The Long Bridge Over the Potomac


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 18, 1861

This edition of Harper's Weekly has a number of important stories and illustrations. Of particular note are the full page illustrations of Union Soldiers and Wilson's Fighting Brigade. These are nice examples of period uniforms and equipment. There is also a nice Full page illustration of some Confederate Soldiers under the Rebel Flag.

(Scroll down to see entire page, Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest)


The lady Davis

The Washington Arsenal

Editorial on Jeff Davis

Virginia Joins Civil War

Virginia Joins the Civil War

Union Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Civil War Riot

Civil War Riot

War Ship Brooklyn

Warship Brooklyn


The Virginian

Ohio Soldiers

Ohio Soldiers

Wilson's fighting Brigade

Wilson's Fighting Brigade

Rebel Soldiers

Confederate Soldiers

Ft. Pickens

Reinforcement of Fort Pickens

Cotton on a Riverboat

The Long Bridge Over the Potomac

Treasury Grounds



MAY 18, 1861.]



(Prev. Page) A gentleman, who was an eye-witness to the fact he relates, thus refers to the perils of cotton bales on their pilgrimage from the plantation to the nearest Indian port. This port may probably be distant 1000 miles ; and if the owner of the cotton live sufficientiv near to some river station on the Ganges, after getting through the difficulties of the transit on such Indian roads as we have described, he may at length find his cotton produce on the banks of the river. Are his difficulties then at an end by his finding at this point a safe and ready conveyance for his property to Calcutta? Not at all If he aims at embarking it on a river steamer he may find that the few that exist are all booked for many months to come ; or, if such should not be the case, the cost demanded for carriage is so heavy as would at once destroy all hope of profit from his goods. In this state of things his dernier ressort is a country boat, which is a rickety conveyance under the most favorable circumstances, but becomes alarming to contemplate with his cotton bales piled upon it. There is no help or choice left, however, so the boat is dispatched ; but when it will arrive at its destination, or in what state its cargo will be delivered, are events that lie shrouded in the most absolute uncertainty. If it happen to be the hot season the crazy craft will most likely lie on some sandbank for weeks together ; if, on the other hand, through delay it should be overtaken by the rains, it is 1000 to 1 but that the top-heavy vessel will be capsized in a squall, and the luckless freight, if not totally lost, will almost to a certainty be irremediably ruined. Nor is the sum of its mischances yet at an end, for the probability is that, even on the most favorable voyage, the inflammable cargo will be set on fire on an average every alternate day, from the boatmen cooking their meals, each man using his separate charcoal-pan.


WE publish herewith, from a picture by our special artist, a view of the LONG BRIDGE AT WASHINGTON, over which the road to Alexandria passes. A writer for the Herald says :

"At the extremity of the bridge a company of soldiers is stationed, and, for form's sake, sentinels parade to and fro. The passage across the bridge is, however, unobstructed during day, and wagons are constantly passing and repassing. The bridge is one mile long, is not covered, and about a quarter of a mile of the central part is built of masonry, with low parapets, and resembles a country road. The rest of the bridge is wood. It is about the width of three carriages, and has two draws, one on the Washington and one on the Virginia side. These are almost constantly open for the passage of small armed propellers, with which the Potomac swarms.

"A company of flying artillery is stationed on the bridge every night, near the Virginia shore, with the draw raised in front of them. At the Virginia terminus is a small hotel, where Colonel Lee's picket-guard was recently quartered. It is now almost deserted."


ON page 315 we give a picture, from a sketch by our special artist, of the SEVENTH REGIMENT HALTING FOR A REST ON THE MARCH TO ANNAPOLIS JUNCTION. Our artist accompanied them on the march. Its fatigues and its perils are well described in the following extract from a letter from one of the members to the New York Times:

"General Scott has stated, as I have been informed, that the march that we performed from Annapolis to the Junction is one of the most remarkable on record. I know that I felt it the most fatiguing, and some of our officers have told me that it was the most perilous. We marched the first eight miles under a burning sun, in heavy marching order, in less than three hours ; and it is well known that, placing all elementary considerations out of the way, marching on a railroad track is the most harassing. We started at about 8 o'clock A.M., and for the first time saw the town of Annapolis, which, without any disrespect to that place, I may say looked very much as if some celestial school-boy, with a box of toys under his arm, had dropped a few houses and men as he was going home from school, and that the accidental settlement was called Annapolis. Through the town we marched, the people unsympathizing, but afraid. They saw the Seventh for the first time, and for the first time they realized the men that they had threatened.

" The tracks had been torn up between Annapolis and the Junction, and here it was that the wonderful qualities of the Massachusetts Eighth Regiment came out. The locomotive had been taken to pieces by the inhabitants, in order to prevent our travel. In steps a Massachusetts volunteer, looks at the piecemeal engine, takes up a flange, and says, coolly, ' I made this engine, and I can put it together again.' Engineers were wanted when the engine was ready. Nineteen stepped out of the ranks. The rails were torn up. Practical railroad makers out of the Regiment laid them again, and all this, mind you, without care or food. These brave boys, I say, were starving while they were doing all this good work. What their Colonel was doing I can't say. As we marched along the track that they had laid they greeted us with ranks of smiling but hungry faces. One boy told use, with a laugh on his young lips, that he had not ate any thing for thirty hours. There was not, thank God, a haversack in our Regiment that was not emptied into the hands of these ill-treated heroes, nor a flask that was not at their disposal. I am glad to pay them tribute here, and mentally doff my cap.

" Our march lay through an arid, sandy, tobacco-growing country. The sun poured on our heads like hot lava. The Sixth and Second companies were sent on for skirmishing duty, under the command of Captains Clarke and Nevers, the latter commanding as senior officer. A car, on which was placed a howitzer loaded with grape and canister, headed the column, manned by the engineer and artillery corps, commanded by Lieutenant Bunting. This was the rallying point of the skirmishing party, on which, in case of difficulty, they could fall back. In the centre of the column came the cars laden with medical stores, and bearing our sick and wounded, while the extreme rear was brought up with a second howitzer, loaded also with grape and canister. The engineer corps, of course, had to do the forwarding work. New York dandies, Sir!—but they built bridges, laid rails, and headed the regiment through that terrible march. After marching about eight miles, during which time several men caved in from exhaustion, and one young gentleman was sun-struck and sent back to New York, we halted, and instantly, with the Divine instinct which characterizes the hungry soldier, proceeded to forage. The worst of it was, there was no foraging to be done. The only house within reach was inhabited by a lethargic person, who, like most Southern men, had no idea of gaining money by labor. We offered him extravagant prices to get us fresh water, and it was with the utmost reluctance we could get him to obtain us a few pailfuls. Over the mantlepiece of his miserable shanty I saw—a curious `coincidence—the portrait of Colonel Duryea of our regiment."

The Long Bridge Over the Potomac



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