With Lee in Virginia: A Story Of The American Civil War, by G. A. Henty, Chapter 20

With Lee in Virginia: A Story Of The American Civil War.

Chapter XX.
The End Of The Struggle.

Vincent directed his course so that while the boat’s head was still pointing up the stream, and she was apparently moving in the same direction as the ships, she was gradua]ly getting out to the middle of the river. Had he tried to row straight across suspicion might at once have been excited. In half an hour they were in the middle of the stream. A vessel passing under full sail swept along at a distance of a hundred yards, and they were hailed. Vincent merely waved his hand and continued his course.

“I dare say those fellows wonder what we are up to, Tony; but they are not likely to stop to inquire. In another quarter of an hour we shall be pretty safe. Ah! there’s a fellow who might interfere with us,” he added looking round. “Do you see that little black thing two miles ahead of us? that’s a steam launch. If she sees us making over she’s likely enough to come and ask us some questions. We had better head a little more toward the shore now. If it comes to a race every foot is of importance.”

Up to now they had been rowing in an easy and leisurely manner, avoiding all appearance of haste. They now bent to their oars, and the boat began to travel a good deal faster through the water. Vincent glanced over his shoulder frequently at the steam launch.

“She is keeping straight on in the middle of the channel, Tony; evidently she hasn’t noticed us yet.”

Ten minutes after passing the ship he exclaimed sharply:

“Row, Tony, as hard as you can; the launch has just passed that ship, and has changed her course. I expect the captain has called their attention to us. It’s a race now.”

The boat, at the moment the launch changed her course, was rather more than halfway between the center of the channel and the shore. The launch was in the center of the channel, and three-quarters of a mile higher up. She had evidently put on steam as she started to cut off the boat, for there was now a white wave at her bow.

“I think we shall do it, Tony,” Vincent said. “I don’t suppose she can go above eight miles an hour and we are certainly going four, and she has more than twice as far to travel as we have.”

Those on board the launch were evidently conscious that they were likely to lose the race, for in a few minutes they began to open fire with their rifles.

“Fire away,” Vincent said. “You ain’t likely to hit us a thousand yards off, and we haven’t another three hundred to row.”

The bullets whistled overhead, but none of them struck the water within many yards of the boat, and the launch was still four or five hundred yards away when the bow of the boat touched the shore. Several muskets were discharged as Vincent and Tony leaped out and plunged into the bushes that came down to the water’s edge. The launch sent up a sharp series of whistles, and random shots were for some time fired into the bushes.

“It is lucky she didn’t carry a small gun in her bow,” Vincent said; “for though seven or eight hundred yards is a long range for a rifle, they might likely enough have hit us if they had had a gun. Now, Tony, we shall have to be careful, for those whistles are no doubt meant as an alarm; and although she cannot tell who we are, she will probably steam up, and if they have any force opposite Bermuda will give them news that two suspicious characters have landed, and they will have parties out to look for us.”

“Dey can look as long as dey like, sah. Ef dose slave-hunters can’t find people in de swamps what chance you tink dose soldiers have? None at all. Dey haven’t got no reward before dere eyes, and dey won’t want to be going in ober dere shoes into de mud and dirtying dere uniforms. No fear ob dem, sah. Dey make as much noise when dey march in de wood as a drove ob pigs. You can hear dem a quarter ob a mile away.”

They tramped on through the woods through which McClellan’s force had so painfully made their way during their first advance against Richmond. From time to time they could hear noises in the forest-shouts, and once or twice the discharge of firearms.

“Dey call dat hunting, I s’pose,” Tony said scornfully.

They kept steadily on until it began to grow dark in the forest. They were now in the White Oak Swamp and not eight miles from Richmond, and they thought it better to pause until it became quite dark, for they might be picked up by any raiding party of cavalry. Vincent was in high spirits. Now, that he had succeeded in his enterprise, and had escaped almost by a miracle, he was eager to get back to Richmond and carry his news down to General Lee. Tony was even more anxious to push on. At last, after three years’ absence, he was to see his wife and child again, and he reluctantly agreed to Vincent’s proposal for a halt.

“We sha’n’t stop very long, Tony; and I own I am waiting quite as much because I am hungry and want to eat, and because I am desperately tired, as from any fear of the enemy. We walked twenty miles last night from Union Grove to the river, then I walked to the boat, back to the farm and then back to the boat again—that’s three more miles—and we have gone another twenty now. I am pretty nearly dead beat, I can tell you.”

“I’se tired too, sah; but I feel I could go on walking all night if I was to see Dinah in de morning.”

“Well, I couldn’t, Tony; not to see any one. I might be willing enough, but my legs wouldn’t take me.”

They ate a hearty meal, and almost as soon as they had finished Vincent stood up again.

“Well, Tony, I can feel for your impatience, and so we will struggle on. I have just been thinking that when I last left my mother a week since she said she was thinking of going out to the Orangery for a month before the leaves fell, so it is probable that she may be there now. It is only about the same distance as it is to Richmond, so we will go straight there. I shall lose a little time, of course; but I can be driven over to Richmond, so it won’t be too much. Besides, I can put on a pair of slippers. That will be a comfort, for my feet feel as if they were in vises. A cup of tea won’t be a bad thing, too.”

During their walk through the wood Vincent had related the circumstances of the carrying away of Dinah and of her rescue. When he had finished Tony had said:

“Well, Massa Wingfield, I don’t know what to say to you. I tought I owed you enuff before, but it war nothing to dis. Just to tink dat you should take all dat pains to fetch Dinah back for me. I dunno how it came to you to do it. It seems to me like as if you been sent special from heben to do dis poor nigger good. Words ain’t no good, sah; but of I could give my life away a hundred times for you I would do it.”

It took them nearly three hours’ walking before they came in sight of the Orangery.

“There are lights in the windows,” Vincent said. “Thank goodness they are there.”

Vincent limped slowly along until he reached the house.

“You stay out here, Tony. I will send Dinah out to you directly. It will be better for her to meet you here alone.”

Vincent walked straight into the drawing-room, where his mother and Annie were sitting.

“Why, Vincent!” Mrs. Wingfield exclaimed, starting up, what has happened to you? What are you dressed up like that for? Is anything the matter?”

“Nothing is the matter, mother, except that I am as tired as a dog. Yes, my dress is not quite fit for a drawing-room,” he laughed, looking down at the rough trousers splashed with mud to the waist, and his flannel shirt, for they had not waited to pick up their coats as they left the boat; “but nothing is the matter, I can assure you. I will tell you about it directly, but first please send for Dinah here.”

Mrs. Wingfield rang the bell on the table beside her.

“Tell Dinah I want to speak to her at once,” she said to the girl that answered it. Dinah appeared in a minute.

“Dinah,” Vincent said, “has your boy gone to bed?”

“Yes, sah; been gone an hour ago.”

“Well, just go to him, and put a shawl round him, and go out through the front door. There is some one standing there you will be glad to see.”

Dinah stood with open eyes, then her hands began to tremble.

“Is it Tony, sah; for de Lord’s sake, is it Tony?”

Vincent nodded, and with a little scream of joy she turned and ran straight to the front door. She could not wait now even to fetch her boy, and in another moment she was clasped in her husband’s arms.

“Now, Vincent, tell us all about it,” his mother said. “Don’t you see we are dying of curiosity?”

“And I am dying of fatigue,” Vincent said; “which is a much more painful sort of death, and I can think of nothing else until I have got these boots off. Annie, do run and tell them to bring me a pair of slippers and a cup of tea, and I shall want the buggy at the door in half an hour.”

“You are not going away again to-night, Vincent, surely?” his mother said anxiously. “You do look completely exhausted.”

“I am exhausted, mother. I have walked seven or eight-and-forty miles, and this cavalry work spoils one for walking altogether.”

“Walked forty-eight miles, Vincent! What on earth have you done that for?”

“Not from choice, I can assure you, mother; but you know the old saying, ‘Needs must when the devil drives,’ and in the present case you must read ‘Yankee’ instead of ‘the gentleman in black.’

“But has Petersburg fallen?” Mrs. Wingfield asked in alarm.

“No; Petersburg is safe, and is likely to continue so. But you must really be patient, mother, until I have had some tea, then you can hear the story in full.”

When the servant came in with the tea Vincent told her that she was to tell Dinah, whom she would find on the veranda, to bring her husband into the kitchen, and to give him everything he wanted. Then, as soon as he had finished tea, he told his mother and sister the adventures he had gone through. Both were crying when he had finished.

“I am proud of you, Vincent,” his mother said. “It is hard on us that you should run such risks; still I do not blame you, my boy, for if I had ten sons I would give them all for my country.”

Vincent had but just finished his story when the servant came in and said that the buggy was at the door.

“I will go in my slippers, mother, but I will run up and change my other things. It’s lucky I have got a spare suit here. Any of our fellows who happened to be going down to-night in the train would think that I was mad were I to go like this.”

It was one o’clock in the morning when Vincent reached Petersburg. He went straight to his quarters, as it would be no use waking General Lee at that hour. A light was burning in his room, and Dan was asleep at the table with his head on his arms. He leaped up with a cry of joy as his master entered.

“Well, Dan, here I am safe again,” Vincent said cheerily. “I hope you had not begun to give me up.”

“I began to be terribly frightened, sir—terribly frightened. I went dis afternoon and asked Captain Burley if he had any news ob you. He said ‘No’; and asked me ef I knew where you were. I said ‘No, sah’; that I knew nuffin about it except that you had gone on some dangerous job. He said he hoped that you would be back soon; and certainly, as far as dey had heard, nuffin had happened to you. Still I was bery anxious, and tought I would sit up till de last train came in from Richmond. Den I tink I dropped off to sleep.”

“I think you did, Dan. Well, I am too tired to tell you anything about it now, but I have one piece of news for you; Tony has come back to his wife.”

“Dat’s good news, sah; bery good news. I had begun to be afraid dat Tony had been shot or hung or someting. I know Dinah hab been fretting about him though she never said much, but when I am at home she allus asks me all sorts of questions ’bout him. She bery glad woman now.”

The next morning Vincent went to General Lee’s quarters.

“I am heartily glad to see you back,” the general said warmly as he entered. “I have blamed myself for letting you go. Well, what success have you had?”

“Here is a rough plan of the works, general. I have not had time to do it out fairly, but it shows the positions of all their principal batteries, with a rough estimate as to the number of guns that each is intended to carry.”

“Excellent!” the general said, glancing over the plan. “This will give us exactly the information we want. We must set to with our counter-works at once. The country is indeed indebted to you, sir. So you managed to cheat the Yankees altogether?”

“I should have cheated them, sir; but unfortunately I came across an old acquaintance who denounced me, and I had a narrow escape of being shot.”

“Well, Captain Wingfield, I must see about this business, and give orders at once. Will you come and breakfast with me at half-past eight? Then you can give me an account of your adventures.”

Vincent returned to his quarters, and spent the next two hours in making a detailed drawing of the enemy’s positions and batteries, and then at half-past eight walked over to General Lee’s quarters. The general returned in a few minutes with General Wade Hampton and several other officers, and they at once sat down to breakfast. As the meal was proceeding an orderly entered with a telegram for the general. General Lee glanced through it.

“This, gentlemen, is from the minister of war. I acquainted him by telegraph this morning that Captain Wingfield, who had volunteered for the dangerous service, had just returned from the Federal lines with a plan of the positions and strength of all the works that they are erecting. I said that I trusted that such distinguished service as he had rendered would be at once rewarded with promotion, and the minister telegraphs to me now that he baa this morning signed this young officer’s commission as major. I heartily congratulate you, sir, on your well-earned step. And now, as I see you have finished your breakfast, perhaps, you will give us an account of your proceedings.”

Vincent gave a detailed account of his adventures, which were heard with surprise and interest.

“That was a narrow escape, indeed,” the general said, as he finished. “It was a marvelous thing your lighting upon this negro, whom you say you had once had an opportunity of serving, just at that moment; and although you do not tell us what was the nature of the service you had rendered him, it must have been a very considerable service or he would never have risked his life in that way to save yours. When these negroes do feel attachment for their masters there are no more faithful and devoted fellows. Well, in your case certainly a good action has met with its reward; if it had not been for him there could be no question that your doom was sealed. It is a strange thing too your meeting that traitor. I remember reading about that escape of yours from the Yankee prison. He must have been an ungrateful villain, after your taking him with you.”

“He was a bad fellow altogether, I am afraid,” Vincent said; “and the quarrel between us was a long-standing one.”

“Whatever your quarrel was,” the general said hotly, “a man who would betray even an enemy to death in that way is a villain. However, he has gone to his account, and the country can forgive his treachery to her, as I have no doubt you have already done his conduct toward yourself.”

A short time afterward Vincent had leave for a week, as things were quiet at Petersburg.

“Mother,” he said on the morning after he got home, “I fear that there is no doubt whatever now how this struggle will end. I think we might keep Grant at bay here, but Sherman is too strong for us down in Georgia. We are already cut off from most of the Southern States, and in time Sherman will sweep round here, and then it will be all over. You see it yourself, don’t you, mother?”

“Yes, I am afraid it cannot continue much longer, Vincent. Well, of course, we shall fight to the end.”

“I am not talking of giving up, mother; I am looking forward to the future. The first step will be that all the slaves will be freed. Now, it seems to me that however attached they may be to their masters and mistresses they will lose their heads over this, flock into the towns, and nearly starve there; or else take up little patches of land and cultivate them, and live from hand to mouth, which will be ruin to the present owners as well as to them. Anyhow for a time all will be confusion and disorder. Now, my idea is this, if you give all your slaves their freedom at once, offer them patches of land for their own cultivation and employ them at wages, you will find that a great many of them will stop with you. There is nowhere for them to go at present and nothing to excite them, so before the general crash comes they will have settled down quietly to work here in their new positions, and will not be likely to go away.”

“It is a serious step to take, Vincent,” Mrs. Wingfield said, after thinking the matter over in silence for some time. “You do not think there is any probability of the ultimate success of our cause?”

“None, mother; I do not think there is even a possibility. One by one the Southern States have been wrested from the Confederacy. Sherman’s march will completely isolate us. We have put our last available man in the field, and tremendous as are the losses of the enemy they are able to fill up the gaps as fast as they are made. No, mother, do not let us deceive ourselves on that head. The end must come, and that before long. The slaves will unquestionably be freed, and the only question for us is how to soften the blow. There is no doubt that our slaves, both at the Orangery and at the other plantations, are contented and happy; but you know how fickle and easily led the negroes are, and in the excitement of finding them selves free and able to go where they please, you may be sure that the greater number will wander away. My proposal is, that we should at once mark out a plot of land for each family and tell them that as long as they stay here it is theirs rent-free; they will be paid for their work upon the estate, three, four, or five days a week, as they can spare time from their own plots. In this way they will be settled down, and have crops upon their plots of land, before the whole black population is upset by the sudden abolition of slavery.”

“But supposing they won’t work at all, even for wages, Vincent?”

“I should not give them the option, mother; it will be a condition of their having their plots of land free that they shall work at least three days a week for wages.”

“I will think over what you say, Vincent, and tell you my decision in the morning. I certainly think your plan is a good one.”

The next morning Mrs. Wingfield told Vincent that she had decided to adopt his plan. He at once held a long consultation with the overseer, and decided which fields should be set aside for the allotments, choosing land close to the negroes’ quarters and suitable for the raising of vegetables for sale in the town.

In the afternoon Mrs. Wingfield went down with him. The bell was rung and the whole of the slaves assembled. Vincent then made them a speech. He began by reminding them of the kind treatment they had always received, and of the good feeling that had existed between the owners of the Orangery and their slaves. He praised them for their good conduct since the beginning of the troubles, and said that his mother and himself had agreed that they would now take steps to reward them, and to strengthen the tie between them. They would all be granted their freedom at once, and a large plot of land would be given to each man, as much as he and his family could cultivate with an average of two days a week steady labor.

Those who liked would, of course, be at liberty to leave; but he hoped that none of them would avail themselves of this freedom, for nowhere would they do so well as by accepting the offer he made them. All who accepted the offer of a plot of land rent-free must understand that it was granted them upon the condition that they would labor upon the estate for at least three days a week, receiving a rate of pay similar to that earned by other freed negroes. Of course they would be at liberty to work four or five days a week if they chose; but at least they must work three days and any one failing to do this would forfeit his plot of land. “Three days’ work,” he said, “will be sufficient to provide all necessaries for yourselves and families and the produce of your land you can sell, and will so be able to lay by an ample sum to keep yourselves in old age. I have already plotted out the land and you shall cast lots for choice of the plots. There will be a little delay before all your papers of freedom can be made out, but the arrangement will begin from to-day, and henceforth you will be paid for all labor done on the estate.”

Scarcely a word was spoken when Vincent concluded. The news was too surprising to the negroes for them to be able to understand it all at once. Dan and Tony, to whom Vincent had already explained the matter, went among them, and they gradually took in the whole of Vincent’s meaning. A few received the news with great joy, but many others were depressed rather than rejoiced at the responsibilities of their new positions. Hitherto they had been clothed and fed, the doctor attended them in sickness, their master would care for them in old age. They had been literally without a care for the morrow, and the thought that in future they would have to think of all these things for themselves almost frightened them. Several of the older men went up to Mrs. Wingfield and positively declined to accept their freedom. They were quite contented and happy, and wanted nothing more. They had worked on the plantation since they had been children, and freedom offered them no temptations whatever.

“What had we better do, Vincent?” Mrs. Wingfield asked.

“I think, mother, it will be best to tell them that all who wish can remain upon the old footing, but that their papers will be made out and if at any time they wish to have their freedom they will only have to say so. No doubt they will soon become accustomed to the idea, and seeing how comfortable the others are with their pay and the produce of their gardens they will soon fall in with the rest. Of course it will decrease the income from the estate, but not so much as you would think. They will be paid for their labor, but we shall have neither to feed nor clothe them; and I think we shall get better labor than we do now, for the knowledge that those who do not work steadily will lose their plots of land, and have to go out in the world to work, their places being filled by others, will keep them steady.”

“It’s an experiment, Vincent, and we shall see how it works.”

“It’s an experiment I have often thought I should like to make, mother, and now you see it is almost forced upon us. To-morrow I will ride over to the other plantations and make the same arrangements.”

During the month of August many battles took place round Petersburg. On the 12th the Federals attacked, but were repulsed with heavy loss, and 2,500 prisoners were taken. On the 21st the Confederates attacked, and obtained a certain amount of success, killing, wounding, and capturing 2,400 men. Petersburg was shelled day and night, and almost continuous fighting went on. Nevertheless, up to the middle of October the positions of the armies remained unaltered. On the 27th of that month the Federals made another general attack, but were repulsed with a loss of 1,500 men. During the next three months there was little fighting, the Confederates having now so strengthened their lines by incessant toil that even General Grant, reckless of the lives of his troops as he was, hesitated to renew the assault.

But in the South General Sherman was carrying all before him. Generals Hood and Johnston, who commanded the Confederate armies there, had fought several desperate battles, but the forces opposed to them were too strong to be driven back. They had marched through Georgia to Atlanta and captured that important town on the 1st of September, and obtained command of the network of railways, and thus cut off a large portion of the Confederacy from Richmond. Then Sherman marched south, wasting the country through which he marched, and capturing Savannah on the 21st of September.

While he was so doing, General Hood had marched into Tennessee, and after various petty successes was defeated, after two days’ hard fighting, near Nashville. In the third week in January, 1865, Sherman set out with 60,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry from Savannah, laying waste the whole country-burning, pillaging, and destroying. The town of Columbia was occupied, sacked, and burned, the white men and women and even the negroes being horribly ill-treated.

The Confederates evacuated Charleston at the approach of the enemy, setting it in flames rather than allow it to fall into Sherman’s hands. The Federal army then continued its devastating route through South Carolina, and at the end of March had established itself at Goldsboro, in North Carolina, and was in readiness to aid Grant in his final attack on Richmond.

Lee, seeing the imminence of the danger, made an attack upon the enemy in front of Petersburg, but was repulsed. He had now but 37,000 men with which to oppose an enemy of nearly four times that strength in front of him, while Sheridan’s cavalry, 10,000 strong, threatened his flank, and Sherman with his army was but a few days’ march distant. There was fierce fighting on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of March, and on the 2d of April the whole Federal army assaulted the positions at Petersburg, and after desperate fighting succeeded in carrying them. The Confederate troops, outnumbered and exhausted as they were by the previous week’s marching and fighting, yet retained their discipline, and Lee drew off with 20,000 men and marched to endeavor to effect a junction with Johnston, who was still facing Sherman. But his men had but one day’s provision with them. The stores that he had ordered to await them at the point to which he directed his march had not arrived there when they reached it, and, harassed at every foot of their march by Sheridan’s cavalry and Ord’s infantry, the force fought its way on. The horses and mules were so weak from want of food that they were unable to drag the guns, and the men dropped in numbers from fatigue and famine. Sheridan and Ord cut off two corps, but General Lee, with but 8,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, still pressed forward toward Lynchburg. But Sheridan threw himself in the way, and, finding that no more could be done, General Lee and the infantry surrendered, and a few days later Generals Lee and Grant met and signed terms of peace. General Johnston’s army surrendered to General Sherman, and the long and desperate struggle was at an end.

It was a dreadful day in Richmond when the news came that the lines of Petersburg were forced, and that General Lee no longer stood between the city and the invaders. The president and ministers left at once, and were followed by all the better class of inhabitants who could find means of conveyance. The negroes, Irish, and some of the lower classes at once set to work to pillage and burn, and the whole city would have been destroyed had not a Federal force arrived and at once suppressed the rioting.

Whatever had been the conduct of the Federal troops during the last year of the war, however great the suffering they had inflicted upon the unarmed and innocent population of the country through which they marched, the terms of peace that General Grant agreed upon, and which were, although with some reluctance, ratified by the government, were in the highest degree liberal and generous. No one was to be injured or molested for the share he had taken in the war. A general amnesty was granted to all, and the States were simply to return to the position in the Union that they occupied previous to the commencement of the struggle.

More liberal terms were never granted by a conqueror to the vanquished.

Vincent was with the cavalry who escaped prior to Lee’s surrender, but as soon as the terms of peace were ratified the force was disbanded and he returned home. He was received with the deepest joy by his mother and sister.

“Thank God, my dear boy, that all is over, and you have been preserved to us. We are beaten, but no one can say that we have been disgraced. Had every State done its duty as Virginia has we should never have been overpowered. It has been a terrible four years, and there are few families indeed that have no losses to mourn.”

“It was well you were not in Richmond, mother, the day of the riots.”

“Yes; but we had our trouble here too, Vincent. A number of the slaves from some of the plantations came along this way, and wanted our hands to join them to burn down their quarters and the house, and to march to Richmond. Tony and Dan, hearing of their approach, armed themselves with your double-barreled guns, went down and called out the hands and armed them with hoes and other implements. When the negroes came up there was a desperate quarrel, but our hands stood firm, and Tony and Dan declared that they would shoot the first four men that advanced, and at last they drew off and made their way to Richmond.

“Your plan has succeeded admirably. One or two of the hands went to Richmond next day, but returned a day or two afterward and begged so hard to be taken on again that I forgave them. Since then everything has been going on as quietly and regularly as usual, while there is scarcely a man left on any of the estates near.”

“And now, mother, that I find things are quiet and settled here, I shall go down to Georgia and fetch Lucy home. I shall be of age in a few months, and the house on the estate that comes to me then can be enlarged a bit, and will do very well.”

“Not at all, Vincent. Annie will be married next month. Herbert Rowsell was here two days ago, and it’s all settled. So I shall be alone here. It will be very lonely and dull for me, Vincent, and I would rather give up the reins of government to Lucy and live here with you, if you like the plan.”

“Certainly, I should like it, mother, and so, I am sure, would Lucy.”

“Well, at any rate, Vincent, we will try the experiment, and if it does not work well I will take possession of the other house.”

“There is no fear of that, mother, none whatever.”

“And when are you thinking of getting married, Vincent?”

“At once, mother. I wrote to her the day we were disbanded saying that I should come in a week, and would allow another week and no longer for her to get ready.”

“Then, in that case, Vincent, Annie and I will go down with you. Annie will not have much to do to get ready for her own wedding. It must, of course, be a very quiet one, and there will be no array of dresses to get; for I suppose it will be some time yet before the railways are open again and things begin to come down from the North.”

Happily Antioch had escaped the ravages of war, and there was nothing to mar the happiness of the wedding. Lucy’s father had returned, having lost a leg in one of the battles of the Wilderness a year before, and her brother had also escaped. After the wedding they returned to their farm in Tennessee, and Mrs. Wingfield, Annie, Vincent, and Lucy went back to the Orangery.

For the next three or four years times were very bard in Virginia, and Mrs. Wingfield had to draw upon her savings to keep up the house in its former state; while the great majority of the planters were utterly ruined.

The negroes, however, for the most part remained steadily working on the estate. A few wandered away, but their places were easily filled; for the majority of the freed slaves very soon discovered that their lot was a far harder one than it had been before, and that freedom so suddenly given was a curse rather than a blessing to them.

Thus, while so many went down, the Wingfields weathered the storm, and the step that had been taken in preparing their hands for the general abolition of slavery was a complete success.

With the gradual return of prosperity to the South the prices of produce improved, and ten years after the conclusion of the rebellion the income of the Orangery was nearly as large as it had been previous to its outbreak. Vincent, two years after the conclusion of the struggle, took his wife over to visit his relations in England, and, since the death of his mother in 1879, has every year spent three or four months at home, and will not improbably ere long sell his estates in Virginia and settle in England altogether.

Return to With Lee in Virginia