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Behold me, installed in solemn state! having thus far lost no limb. Betimes, at seven this morning, I was duly at the Alexandria ferryboat with horses, Silas and Albert. Having shown my pass, I assured the worthy corporal on guard that there was no liquor in the saddle-box, and was allowed to go on board, and twenty minutes took us to Alexandria, a town in no wise remarkable except for an antique pavement, much resembling that of Pompeii and of the Via Appia at Rome, in respect to deep holes and ruts. Here I was driven to the "Depot," which consisted in one wooden counting-room, closely beset on all sides by puffing engines and innumerable freight cars. Having, at great risk, got into the shanty, I of course found a Marbleheader at the head of all affairs, viz., Colonel Devereux. He received me with tenderness, my horses were put in the best car and I was placed in a state chair until the train was ready, when the conductor solemnly took me and placed me first in the only passenger car. Shoulder-straps is shoulder-straps down here, and folks is obliged to stand round. The conductor (the dirtiest mortal I ever saw, but extremely energetic and capable) said we should have no trouble with guerillas, as they had a very nice colonel in command near there, who had taken the wise precaution to seize the father and brother of the chief guerilla and then to send a civil message to him stating that, if any trains were fired into, it would be his (the Colonel s) painful duty to tie said relations on the track and run an engine over them! This had an excellent effect. I have only time to-night to say that we got down all safe. . . . You may rest easy on my account for the present. There is about as much appearance of an enemy near at hand, as there would be on Boston Common. The nearest of them (except a few guerillas) are many miles from here.
September 5, 1863
Our train consisted in a large number of freight cars, all marked "U. S. Military Railroads," and of one passenger car containing its precious freight of officers, not to speak of the female doctor who knocked Zacksnifska out of all sight and knowledge. She was going down to get the son of an old lady, who (the said son) had had a sunstroke, and this female doctor had great confidence she could cure him. She was attired in a small straw hat with a cockade in front, a pair of blue pantaloons and a long frock coat, or sack. Over all she had a linen "duster"; and this, coupled with the fact that she had rips in her boots, gave her a trig appearance. She was liberal in her advice to all comers and especially exhorted two newspaper boys to immediately wash their faces, in which remark she was clearly correct. . . .
... At Warrenton Junction there was luckily an ambulance from headquarters; and as its owner was only a diminutive captain, I had no hesitation in asking him to carry me up, with my traps. . . . So off we set, on a road which went sometimes over stumps and sometimes through "runs" two or three feet deep. We passed any quantity of pickets and negroes and dragoons in twos and threes; till at last, looking off to the left (or rather right), I beheld what seemed a preparation for a gigantic picnic: a great number of side-tents, pitched along regular lines, or streets, and over them all a continuous bower of pine boughs. These were "Headquarters." I put my best foot forward and advanced to the tent of the Commander-inChief , in front of which waved a big flag on a high staff. In my advance I was waylaid by a lieutenant, the officer of the day, who with much politeness said General Meade was out for a ride, but would I not walk into a tent and take some whiskey; which I accepted, all but the whiskey. He turned out to be a Swede, one Rosencrantz, and I rejoiced his soul by speaking of Stockholm. Presently there arrived the General himself, who cried out, "Hulloo, Lyman! how are you?" just as he used to. He was as kind as possible, and presently informed me I was to mess with him. As the Chief -of -Staff is the only other man who is allowed to do this, you may concede that my lines have fallen in pleasant places! The said Chief -of -Staff is General Humphreys, a very eminent engineer. He is an extremely neat man, and is continually washing himself and putting on paper dickeys. He has a great deal of knowledge, beyond his profession, and is an extremely gentle manly man. As to the Assistant Adjutant-General, S. Barstow, he was most hospitable, and looked out for getting me a tent, etc. He really has a laborious and difficult position, the duties of which he seems to discharge with the offhand way of an old workman.
Now I will pull up. As to my riding forth yesterday and to-day, in martial array, beside the General, and with dragoons clattering behind, shall not the glories thereof be told in a future letter? Meanwhile, if you want to feel as if nobody ever was or could be killed, just come here! This is the effect, strange as it may seem. For your assurance I will state, that we yesterday rode seven miles directly towards the enemy, before we got to a spot whence their pickets may sometimes be seen ! . . .
- Theodore Lyman
- Meades Headquarters 1863 - 1865, Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox