Volume 3: 8 May to 20 May 1865

Entries appended to Letter Book of Cyrus Marion Roberts

May 8th  The 17th Army Corps moves across the Appomattox river – and camp about 3 miles North of the City.  In marching thro’ the City we are reviewed by Gen’l Howard and Hartsull [?].  Our H”d Qr”s march out about 9 miles and Camp.  Gen”l Blair goes to Washington D.C., Gen”l Leggett takes command of the 17″ Corps.

Before leaving Petersburg – I visited the fortifications East & S. East of the City – and in the vicinity of Forts “Hell” and Damnation   the works were immense in strength – intricacy & c.  and the lines were very close to each other – in many places less than 100 yards.

May 9th  Reached Richmond, Va. but camped in the vicinity of Manchester on the South side of the James river – our H”d Qr”s are placed in Chesterfield Park a pretty place   Mr. Murfree’s wife (“Kate”) entertained us in the evening by singing “Sherman’s March to the Sea” and related a few of the incidents and privations of the people in Rebeldom, during the past four years.

May 10th  Visited Richmond on an errand after Mail &c. &c. – find it to be quite a City and filled with soldiers both union and rebel, the latter paroled, but wearing their uniform.  The business part of the City is in ruins – many stores are open, however and considerable business engaged in – especially with Sutlers.

May 11th Visited Richmond again – today called on my (Sutlers) friends Tip – Corner and James C. Morrison – of the latter borrowed $25. and he accompanied Lieuts’ Stewart, Town & myself to Hollywood Cemeterywhere we saw a beautiful grave yard.  James Monroe’s Tomb – also the grave of the rebel Gen”l Stewart marked neatly with a board – painted and lettered – returning passed Gen”l Lee’s residence – also Jeff Davis’ Mansion – State House – Custom House Libby Prison – Castle Thunder and from the Cemetery saw Belle Island – where the rebels guarded Union Prisoners.

May 12th  Raining early in A.M.  started on our March to Alexandria at 4 A.M.  but could not go more than about 8 miles on account of the 20th A.C. being in front of us on the same road.

Saw very heavy fortifications on the North as well as on the South of the City – Country beautiful tho’ devastated by War and its consequences.  camped in the vicinity of Chickahominy creek.

May 13th  Marched by Hanover C. H. – saw and was in the building – which was built in 1835 – and . . . [?] the home of Patrick Henry – and the place of his first efforts as a Lawyer – his father the Judge.  Crossed the Pamunkey river and camped 3 miles beyond – Weather warm.

May 14th Passed thro’ good country to=day.  weather warm – camped near a place formerly called Goldenville – but one house is left standing.  We camped in the front yard of a country residence – the owner being a bachelor, but having a slave (to all appearances a white-woman) as his paramour or concubine and she having several white children who were to be seen playing around the premises – one (a baby) being nursed by a black woman – and house servant.

May 15th  Weather warm – marched at 5 A.M.  Marched to Massaponax church – and camped within 8 miles of Fredericksburg and 5 miles of Spotsylvania C. House.

May 16th  Weather Hot.  moved at 5 A.M.  Gen”l Leggett and part of his Staff – wishing to visit the battle ground of Spotsylvania C. H. leave the marching column for that purpose.  we discovered marks of skirmishing one mile from our camp – and passed many & heavy works before arriving at the C.H.  when there the old Gentleman keeping the house of entertainment (before the war) got on a horse and rode out 1 1/2 miles to show us the position of our forces during the heavy engagements.  Arriving near the spot we saw the timber cut and mangled by the missiles of warfare – so that not a whole tree was visible and the majority of them were cut off to stubs of from 3 feet in height, up.  Graves were here visible where the men were not totally covered – and bones would protrude – often a head with gaping jaws, feet hands & c. – passing thro’ a strip of timber some of the party counted 67 unburied Union soldiers or their skeletons – we did not see how many there were of this kind as it was not our object – suffice it to say there are hundreds of skeletons who have never been buried and lie as they fell dead in battle more than one year ago.  One oak tree 20 1/2 inches through was entirely cut in two by minie balls alone  the tree was stationed about 12 feet in rear of the rebel parapet and upon higher ground than the vicinity – consequently very conspicuous.  it was also in a salient angle – and in the works that Gen”l Bushrod Johnson and his Division were taken prisoners.  I saw where there had been a ditch, perhaps a rifle = pit, and where hundreds of dead were thrown in promiscuously – and covered up the direction and length could be traced by clumps of earth and uneven ground.  One end of the ditch extended into a field now ploughed and planted in corn – which has just sprouted up.  Skeletons of unburied soldiers were found lying close by – entirely uncared for.

Camp tonight 10 miles North of Fredericksburg – crossing the Rappahanock river on a Pontoon bridge.  this City is much affected by the war.  Several battles have been fought in & around it – and nearly every house is perforated by shell or other artillery missiles.  The City is garrisoned by one small Brigade of troops – no business doing – besides that of the Army Sutler.  Marching thro’ the city we met Gen”l Sherman out riding and to my party of 4 officers and orderlies he raised his hat – saluted & smiled most pleasantly.

May 17th  The route today is by means of by=roads – very crooked &  hard to keep direction.  Camped on a ridge – from which we could see the Blue Ridge & Alleghany Mts – Manassa Gap – Briston Station – and the ground in vicinity of Bull run Battle grounds – also the village of Brentsville.  The view was grand.  Weather very hot and dozens of men gave out to=day.

May 18th  Did not march so far as yesterday   crossed the Occoquan creek or river and camped 3 1/2 miles North.  Weather hot – rain during the evening  H”d Qr”s 1 mile from Fairfax Station.

May 19th  Moved near Alexandria Va – our H”d Q”rs within 3 miles of the river & City.  Visited the place in the evening.

May 20th  Went to Alexandria and took ferry boat for Washington City – and from thence by street car – the Paymasters Office, opposite the Treasury Dep”t  Did not get thro’ till after 5 P.M. then the Banks were closed – stopped at the Metropolitan Hotel.  Took ice cream, strawberries, cake & c. at a Saloon with Brvt Maj. Gen”l M.D. Leggett – and a former member of my Co. Willm Heller.