Removal of Monroe's Remains, 1859
John S. Wise

The public announcement of the intention of his native State to reclaim his ashes was the signal for a great outburst of patriotic fervor in Virginia and in New York.

Virginians residing in New York held meetings looking to the disinterment there with appropriate ceremonies; the city authorities at once passsed the necessary resolutions. Committees of conference were sent from Virginia. A steamship was chartered to convey the remains, and the New York military vied with one another for the honor of acting as military escort. So great was the enthusiasm that it culminated in a tender, by the Seventh Regiment of New York, of their escort of the remains at their own expense, as a guard of honor from New York to Richmond. This being accepted, that splendid body of citizen soldiery chartered the Ericcson steamer, and made ready for their patriotic pilgrimage.


At the close of the cermonies at the grave, the artillery, stationed outside the inclosure, fired three salvos.

Upon the day following, the delirious city was given a specimen of the drill and efficiency of the grlorious Seventh Regiment. Its appearance and perfection in drill and discipline were beyond all expectations. After a review by the governor, Colonel Duryee drilled the regiment, without music, in various battalion movements.

I stood agape at every evolution. The Virginia troops, which I had theretofore regarded as perfection intself, seemed to me now a mere incongruous lot of painted toys, contrasted with this homogeneous mass of military, neat, brilliant in cleanliness, and absolutely without gaudiness. In the Richmond regiment no two compaines were of the same size, and no two uniformed alike. The Grays were gray, the Blues were blue, the Montgomery Guard was green as the waters of Niagara, the Riflemen blue and green, the Young Guard blue and red. One company had waving plumes of white, another short pompons, a third red and white plumes. When they were drawn up in line, they looked deplorably irregular, contasted with the absolute uniformity of the handsome Seventh.

It seemed incredible that I, a protege, in fact a veteran, of the Richmond military, - I, who until now had looked upon the First Virginia Regiment as the finest body of troops on earth, - could come to regard it as almost contemptible in the short space of twenty-four hours.

Yet there were others like me.

Said one paper: -

"The recent visit of the Seventh Regiment of New York to our city, it is to be hoped, will have a good effect on our volutnteer organization. We could but regard the simple uniform of the entire regiment, and the neat and unostentatious dress of its officers, as presenting a wide contrast with the parti-colored line of our volunteers, and the fine decorations and pompous display which meet the eye in surveying our regimental parades.

"We have not a doubt that the volunteer force of the city would be strengthened, would be increased in numbers and improved in discipline, if they would consolidate themselves into one regiment, abandon their uniforms, and adopt a new and plain dress for the whole body of soldiers."

Little did the writer know, and less did the Seventh Regiment suspect, that upon this visit they fixed, in the Southern mind, a type of uniform which, within three years, was substantially adopted by the Confederate States.

Three years after this date, the First Virginia Regiment had fought in the battle of Manassas; and the Seventh was encamped at Arlington Heights, but fifteen miles' distant, being part of a hostile force moving against Mount Vernon and Richmond. Such was the rapid march of events.

After the scenes above described had closed, and the military had departed, the remainder of the year glided away uneventfully; but the glorious memories of July 5 lingered, and all Richmond was busy in the effort to have a real military force such as it had seen, and to abandon the past methods of its volunteer system. As for patriotic national feeling, it is safe to say that, when the year 1859 opened, in spite of Southern fire-eaters and Northern fanatics, there were not, in the whole State of Virginia, five thousand men who had any sort of sympathy with the idea of secession.


The End of an Era by John S. Wise
Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston and New York,
The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1901, pages 105,110-112.