Mary E. Farnham to Laura
Ros said that I was going to write the particulars of the trip to Washington
after he had given them himself. I have not much to add.
Ros invited Lieut Benedict (for he i Lieut now, has been promoted lately) to
accompany us. I was glad to have him go as he is well acquainted with some of
the members of the House and has been in Washington a number of times. We were
obliged to go to the station in an Ambulance as both of
Col. Farnham's horses are sick with the horse distemper. It was showing hard
when we started and the mud up to the Axletree half the way and the driver would
stop and take a drink out of every canteen he met. I did not ask what the
canteens contained but I should judge that they contained whisky by the way he
took us over cogs and everything that lay in his path. I
was obliged to hold on to a strap or rail of the Ambulance to keep myself on the
seat. But at last I was tired holding on and thought I would sit up independant.
I had hardly got my independance established before I was thrown up a foot and
landed in the bottom of the carriage at Mr.
Benedict feet!! I could not help myself for some time, Mr. B & Ro tugging with all their might to raise me. I never was so mad when Ros said, Well, you cut a pretty figure! I was very well aware of it. I told them I hoped they both would find themselves in the same situation. Mr. B said he guessed he should not offer to help me up again. I watched them both the rest of the way, and I think Ros did get just a taste of the floor once but it was when we were looking the other way and he hurried himself up. I never saw anything like it. Coming back I could have rode horseback, but Nelson forgot my saque and it was too cold to ride without it. So I thought I would take an Ambulance again, but before we had got a mile I told Nelson I would take my chance of the horse. So he put on a large blue blanket over the saddle, and hung my Reticule on the horn and I mounted. I had my red shawl over me also. I had not gone far before I lost my Reticule, then I droped my shawl, so my escort carried most of my baggage before I got to my journeys end.
The first night after we left camp we stopped at the station with Quarter Master
Bronsons wife. She has her meals brought up to her tent so we had quite a nice
time, she having brought from home cheese, dried beef, fruit cake, and she had a
pie sent in from the Generals quarters. She did not have plates enough so I gave
her my saucer and she had to use Ros knife and she used a box cover for her cake
plate. But that is nothing uncommon out here. If we only have the eatables that
is all we ask.
After tea Lieut. Herrick came in. I was glad to see him for I had not met him but twice since I came out. He has gained thirty pounds. You may judge how he looks. He can not get his overcoat around him. We were having a socialbe time when Lieut Prentiss one of the General's aids came in and Prentiss talked so fast that one could not get a word in edgeways. I was sorry for I am afraid I shall not see Herrick again. He said he would come over this week, but it is snowing hard, so I do not believe he will come. He thinks he shall remain in the Army until the war is over. We took the cars for Washington at seven o'clock in the morning and reached the National about half past ten o'clock. Then had our breakfast - but before we had breakfast I had to climb four flights of stairs to go to my room. That is the way people do here and pay two dollars and a half a day at that. But there is no use to complain - if we would like a room lower down we must go to a lower house. I came down to breakfast with my bonnet on ready to go out to save climbing the stairs again. First we went to the Capitol. It looks just like the pictures we see of it. We ascended two long flights of stone steps to reach the building. Oh I was so tired! The first room of any importance we went into was the old House of Representatives. I thought the walls were beautifully ornamented before I saw the new house. There were some fine statues in this room. One that I liked the best was the conquered Indian. He sits there with folded arms, and his head bowed down with grief at the loss of his country. I think it was executed by BradfordCrawford. There were quite a number of his Statues. One thing about the room
struck me as very beautiful. The massive pillars in this room were brought from Italy. They look as though they were inlaid pearl. The marble is of such beautiful color. We went round in the galleries a while then went into the House of Representatives. The room is beautifully ornamented, but the Representatives are anything but representatives of dignity and order. All they did was to keep the Pages, little boys of ten and twelve years old, running for them. They were reading, writing, talking and walking about, while the Clerk was reading. We did not stop long. Then we went into the Senate. Saulsbury of Delaware was holding forth at the top of his voice. Then Colamer and Foot of Vermont spoke and Sumner. We were very fortunate to hear just the men we wanted. I was quite interested and would like to have stoped longer. Then we stoped a while in the Supreme Court Room. This room was the old Senate chamber. It looked plain and small beside the new one. I never saw any rooms half so richly ornamented as the new rooms. The President's reception room is ornamented with devices in oil paintings well painted upon the wall and overhead, emblematic of our free institutions. I do not understand how they could paint such beautiful figures over head. The galleries were painted in the same way. Some of them were embellished with birds of all kinds in America. And others with animals. Others with flowers interspersed with Portraits of Distinguished men. Every corner was well finished and would bear the closest inspection But it is a shame to think all this work was done by foreign Artists. We saw some fine paintings by Church and one by Leutze. Others too numerous to mention. The Green House connected with the Capitol contained some rare plants and trees. I saw the Palm tree from which our palm leaf fans are made. The Banana tree had fruit and blosom on the same branch. I did want a boquet dreadfully. I will have one if I go again. Mr. B. said he thought the Gardener would give me one. When we reached the National I was about used up. We dined at half past four so we were just in season. The ladies were dressed in the height or fashion. They dress more like summer here than they do north Gen. Ben Butler and Rouseau were at one of the tables. Butler's head is mostly behind his ears.
But I suppose he is the man of the south now. Col. F. was a good deal disappointed in not seeing Major Gen. Phelps who had just gone down to Acquia Creek. He is in command of a Division there. Our Gen. Stoughton was there. He is a young man of twenty four years. He is now very attentive to Miss Hale from Bath, Senator Hale's daughter. You have heard Mrs. Col. Prichard speak of the family, she knows them. They were out in the hall walking a long time after dinner. She is older than he and rather plain looking although said to be a fine girl. I guess they are quite in love as the Gen. spends most of his time there. His sister came to Washington the day before I left and came out to Fairfax yesterday. Miss Hale is coming out while Miss Stoughton is at Fairfax. I invited the Gen. to bring his sister over here, but it is too horrid travelling. She is coming over to Mrs. Bronsons. She is going to have a dance she says in her tent. Her tent is sixteen feet square so that is quite spacious!! This Mrs. Bronson is quite a character. She rides any horse she can get, and with all the officers that ask her. And they are not a few. For she will ask them if they do not her. But she broke her finger riding under the trees. She was pushing back the bush and her finger caught and broke it. Yet it will not hinder her going to Washington tomorrow. I was sick the second day in Washington and did not leave the house. I ought not to have gone in when I did but Col Blunt wanted us to go so he could go this week himself, so I went. I presume I shall not remain here
long for the Regt. will move as soon as the roads will permit then I shall leave. There are eleven ladies - married ladies in the vicinity from the North. I do not know many of them as I have not been well for a week or two and there is no way to go only on horseback, and it has been quite unfortunate to have both horses sick at a time. Col. F. says Burnie is better today. I am glad for he is the best horse I ever saw. He can leap fences and ditches nicely. Nothing frightens him. I feel real bad when I think of Jenny. I wish we could keep both horses, for I have a real affection for Jenny. I wonder if Seymour Brown treats her well.
How I should like to be at home at your sewing Society. Would be glad to see all the ladies. Give my love to Mrs. Strickland and Mr. S too, for I shall always like him he was so kind to me when Ros was at War, Mrs. Prichard all four and all who enquire for me. I do wish Ros was going home before going into Battle. I dare not think of it. I do not want to leave him.
The Regt. is in a good condition as to health now. The men are much better than they were two weeks ago. Give my love to Father and Mother and read this letter to them. I would write them if I thought they would answer it. But I write Henry thinking it will do for all. Write me all about your society and all the news and give my love to Mrs. Chamberlin. Write soon
Your SisterMary E. Farnham
Col Farnham and Nelson send love