14 April 1865: “Mayo’s bridge was fired by incendiaries long before orders were given. none of this is to be published”

Item Description: Two letters dated 14 April 1865.  The first is a letter from Mary C. Gantt to Lizinka Campbell Ewell.  She discusses Hariett “Hattie” Ewell’s adjustment to living with the Gantts in St. Louis.  She also implores Lizinka to leave Nashville.  The second letter is a report about the burning of Richmond from Campbell Brown.  While he reports that the Tredegar Iron Works were saved, there is infrastructure being burned without orders.



Item Citation: Folder 12, Polk, Brown, and Ewell Family Papers, #605, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

St. Louis_ Missouri

April 14th 1865

Dear Lizinka,

It occurred to me that there might be some satisfaction to you in learning something about Hattie_ I mean the impression she makes on other people– in addition to the daily bulletins you receive from herself. I wish I had written before, for you must have felt very anxious to know how the ? the news of the fall of Richmond, and other circumstances which were necessarily very trying and painful to her, and doubly in your absence. We all thought she showed a very remarkable degree of fortitude + strength of character, though all the grief + suspense that she she was obliged to endure. We felt very sorry for her- knowing, too, that we could not prevent her from feeling herself a stranger in a strange land, notwithstanding our wishes and efforts to be kind to her, and make her feel at home.

Since hearing of Gen. Lee’s surrender, + the favorable terms, etc., she has been more cheerful, + brightened up a great deal. Maj. Turner has been a great comfort to her, and has really been as kind and devoted to her as possible_ which of course she has told you constantly.

Hattie disliked the idea of going to Nashville, much as she wishes to see you, + feels the separation from you. Truly the state of society you describe there- the changes amongst your friends + constant discussion of melancholy subjects by those who are left could not have a good effect on the mind of a sensitive young person? I hope you will be able to make your arrangements to leave Nashville after some weeks or months, and that you will consent in the mean time to leave Hattie with us. I say, this without consultation with her- I only know she is disappointed at the idea of your remaining in Nashville, or being obliged to go there herself. I think she is as well contented here as she would be anywhere, separated from you + other near relations_ and we are all fond of her and glad to have her with us. ? wrote to you yesterday, expecting his news on the subject of your residence in Nashville, so I take it for granted that she has exhausted all the arguments against it, and will not attempt to add to them- but surely say that Annie sends her love to you, + that I am

Very sincerely yours

Mary C. Gantt

Washington, 14 Apl./65

The morning Richmond was evacuated, as Gen. Ewell sat with his staff above Manchester watching the progress of the fire, he said to me upon seeing a mill catch fire, ” I begged recommended the Secr of War not to have the city tobacco in the city fired- If I could have had my way it would never have been done.”

The same day or the next, he mentioned that he had prevailed so far as to keep the Tredegar works form being burned

Campbell Brown

Major & A.A.G.


The arsenal was fired by a mob & contrary to orders from it, most of the fires spread. The first fire the Danville Depot was raised by the mob, who had possession of & were sacking the town_ Mayo’s bridge was fired by incendiaries long before orders were given. none of this is to be published_

C. Brown

This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.