Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nineteen Year-Old Major Walter Clark and Neverson Go Home

General Johnston broke camp near Smithfield on April 10, and on April 12 reached Raleigh. There it was learned that Lee had surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. President Davis and his cabinet had abandoned the Confederate capital at Richmond and arrived at Greensboro on April 11. While not officially advised that the Army of [Northern] Virginia was no more…[Johnston] did not surrender…until April 26. On May 2, 1865, at Bush Hill, near High Point, Major [Walter M.] Clark and what remained of the third Junior Reserves were paroled and turned their faces sorrowfully homeward.

The next day Major Clark and his faithful Neverson began their weary horseback ride one hundred and fifty miles to Ventosa [plantation]. On their way home they passed through Hillsboro and in sight of the military academy from which Little Clark had gone so ambitiously and hopefully four years before. He knew that [academy headmaster] Colonel [C.C.] Tew had been killed at Sharpsburg, but did not know until afterward that every one of his instructors in the academy had gone to the war and either had been wounded or captured.

The lonely trek of these two boys, their minds numbed by harrowing memories, was enough to chill their hearts, but there was worse to come. When home was finally reached, there was no home – nothing but the land was there, and that covered with a tangled growth of bushes and briars. The once great cultivated fields of cotton and corn were now a wilderness of weeds. The slaves were wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood, and raiding Federal soldiers had stolen the livestock. The invading armies had burned to the ground the spacious Ventosa mansion, and its beautiful gardens had disappeared. All the happy memories of Walter’s childhood here lay waste in ashes before his eyes. With an almost broken heart he turned to seek elsewhere for his father and mother, his sisters and brothers, in the hope that he would find them alive.”

(Walter Clark, Fighting Judge, pp. 21-22)


Ventosa Plantation Winery

I assume this is where the plantation was before it was burned as it is approximately the distance mentioned in the article. It is in Scotland Neck not far from my Dixieland and we use to go there for some fine barbecue. My cousin lives there also. It's a shame they don't mention the history on their site and I sent them an email mentioning this.

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