This is the last month of Benjamin H. Ellicott’s Diary. He continues to report on war news from his home in Baltimore, but, on August 18th he describes a visit to Croton, New Jersey on August 11th that leads him and wife Mary Ann Warford to decide to relocate there. But he does not explain why that decision was made. Perhaps they felt that the war was getting too close to them. Or maybe Mary Ann’s father, Elisha Warford, was asking them to come live with him.
Saturday Aug. 1st 1863 – But little rain fell yesterday after the very heavy shower of the previous night, and the temperature was somewhat more comfortable but still very warm – to-day has opened clear but very warm indeed – The war News is slack excepting Reports from the Southwest showing the relative posture of the Feds and Rebs in Miss, L. an Ala &c [Mississippi, Louisiana & Alabama] The movements of the Army of the Potomac are vague and uninteresting and the bombardment of Charleston was also progressing without any serious result at the latest dates –
The most interesting matter appears to be the action of the Military Authorities in this Department. It has been stated that the Barn and some other Property belonging to one of the enrolling Officers in Harford County had been burned by Persons there inimical to the Conscription – Gen’l Schenck has announced his intention to compel All the Southern Sympathizers within 5 miles of that locality to pay up a contribution, prorated with their county Assessment, sufficient to repay him for all loss incurred by burning of his property. Resolution of thanks have been passed by the City Council – Baltimore to be presented to Gen’l Schencks for the various measures put in force by him, and especially his action in the affair in Harford County –
Captain W. D. Brown, formerly of this City, but recently serving in the Confederate Army was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg and died here within a day or two past – yesterday he was buried in Green Mount Cemetery by the consent of the Military Authorities as is alleged when the Military Guard arrested those who followed his remains and ferried them to the Military Prison because he was buried, as is stated, in a new Confederate Uniform – They were placed in Gen’l Tyler’s room where Col. Cheesborough of Gen’l Schencks staff made his appearance and stated that information had reached Col. Don Piatt, Chief of maj. Gen’l Schenck’s staff, that the body of Capt. Brown had been in new Confederate Uniform for burial, and upon that information the arrest had been made and All the Parties were released by him to report to Genl Schenck this morning
When the 5/20 Government Bonds were first put upon the Market only 50 Millions were offered and the sale thereof was to be limited to someday in June – for some after this opening the sale was limited to a small amount but the time for their sale was extended til 1st Aug. and for 2 months past or longer sales of one to over two millions daily have been reported which, if true would show an aggregate sale far beyond the original offering. Mr Chase has concluded now to record [?] the limitation of Sale, and to continue the same until further notice – this process of funding the Government Currency has had the effect of supplying funds for war Expenses and reducing its depreciation in value –
Premium on Gold is 28 1/2 pr ct. to-day
Monday Aug. 3rd For the past Two or Three days the heat has been excessive the Thermometer ranging above 90° Notwithstanding the war seems to be progressing somewhat – The operations of Gen’l Gilmore’s forces for the reduction of Forts Wagner, Sumter &c and the consequent capture of Charleston, are said to be advancing so satisfactorily that the event is merely a question of time. But the People of Charleston “can’t see the point” – Some heavy skirmishes have occurred between the advance of the Army of Potomac, and the rear of Lee’s Army, which is now lying in Culpepper County with the Rapidan as their defensive line – Serious disaffection against the Confed Government is said to exist in N. Carolina but these may be as largely exaggerated as the stories of like import that we have heard heretofore from the same quarter.
To meet the threats made by the Rebs regarding Negroes in the M. S. Service when taken Prisoners the President has proclaimed that for every Union Soldier sold into slavery, a confederate Soldier shall be detailed for work upon Government Forts for life, and for every such Union Soldier as shall be shot or hung by the Rebs a Reb. Soldier shall suffer in like manner –
Tuesday Aug 4th – Last night was very warm indeed, after a hot day, and this morning opens with every prospect of continued heat.
We have advices from Charleston to Friday 31st Ulto. When the siege of Fort Wagner was still in progress. The Frigate Ironsides and Two Monitors were engaged for 5 hours on 30 Ulto. bombarding Cummings Point – Batteries Gregg & Simkins & Forts Wagner & Sumter, responded to the Federal fire – On 31st Ulto. a severe bombard was commenced at Daybreak from Forts Sumter and Wagner & continued until 2 o’clock p.m.
The Eighteen persons arrested for attending the Funeral of Capt. W. D. Brown, on Friday last were released to report on Saturday morning at 9 o’clk to Col. Don Piatt – Five of them were then released including the Father of the deceased and the remainder were released to report again this morning – At the appointed time all were present, and Mr Jno. H. Weaver – the Undertaker, was called to be questioned as to the new Confederate uniform reported to have been put on the body previous to burial – The testimony of Mr Weaver was to effect that, except a piece of gray cloth laid on a portion of the body on which the clothing had moulded, there was no change since the arrival of the body at his establishment from Gettysburg – Col Don Piatt then released all the Parties – After their release he called on all the Parties to take the Oath; as there was no compulsion, they each and all refused to comply with his request, and the declinations were noted opposite to their names and each one was Kept, thus noted down – The Parties arrested were Jno. D. Toy, Wm. W. Coleman, Wm M Harrison, Wm M Edwards, and Jno I Brown, father of the deceased, who were released on the first hearing – and the Rev’d F. McCartney, Rev’d Edw’d Heffner, Superintendent of the Cemetery Rev’d Daul, H. Parish, Edw’d C. Ross, John Hunt, T. B. Brundige, Joseph K. Love Jr., Edw’d D. Preston, Joseph K. Shipley, Sam’l D. Toy, Saul D. Toy, Jr., and Wm Adams who were remanded & subsequently discharge as above shown. The Premium on Gold was 28 1/4 pr ct today.
Wednesday Aug 5th. The heat has been oppressive for the greater portion of yesterday. The Thermometer indicating over 90° by Noon, but a severe Gust prevailed some miles North of the City during the afternoon, and there was quite a change for the better during last night, and it is more pleasant today but still warm in spite of a good breeze. There is but little War News today. Damage to a very large amount has been inflicted upon the Rebs in Mississippi by the recent incursions of the Feds. The destruction of Canton, Jackson, has been complete – Many captures of Steamers running the Blockade have been made by the Fed Cruisers. Some of which are of large value – and the Reb Cruisers – Alabama, and Florida – appear to have been retaliating by a large number of valuable ships captured and destroyed up to 1st July –
Thursday Aug 6th – Clear and pleasant this morning altho’ quite warm the wind having roused from the west instead of the South whence it has blown for some weeks past – This day having been set apart by the President as a day of Thanksgiving and Prayer for the defeat of the Rebel Invasion and the successes of the Federal Army at Vicksburg, Port Hudson &c has been observed accordingly with the greatest quiet and decorum in this City – The attendance at the Church has been very small indeed, but the attendance at the Park, and other places of resort and of amusement, has been very large.
Friday Aug 7th. Clear and quite pleasant comparatively altho’ it was very warm the afternoon & evening of yesterday – No Papers being published this morning we have nothing of war news. Quite a Riot or disturbance occurred at Columbus Ohio on the 4th Inst. by the cutting down of a Vallandingham Flag from a Store there by the hands of a Convalescent Soldier. This act caused much Excitement amongst the Copperheads, and they beat another Soldier who justified the Act. As great excitement prevailed and the Flag had been replaced, further difficulties were looked for on the 5th.
Monday Aug 10th. Excessively hot weather has prevailed during the past Ten days, and today promises to be quite as warm as any of them – The Thermometer has ranged at and above 90° during all that period, at Noon, and being without rain the heat is continuous.
But little War News is in circulation during this heated Term. Affairs at Charleston are said to be “progressing favorably” by the Feds and to be “without change” by the Rebs. More or less bombardment is going on all the time there now Batteries are being erected by both sides and a fierce battle appears imminent.
From the Army of the Potomac and Lee’[s] Army we learn that they are posted on the line of the Rapidan and Rappahannock from Culpepper to Fredericksburg amusing themselves by heavy skirmishing, lively Cavalry fights, and Raids made by Moseby on the Sutters wagons generally, and upon small Parties of Officers or Soldiers occasionally, all of which he seems to gobble up indiscriminately. Large reinforcements are said to be coming to Meade from both Grants and Rosencranz’s Armies which will swell the Army of the Potomac to 150 or 200 Thousand men by the 1st day of Sept. and Lee’s Army is also being reinforced largely. It is supposed that his aim will be to fight Meade, if possible, before the Troops from the South West can join him –
Riotous disorders of a political nature are becoming so numerous and prevalent about the country, that it is impossible to record them. The right or Title to Property seems to be entirely insecure, if required for the purposes of the Government or its Officers; Negroes are taken from their Masters or inveigled to and received in the Camps established near to this City, at Washington, and at various other Points throughout this and other States; where they are being organized in Regiments. Horses have been used up, and destroyed in such numbers, that even a considerable advance in the price to be paid for them fails to procure suitable animals for the Cavalry & Artillery. Wherefore, such as are required are subject to seizures when and wherever it suits the purposes of the Military Officials, and some sections of Maryland are almost stripped of both Horses and Negroes. Some have been taken in that way from this City. Houses have been taken by Union League Companies and held in possession by them without the consent of the owner; and without any consideration to him. Arrests are made daily by the Military on the most frivolous charges, but the Citizen can obtain release only by taking the Oath of Allegiance.
Tuesday 18th – Since the 10th Inst. the weather had continued to be very warm until the 14 or 15th Inst. when there was a change from the effects of a shower & the temperature has been much more comfortable since that time. On Tuesday last the 11th Inst. We went to Jersey on a visit that day very exceedingly warm when we left the City and during the journey; but, when we reached Flemington, we experienced a grateful change in the air, so much so that, although Mary felt much apprehension in encountering the fatigue of the journey she was enabled to sit up until 11 o’clock on the evening of our arrival without being down or refreshing, otherwise than by washing off the dust of travel. For this unexpected result we may be indebted in some measure to the Kind hospitality of Mr and Mrs. Perry who intercepted us on our way to the Hotel and insisted so strongly upon entertaining us that we could not refuse. On Wednesday morning we sent to Croton, and put up at Holcombe Warford’s to await the return of our Pap who was not at home nor could we find out where he was to be found – and for this reason, we had to wait, until Thursday afternoon before we could see him. Then we found him to be suffering considerably from a Cats bite on his hand, as well as a good deal of debility which was either the cause or the effect of the repeated and frequent spells of giddiness which have recently come over him so suddenly that he has fallen down repeatedly, as we learned – Of course Mary became interested very much and commenced at once to officiate for his relief, by poulticing the Cats bite which was suffering from his neglect of it, and by persuading him to take a Wilkins Pill, and he submitted to the administration of both remedies until he was finally relieved of both ailments, in a great measure, on yesterday. In the meanwhile we rode around and conferred with him upon the subject of our return to live at Croton, which he was very desirous for us to do, and finally offering to Mary a Deed for his Farm and House &c at Croton provided we were willing to come and stay there. also promising to repair and improve the Dwelling there and its surroundings so as to render them comfortable and more promising to repair and improve the Dwelling there and its surroundings as to render them comfortable and more agreeable. Wherefore our stay was prolonged until today [August 18th] when we returned to our little ones here [in Baltimore] and were thankful to find them all well and in good spirits, as they might well be from the good Report we have of their conduct from Mrs. Emory & Kate.
Since we left the City but little news appears to have transpired beyond the customary arrests and the trial of Citizens by the Military Authorities.
The Premium on Gold has been fluctuating and declining until it has reached 28 1/2 per cent.
Thursday, Aug 19th – The temperature has become warmer under a clear sky and a south westerly breeze.
Mary’s health seems not to have been invigorated by our recent trip to Jersey as she is quite unwell and debilitated this morning – suffering somewhat from sickness of the stomach and a dizziness in her head up to Noon.
The only War News we have is from the reported attack upon Charleston on Saturday last by the Fed, when a terrific bombardment was opened upon the Fort and Battieries there by the Fed. Batteries and Iron Clads, and continued also on Sunday without any serious result so far as can be learned by us here. The chief topic of interest just now is the drawing for the Conscription now being made in New York City under Gov. Seymour’s Proclamation warning all Citizens that “no interference by Citizens to the execution of Laws will be permitted by the State authorities.” And it is stated also that 30,000 Federal Troops are stationed either within the City, or on Governors Island, and other Points around it, so near that they can be concentrated for immediate action on any occasion – Wherefore it is conceded that the subjugation of the North to the will of the General Government is whatever it may choose to do, is a fixed fact – and “Copperheads” will have to find their hiding holes now, and hereafter … Greenbacks are said to have had much to do in this affair. but I know not upon what authority such surmise may rest –
That is the end of Benjamin H. Ellicott’s Diary. He and his family did move back to New Jersey, but details of their return are lost to us. Ellicott’s wife, Mary Ann Warford, was probably concerned about her aging father, Elisha Warford, who was 78 by 1863. In the census of 1860, he was counted as a “Gentleman,” living in Croton, with real estate worth $40,000 and personal property worth $60,000. His home in that village, which today is a very unassuming place, must have been a showcase. Living with Warford was his second wife Elizabeth Arnwine, age 81, who died on January 21, 1867. There were four other people in the household with them: William West, age 39, a farmer; Elizabeth Canwell? age 25, a servant; Mary A. Cline age 14, probably also a servant; and Mahlon Warford age 54, a master carpenter. (I believe that Mahlon Warford was a first cousin once removed from Elisha Warford, that his parents were John Warford and Charity Britton, who married in 1807.)
In his diary, Ellicott mentioned staying with Holcomb Warford until such time as Elisha Warford returned from his travels. Holcomb Warford was Elisha Warford’s nephew and a wheelwright in Croton. He was aso a friend of Ellicott’s. (See “Elisha Warford” for more information.)
Back when Benjamin and Mary Ann Ellicott came to live in Hunterdon in 1862, they stayed at the Locktown Hotel, instead of in Elisha Warford’s house. Perhaps they did the same in August 1863, until such time as the Warford house in Croton was ready for them. During late August and early September, Ellicott spent time on the repairs and improvements to the Warford house, but his work was interrupted when he came down with typhoid, a disease that eventually killed him on September 24, 1863. Here is his obituary:
“DIED, On the 24th inst., at Croton, N.J. of typhoid fever, B. H. Ellicott, of Baltimore, M.D., son-in-law of Elisha Warford, Esq., of this County, aged 53 years.”1
Egbert T. Bush confirms that Ellicott died “while remodeling the Warford house at Croton, with a view to making it the family residence.”2 Sadly, I have not located his burial place, nor that of his wife.
Why did Ellicott discontinue the diary? He stopped it before leaving Baltimore; I am sure there was no dearth of interesting events to record. But once in Hunterdon, there may have been a shortage of good newspapers to rely on. His last entry was made in the fourth volume of his diary, which had many blank pages remaining in it.
Egbert T. Bush, when writing of the Croton area, mentioned an heirloom silver spoon with the emblem of a fox’s head that came down through the Ellicott family, suggesting their connection with an ancient Fox family. He also wrote:
“It may be of interest to note here that the Ellicotts have one of the most extended family histories to be found in the county. It fills a large volume, carefully compiled by the late Benjamin H. Ellicott and embellished with numerous clear diagrams of family descent. While extracts from it would be of no interest to Hunterdon county, the work is invaluable to the family and is of interest to us all as an example of what can be and what should be done in many old families.”
I do not know what happened to this large volume. Perhaps it is hiding in the HCHS archives, although it might have been lost in the great fire of 1931 that destroyed the barn belonging to the Ellicott’s son George W. Ellicott. There is no estate recorded for Benjamin H. Ellicott in the Hunterdon Surrogate’s Court. Perhaps there is one in Maryland.
Seven years later, in the 1870 census for Delaware Township, Elisha Warford was 84 years old with real estate worth $46,000 and personal property worth $80,000. His daughter Mary Ann Ellicott was 47 and keeping house. Her daughter Rachel Ellicott was 19, son Benjamin was 17, and son George W. was 12.
Elisha Warford died in 1872. An inventory was recorded that year (NJA 7226J), and then in 1874, his will and codicil were recorded (NJA 7460J). Why the delay? More research is needed on his estate. He was buried next to his wives in the Opdycke Burying Ground at Headquarters.
Mary Ann Warford Ellicott lived to the age of 76, dying on February 26, 1892. Oddly enough, I found no obituary for her, and cannot say where she was buried.