Slave to Soldier…and Back to Slave


From Mink:

Previous posts highlighted a couple of the Fredericksburg area’s soldiers who served in the 23rd United States Colored States Troops (USCT). Their military and pension files provide us with information about these former slaves that we may never have discovered otherwise. In their own words, and those of others who knew them, we learn a little about their lives as slaves, their route to freedom, and their fight to maintain freedom.

Andrew Weaver, a slave of J. Horace Lacy in Stafford County, escaped in the summer of 1862, enlisted in the 23rd USCT in 1864 and served through the war. Abraham Tuckson, a slave of Dr. John Taylor in Spotsylvania County, also escaped slavery in the summer of 1862, enlisted in the same regiment, but fell killed at the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. A third former local slave, Peter Churchwell, suffered a different fate at that same battle. A slave of Reuben Lindsay Gordon of Orange County, Peter escaped to freedom, enlisted in the 23rd USCT, but was captured at the Crater. In his pension file, he relates how his former owner found him in Confederate hands, claimed him and sold him back into slavery.

“I am about 74 years of age; my post-office address is 1808, 24 St. N.W. this city. Shoemaker. I was born + raised in Albermarle Co. Va. near Gordonsville. My father was William + my mother was Dicey Churchwell – dead. I was a slave of Reuben Gordon. I was married when a slave to Maria Grey, she died before the war. No children living by this marriage. I also married Julia Weaver, a year or so after the war, in this city, got a license, + I was married by Rev. Sandy Alexander Pastor Little Baptist Church Geotown D.C. She died about ten years ago in this city. No children by her. I have never married since – I have no children now living by any wife. I got acquainted with Julia Weaver at Fredericksburg Va. before the war. She was at that time the wife of Tom Weaver, + she had a son Andrew Weaver whom I knew when a boy, and he enlisted in same company + regiment and at the same time and place. During the war, Julia Weavers husband died, and she came to Wash D.C. and after my return from the army, I again met and married her. I came to Washington D.C. in August 1862 and I was a coachman for Mrs. Barber, in Geotown D.C. + I worked for her about 2 years. She was the widow of Jno. Barber – dead. I then enlisted in July 1864, at Capt. Sheets Office in Co. H 23d Reg. USCT. I gave the officer at that time the name Peter Churchwell which is my right name and I always answered roll call by that name + was so called by my comrades and I was discharged from the service by that name. They then saw how high I was – I am now 5 ft. 3 in. high (OK AWR) I was next examined by the Doctors. I got a uniform + was sent to Camp Casey Va. + was there about 30 days. My Capt. Fessenden, Burrell Mitchell Robert Green and Andrew Weaver are the only comrades that I can now remember. After we left Camp Casey Va we took boat for City Point Va, then up James River + marched towards Petersburg Va. + was at Bermuda Hundred when we had a fight + we next  had the fight at Petersburg Va. July 64 and in the charge on Continue reading

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Kenmore’s last soldier–and one of the last reburials in the National Cemetery


In 1864, Union burial crews interred at least 103 Union dead on the grounds of Kenmore, the elegant plantation home of Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis–George Washington’s sister. By then, Kenmore amounted only to a handful of acres, and exactly where on the grounds the dead were buried is not entirely clear. But, research by Noel Harrison (we’ll post on this in the future) has confirmed that the famous series of images taken of Fredericksburg burials in May 1864 was taken only a few hundred feet from Kenmore’s back door. It is highly likely that the graves in that series of images (one of which is below) constitute some of the dead recorded to have been buried at Kenmore. 

Donald Pfanz, who has written a book on the creation of the National Cemetery, learned of one more soldier from Kenmore, discovered in 1929.  What follows is derived from his upcoming book:

These May 1864 burials along what is today Winchester Street likely included the 102 men recorded as having been disinterred from Kenmore after the war.

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Sketching and Mapping Lincoln’s 1863 Reviews, pt.2: Could Different Theories Each be Right? (Plus, Additional Mysteries)


From Noel Harrison: This blog recently posted
two contemporary depictions of Abraham Lincoln’s Grand Review of
part of the Army of the Potomac on April 8, 1863: a panoramic
sketch by Harpers Weekly special artist Alfred
R. Waud and a map by an unidentified cartographer. These are among
the many new records appearing over the past year or two in the
Library of Congress’ online collections. Here again are
the map and sketch: Each is an extraordinary
document of the April 8 reviewing but is baffling for its apparent
incompatibility with the other, as I described in that earlier
blog-post. And since the time of that post, additional, related
mysteries have suggested themselves. Although the 8th was but one
of four days in April 1863 that saw Lincoln review troops
assembled in complete corps for inspection—at various locations in
Stafford County—it was the only day that saw him review more than
two corps. He reviewed the Second, the Third, the Fifth, and
the Sixth (as well as the army’s artillery reserve). Yet the
editors at Harper’s did not select Waud’s
panoramic sketch of April 8 for conversion to a woodcut.
Instead of focusing on that day’s blockbuster event and Waud’s
breathtaking depiction of it, Harper’s
pictorial reporting on the April review—published in its issue of
May 2, 1863—consisted of two woodcuts based on Waud’s sketches of
smaller spectacles that occurred on other days: the Cavalry Corps
passing in review before the President on April 6 (sketch at top in
John Hennessy’s post here),
and Lincoln and others watching the First Corps pass on April 9
(below):

Reviewing the First Corps on April 9, 1863.
First Corps commander John Reynolds probably bearded figure in
front at far left; next Second Corps commander Darius Couch, with
cigar; then Third Corps commander Daniel Sickles on opposite side
of Lincoln; and then a headless Joseph Hooker. Library of
Congress.

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