Saturday, September 3, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Thursday, June 18, 1863

At 10 A.M. I called by appointment on Mr Sedden, the Secretary at War. His anteroom was crowded with applicants for an interview, and I had no slight difficulty in getting in. Mr Sedden is a cadaverous but clever-looking man; he received me with great kindness, and immediately furnished me with letters of introduction for Generals Lee and Longstreet.

My friend Major Norris then took me to the President's office and introduced me to the aides-de-camp of the President — viz., Colonels Wood, Lee, and Johnston. The two latter are sons to General Lee and General Albert Sidney Johnston, who was killed at Shiloh.

Major Norris then took me to the capitol, and introduced me to Mr Thompson the librarian, and to Mr Meyers, who is now supposed to look after British interests since the abrupt departure of Mr Moore, the Consul. I was told that Mr Moore had always been considered a good friend to the Southern cause, and had got into the mess which caused his removal entirely by his want of tact and discretion. There is a fine view from the top of the capitol; the librarian told me that last year the fighting before Richmond could easily be seen from thence, and that many ladies used to go up for that purpose. Every one said, that notwithstanding the imminence of the danger, the population of Richmond continued their daily avocations, and that no alarm was felt as to the result.

The interior of the capitol is decorated with numerous flags captured from the enemy. They are very gorgeous, all silk and gold, and form a great contrast to the little bunting battle flags of the Confederates. Amongst them I saw two colours which had belonged to the same regiment, the 37th New York (I think). These were captured in different battles; and on the last that was taken there is actually inscribed as a victory the word Fairoaks, which was the engagement in which the regiment had lost its first colour.

Mr Butler King, a member of Congress, whose acquaintance I had made in the Spottswood Hotel, took me to spend the evening at Mrs S——’s, a charming widow, for whom I had brought a letter from her only son, aide-de-camp to General Magruder, in Texas.

Mrs S—— is clever and agreeable. She is a highly patriotic Southerner; but she told me that she had stuck fast to the Union until Lincoln's proclamation calling out 75,000 men to coerce the South, which converted her and such a number of others into strong Secessionists. I spent a very pleasant evening with Mrs S——, who had been much in England, and had made a large acquaintance there.

Mr Butler King is a Georgian gentleman, also very agreeable and well informed. It is surprising to hear the extraordinary equanimity with which he and hundreds of fellow-sufferers talk of their entire ruin and the total destruction of their property. I know many persons in England suppose that Great Britain has now made enemies both of the North and South; but I do not believe this is the case with respect to the South, whatever certain Richmond papers may say. The South looks to England for everything when this war is over; — she wants our merchants to buy her cotton, she wants our ships to carry it;—she is willing that England should supply her with all the necessaries which she formerly received from the North. It is common to hear people declare they would rather pay twice the price for English goods than trade any more with Yankeedom.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 218-21

No comments: