stripped of all their clothing, furniture defaced and destroyed, and bed clothing, cutlery of every description, jewelry, silver plate, and money, wherever found, stolen and carried off. In a word, nothing seemed to save the country from universal devastation and ruin but the limited number engaged in the work-about 300 negroes and fifty white. As it is, their track was marked with desolation and ruin to many, and irreparable injury to others.
But the loss of property and the devastations committed are of minor importance in comparison with the insults and outrages heaped on an unoffending community by these beastly savages. The negroes were suffered to wander about from house to house without control, and wherever they went ladies were insulted, cursed, and reviled. The most disgusting proposals were made to some, others were subjected to indecent familiarities or rude and revolting embraces; twelve or fifteen escaped almost miraculously from successful violence, and four at least became unfortunate victims of brutal lust. The purpose of the enemy was to sweep leisurely through the four lower counties of the Northern Neck. But many citizens, with a few soldiers happening at home on furlough, seizing such arms as they could procure, hastened to oppose them,and after a partial skirmish near Union Wharf, on the rappahannock, in Richmond County, in which five negroes were killed and two whites captured, the enemy retired on board of their shipping and shifted the scene of ravage to the south side of the Rappahannock. Although thus relieved temporarily we have reason to expect a repetition of these raids for pillage and rapine under circumstances of unbounded license and indulgence to these brutal negroes until the land shall be filled with cries of distress and anguish, and the country present a uniform scene of desolation and ruin. These are consequences worse than death; it is, therefore, the universal sentiment of the people that they should resist these inroads and predatory excursions of the enemy with all the means in their power. Accordingly, under the authority of an act of the Confederate Congress, companies for home defense are in the process of formation, in which all who are able to shoulder a gun seem heartily disposed to volunteer in the hope that the Confederate Government will be enabled to supply them with arms and ammunition, as to which they are deficient and have no other means of supply. But it is the opinion of all that the force which can be raised would be wholly inadequate unless the conscripts now here, at least those of the reserve force, should be allowed to volunteer in these companies. In consideration whereof the undersigned,a committed appointed for the purpose, beg leave most respectfully, in behalf of the citizens aforesaid, to solicit an exemption of this county of Northumberland from further conscription on condition of serving in the companies for home defense, and on such other conditions as Your Excellency may see fit to impose, and that Your Excellency will be pleased to consider the circumstances of outrage above detailed, for the correctness of which the undersigned will vouch, with a view to such means of retaliation for the past or prevention in the future as may be within the power of the executive branch of the Confederate Government.
R. A. CLAYBROOK,
SAML. L. STRAUGHAN,
A. H. BRENT,
45 R R-VOL XL, PT II.