Lucy Chase, Washington, March 3, 1865



Miss Freson begged me to find Mrs. Von Ohlhausen, the matron, a harming, sprightly body devoted to the wounded. She said her father was an old friend of Genl. Butler, and she had secured the Gens. promise to send the wounded from Wilmington to her ward. "Morehead City" is a very small waterside village of fine houses. Capt. James and his wife were visiting an officer's family there, but not knowing where to look for them, I thought I would call first on the strange matron who welcomed us very cordially. She said she was going to New Berne on important business at two o'clock, but we were very welcome to stay at the hospital and occupy her room as long as we pleased. She insisted on our dining with her. I demurred, but she said she thought it was a pity if New England people could not be hospitable to each other. On our way to the dining-room, Martha spoke of Miss Chase, and Mrs. "Ohl" (as everybody in Morehead calls her) turned suddenly to me, and said, Are you Lucy Chase of Worc? I said yes: "Don't you remember Mary Finney of Manchester?" she asked? Lo we were old and very intimate friends! we were amused in recalling the waste of formal civilities we had exchanged. I did not know whom she married. Her hair was cut short; she had just recovered from the yellow fever, and her name and nature seemed equally foreign. We were in Mass. at once, and amongst mutual friends, as soon as we recognized each other. We both knew Rogers, the sculptor, before he was known to fame. And we talked about the Le Barons, and about Mr. Von Ohlhausen, baron, Mary's husband. An intimate friend of Theodore Parker, and pronounced by him the greatest scholar who ever came to America.

Mrs. James of Worc. made me a long call after dinner; she looked very well and handsome and was very cordial. We left her to visit Miss Pipers very interesting school. We had a very pleasant interview with Mr. James, who ran away from New Berne to put in strength beyond the reach of business. His two relapses were severer visitations than his first attack of yellow-fever, but he seemed to be surely gaining now. I imagine he is admirably fitted for his position as Superintendent of Contrabands.

I fancied I read a history of the early settlement of the town in plain-writing on the beach. Having a foothold there, but looking out upon neither street nor sea is now and then a house with the uncertain air of being shoved aside, or superseded by a new comer or of having modestly withdrawn from public view, retired voluntarily, willing to give the foreground to the grandchildren. Pulling my feet from the sleepy bed, I dragged on and on along the water's edge until I came to a far-reaching, raised, wooden causeway which gave the pedestrian an opportunity to face the houses that infringed upon the water-limits.

As I neared the teachers home on a hunt for my breakfast, I passed an encampment of soldiers and heard the reveille; at which the cocks crew, the sun upsrang, and the little town awoke. After breakfast, we hurried to the water but the wind and sea were high, and the boatmen unwilling to promise to get us back in time for the Newberne cars, so very unwillingly we gave up our visit to Fort Macon, and to the famous Shackleford beach, where lovely, bright-tined, tropical shells were waiting for us. The fates allowed us to look at them in the distance, and to look off, also, upon Cape Fear light-house. Disappointed in one direction we turned in another.

The day we left Norfolk for New-Berne the Georgianna from Baltimore came in before ours with its state-rooms torn away--having lost many (or some) of its state room passengers. Both were sad sights for the sea. While I think of it, let me say that the "Galatea," an English man of war lay in our harbor, a long time last spring. She has lately gone down, with every-one on board off cape Henry, which you remember, Sarah and I visited last summer.

I will tell you of our journey home when I write again in a few days.

But I must tell you that--no, I'll finish my journey. We were crowded, unmercifully, but through the courtesy of one of Genl. Palmer's staff we had a very capacious state-room given us with births upon two sides. In the cabin, where, on account of wind and story we were compelled to stay, officers sat in piles and we were necessarily treated sans seremonic mais avec courtesie. A long dark fatiguing two days' journey we took. The very next boat that came after us, and upon which we barely escaped taking passage, was a week on the ice. Great anxiety was felt in Norfolk concerning it and it was feared the guerrillas had taken possession of it. We thanked the fates that saved us from coming late. Now we are in Washington, from whence we shall write you. Direct to us in care of John Dows. We hope very much that George is better. Pray don't let him go to his business again. Send this to Salem then to Worc.

Yours affectionately,

Lucy. Washington, March 3rd, '65

 

 

 

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An American Antiquarian Society Online Exhibition
Curated by Lucia Z. Knoles, Professor of English, Assumption College

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