For the past two weeks I've been almost hidden under the
clefts of the "Blue Ridge." I'd sewed myself tired on comforts for
the "St. Bernard" and sorely felt the need of a furlough so ran up
to "Old Fort" for a resting spell.
The weather was charming and I spent most of the time
wandering over those grand old mountains drinking in fresh pleasures all the
while. I thought of the great miracle that was still going on in silence around
us and my heart was awed within me in thinking of the grand work of our creation
finished yet renewed, in everything I could read the lesson of eternity.
March 14, 1876
Col. T., some ladies from Old Fort and your humble servant would ride up
(on the engine) to Henry's every afternoon. The line of R.R. never seemed
so varied and full of interest, nor God's handywork so perfect. Often would
those beautiful thoughts of the sweet singer of Israel rush over me, "
The earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof, the world and they that
dwell therein." Then a yearning would arise Oh! Behold the land that is very
far off undisturbed by cares and the petty annoyances of this life. What is this in
life that makes us wish to grasp it with so strong a hold?
As we would return at twilight whole mountain sides seemed on fire.
The farmers burning brush preparing for the coming year and the atmosphere was
perfumed with the punk from decayed timber that was being cut for the use of the
They are making very rapid progress with the work. The convicts
work well better than free Negroes, and strange as it may seem they appear happy.
The cars run through Point Tunnel (300 feet) between Old Fort and "St.
Bernards" and you can see daylight through Burgin Tunnel (1200 feet).
Come up next Summer and we will go over the whole line and have a good time.
'tis the week of our court, not much important business for the one eyed as well
as the one idea'd Judge to bustle over.
Willie has returned from New Orleans and enjoyed the trip to the fullest extent,
brought some beautiful visions of the Miss. River and New Orleans. He tells me
the Mardi Gras was grand beyond description! He brought the most exquisite face
(a steel plate) I ever beheld. The face is well named "Called by the
Angels" for the look has all of Heaven's heart and mind are impressed
by the ever passing magnitude that this face has looked behind the vail into
the "things not seen".
I thought of you during my visit and sent a circular or notice of the "St.
Bernard." Also an account of Miss Mattie's marriage both of which I hope
have been received. What a strict creditor you are. I did hope to be the recipient
of one of your pleasant expressions. I was indebted to you, but no indeed, I must
give line upon line if I would receive from you.
You see the Blade and keep up with our town news. Did you see the Wilmington Post
on the Blade? I think that paper is viler (if that could be) than the Standard in
it's palmy days.
Canady says the gallows
for Jeff Davis. Would God that the vile humans who erect
the gallows might meet their just desert.
I feel a kind of holy veneration for Pres. Davis and my blood boils to here his
honored name vilizied.
I think now after reading Wendell Phillips, I'm of the opinion I'll not go to the
Cen[tennial ?], but be a "keeper at home", yet when I consider the
cheap sightseeing that's to be enjoyed I expect I'll anoint my conscience
and think I can't do any good by not going and give the Shirlocks my mites. I hear
they are to have a painting of the Getisburg fight and our troops terror
stricken flying from the enemy. I told a visitor (a Yank who boarded here) the
artist didn't paint the faces in the right direction as many a dead Yank, if
they could speak, would testify.
I sometimes think the whole world has run mad. Surely this corrupt state of
things cannot continue much longer.
Before the war when men stole, committed murder and slandered honest poor men,
they were branded as thieves and found a home in the penitentiary. Now they
retire to their county seat and receive the congratulations of the most prominent
persons of our country. How long, oh, how long?
The Yanks are pressing all the stills in these mountains, drinking up the whiskey
and drawing big pay for the very great privilege. The other poor Rebs are working
to pay the tax and run these nabobs.
I've been hard at work in the garden so my fingers are stiff and tired. Won't you
please excuse the eratic incoherent way I've scratched of this letter, but I feared
to trust the morrow knowing the many home duties that lay before me.
At Old Fort "I slept and dreamed that life was beauty, but here I wake and find
Write me when you get tired of work. Your letters are never too long, your paper to
large or too closely written. Rest assured I speak truly. Good night.
Go to LETTER 7
Back to MESSAGES FROM A HIDDEN PAST