Eloquent Civilian Describes Confederate Army Marching through Richmond in Spring
Spring 1862. As spring passed and McClellan’s army slowly moved up the Peninsula, the Confederacy mustered forces to block. The promise of victory and glory were in the air for the Confederacy as Joe Johnston’s army moved through Richmond on its way down the Peninsula — so many at one time that a Mississippi soldier wrote home that “Richmond is one living, moving mass of soldiers.”
Sallie Putnam, a young woman living in Richmond, described their passage:
“The morning was bright and beautiful in the early spring, balmy with the odors of the violet and the hyacinth, and the flaunting narcissus, the jonquil, and myriads of spring flowers threw on their parti-colored garments to welcome the army of veterans as they passed.
“From an early hour until the sun went down in the West the steady tramp of the soldier was heard on the streets. Continuous cheers went up from thousands of voices; from every window fair heads were thrust, fair hands waved snowy handkerchiefs, and bright eyes beamed ‘Welcome!’ Bands of spirit-stirring music discoursed the favorite airs — Dixie’s Land, My Maryland, the Bonny Blue Flag, and other popular tunes — and as the last regiments were passing we heard the strains of ‘Good-Bye,’ and tears were allowed to flow, and tender hearts ached as they listened to the significant tune. Soldiers left the ranks to grasp the hands of friends in passing, to receive some grateful refreshment, a small bouquet, or a whispered congratulation. Officers on horseback raised their hats, and some of the more gallant ventured to waft kisses to the fair ones at the doors and windows. We shall never forget the appearance of General Longstreet, the sturdy fighter, the obstinate warrior, as he dashed down Main Street surrounded by his splendid staff.
“Through other streets poured our cavalry, under their gallant chieftain, the pink of Southern chivalry — the gay, rollicking, yet bold, daring and venturous ‘Jeb’ Stuart. As we saw him then, sitting easily on his saddle, as though he was born to it, he seemed every inch the cavalier. His stout yet lithe figure, his graceful bearing, his broad, well-formed chest and shoulders, on which was gracefully poised his splendid head, his bright, beaming countenance, lighted up with a smile as pleasant as a woman’s, his dark red hair and flowing beard, with his lower limbs encased in heavy cavalry boots, made up the tout ensemble of this brave son of Maryland. His genial temperament made him the idol and companion of the most humble of his men, and his deeds of daring and heroic courage made him respected as their leader.
“As they swept through our streets on that beautiful morning, with their horses in good order, their own spirits buoyant and cheerful, many of them wearing in their caps bouquets of the golden daffodils of early spring, cheered on by the ringing sounds of the bugle, we thought never to see them pass again with worn-out horses and weary, listless spirits, as they spurred on their broken-down steeds; but so it was….”
– Submitted by Bill Halainen, Milford, Pennsylvania
From Sallie Putnam’s Richmond During The War: Four Years of Personal Observation. G.W. Carlton & Co.: Richmond, 1867.