This greatly helped and confirmed me in the step taken, and I was lovingly and kindly advised to bring the concern before my Meeting and other Meetings in the way. Being fully liberated by these for the work, William Norton kindly offered to accompany me to America, and we left Liverpool in the s.s. Scotia for New York, on 8th of Tenth Month, 1864, arriving in Baltimore in time for the Yearly Meeting there in Eleventh Month. Here we were most kindly helped and cared for by Francis T. King, Richard Janney, James Carey, and many other Friends, not omitting dear Anna Tyson and her son Jesse, who took us in, and where we found a home.
After the Yearly Meeting, we essayed to the North Carolina Yearly Meeting, being furnished with a "pass" from President Lincoln, to clear us through the Union lines. Going down the Chesapeake Bay, and some way up the James River, we landed at an army jetty and were taken some miles inland in an ambulance waggon to General Butler's headquarters in the neighbourhood of Richmond, Virginia, which was then being besieged. General Butler was away, but General Terry was in charge, and kindly sent us on at once to the front, under the care of officers, with a flag of truce. In about two or three miles we came to the outside picket-post, and waited while the officers from both armies met, and decided we must go back while our credentials were sent on to Richmond to be examined. General Terry treated us with the greatest kindness, invited his own table, and gave us a tent to sleep in. The night was bitterly cold, and my dear companion felt quite ill when morning came, though there was a large camp fire a few yards from us burning all night. General Terry sent my dear friend back to the River, and he arrived in Baltimore to be kindly nursed and tended for about six weeks at Anna Tyson's, with an attack of camp fever; on recovering from which he returned to England.
The following day as I was dining at General table, an officer came in with a dispatch from Richmond, and our credentials. As he entered, the officer said, "I met old school-fellow under the flag of truce, he told me they had too many Quakers already in North Carolina, so I do not think you are going through." So it proved, and I was kindly sent back to the River and was soon in Baltimore again.
Accompanied at different times by John Scott, James Carey, Francis T. King and Richard Janney, I visited the Meetings and many of the scattered members of Baltimore Yearly Meeting in parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. While waiting in Baltimore the slaves of the State of Maryland were set free by an act of the State which took effect the 1st of Eleventh month, 1864. It was a day of great rejoicing among all the people of colour, and was to them "holy day." Their places of worship were all opened and thronged. A friend took me into one of these as the people were beginning to come out, and we pressed about halfway up one of the side aisles and saw a remarkable sight. On the platform a number of the older negroes and probably leaders in the Church were shaking hands and greeting one another very warmly. In the middle aisles young men and women were holding each other's hands, and jumping as could jump, and shouting as loud as they could shout. As an old coloured woman was trying to pass us, on her way out, I made some remark on the joyful scene before us, adding, "I do not expect many of them will sleep tonight,"--when she said with great emphasis, "Oh! no, Massa! you really must 'scuse 'em--they don't know how to keep in--twelve o'clock wee's all free.
When with R. Janney, we went to Harper's Ferry, a very picturesque spot, the scene of John Brown's effort to get the slaves to rise and assert their freedom in 1859. The little engine house, in which he and his handful of followers defended themselves, was almost the only building on the Point not destroyed by the war. Our aim was the Friends in and near Winchester, Virginia. In the afternoon we got a place a luggage train, and found with one or two others a comfortable seat. After a while a man said, "A few years ago no one would think of doing what we are doing now," calling attention to the fact that we were sitting on a long box, containing the embalmed remains of some poor soldier that were being sent back to his friends; two similar boxes behind us had been used to lean against. We saw many such boxes on trains and in steamers later on. We went slowly and with several haltings till, about midnight, the train stopped in the woods and we all got out. It was bitterly cold, and no apparent shelter. Seeing a house at some little distance we walked and found it well filled with navvies, who were repairing the railway line, as these parts were once more within the Federal limits. A large fire was blazing on the hearth, and about fifteen men were lying on the floor, sleeping or trying to do so, while a similar number were in the room overhead. Two rough seats were unoccupied by the side of the hearth, and we asked leave to sit there till morning, which was and readily granted.
Soon after four o'clock the men began to stir, and hot coffee was prepared for the company and kindly offered us. R. Janney went out to see if he could ascertain our whereabouts, but failed. About six o'clock he went out again, and when he returned, said he had been directed to Joseph Jolliff's house, so we set forth over the frost and snow, walking about a mile. As we approached, R. Janney said, "This is not the place," but as a coloured man's cabin was close by, we asked its occupant, and as R. Janney seemed still incredulous, he said, "I have worked here many years and ought know." On opening the door to us, I know whether Joseph Jolliff or R. Janney were the more surprised to meet--the war had cut Friends in these parts off from the rest of the members of their Yearly Meeting for about four years. It a time of thankfulness and rejoicing, though in a subdued sense, for the war cloud hung heavily over the land.
Joseph Jolliff had kindly taken a young officer, who had been wounded and was ordered back to his regiment before he was fit for service, into his home--he had also asked the protection of a soldier to prevent the robbery of bands of men who follow in the wake of all armies at such times, for purposes of plunder.
After breakfast these two soldiers sat down with us and the family before the Lord; and we had a very tendering and favoured time together through the renewal of His grace and good spirit. Then Joseph Jolliff provided us with a horse and buggy, and R. Janney drove about four miles into Winchester, to Aaron Griffiths. It was the coldest time I have ever experienced, and on arriving I thought I was frost bitten, as I could hardly move from my seat, but through the Lord's goodness, and the care of our friends, I felt no ill effects.
The scene was a sad one all around, as Winchester had changed hands during the war seventeen times, and its citizens had been terrible sufferers first from one army, then from the other, as first one side and then the other possessed it. Party feeling ran high, and was very strong, so that in the beginning of the war when the Confederate Army held it those who sympathised with the South pointed out their neighbours of the opposite party as fit objects for plunder--then when the Union forces took possession, they were directed to the homes of Southern sympathisers for the same object, so that the citizens generally were soon despoiled of their valuable goods. But common suffering brings people together, and long before the close of the war a spirit of mutual help and protection sprung up with both classes of Citizens.
Winchester presented a sad sight. The public buildings and nearly all the best houses were gutted, or in ruins; fences burned or thrown down, and the soldiers looked nearly perished as they moved about, with the capes of their great coats thrown over their heads.
Having finished my visits within the Union lines, my kind friends at Baltimore sought means for me to proceed into North Carolina. I was spending a few days with Eli Jones, William Sampson and other Friends, who were caring for the freed men at Washington. Large numbers of these were housed in miserable tenements, neither wind-tight nor water-proof, many of them sick, and the weather bitterly cold, yet as I went along with my friends who were doing all they could to help them, there was no complaining it was one note of thankfulness that they were "free," and, while probably their ideas of freedom were very crude and incorrect, they would rather die for it than live on in slavery. Many of them had come here to be near "Father Abraham," as they felt President Lincoln rightly to be.
We visited "John de Baptist," and saw him "spounding and splaining" to four or five of his people with the beautiful morocco gilt-edged Bible open before him, though he could not read a letter of the book.
This was during the last days of 1864. A telegram from Baltimore hastened me thither on New Year's Day, and a few days later I was on the Chesapeake Bay, on my way to New Norfolk, thence by rail to Suffolk, where I found William Hare, with other friends, kindly waiting for me, who took me in his conveyance home to his house, which was on neutral ground lying between the outside picket posts of both armies. This strip of land, roughly stated, some twenty miles broad and sixty in length, was claimed by both parties, pillaged by both and protected by neither. Here I stayed some days among Friends of Somerton Meeting, and then one of them kindly drove over to Piney Woods Settlement of Friends and left me awhile there. Nearly all of these were farmers, covering a pretty large district, and leading simple, homely, Christian lives. These dear Friends had had a striking evidence of the power of truth and righteousness over that of selfishness and the sword.
Some weeks previously the Federal Forces had captured a Southern fort, whereby the town of Hertford on Albemarle Sound was left exposed to the ships of the enemy. A general fear took hold of the inhabitants, who came in large numbers twelve miles or more (if my memory serve me correctly) into the Friends' Settlement, asking to be given shelter. It was in vain that our friends tried to pacify and get them to go home by saying they would be as safe with them. Their answer was in effect--"No, you are a peaceable people, and they will not hurt you"; so for several days and nights our friends' houses were filled with them. In the course of six or seven days as no harm came to their town, they gradually gained confidence and returned to their homes.
I spent some time among the dear Friends in these two Meetings, and felt it a privilege to sympathise with them in their trials and losses, which were many. I should have said that on the night that William Hare took me home from Suffolk, we found a man waiting to see him, who was going the following day through the Southern lines into North Carolina. With the advice of my friends I wrote a letter to Governor Vance, of North Carolina, and sent it by him, telling him frankly the object of my coming to America, and that I had been refused an entrance into the Confederacy by the Secretary of War at Richmond, and asking kindly to grant me leave to visit my friends in his State.
Being again at William Hare's, our friend Jonathan E. Cox came along with a covered waggon on his way to Rich Square, North Carolina, where there was a large settlement of Friends, and as my work seemed done for the present and no obstacles seemed in the way, J. E. Cox kindly took me along with him. On our crossing the Chuon River we met the solitary Confederate picket, who allowed us to pass on without any difficulty. I spent two First-days among the dear Friends in this district. On the evening of the last, having had supper at Jordan Baum's, I went out with a thankful and peaceful heart in company with two dear young men, on whom the Lord had laid His hand and who afterwards ministers of the Gospel in our Society, and are with us to this day.
It was a calm, beautiful evening, and as we leaned on the fence, and watched the sun set, all within and around us seemed in sweet harmony with it. Presently the sound of cannon engaged in their death dealing work came booming on the air, growing more intense as time went on, bringing a sad revulsion of feeling that has been a life-long memory. We afterwards found that one of the terrible fights round Petersburg (perhaps forty miles away) began that night.
At Rich Square, I received a kind letter from David Barnes, the Aide-de-Camp to Governor Vance, saying that the Governor had not the power to grant the leave I asked, but that he had sent my request on to Richmond, and that if leave was granted he would send me a pass. In the middle of that week James Copeland was going into Wayne County, where was a settlement of Friends. The way seemed clear for me to go with him, and a young lad, Henry Peile, took us over in a conveyance with a little niece of his, who was going home to her parents--as far as Garisburg. Here we had several hours to wait for a train, and the day being, cold and the hotel full of officers, who had come down for a carousal after the battle at Petersburg, we put the little girl near the fire, and walked about to keep warm, going in now and again to see if she was all right and comfortable. As I left the hotel after one of these visits an officer called after me, saying; "Hulloa, there; come here--you've got my hat on."
While I knew him to be joking, I did not know what motive might lie beneath, so felt it best to take him seriously, for from the human side of things they had power to do what they liked with me, so I told him he was mistaken, and that I brought my hat from England.
He took me through a room where a number of officers were dining, having a joke with them as we passed at my expense, to a little room behind. He then said, "This is all my fun, but I want to know who you are, and what you are doing here." I told him as briefly and fully as I could, and showed him my English certificates, one of which he read. I told him that "Friends" were one people the world over,--that we were opposed to all war, and lived in peace among ourselves and with all men, and that our dear Friends in North Carolina were brought, with all the people in the South, into great suffering through this sad war, and that I felt it my duty to come and see if I could help them or do them any good.
He seemed not to understand, or to be incredulous. I then said that if he had a brother that was sick or in trouble, would not go to him and try to help him? He said he thought he should. I then added that we were all one people the world over, and I did not think it strange that someone from a distance should feel it a duty to come and see them, and try to help and comfort them.
He said, "I don't see that you have brought them any blankets, or anything to do them any good with," but he had caught idea, and with a little more fun, let it go I went with a thankful heart to the Lord for this and all His mercies.
After spending some time in Wayne County, and seeing most of our friends, being largely helped and entertained by my dear friend, Lazarus Pearson, I went on to Raleigh. About a fortnight after leaving Wayne County, General Sherman laid all this waste, being on his destructive march through Georgia and other parts, and our Friends and the settlers generally were reduced to great straits; some prowling round the camps for any food they could get, and thankful for some that soldiers had thrown away.
I left by the cars with Needham Perkins, for Raleigh, the seat of Government for North Carolina. Arriving at midnight we went to an hotel and had a room with two beds in it, and a scant breakfast next morning. Our bill was 70 dollars; viz., 10 dollars each for our beds; 20 for our breakfast and 5 for cleaning our boots. This merely helps to show the condition of things among the poor inhabitants through the duration of the war; to them the prices were real; to me or a stranger, taking gold into the country, they were light, for I bought all the Confederate paper money, which was the legal tender, that I needed, for 3½ cents, per dollar.
After breakfast we went to the Office of the Governor, but found he was away from home. We saw David Barnes, his Aide-de-Camp, who had written to me, and on telling who I was, he said,--"Did you not get a note from me?" I said "Yes," and spoke of the one received at Rich Square. "But," he, "did you not get another." I said, No." "Well," he said, "the Secretary of War at Richmond refuses to admit you, and I have written to you to that effect." I felt I was in a peculiar position and lifted up my heart to the Lord for help and guidance.
I asked him if he thought the Secretary of War really objected to my seeing my friends as I wanted to, or whether he feared I might meddle in matters I had no right or wish to. He said, "It is evident that the Secretary of War does object to your traveling in North Carolina, but he does not know the Quakers so well as Governor Vance and I do; We know them to be a quiet, harmless, inoffensive people, that mind their own business and let other people's alone."
I saw that personally he was favourbly inclined toward me, and said, "I have come from England specially to see our friends, who are suffering through the war. I am near the larger settlements of them and I will go along quietly, and mind my own business."
He then said, "It you come into any trouble, you can say you did not know a refused, till you got to Raleigh, and if want any confirmation of that you can appeal to me."
After this I visited the Meetings generally in those parts. Isham Cox kindly went with me into Yadkin County, to visit Friends in the mountain districts on horseback. We lodged at night at Darius Starbuck's in Salem, Forsyth County. The town was full of "hunters" who had come to scour the district for conscripts and deserters. We took dinner next day with William Patterson and his wife she was a Friend, and he a Magistrate and Northern sympathiser, and we arranged a meeting at his house on our return journey on First-day afternoon. We attended three meetings, to which the people came in numbers, and they were solemn and favoured times. At the close of one on Seventh-day afternoon, a Friend, Isaac Hutchins, pressed us to go home with him, as a number of poor fellows, who were hiding in the woods, would be at his house after dark. We went, and about fifteen gathered round his hearth after supper, and we were favoured with a tendering time from the presence of the Lord. Just after they had left the house, a messenger arrived in great haste, saying, "The hunters are out; they have been to Patterson's, and have arrested him, and are probably coming on this way." I. Cox and our host went out, and the hunted got the word and escaped their pursuers that time. Next morning I attended a large and favoured meeting, and after dining at a Friend's house on the way, arrived at Patterson's about four o'clock. A goodly company were assembled outside to meet us, and we both had good service among them. As I was bringing my address to a dose, I noticed a great restlessness come over the gathering, and six of these mounted "hunters" rode quietly past us into the farmyard just beyond us. I. Cox and I shook hands, and the people quickly dispersed. By this time the soldiers had given their horses some food, and were coming toward the house. We went to meet them, and spoke pleasantly to them. One of them had been with the company that arrested W. Patterson the evening before, and he angry because W. Patterson managed to slip away from them.
It seemed that about dusk a company of "hunters"came, pretending to be deserters, and asking for food, Mrs. Patterson said, "It is contrary to the law to feed deserters, but I will always give food to the hungry while I have any." They sat outside by the well, being apparently afraid to come the house. When W. Patterson took them the food his wife had prepared, they said, "You are our prisoner." W. Patterson said, "If that is so, you had better come into the house.'' Two of them in with him,--the rest went to get his horses. He asked those two if he might shave, and "fix up a bit" before he went and they told him "Yes." The room had a door in front, and one opening on to a verandah at the back, and by this time it was dark. Going to a chest of drawers, presumably to get his razors, he fled through the open door, and, knowing every part of the wild country, escaped, though the soldiers made every effort to capture him. The object of the "hunters," on the First-day evening was to get some trace of him, if they could. I felt very thankful that I. Cox and I were there, as we took a little of the brunt the poor wife had to endure. At last they promised to go if she would feed them, so at our suggestion, and against her will, she set them down to the repast she had prepared for us. They kept their promise, and went away, leaving us with thankful hearts to the Lord for this fresh proof of His watchful and tender care.
Next day, we came to Salem, and found that during the few days since we left it, several men had been arrested and shot under very cruel circumstances the "hunters" apparently delighting to torture both mind and body
It seemed right for me soon after this to go to Richmond, Virginia, and I arrived on the last day of Third Month by the only rail line not intercepted by the Federal troops, and was kindly cared for by a widow Friend, Jane Whitlock, who had several grown-up children. The sight of a city that had stood siege is a very sad one scarcity of food for the inhabitants generally; and children as well as grown-up people looking depressed and cast down,--a gloom like a heavy cloud resting on everything,--so many having lost brothers, husbands, fathers, or sons in the war. On the First-day morning I met with the little company of Friends in their usual Meeting, and was taken home by Judith Crenshaw to their home four miles away. As we drove through the city we met a large number of Northern prisoners under an escort of soldiers, marching in a direction that puzzled Judith Crenshaw, but this was increased when we found that the picket posted at the toll bar had been removed since she came in, in the morning. Her husband, John B. Crenshaw, had been to a country Meeting and joined us at home in the evening.
About four o'clock next morning (Fourth Month 3rd) the family were aroused and the doors and windows of the house shaken by a very loud explosion, and the sound seemed to roll up the windings of the James River. John B. Crenshaw felt pretty sure the end of the siege had come. His son started as usual about six o'clock with milk for the city, but soon returned, saying the Federal troops were in Richmond, and the roads contained many Confederate soldiers who were fleeing from it.
After breakfast John B. Crenshaw selected a horse and buggy that were not likely to tempt the soldiers, and kindly asked me to go with him to the city. We saw many negroes going in, who looked very bright and cheerful; we met many Southerners hastening away; one gentlemanly young officer had evidently jumped hurriedly on his horse, for his waistcoat was unbuttoned, and his watchguard hung loose; his face was white, and his hand shook as he held the reins. He anxiously asked us several questions regarding his own safety, which we were unable to answer, and passed on. At the toll bar was an officer of a very different type, being one of the hardened, cast-iron men, that war always makes. With his rifle swung at his back, and several weapons on his belt, and gripping his bridle with a firm hand, he was questioning a band of persons round him (mostly negroes) as to whether it was true the Yankees were in Richmond, and when they told him to look, for he could see himself, he relieved his mind by saying he would not fall into the hands of the Yanks--he would not go to a Yankee prison, etc. A dense cloud of smoke rested over the whole city, reminding me of the pictures in some old Bibles of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Passing by this man, the road bent a little, and here within earshot, but just out of sight, we came upon the first Federal picket. The Captain halted us, and told us he had orders not to let anyone in or out of the city, but after a little chat he was satisfied as to our peaceable intents, and said, "That's all right; you can go along." Just as we had started, John B. Crenshaw pulled up, and looking back, said, "I suppose you will let us out when we come back?" and being assured on this point, we drove on.
It was a sad sight, for a large portion the city was in flames, while the Federal soldiers having pressed many negroes into the work, were doing all they could to stop or extinguish the fire. Before the Confederate troops left the city, they set fire to tobacco warehouses and inflammable buildings, and cut the hose belonging to the Fire Brigades; their last act being to up the powder magazine, which was the cause of the alarm felt in early morning. The action of the Confederate Government while it lasted seemed invariably to ruin, as far as possible, when they lost their hold on a place and failed to rule.
We were told that the state of things in the city that night was truly awful. The inmates of the Penitentiary were let loose, and mingling with the mob broke into liquor stores, and scores of them being stupidly drunk perished in the fire that followed as it swept through the business quarters of the city.
We made several calls a relative and some friends of John B. Crenshaw were much reassured and comforted by his visit. Once we were halted by a soldier who told us the citizens had orders to keep in their houses. On explaining matters to him, he seemed pleased to meet with Friends, as he came from a Friends' settlement in Ohio, and was surprised to learn that any of them lived in Richmond.
On our return, we found our captain of the picket and his men removed, but at the toll bar, a new picket of coloured men. The captain was a half-cast, and could not let us go through as he "must obey orders." We said "Certainly," but how were we to get home? A Provost Marshall's office, about one-and-a-half miles back in the city, was suggested, but with our poor horse, and other hindrances, it did not seem likely. At last he said, "If Captain -----says you may go, it will be all right." We found he was in a battery within sight, and so went thither. On approaching, we found him busy riding about, with a regiment of coloured soldiers, going through some of drill. At last he saw us, and rode up to see what we wanted. We told him, and I offered my English certificates. He in a great hurry, and said he was to know nobody, and did not think he could help us.
I had in my pocket a card, on Secretary E. M. Stanton had kindly written a permit for me, which I had expected to need months before, and remembering, told him of it,--saying it had no reference to the position we were in today. He asked to see it, and then said he was going through the toll bar, and we would find it all right. As we approached the picket, they nodded and grinned, and we got home safely, to the relief of Judith Crenshaw for the frightened, fleeing soldiers had been dropping in during the day, telling most alarming things of the doings of the Yankees, which their own fears conjured up, and exactly the opposite of what really was taking place; for every effort was made to restore order and to preserve the lives and property of the inhabitants.
I stayed about a week with these dear friends. On one occasion we called, when in the city, on Judge J. A. Campbell, a fine old man. He was probably the only member of the Confederate Government that had a clear conscience; and was the only one that did not run away; for the rest went down to Danville on the First day afternoon. Jefferson Davis was at public worship in the morning, when he got General Lee's message that he could hold the city no longer against General Grant and the Northern troops, and he and his colleagues lost no time in getting away.
Judge Campbell told us that he had no sympathy with the rebellion, but he saw great trouble was coming upon his people and that he accepted office in the Confederate Government because he hoped to be of service to them in their sufferings. All through the four years war, the usual way was for Friends or others whose young men were taken for soldiers--and because of Christ's clear commands, could not take up arms against their fellow-men, and were suffering for their testimony to write to John B, Crenshaw, stating the case (for he was a minister amongst us, and a man of considerable ability and influence, who stood for Truth and Peace and these dark days), and he would go to Judge Campbell, and try and get relief for them. If Judge Campbell could help them he did; but the feeling was so strong, that he was often unable to do what he wanted to give ease or deliverance, though very much was accomplished through these two faithful men.
We had a very comforting visit to the Judge, being sensible that the wing of Divine love was graciously spread over us. He was arrested soon after, and kept three months in Fortress Munroe, but was subsequently liberated.
About this period I attended the Quarterly at Springfield, North Carolina (it might be at New Garden, as memory is treacherous on this point), when the case of the Judge being in prison and our duty toward him was considered. It was a memorable meeting, in which truth triumphed. It was shown that the Judge had stood by us, helped us all he could through the War--that he was now in prison, and the action of the Federal Government toward political offenders was felt at that time to be very doubtful. Some said we are all looked upon as rebels; we do not know how we stand with the Government, and we may make our own case worse if we espouse his cause. After a good deal of deep and prayerful exercise, a memorial on his behalf was agreed to, to be forwarded to the Federal Authorities.
Returning to Baltimore, and reporting the gracious dealings of the Lord with me to my friends, I soon went a second time New Norfolk, and was there the guest of Jon. Dickenson, when the terrible news of the assassination of President Lincoln reached us, throwing a gloom over the city for several days. This awful deed did more to bring the best men, both North and South, into sympathy and unity again than probably anything else could have done,--for these in the South respected and honoured him, and loathed the act that had deprived them of their best friend.
I went a second time to Somerton, and found that during the time since my first visit the Southern "hunters" had been guilty of many acts of heartless cruelty. They had been to William Hare's and, under pretext of arresting him shot him in the head when his back was turned. The bullet split, but half of it fractured his skull and remained embedded behind his ear. They also took his money and horses. I found him getting slowly better, and able to sit up by his fireside, but it had affected his memory. He told me he knew all his children, but could not remember their names. He subsequently recovered pretty fully. The failure to kill him was providential, for about the time he was shot, the "hunters" took several of his neighbours to a lonely spot in the woods and shot them there in cold blood, as they were supposed to be sympathisers with the North. William Hare was a marked man, as he had helped many waggon loads of women and children across the neutral country into the Northern lines, during the war. He would give men any help or counsel he was able, but well knew if he gave them a ride his life would soon be forfeited.
At this time the spring flowers were in their freshness and beauty. The wistarias covered many houses in New Norfolk, and were in full bloom; the "Dismal Swamp" looked lovely as the train took us through a part of it, for the trees were many of them festooned with a yellow flowering creeper of rich grace and beauty, besides a variety of smaller and less prominent flowers.
Having visited a settlement of Friends I could not see before, and finished my service in those parts, I returned to Baltimore and soon took train through to Cincinnati. Friends here were very kind, but I went forward quickly by steamer to Louisville, Kentucky, steaming through the night and arriving about five o'clock on a wet, dismal morning. After standing about at the Provost Marshall's office, I obtained a pass by train to Nashville; Tennessee. Travelling and fare were very rough, but the country through which we passed was very green and beautiful, especially on the Kentucky side.
We arrived at Nashville a little before midnight, and on my walk to find an hotel I saw more rats than I have met with at one time before or since. These side walks were of stout boards much out of repair, and apparently well tenanted by these creatures, for they frequently crossed in front of me--often in twos or threes. I found a place at last, and a coloured man put me into a dirty-looking room where the door did not shut or fasten, but I slept well. Next morning I went to get a pass to Knoxville, but was delayed till the one train of the day had gone. W. Forster Mitchel, the Friend in charge of Friends' work here, was not at home, but I found a pious coloured preacher and better lodgings.
Next day I was at the railway station in good time, but as there was only one comfortable car on the train, and no one could get on the train till his pass was examined, although I tried for a seat in it, I was left behind a second time. The following morning I did not try for a comfortable seat, but took my stand close to the side of a goods waggon, of which all the train but the one carriage was composed, and so had a choice of a seat on the rough planks laid across for the passengers. The train soon filled up with a great many on the tops of the carriages as well.
At Knoxville my dear friend, J. Riley Lee, was very helpful to me. I visited Friends in the three Meetings in East Tennessee, and heard much of their sufferings during the war. The last home I was in in Tennessee was that of David Beales, a Friend, who, with his wife and family, had suffered much aud succoured many. He took me into his barn, a large one built on the German plan. I climbed up a rough open partition, much like going up a ladder, after him through trap door well concealed from view below into a large floor in the roof that ran length of the barn, and had openings at the ends, commanding a fine view of the for some miles. A man could not upright in the middle, and it nothing at each side. Here he often sheltered conscripts and deserters and fed them, sometimes as many as fifteen at a time. The "hunters," whom they could see, were frequently searching for them in and around the house, but never discovered their retreat.
Desiring to go from here, back into the central parts of North Carolina, I found that the only way yet open for public travel was back by the way I came, and involved a journey of about 1,800 miles. The actual distance was about 240 miles, twenty of which could be covered by rail. I felt it right to try the shorter track, so one of his daughters gave me the only saddle left them, and throwing a bag over her horse's back we set out for the Greenville Station, four or five miles away. I caught the train, and arrived safely at Jonesboro', a little before sunset. The town had the look of a plague-stricken place--the grass was growing in the streets, good houses and buildings gutted, and those still occupied having the shutters closed, and no person visible for some time as I walked along with my heart turned toward the Lord for help and guidance. Presently I saw a gentlemanly-looking man coming toward me on the opposite side of the street, so I crossed it and asked him if he could tell me how I could get into North Carolina. He said "No," but told me that he and his brother were sutlers, and were a waggon-load of goods to Blountville next day that would be twenty miles on my road, and if I shared in the expense of the trip, I could go with them. He made me a very fair offer, which I accepted, and then took me to the house where they were lodging.
On asking the landlady if she could take me in for the night, I found she had only half a bed to offer me, and when I went to it I found the other half occupied, and the muzzle of a revolver showing under the man's pillow. The brothers had another bed in the same room. We three were up early, and after some breakfast started about seven o'clock. Bad roads, half starved horses, and a fairly heavy load, caused us to walk most of the way. The driver and another man, who like myself had arranged with the brothers, made us a party of five.
Soon after getting on the road, the men began examining their revolvers and speaking of the possibility of being attacked. This gave the opportunity for helpful conversation on the evils of war, the false notions of protection from carnal weapons, and the true Source of safety. We rested about an hour during the middle of the day, but it was four o'clock before we reached Blountsville. I paid my share of the cost, and then started to walk towards Bristol, nine miles further on. About half-way, I met a man on horseback, who pulled up as I approached. He was armed, and told me that the inhabitants of the district had had a fight with a band of bush-whackers that day,--had shot one of them, and that the rest had gone into Bristol. This was a term used to denote robbers who went about in bands, plundering and sometimes murdering the settlers. I believe they are always found in the wake of all armies in time of war under various names. It did not sound pleasant, and I asked him if he could direct me to a place to stay till morning. This he offered me, if I went home with him, but as it was over a mile back on my track, I thanked him and went forward.
Just as it was getting dusk and the fireflies were beginning to flitter through the air, I came upon two little girls filling pitcher at a spring. I asked them about shelter for the night, but they said I would have to go on to Bristol, and seemed a good deal alarmed about the bush whackers. I went to a nice looking farmhouse, just before reaching the town, where the owner and his wife and grown-up son were evidently expecting trouble from this lawless set of men. They told me there was an accommodation house in the town. As we stood chatting, and they did not ask me to stay, I told them I did not feel like going any further, and would be glad if they would let me have about six feet by three on one of their carpets. A hearty invitation to come in followed this and a good supper and bed. They were pious people, and we had a favoured time together, with the family, in which the loving presence of the Lord was felt with a sense of His protecting Power.
Starting early next morning, I found this company with their horses in the main street, preparing to leave, and had just passed them one of them called to me, asking about the whereabouts of the Federal troops, of which I was thankful that nothing. About two miles out of town, I walked across a green space by the road side, and sat on a log by the river, prayerfully pondering the course to take. While here these men passed me, and I had a good view of them, about two dozen in all, mounted and well-armed with rifles, revolvers and bowie knives scattered among them. They were the roughest set of men I have ever seen, and their garments consisted of mixtures of ordinary clothing with both Federal and Confederate uniforms. I passed and repassed them later on the last time, as I did not desire closer acquaintance and they were holding a consultation at a spot where a road went off mine at a right angle, I made up my mind to return to Bristol, if they continued on my road. It was a great relief when they took the other road, and I saw them no more.
I walked on now day after day for about 168 miles, through a country where soldiers had eaten out most of the inhabitants, where the shops were all closed, and money would not purchase food. There were many Southern soldiers paroled and going home from Northern prisons, many of them in a pitiable condition from sickness and wounds; all of them like myself, entirely dependent on the hospitality of the settlers along the sides of the roads we travelled.
I came one day on a poor soldier lying full length by the road with fever, a neighbour keeping with him to help him along they were about 250 miles from their home, and it is not likely this poor man ever reached it. I was greatly struck with the kindness and hospitality of the poor settlers, who seemed ready to share their little with a passing stranger, and would not think of charging me for it. Where they seemed really needing, I did not feel easy to tax their scanty store, and so accepting their hospitality with thankfulness, I would put what I felt right into their hand, saying it would help to feed some poor soldier that would be coming along. In this way I kept my conscience clear without hurt to their feelings. The walk occupied about eight or nine days.
One afternoon as it began to rain, and I felt tired and hungry,--I went up respectable-looking farmhouse and the woman if I could stay the night there. She looked me well up and down and "Yes," if I did not want anything to eat; I said I had had no dinner, and felt for my supper, but would go further the rain held up; so we sat and awhile, but the rain came faster. Presently she said that I had better stay with her, if I was content. I said I was enough, but I did not like taking food from her and her family when they were so poorly off. A grown-up son and daughter lived with her. The son was the picture of despair, and I think could hardly have said a dozen words while I was under his mother's roof. The mother seemed like a Christian woman that was looking to the Lord for help, while the daughter was as cheerful as circumstances permitted. A kind of soft cake or pudding of corn with some butter-milk served for supper, and an equally scant supply of food for breakfast next morning; one of us could have eaten all the food at either meal. We had a very favoured time in reading a chapter from the Bible in the evening, and in the sense of the comforting presence and blessing of the Lord.
Next day about noon I felt faint and hungry, and looked out as I walked along for a likely place to ask for food. Coming to a nice-looking cottage standing back from the road with a pretty garden in front (an oasis in the desert that war had made, for I had not seen so bright a spot since the North), I went up to the door, and said to a middle-aged lady that opened "I am very hungry; could you give me to eat?" The reply came kind hearty, "Yes, come in; we are just sitting down to dinner." After more than forty years I can see that "table spread in the wilderness" for me, with many things that were on it, as though it was but yesterday. Two middle-aged ladies, probably sisters, with two or three young people composed the company. A clean cloth and food nicely served and cooked, as in a comfortable English or Northern home, was a treat indeed, and in all my experience, I have never enjoyed a meal so much.
On the seventh day, after a tramp of over twenty-six miles, the last five side of the Alleghany Mountains, I felt like resting First-day at Hillsville, in Carolina County, Virginia. The sun was just setting as I entered the town. There were three hotels, but all closed, and it was not easy to find a lodging. Someone directed to the house of a young soldier, back from the war a week before. He entered most kindly into my needs, but said, "I have a wife and young child, and do not know how I shall get on, as I have been away in the war, and I am not in a position to take in a stranger; but there are those who can do it if they will." He gave me two or three names, and I went off to the first house. A woman came to the door; her husband was not in, but would be back in about an hour, and added, "Why don't you go to Mrs. Paul's." I said I would gladly go anywhere that was likely, so went as she directed. As I came through the gate into the road, the young soldier was waiting to hear how it fared with me, and on my telling him, he said he would go with me. We came to one of the closed hotels, and when I stated my case, she told me "No,"--that she had been overhauled by the soldiers, and had no man on the place, and could not take a stranger in. The young soldier then spoke up for me, said I seemed a decent fellow, and asked her to stretch a point, as she could if she would. So she looked at me, and said, "Well, sit down," and the soldier seeing all was right, bid me good-bye, saying would see me in the morning. I felt I was an unwelcome guest, and the old lady seemed uncomfortable as she moved about, so I began to talk and tell her who I was what brought me there. As soon as knew I was a "Friend," her whole manner changed in an instant, and from that time she did all in her power to help me. Her mother was a "Friend," there had been a Meeting of Friends in the place, the Meeting House was gone, but the burying ground remained. About six years ago two women Friends visited the place, but they had seen nothing of any since.
She sent for the Wesleyan minister, and he kindly offered to make way for me in their meetings next day. When I came back to her house to dinner on the First-day, I found she had invited the Wesleyan minister, and one who was superannuated, and also a student for the ministry, to meet and dine with me, and her table was full of preserves and dainties, and solid food, that I hardly supposed could have survived the desolations of the war. Altogether I had a favoured and satisfactory day, and renewed my walk again on the Second-day morning.
Just as I was getting clear of the town, a Southern gentleman, whom I had spoken freely with the day before on the subjects of war and slavery, was talking to a blacksmith at his smithy and greeted me as I was passing, and then walked off toward town. The smith looked a hard cast iron sort of man, and he asked me if I was the man that was preaching in the town yesterday, and When I told him "yes," and bid him farewell, he said, "I am coming your way," so I perhaps he could give me a ride, but he told me he was coming on horseback. As I left him, he said "I shall see you again." The way he said it made me feel he meant me no good, and as it was a lonely road, I endeavoured to feel after the will of the Lord concerning me. I was granted a sense of His approval and that I was where He would have me to be and about His business, and felt my rest in Him. I did not see the man again, so if he meant me mischief, he was hindered, and if he tried to frighten me he failed. It was the only time in America that I was sensible of any threatening danger.
I arrived safely at Darius Starbuck's at Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, about dinner time
one day, to find his brother with a spare seat in his buggy, and returning home that afternoon into
a settlement of Friends; so I was able to finish my service in those parts with satisfaction and
thankfulness. Then returning to Baltimore, and spending a few days with dear friends there, and in
Philadelphia, New York, New England and Canada, I embarked in the City of Manchester SS.,
and arrived at my home in England in Eighth month, 1865.
It may be well to mention that the cause of the Civil War in America was the existence of negro slavery. For many years prior to it, faithful men and women had laboured and suffered and died in the interests of freedom and the slaves, as Levi Coffin, Laura Havilland, Elizabeth L. Comstock and others have set forth in their deeply interesting narratives. I know that it was not the plea for the Rebellion, but the matters in dispute could easily be traced to slavery as the underlying cause, for had there been no slavery, there would have been no war. It must be remembered that there were thousands of real Christians, both black and white, who had been praying through long years of almost hopeless suffering for the end of slavery, and all the while the bonds of slave seemed riveted more firmly.
When Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States of in 1861, he had no power to interfere with the institution of Slavery, where it then existed, and his Oath to preserve the Constitution prevented his doing so, till the cause of the war was made manifest, and Federal States sanctioned his Emancipation Proclamation. This unavoidable delay was not understood in England at the time, and nearly led to hostilities between the two nations, which through the providence of God were prevented, largely through the noble stand of John Bright and other lovers of truth and righteousness.
The effect of the war upon the coloured people, who are very emotional, was often very striking. The similarity of their condition to that of the children of Israel in Egyptian slavery was very real to them, and of constant reference. One old negro woman told a friend of mine that she thought "Massa Lincoln (who of course, was their Moses) had a bigger job than Moses, for Moses had the children of Israel all together when he brought them out of Egypt, but Massa Lincoln had to bring them out of so many cities." Their prayers were constant and fervent for blessings on Lincoln and his Government, and in some instances Jefferson Davis (who was their Pharaoh) was not forgotten, one coloured preacher asking the good Lord "to take him, and shake him over the mouth of hell, but, O Massa Jesus, dinna let him fail in."
A young lady Friend who laboured a good deal among them during this period was at one of their meetings when the coloured Pastor prayed that Davis might be sent to perdition. At the close of the meeting she spoke to him about it, pointing out the Christian attitude towards our enemies in the hope they might find a place of repentence and be forgiven. It puzzled the dear man considerably, but after a little deep thought he said,--"Well! really missie; I don't see where else he's to go to."
The faithfulness of some old slaves remarkable, for where kindly treated they often became firmly attached to their masters and mistresses, and in not a few instances looked after the place, cultivated the land, and cared for the family, while the fathers, brothers or sons, were away in the war.
The condition of our Friends in North Carolina, and the districts disturbed by the armies in their active movements was very sad. Many were pretty well stripped of all they had, and some nearly starved, but the religious life among them seemed deepened rather than otherwise their meetings, with few exceptions, I believe, were regularly held, and often their neighbours, and the soldiers stationed near would attend them. Their pious neighbours were much to be felt for, for most of the preachers in the South preached up the war; in some cases promising eternal life to those who were slain in the conflict. Several of these pious men joined Friends, and witnessed a good confession to the Prince of Peace, in whose cause they suffered. Seth Lincoln was one, who died in the camp, but left a testimony that those around him at the time of his departure are not likely to forget. Solomon Fraser, after enduring much punishment rather than bear arms, was having a musket strapped to him, the captain meanwhile walking up and down in a great temper, swearing and using very bad language, when Solomon turned to him, and said, "If it's thy duty to inflict this punishment upon me, do it cheerfully." The captain stood, as one stunned, and turning to go away, said, "There--if any of you can make a soldier of him, do--I can't." Ferdinand Cartland has preserved many interesting and striking narratives of the faithfulness of Friends in those times in is book "Southern Heroes."
The difference in the position of Friends in the North and those in the South lay in this. In the North after the first draft of soldiers was made through the loyal States, a deputation of Friends waited on President Lincoln, respecting those of our Friends who were in it. He kindly gave these a parole of honour to appear when called for, and so they were exempted, as the call was never made. When Congress met they considered the case of Friends and all who on religious grounds refused to bear arms, and decided that conscientious scruples must be respected, but in a time of emergency and danger such as the nation was in every citizen should bear a share of the burden,--they therefore enacted that anyone above described, being drafted, should have a choice of going into the Army Hospitals to help with the sick and wounded, or into the Freedmen's Camps to look after the coloured refugees who were coming up from the South in great numbers,--or, in lieu of service, to pay 300 dollars to be devoted to one of these objects hence cases of suffering among our drafted Friends in the North were due to lack of needed information in due time, or the ill-will officers with whom they had to do.
In the South it was just reversed. Friends were known to be loyal to the Government and opposed to war and slavery. The Confederate Government after a time did allow exemption on payment of 500 dollars to those who were born in membership with us, but this often caused a good deal of trouble to secure; and those who joined the Society by convincement got no benefit from it, but rather became marked men for persecution, as their motives were suspected. So if any of our Friends in South, who were conscripted (for every man capable of bearing arms unless except for some special reason, had to serve in the army), had any relief, or any favour, it was through the kind feeling of the officers who had to do with him.
At the close of the war the whole of the whole of the population of the Southern States were sadly impoverished, and Friends among them. For nearly four years they been dependent for food and clothing on what they could raise or make, their condition getting worse and worse as the time went on, and so clothes, harness, and everything needful for use or comfort came be in a dilapidated condition, or wanting. The roads were bad and the bridges and culverts oft destroyed, for all these things were almost totally neglected. A few goods came into the market, having run the blockade; but the price was beyond the reach of all except a very few. I saw a lot of ordinary felt hats that were being to a would-be purchaser. There were three qualities,--the lowest price was 100 dollars,--the highest 160.
As soon as the war ended and communication was restored, Friends in the North in England came gladly to the help of Friends,--Francis T. King, of Baltimore, and several others with him devoting much time and labour to putting them in a way to get on again. I was at a Quarterly Meeting in North Carolina when a letter came from Baltimore with a list of questions by which their needs might be known. It was a very touching tendering time, in which allusion was made to the difference between themselves, and other religious professors,--that while the latter, of the same name had been fighting one another,--Friends, though cut off for years from communication with each other, had been preserved in love, and as soon as ever it was possible are seeking to help us.
Then, as to their needs,--the children had been four years without schooling and help in the matter of Education would be very valuable, but beyond this, two or three friends thought they need not trouble their kind friends, as Peace had come, and they could get along. Then two or three said they thought those Friends were hardly aware of the state of some of our families, and named several that were nearly starving,--one was a widow with little children, others had sickness, etc. Finally, a Committee was appointed of two or three Friends from each Monthly Meeting, so that all the families belonging to the Quarterly Meeting might be visited, and their needs ascertained. I met one of these Friends later on, and he seem troubled as to what he should do, for he found that instead of wanting little or nothing but education, everybody wanted something, and he showed me his long list--at the end of each were invariably articles of clothing and food, and a little coffee,--the one luxury they seemed to crave. He did not like taking it to the Quarterly Meeting, but I told him he must do so, and I hoped the Quarterly Meeting would send the lists to Baltimore, as Friends there needed the information, and it rested with them how far they felt it right, or were able to supply the wants.
I often longed during my visits to our dear suffering Friends, that my presence might not lessen the good that the news of an English Friend coming to see them in their distress had already done them. I felt it a great privilege to be the bearer of so much love and sympathy from Friends in the old lands, and in the North, and to feel from place to place our dear Saviour's presence.