Washington, Boston, Germany.—1863–1873
MR. VILLARD was compelled, by the return of his fever, to give up field work with the army in November, 1863. He spent the winter in Washington, where, early in 1864, with Horace White, who represented the Chicago Tribune in that city and held the clerkship of the Senate Military Committee, and Adams S. Hill, then in charge of the Washington bureau of the New York Tribune and now for the last thirty years Professor of Rhetoric at Harvard University, he organized the first news agency in competition with the Associated Press. By personal visits to the managers and editors, he succeeded in winning the Chicago Tribune, the Missouri Democrat, the Cincinnati Commercial, the Rochester (N. Y.) Democrat, the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, and the Boston Advertiser for the new undertaking, which was bitterly attacked by the Associated Press for disturbing its monopoly. But he was successful from the start. As the representative of this news agency, in May, 1864, he joined the Army of the Potomac under the chief command of General Grant at Culpepper Court House. He was the first correspondent to reach Washington with the news of the bloody drawn battles in the Wilderness. He returned to the army after it reached the Peninsula, and crossed the James River with it, witnessing the siege of Petersburg until after the explosion of the mine (July 30, 1864), when he responded to an urgent summons to Germany from his family.
He reached his native town of Speyer but a short time before the death from consumption of his elder sister