The Story of an Old Town
by Gillie Cary McCabe
Published by the Old Dominion Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1929
ABOUT two years ago, the late Hunter Booker, well-known antiquarian of Hampton, discovered in an antique shop two dusty pictures of The Burning of Hampton, whose origin and history was unknown. They were loaned to the writer with the hope that their reproduction in some permanent form would be interesting-not to perpetuate hostile memories of "Old, far off, unhappy things- And battles long ago"- but simply to show to a younger and gainsaying generation the quality of that high patriotism which the world would be poorer should we forget.
The sacrifice at that time was deemed a "military necessity," and the soldier-citizens who owned the ancient homesteads in the beautiful little city of doom were selected to consign them to the devouring flames, and this they faltered not in doing with heroic hands, though heavy hearts. The torch was never held so high, though only dust and ashes remain for witness. But high motives ennoble even the most tragic mistakes of history, and this was one of them in the "kingdom of broken swords."
CHAPTER I - It's Romance
COULD the soil or the sea tell their story, there would be no need for human speech. When so much has been written, it seems almost presumption to add further to the chronicles of this land of the sky-blue water-and yet there is so much teeming history along the banks of bay and river, of landlocked creek and inlet, that there may still be room for the play of memory and tradition.
American histories usually lack the details which give them the flavor of intimacy, and few of its readers are aware of the fascinating dramas played by three races in that part of the estuary of the James guarded by Hampton Roads.
First, the tragedy of the red man!
May Day in 1607! Five American Indians are peering at three ships gliding mysteriously over the waterway. Never before have they beheld such a sight! What does it mean? Is it war or peace? "Enemies" or "friends," these men with faces so pale in the translucent light of spring?
Ah! A sign from one of those serenely floating boats! "Friends," they signal-and "Friends," the red men signal back-and for welcome they fling their bows and arrows on the ground, then pick them up and hold them between their teeth. They plunge into the water to meet the little boats, little dreaming (alas!) that they are the harbingers of doom. The white man treads Virginia soil, on his way to Jamestown for settlement, and red man and white man smoke the pipe of peace and share together "such dainties as the red man hath," while fields of waving maize sing a requiem to a gallant race. Englishmen, after sailing nearly five months on their baby ships, find themselves once more on land, among strange, shy folk with whom they must reckon, naked, and red-skinned, whose language they cannot understand, but who welcome the homesick mariners to their wigwams in the green and peaceful spot they call home. Thus John Smith, before the historic landing at Jamestown, trod American soil at Kicoughtan on the thirtieth day of April, 1607-over three hundred and twenty years ago-and Hampton, successor to this little Indian village, must not be ashamed, in this day of the "Preservation of Virginia Antiquities," to tell her age, nor to claim this priority, even over Jamestown.
Strachey in his History of Travailes Into Virginia states that this village at that time consisted of 300 wigwams and 1,000 members of the Kicoughtan tribe, who were fine specimens of Indian manhood; but that Powhatan had conquered them and made his son "Pochims" Wero- nance, and he was the chief who signaled Captain Smith to come ashore, and then "feasted him royally." Again in December and January, 1607-1608, while the chronicler was on his way to Pamunkey, he writes, "the extreme wind, frost, and snow caused us to keep Christmas among the savages, and we were never more merrie, nor fedde in such plenty of good oysters, fish, etc." But in the spring of 1610 the Indians planted their last crop of corn, a crop they were never to gather. William Strachey gives an account of the sacking of Kicoughtan, or Hampton, the first scene in the long struggle between Saxon and Savage, and the end of the drama of the red man at Kicoughtan. The fair acres he had tilled, the greensward on which he had played, his wigwams, his maidens, his naked children, all disappear. Is it a wonder, then, that Powhatan proposed to cut off the head of John Smith, and in view of the wrongs to her people, how much more marvellous the compassion of Pocahontas in preventing this deed!
CHAPTER II - Education
So ends the drama of the red man at Kicoughtan, or Hampton. Tomahawks, feathers, bow and ar- rows yield to knee-breeches, cocked hats, and hearts of steel, though in tardy recognition of the Indian's welcome of 1607, the white man's town was laid out in shape of a bow and arrow in memory of the debt so poorly paid to the real "first families of Virginia."
Mr. Heffelfinger, in his Kicoughtan, Old and New, says: "Raise high your monuments to the doughty Captain Smith-he deserves them; but where is the artist who will fittingly mould in enduring bronze a memorial to the five Indian videttes who first welcomed the Englishmen to their shores and to their tribe, at Kicoughtan, who seem never to have broken faith with their guests?"
There was, however, a memorial, though not in bronze. How little have we recognized that we owe the inception of the first institution of learning in the New World to the zeal and piety of Pocahontas! In 1616 John Rolfe and his young wife went over to England with Governor Dale, and "la belle sauvage" 'was presented at the court of St. James and became the "rage of the town." Purchas tells us she "carried herself as the daughter of a king," and was held in high respect not only by the Virginia Company, but by persons of honor and distinction. This was especially because of the "hopeful zeal" advanced by her for Christianity and for the education of the Indian youth. Her timid but earnest efforts along this line were the germ of a fixed purpose in the minds of the colonists and their friends in England to found a "college" in Virginia, a purpose perhaps intensified by her early death, within a year.
King James, within a few days after her burial, issued his "special great license" in a circular letter to the two archbishops of the realm to "instruct the bishops to make collections for the erecting of some churches and schools for ye education of ye children of those Barbarians in Virginia, the funds when collected to be turned over to the Treasurer of the Virginia Company.
This dream of the daughter of her people might have flowered into glorious fruition had it not been nipped in the bud by the great massacre of 1622. "The college," says The Minutes of the London Company, was primarily designed to evangelize the Indians; but the project taken up by the London Company developed into a systematic scheme of education for Virginia, leading up from free school to college, and from college to university, which but antedated the plans of Thomas Jefferson, whose "lengthened shadow" is the University of Virginia. Moreover, the Minutes of the Quarter Court prove that had this comprehensive plan embracing manual instructions for the Indian been successfully carried out (which remember, came within an ace of achievement) the aim of Armstrong's great Institute as well as of Jefferson's University would have been anticipated by more than 200 years! But "God fulfils Himself in many ways," and perhaps the time was not ripe; for the buried past has arisen, Phoenix-like, from its own ashes, and the fire and blood of three wars has baptized the little sea-girt town to yet higher ambitions and nobler struggles.
In spite of the oft quoted crusty utterance of Sir William Berkeley, 'I thank God there are no free schools and printing, and I hope we shall not have them for 300 years," the first legacy for the promotion of free education in the United States of America was given by Benjamin Syms of Virginia in 1634, four years before John Harvard of Massachusetts, a clergyman of England, bequeathed half of his estate and his entire library to the college which now bears his name.
Syms, in his will (made February 12, 1634), gives 200 acres of land on the Poquoson river, to- gether with the milk and increase of eight cows (the lowing herd furnishing the "coin of the realm," as did tobacco afterwards), for the maintenance of a learned and honest man to keep upon the said ground a free school for the education and instruction of the children of the adjoining parishes of Elizabeth City and Kicoughtan.
The term "free school" meant in the seventeenth century a classical school on the pattern of the Latin and Grammar schools of England. In March, 1643, the Virginia Assembly gave a solemn sanction to Syms' will-' 'upon the consideration of the godly disposition and good intent of Benjamin Symmes, deceased . . the said will and testament, shall be confirmed without any alienation or conversion thereof to any place or country . .."
Hence, a few years later, in 1647, we learn from an early writer that the school was in operation and the number of kine greatly increased. Later, Thomas Eaton, by his deed dated September 19,1639, conveyed "500 acres of land, with the house upon it, 2 negroes, 12 cows, 2 bulls, 20 hogs, and some household furniture for the maintenance of an able school-master to educate and teach the children born within the county of Elizabeth City."
The two free schools established by Benj. Syms in 1634, and Thomas Eaton in 1659, consolidated in 1805, by an act of the Legislature, under the name of the Hampton Academy. Says The Southern Workman in its account of Hampton schools: "Elizabeth City County has the honor, not only of being the home of the first free school in America, but of being one of the only two counties in the State that voted for a free school system nearly twenty years before its establishment. As the funds owned by the trustees of the Hampton Academy were not sufficient for its entire support, many children - supplemented them by paying tuition, the instruction being of a high grade,' and the principalship considered a high honor."
In 1846, the General Assembly adopted the present public school system for the State, Mr. John B. Cary being the last principal of the Academy, serving for seven years until it became a part of the free public school system in 1851. By an act of the Assembly, the new board of trustees and governors of the Syms-Eaton Academy were put in possession of all the property belonging to the board, which amounted to about ten thousand dollars, which was used to supplement the local levy for school purposes. The mortgage bonds in which the Syms-Eaton fund had been in- vested were in the hands of Col. J. C. Phillips, of Hampton, when early in the War Between the States he entrusted them to his famfly fleeing to Richmond; and, thanks to this faithful guardianship, the little bundle of deeds passed safely through the risks of fire, flight and siege, and were at the end brought safely back to be recorded as "those bonds payable to the trustees of Hampton Academy, and now, by the operation of the statutes, the property of the County School Board of Elizabeth City County."
The interest of this fund is still used to help defray the expenses of the public schools of the county and was the acorn which has grown into the tall oak of the present Syms-Eaton Academy, unique in history and antiquity among all schools, public or private, of the State, or even country. Would that it could be largely endowed by personal gifts, its faculty and equipment enlarged, and its history and antiquity made nationally known, so that it should be a worthy monument to the first donors to the cause of free education in America! In this age of material "antiques," why should not this ancient educational foundation receive the meed of respect accorded a mirror or a desk? In this old school we are told "flogging" was the order of the day and the "baculine" quite a common mode of argument. Mr. Christopher Pryor was a pedagogue whose severity in administering the rod was a terror to offenders. The wide-spreading "birch-tree" of Virgil's day had far less refreshing uses then than those of shade and verdure, and there was surely no time for a "reclining Tityrus" to "meditate upon the lute."
In 1852, after his seven years service at the Hampton Academy, Mr. Cary, having purchased his dwelling-house on "the Point," bought the adjacent land of the old Academy, and put up in the extensive grounds adjoining his residence (fronting the creek), a large and, by all odds, the most finely equipped school building south of Boston. Ambitious td secure every modern improvement. Mr. Cary spent some time in Boston and New York, visiting the various schools and studying their equipment and conveniences.
Garfield said a university was a log with the pupil on one end and Mark Hopkins on the other, and truly, many of our secondary schools were formerly as bare as a log and as inconvenient. While, of course, "Mark Hopkins," and such as he, must always be the ruling factor in education, a reference to teachers of the old catalogs, adorned with the picture of the "Hampton Military Academy," shows that these unusual material conveniences were not superior but in keeping with the ability and reputation of the Assistants chosen with great care by the principal. Colonel Thomas Tabb of Hampton, a graduate of Princeton, was at one time a teacher, also the late Mr. Jesse Jones of William and Mary. It will be seen that there was always a graduate of the V. M. I., Colonel W. E. Cutshaw, the distinguished city-engineer of Richmond, being the last commandant when the War Between the States broke out. There were also a Master of Arts of the University of Virginia, and a graduate from Heidelburg and Leipsic for Modern Languages and Music. Thus the boys were fitted both for military and professional life, some of them choosing, for advanced study, West Point, Annapolis and V. M. I., and others the University of Virginia.
There were, at the breaking out of the war, 140 pupils, not only from Elizabeth City, York and Warwick counties, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but from North and South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia and other Southern States. Co-education became a local necessity, demanded by the patrons of the town and vicinity, whose daughters must also be educated; so Mr. Cary was obliged to provide a separate school-room and an accomplished lady principal for the girls, together with the above mentioned professor of music, French and German. Said an old pupil: "Never was there such an ideal spot for such an institution. Sufficient grounds for the drilling of the cadets extended to the blue water. The military feature being incorporated, there was always the sound instruction and discipline of the Virginia Military Institute added to the atmosphere and scholarship of the University of Virginia, while the degree man from across the waters added the old-world touch with his Music, French and German. Over it all presided the head master, of whom there is no need to speak to those who remember, for some of these have testified that he was "worthy of a place beside Thomas Arnold." "In lucidity of expression in the class room, in happy illustration, in rare intuition as to the individual capacity and limitation of his pupils, in sympathetic inspiration, our master had but very few equals, and certainly no superior. This old Commonwealth sustajiied a grievous loss when, owing to the wreckage of his buildings and fortune, he reluctantly gave up his career as teacher."
Under the direction of Colonel W. E. Cutshaw, the Academy began, in 1860-1861, to be a training school for the coming War Between the States. The boys were instructed in all the details of military life. Every night for months the young sentinels stood guard throughout the long hours under the stars, with thrilling anticipation of their chances for glory and adventure in the coming conflict.
The sweet spring days came and went with this burden of watching and waiting, and one May day when the roses ran riot over fence and field there came an end to this serene and scholarly life. Without examinations, or commencement, or honors, or speeches, the old Academy was closed and the end of an era had come. Mr. Cary called together his pupils and teachers, and, with wise and tender words of counsel, bade them all farewell. He urged them to be worthy of the lessons they had learned, to remember that Virginia and Hampton Academy expected every man to do his duty, even to the extent of dying for his country, if need be, the death sweet and honorable.
CHAPTER III - The War -- 1861-1865
THERE is nothing so deceitful as gures," said the jocular Sydney Smith, "except facts." Nev- ertheless, there are some dates and deeds which are written in blood and fire upon the hearts of those who live to tell the story.
On the 13th day of April, 1861, Fort Sumter was bombarded; on the 15th, Lincoln issued his eventful proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers from the various States; whereupon (and wherefore) on the 17th, Virginia passed her ordinance of secession (subsequently ratified by the people by a majority of nearly 100,000 votes), and on the 20th, large reinforcements were landed at Fortress Monroe, three miles from Hampton. Thus the dogs of war were let loose on our very hearthstones, and the people to a man arose to defend themselves and drive them back. Life became an epic and every nighf and day big with the fate of Cato and of Rome. Early in May, Colonel B. F. Ewell, a graduate of West Point and president of William and Mary College, was appointed to the command of all the volunteers then organized on the Peninsula, and John B. Cary, principal of the Hampton Military Academy, was commissioned major and assigned to duty in immediate charge of the troops in and around Hampton. These companies, consisting of about 200 men, were undisciplined, having received little training in "the piping times of peace." There was little or no equipment. They were confronted by an army of 10,000 men not three miles distant, and they constituted the sole barrier between Fortress Monroe and Yorktown. A single act of violence or indiscretion might have prematurely precipitated hostilities and endangered at the outset the safety of the city destined to become the stronghold of the Confederacy. The situation was one of painful suspense. The ordinance of secession had not yet been ratified, and Virginia was nominally a State in the Union. Instructions had been received from General Lee to abstain from any action that might provoke a collision (but to watch closely the movements of the enemy), and, should he threaten an advance, to throw obstructions in the way by burning bridges and felling trees, etc. Thus passed weeks of terrible and sleepless anx- iety. It was not war, but a period of even greater responsibility.
On the evening of the 23rd of May (Election Day) the large and already excited crowd was thrown into a state of wild tumult and alarm by the announcement by the pickets on duty that a regiment of United States troops was approaching supported by a battery of six field pieces. The citizens rushed forward, en masse, armed with any old rusty weapon they could find. But Major Cary in command promptly ordered his small body of men to assemble at the Court House and fall back beyond New Bridge (which crosses Back River about one and one-half miles from Hampton on the road to Bethel) and there await orders. Then calling to his assistance his adjutant and former assistant at the Academy, Lieutenant Cutshaw, he gave orders for "tar, pitch and turpentine" to be carried to the bridge between Hampton and Old Point, and the bridge set on fire to prevent an entrance into the town. Seeing the flames, the Federal troops advanced at a double quick pace, and Lieutenant Cutshaw, being instructed to ride forward, spurred his frantic horse across the burning timber and asked with what intent they came.
The answer was that they had orders to march into Hampton, and they were going to do it! Major Cary then met Colonel Phelps, of Vermont, the commanding officer, and remonstrated with him over the invasion as an act of war not justified by the existing circumstances, the town being filled with women and children whose safety would be endangered by this step. Colonel Phelps, however, insisted he must obey orders and attempted to extinguish the fire by destroying the timbers of the bridge. The matter was at last compromised by mutual pledge that no act of violence be committed on either side, and Major Cary ordered the flames to be extinguished and the Federal troops marched into town, with Colonel Phelps and Major Cary walking together side by side at the head of the regiment. What a singular co-partnership, viewed with intense indignation that caused curses, not loud but deep, from the excited citizens of the "Gamecock town," not only against the enemy, but against Major Cary himself. Scarcely could they be restrained from an open expression of violence against the officer, whose firm will and word held them hack so sorely against their will.
But it was the story of
"The King of France with twenty thousand men,
Marched up the kin and then marched back again."
The excitement of the men was soon quelled by the countermarchmg of the troops and their return to Fortress Monroe. But had a single shot been fired the result would certainly have been the utter destruction of the town with the loss of many innocent and helpless lives, and the permanent occupation of Yorktown (then held by only three companies of infantry under Major [afterwards Colonel] Montague). This famous old Revolutionary town was for twelve months afterwards one of the great obstacles to the much desired goal embodied in the stirring slogan "On to Richmond."
General B. F. Butler was at that time in command at Fortress Monroe, the only place in Virginia held by those representing the Federal troops as opposed to the sovereign states themselves. He held possession of a number of runaway slaves who had escaped from Hampton. Upon complaint of prominent citizens, Major Cary sent a flag of truce to Butler (probably the first of the war) asking for a conference with the view of learning what line of policy he proposed to adopt toward the people. Butler responded favorably, and the afternoon of the 24th of May was appointed for the meeting. During this interview, the general applied for the first time the title of "contraband" to the slaves of the Southern people. His claim was disputed, and in proof of which he published in his autobiography (see Life of Benj. F. Butler) a letter from Major Cary substantiating this contention.
When about to separate, Major Cary remarked he had only one personal request to make, which was that he might be allowed to move his library to a place of safety, Hampton being blockaded and no ingress or egress allowed by water. This favor Butler promised to grant in view of the fact that "books neither fed nor clothed an army," and the next day sent the required permit to take them to Smithfield, Va.
Hampton, however, was evacuated on the following Monday before there was an opportunity to take advantage of his courtesy. General Butler, however, was not forgetful of his promise, as will be seen from the following communication sent voluntarily under a flag of truce after the engagement at Bethel:
Hd. Qrs. of Va.
June 22, 1861.
Major J. B. Cary,
Finding that your library had beep disturbed at Hampton, I have done that which I advised you to do, brought it to Fortress Monroe for safe keeping where it awaits your requisition unless you deem it safer there than anywhere else you can send it.
I have the honor to remain
Very respectfully your obedient servant
Benj. F. Butler,
Major Gen. Com.
Surely a very honorable thing for an enemy to do, and every effort was made to profit by this unexpected kindness, as the books possessed a value far greater than their intrinsic worth representing heirlooms and the accumulations of years. Communications were sent and interviews sought under special flags of truce, but the rest was silence and the library was never recovered. After the end of the war it was found to have been placed in the Soldiers' Hospital at Hampton, where a few scattered and defaced volumes were rescued and brought away by the owner as painful souvenirs of the dd days of suffering and sacrifice.
On the 27th of May the Federals landed troops at Newport News, which made Hampton untenable, and made it necessary to evacuate the town before all chance of retreat was cut off. So Major Cary ordered his battalion to fall back to Bethel (where a few days later occurred the first engagement of the war), and notified the citizens that the "new bridge" would be burned that afternoon.
The families of the soldiers, unwilling to be separated from their natural protectors, made ready in haste, and the sad exodus was universal. Every available means of transportation was seized upon to carry the bewildered and distressed women and children to the nearby towns of York and Williamsburg. The altars and firesides were deserted, the old homesteads of many generations left desolate, and their owners driven forth, happily not knowing they should never see them again.
This was the first evacuation of the war, and for four long years, until the last tragic scenes of defeat and despair, these unfortunate old Virginians wandered from Dan to Beersheba, homeless and, in many instances, penniless, or trying to keep off starvation on the pittance of the private soldier, yet not a word of complaint or vain repining escaping their lips. No sacrifice was too great, all loss but gain, and under the high pressure of their patriotism they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. Under it Spartan mothers sent forth beardless boys with the old charge to come back with their shields or on them," and maidens girded their young lovers for the fray with proud, exultant hearts. "The Hampton Refugees!" surely their meed of honor has been all too meager, and their losses and sacrifices too little known or appreciated.
Truly it might have been said of them as of one greater than us all, "They endured the cross, despising the shame," for the "joy set before them," a joy of victory and compens ation which was never realized.
"My heart is torn every day," writes an officer from Yorktown, "by the sufferings of our people, of the wives and children of the private soldiers with nothing to live on but their monthly pittance, and provisions so scarce and high that a good meal is unknown even to the wealthy. Our old friend, Jim Massenburg, had to make a coffin for his own child."
But the end was not yet-the fiery end of this fair old town when it suffered a consuming fire from the hands of its own devoted children, a burnt offering laid upon the altar of their country, which was the supreme sacrifice, indeed, greater than that of life itself. That it was a useless one only makes it more tragic, and does not in any way detract from the patriotism (however mistaken it may now seem) of the men who applied the torch to their own cherished hearthstones in obedience to the duty of the hour.
On the 7th of August, 1862, General Magruder (then encamped near New Market) ordered Major Jeff Phillips of the Third Virginia Cavalry, which regiment contained the "Old Dominion Dragoons" of Hampton and Elizabeth City County, to report to him in a house two miles from town, where he was in consultation with his staff and several gentlemen. He said to him: "I have determined to burn Hampton. An article appeared a few days ago in a Northern paper stating that the United States troops will make Hampton their headquarters during the coming winter. I'd rather see it burned, and so had these gentlemen (pointing to those around him who owned property in the town), than see it shelter the enemy."
"Theirs not to make reply
Theirs not to reason why...
As soon as it was dark, four companies, two of infantry and two of cavalry, under the command of Colonel Hodders of Portsmouth (who was to be guided by Major Phillips' advice on account of his familiarity with the place), entered the town to burn it. The infantry, save twenty men detailed by Major Phillips to picket the Hampton bridge, were stationed at the historic old church, St. John's, the third oldest in the State, in the west portion of the town, while Major Phillips with his Dragoons (dismounted) went forward to fulfill the hard duty assigned them. He divided the men into four squads, each one in charge of one-fourth of the town, and many residents with heroic hearts and hands applied the torch to their own homes. In a short while the victorious flames leaped up to the starry skies, the crimson horizon was reflected in the lurid waters, and tongues of fire proclaimed afar the fate of our little Moscow. The conflagration raged all night, not a house left standing save one. The walls of the massive old church alone defied the flames, while the elegy of its country church yard so full of "weeping willows" and gen- erations of sleepers, was set to a sadder strain than that of Gray's immortal verse.
When peace had come again, and some of the old citizens returned to the blackened walls and confiscated grounds, they found themselves indeed amidst "the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet."
* * * *
But a new town has arisen from these ruins, and new people have added their contribution of modern thought and progress to these memories of the descendants of the Old Guard, but all, with one accord, still hold high the torch of education and philanthrophy, while, gazing across the sea they cherish the vision splendid of "argosies of sails," laden with the commerce of the world.
Bibliography, and a Touch of Biography
To Dr. Lyon G. Tyler, late President of William and Mary College, and long-time Editor of the William and Mary Quarterly, our eminent Virginian historian, whose unquestioned accuracy makes his pamphlet on The History of Hampton most valuable for reference, our grateful acknowledgments are due, as well as our indebtedness to the Antiquarian, the late Jacob Heffelfinger, author of a charming booklet, Kicoughtan, Old and New.
It may be vaguely remembered by Dr. Tyler that his father, ex-President of the United States, had his summer home, "Villa Margaret," in Hampton, "across the bridge," which position fortunately caused it to escape the flames when the town was burned. This was also true of the handsome residence of the late Colonel Thomas Tabb, the distinguished jurist, and that of Colonel Charles Mallery.
In 1860, President Tyler delivered the Commencement address of the Hampton Military Academy, and had himself enrdled in the Alumni Society as one of the "Old Boys."
His gracious hospitality and urbanity lent quite a touch of distinction to his frequent "dinings and winings" and the interchange of festivities was the occasion of an incident, which may be of interest enough to the "gentle reader" for us to transcribe here a homely relic of Colonial Days when the sable cook, like the poet, was "born, and not made."
Writes ex-President Tyler:
"My dear Sir-
Will it give Mrs. Cary too much trouble to furnish me with a receipt for the delicious crab soup she had served up for dinner yesterday? If not you wa much oblige me by furnishing it to the servant for me
The aforesaid "delicious Crab Soup" was made from an heirloom recipe, given by Martha Washington, herself. It was the one used by her at her Tidewater home, "the White House" in New Kent, when she entertained her visitors from gay little Williamsburg, where her husband sat in the House of Burgesses.
Irving tells us the Father of his Country was not especially given to the pleasures of the palate, but he must have relished this savory dish, and found it a vast improvement upon the fare of the "Beefsteak and Tripe Club" to which he belonged in his bachelor days.
With an apology to the modern housewife who respects weak digestion, and a silent salute to the bygone days of "old books, old friends, old wine," we venture to reproduce this ancient "receipt":
Martha Washington's Crab Soup
"Fifteen crabs thrown into boiling water alive.
"Boil until done; meat picked up fine; put into 2 quarts of water in which a pound of middling bacon has been boiled. Beat up yolks of two eggs, stir in pint of rich milk which has been heated. Then pour into the boiling crab soup which must not boil but cook a few minutes after mixing.
"Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste."
The "new Biography" has added new life to many dry-as-dust pages, and may permit here brief mention of a few deeds of valor hitherto unwritten, but so full of romantic interest that the pictures on memory's walls might well step down from their dusty niches and ask, have you forgotten us, the men of war and peace, who sprang from this historic soil; the Vikings, more at home on sea than land, such as the Commodores Samuel and James Barron. Louis Warrington, and later on, Captain Pembroke Jones, the "Paul Jones" of the old Navy, who, ignorant of the Secession of Virginia, returned from a distant cruise, and was arrested as a traitor because he wore the blue instead of the gray; again, the thrilling story of the young midshipman, Albert Gallatin Hudgins, who, along with the other Southern cadets of his class, resigned from Annapolis to offer his services to the Confederacy just six weeks before graduation. Assigned to duty on the Sumpter, he was placed by Admiral Sims in command of a captured gunboat, whose crew was clever enough to cut loose from the ship and demand his surrender. He refused, climbed the mast and fought with his back to the wall until he fell wounded, and was put in irons, taken into the harbor of New York, and there incarcerated in "the Tombs," on trial as a pirate, for more than twelve months, when he was exchanged, a grey-haired boy of twenty-one!
Surely, General Sherman was right when he exclaimed "war is hell."
Of George Wythe, statesman and jurist, born at Chesterville, in Elizabeth City County, the instructor of Jefferson and Marshall at William and Mary, there is no need to speak. In the fair kingdom of letters, James Barron Hope, of Hampton and William and Mary, was called "the poet-laureate of Virginia," because he was selected by Congress to deliver the Centennial Ode at Yorktown in 1881, and by Virginia to write the Lee Memorial Ode at the unveiling of the statue of General Lee in Richmond, which was his swan song just finished when he laid down his pen to die.
Other gallant names belong to this land where the flowing tide comes in, but the roll-call would be like unto that of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and time and tide swiftly rolling have washed them away, because, alas! like the great men who "lived before Agamemnon, they lack the sacred prophet."
1. The skirmish at Winchester wherein Lt. Marr was killed excepted.