A Wedding Story
General John Pegram and Hettie Cary
"Recollections Grave and Gay"
by Mrs. Burton Harrison

"The engagement of my cousin Hetty Cary to Brigadier- General John Pegram having been announced, their decision to be married on January 19 was a subject of active interest. My aunt, Mrs. Wilson Miles Cary, of Baltimore, had before Christmas obtained from Mr. Lincoln, through General Barnard (chief of the United States Engineer Corps, married to her adopted daughter), a pass to go to Richmond to visit her children. The presence of Mrs. Cary gave General Pegram opportunity to urge that his marriage should not be longer delayed, and such preparations as were possible were hurried on.

My aunt was stopping at the house of her niece, Mrs. Peyton, whence the ceremony took place.  On the evening of January 19 all our little world flocked to St. Paul's Church to see the nuptials of one called by many the most beautiful woman in the South, with a son of Richmond universally honored and beloved.

Two days before, I being confined to my room with a cold, Hetty had come, bringing her bridal veil that I, with our mothers, might be the first to see it tried on her lovely crown of auburn hair. As she turned from the mirror to salute us with a charming blush and smile, the mirror fell and was broken to small fragments, an accident afterward spoken of by the superstitious as one of a strange series of ominous happenings.

While a congregation that crowded floor and galleries of the church waited an unusually long time for the arrival of bride and groom, my aunt and the other members of our family being already in their seats, I stood in the vestibule outside with Burton Harrison and Colonel L. Q. C. Lamar, speculating rather uneasily upon the cause of the delay. Mr. Harrison told us that Mrs. Davis (who tenderly loved and admired the bride) had begged to be allowed to send the President's carriage to drive her to the church, and he was sure it had been in prompt attendance at Colonel Peyton's door. Directly after, a shabby old Richmond hack drove up, halting before the church, and from it issued the bride and groom, looking a little perturbed, explaining that at the moment of setting out the President's horses had reared violently, refusing to go forward, and could not be controlled, so that they had been forced to get out of the carriage and send for another vehicle, at that date almost impossible to secure in Richmond.

When the noble-looking young couple crossed the threshold of the church, my cousin dropped her lace handkerchief and, nobody perceiving it, stooped forward to pick it up, tearing the tulle veil over her face to almost its full length, then, regaining herself, walked with a slow and stately step toward the altar. As she passed there was a murmur of delight at her beauty, never more striking. Her complexion of pearly white, the vivid roses on her cheeks and lips, the sheen of her radiant hair, and the happy gleam of her beautiful brown eyes seemed to defy all sorrow, change, or fear. John Pegram, handsome and erect, looked as he felt, triumphant, the prize-winner - so the men called him - of the invincible beauty of her day. Miss Cary's brother, Captain Wilson Miles Cary, representing her absent father, gave away the bride. After the ceremony we, her nearest, crowded around the couple, wishing them the best happiness our loving hearts could picture.

General Pegram's mother, brothers, and sisters did the same; then, as they passed out, all eyes followed them with real kindness and unalloyed good feeling. There was but a small reception afterward, but one felt in the atmosphere a sense of sincere gladness in happy love, very rare on such occasions.

Three weeks later, to the day, General Pegram's coffin, crossed with a victor's palms beside his soldier's accoutrements, occupied the spot in the chancel where he had stood to be married. Beside it knelt his widow swathed in crape. Again Dr. Minnegerode conducted the ceremony, again the church was full. Behind the hearse, waiting outside, stood his war charger, with boots in stirrups. The wailing of the band that went with us on the slow pilgrimage to Hollywood will never die out of memory. "

Find copy of  their wedding invitation here and copy of the letter of sympathy from Robert E. Lee here, both of which are from Dr. Simmons' Book.  Also see 2 new letters from Gen. Robert E. Lee and Mary Custus Lee relating to the death of General John Pegram.

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