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century. But they now lay scattered upon the floor around the steps, and in the door yard, to the depth of fifteen inches or more. It is impossible to esti
Warwick Court-House, near Youngs' Mills, Virginia. mate the inconvenience and loss which will follow this wholesale destruction of deeds, claims, mortgages, &c.
The jail, across the way from the Court House, where many a poor fugitive had doubtless languished in chains for striking out for freedom, was converted into a guard-house. Peeping through the iron grates of the windows, were to be seen the bilious countenances of several culprits, who, may be, were atoning for having invaded a hen roost or bagged an unsuspecting pig.
Colonel Taylor's men took up position on a
PREPARING COMFORTABLE QUARTERS. 225 woody crest, and immediately commenced felling trees, pitching tents, building camp fires, and making themselves comfortable generally. The constant ringing of numerous axes and crashing of falling trees all around us, recalled memories of other days, and it was difficult to realize that we were not in a western log clearing. Indeed, the army of “invaders” have accomplished for Virginia what her indolent population have failed to do, cleared up the woodlands, and let the sunlight into many a hitherto cheerless and unhealthy spot.
The boys, as if prescient of coming delay and ease, soon began to construct elaborate log huts, which afforded a much more comfortable shelter than the thin, airy tents. Foraging parties scoured the surrounding country daily, and returned at night loaded down with eatables of every description. What confederate money (of which we had an abundance) would not buy, was “confiscated.” These expeditions were greatly enjoyed by those participating in them. Roving through woods and fields, from one farm house to another, they made numerous acquaintances, and learned everything of interest pertaining to the locality.
On one occasion a party halted at an obscure hovel for a drink of water. On entering we found the only occupant to be a superannuated negress, who, as she expressed it, having become “ too old a critter to do nothing, had been turned out here to die."
Further conversation disclosed the fact that she had belonged to James Ashby, a brother of the 226
THE ASHBY FAMILY.
deceased famous General of that name. She related much that was of interest concerning the Ashby family. There were three brothers of them-James, Turner and Richard (commonly known as Dick)raised in the vicinity of Front Royal, and all now in their graves. James, who was her master, moved to this vicinity when a young man, acquired a large estate, and died February, 1861. Turner, the General, who, when a young man, was admired by every one for his manly bearing, and in later years for his chivalric deeds, was killed at the battle of CrossKeys. Dick, the remaining and youngest brother, was shot in a skirmish, just prior to the last battle of Bull Run.
After the death of her master, the younger slaves were sent South and sold. “Though I hab raised,” she said, “nineteen children to manhood (eleven sons among the number), all of whom hab been torn away from me, and hab worked hard all my life for massa, his heirs wouldn't let me stay in the house, but sent me here, with a little hog and hominy, to die alone.” Three times she had herself hoed the little patch of corn in front of the hut, and gathered and husked it. On our inquiring if she was “Union," she replied, “I'se partial to Yankees, but some of dem is mighty rogues. Dem ar low class people among dem steal all my things. Two came along last week and showed me twenty-five cents for some hoe-cake, which I gib dem, and bless you child, when dey come to pay, felt in all de pockets and couldn't find de money; but, God bless you chilren, dey
AUNT SOPHIE'S TRIALS.
knew all de time where it was. But.de Southrons are just as bad.”
She recounted, with tears in her eyes, the manner in which her youngest son was dragged away. He had been sick for some time, but when word came that the Union forces were advancing, they tied his legs, and placing him in a cart, drove off towards Richmond; but he never reached there, having died in the streets of Olean. We left “Aunt Sophie,” more convinced than ever that the cruelties and wrongs which grow out of slavery have not been overdrawn.
COMPLETION OF THE RAILROAD,
- CHAPTER XXV.
Completion of the Potomac Creek Bridge.-An interesting relic
of Virginia Aristocracy.-General Burnside determines to cross the river.-March of the Sixth Corps.--White-Oak Church.
DURING the first few days the rations were drawn from Acquia Landing with teams, but heavy rains coming on, the wheeling became terrible. · Pioneers were accordingly set to work building corduroy roads, and in a week's time constructed seven miles of them.
On the 28th the bridge over the Potomac Creek, ninety feet in length, was completed, and the cars immediately commenced running, bringing up plenty of supplies of every description. This structure, in addition to numerous other works, had been destroyed during the preceding August, when General Burnside abandoned the region. They had now all to be rebuilt.
The time passed here much in the same manner ·as in Maryland, the Regiment being employed on picket duty, slashing timber, &c., &c. Occasionally the officers rode over to the front, and viewed General Headquarters, Fredericksburg, and the river scenery, which is very attractive. Our own and the rebel pickets were scattered along the banks of the Rappahannock, almost within speak