decided abolitionists; and the results of their efforts satisfied me that the darkest picture of slavery is not to be found in the jail of the slave-trader, but rather in a convocation of professed ministers of the Gospel of Christ. . . .

Thy friend,  
New York, 6th. Month, 30th. 1841.  

The Baptist convention alluded to in the foregoing letter was one whose proceedings I regarded with considerable interest, for it had been generally understood that the ministers delegated from the South, as well as some of those from the Northern States, intended to exclude abolitionists from every office on the missionary board, and especially to remove my friend, ELON GALUSHA, a distinguised Baptist minister, from the station of vice-president, for the offence of attending the London Antislavery Convention, and more particularly for supporting . . . resolutions of that assembly. . . .

On entering the meeting, we found the question was already before them, previous to balloting for the officers for the ensuing three years. The pro-slavery party were anxious to prevent all discussion, but some on the other side proposed questions which compelled their notice. . . . The enquiry becoming more searching, an expedient was resorted to, which, though quite novel to me, was, I am told, not unfrequently adopted when discussions assume a shape not quite satisfactory to the controlling powers of a synod. It was proposed that they should pray, and then proceed at once to the ballot. The ministers called upon were R. FULLER and ELON GALUSHA, who were considered to represent the opposite sides of the discussion. The former individual is a large slave-holder, an influential leader in his denomination, and had canvassed and condemned ELON GALUSHA’S views and conduct in the public newspapers. I must avow, this whole proceeding was little calculated to remove my objection to the practice of calling upon any individual to offer supplication in a public assembly. After prayer had been offered, they proceeded to the ballot, and we left the meeting, deeply impressed with the profanation of employing the most solemn act of devotion to serve the exigencies of controversy.

In the evening I met a number of the anti-slavery members of the Convention, from whom I learned that the vote had excluded ELON GALUSIIA and all other known abolitionists, from official connection with the board, by a hundred and twenty-four to a hundred and seventeen, which being a much smaller majority than was expected, they considered the result a triumph rather than a defeat.

Charles Lyell, Money Matters, 1842

Charles Lyell, Travels in North America (London: John Murray, 1845), vol. II, pp. 6-8, 14-15

We reached Philadelphia without fatigue in less than twenty-two hours, a distance of 300 miles from Boston, having slept on board the steam-boat between Stonington (Rhode Island) and New York. We proceeded from Philadelphia to Baltimore, and from thence ascended the beautiful valley of the Patapsco, for 60 miles, to Frederick. . . .

I had hired a carriage at Frederick to carry me to Harper’s Ferry, and thence to Hagarstown, on the main road across the mountains. When I paid the driver, he told me that one of my dollar notes was bad, “a mere personal note.” I asked him to explain, when he told me that he had issued such notes himself. “A friend of mine at Baltimore,” he said, “who kept an oyster store, once proposed to me to sign twenty-five such notes, promising that if I would eat out their value in oysters, he would circulate them. They all passed, and we never heard of them again.” I asked how he reconciled this transaction to his conscience? He replied, that their currency was in a very unsound state, all the banks having suspended cash payment, and their only hope was that matters would soon become so bad that they must begin to mend. In short, it appeared that he and his friend had done their best to hasten on so desirable a crisis.

The next day two Marylanders, one of them the driver of the stage-coach, declared that if the State should impose a property tax, they would resist payment. As funds are now wanted to pay the dividends on the public debt, the open avowal of such opinions in a country where all have votes, sounded in my ears, as of ominous import.

In our passage over the Alleghanies, we now followed what is called the National Road to Cumberland and Frostburg, crossing a great succession of parallel ridges, long and unbroken, with narrow intervening valleys, the whole clothed with wood, chiefly oak. The dogwood, with its white flowers, was very conspicuous. The north-western slopes of the hills were covered with the azalea in full flower, of every shade, from a pale pink to a deep crimson. . . .

Having one day entered a stage coach in our passage over these mountains, I conversed with two Kentucky farmers returning in high spirits from Baltimore, where they had sold all their mules and cattle for good prices. They were carrying back their money in heavy bags of specie, paper dollars being no longer worthy of trust. They said their crops of grain had been so heavy for several seasons, that it would have cost too much to drag it over the hills to a market 400 miles distant, so they had “given it legs by turning it into mules.” I asked why not horses. They said mules were nearly as serviceable, and longer lived, coming in for a share of the longevity of the ass. . . .

We passed many waggons of emigrants from Pennsylvania, of German origin, each encumbered with a huge heavy mahogany press, or “schrank,” which had once, perhaps, come from Westphalia. These antique pieces of furniture might well contain the penates of these poor people, or be themselves their household gods, as they seem to be as religiously preserved. Our companions, the two farmers from Kentucky before mentioned, shook their heads, remarking, “that most of them would go back again to Pennsylvania, after spending all their money in the West; for the old people will pine for their former homes, and persuade the younger ones to return with them.”

Charles Dickens, A Trip Through Maryland, 1842

Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), vol. I, pp. 271-278

We left Philadelphia by steamboat, at six o’clock one very cold morning, and turned our faces towards Washington. . . .

As Washington may be called the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva, the time is come when I must confess, without any disguise, that the prevalence of those two odious practices of chewing and expectorating began about this time to be anything but agreeable, and soon became most offensive and sickening. In all the public places of America, this filthy custom is recognised. In the courts of law, the judge has his spittoon, the crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his; while the jurymen and spectators are provided for, as so many men who in the course of nature must desire to spit incessantly. In the hospitals, the students of medicine are requested, by notices upon the wall, to eject their tobacco juice into the boxes provided for that purpose, and not to discolour the stairs. In public buildings, visitors are implored, through the same agency, to squirt the essence of their quids, or “plugs,” as I have heard them called by gentlemen learned in this kind of sweetmeat, into the national spittoons, and not about the bases of the marble columns. But in some parts, this custom is inseparably mixed up with every meal and morning call, and with all the transactions of social life. The stranger, who follows in the track I took myself, will find it in its full bloom and glory, luxuriant in all its alarming recklessness, at Washington. And let him not persuade himself (as I once did, to my shame) that previous tourists have exaggerated its extent. The thing itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which cannot be outdone.

On board this steamboat, there were two young gentlemen, with shirt-collars reversed as usual, and armed with very big walking-sticks; who planted two seats in the middle of the deck, at a distance of some four paces apart; took out their tobacco-boxes; and sat down opposite each other, to chew. In less than a quarter of an hour’s time, these hopeful youths had shed about them on the clean boards, a copious shower of yellow rain; clearing, by that means, a kind of magic circle, within whose limits no intruders dared to come, and which they never failed to refresh and re-refresh before a spot was dry. This being before breakfast, rather disposed me, I confess, to nausea; but looking attentively at one of the expectorators, I plainly saw that he was young in chewing, and felt inwardly uneasy, himself. A glow of delight came over me at this discovery; and as I marked his face turn paler and paler, and saw the ball of tobacco in his left cheek, quiver with his suppressed agony, while yet he spat, and chewed, and spat again, in emulation of his older friend, I could have fallen on his neck and implored him to go on for hours.

We all sat down to a comfortable breakfast in the cabin below, where there was no more hurry or confusion than at such a meal in England, and where there was certainly greater politeness exhibited than at most of our stage-coach banquets. At about nine o’clock we arrived at the railroad station, and went on by the cars. At noon we turned out again, to cross a wide river in another steamboat; landed at a continuation of the railroad on the opposite shore; and went on by other cars; in which, in the course of the next hour or so, we crossed by wooden bridges, each a mile in length, two creeks, called respectively Great and Little Gunpowder. The water in both was blackened with flights of canvas-backed ducks, which are most delicious eating, and abound hereabouts at that season of the year.

These bridges are of wood, have no parapet, and are only just wide enough for the passage of the trains; which, in the event of the smallest accident, would inevitably be plunged into the river. They are startling contrivances, and are most agreeable when passed.

We stopped to dine at Baltimore, and being now in Maryland, were waited on, for the first time, by slaves. The sensation of exacting any service from human creatures who are bought and sold, and being, for the time, a party as it were to their condition, is not an enviable one. The institution exists, perhaps, in its least repulsive and most mitigated form in such a town as this; but it is slavery; and though I was, with respect to it, an innocent man, its presence filled me with a sense of shame and self-reproach.

After dinner, we went down to the railroad again, and took our seats in the cars for Washington. Being rather early, those men and boys who happened to have nothing particular to do, and were curious in foreigners, came (according to custom) round the carriage in which I sat; let down all the windows; thrust in their heads and shoulders; hooked themselves on conveniently, by their elbows; and fell to comparing notes on the subject of my personal appearance, with as much indifference as if I were a stuffed figure. I never gained so much uncompromising information with reference to my own nose and eyes, and various impressions wrought by my mouth and chin on different minds, and how my head looks when it is viewed from behind, as on these occasions. Some gentlemen were only satisfied by exercising their sense of touch; and the boys (who are surprisingly precocious in America) were seldom satisfied, even by that, but would return to the charge over and over again. Many a budding president has walked into my room with his cap on his head and his hands in his pockets, and stared at me for two whole hours: occasionally refreshing himself with a tweak of his nose, or a draught from the water-jug; or by walking to the windows and inviting other boys in the street below, to come up and do likewise: crying, “Here he is!” “Come on!” “Bring all your brothers!” with other hospitable entreaties of that nature.*

* editor‘s note—After Washington and a trip to Virgina, Dickens returned to Baltimore and had occasion to observe:  “The most comfortable of all the hotels of which I had any experience in the United States, and they were not a few, is Barnum’s, in that city: where the English traveller will find curtains to his bed, for the first and probably the last time in America (this is a disinterested remark, for I never use them); and where he will be likely to have enough water for washing himself, which is not at all a common case.” American Notes, vol. II, p. 25.

Charles Dickens on Slavery, 1842

Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (London: Chapman and Hall, 1842), vol. II, pp. 249-266

The upholders of slavery in America—of the atrocities of which system, I shall not write one word for which I have not had ample proof and warrant—may be divided into three great classes.

The first, are those more moderate and rational owners of human cattle, who have come into the possession of them as so many coins in their trading capital, but who admit the frightful nature of the Institution in the abstract, and perceive the dangers to society with which it is fraught: dangers which however distant they may be, or howsoever tardy in their coming on, are as certain to fall upon its guilty head, as is the Day of Judgment.

The second, consists of all those owners, breeders, users, buyers and sellers of slaves, who will, until the bloody chapter has a bloody end, own, breed, use, buy, and sell them at all hazards; who doggedly deny the horrors of the system in the teeth of such a mass of evidence as never was brought to bear on any other subject, and to which the experience of every day contributes its immense amount; who would at this or any other moment, gladly involve America in a war, civil or foreign, provided that it had for its sole end and object the assertion of their right to perpetuate slavery, and to whip and work and torture slaves, unquestioned by any human authority, and unassailed by any human power; who, when they speak of Freedom, mean the Freedom to oppress their kind, and to be savage, merciless, and cruel; and of whom every man on his own ground, in republican America, is a more exacting, and a sterner, and a less responsible despot than the Caliph Haroun Alraschid in his angry robe of scarlet.

The third, and not the least numerous or influential, is composed of all that delicate gentility which cannot bear a superior, and cannot brook an equal; of that class whose Republicanism means, “I will not tolerate a man above me: and of those below, none must approach too near;” whose pride, in a land where voluntary servitude is shunned as a disgrace, must be ministered to by slaves; and whose inalienable rights can only have their growth in negro wrongs.

It has been sometimes urged that, in the unavailing efforts which have been made to advance the cause of Human Freedom in the republic of America (strange cause for history to treat of!), sufficient regard has not been had to the existence of the first class of persons; and it has been contended that they are hardly used, in being confounded with the second. This is, no doubt, the case; noble instances of pecuniary and personal sacrifice have already had their growth among them; and it is much to be regretted that the gulf between them and the advocates of emancipation should have been widened and deepened by any means: the rather, as there are, beyond dispute, among these slave-owners, many kind masters who are tender in the exercise of their unnatural power. Still, it is to be feared that this injustice is inseparable from the state of things with which humanity and truth are called upon to deal. Slavery is not a whit the more endurable because some hearts are to be found which can partially resist its hardening influences; nor can the indignant tide of honest wrath stand still, because in its onward course it overwhelms a few who are comparatively innocent, among a host of guilty.

The ground most commonly taken by these better men among the advocates of slavery, is this: “It is a bad system; and for myself I would willingly get rid of it, if I could; most willingly. But it is not so bad, as you in England take it to be. You are deceived by the representations of the emancipationists. The greater part of my slaves are much attached to me. You will say that I do not allow them to be severely treated; but I will put it to you whether you believe that it can be a general practice to treat them inhumanly, when it would impair their value, and would be obviously against the interests of their masters.”

Is it the interest of any man to steal, to game, to waste his health and mental faculties by drunkenness, to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder? No. All these are roads to ruin. And why, then, do men tread them? Because such inclinations are among the vicious qualities of mankind. Blot out, ye friends of slavery, from the catalogue of human passions, brutal lust, cruelty, and the abuse of irresponsible power (of all earthly temptations the most difficult to be resisted), and when ye have done so, and not before, we will inquire whether it be the interest of a master to lash and maim the slaves, over whose lives and limbs he has an absolute control!

But again: this class, together with that last one I have named, the miserable aristocracy spawned of a false republic, lift up their voices and exclaim “Public opinion is all-sufficient to prevent such cruelty as you denounce.” Public opinion! Why, public opinion in the slave States is slavery, is it not? Public opinion, in the slave States, has delivered the slaves over, to the gentle mercies of their masters. Public opinion has made the laws, and denied the slaves legislative protection. Public opinion has knotted the lash, heated the branding-iron, loaded the rifle, and shielded the murderer. Public opinion threatens the abolitionist with death, if he venture to the South; and drags him with a rope about his middle, in broad unblushing noon, through the first city in the East. Public opinion has, within a few years, burned a slave alive at a slow fire in the city of St. Louis; and public opinion has to this day maintained upon the bench that estimable Judge who charged the Jury, impanelled there to try his murderers, that their most horrid deed was an act of public opinion, and being so, must not be punished by the laws the public sentiment had made. Public opinion hailed this doctrine with a howl of wild applause, and set the prisoners free, to walk the city, men of mark, and influence, and station, as they had been before.

Public opinion! what class of men have an immense preponderance over the rest of the community, in their power of representing public opinion in the legislature? the slave-owners. They send from their twelve States one hundred members, while the fourteen free States, with a free population nearly double, return but a hundred and forty-two. Before whom do the presidential candidates bow down the most humbly, on whom do they fawn the most fondly, and for whose tastes do they cater the most assiduously in their servile protestations? The slave-owners always.

Public opinion! hear the public opinion of the free South, as expressed by its own members in the House of Representatives at Washington. “I have a great respect for the chair,” quoth North Carolina, “I have a great respect for the chair as an officer of the house, and a great respect for him personally; nothing but that respect prevents me from rushing to the table and tearing that petition which has just been presented for the abolition of slavery in the district of Columbia, to pieces.”—“I warn the abolitionists,” says South Carolina, “ignorant, infuriated barbarians as they are, that if chance shall throw any of them into our hands, he may expect a felon’s death.”—“Let an abolitionist come within the borders of South Carolina,” cries a third; mild Carolina’s colleague; “and if we can catch him, we will try him, and notwithstanding the interference of all the governments on earth, including the Federal government, we will HANG him.”

Public opinion has made this law.—It has declared that in Washington, in that city which takes its name from the father of American liberty, any justice of the peace may bind with fetters any negro passing down the street and thrust him into jail: no offence on the black man’s part is necessary. The justice says, “I choose to think this man a runaway:” and locks him up. Public opinion empowers the man of law when this is done, to advertise the negro in the newspapers, warning his owner to come and claim him, or he will be sold to pay the jail fees. But supposing he is a free black, and has no owner, it may naturally be presumed that he is set at liberty. No: HE IS SOLD TO RECOMPENSE HIS JAILER. This has been done again, and again, and again. He has no means of proving his freedom; has no adviser, messenger, or assistance of any sort or kind; no investigation into his case is made, or inquiry instituted. He, a free man, who may have served for years, and bought his liberty, is thrown into jail on no process, for no crime, and on no pretence of crime: and is sold to pay the jail fees. This seems incredible, even of America, but it is the law.

Public opinion is deferred to, in such cases as the following: which is headed in the newspapers:—

“Interesting Law-Case.

“An interesting case is now on trial in the Supreme Court, arising out of the following facts. A gentleman residing in Maryland had allowed an aged pair of his slaves, substantial though not legal freedom for several years. While thus living, a daughter was born to them, who grew up in the same liberty, until she married a free negro, and went with him to reside in Pennsylvania. They had several children, and lived unmolested until the original owner died, when his heir attempted to regain them; but the magistrate before whom they were brought, decided that he had no jurisdiction in the case. The owner seized the woman and her children in the night, and carried them to Maryland.”

“Cash for negroes,” “cash for negroes,” “cash for negroes,” is the heading of advertisements in great capitals down the long columns of the crowded journals. Woodcuts of a runaway negro with manacled hands, crouching beneath a bluff pursuer in top boots, who, having caught him, grasps him by the throat, agreeably diversify the pleasant text. The leading article protests against “that abominable and hellish doctrine of abolition, which is repugnant alike to every law of God and nature.” The delicate mamma, who smiles her acquiescence in this sprightly writing as she reads the paper in her cool piazza, quiets her youngest child who clings about her skirts, by promising the boy “a whip to beat the little niggers with.”—But the negroes, little and big, are protected by public opinion.

Let us try this public opinion by another test, which is important in three points of view: first, as showing how desperately timid of the public opinion slave-owners are, in their delicate descriptions of fugitive slaves in widely circulated newspapers; secondly, as showing how perfectly contented the slaves are, and how very seldom they run away; thirdly, as exhibiting their entire freedom from scar, or blemish, or any mark of cruel infliction, as their pictures are drawn, not by lying abolitionists, but by their own truthful masters.

The following are a few specimens of the advertisements in the public papers. It is only four years since the oldest among them appeared; and others of the same nature continue to be published every day, in shoals.

“Ran away, Negress Caroline. Had on a collar with one prong turned down.”

“Ran away, a black woman, Betsy. Had an iron bar on her right leg.”

“Ran away, the negro Manuel. Much marked with irons.”

“Ran away, the negress Fanny. Had on an iron band about her neck.”

“Ran away, a negro boy about twelve years old. Had round his neck a chain dog-collar with ‘De Lampert’ engraved on it.”

“Ran away, the negro Hown. Has a ring of iron on his left foot. Also, Grise, his wife, having a ring and chain on the left leg.”

“Ran away, a negro boy named James. Said boy was ironed when he left me.”

“Committed to jail, a man who calls his name John. He has a clog of iron on his right foot which will weigh four or five pounds.”

“Detained at the police jail, the negro wench, Myra. Has several marks of LASHING, and has irons on her feet.”

“Ran away, a negro woman and two children. A few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face. I tried to make the letter M.”

“Ran away, a negro man named Henry; his left eye out, some scars from a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip.”

“One hundred dollars reward, for a negro fellow, Pompey, 40 years old. He is branded on the left jaw.”

“Committed to jail, a negro man. Has no toes on the left foot.”

“Ran away, a negro woman named Rachel. Has lost all her toes except the large one.”

“Ran away, Sam. He was shot a short time since through the hand, and has several shots in his left arm and side.”

“Ran away, my negro man Dennis. Said negro has been shot in the left arm between the shoulder and elbow, which has paralysed the left hand.”

“Ran away, my negro man named Simon. He has been shot badly, in his back and right arm.”

“Ran away, a negro named Arthur. Has a considerable scar across his breast and each arm, made by a knife; loves to talk much of the goodness of God.”

“Twenty-five dollars reward for my man Isaac. He has a scar on his forehead, caused by a blow; and one on his back, made by a shot from a pistol.”

“Ran away, a negro girl called Mary. Has a small scar over her eye, a good many teeth missing, the letter A is branded on her cheek and forehead.”

“Ran away, negro Ben. Has a scar on his right hand: his thumb and forefinger being injured by being shot last fall. A part of the bone came out. He has also one or two large scars on his back and hips.”

“Detained at the jail, a mulatto, named Tom. Has a scar on the right cheek, and appears to have been burned with powder on the face.”

“Ran away, a negro man named Ned. Three of his fingers are drawn into the palm of his hand by a cut. Has a scar on the back of his neck nearly half round done by a knife.”

“Was committed to jail, a negro man. Says his name is Josiah. His back very much scarred by the whip; and branded on the thigh and hips in three or four places, thus (J M). The rim of his right ear has been bit or cut off.”

“Fifty dollars reward, for my fellow Edward. He has a scar on the corner of his mouth, two cuts on and under his arm, and the letter E on his arm.”

“Ran away, negro boy Ellie. Has a scar on one of his arms from the bite of a dog.”

“Ran away, from the plantation of James Surgette, the following negroes: Randal, has one ear cropped; Bob, has lost one eye; Kentucky Tom, has one jaw broken.”

“Ran away, Anthony. One of his ears cut off, and his left hand cut with an axe.”

“Fifty dollars reward for the negro Jim Blake. Has a piece cut out of each ear, and the middle finger of the left hand cut off to the second joint.”

“Ran away, a negro woman named Maria. Has a scar on one side of her cheek, by a cut. Some scars on her back.”

“Ran away, the Mulatto wench Mary. Has a cut on the left arm, a scar on the left shoulder, and two upper teeth missing.”

I should say, perhaps, in explanation of this latter piece of description, that among the other blessings which public opinion secures to the negroes, is the common practice of violently punching out their teeth. To make them wear iron collars by day and night, and to worry them with dogs, are practices almost too ordinary to deserve mention.

“Ran away, my man Fountain. Has holes in his ears, a scar on the right side of his forehead, has been shot in the hind parts of his legs, and is marked on the back with the whip.”

“Two hundred and fifty dollars reward for my negro man Jim. He is much marked with shot in his right thigh. The shot entered on the outside, halfway between the hip and knee joints.”

“Brought to jail, John. Left ear cropt.”

“Taken up, a negro man. Is very much scarred about the face and body, and has the left ear bit off.”

“Ran away, a black girl, named Mary. Has a scar on her cheek, and the end of one of her toes cut off.”

“Ran away, my Mulatto woman, Judy. She has had her right arm broke.”

“Ran away, my negro man, Levi. His left hand has been burnt, and I think the end of his forefinger is off.”

“Ran away, a negro man, NAMED WASHINGTON. Has lost a part of his middle finger, and the end of his little finger.”

“Twenty-five dollars reward for my man John. The tip of his nose is bit off.”

“Twenty-five dollars reward for the negro slave, Sally. Walks as though crippled in the back.”

“Ran away, Joe Dennis. Has a small notch in one of his ears.”

“Ran away, negro boy, Jack. Has a small crop out of his left ear.”

“Ran away, a negro man, named Ivory. Has a small piece cut out of the top of each ear.”

While upon the subject of ears, I may observe that a distinguished abolitionist in New York once received a negro’s ear, which had been cut off close to the head, in a general post letter. It was forwarded by the free and independent gentleman who had caused it to be amputated, with a polite request that he would place the specimen in his “collection.”

I could enlarge this catalogue with broken arms, and broken legs, and gashed flesh, and missing teeth, and lacerated backs, and bites of dogs, and brands of red-hot irons innumerable: but as my readers will be sufficiently sickened and repelled already, I will turn to another branch of the subject.

These advertisements, of which a similar collection might be made for every year, and month, and week, and day; and which are coolly read in families as things of course, and as a part of the current news and small-talk; will serve to show how very much the slaves profit by public opinion, and how tender it is in their behalf.

John Robert Godley, Classes and Masses, 1843

John Robert Godley, Letters From America (London: John Murray, 1843), pp. 170-171, 177-187

From Philadelphia I travelled by railroad and steam-boat to Baltimore, 115 miles, in seven hours and a half. On board the boat I bought Dickens’s work on America (price 6d.), the eagerness of anticipation for which it is impossible to describe; every individual one meets is reading it or talking about it. How very funny it would appear at home to see people looking out in this way for the critique of a foreigner upon England! Most people seem exceedingly angry with Dickens; they dwell particularly on the enthusiasm of friendly feeling and admiration with which he was received, and the unnecessary ill-nature with which, they say, he has returned it: as to the laudatory parts of the book they are quite forgotten in dwelling upon the remarks about slavery, Congress, &c.

I find myself in another of these admirable American hotels, which one meets with in all the towns: for the best of entertainment and attendance the price is seven shillings a day.

Baltimore is a handsome town, with good buildings and spacious streets, and is surrounded by a very pretty park-like country, interspersed with villas, and reminding one of English suburban scenery. The style of architecture is “old-worldlike,” and has not the glaring, unsubstantial look of New York and Boston, though in fact Baltimore is a much more modern town. It was settled by Lord Baltimore, a Roman Catholic, and has always been considered the head-quarters of the Romish church in the States. There are still a good number of old families in it, who profess their original faith, but a large proportion of them have left it; and the mass of the Roman Catholic population is composed of Irish and German emigrants, the latter of whom particularly abound, both from the facility of communication between Baltimore and the West, and from the intercourse with the North of Germany, which the commerce of tobacco produces. There is a very massive and costly Roman Catholic cathedral not quite finished, the architecture of which I do not admire at all. The style is new to me, nor have I any idea what it may be called. . . .

I have paid a visit to the Baltimore almshouse, a large building, in a beautiful situation, about three miles from the town, surrounded by 300 acres of land, principally under cultivation, the labourers on which are all paupers. It seems very well conducted,—presenting, in this respect, a favourable contrast to similar institutions in some of the other large towns: the house is clean, orderly and comfortable; and really, with plenty of good food and clothing, occupation, either on the farm, or at any trade which he may be acquainted with, care taken of him when he is sick, and the power to go away when he pleases, the inmate must lead a very satisfactory life; indeed those to whom I spoke admitted it, and said distinctly that they were far better off in point of physical comforts than the generality of labourers in the neighbourhood at this moment (a period of distress, be it recollected), not to speak of the slaves. Now this must be wrong. Without any wish for harsh tests of destitution, it is surely not too much to say that the industrious labourer, who struggles to maintain himself and his family independently, ought not to see his next-door neighbour, equally able-bodied and capable in every respect, but who prefers the comparative idleness of an almshouse, better off than himself. The principle is false, and in a crowded state of society would be fatal. As it is, though applicants are never rejected, I was surprised to find that the average number of inmates does not quite amount to 600; but the easy access to the West, and the fact that a large proportion of the lowest class are slaves (who of course are not admitted), accounts for this: about two-thirds of the paupers are native Americans, the rest almost entirely Irish and Germans.

There is another interesting institution here, called the Farm-school. It is a place for agricultural education, supported by private subscriptions: there is a farm of about 300 acres attached to it; and it contains now about forty boys, from twelve to eighteen years old: they are the children of poor people (not paupers), such as widows, or men with large families, and are admitted upon application to the directors, who select the most proper objects. The education is almost entirely that of a practical agriculturist, combined with reading, writing, and arithmetic; and the pupils are boarded, lodged, and clothed, during the period of their residence. The only permanent fund is that derived from the farm, which has been purchased for the institution; and it is hoped that after some time (it is now quite a recent establishment) this may be made to pay the expenses. If properly managed, and connected with a religious and moral education, this system might be the means of training a very useful class of citizens; and is infinitely better than the Boston and Philadelphia plane for giving the children of mechanics a superficial acquaintance with the whole circle of arts and sciences. I am sure that the best plan is to educate a child up to, not beyond, the station in life to which he is born. The few who are heaven-born geniuses will make their way in spite of obstacles. . . .

There are several Englishmen at present in Baltimore, one of them, Lord ——, whom the lower class of Americans throng to see as a sort of curiosity, or as though, when his appearance does not correspond with their expectations, there were some enigma to penetrate about him. The idea which many of them entertain of an English lord is, that he is a sort of feudal Sybarite—something between Sardanapalus and Guy Earl of Warwick; and accordingly they expect to find him, in appearance, a gorgeous being, clothed in purple and fine linen, and requiring the attendance of a small army of servants,—expectations doomed seldom to be realised in these days.

Another of my countrymen here is a gentleman of large fortune, and somewhat advanced in life, who for the last seven years has been living alone among the Indian tribes somewhere near the Rocky Mountains, hunting the buffalo and grisly bear. What fantastic tricks our countrymen do play, in the very wantonness of wealth and self-indulgence, to get rid of the ennui and craving for excitement. . . .

As Maryland is the first slave-state which I have visited, I have of course been much interested in observing and inquiring about the condition and prospects of the negro race, and particularly about the probable success of the plans which have been adopted for colonizing the coast of Africa, by the emigration of free blacks from this country. The subject is universally considered one of immense interest and importance here; and the most thoughtless look forward with feelings of uneasiness and alarm to the period, now apparently approaching, when slavery will disappear from this state, and the population will consist entirely of whites and free blacks. It seems to be admitted by all, that the change which is taking place in the proportions of the different classes of population must, at no distant period, produce that result. . . . The whole coloured population of Maryland, at the first census, in 1790, was 111,079; it numbered at the last census 151,556: the free population amounted then to only 8043; it has risen now to 61,937. The proportion of the free coloured population to the whites, in 1790, was one to twenty-seven; it is now about one to five. Excluding the increase of the city of Baltimore, the white population of the State has diminished for the last ten years, and in the same time the free coloured has increased 17 per cent. The coloured population is changing its character from slave to free, and the free are rapidly increasing: the apparently natural result of this must be an ultimate numerical equality between the whites and the free blacks. Now, without entering here into the question of how far amalgamation or social equality between the two races is possible, I will only state that not a single individual in this country believes in such a possibility; and all have therefore been eagerly looking out for some scheme which, by disposing satisfactorily of the free coloured population, may avert the fearful consequences which they apprehend as likely to spring from the causes which I have mentioned. . . .

In the autumn of 1831 the legislature of Maryland appropriated a sum of 200,000 dollars, to be applied under the direction of the Maryland Colonization Society (which was formed and chartered in the same year) to the purpose of transporting the free coloured population from this State, and making suitable provision for them in such places as they might choose for a residence. Soon afterwards it was resolved to establish a colony on the African coast, for the purpose of receiving emigrants exclusively from Maryland. The locality selected was Cape Palmas, a point nearly central, between the mouth of the Niger and those of the Senegal and Gambia. . . .

Maryland in Liberia, as it is called, now embraces a territory of about 1000 square miles, extending along the sea-coast about thirty-five miles: the territory is said to be well watered, and the land rich and productive. The number of the colonists, amounts now to about 600, all negroes. . . .

Under all the circumstances I cannot but look upon this successful experiment, undertaken, as it has been, by one of the smallest states of the Union, and opposed by the two extreme parties of pro-slavery men and abolitionists, as not only most creditable to those concerned in it, but as containing the germ at least of solution for the problem which has occupied the minds of all who have contemplated American futurity,—namely, what is to be done with the blacks. The abolitionists oppose the scheme, as antagonist to their theory of complete social equality between the races on American ground, and the duty of immediate emancipation: the ultra-slavery men dislike it as professing to exhibit the social and political capabilities of the negro in a manner which seems to militate against their theory of his inherent and irremediable incapacity. . . .

The “bête noire” (literally) of Americans is a population of free blacks. While the negroes are in a state of slavery they reckon upon being able to keep them under efficient control, and at least to provide against the possibility of successful insurrection, by stringent legislative and police regulations; but, above all things, they dread the combination and designs of a class to whose passions and energies emancipation has given a stimulus and scope, while it has removed the possibility of applying effectually the system of espionage and physical repression, which render any conspiracy among slaves so difficult and uncertain.

An Englishman in Baltimore, 1845

[Anonymous (George Warburton)], Hochelaga; or, England in the New World, ed. Eliot Warburton (London: Henry Colburn, 1846), pp. 70-71, 82-90

Seven hours of railway and steamboat conveyance carried me to Baltimore. In entering Maryland the day’s journey was rendered memorable to me, but it was by a very natural occurrence. At the last stopping place before arriving at the town, I saw a sight which filled me with a new and strange emotion—I saw a being which not one among thousands of our English people has ever seen. He walked, he spoke, he was tall and erect, with active, powerful limbs, and shape of fair proportions. He was made in God’s own image—but he was a SLAVE! . . .

The suburbs of Baltimore were different from those of any American town I had yet seen; there were as wretched houses, and as miserable-looking a population as those of Manchester or Birmingham could shew. . . .

The portion of the town inhabited by the wealthy classes has a more solid and lasting appearance than in the other Atlantic cities; the private houses are very good, but the crop of grass in some of the streets gives them a dreary look. The Washington column is one of the best specimens of that kind of building I have ever seen. . . . A few printed words on a board hung on the railing entreat that this monument may not be spat upon or otherwise injured: in spite of this appeal for respect to the memorial of their greatest hero, it is defiled in a sickening manner. . . .

I had the good fortune, through the kindness of one of the officers, to see the evolutions of a troop, or as they designate it, a company of horse-artillery, on the drill-ground near Fort Mac Henry, a few miles from the city. It was said to be the best troop in the army, modelled in a great measure on the English system. The matériel, the harness, and carriages, were decidedly inferior to their professed examples, and in some respects quite different. . . . Their brass guns were polished so brightly that they were painful to look at in the sunshine, and impossible to be laid correctly; they would afford a charmingly conspicuous mark for the shot of their opponents. By their equipment, only four men were available for the working of the piece, a number quite insufficient, and they were neither active nor soldier-like; the uniform is much like that of the French artillery. The horses were good, but too light for this service. The drill was slower and more complicated than the English. In either appearance or evolutions it would be unjust to compare with them the horse-artillery or batteries of Woolwich. . . .

I went to the Museum, where there is a very fine and complete skeleton of the Mastodon, found, I think, near the Ohio. There was nothing else particularly worthy of attention; so I went up stairs to the top of the building, where there is a theatre; a performance was going on quite as good as could be expected. A man near me put his feet upon the rail of the seat before him and stretched himself out till his head was as low as was consistent with staring at the stage between his upraised legs. The sovereign people seemed to disapprove of this graceful position, and a cry of “Trollope, Trollope,” had at length the effect of influencing him to restore his head and heels to their usual relative altitudes. I have been told by very good authority that the satirical works of English writers have had a decidedly beneficial effect upon the habits and manners of the Americans; within the last ten years the improvement is perceptible to the most careless observer. If this be true, the state of things formerly in some of the public conveyances, and the smaller inns, must have been such as to palliate any amount of sarcastic bitterness. Even now, I defy any one to exaggerate the horrors of chewing and its odious consequences; the shameless selfishness which seizes on a dish and appropriates the best part of the contents if the plate cannot contain the whole; and the sullen silence at meal times. But it is only fair to say that the most eminent heroes of these performances belong to a class of people with whom the traveller in England is not brought into contact at all: indeed I believe that there, such a class—in manners at least—has no existence; I have never met with such, though thrown at different times among men in great extremes of social position.

The Trollope question being satisfactorily settled, I tore myself away from the pleasures of the stage, to read the newspapers at the bar of the hotel. This was a fortunate step for me—an earnest observer of the peculiarities of human nature; for there I saw collected four more perfect specimens of the ruffian than I had ever hoped or feared to meet with in the course of my pilgrimage. I should have thought them, from their appearance, the most villanous and offensive things I had ever encountered, had I not heard them speak; their language outdid their looks—filthy, blasphemous, ferocious, deepening in abomination as they drenched themselves with liquor. The bar-keeper—who was addressed as “Doctor,” to do him justice, seemed thoroughly disgusted with them, and relieved when they were gone.

The custom of carrying the bowie knife, is universal in these southern States; even boys at school are not exceptions, and they not unfrequently have been known to use it for the settlement of their disputes. Education is far from being so general or so well conducted here as in New England, and is diminishing in many places as the population increases. . . .

I conclude that Baltimore is not remarkable for the security of property, from one or two circumstances which fell under my own observation. I was advised not to leave my hat in the hall one evening while paying a very pleasant visit to an agreeable household; the weather was extremely warm, all the doors and windows were open, and they seemed to think this possible opportunity of stealing my hat would certainly be taken advantage of. In the hotel, an excellent one by-the-bye, there was a printed notice, earnestly requesting guests to keep their doors bolted at night, as frequent robberies had occurred from the omission of this necessary precaution. Here it is only necessary for the safety of your property; further south it is equally so for the safety of your life.

From the specimens I saw of the lower classes of the slave States, and the information which I obtained about them, I consider them to be, to a frightful extent, rude, demoralized, and ferocious; some of the gentry appear only to the greater advantage by the force of the strong contrast in which they are placed with the masses of their countrymen.

James Dixon, Observations of Maryland, 1848

James Dixon, Personal Narrative of a Tour Through a Part of United States and Canada: with Notices on the History and Institutions of Methodism in America (New York: Lane & Scott, 1850), pp. 70-80

I liked Baltimore as much, or more, than any city I saw in America. It is, indeed, a beautiful place. The houses are fine, spacious, and elegant. There is, moreover, an air of aristocracy, which is seldom to be met with. It is clear enough that aristocrats reside in this place; and although the Americans decry this class of men constantly, yet there is certainly something about a people, and institutions, of the aristocratic cast, which gives the impression of superior dignity. We were now, indeed, in one of the slave-holding States; and from the specimen given in this and other places visited, it is pretty apparent, that the system of slavery tends to produce this spirit. Indeed, the slave-holder, in despite of the prejudices against the name, exhibits all the characteristics of a perfect feudal aristocracy. As I understood, his house is, generally, in the case of the wealthy classes, a complete palace; princely in its dimensions; its furniture, its ornaments, and its luxuries. How can it be otherwise, with a man who is the lord of a great number, not of vassals, but of slaves? These poor creatures are the absolute property of the master, obedient to his behests, the panderers to his passions and appetites, and in all things the servants of his caprices. The young gentlemen and ladies, brought up in the midst of slavery, learn, as early, as they are capable of authority, imperiously to command the service of the menials of their father. They stir not without their attendance; they are waited upon in the most trivial matters; they are fanned when the weather is hot, and guarded in the most assiduous manner from the approach of the buzzing insect; while all their wants are, if possible, more than anticipated by the black slaves. What is all this, if not feudal aristocracy, in its most revolting features? The lords of the European nations, when the institution existed in its most perfect glory, were never in so transcendental a state of power as these gentlemen. Their vassals, though low enough in the scale of humanity, were not so degraded as these Africans. The right of the seigneurs of Europe to exact the services of their serfs, never amounted to the absolute dominion of the slave-bolder. . . .

Baltimore is sometimes called “the Monumental City,” by reason of the number of statues it contains. The Washington Monument, at the intersection of Charles and Monument streets, is a noble specimen of architecture, both in design and execution. . . .

We have another called Battle Monument, erected to the memory of those who fell defending the city in September, 1814, at the corner of Calvert and Fayette streets. . . . Such are some of the architectural ornaments of this city. But none of them equal the Popish cathedral. This, in point of fact, is the true monument of the place; and as far as such things are concerned, its distinction and glory. It reminds one of home, of Europe, more than anything I saw in the United States; and tends to give this city a peculiarly European appearance. . . . America is pre-eminently, in its whole appearance, the emblem, the type, of modern ideas; but there is just one memorial of the past, of a defunct age. In the midst of the simple forms of republicanism, the activity of commercial life, the humble and unostentatious churches of Protestantism, the cathedral of Baltimore seems to stand as the catacomb, the mausoleum of departed ages; and as a mighty fragment, a rock, separated by some great convulsion from surrounding things. Nothing appears in unison; it stands in solitude, in the midst of a vast population, having no sympathy to bestow, and receiving none from the young generation around.

On Monday morning, May 1st, we took an affectionate adieu of our dear friend Sargent, and the Baltimore people, and set out by the railroad for Cumberland. Our party had now increased. Besides Mr. Porter, we here met with Dr. Pierce, the representative from the South Methodist Church to the Pittsburgh Conference, Dr. Bond, the editor of the Christian Advocate in New-York, and a gentleman and his son, planters and slave-holders, from the Mississippi State, Methodists, and very agreeable persons. The assembling of these parties in the same vehicle was rather ominous; nobody could tell to what it might lead,—whether the peace would be kept, or the tedium of our journey be relieved by a polemic war. The two doctors were amongst the heads and chiefs of the great controversy, which had been going on for the past four years, and which had ended in dividing the church; the one by his pen, and the other by his vivâ voce eloquence. They had been old friends; and it was pleasing to see, that the undying instincts of Christian love soon gained the ascendant. The knotty questions in dispute were forgotten, or only referred to in general terms; and the North and South, at any rate, in this journey, met without collision.

Our route lay along a very interesting country, partly in the State of Maryland, and partly in Virginia. We beheld a great number of slaves at work in the fields; the first I had seen at their degrading labours. They exhibited no life, no activity, in their occupation; but seemed to drag themselves along, as if existence were a weariness; they plied their implements of industry, careless as to the amount of work done, or studious to do as little as possible. My companion, Mr. Porter, a stanch anti-slavery man, descanted on the deleterious effects of slavery on the soil itself; endeavouring to prove that Maryland and Virginia were worn out by this kind of cultivation. Whether it is so or not, I cannot pretend to determine; but the whole country where these slaves were at work, has an extremely barren appearance. Such is the decree of God, that this enormous evil may wear itself out, and the planters be obliged to turn to the cultivation of such productions as may make it profitable to employ free labour. God appears to curse with sterility the land cultivated by slaves. The planters, I was informed, were getting very poor; and it was, apparently, becoming their interest to turn their attention to something else in the place of tobacco and the other productions on which slave-labour is chiefly employed. We passed on, and soon lost sight of the haggard, dispirited, broken-hearted, oppressed slave. Those fields had witnessed the labour, the tears, the blood, of their race, for generations; and, for aught which appears, must continue to witness the same miseries in their children, unless Heaven shall, in mercy, increase the intensity of his malediction, and render the country completely sterile. But would this be any relief? No; these poor wretches would be sold, and sent farther south; and if even the same fate should follow them into the Carolinas and Georgia, still there are Texas, Mexico, and California, to be peopled and cultivated by this unfortunate race. The evil seems to be indefinite, eternal. Provision has been made, designedly or otherwise, by the conquests of the States, for the progress of this scourge, for all time to come.

Harper’s Ferry, a curious phenomenon of nature, lay in our line, and as it was our dining-place, and the Americans not being so exact, as to time, as the railroad authorities in this country, I obtained an interval, which, though brief, enabled me to take a look at the scenery, in itself pre-eminently grand. . . .

In this journey our line lay, for many miles, along the meanderings of the beautiful Potomac. Nature, as if in bounty to man, had just left room enough for a road between the banks of the river and very lofty and precipitous rocks. This made the route perfectly romantic, and the scenery beautifully picturesque and agreeable. The Americans have been charged with travelling slowly by their trains. The mystery, however, was, that they could get on at all in the midst of the elbows, curves, and bends of this serpentine course; and yet, with the difficulties of this zigzag kind of movement, we reached Cumberland from Baltimore, a distance of one hundred and seventy-eight miles, in about nine hours.

Cumberland lies at the foot of the Alleghany mountains, which we had now to cross in “stages” in the night. I had determined to remain here till morning, being desirous of gaining as complete a view as possible of these lofty regions. But I was informed that the proprietors of the “stages” never ensured a passage, unless they could obtain the full complement of nine, this being the number which one of the coaches would accommodate; and, likewise, that it was perfectly uncertain as to whether there would be any such number to cross the following day. Hence, no choice was left. I was unwilling to run the hazard of losing a day, and therefore preferred to mount the “stage,” and cross the mighty barrier betwixt the east and the west. . . .

Our cavalcade consisted of six or eight stages, all well horsed and manned. On leaving Cumberland we instantly plunged into the midst of rocks and precipices, the road meandering its course among gullies and cataracts, and then again by the side of the rising mountain. The scene was unmixed forest; for though the mountain, of course, consists of rock, yet, as is the case everywhere else, it was covered from the bottom to its most elevated summit with noble trees. Having two or three hours before night closed the prospect from our view, I had consequently that space to look upon the scene as we passed along. The impression was a very melancholy one, in exact agreement with the sombre aspect of all things around: the stillness, the indefinite and mystic character of the forest, as if forming a sort of infinite labyrinth; the stupendous rocks and precipices; the moaning of the waters, as they rolled down the gullies, or dashed among the stones; the wilderness itself, which seemed vocal with no note of bird or voice of man; and then the gradual approach of night, till the curtain dropped. . . .

Our long train of “stages,” with their brilliant lamps, reflected by the foliage, presented a singular appearance, and not devoid of interest and beauty. It became very cold as we ascended the mountain, and we were glad to halt for supper. This was served, considering the character of the place, in very good style; and, no doubt, we did it justice. After a good warming, we again renewed our journey. The road is designated “national,” being prepared at the public expense; but unpleasantly rough. The shaking and jolting, the up-and-down kind of exercise we had to endure, made sleep in my case quite out of the question. . . .

All my companions, being accustomed to this kind of travelling, slept soundly; but I “watched for the morning” with great desire.

Henry Adams, A Journey to Washington, 1850

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918), pp. 43-45

The journey was meant as education, and as education it served the purpose of fixing in memory the stage of a boy’s thought in 1850. He could not remember taking special interest in the railroad journey or in New York; with railways and cities he was familiar enough. His first impression was the novelty of crossing New York Bay and finding an English railway carriage on the Camden and Amboy Railroad. This was a new world; a suggestion of corruption in the simple habits of American life; a step to exclusiveness never approached in Boston; but it was amusing. The boy rather liked it. At Trenton the train set him on board a steamer which took him to Philadelphia where he smelt other varieties of town life; then again by boat to Chester, and by train to Havre de Grace; by boat to Baltimore and thence by rail to Washington. This was the journey he remembered. The actual journey may have been quite different, but the actual journey has no interest for education. The memory was all that mattered; and what struck him most, to remain fresh in his mind all his lifetime, was the sudden change that came over the world on entering a slave State. He took education politically. The mere raggedness of outline could not have seemed wholly new, for even Boston had its ragged edges, and the town of Quincy was far from being a vision of neatness or good-repair; in truth, he had never seen a finished landscape; but Maryland was raggedness of a new kind. The railway, about the size and character of a modern tram, rambled through unfenced fields and woods, or through village streets, among a haphazard variety of pigs, cows, and negro babies, who might all have used the cabins for pens and styes, had the Southern pig required styes, but who never showed a sign of care. This was the boy’s impression of what slavery caused, and, for him, was all it taught. Coming down in the early morning from his bedroom in his grandmother’s house — still called the Adams Building — in F Street and venturing outside into the air reeking with the thick odor of the catalpa trees, he found himself on an earth-road, or village street, with wheel-tracks meandering from the colonnade of the Treasury hard by, to the white marble columns and fronts of the Post Office and Patent Office which faced each other in the distance, like white Greek temples in the abandoned gravel-pits of a deserted Syrian city. Here and there low wooden houses were scattered along the streets, as in other Southern villages, but he was chiefly attracted by an unfinished square marble shaft, half-a-mile below, and he walked down to inspect it before breakfast. His aunt drily remarked that, at this rate, he would soon get through all the sights; but she could not guess — having lived always in Washington — how little the sights of Washington had to do with its interest.

The boy could not have told her; he was nowhere near an understanding of himself. The more he was educated, the less he understood. Slavery struck him in the face; it was a nightmare; a horror; a crime; the sum of all wickedness! Contact made it only more repulsive. He wanted to escape, like the negroes, to free soil. Slave States were dirty, unkempt, poverty-stricken, ignorant, vicious! He had not a thought but repulsion for it; and yet the picture had another side. The May sunshine and shadow had something to do with it; the thickness of foliage and the heavy smells had more; the sense of atmosphere, almost new, had perhaps as much again; and the brooding indolence of a warm climate and a negro population hung in the atmosphere heavier than the catalpas. The impression was not simple, but the boy liked it: distinctly it remained on his mind as an attraction, almost obscuring Quincy itself. The want of barriers, of pavements, of forms; the looseness, the laziness; the indolent Southern drawl; the pigs in the streets; the negro babies and their mothers with bandanas; the freedom, openness, swagger, of nature and man, soothed his Johnson blood. Most boys would have felt it in the same way, but with him the feeling caught on to an inheritance. The softness of his gentle old grandmother as she lay in bed and chatted with him, did not come from Boston. His aunt was anything rather than Bostonian. He did not wholly come from Boston himself. Though Washington belonged to a different world, and the two worlds could not live together, he was not sure that he enjoyed the Boston world most. Even at twelve years old he could see his own nature no more clearly than he would at twelve hundred, if by accident he should happen to live so long.

Frederick Law Olmstead, A Maryland Farm, 1853

Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (New York: Dix and Edwards, 1856), pp. 5-6, 10-11

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14th. Called on Mr. C., whose fine farm, from its vicinity to Washington, and its excellent management, as well as from the hospitable habits of its owner, has a national reputation. It is some two thousand acres in extent, and situated just without the District, in Maryland.

The residence is in the midst of the farm, a quarter of a mile from the high road—the private approach being judiciously carried through large pastures which are divided only by slight, but close and well-secured, wire fences. The mansion is of brick, and, as seen through the surrounding trees, has somewhat the look of an old French chateau. The kept grounds are very limited, and in simple but quiet taste; being surrounded only by wires, they merge, in effect, into the pastures. There is a fountain, an ornamental dove-cote, and ice-house, and the approach road, nicely graveled, and rolled, comes up to the door with a fine sweep.

I had dismounted and was standing before the door, when I heard myself loudly hailed from a distance.

“Ef yer wants to see Master, sah, he’s down thar—to the new stable.”

I could see no one; and when I was tired of holding my horse, I mounted, and rode on in search of the new stable. I found it without difficulty; and in it Mr. and Mrs. C. With them were a number of servants, one of whom now took my horse with alacrity. I was taken at once to look at a very fine herd of cows, and afterwards led upon a tramp over the farm, and did not get back to the house till dinner time. . . .


Mr. C. is a large hereditary owner of slaves, which, for ordinary field and stable-work, constitute his laboring force. He has employed several Irishmen for ditching, and for this work, and this alone, he thought he could use them to better advantage than negroes. He would not think of using Irishmen for common farm-labor, and made light of their coming in competition with slaves. Negroes at hoeing and any steady field-work, he assured me, would “do two to their one;” but his main objection to employing Irishmen was derived from his experience of their unfaithfulness—they were dishonest, would not obey explicit directions about their work, and required more personal supervision than negroes. From what he had heard and seen of Germans, he supposed they did better than Irish. He mentioned that there were several Germans who had come here as laboring men, and worked for wages several years, who had now got possession of small farms, and were reputed to be getting rich.* He was disinclined to converse on the topic of slavery, and I, therefore, made no inquiries about the condition and habits of his negroes, or his management of them. They seemed to live in small and rude log-cabins, scattered in different parts of the farm. Those I saw at work appeared to me to move very slowly and awkwardly, as did also those engaged in the stable. These, also, were very stupid and dilatory in executing any orders given to them, so that Mr. C. would frequently take the duty off their hands into his own, rather than wait for them, or make them correct their blunders: they were much, in these respects, like what our farmers call dumb Paddies—that is, Irishmen who do not readily understand the English language, and who are still weak and stiff from the effects of the emigrating voyage. At the entrance-gate was a porter’s lodge, and, as I approached, I saw a black face peeping at me from it, but, both when I entered and left, I was obliged to dismount and open the gate myself.

Altogether, it struck me—slaves coming here as they naturally did in direct comparison with free laborers, as commonly employed on my own and my neighbor’s farms, in exactly similar duties—that they must be very difficult to direct efficiently, and that it must be very irksome and trying to one’s patience, to have to superintend their labor.

* “There is a small settlement of Germans, about three miles from me, who, a few years since (with little or nothing beyond their physical abilities to aid them), seated themselves down in a poor, miserable old field, and have, by their industry, and means obtained by working round among the neighbors, effected a change which is really surprising and pleasing to behold, and who will, I have no doubt, become wealthy, provided they remain prudent, as they have hitherto been industrious.” —F. A. CLOPPER, (Montgomery Co.), Maryland, in Patent Of. Rept., 1851.

Frederick Law Olmstead in Maryland, 1856

Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas (New York: Dix and Edwards, 1857), pp. 1-4

In entering new precincts, the mind instinctively looks for salient incidents to fix its whereabouts and reduce or define its vague anticipations. Last evening’s stroll in Baltimore, from the absence of any of the expected indications of a slave state, left a certain restlessness which two little incidents this morning speedily dissipated. On reaching the station, I was amused to observe that the superintendent was, overseer-like, bestride an active little horse, clattering here and there over the numerous rails, hurrying on passengers, and issuing from the saddle his curt orders to a gang of watchful locomotives.

And five minutes had not elapsed after we were off at a wave of his hand, before a Virginia gentleman by my side, after carelessly gauging, with a glance, the effort necessary to reach the hinged ventilator over the window of the seat opposite us, spat through it without a wink, at the sky. Such a feat in New England would have brought down the house. Here it failed to excite a thought even from the performer.

Here was rest for the mind. Scene, the South; bound West. It could be nowhere else. The dramatis personæ at once fell into place. The white baby drawing nourishment from a black mamma on the train; the tobacco wagons at the stations; the postillion driving; the outside chimneys and open-centre houses; the long stop toward noon at a railway country inn; the loafing nobles of poor whites, hanging about in search of enjoyment or a stray glass of whisky or an emotion; the black and yellow boys, shy of baggage, but on the alert for any bit of a lark with one another; the buxom, saucy, slipshod girls within, bursting with fat and fun from their dresses, unable to contain themselves even during the rude ceremonies of dinner; the bacon and sweet potatoes and corn-bread that made for most of the passengers the substantials of that meal; the open kitchen in the background, and the unstudied equality of black and white that visibly reigned there: nothing of this was now a surprise.


The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs for some eighty miles through a fine farming country, with its appropriate, somewhat tame, rural scenery. At Harper’s Ferry, the Potomac hurries madly along high cliffs over a rocky bed, and the effect, as you emerge from a tunnel and come upon the river, is startling and fine. Jefferson pronounced it the finest scenery he had seen—but he was a Virginian. After this the road follows up the valley as far as Cumberland, coming upon new and wilder beauties at every bend of the stream. But a day in a railway car is, in the best surroundings, a tedious thing, and it is with great pleasure that the traveler, in the early evening, shakes the dust from his back, and partakes of a quietly-prolonged supper in the St. Nicholas, the gaudy but excellent new inn at


This Cumberland, whence comes so much winter-evening comfort to us of the North, has itself the aspect of a most comfortless place. The houses of its 3,000 inhabitants are scattered among and upon steep hills, and show little of the taste their picturesque situations suggest. There is a certain dinginess and a slow, fixed, finished look arising from absence of new constructions, that remind you, especially in the dim light of a November rainy day, of the small manufacturing towns of England. Judging from the tones we heard and the signs we saw in some parts of the town, some portion of its population seems to have come from Wales or the West of England, and to possess, legitimately, a slow-going propensity.

The mines, from which the chief supply of bituminous coal is drawn for the use of the Atlantic coast, lie ten miles from the town, and communicate with it and the world by a branch railway. The transportation of this material forms one of the chief items of the income of the B. and O. Railroad. The price of the coal, for which we in New York were paying nine dollars a tun, was in the town one dollar and a half; at the mines, unselected, half a dollar—a difference which, for my own part, I gladly pay.

Unattractive as is the town of Cumberland, it is not easily forgotten, from its romantic position. From the cultivated hills adjoining it, is seen a view which is, in its way, unsurpassed, and, but a few minutes’ walk above it, is a wooded gorge, into which a road enters as into monstrous jaws, and, after sunset, the heart fairly quakes, spite of reason, to intrude, defiant of such scowls of nature.


From Cumberland the rails plunge into the wild Blue Ridge Mountains, and only by dint of the most admirable persistence in tunneling, jumping, squeezing, and winding, do they succeed in forming a path for the locomotive over to the great basin of the Ohio. Vast sums and incredible Southern pains have laid this third great social artery from the West, and New York, after all, receives the blood.

Rocks, forests, and streams, alone, for hours, meet the eye. The only stoppages are for wood and water, and the only way-passengers, laborers upon the road. The conquered solitude becomes monotonous. It is a pleasure to get through and see again the old monotony of cultivation.

William Howard Russell, Spring and Summer, 1861

William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South (Boston: T.O.H.P. Burnham, 1863), 76-79, 373-376, 405, 418-424, 486-488, 491-494

April l2th.—This morning I received an intimation that the Government had resolved on taking decisive steps which would lead to a development of events in the South and test the sincerity of Secession. The Confederate general at Charleston, Beauregard, has sent to the Federal officer in command at Sumter, Major Anderson, to say, that all communication between his garrison and the city must cease; and, at the same time, or probably before it, the Government at Washington informed the Confederate authorities that they intended to forward supplies to Major Anderson, peaceably if permitted, but at all hazards to send them. . . .

I resolved, therefore, to start for the Southern States to-day, proceeding by Baltimore to Norfolk instead of going by Richmond, which was cut off by the floods. Before leaving, I visited Lord Lyons, Mr. Seward, the French and Russian Ministers; left cards on the President, Mrs. Lincoln, General Scott, Mr. Douglas, Mr. Sumner, and others. . . . Some ladies said to me that when I came back I would find some nice people at Washington, and that the rail-splitter, his wife, the Sewards, and all the rest of them, would be driven to the place where they ought to be: “Varina Davis is a lady, at all events, not like the other. We can’t put up with such people as these!” A naval officer whom I met, told me, “if the Government are really going to try force at Charleston, you’ll see they’ll be beaten, and we’ll have a war between the gentlemen and the Yankee rowdies; if they attempt violence, you know how that will end.” The Government are so uneasy that they have put soldiers into the Capitol, and are preparing it for defence.

At 6 P.M. I drove to the Baltimore station in a storm of rain, accompanied by Mr. Warre, of the British Legation. In the train there was a crowd of people, many of them disappointed place-hunters, and much discussion took place respecting the propriety of giving supplies to Sumter by force, the weight of opinion being against the propriety of such a step. The tone in which the President and his cabinet were spoken of was very disrespectful. One big man, in a fur coat, who was sitting near me, said, “Well, darn me if I wouldn’t draw a bead on Old Abe, Seward—aye, or General Scott himself, though I’ve got a perty good thing out of them, if they due try to use their soldiers and sailors to beat down States’ Rights. If they want to go they’ve a right to go.” To which many said, “That’s so! That’s true!”

When we arrived at Baltimore, at 8 P.M., the streets were deep in water. A coachman, seeing I was a stranger asked me two dollars, or 8s. 4d., to drive to the Eutaw House, a quarter of a mile distance; but I was not surprised, as I had paid three-and-a-half and four dollars to go to dinner and return to the hotel in Washington. On my arrival, the landlord, no less a person than a major or colonel, took me aside, and asked me if I had heard the news. “No, what is it?” “The President of the Telegraph Company tells me he has received a message from his clerk at Charleston that the batteries have opened fire on Sumter because the Government has sent down a fleet to force in supplies.” The news had, however, spread. The hall and bar of the hotel were full, and I was asked by many people whom I had never seen in my life, what my opinions were as to the authenticity of the rumor. . . .

April 14th.—The Eutaw House is not a very good specimen of an American hotel, but the landlord does his best to make his guests comfortable, when he likes them. . . .

I was the more complimented by the landlord’s attention this morning when he came to the room, and in much excitement informed me the news of Fort Sumter being bombarded by the Charleston batteries was confirmed. “And now,” said he, “there’s no saying where it will all end.”

After breakfast I was visited by some gentlemen of Baltimore, who were highly delighted with the news, and I learned from them there was a probability of their State joining those which had seceded. The whole feeling of the landed and respectable classes is with the South. The dislike to the Federal Government at Washington is largely spiced with personal ridicule and contempt of Mr. Lincoln. Your Marylander is very tenacious about being a gentleman, and what he does not consider gentlemanly is simply unfit for any thing, far less for place and authority. . . .

At the black barber’s I was meekly interrogated by my attendant as to my belief in the story of the bombardment. He was astonished to find a stranger could think the event was probable. “De gen’lemen of Baltimore will be quite glad ov it. But maybe it’ll come bad after all.” I discovered my barber had strong ideas that the days of slavery were drawing to an end. “And what will take place then, do you think?” “Wall, sare, ’spose colored men will be good as white men.” That is it. They do not understand what a vast gulf flows between them and the equality of position with the white race which most of those who have aspirations imagine to be meant by emancipation. He said the town slave-owners were very severe and harsh in demanding larger sums than the slaves could earn. The slaves are sent out to do jobs, to stand for hire, to work on the quays and docks. Their earnings go to the master, who punishes them if they do not bring home enough. Sometimes the master is content with a fixed sum, and all over that amount which the slave can get may be retained for his private purposes.

Baltimore looks more ancient and respectable than the towns I have passed through, and the site on which it stands is undulating, so that the houses have not that flatness and uniformity of height which make the streets of New York and Philadelphia resemble those of a toy city magnified. Why Baltimore should be called the “Monumental City” could not be divined by a stranger. He would never think that a great town of 250,000 inhabitants could derive its name from an obelisk cased in white marble to George Washington, even though it be more than 200 feet high, nor from the grotesque column called “Battle Monument,” erected to the memory of those who fell in the skirmish outside the city in which the British were repulsed in 1814. I could not procure any guide to the city worth reading, and strolled about at discretion, after a visit to the Maryland Club, of which I was made an honorary member. At dark I started for Norfolk in the steamer “Georgiana.”. . .

Ju1y 3d.—Up early [in New York], breakfasted at five, A.M., and left my hospitable host’s roof, on my way to Washington. . . .

Nearly four months since I went by this road to Washington. The change which has since occurred is beyond belief. Men were then speaking of place under Government, of compromises between North and South, and of peace; now they only talk of war and battle. Ever since I came out of the South, and could see the newspapers, I have been struck by the easiness of the American people, by their excessive credulity. Whether they wish it or not, they are certainly deceived. Not a day has passed without the announcement that the Federal troops were moving, and that “a great battle was expected” by somebody unknown, at some place or other.

I could not help observing the arrogant tone with which writers of stupendous ignorance on military matters write of the operations which they think the Generals should undertake. They demand that an army, which has neither adequate transport, artillery, nor cavalry, shall be pushed forward to Richmond to crush out Secession, and at the same time their columns teem with accounts from the army, which prove that it is not only ill-disciplined, but that it is ill-provided. A general outcry has been raised against the war department and the contractors, and it is openly stated that Mr. Cameron, the Secretary, has not clean hands. One journal denounces the “swindling and plunder” which prevail under his eyes. A minister who is disposed to be corrupt can be so with facility under the system of the United States, because he has absolute control over the contracts, which are rising to an enormous magnitude, as the war preparations assume more formidable dimensions. The greater part of the military stores of the States are in the South—arms, ordnance, clothing, ammunition, ships, machinery, and all kinds of matériel must be prepared in a hurry. . . .

Coming so recently from the South, I can see the great difference which exists between the two races, as they may be called, exemplified in the men I have seen, and those who are in the train going towards Washington. These volunteers have none of the swash-buckler bravado, gallant-swaggering air of the Southern men. They are staid, quiet men, and the Pennsylvanians, who are on their way to join their regiment in Baltimore, are very inferior in size and strength to the Tennesseans and Carolinians.

The train is full of men in uniform. When I last went over the line, I do not believe there was a sign of soldiering, beyond perhaps the “conductor,” who . . . wore his badge. And, à propos of badges, I see that civilians have taken to wearing shields of metal on their coats, enamelled with the stars and stripes, and that men who are not in the army try to make it seem they are soldiers by affecting military caps and cloaks.

The country between Washington and Philadelphia is destitute of natural beauties, but it affords abundant evidence that it is inhabited by a prosperous, comfortable, middle-class community. From every village church and from many houses, the Union flag was displayed. Four months ago not one was to be seen. . . . There is certainly less vehemence and bitterness among the Northerners; but it might be erroneous to suppose there was less determination.

Below Philadelphia, from Havre-de-Grâce all the way to Baltimore, and thence on to Washington, the stations on the rail were guarded by soldiers, as though an enemy were expected to destroy the bridges and to tear up the rails. Wooden bridges and causeways, carried over piles and embankments, are necessary, in consequence of the nature of the country; and at each of these a small camp was formed for the soldiers who have to guard the approaches. Sentinels are posted, pickets thrown out, and in the open field by the wayside troops are to be seen moving, as though a battle was close at hand. In one word, we are in the State of Maryland. By these means alone are communications maintained between the North and the capital. As we approach Baltimore the number of sentinels and camps increase, and earthworks have been thrown up on the high grounds commanding the city. The display of Federal flags from the public buildings and some shipping in the river was so limited as to contrast strongly with those symbols of Union sentiments in the Northern cities.

Since I last passed through this city the streets have been a scene of bloodshed. The conductor of the car on which we travelled from one terminus to the other, along the street railway, pointed out the marks of the bullets on the walls and in the window frames. “That’s the way to deal with the Plug Uglies,” exclaimed he; a name given popularly to the lower classes called Rowdies in New York. “Yes,” said a fellow-passenger quietly to me, “these are the sentiments which are now uttered in the country which we call the land of freedom, and men like that desire nothing better than brute force. There is no city in Europe—Venice, Warsaw, or Rome—subject to such tyranny as Baltimore at this moment. In this Pratt Street there have been murders as foul as ever soldiery committed in the streets of Paris.” Here was evidently the judicial blindness of a States’ Rights fanatic, who considers the despatch of Federal soldiers through the State of Maryland without the permission of the authorities an outrage so flagrant as to justify the people in shooting them down, whilst the soldiers become murderers if they resist. At the corners of the streets strong guards of soldiers were posted, and patrols moved up and down the thoroughfares. The inhabitants looked sullen and sad. A small war is waged by the police recently appointed by the Federal authorities against the women, who exhibit much ingenuity in expressing their animosity to the stars and stripes—dressing the children, and even dolls, in the Confederate colors, and wearing the same in ribbons and bows. The negro population alone seemed just the same as before.

The Secession newspapers of Baltimore have been suppressed, but the editors contrive nevertheless to show their sympathies in the selection of their extracts. In to-day’s paper there is an account of a skirmish in the West, given by one of the Confederates who took part in it, in which it is stated that the officer commanding the party “scalped” twenty-three Federals. For the first time since I left the South I see those advertisements headed by the figure of a negro running with a bundle, and containing descriptions of the fugitive, and the reward offered for imprisoning him or her, so that the owner may receive his property. Among the insignia enumerated are scars on the back and over the loins. The whip is not only used by the masters and drivers, but by the police; and in every report of petty police cases sentences of so many lashes, and severe floggings of women of color are recorded.

It is about forty miles from Baltimore to Washington, and at every quarter of a mile for the whole distance a picket of soldiers guarded the rails. Camps appeared on both sides, larger and more closely packed together; and the rays of the setting sun fell on countless lines of tents as we approached the unfinished dome of the Capitol. . . .

July 14th.—[at Fort Monroe, Virginia]. . . .

I perceive by the clock it is time to go. An aide is sent to stop the boat, but he returns ere I leave with the news that “She is gone.” Whereupon the General [Benjamin Butler] sends for the Quartermaster Talmadge, who is out in the camps, and only arrives in time to receive a severe “wigging.” It so happened that I had important papers to send off by the next mail from New York, and the only chance of being able to do so depended on my being in Baltimore next day. . . .

At ten o’clock the Quartermaster came back to say that a screw steamer called The Elizabeth was getting up steam for my reception. . . . At eleven o’clock The Elizabeth uttered some piercing cries, which indicated she had her steam up; and so I walked down to the jetty, accompanied by my host and his friends, and wishing them good-by, stepped on board the little vessel, and with the aid of the negro cook, steward, butler, boots, and servant, roused out the captain from a small wooden trench which he claimed as his berth, turned into it, and fell asleep just as the first difficult convulsions of the screw aroused the steamer from her coma, and forced her languidly against the tide in the direction of Baltimore.

July 15th.—I need not speak much of the events of last night, which were not unimportant, perhaps to some of the insects which played a leading part in them. The heat was literally overpowering; for in addition to the hot night there was the full power of most irritable boilers close at hand to aggravate the natural désagrémens of the situation. About an hour after dawn, when I turned out on deck, there was nothing visible but a warm gray mist; but a knotty old pilot on deck told me we were only going six knots an hour against tide and wind, and that we were likely to make less way as the day wore on. In fact, instead of being near Baltimore, we were much nearer Fortress Monroe. Need I repeat the horrors of this day? Stewed, boiled, baked, and grilled on board this miserable Elizabeth, I wished M. Montalembert could have experienced with me what such an impassive nature could inflict in misery on those around it. The captain was a shy, silent man, much given to short naps in my temporary berth, and the mate was so wild, he might have swam off with perfect propriety to the woods on either side of us, and taken to a tree. . . . Two men of most retiring habits, the negro, a black boy, and a very fat negress who officiated as cook, filled up the “balance” of the crew.

I could not write, for the vibration of the deck of the little craft gave a St. Vitus dance to pen and pencil; reading was out of the question from the heat and flies; and below stairs the fat cook banished repose by vapors from her dreadful caldrons, where, Medea-like, she was boiling some death broth. Our breakfast was of the simplest and—may I add?—the least enticing; and if the dinner could have been worse it was so; though it was rendered attractive by hunger, and by the kindness of the sailors who shared it with me. The old pilot had a most wholesome hatred of the Britishers, and not having the least idea till late in the day that I belonged to the old country, favored me with some very remarkable views respecting their general mischievousness and inutility. As soon as he found out my secret he became more reserved, and explained to me that he had some reason for not liking us, because all he had in the world, as pretty a schooner as ever floated and a fine cargo, had been taken and burnt by the English when they sailed up the Potomac at Washington. He had served against us at Bladensbyrg. I did not ask him how fast he ran; but he had a good rejoinder ready if I had sone so, inasmuch as he was up West under Commodore Perry on the lakes when we suffered our most serious reverses. Six knots an hour! hour after hour. And nothing to do but to listen to the pilot.

On both sides a line of forest just visible above the low shores. Small coasting craft, schooners, pungies, boats laden with wood creeping along in the shallow water, or plying down empty before wind and tide.

“I doubt if we’ll be able to catch up them forts afore night,” said the skipper. The pilot grunted, “I rather think yu’ll not.” “H—— and thunder! Then we’ll have to lie off till daylight?” “They may let you pass, Captain Squires, as you’ve this European on board, but anyhow we can’t fetch Baltimore till late at night or early in the morning.”

I heard the dialogue, and decided very quickly that as Annapolis lay somewhere ahead on our left, and was much nearer than Baltimore, it would be best to run for it while there was daylight. The captain demurred. He had been ordered to take his vessel to Baltimore, and General Butler might come down on him for not doing so; but I proposed to sign a letter stating he had gone to Annapolis at my request, and the steamer was put a point or two to westward, much to the pleasure of the Palinurus, whose “old woman” lived in the town. I had an affection for this weather-beaten, watery-eyed, honest old fellow, who hated us as cordially as Jack detested his Frenchman in the old days before ententes cordiales were known to the world. He was thoroughly English in his belief that he belonged to the only sailor race in the world, and that they could beat all mankind in seamanship. . . . By and by the houses of a considerable town, crowned by steeples, and a large Corinthian-looking building, came in view. “That’s the State House. That’s where George Washington—first in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen—laid down his victorious sword without any one asking him, and retired amid the applause of the civilized world.” This flight I am sure was the old man’s treasured relic of school-boy days, and I’m not sure he did not give it to me three times over. Annapolis looks very well from the river side. The approach is guarded by some very poor earthworks and one small fort. A dismantled sloop of war lay off a sea wall, banking up a green lawn covered with trees, in front of an old-fashioned pile of buildings, which formerly, I think, and very recently indeed, was occupied by the cadets of the United States Naval School. “There was a lot of them Seceders. Lord bless you! these young ones is all took by these States Rights’ doctrines—just as the ladies is caught by a new fashion.”

About seven o’clock the steamer hove along-side a wooden pier which was quite deserted. Only some ten or twelve sailing boats, yachts, and schooners lay at anchor in the placid waters of the port which was once the capital of Maryland, and for which the early Republicans prophesied a great future. But Baltimore has eclipsed Annapolis into utter obscurity. I walked to the only hotel in the place, and found that the train for the junction with Washington had started, and that the next train left at some impossible hour in the morning. It is an odd Rip Van Winkle sort of a place. Quaint-looking boarders came down to the tea-table and talked Secession, and when I was detected, as must ever soon be the case, owing to the hotel-book, I was treated to some ill-favored glances, as my recent letters have been denounced in the strongest way for their supposed hostility to States Rights and the Domestic Institution. The spirit of the people has, however, been broken by the Federal occupation, and by the decision with which Butler acted when he came down here with the troops to open communications with Washington after the Baltimoreans had attacked the soldiery on their way through the city from the north.

July 16th.—I baffled many curious and civil citizens by breakfasting in my room, where I remained writing till late in the day. In the afternoon I walked to the State House. The hall door was open, but the rooms were closed. . . . [A]n officer whom I met in the portico went to look for the porter and the keys. Whether he succeeded I cannot say, for after waiting some half hour I was warned by my watch that it was time to get ready for the train, which started at 4.15 P. M. The country through which the single line of rail passes is very hilly, much wooded, little cultivated, cut up by water-courses and ravines. At the junction with the Washington line from Baltimore there is a strong guard thrown out from the camp near at hand. The officers, who had a mess in a little wayside inn on the line, invited me to rest till the train came up, and from them I heard that an advance had been actually ordered, and that if the “rebels” stood there would soon be a tall fight close to Washington. They were very cheery, hospitable fellows, and enjoyed their new mode of life amazingly. The men of the regiment to which they belonged were Germans, almost to a man. When the train came in I found it was full of soldiers, and I learned that three more heavy trains were to follow, in addition to four which had already passed laden with troops.

On arriving at the Washington platform, the first person I saw was General McDowell alone, looking anxiously into the carriages. He asked where I came from, and when he heard from Annapolis, inquired eagerly if I had seen two batteries of artillery—Barry’s and another—which he had ordered up, and was waiting for, but which had “gone astray.” I was surprised to find the General engaged on such duty, and took leave to say so. “Well, it is quite true, Mr. Russell; but I am obliged to look after them myself, as I have so small a staff; and they are all engaged out with my head-quarters. You are aware I have advanced? No! Well, you have just come in time, and I shall be happy, indeed, to take you with me. I have made arrangements for the correspondents of our papers to take the field under certain regulations.”. . . The General could hear nothing of his guns; his carriage was waiting, and I accepted his offer of a seat to my lodgings. Although he spoke confidently, he did not seem in good spirits. There was the greatest difficulty in finding out anything about the enemy. Beauregard was said to have advanced to Fairfax Court House, but he could not get any certain knowledge of the fact. . . .

August 12th.— . . .

I remained in Baltimore a few days, and had an opportunity of knowing the feelings of some of the leading men in the place. It may be described in one word—intense hatred of New England and Black Republicans, which has been increased to mania by the stringent measures of the military dictator of the American Warsaw, the searches of private houses, domiciliary visits, arbitrary arrests, the suppression of adverse journals, the overthrow of the corporate body—all the acts, in fact, which constitute the machinery and the grievances of a tyranny. . . . Baltimoreans told me the constables appointed by the Federal general were scoundrels who led the Plug Uglies in former days,—the worst characters in a city not sweet or savory in repute,—but that the old police were men of very different description. The Maryland Club, where I had spent some pleasant hours, was now like a secret tribunal or the haunt of conspirators. The police entered it a few days ago, searched every room, took up the flooring, and even turned up the coals in the kitchen and the wine in the cellar. Such indignities fired the blood of the members, who are, with one exception, opposed to the attempt to coerce the South by the sword. Not one of them but could tell of some outrage perpetrated on himself or on some members of his family by the police and Federal authority. Many a delator amici was suspected but not convicted. Men sat moodily reading the papers with knitted brows, or whispering in corners, taking each other apart, and glancing suspiciously at their fellows.

There is a peculiar stamp about the Baltimore men which distinguishes them from most Americans—a style of dress, frankness of manner, and a general appearance assimilating them closely to the upper classes of Englishmen. They are fond of sport and travel, exclusive and high-spirited, and the iron rule of the Yankee is the more intolerable because they dare not resent it, and are unable to shake it off.

I returned to Washington on 15th August. . . . The President has issued his proclamation for a day of fast and prayer, which, say the Baltimoreans, is a sign that the Yankees are in a bad way, as they would never think of praying or fasting if their cause was prospering. . . .

On the 17th August I returned to Baltimore on my way to Drohoregan Manor, the seat of Colonel Carroll, in Maryland, where I had been invited to spend a few days by his son-in-law, an English gentleman of my acquaintance. Leaving Baltimore at 5.40, P.M., in company with Mr. Tucker Carroll, I proceeded by train to Ellicott’s Mills, a station fourteen miles on the Ohio and Baltimore Railroad, from which our host’s residence is distant more than an hour’s drive. The country through which the line passes is picturesque and undulating, with hills and valleys and brawling streams, spreading in woodland and glade, ravine, and high uplands on either side, haunted by cotton factories, poisoning air and water; but it has been a formidable district for the engineers to get through, and the line abounds in those triumphs of engineering which are generally the ruin of shareholders.

All these lines are now in the hands of the military. At the Washington terminus there is a guard placed to see that no unauthorized person or unwilling volunteer is going north; the line is watched by patrols and sentries; troops are encamped along its course. The factory chimneys are smokeless; half the pleasant villas which cover the hills or dot the openings in the forest have a deserted look and closed windows. And so these great works, the Carrollton Viaduct, the Thomas Viaduct, and the high embankments and great cuttings in the ravine by the riverside, over which the line passes, have almost a depressing effect, as if the people for whose use they were intended had all become extinct. At Ellicott’s Mills, which is a considerable manufacturing town, more soldiers and Union flags. The people are Unionists, but the neighboring gentry and country people are Seceshers.

This is the case wherever there is a manufacturing population in Maryland, because the workmen are generally foreigners, or have come from the Northern States, and feel little sympathy with States Rights’ doctrines, and the tendencies of the landed gentry to a conservative action on the slave question. There was no good-will in the eyes of the mechanicals as they stared at our vehicle; for the political bias of Colonel Carroll was well known, as well as the general sentiments of his family. It was dark when we reached the manor, which is approached by an avenue of fine trees. The house is old fashioned, and has received additions from time to time. But for the black faces of the domestics, one might easily fancy he was in some old country house in Ireland. . . .

On the day after my arrival the rain fell in torrents. The weather is as uncertain as that of our own isle. The torrid heats at Washington, the other day, were succeeded by bitter cold days; now there is a dense mist, chilly and cheerless, seeming as a sort of strainer for the even down-pour that falls through it continuously. The family after breakfast slipped round to the little chapel, which forms the extremity of one wing of the house. The colored people on the estate were already trooping across the lawn and up the avenue from the slave quarters, decently dressed for the most part, having due allowance for the extraordinary choice of colors in their gowns, bonnets, and ribbons, and for the unhappy imitations, on the part of the men, of the attire of their masters. They walked demurely and quietly past the house; and presently the priest, dressed like a French curé, trotted up, and service began. The negro houses were of a much better and more substantial character than those one sees in the South, though not remarkable for cleanliness and good order. Truth to say, they were palaces compared to the huts of Irish laborers, such as might be found, perhaps, on the estates of the colonel’s kinsmen at home. The negroes are far more independent than they are in the South. They are less civil, less obliging, and, although they do come cringing to shake hands as the field hands on a Louisianian plantation, less servile. They inhabit a small village of brick and wood houses, across the road at the end of the avenue, and in sight of the house. The usual swarms of little children, poultry, pigs, enlivened by goats, embarrassed the steps of the visitor; and the old people, or those who were not finely dressed enough for mass, peered out at the strangers from the glassless windows.

When chapel was over, the boys and girls came up for catechism, and passed in review before the ladies of the house, with whom they were on very good terms. The priest joined us in the veranda when his labors were over, and talked with intelligence of the terrible war which has burst over the land. He has just returned from a tour in the Northern States; and it is his belief the native Americans there will not enlist, but that they will get foreigners to fight their battles. He admitted that slavery was in itself an evil, nay, more, that it was not profitable in Maryland. But what are the landed proprietors to do? The slaves have been bequeathed to them as property by their fathers, with certain obligations to be respected, and duties to be fulfilled. It is impossible to free them, because, at the moment of emancipation, nothing short of the confiscation of all the labor and property of the whites would be required to maintain the negroes, who would certainly refuse to work, unless they had their masters’ land as their own. Where is white labor to be found? Its introduction must be the work of years; and meantime many thousands of slaves, who have a right to protection, would canker the land.

In Maryland they do not breed slaves for the purpose of selling them as they do in Virginia, and yet Colonel Carroll and other gentlemen who regarded the slaves they inherited almost as members of their families, have been stigmatized by Abolition orators as slave-breeders and slave-dealers. It was these insults which stung the gentlemen of Maryland and of the other Slave States to the quick, and made them resolve never to yield to the domination of a party which had never ceased to wage war against their institutions and their reputation and honor.

A little knot of friends and relations joined Colonel Carroll at dinner. There are few families in this part of Maryland which have not representatives in the other army across the Potomac; and if Beauregard could but make his appearance, the women alone would give him welcome such as no conqueror ever received in liberated city.

Next day the rain fell incessantly. The mail was brought in by a little negro boy on horseback, and I was warned by my letters that an immediate advance of McClellan’s troops was probable. This is an old story. “Battle expected tomorrow” has been a heading in the papers for the last fortnight. In the afternoon I was driven over a part of the estate in a close carriage, through the windows of which, however, I caught glimpses of a beautiful country, wooded gloriously, and soft, sylvan, and well-cultivated as the best parts of Hampshire and Gloucestershire, the rolling lands of which latter county, indeed, it much resembled in its large fields, heavy with crops of tobacco and corn. The weather was too unfavorable to admit of a close inspection of the fields; but I visited one or two tobacco houses, where the fragrant Maryland was lying in masses on the ground, or hanging from the rafters, or filled the heavy hogsheads.

Anthony Trollope in Baltimore, 1861

Anthony Trollope, North America (New York: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1863), vol. I, pp. 324-325, 331-335

The railway from Philadelphia to Baltimore passes along the top of Chesapeake Bay and across the Susquehanna River; at least the railway cars do so. On one side of that river they are run on to a huge ferry-boat, and are again run off at the other side. Such an operation would seem to be one of difficulty to us under any circumstances; but as the Susquehanna is a tidal river, rising and falling a considerable number of feet, the natural impediment in the way of such an enterprise would, I think, have staggered us. We should have built a bridge costing two or three millions sterling, on which no conceivable amount of traffic would pay a fair dividend. Here, in crossing the Susquehanna, the boat is so constructed that its deck shall be level with the line of the railway at half tide, so that the inclined plane from the shore down to the boat, or from the shore up to the boat, shall never exceed half the amount of the rise or fall. One would suppose that the most intricate machinery would have been necessary for such an arrangement; but it was all rough and simple, and apparently managed by two negroes. We would employ a small corps of engineers to conduct such an operation, and men and women would be detained in their carriages under all manner of threats as to the peril of life and limb; but here everybody was expected to look out for himself. The cars were dragged up the inclined plane by a hawser attached to an engine, which hawser, had the stress broken it, as I could not but fancy probable, would have flown back and cut to pieces a lot of us who were standing in front of the car. But I do not think that any such accident would have caused very much attention. Life and limbs are not held to be so precious here as they are in England. It may be a question whether with us they are not almost too precious. Regarding railways in America generally, as to the relative safety of which, when compared with our own, we have not in England a high opinion, I must say that I never saw any accident or in any way became conversant with one. It is said that large numbers of men and women are slaughtered from time to time on different lines; but if it be so, the newspapers make very light of such cases. I myself have seen no such slaughter, nor have I even found myself in the vicinity of a broken bone. Beyond the Susquehanna we passed over a creek of Chesapeake Bay on a long bridge. The whole scenery here is very pretty, and the view up the Susquehanna is fine. This is the bay which divides the State of Maryland into two parts, and which is blessed beyond all other bays by the possession of canvas-back ducks. Nature has done a great deal for the State of Maryland, but in nothing more than in sending thither these webfooted birds of Paradise.

Nature has done a great deal for Maryland; and Fortune also has done much for it in these latter days in directing the war from its territory. But for the peculiar position of Washington as the capital, all that is now being done in Virginia would have been done in Maryland, and I must say that the Marylanders did their best to bring about such a result. Had the presence of the war been regarded by the men of Baltimore as an unalloyed benefit, they could not have made a greater struggle to bring it close to them. Nevertheless fate has so far spared them. . . .

I have described the condition of Baltimore as it was early in May, 1861. I reached that city just seven months later, and its condition was considerably altered. There was no question then whether troops should pass through Baltimore, or by an awkward round through Annapolis, or not pass at all through Maryland. General Dix, who had succeeded General Banks, was holding the city in his grip, and martial law prevailed. . . . Baltimore was now a military depot in the hands of the Northern army, and General Dix was not a man to stand any trifling. He did me the honor to take me to the top of Federal Hill, a suburb of the city, on which he had raised great earthworks and planted mighty cannons, and built tents and barracks for his soldiery, and to show me how instantaneously he could destroy the town from his exalted position. “This hill was made for the very purpose,” said General Dix; and no doubt he thought so. Generals, when they have fine positions and big guns and prostrate people lying under their thumbs, are inclined to think that God’s providence has specially ordained them and their points of vantage. It is a good thing in the mind of a general so circumstanced that 200,000 men should be made subject to a dozen big guns. I confess that to me, having had no military education, the matter appeared in a different light, and I could not work up my enthusiasm to a pitch which would have been suitable to the general’s courtesy. That hill, on which many of the poor of Baltimore had lived, was desecrated in my eyes by those columbiads. The neat earthworks were ugly, as looked upon by me; and though I regarded General Dix as energetic, and no doubt skillful in the work assigned to him, I could not sympathize with his exultation.

Previously to the days of secession Baltimore had been guarded by Fort McHenry, which lies on a spit of land running out into the bay just below the town. Hither I went with General Dix, and he explained to me how the cannon had heretofore been pointed solely toward the sea; that, however, now was all changed, and the mouths of his bombs and great artillery were turned all the other way. The commandant of the fort was with us, and other officers, and they all spoke of this martial tenure as a great blessing. Hearing them, one could hardly fail to suppose that they had lived their forty, fifty, or sixty years of life in full reliance on the powers of a military despotism. But not the less were they American republicans, who, twelve months since, would have dilated on the all-sufficiency of their republican institutions, and on the absence of any military restraint in their country, with that peculiar pride which characterizes the citizens of the States. There are, however, some lessons which may be learned with singular rapidity!

Such was the state of Baltimore when I visited that city. I found, nevertheless, that cakes and ale still prevailed there. I am inclined to think that cakes and ale prevail most freely in times that are perilous, and when sources of sorrow abound. I have seen more reckless joviality in a town stricken by pestilence than I ever encountered elsewhere. There was General Dix seated on Federal Hill with his cannon; and there, beneath his artillery, were gentlemen hotly professing themselves to be secessionists, men whose sons and brothers were in the Southern army, and women, alas! whose brothers would be in one army, and their sons in another. That was the part of it which was most heart-rending in this border land. In New England and New York men’s minds at any rate were bent all in the same direction—as doubtless they were also in Georgia and Alabama. But here fathers were divided from sons, and mothers from daughters. Terrible tales were told of threats uttered by one member of a family against another. Old ties of friendship were broken up. Society had so divided itself that one side could hold no terms of courtesy with the other. “When this is over,” one gentleman said to me, “every man in Baltimore will have a quarrel to the death on his hands with some friend whom he used to love.” The complaints made on both sides were eager and open-mouthed against the other.

Late in the autumn an election for a new legislature of the State had taken place, and the members returned were all supposed to be Unionists. That they were prepared to support the government is certain. But no known or presumed secessionist was allowed to vote without first taking the oath of allegiance. The election, therefore, even if the numbers were true, cannot be looked upon as a free election. Voters were stopped at the poll and not allowed to vote unless they would take an oath which would, on their parts, undoubtedly have been false. It was also declared in Baltimore that men engaged to promote the Northern party were permitted to vote five or six times over, and the enormous number of votes polled on the government side gave some coloring to the statement. At any rate, an election carried under General Dix’s guns cannot be regarded as an open election. It was out of the question that any election taken under such circumstances should be worth anything as expressing the minds of the people. Red and white had been declared to be the colors of the Confederates, and red and white had of course become the favorite colors of the Baltimore ladies. Then it was given out that red and white would not be allowed in the streets. Ladies wearing red and white were requested to return home. Children decorated with red and white ribbons were stripped of their bits of finery—much to their infantile disgust and dismay. Ladies would put red and white ornaments in their windows, and the police would insist on the withdrawal of the colors. Such was the condition of Baltimore during the past winter. Nevertheless cakes and ale abounded; and though there was deep grief in the city, and wailing in the recesses of many houses, and a feeling that the good times were gone, never to return within the days of many of them, still there existed an excitement and a consciousness of the importance of the crisis which was not altogether unsatisfactory. Men and women can endure to be ruined, to be torn from their friends, to be overwhelmed with avalanches of misfortune, better than they can endure to be dull.

Baltimore is, or at any rate was, an aspiring city, proud of its commerce and proud of its society. It has regarded itself as the New York of the South, and to some extent has forced others so to regard it also. In many respects it is more like an English town than most of its Transatlantic brethren, and the ways of its inhabitants are English. In old days a pack of fox hounds was kept here—or indeed in days that are not yet very old, for I was told of their doings by a gentleman who had long been a member of the hunt. The country looks as a hunting country should look, whereas no man that ever crossed a field after a pack of hounds would feel the slightest wish to attempt that process in New England or New York. There is in Baltimore an old inn with an old sign, standing at the corner of Eutaw and Franklin Streets, just such as may still be seen in the towns of Somersetshire, and before it there are to be seen old wagons, covered and soiled and battered, about to return from the city to the country, just as the wagons do in our own agricultural counties. I have seen nothing so thoroughly English in any other part of the Union.

But canvas-back ducks and terrapins are the great glories of Baltimore. Of the nature of the former bird I believe all the world knows something. It is a wild duck which obtains the peculiarity of its flavor from the wild celery on which it feeds. This celery grows on the Chesapeake Bay, and I believe on the Chesapeake Bay only. At any rate, Baltimore is the headquarters of the canvas-backs, and it is on the Chesapeake Bay that they are shot. I was kindly invited to go down on a shooting-party; but when I learned that I should have to ensconce myself alone for hours in a wet wooden box on the water’s edge, waiting there for the chance of a duck to come to me, I declined. The fact of my never having as yet been successful in shooting a bird of any kind conduced somewhat, perhaps, to my decision. I must acknowledge that the canvas-back duck fully deserves all the reputation it has acquired. As to the terrapin, I have not so much to say. The terrapin is a small turtle, found on the shores of Maryland and Virginia, out of which a very rich soup is made. It is cooked with wines and spices, and is served in the shape of a hash, with heaps of little bones mixed through it. It is held in great repute, and the guest is expected as a matter of course to be helped twice. The man who did not eat twice of terrapin would be held in small repute, as the Londoner is held who at a city banquet does not partake of both thick and thin turtle. I must, however, confess that the terrapin for me had no surpassing charms.

George F. Noyes, The Battle of South Mountain, 1862

George F. Noyes, The Bivouac and the Battle-Field; or, Camapign Sketches in Virginia and Maryland (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863), pp. 141-143, 148-155, 160-169, 171-184, 189-191

SUNDAY, August 31st [1862, after Second Bull Run]. With the earliest dawn I was again in the saddle, anxious to find the brigade, and to learn how my comrades had fared in yesterday’s battle. The morning was cold and rainy; every thing bore a look of sad discomfort, in unison with my own feelings. The scene through which I rode was, indeed, one needing only a faithful limner to present a picture strikingly illustrative of military life in its most depressing form. Around me were the disjecta membra of a shattered army—here were stragglers sneaking along through the mud, inquiring for their regiments; little squads just issuing from their shelterless bivouac on the wet ground; wagons shipwrecked and forlorn; half-formed regiments, part of the men with guns and part without—wanderers driven in by the patrols; while every one you met had an unwashed, sleepy, downcast aspect, and looked as if he would like to hide his head somewhere from all the world. At one side of the picture our artist would introduce the long lines of handsome hacks, each with its sour, surly driver, enraged at having been sent out here from his pleasant stand on the avenue by an inexorable provost-marshal, who needed his carriage as an ambulance for our wounded: for these vehicles, so suggestive of home luxury, offered a speaking contrast to the rough miseries of war; while, that his sketch might not want touches of practical satire and irony, he would paint in some of these groups of kid-gloved citizens in their fine apparel, who now paused disconsolately in the mud, having come out on a pleasure excursion to visit our victorious battle-field. Perhaps the artist might find humorous touches in the scene; I confess that I could not see them through my sad eyes on that unhappy morning.

But there were also divisions and brigades bivouacked in true military style. The Centreville fortifications were well manned and occupied by batteries; a division or two still in front of them faced the enemy, and a more thorough inspection convinced me that the Army of Virginia still lived. Most of last night’s runaways had found their commands, while many of the brigades, among which was my own, had marched back in good order. . . . The brigade had suffered very little in the conflict of yesterday, only four men having been killed and wounded in the whole number. It was comforting to find my friends all safe; to me it was like coming home after an absence full of misfortune; but our meeting was not joyous; we met rather as men meet after shipwreck, in which, though saved themselves, they have lost their all. I think I can safely say that I saw no smiles that day. . . .

Every one was wonderfully silent, moved through his duties mechanically, had no extra courtesies to spare for his fellows. Few allusions were made to our late defeat, still a sore subject with all; and each felt, I presume, like myself—quite crushed, as yet, under the shame and sorrow of our lost victory. Had the enemy attacked on that day he would have encountered men thoroughly desperate—not so much demoralized as savage—and burning to wipe out the memories of the late disaster. . . .


WEDNESDAY, September 3d. And now the armies of Virginia and of the Potomac were united within the defenses of Washington, under the command of General M’Clellan. Here we remained four days, awaiting the movements of the victorious enemy. That he would follow up his advantage no one doubted. Many believed that another great battle was to be fought in front of Washington; a feint or two was indeed made in the direction of Chain Bridge, but all doubt was soon removed by the intelligence that he had crossed the Potomac into Maryland. . . .

After our fatigue and excitement, this rest medicined and strengthened us. . . . It was a great privilege, when our wagons came up from Alexandria, to get once more into my own tent; to lie down in my own camp-bed with the feeling that an uninterrupted night’s sleep was before me; to have my own den, whither I could retire and be alone. No less pleasant was it, after having been so long cut off from communication with the North, to come into epistolary and journalistic connection; for batches of letters and files of newspapers now reached us, and we had abundant time to read and to reflect upon our late experience.

In calmly reviewing the results of the late campaign, I confess that, though there was much to regret, there seemed little of which to be ashamed. The government had proposed to the Army of Virginia one specific object, viz., by a strong demonstration, threatening Richmond from the right, to extricate the Army of the Potomac from its dangerous position on the Peninsula. This object it fully accomplished, and M’Clellan was thus enabled to withdraw his forces without losing a man. Pursued by the whole rebel army, and compelled to fall back by disparity in numbers, it contested every point, giving ample time for the Army of the Potomac to come up, join forces, and overthrow the enemy. And there seems to be no good reason why this union was not accomplished; why our campaign did not culminate in a crowning and decisive victory. Before the impartial tribunal of the future, in the days when all personal animosity has subsided; when the investigations of congressional committees, courts-martial, and courts of inquiry have crystallized into history, I feel sure that the verdict of guilty of neglect of duty will not be entered up against the Army of Virginia. Half-fed for days, often exhausted by fighting, long marching, and want of sleep, I have yet to learn that they were found wanting in courage and patience in the hour of trial. . . .

But if there be in all this land men with souls so mean that in this crisis of their country’s destiny they could fail to throw their whole mind, body, and spirit into our last battle, could keep back their men lest haply they might reach the field in time to change the issue of the day, or obey their orders so tardily as utterly to foil the plans of the commanding general, then may God help them in that hour when they shall see in vision the accursed treason of their act, and its fearful consequences to the country and the world. Then shall the graves of the victims of their treachery send forth each its bloody witness, while all the tears and all the agony of the widows and orphans, who owe their grief to them, shall testify against them. The man who stabs his friend when unarmed and trusting him, we call a murderer, and punish him accordingly; but how insignificant his guilt compared to theirs who, intrusted by their country with high commands, in an hour like this could prostitute their patriotism to personal jealousy, forfeit their official oaths, and forswear themselves before high heaven at the shrine of political intrigue or personal ambition—who could wickedly permit their countrymen and brothers to stand the odds of our last bloody field unaided and alone. For the honor of our common human nature, I pray that this charge may not be true. . . .

At 6 P.M. on Saturday, September 6th, our division was ordered to march through Washington into Maryland. We left . . . with little regret, and with the hope that a new and brighter experience was before us. As usual, we found the road blocked up by other troops preceding us, for the whole army was now in motion, so that, after proceeding a mile or two, the men were halted at the roadside, stacked arms, and rested. It was evident that it would be hours before our brigade could have a clear road, and, having business to transact in Washington for the command, I obtained permission to ride on at once. At 10 P.M., with a subordinate, I was on the road. The moon was near its full. We found the road crowded with troops, wagons, and artillery, all pushing toward the Chain Bridge; but by keeping well into the fields we made good time, and before midnight crossed the river into Georgetown. Soon after we met large bodies of troops—ten thousand at least—moving into Maryland, chiefly new regiments, whose bright uniforms, fine bands, and full ranks were in striking contrast with our own thinned battalions. So through the moonlit streets we rode on, until, our horses comfortably stabled, we secured two cots in the parlor of a crowded hotel, and were soon wooing the drowsy god, thankful that our retreat was ended, and that tomorrow we turned over a new leaf. Against the same army, whose strength had been at least partially broken as it dashed itself against the Army of Virginia, was now moving the new Army of the Potomac, composed of the united strength of the two Union armies, increased by large re-enforcements of fresh troops. The result could hardly be doubted.


SUNDAY, September 7th. I relinquished my cot in the corner of the hotel parlor with a good deal of reluctance this pleasant morning. But, while we had been sleeping, our division had been marching through the silent streets, and we were anxious to accomplish our business and follow on as speedily as possible. Early as was the hour, we found Pennsylvania Avenue sprinkled with uniforms and gay with staff officers and orderlies, and learned that, two or three hours before, our division had moved out Seventh Street into Maryland. An hour or two put our matters in train, and then we hitched our horses at the Kirkwood for an early breakfast.

I wonder if my sable friend, who placed before me that morning the unaccustomed napkin, milk, and butter, with the hot coffee, boiled eggs, and other accompaniments of a judicious breakfast, was aware to what a novel banquet he gave me welcome. And yet a red-faced monster sitting next me, unctuous and plethoric with good living, his plate fronted and flanked by rows of delicacies two lines deep, actually growled and snarled over a meal before which I sat speechless, my heart and mouth too full for utterance. Never before or since have I taken a meal at the Kirkwood, nor do I dare again to attempt it, lest a second trial should rob me of a pleasing delusion. For this must ever be to me the ideal breakfast of my life. It had been my fate to banquet on Chinese indescribables in Canton; to sit cross-legged over my coffee with the Oriental in Damascus; to see myself reflected in the mirrored walls of the best restaurant in Paris; but there was a gastronomic fascination about this meal which eclipses them all, and I left the Kirkwood full of kindly feelings for my host and for all mankind.

As we rode hither and thither during the morning, the sight of the well-dressed men, women, and children in the streets seemed strange to me. I felt very much as if I had just returned from a visit to another planet; and when the church-bells rang out, an indescribable longing came over me for an hour or two of the subdued light and soothing contemplation of cathedral aisles. But the putting down of this rebellion was now my religion, and, as we have no Sundays in the army, no conscientious scruple disturbed me; so I flung off such feelings and all the home thoughts which these Sunday street-scenes awakened, hurried through with my duties, and, about one o’clock, was riding with my companion up Seventh Street toward the front.

We had proceeded only a mile or two before the turnpike became one crowded military mass; troops, artillery, and wagon-trains were moving in double lines, and our progress through was necessarily slow. The dust rose in great clouds; we breathed, tasted, smelt it; our clothes put on the hue of the butternut; but the men appeared to be in good humor, and their faces, muddy with dust and perspiration—yellow masks through which gleamed their eyes—rippled into frequent grins. For a demoralized army, as some have styled them, they certainly marched well, and with but little straggling. At the gateways of some of the elegant country-seats stood their occupants tendering cups of water to the men, and, what was far more refreshing, the tokens of patriotic sympathy. Probably these ladies, who stood waving flags, or handkerchiefs—woman’s usual banner in grief or in joy—little knew how gratifying all this was to men who had for months hardly seen a woman’s face beaming with pleasant welcome. Entirely unaccustomed to such a reception, if my cap was off once it was off thirty times during to-day’s march; and there was not the roughest soldier in the ranks who did not march better, ay, and fight better, for these and other sympathetic demonstrations in Maryland. Many a closed residence still frowned upon us, but it was also evident that we were moving among friends. And here let me say, after good opportunities of judging, that though there was far too much of private marauding in this Maryland campaign, still it was evident that the troops recognized the distinction between friends and foes, and generally permitted the sheep-folds and poultry-yards to remain unscathed.

We were passing through a country far different in appearance from our old campaigning ground in Virginia—a smiling country, as yet scarcely conscious of the presence of destroying war. . . .

So, slowly feeling our way, we moved against the invading enemy. Fine marching weather; a land flowing with milk and honey; a general tone of Union sentiment among the people, who, being little cursed by slavery, had not lost their loyalty; scenery not grand, but picturesque, all contributed to make this march delightful. Of course there were frequent rumors of expected battle, but these had now lost their power to excite our interest. I bear in my memory but few incidents worthy of record during these days; the men were in fine spirits, and now we began to meet little squads of rebel prisoners taken in the cavalry skirmishing ahead of us.

One picture framed itself in my recollection during our next day’s (Saturday) march. Our horses had fared very poorly of late at the hands of our quartermaster, and I was standing near a barn wherein my half-starved mare was enjoying a feed of oats. Looking behind, I could see the long column of troops winding around the summit of the mountain over which I had just passed, their bayonets glistening in the sun, and the mighty coil of armed men stretching down the mountain sides, past the spot where I was standing, until it was lost to view by the winding of the road far in front. It was the best view of an army on its march I had ever enjoyed.

In the upper part of the barn were some twenty rebels; some sick, others wounded in the late cavalry skirmishes, and left by the Southern army as it fell back before our advance. A guard or two attended to their comfort, but they all looked wan, and pale, and thin from the many privations and fatigues to which they had been exposed. The good farmer told me that most of the large body of rebels who had passed his house were half-clothed and dilapidated; but I knew how well these men fought, and his statement elicited not my contempt, but rather my respect for men who, under such difficulties, and want of food and clothing, have stood up bravely and persistently in a bad cause. These men must be sincere. As a friend once said, “though not inspired of God, they certainly are possessed with the devil,” and act bravely the part which their master commands them to play.

And this warlike South is fearfully in earnest. The leaders in this rebellion know full well that the North never desired to interfere with a single constitutional right, disturb a single domestic institution—have, indeed, always been too ready to listen to every Southern appeal; but the large mass of the people are ignorant; the number of those who can not even read or write is astonishingly large, and the newspapers, the only teachers of the people, have been controlled by ambitious and unprincipled men, determined to rule or to ruin. What wonder that the Southern ear has been poisoned by the whisperings of the serpent? what wonder that to most of these poor fellows, now suffering every thing, their sacrifice seems a pious offering upon the altar of their country and their God? We must respect such a sentiment, however much we may wonder at it, and my little word of pity was not held back from these poor wounded rebels in the wayside barn. Blinded by ignorance and prejudice, fed on falsehood until they have learned to look upon the peaceful North as ambitious to subjugate and enslave them, they are the victims of an institution which pampers a few lazy thousands, while it condemns the millions to a lean and beggared existence. Gladly would I welcome them back to the manifold blessings of that government whose ten thousand benefits they will only begin to discover should this wicked rebellion succeed.

I have learned from this war to give to the South credit for one quality I did not suppose it possessed—that of endurance. Five years of my boyhood I passed in a Southern school, and have mingled with Southerners at college and elsewhere, and had come to think of them as men of show rather than substance—of momentary bravado rather than true courage—of flash and pinchbeck assumption rather than real chivalry. But I have found out that they are patient and can endure; and, despite the many exceptional instances of gross brutality and neglect of the courtesies of honorable warfare, it seems to me that they have, in general, borne themselves in this war chivalrously as well as bravely. I do not pretend that the Southerner illustrates the highest type of the gentleman. He is rather the gentleman of the Middle Ages—ignorant, overbearing, insolent, but with a good deal of the leaven of a true chivalry; not a Bayard certainly, but more after the style of a Black Douglas or a Harry Hotspur.

And I am inclined to think that we of the North are to be better understood hereafter by the South. They had learned to appraise the Northern valor and principle by the standard of our political subserviency. They went into this rebellion with no idea that the North would dare to resist in arms—the poor, cowardly, truckling North, which they had frightened into compromises, and then frightened into breaking them, and which had so long trembled in the national Congress beneath the Southern rod. This mistake is gradually being corrected also. The hands accustomed so long to peaceful labor only are learning the trick of war; the muscles trained only at the plow or in the workshop are becoming skilled in the use of the musket and the sword; and it is evident that the North has not only the courage, but also the skill needed to put down this rebellion. The men who have stood against each other in the battles of this war can never fling upon each other the charge of cowardice—must acknowledge and respect in each other their common manhood; so much, at least, is gained.

Leaving the wounded rebels, I paused a while in the shade to see our columns move by. From St. Paul to Passamaquoddy, every state had its representatives—next, perhaps, to a regiment of farmers from Wisconsin moved a regiment of lumbermen from Maine; the New York fireman found himself in the same brigade with the shoemaker from Lynn or the fisherman from Marblehead—the whole mass fused into a common brotherhood by a common patriotism. Will not this war do much to unify these separate states, consolidate and weld into one these distant communities? Fortunately for us at the North, our education is expansive, enlarges the mind to the grasp of national ideas, and is thus free from the belittling state jealousies of the South. Still it is manifest to the most casual observer that we have far too little affectionate loyalty in America. Stand with a party of Englishmen when “God save the Queen” thrills through the air; talk with a Frenchman of his country and her destiny; pause in your pilgrimage through the Alps to inquire of your guide as to William Tell, and you will see how near and personal is to each this affectionate feeling of nationality. Are we not also to have a more enthusiastic love for the old flag, a deeper personal affection for our whole country, now that we have followed the one into the jaws of death, and have made such sacrifices for the other?

But I must hurry on, or this day’s march will never be ended. It was interrupted by few tedious halts, so that by 2 P.M. our division went into camp on the Monocacy River, a lovely spot now crowded with troops. From the hill we could see the pretty city of Frederick hiding away in the foliage, all around us were tents and artillery, and soon came floating up strains of pleasant music from the camps of the new regiments. . . .


SUNDAY, September 14th. A little after daybreak this morning an orderly came to my tent to announce that we were to march at once. . . . It was a fine marching day, every one was in good spirits, while of the exact whereabouts of the enemy we might speculate or conjecture; but did not know. We had heard that Burnside had taken possession of Frederick a day or two before, the little squads of rebel prisoners occasionally passing us indicated the proximity of our foe. . . .

 Our march through the pretty city of Frederick was a perfect ovation—one continuous waving of flags, fluttering of handkerchiefs, tossing of bouquets, and cheering by our men, who grew fairly hoarse before they had passed through its main street. Men, women, and little children were equally enthusiastic. I understood, however, that the wealthy slaveholders did not in general join in this loyal demonstration, nor could it be expected. Without dwelling long on this subject, and looking at it from the practical point of view of a “down-East Yankee,” I calculate that the net value to us in the South Mountain battle of this new inspiration which came in upon us from the eyes and fingers of our fair friends in Frederick was equal to about one thousand fresh men.

Once clear from this pleasant ripple of patriotic sympathy, we made a rapid march over the wide national road, through the little village of Middletown and the lovely valley beyond, with the wagon-trains in our rear, and nothing to encumber our rapid advance. And there was sufficient reason for haste, for not long after we left Frederick the booming of distant cannon announced that our advance had found the enemy, and that a battle was impending.

One of our staff jests at such a time as this was based upon the old story of the sportsman who, gun in hand, had toiled for two days over brake and fern, through forest and mountain path, in the eager pursuit of a bear. Near the close of the day the footprints of a gentleman of the ursine species were distinctly visible, and pretty soon a growl from a rocky ledge near by attested his presence. Halting, scratching his head, our hero turned to his brother sportsman: “Look here, Bill, these tracks are getting a little too fresh. I believe I don’t want any bear after all, so I’ll go back home.”

I know that there was one man in that column, and presume that there were very many who, as we gazed up at that steep mountain side, and thought of our wives and little ones at home, sympathized a good deal with the honest bear-hunter. The eager enthusiasm of the military novice had been toned down by experience; the exciting edge of novelty had worn off; the terrible scenes we had witnessed had left an ineffaceable impression; nothing but a sense of duty, the innate pride of man, and the hope that through this bloody lane might come peace and safety to the country, kept us to our duty. . . .

But human nature seldom escapes the lower attractions of this dear old earth of ours, and probably very few of us were burning with eagerness to charge up those heights before us, upon whose well-wooded sides occasional smoke-wreaths and the roar of cannon attest the presence of the enemy.

And yet there is no sign of shrinking, nor will there be. . . . The division pushes on with unusual rapidity; there is less straggling than usual. The column is soon marching through the excited streets of Middletown, over the rolling paradise beyond, to be halted about noon, after a march of twelve miles, on Catoctin Creek, near the foot of South Mountain. . . .

The broad turnpike winding up and through the pass looked safe and quiet. I saw no rebel battalions threatening our passage, no cannon crouching open-mouthed to warn us off from the narrow entrance. Peaceful, and calm, and beautiful the hills on either side the pass slept in the summer sunshine. . . . But what mean those quick-rushing smoke-puffs just rising above the trees, and the heavy boom which follows them? Look quickly off to the left, and you will see corresponding smoke puffs, and hear almost instantaneous response to the rebel batteries from our own artillery. . . . Listen a while, and you will hear the rattle of musketry. Ah! those deceitful forests! they are full of an unseen foe; and now, perhaps, invisibly to us, the opposing cohorts stealthily advance. . . . The smooth white turnpike begins to look a little dangerous to us. . . .

The brigade is still moving in column . . . but shortly after we form in line of battle, and now begin to move quickly up the steep acclivity. The rattle of musketry in front of us is now growing louder and louder; it is evident that the skirmishers have unmasked the enemy; that the other brigades of our division are engaged; that we are needed at the summit. So steep is now the ascent, that several of the staff dismount and lead up their horses, that they may be fresh for the work ahead. Passing through the last cornfield, we reach an elevated plateau very near the summit, fronted and flanked by woods, through which the rebel bullets are already flying over our heads. The twilight hour has come; the air is bland and delicious; and, while the men halt for breath, we turn and look back at the valley through which we have been marching to-day. Frederick City is not visible, as a turn in the valley interposes a hilly elbow; but Middletown lies below us, while stretching off toward the north and east is a lovely swale, buttressed by hilly ranges, smiling with orchards, fields of ripening grain, and cheerful farm-houses—truly a valley of content and beauty. There is little of the sublime about this view, but it is very soothing, and offers so strong a contrast to our present fearful business as to daguerreotype itself upon my imagination forever. . . .

“What a magnificent view!” exclaims the general, as he turns in his saddle to inspect his brigade, and catches one glance of the beautiful panorama. A moment’s breathing period, and he orders the brigade to march by the flank into the woods on our right, where, facing to the front, we move up at double-quick to meet the enemy. The little twigs above us, splintered and cut by the bullets, are cracking and falling about our heads; here and there a coward or two comes skulking out from the fight, a wounded brave limps past or lies half exhausted at the foot of a protecting tree. Yonder, behind a hickory, crouches one in the uniform of an officer—shame on his cowardice and evil example; on the instant his name and regiment are demanded, and he is driven back to his duty, perhaps, so singular is human nature, to fight bravely through the rest of the battle.

As we press on, our brigade line wavers a little, the flanks pressing ahead of the centre, or one flank out-marching the other a little, yet preserving, on the whole, a good, strong, steady line of attack. The air is now full of shrieking lead, and we hear just ahead of us the cheers and yells of the opposing troops, the never-ceasing rattle of musketry, and all the awful din of battle. Out of this carnival of noise and fire rushes the adjutant of the 1st brigade . . . exclaiming, “Our brigade can not sustain itself much longer, as we are nearly out of ammunition. For God’s sake, to the front!” At the word the brigade is moved up even more rapidly, restrained, however, by the field and staff officers still riding in front: “Steady, boys, steady!” is the word all along the line. Another minute, and the edge of the woods is gained, and there at the fence which skirts it is Hatch’s brigade, standing, falling, desperately fighting at this bloodily-contested boundary. Cheer upon cheer from our men goes up to heaven, and now, in admirable order, they rush into their places, Hatch’s brigade falling back to rest a while after their fierce encounter.

Beyond this fence is an open space of about a hundred feet in depth between the fence and a cornfield, and in this space a strong force of the enemy, partially protected by rocky ledges and inequalities of surface, forming natural rifle-pits, is pressing heavily upon our position, charging gallantly two or three times, to be as gallantly repulsed before they reach the fence, and sweeping it meanwhile with sheets of fire. Conscious of the weakness of our own line, with no reserves near us, unable to form any idea of the force opposed to us, the only thing to be done is to hold this fence at all hazards, lest the enemy, breaking through at this point, shall flank and put to rout the troops on both sides of us. It remains for the staff to watch closely the line, cheer and encourage the men, look out for a moment of panic, and so keep all to their duty.

And hold it they do, inflexibly. For half an hour against this barrier of Northern patriotism dashes wave after wave of Southern treason, to be again and again hurled back broken and discomfited. Individual instances of valor are not wanting: the color-bearer of the 76th New York rashly leaps out to the front, waves his flag, exclaiming, “There, boys, come up to that!” and falls in the instant, shot through the head. But why attempt to designate, where all did so well? At intervals a lull, a mere pattering of musketry, and then the rebel storm bursts forth afresh, and before it some of our men go down, or slowly fall back, wounded and bleeding, to the rear. The twilight gloom is descending, throwing the rebel den into shadow; the darkness adds new horror to the scene; and suddenly a portion of one of our regiments begins to crowd up together, the men pressing against each other, and firing into the air in a sort of frenzy. Terribly contagious is a panic like this. Unless it be instantly quelled, the men will be shooting each other, or rushing to the rear in sudden and disastrous rout. Somehow and swiftly, military authority must assert itself The first thing to do is to order them to cease firing. To shout forth such an order at such a time would be like attempting to drown the thunder of Niagara. It must be driven in, as it were, individually, mouth to ear, and almost with the point of the sword. Somehow the effort succeeds; discipline asserts itself, the rank is re-formed, our brave boys are themselves again.

Before the fight is half over an aid dashes up with the news that the gallant General Hatch, the division commander, is severely wounded, and our general is thus in command of the division. Our only colonel has already been crippled by a wound, a lieutenant colonel takes command of our brigade, while a captain finds himself at the head of a regiment. Our 1st brigade is in the rear, having exhausted its ammunition; our 3d brigade holds the line on our right; our 4th is on duty perhaps a mile away on our left. Our general, therefore, remains with his old brigade as the most central position.

And now there are intervals of comparative calm, and we begin to congratulate ourselves that the baffled enemy has departed. But the contest is not yet over; for suddenly out of the darkness in front of us leaps another volley, wounding hardly a man, but so near as to seem in our very faces. Along the files of perhaps a single company, gradually growing louder and louder, rises a low murmur, not like an exultant cheer, but rather a cry, excited and panic-stricken, and suddenly half a dozen or more start off for the rear. One minute more, and probably the whole regiment will be on the wing. To meet them on the instant with the threat to run the first man through who moves a foot farther to the rear seems the best thing to do, and it proves entirely successful. A staff officer exclaims, “Why, boys, what are you running for? we’ve beaten the enemy. Three cheers for victory.” A wild, irregular cheer bursts forth upon the evening air, and every man of them once more takes his position at the fence.

It is indeed true that we have beaten the enemy; these impetuous attacks are only his last flurries; he is, though we do not know it, and can not discover it in the darkness, at his last gasp. It is now so dark that our men can only aim at the flashing of the rebel muskets, and these rebel muskets have ceased firing. The general now orders our brigade also to cease firing; an advance into the unknown localities in front would be sheer madness, and so our men stand silently and grimly at the fence, while for several minutes, as it seemed, hardly a single report breaks the stillness of the night. Just as we are saying to each other, with thankful hearts, “This fight is over,” the enemy, thinking perhaps that we may have fallen back or are unprepared for him, charges desperately up toward the fence, delivers a volley, too high as usual, which shrieks through the air, followed by a continuous fire for a minute or two minutes perhaps, though it seemed very much more. It is no use; they hurl themselves against this living barrier in vain, and are soon compelled to fall back before the terrific volleys of our men. To me this is the most impressive incident in the fight; the utter stillness of the night, broken in upon by the cheers and yells of the opposing troops; the rattle of the musketry discharged, and the wailing of the bullets, followed by a stillness deep and intense, as if each party held its breath to listen for the next move of its enemy.

The contest is nearly over; only a few scattering volleys after this, except on the left of our brigade, where a desperate effort is made to turn our left flank, to meet which the 7th Indiana and 76th New York swing a little to the left, and so repulse the attack successfully. Our division is now relieved by the division of General Ricketts, which moves up and takes post at the fence, the officers dressing the ranks as if preparing for a review; it is evident that the position is in safe hands; but our general orders our brigade to lie down on their arms a hundred feet from the fence, as we have still some ammunition left, and a night-attack seems probable. A few more scattering volleys, and at this particular point all is still.

General Patrick’s brigade, having done its work nobly, is now resting on our right, while on our left, but near to the turnpike, the brigade of Gibbon is still fighting very desperately. Our own contest appears to be over for the present, but we listen to the unceasing rattle of this musketry on our left with great anxiety. At one moment it seems as if our troops must be falling back, at another the firing sounds farther off, as if they were gradually driving the enemy from the hill. The excitement of our own fight is over; the woods are now so dark that objects ten feet distant are undistinguishable, and the thought of a night-attack upon our exhausted troops inspires me with dread. A prisoner just brought in informs us that the troops in front are chiefly Virginians under command of General Pickett, and that Longstreet himself has been here, striving in every way to encourage the men, calling them his pets, and coaxing and imploring them to their work. Already we had some idea of the success of his efforts, but we were to see it more fearfully evidenced when daylight disclosed the battle-field on the morrow.

Gradually the musketry on our left ceases; silently, but fully prepared, Ricketts’s men hold the fence, while our own little brigade rests upon its arms. Our mounted orderlies seem to have had business elsewhere, and we are compelled to stable our horses by tying them to the trees. The wounded are now cared for, our hospitals being fixed about half way down the hill; and after a while, the necessary dispositions being completed, we lie down, wrapped in our cloaks, and seek repose. Far from feeling easy in my own mind, apprehensive of the result of a night-attack should the enemy attempt it, uncertain as to the issue of the struggle on our left, I lie down as one rests by the wayside, and not as anticipating a good night’s sleep. But, despite all this uneasiness, despite the excitement of the evening, despite the dead now sleeping, some within ten feet of me, exhausted Nature asserts her claims, the myriad reflections of such an hour hold only momentary sway, and I am soon asleep.

I have spoken of the storm of bullets which swept our ranks to-night; and it may be asked—a question I have asked myself a hundred times—How is it that any escaped alive? This is to me the great wonder, the crowning mystery of war. In this contest, so stubbornly fought, for the possession of Turner’s Gap, the loss along our whole line was 328 killed and 1463 wounded, and yet I have sought to give a fair illustration of our own part in the conflict. It is marvelous, this waste of ammunition in battle. It takes, so it is stated, nearly a man’s weight in lead to kill him. The shrieking volleys, seemingly about your ears, fly above you; the men, excited, and anxious to fire as frequently as possible, discharge their muskets with no pretense at aim, thankful only that they are permitted to do so alive. I have more to say on this subject.

If I were asked what was the most awful sensation during this battle-hour, I should speak of the quiver of my nerves when once or twice my mare stumbled in the darkness over the body of some dead brave. It is not true, as a general thing, that a wounded man groans loudly or utters any cries upon the battle-field; he either limps off or is carried to the rear, or he lies down with his hurt quiet and still. Think for a moment of thus treading upon one of these silent wounded, every hair in whose head was sacred to me! This horror, at least, thank God! was spared to me.


MONDAY, September 15th. Our sleep last night was rather nominal than real, broken by frequent interruptions, as from time to time reports were brought in to one or the other of the generals lying near; and it was rather shivery also, our cloaks not affording sufficient protection against the chilliness of the air, especially as we had lain down to a dinnerless and supperless sleep. Our little snatches of oblivion served mainly to pass away the hours of darkness, and with the first gray of morning we were up and moving among the men. The first inquiry was, “Where are the enemy?” General Ricketts’s troops still held the fence, but in front of it there were no signs of the foe; all was still, and the little interval between us and the cornfield seemed untenanted save where, through the morning mists, we could dimly discern the prostrate forms of the rebel dead.

A soldier or two now ventured out over these rocky ledges. Suddenly from behind a stump a long, lank stripling of perhaps seventeen years, without weapon, and dressed in the usual gray uniform, leaped eagerly forward, exclaiming, “Don’t shoot! I’m your prisoner!” When brought before the general, he described, with a childlike simplicity very amusing, his late experiences and sensations. The boy had evidently never before broken loose from the maternal apron-string, and told us, with fearful emphasis, how he had been conscripted, drilled, and finally brought up this mountain to be shot at, winding up somewhat as follows: “I told ’em I was a coward, and couldn’t fight, but they drove me up here, where I came near being killed; so I dropped, and crawled behind a stump, and waited there all night.” But he didn’t know whether the enemy was still in the cornfield or not, so we learned little of any value, though his quaint remarks upon his own cowardice afforded some merriment.

No one had yet explored the cornfield, and a large body of men might easily be concealed there; but half a dozen of our men were now moving among the rebel dead, and I was convinced that it was safe enough to go out also, being thereunto moved by a desire to see some of our late antagonists. So closely had their desperate charges brought them to our line, that only ten paces distant from the fence lay some of the poor fellows—one resting with head on arm, as if asleep; others lying across each other, but most of them looking with calmly-staring eyes upward toward heaven. Among them, as also among our own dead, I was surprised to notice that the features bore usually a placid expression, with little trace of battle excitement or death-agony. . . .

I noticed . . . a young lieutenant, whose very handsome face and placid expression greatly attracted me. As I stood and looked down earnestly, as if, perhaps, I might read in that countenance some fragments of his history, I felt that this was a man who probably illustrated some of the best features of the Southern character—a warm-hearted, generous fellow, whom while living I could have loved. There’s a sad gap somewhere caused by this death; perhaps the plain gold ring on his finger might give us the key to his whole life-story. How all feeling of enmity disappears in presence of these white faces, these eyes gazing upward so fixedly in the gray of the morning hour!

The ground was of course strewn with muskets, swords, and military trappings of every description. . . . Some of our men were, however, picking up these spoils of war, and on returning from the left I saw two or three kneeling and stooping around my lieutenant; hastening up, I was horrified by seeing one wretch trying to force off with his knife the plain gold ring. I have rarely been more indignant, and drove the harpy off from his prey. . . .

More than thirty of the rebel dead were lying within fifty feet of the fence; I did not visit the cornfield, but learned that here also the dead were very numerous. On our side the loss was much less, but here, also, our men were busily engaged in collecting the fallen, and ranging them side by side, each regiment or brigade by itself, that their own immediate comrades might lay them to rest with the scant ceremonial of a soldier’s burial on the battle-field. No little firing-squad poured forth a farewell volley; no minister read over their graves the beautiful burial-service; no coffin incased their limbs; just as they were, in their uniforms crimsoned with patriotic blood, they were taken closely to the bosom of Earth the mother. . . .

In looking back at these and kindred experiences, I sometimes wonder at my own apparent callousness of feeling, and have often asked myself how it was that men—our own staff, for example—whom I know to be tender-hearted and humane, could pass through these scenes so unmoved. I suppose that repetition blunts the edge of feeling, but presume that it is mainly to be attributed to the excitement of the hour, and to the general tone of feeling induced by the unnatural life we have been leading. Things which would have greatly impressed us had now become matters of course, fell in naturally with every-day duty; and I have actually been more moved by the sight of a serious street-accident at home than by all the scenes through which we have passed this morning. The whole sad picture framed itself with much of the unreality of a dream, and so did not come home for the time into our very consciousness.

It was now fairly sunrise, and it was made known that the enemy had retreated, and that we could claim an unmistakable victory. We were yet to learn how the rebel rout, flinging away their guns, had fled head long down the mountain, or dispersed through its forests to give themselves up in scores as prisoners of war. . . .

As I rode back under the bullet-scarred trees through which we had pushed last evening, and out over the plateau where the rebel bullets had first saluted us, I met little squads of stragglers finding their way back to their regiments, and caught up with a few of our slightly wounded making their way on foot toward the rear. From this outlook I could see the turnpike crowded with troops, artillery, and wagons hurrying up the pass; the fields on either hand were white with army wagons still in park, while far down the road toward Frederick pushed on a living tide of men. As I drew near and mingled with the crowd, the joy and satisfaction every where evident, the jokes at the expense of the enemy flung from file to file, the very marching of the men, indicated that this was not a retreat, but an actual pursuit of a flying enemy. . . .

I gave my half-starved horse the rein, and permitted him to jog up the road with the crowd, enjoying heartily the humor which sparkled here and there in the column; to me the sensation was novel and peculiar; how it feels to be retreating I knew all about, but this was, I believe, my first experience in pursuing a retreating enemy. “My Maryland” was now sung by our men with an alteration of the words to suit each singer. The new regiments were especially enthusiastic, and I had not ridden long near the column before I found my own spirits rising into something like the old enthusiasm. There is no army ration, after all, so good for troops as an occasional touch of victory. . . .

At four o’clock the road was still crowded with troops and artillery. I presume that more than half of the whole Army of the Potomac had passed in review before me since morning. With the general appearance of the troops I was more than satisfied, and, if there was any demoralization among them, I certainly failed to discover it.

But the thirty miles of subsistence and forage wagons still lingered in the rear; I was becoming weary with waiting, and my gastric apparatus began to suggest the necessity of rations. It being doubtful whether I was to be privileged to sleep to-night, I resolved, at all events, not to suffer the pangs of hunger also, and with a gentlemanly surgeon started on an armed reconnoissance. Of course it was useless to try any of the farm-houses near the road, for every vestige of edibles had long since been swept from their larders; we therefore struck off to the right through a pleasant lane, promising prosperous future. Hardly had we left the turnpike when General M’Clellan, followed by a brilliant cavalcade and bodyguard, proceeded rapidly toward the front.

The quiet, sleepy country-road, shaded by overhanging foliage and half overgrown with grass, had a most soothing influence upon men tired of excitement, and glad to escape the sight of a crowd in uniform. We had ridden half a mile, perhaps, when we saw a low-roofed cottage, with piazza overgrown with verdure, nestling in a quiet nook half way down the western slope of South Mountain. It was evident that this was our place to drive. . . .

We were soon riding in at the gate of the little inclosure, and found a good Union family of Germans, with some female friends who had fled hither from their own homes higher up the mountain. For several minutes it was useless to attempt even a hint at dinner, for four or five stout and strong-lunged women at once poured forth upon us their stories of last night’s horrors, and all talked at once. With resignation we listened to their vivid descriptions of the bursting of shell over their quiet homes, heard in all its details the tragic story of the shot which came so near striking Mrs. Van Snuff’s barn, put in a word or two of respectful sympathy when a word or two was possible, and bided our time. Then, with gentle suggestions of abundant reward, we made our modest request, to be at once crushed under a mass of adjectives emphasizing the utter impossibility of granting it. Another lull gave opportunity for a more extended proposition; the feminine element still bubbled on; but I noticed that the master of the house moved out toward the poultry-yard, followed him until the fate of one chicken was sealed, and felt sure that our point was gained. Having pulled some green corn for our horses, we sat down in the front room, when the doctor, who had been up all night attending to the wounded, went instantly to sleep, and I soon followed his example.

In due time the chickens, with potatoes, bread and butter, a fair cup of coffee, and various entrées of the Dutch style of cookery, smoked upon the board, and in due time had fulfilled their destiny. During the whole meal, our kind attendants, with voices preternaturally sharpened by excitement, entertained us with tales of wonders dire, the offspring of our late battle. Strange indeed to these secluded homes must have been the roar of artillery, the rattle of musketry, the shrieking shot and shell, and the squads of half-crazed men—the drift-wood of the receding rebel tide—who rested a while in their porches, and then fled hurriedly away through the darkness of that fearful night.

George F. Noyes at Antietam, 1862

George F. Noyes, The Bivouac and the Battle-Field; or, Camapign Sketches in Virginia and Maryland (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863), pp. 194-207, 211-221, 236-243

WEDNESDAY, September 17th. . . .

I should like to give a full description of this famous battle, but the attempt would fail for various reasons, one difficulty being that personally I know little about it. The newspaper press, with its corps of keen observers in every part of the field, has given its general features artistically, and as faithfully as is perhaps possible. I may be permitted, therefore, to give only my own limited and partial experiences and observations.

At the point where I now paused for a moment, just about the central point of our army, and on the east side of Antietam Creek, I saw no indications of a hostile force in the fields and woods opposite. Our forces were coming into position near me, but on the other side of the creek all was still. Very few missiles had yet come this way; but, as I rode away, I saw one shell burst in a group of our men, wounding two or three severely. A house upon a commanding elevation was pointed out to me as the head-quarters of General M’Clellan, and thither I at once proceeded. . . . Here was the immense cavalry escort waiting in the rear, staff horses picketed by dozens around the house, while the piazza was crowded with officers seeking to read with their field-glasses the history of the battle at the right. On an elevation a couple of hundred yards in front, commanding a still better view, groups of officers, newspaper correspondents, and citizens were assembled, and I at once joined them, leaving my horse for a moment in the valley below.

It was only the usual battle panorama, and I could not distinguish a single battery, nor discern the movements of a single brigade, nor see a single battalion of the men in gray. Smoke-clouds leaped in sudden fury from ridges crowned with cannon, or lay thick and dim upon the valleys, or rose lazily up over the trees; all else was concealed. . . .

Only a short outlook was permitted me, for here I had discovered that beneath that smoky canopy my own division was engaged. . . . It was now about nine o’clock, and already the ebb-tide which flows from every battle-field had fairly set in, bearing out some stragglers, but chiefly those of our wounded, whose injuries, being slight or in the upper portion of the body, permitted them to walk slowly back toward Keadysville, having already been bandaged in the field-hospitals. Ambulances bringing off the more desperately wounded, or returning for fresh freights of agony; pale-faced men looking up at me from the grassy wayside where they had paused to rest; a captain of our old brigade smilingly holding up both arms bandaged and bleeding, and assuring me that we were doing well on the right—such are some of the pictures left in my memory by that morning’s ride.

And still, as I hastened on, the roar of the artillery and infantry grew more terrible, and I was soon passing a hospital sheltered in a low-lying valley on the verge of the battle-field. Farm-houses, barns, out-houses, all were tenanted, and still the stretcher-bearers brought in from the front a constantly fresh addition. I had no time to-day to visit this hospital, but, as I rode past the barn, a collection of amputated limbs lying outside the door attested the hurried and wholesale character of the work going on within. At any other time such a sight would have shocked me, but to-day it came in naturally as part of the scene.

For now the ghastly procession of the wounded—some tottering along unsupported, some leaning upon their comrades, some borne upon stretchers, some carried in the arms of their friends, every step an agony—passed me almost continuously; full five hundred mangled and bleeding men, some of them with hardly life enough in them to reach the hospital. . . . And it was through this bloody avenue I must pass forward to the battle. . . .

I was now on the Hagerstown turnpike, across which cavalry were drawn up with drawn sabres to prevent the egress of stragglers from the battle-field. And now in what part of that awful hurly-burly of cloud and noise just ahead is my division? The cavalry-men were ignorant; none of the wounded could tell me; I must push on, and trust to fortune. As I rode down the turnpike, I passed under a hilly crest to its left, upon which a battery was posted, now hurling shot and shell over my head at a rebel battery opposite. On my right I saw troops drawn up in line of battle; on my left I soon met other troops drawn up in a grove near the road; but still I heard nothing of my division, except that it was somewhere in front. And now I was passing between spots desperately fought over already this morning, when over the fields, or in the road just ahead, I was astonished to see some of our troops apparently falling back, and soon also I discovered the general.

We were now in rather too hot a place for the exchange of courtesies, but I saw at a glance that I had come at an inauspicious moment, and a word or two of hurried explanation told me the whole story. I had arrived just at the period when, General Hooker having been driven fainting with his wound from the field, our right wing, which had driven the enemy through these fields above us into a thick grove farther up the road, at least a mile, with great slaughter, had been compelled to fall back by the outnumbering force which the enemy, whose centre and right were left unattacked during all these morning hours, was able to concentrate against it. The bravest fighting could not withstand such fearful odds, especially as our old opponent, Stonewall Jackson, had sheltered his reserves behind rocky ledges waist-high, and wonderfully adapted for defense, had deepened natural depressions into rifle-pits, had laid up long lines of fence-rail breastworks, and so was all ready for a formidable resistance. . . .

A bitter disappointment all this to me, but how much worse to the men who had moved through such a storm of leaden rain up this turnpike, through yonder cornfield, close up to the rocky citadel—“slaughter-pen,” as a friend designated it—where the rebels from behind stone bulwarks shot down our exposed ranks. But, though the anxious strain still rested on their features, there was not even a shadow of despair, and nowhere was there a single symptom of panic among our officers or men.

The division was soon halted, and drawn up in line of battle on both sides the Hagerstown turnpike; but the enemy did not follow up his temporary advantage, and the infantry fighting at this point was over. The artillery on both sides still filled the air with shot and shell, but not long after this ceased also. . . . It was now about 10 A.M., and the right wing had been engaged since daybreak. The enemy, having overpowered our attack in this direction, was now able to give his undivided attention to his centre and right wing, which were to be attacked in turn later in the day.

After a brief interval . . . an orderly brought orders from General Meade, now in command of our corps since General Hooker’s wound, to march the division on the east side of the turnpike . . . where we formed in line of battle behind several batteries, and the men were ordered to lie down on their arms. The woods and fields in front of this key-point of the right wing were now voiceless and still; not a grayback could be seen; not a battery saluted us; the scene of the late encounter seemed quiet and deserted. Thirty cannon of various calibre were silently looking toward the foe; grimly behind their pieces stood the gunners, peering out over field and wood, eager to get sight of the enemy. At any attempt to plant a rebel battery, any demonstration of rebel infantry, any symptom of advance, some of them took sight, and sent a shot or shell shrieking among the trees. . . .

On our left, toward the centre of our main line, the din of battle had long been heard, and ever and anon one or more of our own cannon in front spoke out its thunder. As an attack on our position was momentarily expected, one or the other of the staff was constantly engaged in sweeping with a glass the presumed locality of the enemy. Meantime our infantry rested on the ground in long lines—thin, broken ranks at best, giving one a pang at the heart to see how small were some of the regiments now gathered about the torn and bullet-riddled colors. On our right were the Pennsylvania Reserves, and other troops were gradually posted behind us to aid in resisting the expected attack, each brigade in turn stacking arms and then lying down.

Thus every moment was a moment of expectation; of anxiety as to the result of the battle in the centre, and later in the day on our extreme left; of the suppressed excitement of men liable at any moment to be called into battle, and yet of practical rest and idleness. I passed much of the time out among the batteries, whence we had a good view of the woods in which the enemy might lie concealed until the moment of attack, and of the cornfield, which afforded admirable covert for infantry. At times we saw little squads of men at the edge of the woods—rebel pickets, or persons curious like ourselves. A horseman on a white horse showed himself several times on a slight elevation beyond the cornfield, and we christened him Stonewall Jackson. I found that a powerful imagination helps out a picture wonderfully, for several times I was assured by others that large bodies of rebels could be seen en masse at the edge of the woods, while the glass gave me a view of nothing but trees. . . .

Of course rumor had full swing on such a day as this; victory, defeat, large Union re-enforcements, the repulse of our left wing, the death of several of our prominent generals, the taking of several thousand prisoners, all were in turn buzzed through the ranks, and relieved somewhat the tedious waiting of this long day. About 4 P.M., General M’Clellan, with his staff, rode along our lines, and was greeted with much enthusiasm by the troops. We had now learned that our centre and left had been partially successful, the enemy having been driven back with much loss, though still holding firmly their new position. . . .

We began to think that the fighting for the day was over. But about 5 P.M., sudden as lightning out of a clear sky swept over us another tornado of rebel wrath, and the shot and shell began to strike and burst over and about us in all directions. In an instant we were in the saddle; but, before we were fairly mounted, our thirty guns, which had been impatiently awaiting this opportunity for hours, swept woods and cornfield with a deluge of shot and shell. Never before had I known how tremendous may be the roar of mingled artillery. Thirty guns, each discharged as fast as the men could load! they actually shook the hill; nay, the concussion seemed enough to shake the planet. . . .

From some prisoners afterward captured we learned that it had been the intention of the enemy to attack with infantry, General Jackson’s favorite time for flinging himself upon us seeming to be just before sunset. If this was his intention, the awful fire of our batteries must have admonished him of our thorough state of preparation, for in a brief period his batteries ceased to play. . . . .

With this cannonading ended the fighting of the right wing for the day. The men were now permitted to bring in bundles of straw from the neighboring farms, with which they made themselves beds, and lay down in line of battle. . . . No one removed even his sword. . . .


THURSDAY, September 18th. Long before day-break, the little elevation whereon we had slept was alive with men making their coffee and eating their simple breakfasts, so that they might be ready for the day’s fighting. The feeling seemed to possess every heart that this day was to be crowned with victory; the whole tone of conversation as we drank our coffee on the grass was hopeful, nay, almost exultant; the hour for crushing the rebellion seemed to have struck; the opportunity had come to drive the rebels into the Potomac, or capture their entire army. The natural dread of battle seemed to be lost in the hopeful feeling that the result of this day’s dangers might be the ending of the war, and our return to our homes and families. The prize to be gained, for the country and for ourselves, was worthy of any venture, and I saw no one who did not seem anxious to make the trial. As well here as elsewhere, as well now as at the end of another campaign . . . and it certainly seemed that after yesterday’s partial success we held the enemy at disadvantage.

But sunrise came, hour after hour slipped by, with no orders to advance, no attack by the rebels, and gradually a bitter feeling of disappointment began to trouble us, while the conviction forced itself upon our minds that the enemy was to be permitted to escape. I remember very little of this day save its sadness; our batteries still remained in position, looking down toward the enemy; our infantry rested on their arms as on yesterday, but silence brooded all day over the locality held by the foe. Toward evening a paulin was stretched over an upright for a bedchamber; our servants had brought up sufficient provisions, and about dusk the orders came to be ready for action at sunrise to-morrow. On the whole, matters began to look a little more cheerful; there was still hope that the rebels had not escaped; the growlers ceased their growling; the victory was only postponed for one day, not indefinitely. . . .

Friday, Sept. 19th. Up again at 3 A.M., we drank our coffee, saw that the division had a good breakfast, and made all ready for battle. Only to be again disappointed, for the expected order did not come. Finally, at 8 A.M., we learned that the rebels had slipped through our fingers and retreated across the Potomac. The river, lately in their rear, and forming one side of the angle into which we had driven them, was now their best defense against us. The battles of South Mountain and Antietam were robbed of any decisive significance. The campaign must now be transferred to Virginia; the long, weary days of marching and nights of shelterless discomfort were all to be again endured; and there seemed little hope that, after again overtaking the enemy, there would be any more decisive result. It is not for me to attempt any criticism of military measures or military men, but only to delineate truly the bitter feelings of disappointment shared by so many in our army that day. My heart almost sunk within me at the dreary prospect before us. . . .

I spent much of the afternoon, part of the time in company with a friend, in visiting some of the most severely-contested points, to be awe-struck, sickened, almost benumbed by its sights of horror. Within this space of more than a mile square, this spot, once beautiful with handsome residences and well cultivated farms, isolated, hedged in with verdure, sacred to quiet, calm, content, the hottest fury of man’s hottest wrath had expended itself, burning residences and well-filled barns, plowing fields of ripened grain with artillery, scattering every where through cornfield, wood, and valley the most awful illustrations of war. Not a building about us which was not deserted by its occupants, and rent and torn by shot and shell; not a field which had not witnessed the fierce and bloody encounter of armed and desperate men.

Let us first turn off to the left of the Hagerstown turnpike; but we must ride very slowly and carefully, for lying all through this cornfield are the victims of the hardest contest of our division. Can it be that these are the bodies of our late antagonists? Their faces are so absolutely black that I said to myself at first, this must have been a negro regiment. Their eyes are protruding from the sockets; their heads, hands, and limbs are swollen to twice their natural size. Ah! there is little left to awaken our sympathy, for all those vestiges of our common humanity which touch the sympathetic chord are now quite blotted out. These defaced and broken caskets, emptied of all that made them manlike, human, are repulsive merely. Naught remains but to lay them away quietly, where what is now repulsive shall be resolved into its original elements. . . .

Passing through this cornfield, with the dead lying all through its aisles, out into an uncultivated field beyond, I saw bodies, attired mainly in rebel gray, lying in ranks so regular, that Death the Reaper must have mowed them down in swaths. Our burying-parties were already busily engaged, and had put away to rest many of our own men; still, here as every where, I saw them scattered over the fields. The ground was strewn with muskets, knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, and articles of clothing, with the carcasses of horses, and with thousands of shot and shell. And so it was on the other side of the turnpike, nay, in the turnpike itself; ride where we may, through cornfield, wood, or ravine, and our ride will be among the dead until the heart grows sick and faint with horror. Here, close to the road, were the haystacks near which our general and staff paused for a while when the division was farthest advanced, and here, at the corner of the barn, lay one of our men, killed by a shell, which had well-nigh proved fatal to them also.

Just in front of these haystacks was the only pleasing picture on this battle-field—a fine horse struck with death at the instant when, cut down by his wound, he was attempting to rise from the ground. His head was half lifted, his neck proudly arched, every muscle seemed replete with animal life. The wound which killed him was wholly concealed from view, so that I had to ride closely up before I could believe him dead. Hundreds of his kind lay upon the field, but all were repulsive save himself, and he was the admired of every passer-by. Two weeks afterward I found myself pausing to gaze upon him, and always with the wish that some sculptor would immortalize in stone this magnificent animal in the exact pose of his death-hour. One would like to see something from a battle-field not wholly terrible.

Over this grave-yard of the unburied dead we reached a wood, every tree pierced with shot or cut with bullets, and came to the little brick church on the turnpike. This must have been a focal point in the battle, for a hundred round shot have pierced its walls, while bullets by thousands have scarred and battered it. A little crowd of soldiers were standing about it, and within, a few severely wounded rebels were stretched on the benches, one of whom was raving in his agony. Surgical aid and proper attendance had already been furnished, and we did not join the throng of curious visitors within. Out in the grove behind the little church the dead had already been collected in groups ready for burial, some of them wearing our own uniform, but the large majority dressed in gray. . . .

I saw a young rebel officer, his face less discolored than the rest, whose features and expression called forth my earnest sympathy, not so much for him as for those who in his Southern home shall see him no more forever. No one knew his name among the burying-party, and before night he was laid in a trench with the rest, with no head-stone to mark his resting-place, one of the three thousand rebel dead who fill nameless graves upon this battle-field. So ends the brief madness which sent him hither. . . . So disappears the beloved of some sad hearts, another victim of that implacable Nemesis who thus avenges upon the white man the wrongs of the black, and smiles with horrid satisfaction as this fearful game of war goes on.

Very slowly, as men move through the burial-places of the dead, we rode through these woods back of the church, and reached the rocky citadel, behind which crouched the enemy to receive our charging battalions, sweeping their ranks with destruction, and compelling their retreat. I was astonished to see how cunningly Nature had laid up this long series of rocky ledges breast-high for the protection of the rebel lines. In front of this breastwork we found a majority of the dead dressed in blue. At this point commenced also the long barricade of fence-rails, piled so closely to protect the rebel lines, and stretching off toward the north. Here is one more evidence of the use to which the rebel generals put every spare moment of time, and of their admirable choice of position.

One more scene in this battle-picture must be seen, and with a visit to this our ride may end. It is a narrow country lane, hollowed out somewhat between the fields, partially shaded, and now literally crowded with rebel corpses. Here they stood in line of battle, and here, in the length of five hundred feet, I counted more than two hundred of their dead. In every attitude conceivable—some piled in groups of five or six; some grasping their muskets as if in the act of discharging them; some, evidently officers, killed while encouraging their men; some lying in the position of calm repose, all black and swollen, and ghastly with wounds, this battalion of the dead filled the lane with horror. As we rode beside it—we could not ride in it—I saw the field all about me black with corpses, and they told me that the cornfield beyond was equally crowded. It was a place to see once, to glance at, and then to ride hurriedly away. . . .

Our next day was a quiet one. . . . The van of that immense army of visitors, which for several weeks came pouring in to visit Antietam, had already arrived, and many citizens were now picking up relics of the battle, and exploring every part of the field. Hither came the father or the brother from New England searching for his dead; here, also, the distracted wife sought out the grave of her heroic husband. The Hagerstown turnpike for weeks saw every afternoon almost one continuous funeral procession, bearing away to the North the bruised bodies of the North’s bravest sons. More than a thousand, perhaps, were thus carried home to sleep among their kindred. . . .

Stretching in front of the fields adjoining our camping-ground was one of the long fence-rail barricades of the enemy, and behind it a continuous pile of straw indicated their sleeping-spot at night. They had left behind them some fifteen thousand muskets, and details of men were engaged in collecting them. The burial-parties were still busily engaged; it seemed, indeed, that their sad work was hardly half accomplished. As we rode on, we met a friend guiding a couple of ambulances; as he was not a surgeon, we inquired his destination, when he told us that during his afternoon ride he had discovered, in a barn on the edge of the battle-field, some twenty rebels so desperately wounded that they had been unable to help themselves, and had therefore remained untended and without food ever since the battle. He was now going with the ambulances to bring the poor fellows into one of our hospitals. . . .


During all these weeks I never wandered over the battle-field without meeting parties of visitors, men, women, and children, come to seek out its most famous spots, to glean every little relic, to cut the buried bullets out of the trees, to picnic somewhere under the pleasant shade, and then to drive home with their curiosity fully gratified. One thing quite impressed me, and that was the rapidity with which the more marked traces of the battle disappeared. The roar of the last cannon had not ceased to reverberate among her leafy aisles before Nature, silent but ever active, had commenced to purify herself from the soil and stain of battle, and cover up the bloody footprints of War. In two weeks’ time, only the broken-down fences, the shattered and ruined buildings, the torn-up cornfields, and the frequent clusters of graves reminded the traveler of the late struggle. . . .

The little village of Sharpsburg still bore striking evidences of the fearful nature of the late cannonading. At one period in the battle it must have been a target for both armies, and there was hardly a single house in the whole town, no matter how humble, whose roof, walls, or doors were not pierced and torn with shot and shell. And yet quite a number of its residents remained in their cellars during the whole raging of this iron storm. I can imagine few situations more trying to the nerves than to be thus pent up in gloom while that tempest howled and shrieked through the air, or came hurtling in the rooms overhead. A good Union lady, who visited our head-quarters, gave us a description of this season of horror which greatly interested us. How they made their little preparations of food and clothing, and went down, children and all, as soon as the first shell burst over the village; how they listened, expecting every moment to hear some of the shrieking fiends burst through their own walls, perhaps to penetrate into their retreat; how her husband was forced to rush up and put out the fire caught from a shell which exploded in the second story; how hours lengthened out into seeming days of suspense and fear; how they all mutually sustained each other, she narrated as only a woman can. . . .

It was pleasant to converse with these true Union women, of whom I met several in this vicinity. Some of them were slaveholders, but declared that they preferred the Constitution of our fathers even to slavery. Well and faithfully did they do their duty also in the hospitals, with which this whole region was now filled. The army of the wounded, numbering at least ten thousand, occupied more than seventy of these impromptu hospitals, stretching from the Potomac out over the battle-field, through Sharpsburg, Keadysville, and Boonesborough, even to Frederick and Hagerstown, while miles of ambulances bore daily northward their precious freights of patriotic pain. Over the river, also, we could see the red flag waving from many a dwelling, the hospital of the wounded rebels, whom the enemy had carried with them in their late escape. In barns, and sheds, and farm-houses; in churches, halls, and residences; in colonies of hospital marquées in yards and gardens crowded with shelter-tents; wherever, in a word, there was space for the narrow hospital-bed, there lay a soldier chained to his couch by a wound more or less severe. No matter what flag he followed into battle, an equal surgical aid surrounded him, an equal kindness soothed his agony. Once within the hospital, the distinction between the patriot and the rebel was forgotten; and I was touched in noticing that, in some of the little grave-yards which sprang up, ah! so rapidly, near the different hospitals, the men of the North and the men of the South slept side by side together.

Most of the rebel wounded lay in the barns and other buildings near the river and inside their former lines, these localities having been selected by their brigade surgeons during the battle. Miserably deficient at first, they gradually put on an air of comparative comfort; every one had in a day or two his own bed and a plentiful supply of food; but the rebel surgeons, who had been left behind in charge, did not, in general, impress me either with their ability or their tenderness. Nor was I particularly impressed with the average appearance of the rebel wounded, the rank and file lacking, to some extent, that look of intelligence and self-reliance which their general want of education and the social despotism of the slaveocracy of the South had not tended to awaken. Occasionally, however, an interesting face attracted me, while the fact that they were sufferers invested all of them with a certain dignity. Lying among rough, commonplace-looking men, I saw here and there a boy, too young for war, doubtless the darling of some Southern home, lying pale and weak after the loss of a leg or an arm, yet still full of pluck and courage. Some were only lingering for a moment on the shore of the Great Ocean, with hardly a breath of life fluttering through their rent canvas; some moaned despairingly in their agony; some lay still and motionless in the borderland between sleeping and waking; but most of them were not severely wounded, and responded in pleasant terms to every kindly utterance. Had there been any personal repulsion in the atmosphere of those rebel hospitals I should have discovered it; but after these visits I always felt like asking myself what devil it was that had made these men my enemies. . . .

One thing surprised me, and that was the strange pleasure which some evidently experienced in exhibiting their half-healed stumps. Imagine a man proudly uncovering the stump of his leg or arm, and holding it up with the exultant remark, “Doesn’t it look splendidly, sir?” The sight somewhat appals you, but it will never do to betray a hint of this feeling to the pale-faced youth looking up so eagerly into your eyes. “Yes, it does look finely,” you respond, with the mental addition, “very finely for a stump;” and then you talk with him about the new improvements in the manufacture of limbs, and each helps the other, until you both reach almost to the point of declaring that a leg or two more or less is a matter of very little consequence; and then you look again into the still pallid face glowing with temporary excitement, and think of this mere youth launching out upon the great sea of life in such a shattered bark as this, and you turn away lest your feelings should betray you.

One young rebel, handsome and generous-looking, became one day quite enthusiastic as he spoke of his future career, but the initial fact upon which that future turned was the going to Philadelphia to get a false leg—going to the land of those who had just hurt him for the means of cure. Is there not something a little suggestive in this? In the same hospital I saw the poor maimed hulk of a man propped against the wall, both legs having been shot off in the battle, while another with seven distinct bullet wounds was likely to recover. The majority seemed hopeful, but there were very many whose fate was written out upon their emaciated countenances; there was no need for the surgeon to whisper it to you as you moved by. . . .

I found the rebel officers frank, courteous, and willing to converse, admitting, with little qualification, their failure in Maryland. We discussed the different positions of the late battle, how this or that division was located, and so branched off into other subjects, but the very word slavery was tabooed as too exciting for a hospital. I felt instinctively that the bare utterance of that word might cause the maimed man with whom I talked to leap from his bed in defense of his idol. . . .

Poor consolation must it be for a young man condemned to limp through life, that he lost his limb in the service of a confederacy whose foundation-principles are so contrary to our ideas of natural justice. Pity, and pity only, was about all one could feel for such a victim.

But when I entered the hospitals of our own brave boys far other feelings thrilled me. . . . . A man who goes home from this war decorated with a deep-laid scar or even deprived of a limb, will bear henceforth to his grave the honorable insignia of American chivalry . . . . His town and neighborhood shall be proud of him; his family shall have rich possessions in the memory of his patriotic bravery; when he dies, his maimed body shall be laid to rest as that of a public benefactor, and his children and grandchildren shall speak of him with honest pride as one who, in the crisis of his country’s destiny, in an hour when right and wrong were struggling for the possession of a continent, bared his breast on the right side. But there were some already passing through the pearly gates into the Great Hereafter, and others, still encouraged by hope, who were forming plans for a future they would not live to enjoy. . . .

The saddest thought which I brought with me from these hospitals was that so much suffering and death seemed all in vain; that still fiercer battles must be fought; still other fields crimsoned with patriotic blood; still other thousands of our brave countrymen must suffer and die. And yet not wholly in vain, for all this death is part of the great sacrifice which always has preceded any advance of humanity toward the right, the just, and the true; all this suffering is part of the great agony out of which a truly free nation shall yet be born.

Not one complaining word did I hear in the Union hospitals. Courageous, hopeful, and patriotic, they bore without a murmur their painful wounds, their tedious confinement. Would that between these miles of beds could pass the procession of Northern traitors; these peace-men who would stab these brave boys behind their backs; these men who by their treason encourage the South to persist in its rebellion; who rejoice in our defeats, and turn pale at every Union victory; who are sold to the South body and soul, but have not courage enough to join the rebel ranks. It is possible that even these might be shamed by the sight of so much patience and constancy into something resembling patriotism.

Horace P. Batcheler, Impressions of Maryland and Americans, 1863

Horace P. Batcheler, Johathan at Home (London: W. H. Collingridge, 1864), pp. 161-176, 178-179, 182-189

En route to Washington, I stayed a week at Havre-de-Grace, for the duck-shooting. It is a tiny, pleasant village, very picturesque and pretty, studded with cottages so lightly put together that they call to mind the baby-houses of our childhood. I never could understand how these fragile tenements preserved their neat and newly-painted appearance. Do they take them down every stormy night or rainy day, and wrap them up in oil-cloth? or have they mammoth umbrellas to guard them from the inclemency of the weather? But my mission here was duck-shooting, so to my task. There are three kinds of ducks—the canvas-back, the black-head, and the red-head. The canvas-back duck comes at seasons to feed on the wild celery that grows plentifully on the banks of the Susquehanna, on which river this village of eleven hundred inhabitants is situated. This species sells in New York at two and a half dollars a pair.

The professed duck-killer has by no means a light or enviable occupation. It is a sport requiring much skill, and the exercise of a great deal of bodily labour. And now let me enumerate their course of procedure. In the first place they make use of sink boxes, which for the benefit of my uninitiated readers I will describe. This ingenious contrivance is a sort of punt, sharp at each end, and so constructed that it sinks in the water nearly to its level, and hides its occupant from his victims. But previously to this, he has contrived a number of artificial dummy wooden ducks, to the number sometimes of 250. The real ducks flying overhead, attracted by these, descend to the company of their supposed species. He, hidden by his boat, discharges his gun into the midst of them, decoy and real, to the immense damage of feathers and paint.

A moonlight or starlight night, when the snow is on the ground, and the ducks are driven to the water, is the best season for this sport. To take advantage of these opportunities, one is naturally exposed to great inclemency of weather. Night after night he must toil in his avocation, and submit himself to the greatest physical exertion and intense anxiety of mind, waiting with a perseverance that an angler might envy for the coming of his prey. Nay, in some instances, the toil ends in loss of manly vigour; and there are cases where men become cripples for life from the troubles they have to undergo. I myself met a man whose hands were permanently bent back by rheumatism. Poor fellow! it was a sad thing at thirty years of age to find himself entirely disabled, and that the fruits of his labour left him but a wreck of his former self.

I came here with the intention of distinguishing myself as a sportsman, but when I saw the hard work before me, my enthusiasm quickly evaporated, and I contented myself with looking on at the innocents in the distant water. The people with whom I stayed were hospitable and agreeable; and if I did not add to my reputation as a sportsman, I gained from them many valuable hints.

The hotel (I beg the pardon of all decent houses of that calling throughout the world) was abominably managed. One of the principal rules of the house was, I should imagine, never to clean a knife or fork, for hardly ever did one of these useful objects come to the table without the grease of other days clinging to it, and lending it an oleaginous aspect of nastiness dreadful to behold. Havre-de-Grace presents a very picturesque appearance, its pretty houses and white palings reminding one of a picture by an old master. But there is one sore place that galls the memory of pleasant days spent in this charming retreat —one skeleton that will linger an unbidden guest in the midst of happy reminiscences—and this my horror, my trouble, my antipathy, O reader, is a parish pump! Yes, a parish pump! One can appreciate a pump in its proper place, but its proper place is not under my window. Was it reasonable that I, a poor innocent traveller, should be condemned to be pumped out of all peace and quietness by that detestable institution? Yet so it was. Early in the morning—so early that the most matutinal-minded cock had scarce stirred himself up into sufficient wakeful energy to rouse the roost with his shrill clarion, and just as balmy sleep was closing my eyes in sweet forgetfulness, there would be a squeak, a groan, and a banging and clanging, and the hideous pump would begin its day’s labour. Then what a babel of voices, what a confusion of tongues, what an outpouring of spirit, came from the crowd of old women who gathered round for their next turn! Verily, to me, the remembrance of that pump is like the recollection of a hideous nightmare!

Havre-de-Grace is famous for the beauty of its fair inhabitants, and justly too has it acquired this enviable reputation, for its daughters are very pretty. They, the belles, complain bitterly of the conduct of the village swains, who seem to prefer a dissipated celibacy to the domestic allurements of married life.

There is a floating steam-worked bridge from this village to Perryville, a small place on the opposite shore of the river. They are now about erecting a permanent bridge across the Susquehanna. It is amusing to watch the country vehicles of this district. They are so constructed that they seem especially built to toss their occupants out on to the road, skipping about on their light springs.

There is a good ice trade done on the river here, and the coal business flourishes grandly. Schooners ply up and down the stream, and vessels of from 100 to 150 tons navigate the river. There are also many little pleasure steamers for duck-shooting excursions always ready. . . .

After staying a week at Havre-de-Grace, I started for Baltimore, about thirty miles off. I was “located” in the smoking car, half of which was portioned off as a bar for the sale of drinks and eatables.

The black women are sometimes allowed in the ladies’ carriage, provided they be well dressed; but they sit ill at ease, and seem afraid of giving offence to their fairer neighbours. . . .

Baltimore, the capital of Maryland, is situated on the Chesapeake Bay, and is one of the largest cities in America. The quarter of the town through which the train passes is a dirty suburb indeed. Its trade is flourishing, and the shipping commerce between it and England is direct. . . .

Maryland would unquestionably have joined the Confederacy but for the unexpected pressure that was brought upon her to the contrary in the shape of eight or ten thousand troops, who now hang about the outskirts of Baltimore, suppressing by their presence secession sympathies. This county has an unlimited supply of eggs, butter, and niggers at her disposal. The American Government has now nearly fifty thousand black soldiers at its command, all of whom range from nineteen years and upwards, though still retaining the appellation of “boys.”. . .

Baltimore, like New York is divided into numerous wards. . . . For shopping and lounging, its best streets are Baltimore and Charles. . . . Hanover is entirely a business street. The best houses lie off by the Washington Monument. . . . A fashionable and favourite promenade is in Charles Street; but there is also Druid’s Hall Park, which surpasses by far the Central Park in New York. It lies about four miles from the centre of the town, and occupies 600 acres, 250 of which are beautiful woodlands. Though replete with natural beauties, art is daily lending it additional charms, and what between lakes and sparkling rivulets, flowery meadows and undulating forest hills, I think there will be soon few more picturesque Edens in the world.

The military head-quarters in Baltimore are opposite the Battle Monument, a figure of Victory with a Union flag in her hand. . . . The large red house which the authorities have appropriated for the use of the troops, is close by the magnificent one lately inhabited by Mr. Gillmore, a wealthy Southerner, who had different notions as to the rights of persons and things from Mr. Lincoln, and decamped into the heart of the rebels, leaving his house to be converted into a prison, and cooking shop and-dining hall for the soldiers.

Talking of the military, I thought the cavalry not by any means so efficient-looking as I had expected. They did not even come up to the mark of the native cavalry of India, though some were stout fellows enough; still very many more were lean weedy boys who could not, in my opinion, stand the shock of war.

As for pluck, however, these men are second to none, and promise well for the future. Embryo gunners, doing the duty of artillerymen, were to be seen lounging about smoking long clay pipes, most unmilitary in appearance. . . . A very grand ball was given in Baltimore on the 14th December, for the purpose of paying off the exemption money (300 dollars per man) for those of the police drafted for the war. It was a very popular ball. A dollar ticket admitted a lady and gentleman, and you may be sure that many a pretty face was to be seen there on that night; and if their sweet, winning, coy, and beseeching looks didn’t wound divers hearts, why so much the worse does it speak for the mettle of the Baltimore boys.

There is one miserable reading-room in Baltimore Street—especially appropriated by the soldiers, and open free—where all the papers and magazines of any note are taken in. The number of societies and clubs here is ridiculous. Only to enumerate a few will be to notice the Masonic Lodge and chapters (twenty-four in number), the meetings and encampments of Odd Fellows, Sons of Temperance, Improved Order of Red Men of Great Council of the United States, Independent Red Men, United Order of Friends, Independent Order of United Brothers, the Germanic Club, and Hibernian Society. . . .

The racecourse of Baltimore is four miles distant, situated near Herring’s Run. The races there are no longer what they used to be, being now only merely trotting matches. In former days Baltimore was famous for horse-racing after the English fashion; but it has lost ground since, and the noble sport is now a thing almost as much of the past as the Union itself.

Baltimore, like most American cities, does not lack amusements; she has theatrical performances, musical concerts, and agreeable “free and easies” ad infinitum.

An inveterate dislike to the English nobility is what most Yankees feel (or at least assume to feel). They always speak of the “live lord” disparagingly, and cast their rank in our face as one of the besetting evils of our country. But with all this, when they catch my lord duke in this the free land of America, and he honours any of their houses with a call, you may be sure it is many years before his visit is forgotten. I doubt if there will be an inch of the floor upon which he treads which is not respected and remembered by his free Yankee entertainers. . . .

The churches of Baltimore are many of them very noble edifices, and little inferior in number or variety of denominations to those of New York. . . . I noticed that generally the Americans do not stand during the singing, as we do, and also that they frequently sit down throughout other parts of the service. I do not think there is much to reprehend in this. . . .

There is a peculiar custom relative to the opening of shops in Baltimore on Sunday. Instead of wooden shutters before the windows, a kind of strong wire grating is generally used; so that, in fact, the goods on the Sabbath are as much exposed as during the week days; and though they are not sold to you then, you can, if you wish, choose your colours, and settle in your mind what you will purchase on the morrow. . . .

Many strangers like Baltimore exceedingly. Bustle—constant, ever-anxious bustle—is always present; still I can’t remember a pleasanter place to be quartered in, particularly before the distracting war severed many a friendship, and divided many a house. Society in Baltimore, ere the opening of the present fratricidal struggle, was worthy of a great and united people. But since the war things are sadly changed. Instead of the free and warm interchange of hospitalities, total estrangements have in some cases crept in. The great bond of one common interest has been suddenly and rudely snapped: father has disagreed with son, and daughter with mother; and a dark cloud of distrust has, I fear, for ever quenched the sunshine of many a genial friendly intercourse. . . .

Baltimore, like New York, has more than enough of banking houses. The Americans are a great banking people, and all their cities, (particularly New York) swarm with them. They issue bank-notes of such a variety of amount as would astonish English curiosity, if not gain English credit.

The iron foundries of Baltimore are numerous and important. You hear nothing but steam working, hammering, and tinkering, from morn to night. It must take a considerable amount weekly to pay all the hands employed, for their wages are large, and they have frequent strikes for higher.

If you are respectably introduced, you get an immediate and warm reception from the Baltimore gentry. They are particularly kind and agreeable to the English, and many naval and military officers met receptions here as complimentary to the nation as they were cordial to the individuals. To be sure the Yankee ladies, as a rule, stand off till you are formally recommended to their notice. You must not address them in the train, no matter how close you are to them, or how far you have to travel by their side (unless they number forty revolving years, and are desperate with despair), on pain of giving no small offence to the sweet, demure little creatures; but when you once know them they make up for all their previous coldness, and chirp you into ecstatic grimaces. You must not forget, since we are talking of manners, that a Yankee proffers his hand the moment he is introduced to a stranger; so don’t refuse him yours, for it is the custom of the country, and no disagreeable one either.

Indeed, at first sight, everything and everybody appears at its worst in America. The ladies are cold at first, but warm enough afterwards. It is difficult to know a family, but when you are acquainted with one, you speedily insinuate yourself into the good graces of plenty; and, lastly, when you address a Yankee for the first time, he jerks “How” through his nose, in a manner that not a little startles and perhaps intimidates you; but after that is over, he answers you readily and civilly enough.

This, in my opinion, is mainly owing to the horrid anxiety all the Americans evidently labour under, in the presence of strangers, lest a little act of familiarity, or overcourteous expressions might compromise their birthright of entire freedom of speech and action. In my opinion, they would not spit half so often within a hair’s breadth of your face and feet, only to mark in your mind the full width of their independence; and it is unquestionably to show their undeniable and unalienable claims to the same that they curse so frequently and impiously, and strike their feet on the mantelpiece, and against the window-shutters. Is it not pitiful to see the fair and winning mien of freedom so practically distorted? . . .

The Americans pass a great deal of their time at the bowling-alleys . . . I thought it a monotonous, noisy game; but it is very popular here. They drink heavily during play of various mixtures, which helps not a little to give them such cadaverous looks—the result of drinking at improper hours, day and night. A short time before I left Baltimore, I went to a basement to get shaved (all barbers occupy basements in American towns). These barbers always possess a stock of amusing anecdotes, which they readily retail to their customers. In their conversation they are decidedly inclined to hyperbolical figures of speech. This fellow informed me that he had shaved the Prince of Wales, and received a gratuity of four guineas for his services. He concluded his anecdote by sagely remarking, “I guess that young man’s fixed up with a considerable mint of money.”

Colonel Harry Gilmor, A Ride Around Baltimore, 1864

Colonel Harry Gilmor, Four Years in the Saddle (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1866), pp. 190-204

[July 8, 1864, on the eve of the Battle of Monocacy]

Early’s whole force was now up, and would attack in the morning. We were not to engage in this, however, but were ordered to strike for Westminster, Cockeysville, and the Northern Central Railroad. After a heavy march, the brigade halted at New Windsor, and I was ordered to take twenty men on fresh horses, gallop to Westminster, and cut the telegraph. It was near sunset when we approached, and there learned there were one hundred and fifty men in the town.

Trusting to their supposing we were well backed, we drew sabres, closed up the column, and charged through town at a fast gallop, with horses well in hand, and on the look-out for ambuscade in the cross streets. A few bluecoats were to be seen, and the boys gave an awful yell when they saw them, which brought every one to the doors and windows, and when a handkerchief was waved by a fair hand the yelling was louder than ever. The foe took two or three rapid looks, fired two or three shots, and then made for Baltimore.

The telegraph was seized, the wires cut, and the town picketed in less than fifteen minutes, and I shook hands with my friends, lots of whom I have there.

We were five hours ahead of the brigade, and had been there about three when a courier arrived from General [Bradley T.] Johnson with orders to demand from the mayor fifteen hundred suits of clothes, including boots and shoes. Mayor Grove made every effort to get his council together, but had not succeeded when the general arrived, and I then persuaded him to say nothing more about it.

We halted next morning on the farm of Mrs. ——, where we breakfasted. I was then ordered to push on and get possession of the railroad and Cockeysville. I had been presented at Liberty, Md., with a beautiful and very powerful black mare, which I was then riding. I pushed on ahead of the command to speak to some of my friends. I found the people every where took me for a Federal officer at first, not at all suspecting a rebel in that neighborhood. Never shall I forget the expressive countenance of one fair friend when she recognized me as I sprung from the saddle. I could only say a few words, as the column was coming up, and I must be at their head.


I was now where I knew pretty much every one, and very few did I meet but seemed glad to see me. I took quiet possession of the railroad and village of Cockeysville, burned the first bridge over the Gunpowder, according to orders, and picketed in the direction of Baltimore, only fifteen miles distant. When Johnson arrived he burned the rest of the bridges, and then went back to rejoin Early, withdrawing from me all support, and leaving me with only one hundred and thirty men instead of the five hundred, with two pieces of artillery, which had been promised me for the expedition.

I had been ordered to burn the bridges of the Philadelphia Railroad, which I knew were well guarded, but, with my very slender force, I could not be sanguine of a favorable result. General Johnson said be could spare no more men, and feared to trust artillery so far away from support, and also said that he was obliged to keep a large portion of my command with him as scouts and guides.

I left Cockeysville at noon as if for Baltimore, but soon directed my course toward Towsontown, and, finding no enemy near, continued on to the bridge at another point on the Gunpowder. Leaving Captain Bailey in command here, and taking with me a few officers and men, I rode over to Glen Ellen, the dear old home where I was born. My mother, father, and sisters, and three of my brothers, were there, and under no little excitement. I captured the whole party on the front steps when I rode up, and—if I except some, perhaps, just complaint of my rather severe hugging—treated them with kindness, and, upon detainment for a few hours, paroled and released them, and moved on with my command.

In passing through the state, I may as well say here that I never took a plow-horse the whole time I was in Maryland, and only such as were necessary for my purposes, and alike from sympathizers and Unionists; all I did was for keeping my men well mounted.

No one at home knew of my destination till I was about to leave, and then I told it to a near relative, who, on learning what force I had, uttered the not very cheering prediction that I would never return alive. I said, in reply, that I was much of the same opinion myself, seeing the insignificant force I had. But I resolved to fight and whip every thing I came across in that neighborhood. At nightfall, though the men were terribly in want of sleep, and exhausted by the incessant marching and service they had done of late, I took the road through Dulany’s Valley, intending to cross the ridge by Morgan’s Mill. But I fell asleep on my horse, and did not awake till I came to a gate farther on, when the barking of dogs aroused me. This compelled us to cross higher up, and I decided to wait at a farm, to which we had come, till daylight, and let the men sleep, for they were actually so suffering for it that they were falling from their horses on the road, and I was beginning to lose some of them.

At daylight we crossed the Bel Air and Harford Roads, cut the telegraph wires, but had not gone far when I heard a shot ahead. My ordnance sergeant, Fields, and another, were all the advance I had out, not anticipating any trouble here. I dashed forward with four men, and met the companion of Fields coming back so rapidly that I supposed he had run into the enemy. He called out to me that Fields was killed; and when I reached the house of Ishmael Day I found Fields lying on the ground, with his face and chest filled with buckshot. He was perfectly rational; told me that he had ordered Day to pull down a large Federal flag, which he refused to do; that he dismounted to do it himself, when Day seized a gun and shot him. The men were already looking for Day, but he had escaped to the woods; and while my attention was occupied with Fields, the house was in flames, and soon after they burst out also from the barn and out-buildings. Scarcely ever had I seen men so excited; and I am sure it would have been out of my power to save Day had they caught him.

It was a sight that made a lasting impression upon me. There lay Fields, his head thrown back, and a deathly pallor fast overspreading his countenance, flecked here and there with dark bluish-purple spots, where the buckshot had entered. His shirt was thrown open, and his manly breast was literally covered with these purple spots. He bled very little. The men stood around us at some little distance, in violent gesticulation, swearing terribly.

He felt that he was dying—knew that I could not stay, and begged me not to let him encumber me. I gave him water from a tin cup, and received his dying messages, which were very clear. He even recollected to tell me where in the Valley he had left some papers. I put Fields in one of Day’s carriages and sent him to Wright’s Hotel, on the Harford Road.

We pushed on, and, when within a mile and a half of the railroad bridge, where the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Road crosses the Gunpowder, I discovered a passenger train coming on from Baltimore, and ordered Captain Bailey, with twenty men, to charge ahead and capture it. The capture was soon effected. Guards were then stationed all round, and I gave strict orders that no plundering should be done, threatening to shoot or cut down the first man I caught in any thing of the sort. I also furnished the baggage-master with a guard, telling him to deliver to each passenger their property, and to unload the train. The engineer had made his escape, or I should have run up to Havre de Grace, and made an effort to burn all the bridges, and likewise the large steamer there.

Being informed that General Franklin was on board, I went into the car pointed out to me, and asked some officers who were in it which was General Franklin. No reply. I then proceeded to examine each one’s papers, and presently I came to him. He acknowledged himself to be the man. I was prepossessed from the first in his favor by his blunt, though polite and gentlemanly bearing. I put him under guard in the telegraph office, with several other officers that had been captured.

On the train were several ladies of my acquaintance, and one of them was subsequently subjected to trial by military commission for certain acts, with the doing of which on this occasion she was charged. I do not certainly know what the character of the charges or the testimony was; but this I will say—the deportment of these ladies toward us was nothing more than an expression of joy at meeting friends they had known from childhood. General Franklin, in a letter received from him on the 15th of May, 1865, referring to the case, says: “Mrs. P—— is not guilty of the acts with which she is charged. If not released, I will see to it.”

Finding I could not run the train up to Havre de Grace, I burned it, and prepared to catch that which had left Baltimore forty minutes after this one. I had also sent a flag of truce to the drawbridge, where were two hundred infantry and the gun-boat Juniata, sent to protect it, demanding a surrender, and was about ordering some sharpshooters to push them a little, when the second train of twelve passenger-cars came up and was easily captured. The engineer of this also escaped, but I took the engine in hand, ran it up to the station, and unloaded it in like manner as the first, taking care that each one should have the baggage his checks called for. . . .

While the train was being unloaded I kept a good head of steam upon the engine, and, when every thing was clear, ordered Captain Bailey to move up his sharpshooters, and try to drive the infantry out on the bridge. He soon reported that they had fled to the gun-boat, and, setting the train on fire, I backed the whole flaming mass down on the bridge, catching some of the infantry a little way from shore upon the structure, and compelling them to jump into the water. The train was running slowly, and stopped right on the draw, where it burned and fell through, communicating the fire and destroying the most important part of the bridge. The wind was blowing directly toward the gunboat, and she had to trip her anchor and get out of the way. I afterward sent a flag of trace to say I had no objection to her coming to the beach to take the passengers to Havre de Grace, which was done.

I paroled most of the officers; first, because I had not horses enough to take them away; and, secondly, because many of them were convalescents from field-hospitals. I think I started with five, including General Franklin, all in carriages.

After stopping for the above purposes six or seven hours, I went toward Baltimore. My intention was to cut across the country to the York Road, and thence either enter the city by the Charles Street Avenue or Fall’s Road, pass through on to Franklin Street, and leave by the Franklin Turnpike. But it was not long before I met a gentleman whom I recognized, and from him learned that they were expecting us in Baltimore, had collected a large force of militia, and had barricaded the streets. Anxious first to secure my prisoners, I directed my course for Towsontown, seven miles north of Baltimore on the York Road, and when within five or six miles of that place every one I met said there was a force of cavalry waiting to intercept me. Being well acquainted with the surrounding country, and as it would be dark before we reached our destination, I anticipated no difficulty in evading, if we could not fight them. I determined to heed no one, but push on till we met the enemy, charge and fight, and, if we could not whip them, then fall back, and go round through the heavy woods about Mine Bank Run.


When within a mile of the town, I took ten men and went ahead to reconnoitre, leaving Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Dorsey with the command, with orders to come up at a steady pace if they heard any firing. I entered the town at a gallop with pistol drawn, but all was quiet, and no one seemed to be expecting me. I got off of my horse and drank a glass of ale at the hotel, and met several acquaintances, who begged me to push on. Some were just from the city—had seen a large force of cavalry coming out to cut me off. One in whom I had confidence told me there were at least one thousand of them coming from Baltimore (seven miles distant), and urged me not to delay; but I must have at least a brush with the advance guard.

My men had all come in, and the column had formed in the square, and I had put out a picket, when I heard from my picket that cavalry in considerable force were coming up the turnpike. I gave H—— G——, who was one of the pickets, orders to let them advance, challenge, fire, and then retreat. I next detailed ten men to guard the prisoners, and for this duty would not even trust the adjutant, but went along the line and selected the most reliable, placing them in charge of Captain O——, my quarter-master, who knew the country. He was instructed which road to take, and where to wait for me; and was told, should I not join him by daylight, to push on and try to reach Early’s army near Washington.

Kemp was now ordered to take fifteen men to charge the enemy’s advance guard, run them back on their main body, and let them in turn charge him, when he was to retreat, his men taking each side of the road, so as to let me through with the rest of the command.

The men had heard all about the large force we were about to meet, and some of them were rather nervous; no wonder, when we consider that all were nearly broken down for want of sleep. Few of them could tell where we were, and all knew that we were far from any support. Besides this, it was dark as pitch. Some would say, “I expect the band will go up to-night; but we must stick by the major.” Another would say, “No fear; he’ll take us through all right; only stay by him, and there’s no danger.” From such conversation I could infer that most of them seemed to anticipate serious business; but not an officer or man said a word about holding back.

Kemp’s party advanced with pistols; my reserve drew sabres, and each man settled himself in the saddle, and I could see them pulling their hats down firmly on their heads. Just then I heard the pickets down the road fire on the advance, which was immediately answered from a dozen carbines. Kemp dashed on with a yell, and I told my reserve to join also in the yell, and keep it up, and it was done with a will. What joy it affords to command men like these—brave hearts that you can depend upon under all circumstances! I felt them ready to ride against any thing that appeared, and, in a road stiffly fenced as this was on both sides, with no chance for a flanking party, hardly cared what was ahead.

As I started down with the reserve at a steady trot I heard Kemp run into them, and I knew he was driving their advance; but soon I knew also that he was retreating rapidly, and, on advancing a little farther, saw a squad in the middle of the road, fired on them, and ordered a charge, but, fortunately in time, recognized Kemp’s voice; glad to say, no one was hurt.

When I ordered the charge the men set up a most deafening yell, enough to convince any one that we were a full regiment; and so must the enemy have thought, for we never got within sabre reach of them. They were finely mounted on fresh horses, and easily outran us. Seeing this, we drew pistols, gave chase, and let them have a volley from the top of every hill, with a fresh yell each time. Some of the men pursued them even to Govanstown, four miles from Baltimore; and that night a number of recruits from the city joined my command, and we were told by them that the whole picket-line on that side of Baltimore was broken, and that the cavalry had not stopped running till they reached the Bel Air market in the city.

We returned leisurely to Towsontown without losing a man, and having only one horse wounded. Of the enemy’s loss I could learn nothing. Anxious to join Captain O——, who had got some way ahead, I pushed on, the whole command completely broken down for want of sleep, and some of them snoring in their saddles before we had gone a mile. To prevent any of them being lost, I rode in the rear, for some of them would slide off and not wake up until well shaken and dragged roughly over the road.

It was not long before I fell asleep myself, and, in swaying about upon my horse, I may perhaps have pulled him out of the road. I was roused by some one crying “Halt!” The horse suddenly stopped, which threw me on his neck, and at the same instant the voice came again, “Halt!”

Suspecting something wrong, I replied, “A friend.” “Friend to whom?” “To the Union. I belong to the 1st Virginia Cavalry, and my company has been out in Harford County, on a scout after Gilmor’s raiders. My captain sent me ahead to tell you he was coming, so that you would not fire on him.”

“All right,” said he. I replied, “I’ll go back and tell him to come on.”

At first I did not know where I was, but, while talking to the picket, I perceived the railroad track a little way off, so concluded I must be near the Relay House, on the Northern Central Railroad. After leaving the picket a hundred yards behind, I struck across the fields until I reached the crossing of the road from Towsontown, from which I had wandered. There I found one of my men, left by Captain Bailey to wait for me, but fast asleep. I woke him up, and learned that all the men had crossed the road safely, and were waiting for me at Hunt’s Meeting-house, where I found them lying in the road, scattered about, and every one of them fast asleep. Had I been captured they would have slept till morning, and no doubt many of them would have joined me, and we should have been a pleasant little party for Fort McHenry.

There is no suffering that I can imagine more intense than that produced by want of sleep long deferred, which I and many others with me felt that night. The pain is perfectly horrible. Most of the men had drank freely in the morning, though not a man was drunk, making it all the worse for them afterward. I myself had taken nothing but some claret and a glass of ale, nor had I tasted a drop of whisky or brandy for some time, yet I suffered nearly as much as the men. However, there was but little time for rest. We passed through Green Spring Valley, proceeding to the place of Mr. Craddock, for near this I had directed Captain O—— to wait for me with the prisoners. I found them all lying in the road asleep, and noticed that the buggy in which Franklin had been riding was empty. I turned to Captain Clark and said, “I’ll bet Franklin is gone.” We rode through the guard twice, and found all sound asleep. I dismounted, and, rousing them up, asked for General Franklin. The guard replied he was “in the fence corner with the other prisoners,” but there he was not. Right glad am I that my pious friends were not there to hear me when I found that Franklin had indeed escaped; I fear they would have considered me somewhat ruffled. But we searched in vain for Franklin; he had got off safe, to my great chagrin and annoyance. He was a major general and corps commander in the United States army, regarded, and justly too, as one of their most distinguished officers, and, at the time of his capture by me, was on his way back North to recruit his health, which had been greatly impaired by wounds and arduous duty in the Southwest. It will readily be seen that I had a very valued companion in the person of the general . . . so, as I say, being greatly provoked when I found that he had ceased to honor us with his presence, I swore with unusual energy. By this means my men were as effectually roused as if a broadside had been opened upon them.

After the men had eaten, and the horses been well fed and groomed, the whole command, except about twenty, scouted the country in every direction, in hopes of retaking General Franklin—not, perhaps, so much because of his importance, as that I hated to be charged with carelessness. The men then got time for a little sleep.

While the men slept I went to a chamber, and, having refreshed myself with clean apparel, I had General Franklin’s valise, left by him in the wagon, examined; it contained a prayer-book, presented him by a sister, some photographs, and a silver snuff-box, inlaid with gold, but nothing else of much value. These articles I caused to be restored to him.

The rest of that day was spent near Pikesville. I sent a sergeant and ten men to within four miles of the city, and went myself to the Seven-mile House, on the Reistertown Road. As yet, I had not even taken a nap, except on my horse, for I did not sleep with the rest of the command. I have very little recollection of what took place after leaving Pikesville, being nearly stupefied, and, although my eyes were open, I slept most of the time. A gentleman rode part of the way with me to ———, but I knew not when or how he took leave of me. Two gentlemen came to me there, and I was waked up to see them; but I went to sleep while they were talking to me. However, when the reveille sounded next morning I awoke much refreshed, and sprang up a new man.

At sunrise we were all in the saddle, moving toward Rockville, where I expected to join General Early, Captain O—— acting as our pilot, for he knew the country thoroughly. Toward evening we learned that Early had fallen back to Poolesville, and that the enemy had possession of Rockville. This obliged us to take a direct course through Montgomery County for Poolesville, marching all night without halting.


We reached General Johnson’s head-quarters at daybreak, about two miles below Poolesville, and found him expecting an attack. He was delighted to see me safely back, saying that when he left me near Baltimore, he felt certain I should be captured. I felt very well pleased myself to be where I was. . . .

We had some little skirmishing at Poolesville, but recrossed to the Virginia side of the Potomac without any serious injury. . . . When I told General Early with what ease I could have captured Baltimore with a few more men, he regretted heartily that a brigade had not been given me, and he did me the honor to say I had deserved promotion. . . . Indeed, a regiment was offered me several times afterward, but I preferred my battalion to any regiment in the army; it was the right kind of stuff, and all I wanted was more of them.

Sir George Campbell in and about Baltimore, 1878

Sir George Campbell, M.P., Black and White: The Outcome of a Visit to the United States (New York: R. Worthington, 1879), pp. 251-253, 255-260, 263

In the afternoon I started for Baltimore. We passed through a pleasant country, with many houses on the banks of the river. It was dark before we reached Baltimore. The general aspect of the place seemed to be, that in the lower parts land and water were very much intermixed. At Baltimore I stopped at the Mount Vernon Hotel. It is kept on the European and not on the American plan, and seemed nice, but on experience I was a good deal disappointed with it. They say that this European fashion does not suit people here, and that the hotel, which was once good, is not now well maintained. . . .

Late this evening Mr. K——, a distinguished member of the Society of Friends here, was kind enough to come over and take me with him to his house, where I met some pleasant people. Mr. K—— is a well-known philanthropist and friend of the negro. Talking of the blacks with the people I met, they seemed to take a hopeful view of the condition of the negro, and are not severe upon President Hayes’ conciliatory administration. They recalled the time, less than twenty years ago, when slaves were openly marched down to be sold in the South; when it was highly penal to teach slaves to read and write; when a very excellent freedman was imprisoned for ten years for possessing a copy of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’ Now the blacks are secure in their freedom; they have votes; and one party or another will sooner or later want their votes. Much, too, is done for their education: here the blacks are kept to separate schools, but these schools are good. The religious position of the blacks is also very good; they are excellent Christians. They have taken to work well. Here in Baltimore they have some branches of industry very much to themselves, notably caulking ships and brick-making. They have, I am told, a ship-caulking company composed entirely of coloured men, and managed by coloured men. I was sorry that in my stay here I did not manage to see something of this company, for this is the only case of which I have heard where black men have successfully managed anything of the kind. They do not own much land, I am told, but they work well on the land in the country about here, as well as in domestic service. They form about a fourth of the population here. I had a curious account of their Freemason and other societies. Freemason lodges are believed to have existed among them even in the days of slavery, unknown to their masters. The system is said to have been brought from the British colonies; and the Freemasonry among them was, I am told, made very evident during the war.

Next morning I breakfasted with Mr. G——, President of the Hopkins University, a man full of information, and to whom I owe much kindness and assistance during my stay in Baltimore. This Hopkins University is a great recent endowment, and conducted on the most modern principles. . . .

Mr. G—— took me to see the Hopkins University. At present they have not spent their money in building, but occupy a large house in the town. They teach every branch of knowledge, including ‘Sanskrit and philology,’ ‘Romance of languages,’ ‘classical languages,’ ‘biology, chemistry,’ &c. . . .

I have been very kindly made free of two excellent clubs 256 here, the Athenaeum and the Maryland, in both of which there is very pleasant society and many material comforts. The Washington Monument is the centre of fashionable Baltimore. The women and girls in the street seem to me smart and well-dressed, without being too flashy. The country about is very well wooded; the town is on moderately rising ground—not on an amphitheatre of hills, such as I had been led to expect from the guide-book. The Sunday-closing movement, by enforcing old laws, is going on here also. . . . I went to see an Englishman resident in Baltimore. He thinks the Hopkins University most excellent and progressive. He says that in America there is now a strong tendency to Germanise education, and young men go to Germany very much. President G—— complains that the English Universities have not encouraged Americans. He dwells upon the religious tests and other difficulties, and says that is why young men have taken to the Continent of Europe rather than to England. My English friend says that the expenses in America are really not so much as in London, if you go the right way about it. The people are not literary in their habits, but still English books are very much read and appreciated. He says that, though people in America try very hard to make money, upon the whole the possession of money is thought less of than with us; a rich man is less looked up to, because wealth is less stable and certain than with us. Reverses are more frequent, and Americans who have been rich more easily return to humble positions. Many of the people whom one meets in good American society occupy positions much humbler than would be thought compatible with association with well-to-do people in England. Americans do not think it necessary to make provision for their children; they consider that children may well provide for themselves, as their fathers did before them. With all their chances of wealth they are generally very ready to accept extremely moderate salaries, provided they are permanent—that seems clear.

The weather is now most charming. It has been so, indeed, throughout my tour so far. This place is very bright, with nice residential quarters. A peculiarity of Baltimore, however, is that there is no system of underground drainage; all the liquid runs in dirty streams through the streets in open gutters, while the solid sewage is carried away in carts. The system is not very agreeable to the senses, but I am not sure that it is not much more wholesome than our underground system.

I passed a Sunday here. This is a great church-going place. Very many nicely-dressed people about the streets. I notice very many well-got-up negroes and well-dressed negresses. I still cannot make out who all these well-dressed blacks are. They are not clerks or shopkeepers. I understand that there are very few negro clerks or dealers. They are not generally superior mechanics. All I can learn is that they have certain special occupations, and that a great many of them are waiters, keepers of eating-houses, and so on.

I had a visit from two gentlemen of the Democratic persuasion, Senator W—— and Mr. M——, a man who has served in important positions abroad. Their opinion is, that the military occupation of the South enabled the Carpet-baggers to play dreadful tricks before high heaven—to falsify the elections, and so return the candidates of the minority. Now things are, they say, on a fair and safe footing; the negroes are free and prosperous, and rights are secured to all—all that is necessary is to leave the Southern States alone. They say that after the war the blacks were helpless; their old masters did everything for them, and enabled them to cultivate the land upon the system of shares. The owners did so at a loss, but they were forced into it by circumstances, and before very long with much difficulty they succeeded in raising 3,000,000 bales of cotton, an amount which has since been very largely increased. The negroes felt that they could not live without this assistance. A friendly feeling sprang up again—in fact, it never was lost. During the first two years after the war the system was settling down very satisfactorily, and all would have gone well but for the new Constitution forced upon the South by the victors, and worked by the Carpet-baggers supported by the military. Now these abuses have been terminated, things are improving, and the negroes are becoming tolerably prosperous and well-off. They are not kept bound to their masters by debt; in fact, they get very little credit. Generally the plant of the farms, the animals, the seed, and everything else, is supplied by the master. I am told that in Virginia and Maryland the estates are not very large; they are not what we should call great estates, but really large farms of from 600 to 1,500 arable acres. . . .

I took a walk with Mr. G—— to the high land overlooking the harbour. The harbour here is in the channel of a small river. The Chesapeake is a short distance below. It is only a moderately good harbour, but then there are great facilities for getting to sea; there is not the long and difficult river which lies between Philadelphia and the sea.

Talking of the public colleges I asked if blacks were admitted. I was told that the question solves itself, for if blacks were admitted the whites would not come, and therefore it is that separate colleges have been provided for the blacks. I have not found anyone who at all takes in the idea of the races drawing nearer by intermarriage. All seem to regard the blacks as a servile and inferior race. Mr. M——, whom I mentioned above, asserted that the laws of Massachusetts and Connecticut still make mixed marriages illegal; and others whom I have asked have not been able to deny the statement; but I have not verified it yet. . . .

The last evening I spent at Baltimore I found a very lively and agreeable party at Mr. R——’s house; the people rather American in their style, but very pleasant for all that.

I have picked up here a good many ideas and opinions as regards the Southern States. It remains to be seen how far I shall verify them when I get there.


Next morning I started for Washington—a little more than an hour’s run from Baltimore. . . . At the Baltimore station (or depôt, as the Americans always call it) I found that the President and Mrs. Hayes were passengers by the same train. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to them, and travelled with them to Washington, thus having the opportunity of a good deal of talk with the President. He travelled without any show, like any other passenger, but an ordinary passenger-carriage was reserved for him and his party, and a little attention was paid to them by the railway officials. There was no crowd and no demonstration. Whatever may be said of the President’s political character, I think that all who come in contact with him are agreed that he is what we should recognise in England as a gentleman, and that his wife is very much a lady. Socially they are certainly exceedingly well fitted to fill the position in which they are placed. I have heard the President spoken of as politically weak, but I am inclined to think that this opinion comes more from the members of his own party, who disapprove his measures of compromise, than from anyone else. It is not for me to express an opinion on this subject, and I should not like to retail all he said; but this I will say, that I have not met in America a man more pleasant to talk to.

The Baltimore papers contained accounts of his Southern policy, said to have been obtained from him in interviews, and I ventured to ask whether these accounts are authentic. He said that for the most part the statements to which I alluded were true enough in one way, but that the accounts of alleged interviews were not true. The newspaper people interview those who have come out from the President, pick up something, put into his mouth what they think he may probably have said, and so make up their stories. He was reported to have said that until quite recently there had been, under the present régime, very little violence and outrage in the South; and I could not help calling his attention to some very serious outrages which had been reported within the last week or two. He says that my experience in that respect has been exceptionally unfortunate: this is election-time, and the most is made of what occurs.

The President takes a very favourable view of the position and prospects of the negro. He thinks the present race of negroes are not equal to white men; but then, according to his views, the qualities of mankind are very much a matter of climate. Whether white or black, he thinks men are inferior in hot climates. The American blacks have not yet had time to develop the higher human qualities nor to acquire much land, but he hopes they will. As showing how improvable they are, he tells a story of a number of blacks who, in the last century, followed the soldiers of the Revolutionary War, when the latter got grants in Ohio, which is the President’s own State. Eventually Ohio was declared to be free territory, and these negroes settled down as free men—they and their descendants have become farmers, and good ones—they are at this day liked and respected by their neighbours, and are in every way good and prosperous citizens. He hopes that the Southern blacks will do likewise in the course of two or three generations. As regards the misconduct and outrages sometimes attributed to blacks, he says that their character cannot be so bad as some would now paint it; and as proof of that he points to the fact that during the war the Southern whites left their families and their property, and everything that was dear to them, in charge of and at the mercy of the blacks. Yet these blacks never rose against their masters’ families, and, as a rule, never did any harm whatever, in spite of all the opportunities they had during a protracted war. I have since heard this statement repeated in the Southern States—sometimes, no doubt, with a view to showing how good the masters had been. But at any rate there seems to be no doubt of the fact that the blacks, generally speaking, never did rise for plunder and outrage till they were raised by the actual presence of the Northern armies.*

* [editor’s note—In his account of his journey to Washington, Campbell dwells entirely on his conversation with President Hayes, except for noting that:  “The country between Baltimore and Washington seemed poor and uninteresting; in fact, they say it is one of the poorest parts of the United States.” (Black and White, p. 263)]

Joseph Hatton, Christmas in Baltimore, 1883

Joseph Hatton, Henry Irving’s Impressions of America (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1884), pp. 264-268, 270-279, 280-294, 296-297



“THE Irving train is expected to arrive at Jersey City from Boston at about seven o’clock,” said a telegraphic dispatch which I received in New York on Sunday. I had left the great New England city two days before Irving’s special train, with the understanding that I should join him at Jersey City, en route for Baltimore.

At half-past six I was on the great steam ferry-boat that plies from the bottom of Desbrosses street, New York, to the other side of the river. A wintry wind was blowing up from the sea. I preferred the open air to the artificial heat of the cabin. In ten minutes I was landed at the station of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

“Inquire for the steamer ‘Maryland,’” continued that dispatch which I have just quoted. “She conveys the train down the Harlem river to connect on the Pennsylvania Road.”

The general waiting-room of the station, or depot, as our American cousins call it, is a characteristic one. . . . The place is lighted with electric lamps, which occasionally fiz and splutter, and once in a while go out altogether. Nobody pays any attention to this. Everybody is used to the eccentricities of the new and beautiful light.

Obtaining permission to pass the ticket portals, I reach the platform, where I am to find the station-master. . . .

The Irving train has been delayed. She is reported “to arrive at the Harlem river at half-past eight.” In that case she may be here at a quarter to ten.

I return to the spluttering electric lamps and to the continually coming and going multitudes of passengers. “No Smoking” is one of the notices on the walls. . . . I look up now and then to see the crowd file off through the ticket-doors to go to Bethlehem, Catasauqua, Lansdown, New Market, Bloomsbury, Waverly, Linden, Philadelphia, West Point, Catskill, Albans, New Scotland, Port Jackson, Schenectady, and other towns and cities. . . . You see placards everywhere: ‘Beware of Pick-pockets’; ‘Ascertain that your change is right before leaving the booking-desk.’. . . Some of the other notifications in American stations are curious “No Loafing allowed in this Depot”; “Don’t Spit on the Floor.”. . .

I seek the station-master again.

“Not sooner than a quarter to eleven,” he says.

“Does the weather obstruct the train?”

“Yes, it’s a queer night; snow falling very thickly; makes the river journey slower than usual; snow is as bad as fog.”

The entire train of eight enormous cars, containing the Lyceum company and their baggage, is transported by boat right down the Harlem river, a distance of several miles, the raft and train being attached to a tug-boat. The train is run upon the floating track at Harlem, and connected with the main line again at Jersey City.

“I was to ask for the steamer ‘Maryland.’”

“Yes, her quay is outside the depot. I will let you know when she is reported. You will hear her whistle.”

Trying to return to the waiting-room I find I am locked in. Presently a good-natured official lets me out. In the meantime the café has closed, the book-stall has fastened its windows and put out its lights. The waiters on trains have thinned in numbers. . . .

A quarter to eleven. It is surely time to go forth in search of the “Maryland.”

“Better have a guide,” says a courteous official; “you can’t find it without; and, by thunder, how it snows!”. . .

The guide, as sturdy as a Derbyshire ploughboy, comes along with his lantern.

“There are three ladies,” I tell him,” in the private waiting-room, who are to come with us.”


I AM taking my wife and two girls to Baltimore for the Christmas week. . . .

They are all provided with cloaks and furs and snow-boots, or rubbers (an absolute necessity and a great comfort in America), and we all push along after the guide, across the departure platform, into the snowy night,—the flakes fall in blinding clouds; over railway tracks which men are clearing,—the white carpet soft and yielding; between freight-cars, through open sheds,—the girls enjoying it all, as only young people can enjoy a snow-storm.

The flickering light of our guide’s lantern is at length eclipsed by the radiance of a well-illuminated cabin.

“This is the office; you can wait here; they’ll tell you when the ‘Maryland’s’ reported.”

A snug room, with a great stove in the centre. The men who are sitting around it move to make way for us. They do not disguise their surprise at the arrivals: an English family (one of them very young, with her hair blowing about her face), with snow enough falling from their cloaks to supply material for a snow-balling match. We are evidently regarded as novel visitors. Track laborers and others follow us in. . . .

Presently a smart official (not unlike a guard of the Midland Railway in England as to his uniform) enters. . . .

“The ‘Maryland,’” I say, addressing the officer; “I want to get on board her special train from Boston.”

“Guess I can’t help that! I want to get some cars off her, that’s all I know,” is the response, the speaker eying me loftily, and then pushing his way towards a lookout window on the other side of the cabin. . . .

“Here she comes!” he exclaims.

I forgive him, at once, his brusqueness. He, too, has, of course, been waiting six hours for her.

A hoarse whistle is heard on the river. The guard opens the cabin-door. In rushes the snow and the wind. The guard’s lantern casts a gleam of light on the white way.

“Be careful here,” he says, assisting my girls over a rough plank road.

It is an open quay over which we are pushing along. The guard, now full of kind attention, holds up his lamp for us, and indicates the best paths, the snow filling our eyes and wetting our faces. Now we mount a gangway. Then we struggle down a plank. There are bustle and noise ahead of us, and the plash “of many waters.”

“Hatton!” shouts the familiar voice of Brain Stoker, through the darkness.

“Here we are!” is the prompt reply.

A stalwart figure pushes through the snow, and the next moment my wife is under the protection of a new guide. We feel our way along mazy passages,—now upwards, now downwards . . . the darkness made visible by primitive lamps. Presently we are on the floating raft, and thence we mount the steps of a railway car.

What a change of scene it is!—from Arctic cold to summer heat; from snow and rough ways to a dainty parlor, with velvet-pile carpets, easy-chairs, and duplex lamps . . . to Irving, Abbey, Loveday, and Miss Terry. They welcome us cheerily and with Christmas greetings. . . .


HAVING spent an hour in vainly trying to couple Irving’s private car with another in the centre of the train, the guard decides to attach it to the last one. In this position, which eventually proved an interesting one, we trundle along through Jersey City, past rows of shops and stores, on a level with the sidewalks, the snow falling all the time. Here and there electric arcs are shedding weird illuminations upon the unfamiliar scenes. By the lights in many of the houses we can see that the window-panes are coated with a thick frost. Now and then we stop without any apparent warning, certainly without any explanation. During one of these intervals we take supper, those of us who have not retired to seek such repose as may be found in a railroad sleeping-car,—an institution which some American travellers prefer to a regular bedroom. Irving, Abbey, Stoker, Loveday, and myself, we sit down to a very excellent supper,—oyster-pie, cold beef, jelly, eggs, coffee, cigars.

“It is too late to tell you of our adventures prior to your coming upon the train,” says Irving. “We will have a long chat to-morrow. Good-night; I am going to try and get a little rest.”

He lies down upon a couch adjacent to the apartment in which we have supped. I draw a curtain over him, that shuts off his bunk from the room and the general corridor of the car. You hear a good deal of talk in America about “private cars.” Without disparaging the ingenuity and comfort of the private-car system of American railroad travelling let me say, once for all, that the term private applied to it in any sense is a misnomer. There is no privacy about it,—nothing like as much as you may have in an English carriage, to the sole occupancy of which you have bought the right for a railway journey. On an American train there is a conductor to each car. Then there are one or more guards to the train. Add to these officials, baggage-men, who are entitled to come on at various stations, and news-boys, who also appear to have special claims on the railway company; and you count up quite a number of extra passengers who may appear in your private room at any moment. . . .

At 1.30 the train comes to a long stand-still. I am reading. The colored waiter, a negro with a face given over to the permanent expression of wonder, has taken a seat near me, in the opposite corner of the car. The end of the car opens right upon the line; the door is half glass, so that we can see out into the night and away down the track. To keep the out-look clear I occasionally rub the frosty rime from the glass, and now and then open the door and clear it from snow. The negro contemplates me through his wide, staring eyes. He takes a similar interest in the guards and other officers of the train, who come through the cars at intervals, swinging, as they walk, lamps of singularly artistic patterns when compared with the English railway lanterns. These guardians of the train pass out of the door of the room upon the line, and rarely reappear except when they come back again right through the train, passing most of the would-be sleepers. Irving does not, however, appear to be disturbed.

It is 2.35 when the train once more begins to move. For nearly an hour both the colored servant and I have, off and on, been watching a number of curious demonstrations of lights away down the line behind us. First a white light would appear, then a red one, then a green light would be flashed wildly up and down. The negro guesses we must be snowed up. . . . We move ahead for five minutes, and then we stop again. There is a clock on the inlaid panel of the car over the negro’s head. The time is steadily recorded on the dial. It is 2.45 when we advance once more. A hoarse whistle, like a foghorn at sea, breaks upon the solemnity of the night; then we pass a signal-box, and a patch of light falls upon our window. This is evidently the signal for another pause. “2.50” says the clock. The line behind us is now alive with lanterns. White lights are moving about with singular eccentricity. With my face close against the glass door-way I count six different lights. I also see dark forms moving about. All the lights are suddenly stationary. One comes on towards the train. Our guard frantically waves his light. Presently we stop with a jerk. The lights we have left in the distance now gyrate with the same inconsequential motion as the witch-fires of a fairy tale, or the fiends’ lights in the opera of Robert le Diable. Then they remain still again. I open the door. There is a foot of snow on the platform, and the feathery flakes are steadily falling. A solitary light comes towards us. The bearer of it gets upon the platform,—a solitary sentinel. . . .

2.55. The man on the platform cries “Go ahead!” and as the car moves he steps inside, literally covered with snow. He makes no apology, but shivers and shakes his coat.

“What is wrong?” I ask.

“Train stuck in the snow ahead of us. It is an awful night.”. . .

Looking back on the track the rails show a black, deep line of snow. Not a house or a sign of life anywhere around us. . . . A signal station with green and red lights slips by us. The swinging bell of an approaching train is heard. The conductor stands on the platform and waves his lamp. Our train stops. There looms suddenly out of the darkness behind us a vast globe, white and glowing, like a sun. It comes on, growing larger, and accompanying it is the bang, bang, bang of the engine’s bell, a familiar, but uncanny, sound in America. . . . We move on again, and gradually leave the locomotive Cyclops behind, its great, sun-like eye getting smaller. A few minutes more, and it follows us. We pull up at a switch-station. There is some difficulty with the posts. I go out and lend a hand at getting them clear of snow. Return very cold and wet. Happily the car is kept at a standing heat of 80º to 90º. . . . At 3.50 we are really going ahead, quite at a brisk pace. Suddenly another light behind us; suddenly that ominous bell. . . . Is this new train going to run us down? It comes along swinging its bell. Just as the possibility of a collision seems ominous the new-comer veers to the left and passes us. We are evidently on a single line of rails, with switch-stations at intervals for trains to pass and repass. Our unhappy train stops once more. Another comes pounding along, with its one blazing light and its tolling bell. Passes us defiantly, as the other has done. The new comer is, however, only an engine this time. “Assistance, no doubt,” I say to myself. I open the door. The snow beats in with a rush of wind. . . . The conductor is out in the snow with several lamps. . . . A man joins him, with a shovel. . . . Another train is heard bellowing; another bell following; another great lamp gleams along the track, smaller red lights showing upon its white beam, over which the snow falls. This other locomotive comes right into us, its great blinding eye blazing like a furnace. . . . The rear engine pants and pushes. . . . There is a great fuss about coupling our car upon this panting assistant. . . .

“What’s going on?” is suddenly asked in words and tones not unlike a voice in “The Bells,”—“what’s going on?”—“We are, I hope, soon,” I reply to my friend, who has pushed aside his Astrachan cloak and the car curtains, and is looking curiously at us. . . . “Only getting another engine,” says the conductor. “What for?” asks Irving (he has really been to sleep). “To check our speed,” I say; “we have been going too fast.” “Oh, you astonish me!” says Irving. “Good-night, then!” The clock marks 4.30. . . .



BALTIMORE street is the Broadway of the Monumental City. It also suggests Chestnut street in Philadelphia, more particularly in the matter of signboards. A city of stores and offices, it proclaims its various businesses in signs of every conceivable shape. They swing from ornamental brackets over door-ways, and hang right across the sidewalk. They are of many shapes, but as to color are invariably black and gold. The inscriptions upon them are characteristic; some of them are strange to the non-travelled Englishmen. I note a few of them: “Gent’s Neck Wear,” “Fine Jewelry,” “Men’s Furnishing.” This latter is the general sign of American hosiers and shirt-makers. “Diamonds,” “Fine Shoes,” “Dry Goods,” “Imported Goods,” “Books,” “Cheap Railroad Tickets,” “Cheap Tickets for Chicago,” “Saddlery,” “Adams’ Express.” To these are added the names of the dealers. The “Cheap Railroad Tickets” is a branch of the speculative operations in theatrical admissions. “Adams’ Express” is a familiar sign everywhere. It represents the great and universal system of baggage distribution. Adams and other firms will take charge of a traveller’s luggage, or any other kind of goods, and “check” it through to any part of the United States, possibly to any corner of the world. To-day, in honor of Christmas, the ordinary signs have been supplemented by such attractive proclamations as “Holiday Presents,” “Toys for the Season,” “For Christmas and New Year’s,” “Home-made Christmas Puddings.” At the doors of tobacco stores the figure of a North American Indian, in complete war-paint, offers you a bundle of the finest cigars, and his tomahawk is poised for action in case you decline his invitation to “Try them.” In New York this colored commercial statuary is varied with an occasional “Punch,” and by many buxom ballet-girls in short dresses and chignons. But the taste of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago runs in the direction of the Indian. Nowhere do you see the blackamoor, once popular at the door of English tobacconists; nor, except at Brooklyn, have I seen on the American side of the Atlantic the kilted Highlander, with his “mull” as a sign for the information or temptation of snuff-takers. . . . Baltimore is not singular in its habit of pictorial signs, the origin of which may possibly be traced to old English custom. The saddler exhibits the gilded head of a horse; the watchmaker hangs out a clock; the glover a hand; the dry-goods stores display bright rugs and carpets. Now and then the cabinet-makers show their goods on the sidewalks. Many stores erect handsome outside glass-case stands for exhibiting knick-knacks at their door-ways. The fruit shops open their windows on the street. Itinerant dealers in oranges, bananas, and grapes rig up tent-like houses of business under the windows of established traders (for which heavy rents are paid, notably “down-town” in New York), and all this gives a pleasant variety of life and color to the street. One is everywhere reminded of the excellence of English Manufactures, “English Tanned Gloves,” “English Storm-coats,” “English Cloth”; and many other commercial compliments are paid to “Imported Goods.”

It is three o’clock in the day, and while Irving, his lieutenant, Loveday, and his able subalterns, Arnot and Allen, are getting the stage of the Academy of Music into some kind of shape for the Christmas-eve performance, I plod through the rain and slush to make my first acquaintance with this chief street of Baltimore. It is curiously picturesque, in spite of the weather and the dirty snow, which is melting and freezing almost simultaneously. Here and there the sidewalks are slabs of ice; here and there they are sloppy snow-drifts. But a surging crowd covers every foot of them. The roadway presents a continual block of tram-cars, buggies, wagons, carts, and carriages. Women leaving and getting upon the cars plunge in and out of snow-heaps and watery gutters. It is a very democratic institution, the American car. The people crowd it as they please. There is no limit to its capacity. It may carry as many persons as can get into it or stand upon its platforms. This afternoon the cars are human hives on wheels. One notices that the crowd chiefly consists of women. They fill the sidewalks. All of them are shopping. They are all talking, and all at the same time. This is a peculiarity of our charming cousins. Their costume on this wet afternoon is a very sensible one. It might almost be called a uniform. A black water-proof cloak and hood is all the costume you can see. Often it is a pretty, bright face that the hood encases. Now and then some woman, a trifle more vain or reckless than her sisters, wears a hat and feathers with her water-proof cloak. This incongruous arrangement, however, helps to give color to the crowd,—a desirable point on so dull, grey, and cloudy a day as this. The men who move about here are mostly smoking. They do not appear to have any hand in the shopping. The ladies are evidently doing all that, and they are very much in earnest. Not one of them but deigns to carry a parcel. The children are evidently coming in for precious gifts. In one shop window “Father Christmas” himself is busy showing his toys to a numerous audience. He is made up with white flowing locks and beard, and ruddy, though aged, features. His dress is an ermine tippet, scarlet frock trimmed with gold, and top-boots of patent leather,—quite the nursery ideal of his genial majesty. Another store has filled its window with a skating scene. A company of gay dolls are sliding for their very lives. They go through their lively work without any change of expression, and their gyrations never alter; but the spectators change, and the store within is full of bustle. I look around for the poor people we would see in a London group of this character. I seek in vain for the Smikes and Twists who would be feasting their sunken eyes on such a free show in London. I try to find the slipshod women, with infants huddled to their cold bosoms. They are not here. A boy of twelve, with a cigarette in his hand, asks me for a light. Another “guesses” his “papa” will buy “the whole concern” for him if he wants it. No poor people. The Irish are a small community here. How one’s mind goes wandering to the West End of London and to the Strand and Fleet street, to the Seven Dials and to Ratcliffe highway, where (it is five hours later there than here) Christmas eve is being celebrated with such contrasts of fortune and variations of wealth and poverty, of joy and sorrow, as make the heart ache to think upon! Not a single poor-looking person do I note in this long, busy street of Baltimore. Nobody begs from me; and the hawkers on the sidewalk offer me their wares with an air of almost aggressive independence. “Japanese silk, ten cents,” one cries, with a bundle of small handkerchiefs in his hand. “The magic mouse,” says another, vending a mechanical toy. “Now, then, one dime a packet,” is the proposal of a third, offering material for decorating Christmas trees. “Try ’em!” almost commands a fourth, as I pause opposite his stand of peanuts. If you buy nobody thanks you, and if you thank the vendor he is surprised, and will probably stammer out, “You’re welcome.” Yet “this is the Cavalier city,” a friend reminds me, “and aristocratic to the core.”

The fruit-stores are bright with tropical fruits; but not with the roses, carnations, pinks, and smilax creeper, so plentiful in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. I pause to scan the faces of the crowd. It is a popular fiction in England that the women of the South are brunettes. The truth is, the further South you go, the fairer the women, and the more delicate their complexions. On Baltimore street I observe quite a number of ladies with red hair. Many of them are blondes, who might have been natives of Lincolnshire. They are all pretty; some are beautiful; and their charms certainly obtained no fictitious aid from their dress or surroundings. Water-proof cloaks and a muddy street could not help them. Baltimoreans may say I should look for beauty in North Charles street, or Mount Vernon place, if I expect to see it en promenade. But I am not looking for it. I find it in the great, busy, Christmas crowd, tramping through the snow, and buying toys and candies for the children. The “carriage ladies” wear furs, and those everlasting diamond ear-rings, without which expensive ornament few American women appear to consider themselves “real ladies.” New York and Boston modify the fashion in this respect, though you may still see women sitting down to breakfast at hotel restaurants in silks, satins, and diamonds.


WHILE I have been studying Baltimore street darkness has fallen upon it. The gas-lamps and the electric arcs are beginning their nightly competition as I retrace my steps to the Academy of Music. Irving, who arrived in Baltimore at two, after a journey of forty-two hours, has just left the stage, I am told,—“gone to get a little rest.”. . .

“Have you had a rehearsal?”

“Oh, yes!” says Loveday, who is directing the last finishing touches. . . . “Tight work, eh? Got into the town at two—scenery to unpack—some of it is still on the train. But we get through it. . . . Had to do it all ourselves. . . . No help to be had of any kind. It is Christmas, you know, and Christmas comes but once a year, thank goodness! The chief carpenter, who is also the gas-man, has not turned up. Some of the other fellows are ‘Merrie-Christmasing,’ also. Tried to get some additional assistance in the way of labor. Found a few chaps loafing; asked them if they wanted work. . . . Offered them good wages. ‘Oh, no,’ they said; ‘get niggers to do that!’ They were above it. I acted on their advice. The moment it was dark the ‘colored boys,’ as they call themselves, knocked off. Said they never worked after dark. ‘Night is the time to rest and sleep,’ they said. ‘For black men, perhaps,’ I said; ‘but not for white.’ Seemed to me as if they said, ‘You had us for slaves a good many years; it is our turn now.’ Funny, eh? They wouldn’t go on working. However, we shall be all right.”. . .

Two hours later Irving is received with rapturous applause by a comparatively small audience. “More power to them!” he says, “for they have left cosey hearths to drive or tramp through the slush of the first snow of the Baltimore winter.” And the company, all round, never played with more spirit. . . .


IT is the custom in America to open the theatres on Christmas day. The doors of the Baltimore house could not have been opened in more wretched weather. The streets were impassable, except for carriages, or for pedestrians in “Arctic rubbers,” or on stilts. The snow was melting everywhere. Nothing had been done to clear the sidewalks. They were full of treacherous puddles, or equally treacherous snow-drifts. The Turks blow horns at certain periods of the year, to frighten away evil spirits. I know of no explanation for the blowing of horns at Baltimore; but the boys indulge themselves in this exercise to a bewildering extent at Christmas. Carol-singing is evidently not a custom there, nor “waits.” I heard a boy shouting at the top of his voice the refrain of a popular ditty:—

“In the morning, in the morning,
When Gabriel blows his trumpet,
In the morning.”

But I conclude that he had only adapted these modern words to what was evidently an old custom at Baltimore; for he blew his horn vigorously at the end of the refrain, as if competing for supremacy with Gabriel himself.

“You are right; it does not seem like Christmas,” said Irving, as we sat down to supper,—close upon midnight,—a section of that same party which, a year previously, had gathered about the round table in the host’s Beefsteak Club room at the Lyceum Theatre.

“It seems so strange,” said Ellen Terry, “to play on Christmas Day; that, to me, makes the time wholly unlike Christmas. On the other hand, there is the snow, and we shall have an English Christmas pudding,—I brought it from home, and my mother made it.”. . .

When the women and my girls had been escorted to their carriages, and sent home to their hotel, with flowers and bon-bons on their laps, we three men of the little party sat round the fire and talked of old times. Irving had ordered the biggest logs the hotel’s wood-yard afforded to be heaped into the grate. The fire cracked and spluttered and blazed, and had in the lower bars of the grate a solid, steady glow of white ash that was truly English; and I think we each looked into it for a time, busy with our own individual thoughts and reflections. . . .

I said good-night, to have the witchery of the fire-light dispelled by the outer bitterness of the weather, and the lonely, desolate appearance of the city. The streets were now as hard as they had been soft; the pools were ice, the snow adamant; and icicles hung down from the eaves of every house. The roadways glistened in the lamp-light. Not a soul was abroad. It might have been a city of the dead. A strain of Christmas music would have redeemed the situation. Even a London “waits” band at its worst, such as one awakens to with a growl on cold nights at home, would have been a God-send. Not a sound; not a footstep; no distant jangle of car-bells; not even a policeman; only the winter night itself, with a few chilly-looking stars above, and the cold, hard, icy streets below.

Catherine Bates, Baltimore, Mr. Walters, and the B&O, 1886

E. Catherine Bates, A Year in the Great Republic (London: Ward & Downey, 1887), vol. I, pp. 278-281, vol. II, pp. 1-3

Baltimore, just a pleasant, pretty hour’s journey by railway cars from Washington, remains in my memory as one of the brightest and freshest little vignettes in the American sketch book.

It is very hilly, very clean, quite provincial, but very pretty.

The little Mount Vernon Square, at the top of the town, has a fine round tower monument to Washington, some good church buildings, some handsome stone houses, and last, but not least, the excellent Mount Vernon Hotel, which is small and quiet, but more homelike than any we have yet met, whilst the food is really excellent and almost worthy of the exaggerated praise bestowed by “Willard” upon his badly-cooked viands.

Some two miles from the town is Druid’s Hill Park, a fine piece of water, well-wooded park and beautiful views, which looked all the better for the brilliant spring days that marked our short stay in this bright little town.

An American friend here explained to me that the diamonds I had seen so profusely worn by Washington ladies on every possible occasion were real and not paste, as I had imagined.

Seeing nearly every woman in the hotel adorned, even in the morning, with costly diamond earrings, brooches and finger rings, I took it for granted that some enterprising “Faulkner” must have set up his trade here, as with us. It seemed unlikely that women should risk wearing and losing stones of such value. But so it is.

My Baltimore friend says that the first thing an American woman thinks of when her husband “strikes ile” is to buy diamonds.

A lady friend of hers invested £84,000 sterling on diamonds, although the whole family income only amounted to what would be £800 a year with us.

Perhaps they have the same respect as the immortal Mr. Wemmick for “portable property.”

My one unpleasant association with Baltimore lies in the fact that here we met with our only experience of any want of courtesy in the whole of America.

One of the finest private collections of curios is to be found here, and is the property of a rich, but I believe eccentric man owning a handsome house on Mount Vernon Square.

This collection is supposed to be open to the public on Wednesdays; but as it was impossible to include this day in our visit, a gentleman living in Baltimore advised me to write and ask for special permission to see it, on the plea of being a foreigner and unable to make any longer stay.

Now Mr. Walters was of course entirely within his right to refuse such a request, but we thought the answer to a lady’s letter might have been more courteously given than by a curt message, through a black man-servant, delivered at the door of the house. That the incident should have made any mark, however, speaks well, I think, for the general high standard of American courtesy towards women. . . .


The route from Philadelphia viâ Baltimore and Washington to Cincinnati, goes over the Alleghany range of mountains, which are rather disappointing to the tourist, who has naturally been told that “they are the finest in America.”

People who travel over here, putting implicit faith in their “Appleton,” must expect some severe shocks of disappointment.

No bit of scenery or natural curiosity is ever mentioned without some authority being quoted to tell you that “it is one of the most stupendous scenes in nature and well worth a voyage across the Atlantic to witness.”

Harper’s Ferry is decidedly picturesque, the situation being quite equal to many of the inferior Swiss views, and the little town itself has the historical interest of having been the theatre of many engagements during the civil war, especially in connection with the exploits of the notorious “John Brown.”

But the Alleghany mountains as a whole are disappointing after the great flourish of trumpets with which your guide-book prepares you for them.

Possibly we were the less capable of due appreciation from the extreme discomforts attending this first start. Perhaps it was as well to get into training early for what was to prove an almost chronic experience.

Having got through some seven hours of the journey fairly well, we came to a sudden halt at a small wayside village about five p.m., and were then for the first time told that we must remain there indefinitely, as the country was inundated by floods, the water being five feet-deep over the rails farther on.

Now, no faintest hint of such a state of things had been given to us before leaving Baltimore that morning. Yet the railway officials (Baltimore and Ohio line) must have been perfectly aware of it before they allowed our train to start; for a previous train which had left some time before us had been stopped at the same place for many hours already, and this fact would of course be telegraphed to head-quarters.

The utter impossibility of finding any one who both could and would speak the truth was the most trying part of the detention.

The conductor told us such a thing had not happened for seven years and then they were detained for three or four days, a cheering prospect for us, especially as there was no dining car on board; only some lighter refreshments such as tea, bread and butter and eggs were to be had, all of which would certainly shortly give way under the great strain put upon the commissariat.

Most of the men went off to get such tough food as was procurable in the village.

We had some eggs and coffee, and then, resigning ourselves to Fate, took a little walk in the wretched squalid-looking town; afraid to go beyond its limits lest the summons to proceed might arrive during our absence. We need not have been anxious on this score.

Next morning, at seven o’clock, when we ought to have been almost in Cincinnati, I woke to find our car still motionless, in front of the same depressing wayside depôt.*


* [editor’s note—The B&O’s service, however, was at least comparable to that encountered by Bates farther west:

Later experience taught us to look very lightly on some twenty to thirty hours of unpunctuality in the arrival of trains. . . .

On long journeys, tea and coffee were sometimes to be had, not very satisfactory, but better than nothing; sometimes a little cold chicken or tongue and a few eggs; but these provisions were always liable to sudden collapse and at best cannot compare for excellence with the luncheon baskets supplied on our own English lines.

For the rest, you must turn out at the wayside stations, at most inconvenient hours, and be thankful to gobble up whatever tough messes of food happen to be within reach during the very short time allowed for meals.

On these occasions everything is heaped up on one plate, for you are never supplied with a second.

Eggs and bacon, tough mutton or stringy beef, potatoes, tomatoes, Indian corn, and squash pies must be eaten alike, off the one platter, or left alone.

At first you feel you would rather perish than degrade yourself to the level of a pig and its trough, but hunger is a strong argument in the long run.

A traveller will be turned out for a breakfast of this description at nine o’clock in the morning; for another heavy meal of the same kind at twelve-thirty, and again at five or five-thirty p.m. for a third, which you have no inclination to eat after two such predecessors, yet this is your only chance of food till nine o’clock next morning, and that is not a certainty; for a “wash out” may arise at any moment.

(A Year in the Great Republic, vol. II, pp. 4-7)]

Crabs and Crabbing, c. 1890

W. K. Brooks, “Fish and Fisheries,” in Maryland: Its Resources, Industries and Institutions (Baltimore: the Sun Printing Office, 1893), pp. 255-257


During the warm season, or between April and October, crabs are found, in indescribable abundance, in all the bays and sounds, from the Chesapeake Bay southwards, as well as upon the outer ocean beach, and as they are perfectly at home in water fresh enough to drink as well as in that of the sea, they make their way into all the inlets and rivers and creeks of tide-waters.

In many places they are so numerous that there is no market for them, and even in the Chesapeake Bay it is not unusual to see thousands dragged on to the shore and left to die or to make their way back into the water, by fishermen who have shaken them out of their seines and abandoned them. Further south the fishermen in the channels find their work so much obstructed by the crabs that they trample upon them, or crush them with clubs, to keep them from returning to the water to clog their nets again. In hard storms they are sometimes cast up on to the outer beach in windrows which stretch along the sand for miles, and the abundance of crabs is, perhaps, the most notable characteristic of our coast.

The simplest way to catch hard crabs is to dip them up from shallow water with a small circular net fastened to an iron ring at the end of a long handle; and when crabs abound on shores which are favorable for wading, in water which is not too muddy, a bushel of them may readily be gathered in this way between tides. . . .

The outfit of the men who make a business of catching crabs for the canning establishments and for the crab pens, is of the rudest description, and few fishermen are able to carry on their work with such a small capital, as all that is needed is a line and bait, a landing net, which may be made by stretching a piece of the ragged end of an old seine over a piece of barrel hoop bent like a lacrosse racquet, and a rude boat, sometimes made like a rough trough, of a few boards nailed together, but more usually dug out of a log. . . .

Pieces of bait are tied to the short lines, and the long line is stretched along the bottom with a float to mark its position, and a stone or anchor of some sort at each end to keep it in place.

The fisherman in his boat visits the line once or twice a day, and pulling up one end passes it over his boat, and drops it to the bottom again; and then, working his way along to the other end, he catches the crabs with his hand-net as they come to the surface, and drops them into his boat, replacing the bait with a new one, if necessary.

The number of crabs which are captured with this simple outfit is astonishing. A fair day’s work is about a thousand, and a single fisherman sometimes catches as many as three thousand at one time from a single bottom line. . . .

The abundance of the crabs in our waters is well illustrated by the fact that we were told, in 1884, by fishermen in the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay, that they were earning from $1.50 to $2.00 a day catching crabs to sell at one cent a dozen or ten cents a bushel; and these men seldom went to their work before sunrise or fished longer than till noon. In fact, most of them were home for the day at ten in the morning.

Charles Weathers Bump, Havre de Grace and the Susquehanna, 1898

Charles Weathers Bump, Down the Historic Susquehanna (Baltimore: the Sun Printing Office, 1898), pp. 173-174, 176-178

Havre de Grace is such a placid town nowadays that it requires an effort to picture the excitement and terrible incidents which accompanied its burning by the British on the morning of May 3, 1813, more than a year prior to the unsuccessful attack on Baltimore. . . .

In the early sun the town as I viewed it across the river’s mile reminded me strongly of those Canadian villages which seem so quaint to the steamboat traveler on the St. Lawrence. North of the town is a hill marking the termination of the high ridge which closely follows the river on its west side for the last 50 miles of its course. In the flat country at the base of this hill, but set back from the river by a moderate bluff, lies the town, its many houses half hid from the Perryville side by the tops of trees. At its south end is the low point which juts out where the river ends and the bay begins, and which is occupied by a whitewashed lighthouse. . . .

The fisheries of this lower end of the river are by no means to be despised. Each spring for more than a century large quantities of shad and herring have been caught with seines and gillnets and the fish salted and prepared for a wide market. Formerly it was the custom for thrifty farmers for many miles around to come here prepared for a week’s stay in order to lay in a stock of salt fish “against the year.”. . .

For the duck-hunter and the angler Havre de Grace is a gate into Paradise. It has long been famous for canvasback duck, which are shot on the “flats” or marsh lands of the bay and near-by creeks—a sport which has in the last 50 years attracted into this region some of the most noted of America’s public men. In spring and summer rock are plentiful a few miles up stream, and bass still farther up. The trains and the steamboats leaving here for Baltimore often carry anglers with fine “strings.”. . .

On each bank of the river here are large ice-houses. In recent years the ice which has formed has not been thick enough to bear cutting, and these big barnlike structures have stood desolate and forsaken. But in former years a plentiful harvest was often reaped, and the scene on the frozen river was a strange and busy one. One set of men with horses were busy marking out the ice fields and cutting them as deep as was safe. Another set followed them, sawing, plowing, planing; a third set towed the big blocks down a canal purposely cut toward the ice-house, its strip of cold water showing black against the white ice on either side. At the foot of the inclined plane or elevator into the ice-house other men kept the crystal blocks in a procession up the incline, while at the top still other men sorted them, rejecting those which were not good and sending far into the dark interior those which were later destined to bring summer comfort to Baltimoreans.

While some reap fortunes from the river’s ice, others get disaster. In the first spring days, when the ice up the river is splitting and breaking, it is liable to jam and form great gorges in the narrow parts and then suddenly release the waters dammed by it so as to cause vast floods to sweep down upon the towns of Havre de Grace and Port Deposit. Every few years this occurs, leaving disaster and incalculable damage in its wake.

In many homes in this region there are pictures representing the famous ice railroad across the river at this point. There was no bridge here then, and the scheme of travel included a transfer from Havre de Grace to Perryville by a steamboat. An ice gorge in the winter of 1851-2 so completely blocked navigation that the company laid tracks upon the ice, and from January 15 to February 24 passed over them 10,000 tons of freight, baggage and mails in 1,378 cars. The mode of handling the traffic was by the use of locomotives on either side. By one the car was given a start down an inclined plane from the tracks to the surface of the ice. This start caused the cars to run out on the ice a considerable distance, when they were hauled by horses to the foot of the inclined slope on the opposite shore, where, by means of a locomotive and a cable, they were lifted to the level of the permanent tracks.

In 1857 a similar gorge took place, and it not being deemed safe to have a railroad on the ice, a plank road was laid there, and passengers walked, while the baggage and freight were pulled over by horse. Since 1866 the bridge has been used.

J. Gordon Dorrance, Patapsco and the Art of Being Comfortable, 1919

J. Gordon Dorrance, The State Reserves of Maryland (Baltimore: State Forrester's Office, 1919), pp. 7, 16-20

To the vacationist of average means—and it is with him that we will deal—the questions of how, when and where to take a vacation best adapted to his needs are subjects for annual solution. His needs are various as the place to which his choice may lead, as various as the results which may stamp his vacation as a success or as a failure.

In certain ways the short vacation weeks are the most important of his year: in them such mental kinks and twists as have been snarling up through months of office and routine must be eliminated and straightened out; muscles well softened by disuse must be rebuilt by exercise and unaccustomed “stunts” to which the man has grown a stranger; the color of the city is to be replaced by the reds and browns and blistered tans which intimate association with the fields and forests, the streams and swamps and open roads will brand on its habitués. The vacation is not alone a let-down from the usual. To be of greatest good it must entail a change, and a complete one. . . .


Through enactment of the Legislature of 1912, the Patapsco Reserve was created and soon began to be acquired. . . . Trails were constructed, fire-lines laid out, and a small amount of forest planting done on non-wooded portions of the various properties . . . as the importance of keeping them in forest to protect the stream, or to return to forest those which had been stripped and were deteriorating through soil erosion, became evident. . . .

Individuals, by scores, have already proved the Patapsco much to their liking. Community camps of families brought together by residential, religious, or social ties afford good opportunity for profitable association in a way that makes finer and better friends. Where cleared ground lies near their camp sites there is no objection to the vegetable gardens of those who summer there. In fact, there is every disposition to encourage the deeper, broader application of “rusticating” and vacation camping practice.

Frequent train service on the old Main Line of the Baltimore and Ohio places all parts of the Reserve within 20 or 30 minutes’ ride of Baltimore city on a few cents’ fare. Washington is not too far away for the use of the Reserve, and Frederick has direct connections. It would appear that this were enough—easy accessibility, low carfares, free sites, exceptional scenery, healthful locations. It seems that it has some advantages compared with places far removed, where modern rates prevail. Many families only meet at week-ends. Patapsco Park is a place for all the family, all the summer. Days in town, and nights at the Park, are the portion of the tired business man. . . .


How to be well fed is not of less importance camping out than when at home. Indeed, it is of more, since in the camp life eating is a feature and cooking is a different science.

On all of the reserves the larder may quite easily be reinforced by purchases from nearby farms and towns, but where the camper wishes to assert his independence of the city when he leaves it, in all things, but most of all his table, we cannot do better than advise his provisioning his camp according to the excellent advice contained in numerous books for campers by those who know.

Questions of housing and clothing must always largely depend upon the requirements of individuals, the seasons, length of stay, distance from base or outfitters, with other and various conditions. Much must be left to the judgment and tastes of the camper, but that he may not overlook certain items convenient in his daily life brief reference to some necessities is here made.

The problem of housing may be solved by a canvas lean-to, a rough board shack, or a tent. The first is cheaply and simply constructed—an “open-face”—and will often answer as well as another the requirements of men and boys for a few days’ bivouac. For “hiking” and stops of a few days or a week or two the canvas tent, in many sizes, shapes and prices is undoubtedly the best that offers. The latter runs from $15 to $18, for a tent seven or eight feet square, to the larger wall, apartment tents, costing as much as you choose to pay, yet no more essential to a pleasant trip than the kind you pack on your back and can just get into. Next to the tent, of course, comes what goes in it, your furniture, bedding and clothing. Camp furniture may consist of a blanket rolled on the ground or it may admit of a very complete outfitting which allows of some ingenuity on the part of the sojourner. Not always the best camp furniture is purchased; much may be made on the spot.

People frequently prefer to have a cot, and these may usually be bought for from $4.50 upward; blankets, $7.50 and upward a pair. Pine needles and a pillow-case should suffice for the camper’s head-rest, and their odor is a balm which cities know not. For the tent a tarpaulin should be provided or a large and serviceable rubber coat. Useful by day, it performs a good service at night, especially when the camper’s bed is on the ground.

Lighting and heating of the camp are not to be ignored by those who would be comfortable, and may be provided in a variety of ways. Stoves of small size may be secured at almost any price, and cooking may be done with oil or wood; also the camp may be lighted with lamps, electric and acetylene, candles or torches. But the camper who will draw the maximum of benefits from his tented fireside will use neither. Modern improvements may from time to time be improvised and offered to the public, yet with them all the old wood campfire will remain, smoky of flame, uncertain of heat, but none the less so typical of the atmosphere of camping. Aids to its further enjoyment are the sunken fireplace of brick or stone or tile, with an iron grating for the cooking dishes. . . .

In field cooking outfits there is nothing superior to those of aluminum, especially the “nests” of dishes which telescope and represent the minimum of bulk and weight. These cost for two about $15, for four $25. They are pleasant to use, easy to clean, long lasting in service. Such sets contain practically everything the average camper wants in dishes.

The subject of the camper’s clothing is important. For long trips to remote places it should not always be worn-out articles, which give uncertain, at time embarrassing, service and often very little satisfaction. But for camping on the State’s reserves, where temperate conditions of climate prevail, clothing which has seen service elsewhere and is no longer fit for use in town may with propriety be brought along and used. Heavy boots or shoes and sweater coats are quite important, and in the matter of the lighter articles those made of wool are best for all conditions. Swimming suits should be included, as all the parks provide an opportunity of using them.

In addition to these major articles of camp equipment are also many small ones which have a more or less important place to fill, “trifles,” perhaps, yet not the ones we care to leave behind. An axe and a hatchet should both be brought, a pocket compass, hunting knife, matches in waterproof box, fishing tackle suitable for black bass, catfish, eels, mullets and carp. A few home remedies for simple affections will also be advisedly included. Although insects are nowhere a serious menace, some “flydope” which is strong of scent should also be procured. All of this may be packed in a rough box with hinged top and rope handles at the ends, or in a pack basket or canvas ruck-sack. And in packing up, a little better-than-ordinary allowance of pipe tobacco should not be overlooked.

Camp cooking is not exactly like unto that of mother and the old home range. Tried recipes may oftentimes be used, nevertheless, or very wisely, those found in any standard cook book of the woods.

With these suggestions in mind and proper preparation, nothing lacks for the success of a vacation spent on the slopes of the Patapsco River or in the mountain forests of Garrett County, Maryland. Permits are free and those who can are recommended to take advantage of them.