Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

April 22, 2013

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

Friday, May 22nd.

Left Raleigh about 9 o’clock yesterday morning. The road from Raleigh to Weldon is the most crooked and through the most broken country I ever saw. Every foot of it is over an embankment or through a deep cut. The land along the route is all poor and barren and yet there are some beautiful residences and the people seem to be doing well. How they live I cannot tell. There were occasionally fine apple orchards and clover fields. I had the good fortune to meet up with Mr. Carpenter, a member of the North Carolina legislature. He was a pleasant companion and had some genuine whiskey, having married the heiress of a distiller. I made also the acquaintance of an old gentleman named Miller, who was on his way to Richmond to see two wounded nephews, one of whom had lost an arm; he also had some whiskey, which he said came from the drug store and must be good. He had also some cakes, good ham and fresh butter, which I enjoyed very much. He is a Baptist and is acquainted with Mr. Lemmond, of Waco, Texas. We reached Weldon about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and as the cars were not to start until 9 o’clock, I concluded to take a stroll. I obtained a drink of the coldest water I ever drank and observed the address of Captain H. A. Troutman on a box, which put me on the lookout for him. I soon met him and we had a long talk on old college times. He had married a Miss Napier. John Neely is dead; Miss Lou is married to Ed. McClure. Billy Clifton has become a devout Baptist. Charley Boyd, John McLemore and Lucius Gaston are all killed; murdered by fanatical vandals; ten thousand mercenaries cannot pay for such men as these. They helped to make and adorn the character of a noble people. They were all my college friends. We loved each other and cherished common hopes of a happy future.

I went to supper with Troutman. He boards with the post commissary, who, of course, gets a little of everything. We had light rolls, scrambled eggs, genuine coffee, salmon, etc., for supper. The commissary is run by Mr. Peterson, brother of Judge Peterson, of San Antonio, Texas. We left Weldon at 9 o’clock and jogged along slowly until about 3 o’clock a. m., when we reached Petersburg. I shouldered my carpet-bag, overcoat and blanket and walked a mile to the depot. Cars left Petersburg about 5 o’clock a. m., and ran so slowly that I had ample time to inspect the country. When we came within eight miles of Richmond I observed a large amount of timber felled on either side of the road and fortifications thrown up to prevent the advance of the Yanks. When we came within three miles of Richmond one of the bars which connects the cars broke, and we were detained for half an hour or more, but another engine very opportunely came up behind us and pushed us on to Richmond. I found it a much more beautiful place than I had anticipated. The scenery in crossing James River is especially attractive. I put up at the American Hotel and spent the day in wandering “up and down” and “going to and fro” in it. I called on Miss Wigfall, Mrs. Chestnut, Miss Nannie Norton (who was absent), Miss Mary Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell and met there Mrs. Carter. Called at the Cabinet Quarters and delivered to C. S. Senator Hon. James Chestnut, a letter (from Hon. Guy M. Bryan, of Texas) to the president. I went to the Ballard House to see Hon. H. P. Brewster, of Texas; was unable to find him. Delivered Mr. Carter’s letter to Mr. Winston, who was too busy to notice me, so I retired. I gave him also the letter to Mrs. Benton. Dined with Colonel and Mrs. Chestnut, in company with Billy Preston, who is now major of artillery. Had fish and corn bread, rice and lettuce for dinner, with iced whiskey to wash it down. After dinner went to the Spotswood Hotel, met Captain Rice and Jimmy Winn, also Minnie Moses, whom I have not seen for eight years. He is a clerk in some of the departments. I returned to Miss Mary Fisher’s in the afternoon and left my overcoat in her charge. I am too tired to make comments, though I have seen a great deal to write about. I am writing this in the public room of the American Hotel about 11 o’clock at night. They have charged me $7.50 for supper, night’s lodging and breakfast.

Previous post:

Next post: