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LT: September 29, 1864 Theodore Lyman

Editor’s Note: Theodore Lyman was General George G. Meade’s aide-de-camp from the fall of 1863 through Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  An intelligent and outspoken individual, Lyman’s letters to his wife provide great insight into the happenings at Meade’s headquarters.  These letters, taken from the now public domain book Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865; Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox and written by Lyman to his wife, appear here at the Siege of Petersburg Online exactly 150 years to the day after they are written.  Since this site is concerned solely with the Siege of Petersburg, the letters start on June 12, 1864 and end on April 3, 1865.  See the bottom of this and every other letter for a list of all the letters which have appeared to date.

September 29, 1864

The 6.45 P.M. train, which bore me, on Monday, from the ancient town of Beverly, did arrive in very good season in Boston, where I hired a citizen, in the hack line, to convey me with speed and safety to the Worcester depot. With an eye to speculation the driver took in also a lone female, who looked with a certain alarm on me, doubtful as to whether I might not be in the highway-robbery line. She had evidently been on a sea-shore visit, and bore a small pitcher with a bunch of flowers therein. By a superior activity I got a place in the sleeping-car, for it seems to be the policy to have about half room enough for the sleepy passengers, so that those who don’t get places may look with envy on t’others and determine to be earlier next time. Geo. D was along. The canny man had got a good berth, in the middle of the day, and you should have seen his traveller’s fixings: a blanket, a sort of little knapsack, and finally a white handkerchief to tie over his head; “For,” said he, “perhaps the pillows are not very clean.” With martial indifference I took off boots and blouse, got on an upper shelf (not without convulsive kicks), and composed myself to the fitful rest which one gets under such circumstances. There was, as the conductor truthfully observed, “a tremendous grist of children in the car” — of all sizes, indeed, from a little one that publicly partook of its natural nutriment, to youths of some twelve summers. The first object I saw, on wakening in the morning, was an attentive Ma endeavoring to put a hooped skirt under the dress of a small gal, without exhibiting to a curious public the small gal’s legs; which attempt on her part was a lamentable failure. I was glad to get out of the eminently close locomotive dormitory and hop with agility on the horse-car, which landed me, a little before seven A.M., at the Astor House. Here I partook of a dollar and a quarter’s worth of tea and mutton-chop, and stretched my legs by a walk to the Jersey ferry, and there, as our pilgrim fathers would have said, took shipping for the opposite shore. I should not neglect to say that at the Astor I had noticed a tall man, in the three buttons of a Major-General, whom I at once recognized as the original of the many photographs of General Hooker. I was much disappointed in his appearance: red-faced, very, with a lack-lustre eye and an uncertainty of gait and carriage that suggested a used-up man. His mouth also is wanting in character and firmness; though, for all that, he must once have been a very handsome man. He was a passenger for Washington and sat near me. Next me was a worthy minister, with whom I talked; he, I do remember, delivered a prayer at our chapel last winter, at Headquarters. He was like all of that class, patriotic and one-sided, attributing to the Southerners every fiendish passion; in suppprt of which he had accumulated all the horrible accounts of treatment of prisoners, slaves, etc., etc., and had worked himself into a great state. Evening. 10 P.M. I have got to Baltimore and can’t go a step farther; for all day have I been on the Weldon railroad with General Meade, and I must slap to bed, for I am most sleepy, though all right.1




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