Description of Virginia Sketches


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 6, 1861

The April 6, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a portrait and biography of William H. Seward, secretary of state for President Lincoln.  it also featured interesting pictures and articles about Ft. Pickens, and other Civil War news of the day. Newspaper thumbnails will take you to a large readable versions of the page.


Secretary Seward

Secretary William H. Seward

1860 Census With Slaves

The Wyandotte

The Wyandotte

Ft. Pickens

Union Flag Flying over Ft. Pickens

April War News

Virginia Sketches


Scenes in Virginia

State Seals






[APRIL 6, 1861.



ONE of our artists has just returned from a sketching tour through Virginia, and has furnished us with the pretty collection of pictures published on the two preceding pages. Most of the scenes are familiar, at least by name, to all our readers.

Beginning from the westward, FORT WASHINGTON is situated on the northern, or Maryland side of the Potomac River, about fourteen miles below Washington City. It is garrisoned at present by a company of United States Rifles. The sketch is taken looking up the river. It is not by any means impregnable, being almost defenseless on the land side, but, from its elevation, it would be difficult to take by assault from the water front.

RICMOND ARMORY, at Richmond, Virginia, was originally built for the purpose of making arms for the State of Virginia, and as a barracks for the " Public Guard"—a regularly enlisted body of men paid by the State, whose duty it is to guard the public property, quell insurrection, or perform any needed military service in the State. The manufacture of arms here had ceased some time ago, until it was recently determined, in view of the sectional disturbances, to recommence operations, which are being prosecuted at present on so extended a scale that the Guard is to be removed to other quarters, and the whole building used for military mechanical purposes. In the quadrangle are several fine brass guns and mortars presented to the State by the French Government. The sketch is taken from Gamble's Hill, and overlooks the Valley of James River, showing the Southern Railroad, on Petersburg Bridge.

CRANEY ISLAND is at the mouth of the Elizabeth River. The Americans erected fortifications there in 1812, which commanded the entrance to Norfolk harbor. On the 22d June, 1813, a powerful British fleet made an attack upon these works. A part of the hostile force landed on Nansemond Point, and a part attempted to reach the island in barges. The former were driven off by the Virginia militia, and the latter were so galled by the guns of a battery that those who were not destroyed retreated to the ships. The repulse was decisive. More than two hundred of the enemy were killed and wounded. Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Gosport were saved.

FORT NORFOLK stands a mile or so below that city. It is not of much use as a fortification, not being pierced. Barbette guns, however, can be used; but at present no guns are mounted at all. Used as a magazine.

FORT CALHOUN, or THE RIP RAPS, SO called from being built on a made island of sunken stones —i. e. Rip Raps—is situated in Hampton Roads, opposite Fortress Monroe, the ship channel lying between them. The stones of this fort were piled upon one another (without, mortar in some places) until the foundation settled, when the regular building was commenced. It is only carried up one tier, and the work has been stopped since political troubles began. The material is James River granite.

THE UNITED STATES SHIPS OF WAR "PENNSYLVANIA," " COLUMBIA," " RARITAN," and "UNITED STATES"—the latter the only one of any historical interest — lie at the Norfolk, or, more properly, the Portsmouth Navy-yard. The first-named is used as a receiving-ship. The others are dismantled and weather-stained, the United States being a mere hulk..

THE STEAM FRIGATE "MERRIMAC" is moored to the wharf at the Norfolk Navy-yard, spars all down, deck housed over, presenting a very rusty appearance altogether.

The centre vignette, the arms of the State of Virginia, deserves some notice, as it is the most effective, artistically considered, in the whole blazonry of the States. The Constitution of the State prescribed that there should be an armed female figure of Virtus, or Courage, trampling the prostrate figure of a man, with a broken crown and fetters lying near, and the motto " Sic Semper Tyrannis"—`` Thus always with Tyrants."


BESSIE ELMORE was my cousin. She is my cousin now, but she is not Bessie Elmore, though she is the same Bessie.

Bessie was not a "flirt"—at least not a wicked nor a heartless one ; but certain it is, that, until she was subjugated, she had always a captive in her train.

Let no one suppose that she was a gentle, sentimental, long-ringleted fair one. Gentle she was not, nor is now, unless the winds and waves of foreign lands have strangely changed her, though none could fulfill the tender ministrations of woman with a softer grace.

She spent a summer with me a year or two after her mother died, and long talks we had—of things in heaven and things on earth; for there was no-thing into which we did not dabble.

Love and marriage came in for a share of attention ; and Bessie's indignation grew hot and high as we discussed the married life of many of our acquaintance, which exemplified what she called the popular ideas of marriage. "A man expects his wife to fulfill all the duties of a housekeeper, and often of a cook and seamstress; to yield to all his lightest wishes with sweet attractive grace ;' to smile upon him whenever he comes into her presence, however weary or ill she may be; never to put forth her own wishes ; and above all, never to be intrusted with a family purse, but meekly to ask for ' sixpence to buy me an apron!'" At this point of illustration Bessie's holy wrath rose past fever heat, and was only expressed by fierce " snorts" and tossings of her round shoulders, which took the place of words to those who knew her.

One day in August my brother Joe came in, having been "down street," in village parlance, and of course being " posted" on all matters.

"Bessie," said be, "one of your beaux has fol

lowed you here—Mr. Browning, Harry Browning. I just left him ; he came in town last night—' has business in this section of country,' he says ; but lawyers have business in all sections, I think."

Bessie turned to me : " Now is your time, Anne; I've always told you he was your man; it is all coming right."

" Well done, Queen Bess !" said Joe ; " you speak as if he were yours to give—one of your subjects. You are a genuine specimen—the 'real' coquette."

"Ah, Joe, you should not give me more than my share of sins. I'm innocent here. He is one of your solemn chaps. I've always told Anne she could have him. He doesn't take kindly to such butterflies as I; the strong-minded female is his ideal ;" and she made a low bow at my feet.

" Settle it between yourselves, girls, and don't come to blows. He told me he should call this afternoon ;" and Joe went out. He opened the door, put in his head—" Don't be too much set up, young ladies, it was only because I urged him !" and he made his final exit, a stream of exclamations, questions, and laughter following him through the hall.

The afternoon brought with it Mr. Henry Browning, and also a discovery. After the introductions were accomplished, and we, comfortably arranged, were launched upon the social sea, I missed Bessie. Where was she? She had a peculiar charm of conversation, by which she could make herself, if she chose, equally agreeable to old and young, and was always to be relied on in chance calls. Had she gone out of the room ? No. She sat close by, listening with perfectly well-bred attention to our discourse. Whenever Mr. Browning addressed himself to her, she responded just as any nice, pleasant young lady would do, but not at all like my Cousin Bessie. The truth flashed upon me with such quickness that I, meek innocent, blushed like any rose while Mr. Browning was making some very unimpressive remark about elm-trees, and seemed a little surprised at my susceptibility.

I regained myself with as little delay as possible, and answered him. Meantime, I thought of what might and might not be.

It was discovered by my father that Mr. Browning had a great eye for farming, and by my mother that he was a zealous politician ; and thus, between them, he had a general invitation to our house at all times and seasons, of which he availed himself. Agreeable at first, he continued to improve upon acquaintance. He did sometimes have a very solemn air. Bessie used to say he was then sitting in judgment upon our follies.

Meanwhile the long August days, filled each with sunshine and dying in purple mist, melted into each other and passed away. Many of their hours were spent with Mr. Browning. He was a college friend of Arthur Elmore, Bessie's brother, and almost every vacation had brought him home with Arthur for a day or two ; so they were old acquaintance. I knew many of Bessie's admirers : they were still her fast friends. We always spoke of them by brief titles (" Will," " " Lewis," " Buel," etc.) ; but never, through all my knowledge of her, had she spoken of this acquaintance otherwise than " Mr. Browning." Her manner to him was pleasantly cordial—precisely what it would have been to any friend and contemporary of her father's, except that it lacked the reverence which superior age would have received from her. For if his opinions differed from hers, or ever approached, as she thought, toward the verge of meanness of any sort, or displayed a false taste, the crust of reserve was broken through, and her indignation revealed itself in varied wit, ridicule, and irony.

But when he revealed a lofty manliness, keen intellect, or any deep feeling, Bessie sat calmly listening, her eyes industriously bent upon her needle-work, with which she always fortified her-self; and sometimes she slightly averted her face, as if she distrusted her self-control. In a word, while in his presence she completely transformed herself, and was, to all intents and purposes, an-other person, and not my ardent, great-hearted Bessie. I was thoroughly vexed with her. But remonstrance would have been useless, if I had possessed the daring to attempt it. For, open as the day about every thing else, and peculiarly at-tractive to those she loved and trusted in her unreserved and thrilling revelations of herself, on this subject I could easier have scaled the Andes than have uttered a word. Indeed she so perfectly assumed that there was no " subject ;" she talked of him, when absent, so precisely as if he were a middle-aged friend of her father's, that I was often completely baffled; but then the next interview confirmed me in my first opinion.

I passed many unhappy hours that summer in thinking of her. For, notwithstanding her gayly-careless air whenever he was talked of or present, there were times, and they increased in number and in anguish, when she was very wretched. She used often to sit at the end of the piano, while I, in the long summer twilight, would play, at her decree, some of those bits of Beethoven which have in their deep chords and mazy wanderings such strong, passionate life and longing, and for the heart disquieted and aching such arrows of sympathy and despair; and when I had ended, her face showed not a gleam of light, and she often left me and was seen no more till morning.

I had closely watched Browning from the beginning, and was at length convinced, much against my will, that he did not love her, though I was sure she interested him, but merely because he was a student of human nature. When I was reluctantly obliged to confess to myself that she was indifferent to him I felt equally crushed and hope-less, as if I had glanced at the veritable book of fate. Indeed, I began to wish that Mr. Browning's business, whatever it was, might be speedily accomplished. My woman's heart was sorely grieved for Bessie, and my fancy began to be filled with visions of a trip to Niagara, Newport, Nahant —any where to cheat the dear one from herself. And yet I knew that she was one of the very few who would never be thus cheated.

About half a mile behind our house was an old saw-mill. It stood in a wild glen, and the little mill-pond behind it, edged with tall trees and shrubs of various kinds, which made a green mosaic on its placid face, was our favorite re-sort. It was in the early September that, by mutual though hardly spoken consent, we found ourselves in our accustomed seat. Bessie was in one of her bitter despairing moods. An uncle of mine, who had been for long years a missionary in a distant country, had left us that morning. He was on a brief visit to the land of his youth, to get fresh vigor for himself and new teachers for his work. We had been speaking of him. " He can not but be happy," said Bessie, " whatever he may lack, for he knows he is constantly creating happiness. But what kind of a life do I lead ? Who is the better for it? Oh, I'm sick of myself!" She was silent for a moment, and then turned to me with a sad smile : " It wouldn't be a proper reason for going on a mission though, would it, because one was sick of one's self?" The sorrow deepened in her face, and she went on : " Sometimes I say I've made no growth these years—fool--from a little child that 'felt its life in every limb,' I'm come to have a sorrow grow out of every joy—that's progress, I'm thinking!" She hid her face in her hands, and her sobs shook her. It was the rarest thing in the world for her to weep, and when she did the passion seemed to rend and tear its way like a destroying flood. I sat silent and sad, knowing that I could not console, and that "sair grief maun have its will." I looked up and saw Jane, the servant-girl, approaching.

"Miss Anne, your mother wants you in the house for a little."

" I'll be back soon, Bessie," said I, and ran home. Various causes combined to detain me, and it was full three quarters of an hour before I again came in sight of the mill. And what a spectacle saluted my infallible, philosophizing eyes ! My cousin Bessie, with a face like a dewy rose-bush in bloom at sunrise, both her hands in the manly clasp of Henry Browning !

I stand bewildered. Mr. Browning, whose fine eyes are a little dimmed, turns to me and says:

" My dear friend, let me introduce to you—my dearest friend on earth."

Bessie, suddenly restored to her faculties, with lowly bowing head, says :

" I also introduce mine to you."

I still stand stupefied. My own clear, critical judgment, and the results thereof, are fast drifting down the tide, and my tongue refuses to " utter the thoughts that arise in me."

" But how—why—what," at last, in homely Saxon, " why in the world did you seem so cool and indifferent all the time ? I don't like that in you," said I, waxing warm (Bessie, meanwhile, the transformed, mildly imploring me with het eye) ; " you came to spy out the land, and it is unworthy of you."

Mr. Browning linked one arm into mine, put the other lightly over the shoulder of his Bessie, and we turned homeward.

"My friend Anne," said he, in his deep voice, "Bessie and I have at least one point in common —a wicked pride. Never, through all the days of our acquaintance, have I dreamed that she cared for me. I have lived in steadily-growing sorrow in that belief. Until just now, seeing her in tears, my sympathy stifled my pride, and love spake. That first 'dear Bessie' conquered."

We walked on in silence. As we drew near the house I said, " And shall you go on the mission, Bessie?"

She smiled into his eyes. " Oh yes, I have al-ready started."

I have never recovered that keenness of observation and unfailing judgment for which I was previously so remarkable. I am afraid I never shall.

And years of wedded life have not shaken Bessie's love and faith in Mr. Henry Browning, but rather have added thereto.




THOUGH I was a few minutes late for dinner, Miss Herbert did not chide me for delay. She was charming in her reception of me ; nor was the fascination diminished to me by feeling with what generous warmth she had defended and upheld me.

Miss Herbert heard with joy that I had al-ready secured a passage for Constantinople, and declared that she could not dismiss from her mind the impression that I was destined to aid their return to happiness and prosperity. I liked the notion, too, of there being a fate in our first meeting—a fate in that acquaintance-ship with the Croftons, which gave the occasion to seek her out again ; and, last of all, if it might be so, a fate in the influence I was to exercise over their fortunes. I can not better depict the absorption of my mind in these pleas-ant themes than by the simple fact, that I, with as little of the lion in my heart as any man breathing, I, whose greatest difficulty through life had been a spirit with more of the dove than the dragon in it—I, I repeat, never once thought of the quarrel, and all the dire consequences that impended me. If any thing can show an intense preoccupation, this may.

How the scene, even yet, rises before me, as we bent together over the great map spread out upon the table, so close , together that her long ringlets once touched my cheek. What pretexts did I invent to give importance to some spot upon the map, just that I might touch her hand as I pointed it out ; and how my heart beat as


her soft breath fanned me while she spoke! She was just telling when and from whence I was to write to her, when the servant came to say that a gentleman outside begged to see Mr. Potts. I guessed rightly who this must be, and hurried to the hall, where he was standing.

"Not come to disturb you, Potts," said the skipper, in a brisk tone ; " only thought it best to make your mind easy, you know. It's all right."

"A thousand thanks, captain," said I, warmly. "I knew when the negotiation was in your hands it would be so."

"Yes; his friend, a Major Colesby, boggled a bit at first. Couldn't see a thing in the light I put it. Asked very often 'who were you?' asked, too, ' who I was ?' Good that ! it made me laugh. Rather late in the day, I take it, to ask who Bob Rogers is ! But in the end, as I said, it all comes right, quite right."

" And his apology was full, ample, and explicit? Was it in writing, Rogers ? I'd like it in writing."

"Like what in writing?"

" His apology, or explanation, or whatever you like to call it."

"Who ever spoke of such a thing? Who so much as dreamed of it ? Haven't I told you the affair s all right ? and what does all right mean, eh ?—what does it mean?"

" I know what it ought to mean," said I, angrily.

"So do I, and so do most men in this island, Sir. It means twelve paces under the Battery wall, fire together, and as many shots as the aggrieved asks for. That's all right, isn't it ?"

In one sense it is so," said I, with a mock composure.

" Well, that's the only sense I ever meant to consider it by. Go back now to your tea, or your sugar-and-water, or whatever it is, and when you come home to-night just step into my room, and we'll have a cozy chat and a cigar. There's one or two trifling things that I don't understand in this affair, and I put my own explanation on them, and maybe it ain't the right one. Not that it signifies now, you perceive, be-cause you are here to the fore, and can set them right. But as by this time to-morrow you might be where—I won't mention—we may as well put them straight this evening."

"I'll beat you up, depend upon it," said I, affecting a slap-dash style. "I can't tell you how glad I am to have fallen into your hands, Rogers. You suit me exactly."

" Well, it's more than I expected when I saw you first, and I kept saying to myself, 'What-ever could have persuaded Joe to send me a creature like that?' To tell you the truth, I thought you were in the cheap funeral line."

" Droll dog !" said I, while my fingers were writhing and twisting with passion.

" Not that it's fair to take a fellow by his looks---I'm aware of that, Potts. But go back to the parlor—that's the second time the maid has come out to see what keeps you. Go back, and enjoy yourself; maybe you won't have so pleasant an opportunity soon again."

This was the parting speech of the wretch as he buttoned the collar of his coat, and with a short nod bade me good-by, and left me.

" Why did you not ask your friend to take a cup of tea with us ?" said Kate, as I re-entered the drawing-room.

"Oh ! it was the skipper, a rough sort of creature, not exactly made for drawing-room life ; besides, he only came to ask me a question."

" I hope it was not a very unpleasant one, for you look pale and anxious."

"Nothing of the kind—a mere formal matter about my baggage."

It was no use ; from that moment out I was the most miserable of mankind. What availed it to speculate any longer on the future? How could I interest myself in what years might bring forth? Hours, and a very few of them, were all that were left to me. Poor girl! how tenderly she tried to divert my sorrow ; she, most probably, ascribed it to the prospect of my speedy separation from her; and with a delicacy and tact all her own, she tried to trace out some faint outlines of what painters call a "back distance"—a sort of future, where all the skies would be rose-colored and all the mountains blue. I am sure, if a choice had been given me at that instant, I would rather have been a brave, courageous man than the greatest genius in the universe. So far, too, from rallying my spirits by the prospect of our next meeting, it only plunged me in greater gloom. I knew better what was before are. At last it came to ten o'clock, and I arose to say good-by. I found it very hard not to fall upon her neck, and say, "Don't be angry with poor Potts; this is his last as it is his first embrace."

"Wear that ring for me and my sake," said she, giving me one from her finger ; " don't refuse me—it has no value save what you may attach to it from having been mine."

Oh dear! what a gulp it cost me not to say, " I'll never take it 'off while I live," and then add, "which will be about eight hours and a half more."

When I got into the open air I ran as if a pack of wolves were in pursuit of me. I can not say why ; but the rapid motion served to warm my blood, so that when I reached the hotel I felt more assured and more resolute.

Rogers was asleep, and so soundly, that I had to pull the pillow from beneath his head before I could awaken him; and when I had accomplished the feat, either the remote effect of his last brandy-and-water or his drowsiness had so obscured his faculties that all he could mumble out was, "Hit him where he can't be spliced—hit him where they can't splice him!" I tried for a long time to recall him to sense and intel-



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