1870, April 1: The bitterness of Virginians towards the U.S. occupation was intense in the early years after the end of the war. Nowhere was it felt more strongly than in the South’s former capital, where the state’s leading citizens were uneasily transtioning from positions of prominence in the Confederacy to uneasy relations with the true governing power.
According to an internal (1931) Virginia Historical Society “History of the V.H.S.” published in its journal:
All of our officers and committeemen were deeply interested in the effort to free Virginia from the oppressions of Reconstruction. The last effort to deprive the people of Virginia of their rights under the constitution was the attempt made by George Cahoon the military appointee as mayor of Richmond to prevent H. K. Ellyson, who was elected by the people of Richmond, from holding the office. There was great excitement, each mayor had a police force, there was fighting in the streets and around the station houses. Children (some of them afterwards officers of this Society) sang with great glee:
“Up in a balloon, boys,
Up in a balloon,
Flying around the station-house,
Shooting at Cahoon”
Philip Hodgkins said:
My Gt Grandfather Edward Ward, from England was apparently killed in this disaster. He appears to have sailed from Liverpool in September 1869 presumably on a business trip and was lodging in Richmond at that time. There is a connection with the Tredegar Iron Works in that town. I understand he is buried in the main cemetery and I hope to visit sometime in the future, and to obtain his death certificate.
I have downloaded from the Harper’s newspaper which gives very good detail of the Capitol disaster as it is a contemporary report.
Hello Mr. Hodgkins, thank you for the comment. What a tragic story! I live not too far from Richmond and have visited the main cemetery there several times – quite a lovely place that your great-grandfather has been resting in all this time. Agreed, the Harper’s account is quite harrowing. I also have several other entries on the disaster, see here: https://mahockney.wordpress.com/1870/04/