Autobiographical essay of Robert Anderson Bright

Dublin Core


Autobiographical essay of Robert Anderson Bright


Bright, Robert Anderson, 1839-1904.
Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
Pickett, George E. (George Edward), 1825-1875.
Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.


Reminisences of Robert Anderson Bright written for his grandchildren. Bright, a planter from Williamsburg, served in the Civil War on the staff of General Pickett. His reminisence relates that service and how he surrendered at Appomatox with General Lee. Bright expresses in detail his attitudes about slavery and the lives of some of his slaves after emancipation.


Bright, Robert Anderson, 1839-1904.


Helen M. Anderson Papers, 1818-1912. MS 1989.13


Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation








MS 1989.13.22

Document Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Ink on paper.


Leaf 1

Now for the dear Grandchildren – Douglas & [illegible]
I will write about myself. For you
I was Born March 23rd 1839 – in the Palace of
Lord Dunmore in the City of Williamsburg Virginia
Educated at Fords and Pryors schools in Williamsburg
the Rev. Pike Powers school in Staunton Va; William &
Mary College, and the University of Va at Charlottesville,
I was one of the first "offenders" in the war, (as there
are some in the North who call themselves the first
defenders). I went in May [illegible] 1861 and surrendered
at Appomattox with Genl Lee – Genl Pickett and a few
others – see my Appomattox Paroles of which I have two, one
more, than most People.– You will find some of my
War History, written out by me shortly after 1865 – in
a book,with (G.W.S. Cash) in gilt letters on the back
and I will try and add to them from time
to time - the most important were finished long
ago. - Wonderful to relate, I am a Virginian, but have
never used tobacco – or mixed in Politics. – have
declined all offers (of which many have been made
me) to enter Public Life – and, do not regret it
– owned nearly 100 Slaves with those of my Grandmother
& my Aunt – and 1/4 of those belonging to my Uncle George
W Southall –, And do not believe Slavery was wrong –

Leaf 2

because I have seen many more happy & useful
Negroes, while Slavery existed, than I have ever
seen since the emancipation –, during Slavery
I saw about 15 Lunatic Negroes, – since that
time I have seen over 500 – My People were
always kind to their servants – and I never saw
any cruelty – My Body Servant Edmund Anderson
never accepted his Freedom, and died after the
war belonging to me, – Solomon remained the same
to his end – which, over took him, several Years ago.
in my service – Caroline Jackson went to New York
made money – Came back to Williamsburg & before
she died sent for me – and asked me to bring a
Notary to Her bed side and gave me Her bank Book
and an order for $538.00 and also Her Freedmans Bank
Book. – From the latter of which I still have – nothing
can be gotten – but the New York Bank paid me the 538.00
Edmund Anderson behaved with quiet – Courage when
called to face the Enemys guns, bringing me another
horse, or any thing of that kind, – I never saw Him
flinch – and when at Appomattox – believing I would
fall on that field –, I gave him a letter for my Father
and told Him, in the letter, I had mentioned He was to
have the horse he was there on – and also the one
I was riding after I fell – if it came back to its mate
He went into the fence corner & Genl Pickett found him there Crying

Leaf 3

He loved My horses dearly – and fortunately
although I had two shot under me
one was the property of Genl Dearing
Loaned to me, and the other was an
ordinance mare, belonging to the Confederate
ordinance department, taken by me for that
day only. When I had money & a good property
I gave largely, for my means, to the – poor, never to
the rich, – was at that time very popular, when
unable to continue giving, my popularity left me,
but I was never what the World calls, a good fellow
& Friend, – could never go with a man when he was
in the wrong, and had the misfortune of being able
to see the faults of my best Friends – for the same
reason, could never be a "Party Man" - believe in my
Old age, that money is the most convenient possession
if coupled with Contentment – but that Religion above
all things, gives even in this world, the most constant
comfort – Certainly, it is worth every thing else put together;
I am without Ambition, and certainly not covetous – do not
bear Malice – but only like those that – like me
have never wasted any love on undeserving people
have been greatly blessed, Thank the Good Lord, in my
Children – they are very good and kind to me – wish
no one harm in the world – but wish success to some
far more than I do to others – My great fault is that I am

Leaf 4

unable to love all people that the Good God
made, as I ought to – it seems to me that
I care too little for them – have them not –
constantly on my mind, as I should, and am
far too willing to drop out of my Life those
that do not suit me. have very little, if any,
Reverence for the Great of this world – Am Proud
of having well Known, Genl Robert E. Lee, – The Rev. [illegible]
Peterkin of Richmond, and the Rev. Churchill Gibson of
Petersburg – have other things I am glad of, but nothing else,br>to be proud of, Except my Children & Grand Children

Yours Affectionately Ro: A: Bright.


Bright, Robert Anderson, 1839-1904., “Autobiographical essay of Robert Anderson Bright,” John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed June 19, 2024,