ROCKINGHAM IN THE CIVIL WAR.
1861 - 1865
A consecutive and detailed narrative of a great county in a great war cannot be attempted in a single brief chapter, yet enough may be given to bring those “old, unhappy, far-off things and battles long ago” vividly before us. The rising spirit of early ‘61 may be felt in the following, copied from the Rockingham Register of January 25, 1861:
Monday was a proud day for old Rockingham. Notwithstanding the diversity of opinion which exists as to the best mode of settling our present difficulties, all are agreed on arming our Volunteer Regiment. The immense crowd was addressed by Messrs. Warren, Shands, Winfield and Yancey, in patriotic and thrilling speeches, and when the motion was made by Mr. Shands, to ask the County Court to subscribe $2000 in addition to the amount already subscribed, there was not a dissenting voice in the crowd that was audible. The meeting adjourned with three cheers for the Regiment. The arming and equiping of that Regiment is a fixed fact. It was the largest meeting ever convened in our Court-House. Hundreds outside could not gain admittance, but endorsed the action of the meeting.
The voting places in the county at this time were as follows:
District No. 1.
Conrad’s Store McGaheysville
District No. 2
Taliaferro’s Store Port Republic
District No. 3
Mt. Crawford Dayton
District No. 4
District No. 5
Mt. Clinton Bowman’s Mill
District No. 6
Court House Keezletown
District No. 7
Spartapolis Henton’s Mill
District No. 8
Cootes’ Store Timberville
Mennonite School House
District No. 9
Sprinkel’s Store Wittig’s Store
On February 4, 1861, and election was held to choose delegates to the State convention. S. A. Coffman, John F. Lewis, and A. S. Gray were chosen. An unusually large vote was polled, and was distributed among the several candidates as follows:
In reporting the election, the Register of February 8 says:
The delegates elect are all conservative Union men, and were voted for by the people with the understanding that they are to be the representatives of the strong Union sentiment of the county. Yet while they are all Union men, yet none of them desire to be classed in the category of “submissionists.” They will go for the Union as long as there is hope of its honorable preservation; but when all just and proper efforts in that direction fail, then they will go, as Virginians and Southern men, for the rights, the honor, and dignity of the old Commonwealth out of the Union.-- We hope and pray that such an alternative may not be presented; but if it should, we know enough of the metal of our delegates
to the Convention, to be assured, that Virginia’s sacred honor will be safe in their hands.
Politics were ignored in the canvass. In politics, the delegates stand as follows: Two democrats, (Messrs. Coffman and Gray,) and one whig, (Mr. Lewis.) They are all comparatively young men, Mr. Coffman, the foremost man in the race, being the youngest of the three.
Vote for and against referring the action of the convention to the people:
For Ref. Against Ref.
Harrisonburg, 474 183
Keezletown, 52 4
Conrad’s Store, 144 76
McGaheysville, 77 73
Port Republic, 145 2
Taliaferro’s Store, 107 14
Mt. Crawford, 175 38
Dayton, 118 9
Bridgewater, 151 6
Ottobine, 180 20
Mt. Clinton, 93 1
Bowman’s Mill 185 8
Spartapolis, 138 49
Henton’s Mill, 82 10
Timberville, 123 3
Trissel’s School House 61 6
Cootes’ Store, 100 64
Sprinkel’s Store, 13 22
Whittig’s 71 00
As shown by the unusually large vote, the people all over the county were intensely aroused. Wednesday morning, March 27, 1861, a Confederate flag was seen floating from the Exchange Hotel in Harrisonburg -- three weeks before the Virginia convention adopted the ordinance of secession, and eighteen days before Lincoln’s call for troops. “It was,” said the next Register, “the work of a portion of the gallant
fair ladies of our town, who are in favor of joining the Confederacy.”
On April 17 the convention at Richmond adopted an ordinance of secession by a vote of 88 to 55. Consistently with his declarations before the election, Mr. Lewis voted with the minority, and steadfastly refused to sign the ordinance after it was passed.
The division of opinions and convictions in the convention but reflected the similar divisions over the State - particularly in the western part. In Rockingham the majority agreed with the majority of the convention, but there were also a number who thought differently. For example, in the Blue Ridge sections of East Rockingham, where anti-slavery sentiment and martial spirit were both strong, a number of men went north and joined the Union armies. In other sections of the county the peace principles of large numbers of the people, particularly the Dunkers and Mennonites, kept many from assuming a decided attitude one way or the other; but notwithstanding all these conditions, the attitude of the county as a whole was soon definitely and decidedly for the Confederacy. On April 20, when the “Mountain Guards,” from Spring Hill, Augusta County, and the “Rockbridge Rifles” were passing through Harrisonburg the ladies presented them with flags. The firing on Sumter, Lincoln’s call for troops, and the action of the Virginia convention had aroused tremendous enthusiasm. Meetings to organize home guards, etc., were held at Bridgewater, Lacey Spring, Harrisonburg, and elsewhere.
Before the war was over, Rockingham men were serving in many different commands; but the organization that is perhaps most frequently thought of in connection with the military history of the county is the 10th Regiment, Va. V.I., made up chiefly of Rockingham soldiers; and we deem our readers fortunate in having presented to them herewith an account of this regiment, written by one who knows its history at first hand.
A HISTORY OF
THE 10TH VIRGINIA REGIMENT, VOLUNTEER
BY COLONEL D. H. LEE MARTZ. (1)
Written Specially for This Work.
The nucleus of the 10th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry was formed in Rockingham County just prior tot he commencement of the Civil War. One company, the Valley Guards, was organized before the John Brown raid at Harper’s Ferry, with S. B. Gibbons as captain. This company was sent to Charlestown as part of the military force used as a guard. These events created or aroused a military spirit in Rockingham resulting in the formation of six other companies, viz., the Rockingham Rifles, captain, James Kenney; Chrisman’s Infantry, captain, George Chrisman; Bridgewater Grays, captain, John Brown; Brock’s Gap Rifles, captain, John Q. Winfield;(2) Peaked Mountain Grays, captain, William
(1) Col. Martz was born at the old family homestead near Lacey Spring, March 23, 1837. After his early life on the farm he engaged in mercantile business, which was interrupted by the war. He rose from the rank of sergeant in the 10th Virginia Infantry to that of colonel, and at the close of the war he was in command of the 10th, 23d, and 37th Virginia regiments. After a number of years in business again he was elected, in 1887, clerk of the circuit court in Rockingham County, and still holds that office. He has been commander of the S. B. Gibbons Camp, Confederate Veterans, since 1893. On November 14, 1860, he married Miss Mary Nicholas Carter. Mr. Ed. C. Martz, a well-known lawyer of Harrisonburg, is his son.
(2) Capt. Winfield was born at Mt. Jackson, Va., June 20, 1822, the son of Dr. Richard Winfield. He was a graduate of Washington College, Lexington, Va., and of Jefferson Medical College, Phila. As captain of the Letcher Brock’s Gap Rifles, in the 7th Va. Cavalry, he won distinction, and was mentioned s the one likely to succeed Ashby in command of the regiment, but failing health interrupted his military service. In spite of failing health he continued he practice of medicine at his home in Broadway, where he died July 29, 1892. Mr. Chas. R. Winfield, attorney-at-law, is his son.
B. Yancey; Riverton Invincibles, captain, W. D. C. Covington. These seven companies were organized as a regiment just before the war, under the Virginia laws, as State Volunteer Militia, with S. B. Gibbons colonel, E. T. H. Warren lieutenant-colonel, Burke Chrisman and George W. Miller majors. The last two did not see active service.
At the outbreak of the war this regiment was ordered to Harper’s Ferry, leaving home on the 18th day of April, 1861, as the 4th Virginia Regiment of State troops. The regiment, as finally organized, became the 10th Virginia Infantry, C.S.A., with S. B. Gibbons colonel, E. T. H. Warren lieutenant-colonel, and Samuel T. Walker major. With the addition of three companies from Shenandoah County - one each from Strasburg, Woodstock, and Edinburg - the regiment remained at Harper’s Ferry until some time in June, 1861. Then it moved to Romney, now in West Virginia, by way of Winchester, as part of the 4th Brigade, commanded at the time by Col. A. P. Hill of the 13th Va. On the way back to Winchester the Brock’s Gap Rifles were transferred to the cavalry, the regiment being finally composed of eleven companies; six from Rockingham, three from Shenandoah, one from Page, and one from Madison.
The impending battle of Manassas caused the army in the Valley, under Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, to be moved to eastern Virginia, reaching Manassas Junction on the 21st of July. Thence it was hurried tot he field of battle. Only four companies, however, of the 10th Regiment (now in Gen. Arnold Elzey’s brigade) took part in the battle, having been detached from the regiment and sent to strengthen the Confederate left. These four companies suffered some loss in killed and wounded. After this battle the Confederate army remained around or near Manassas Junction until the following spring, when it was moved to the south side of the Rappahannock River.
Nothing of importance affecting the 10th Regiment occurred in this time until April, 1862, when it was transferred to the Valley, and made a part of Gen. W. B. Talia-
ferro’s Brigade, Jackson’s Division, then at what is now Elkton. The regiment was composed of the eleven companies aforesaid: A, C, and F from Shenandoah; B, D, E, G, H, and I from Rockingham; K from Page; and L from Madison. While at Elkton Co. C was disbanded, and a new Co. C from Rockingham, Robert C. Mauck captain, assigned to the regiment.
Early in May, 1862, Jackson’s command was sent to reinforce Gen. Edward Johnson, in the campaign ending May 8 in the battle of McDowell, with Gen. Milroy in command of the Federals. In this battle the 10th Regiment had the misfortune to lose its colonel, the brave and chivalrous S. B. Gibbons,(3) as well as several men. Soon the command was marched back to the Valley by way of Bridgewater, moved down to New Market, thence over the mountain into the Page Valley, down by Front Royal, thence across to the Valley Pike at Middletown, and on to Winchester after Gen Banks, who had withdrawn to Winchester and there made a stand. Being so vigorously assailed by Jackson and Ewell as to be completely routed, he hurried on toward the Potomac. The 10th Regiment did not actively engage in this battle, but nevertheless suffered some loss, Capt. Mauck of Co. C being wounded and permanently disabled.
After pursuing Banks several miles, the troops were withdrawn and moved rapidly up he Valley to Harrisonburg, the 3d Brigade going to a point between Port Republic and Cross Keys. While a battle was being fought there, on Sunday morning, June 8, the enemy occupied Port Republic and planted a piece of artillery at the mouth of the bridge, on the Port Republic side of North River. The 3d Brigade was hurried to the bridge, drove the enemy away and took possession of the village.
(3) Simeon B. Gibbons was born May 25, 1833, at Shenandoah Furnace, Page Co., Va., and was educated at the Virginia Military Institute. When put in command of his regiment, he was the youngest colonel in the Confederacy. His father was a Col Gibbons of Virginia, later of Georgia.
The battle of Port Republic was fought on the next day, June 9, but the Tenth did not become engaged, though hurried to the front to join in the attack upon Shields. A few days after Fremont and Shields had been disposed of, Gen. Jackson was ordered east to join Gen. Lee in the defence of Richmond. Marching to Mechum’s River, he went thence by rail to Beaver Dam; thence marched to the scene of the conflict, which culminated in seven days of desperate fighting, McClellan to capture, Lee to save, Richmond. However, from the time the Tenth reached its destination until the end of the struggle, it did not fire a gun, being held in reserve; but it was exposed for a time to damage from the exploding shells of the enemy at Malvern Hill, while supporting a battery, two or three men being slightly wounded.
Soon after the close of this part of the campaign Gen. Jackson with his corps was ordered to Gordonsville to look after the redoubtable Federal general, John Pope. On the 8th of August (1862), a few miles south of Culpeper Court House, near or at Slaughter’s Mountain, called by the Confederates Cedar Run, the first encounter took place between Jackson and Pope, resulting in a hard-fought battle, with victory for a time trembling in the balance. The Tenth, under command of Major Stover, was in the fray from start to finish, suffering a considerable loss in killed and wounded. After this battle the troops followed Pope’s discomfited army, expecting to give him battle before he could recross the Rappahannock; but this plan failed from some cause. The next move was to cross the Rappahannock and give him battle.
For Jackson, the next thing was to move up the river, cross its two branches, pass around Pope’s right, and move on Manassas Junction, thus getting completely in Pope’s rear - a very daring and desperate move, resulting in a three days battle, the Second Manassas. In all this the 10th Virginia took an active part, losing heavily in killed and wounded. Among the latter were Lt.-Col. Walker and Major Stover. On the second day, Col. Warren being absent, the command
of the regiment devolved upon Capt. W. B. Yancey. Pope’s army was routed and driven back with tremendous loss.
The next move was the invasion of Maryland. The Tenth passed through Frederick City, and came back into Virginia by Williamsport to Martinsburg, where it was left on duty with the 2d Va., while Jackson captured Harper’s Ferry. The Tenth remained here until the army returned to Virginia, after the battle of Sharpsburg. After remaining in the lower Valley for a time, the army crossed into eastern Virginia, and, moving near Fredericksburg, took position on the hills running parallel with the Rappahannock, back of the town. The Federal general Burnside, was on the Stafford Heights, on the opposite side of the river.
On the 13th of December (1862) Burnside, having succeeded in crossing the river, fought the desperate and bloody battle of Fredericksburg. The Tenth did not take an active part on the 13th, but was placed on the front line that night, expecting bloody work the next day; but Burnside thought it better not to renew the battle, and withdrew to the north side of the river.
Gen. Lee went into winter quarters at Skinker’s Neck, on the south side of the Rappahannock. In the meantime “Fighting Joe Hooker” was placed in command of the Federal army, and in the spring of 1863 began his “on to Richmond” campaign, posting his army about Chancellorsville. Then was planned Jackson’s famous flank movement around Hooker’s right. The Tenth, being with Jackson, took an active part in the assault upon the enemy, losing many officers and men, on Saturday evening, May 2. Among the wounded were Col. Warren and the writer. On Sunday further heavy losses were sustained, among the killed being Lt.-Col. Samuel T. Walker and Major Joshua Stover.
The next movement was into Pennsylvania, and on to Gettysburg, where the Tenth again participated in some heavy fighting, under the command of Capt. W. B. Yancey. The loss here was not heavy.
After the battle of Chancellorsville the writer was pro-
moted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After Gettysburg the army returned to Virginia, soon moving east of the Blue Ridge and placing itself in front of Gen. Meade, the new Federal commander. The Tenth, now of George H. Steuart’s brigade, Edward Johnson’s division, engaged in a hot fight with the Federal general, French, on November 27, at Mine run, losing several men in killed and wounded. This was supposed to be the prelude to a bloody battle, for which great preparations were made, but Meade finally concluded not to risk it. Thus ended the campaign of 1863. The Army of Northern Virginia went into winter quarters near Orange Court House.
About the 1st of May, 1864, Gen Grant, now in supreme command of the Army of the Potomac, began to move. The first important battle was fought May 5, in which the Tenth again lost heavily in killed and wounded, among the former being Col. Warren (4) and Major I. G. Coffman, leaving he writer the only field officer of the regiment. On the evening of May 10 the enemy captured part of our works, which the Tenth helped to recapture from them. On the 12th of May Gen. Hancock, of the Federals, made his famous assault on our works, capturing nearly all of Johnson’s division, including the 10th Va. and the writer. The brave adjutant of the regiment, Whit. Kisling, was killed in this fight. A small remnant of the regiment, under command of that veteran, Capt. W. B. Yancey, took part in several skirmishes until he was permanently disabled by a severe wound.
Shortly after May 12, 1864, the Tenth was made part of a new brigade under Gen. Wm. Terry, being later moved to the Valley, whence, under Gen. Early, it again went into Maryland to threaten Washington, in process of which it took
(4) Edward Tiffin Harrison Warren was born in Rockingham, June 19, 1829. At Frescati, Orange County, he married Virginia Magruder, December 5, 1855. His son, James Magruder Warren, was a prominent physician in the 80’s and 90’s at New Hope and Bridgewater. Col. Warren was a practicing lawyer at Harrisonburg at the outbreak of the war.
part in the battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864, in which Gen. Lew Wallace was defeated.
The writer was exchanged on the 3d of August, 1864, came home, and rejoined is command. In the meantime, however, the regiment, now no larger than a company, took part in the third battle of Winchester, September 19, 1864, when Capt. C. F. Campbell was killed, and at Fisher’s Hill, both engagements being disastrous to Early, who came up the Valley as far as Weyer’s Cave. In a short time he moved down the Valley, surprising the enemy by a flank movement at Cedar Creek on the morning of October 19, in which the Tenth took and active part, the Confederates driving everything before them. They captured a large number of prisoners, many pieces of artillery, and quantities of supplies, only to lose all except the prisoners, and more too, before the day ended.
In December (1864) Terry’s brigade was sent to Gen. Lee, near Petersburg, camping on Hatcher’s Run, a few miles south of the city. The Tenth took part in a hotly fought battle in February, 1865, the writer being in command of the 10th, 23d, and 37th Va. Regiments. Later on we were moved to a point in front of the city, where on the morning of April 2, as part of Gen. J. B. Gordon’s corps, we stormed and carried the enemy’s works, but were finally driven back, the Tenth losing many of its number in killed, wounded, and captured.
Late on the 2d of April we withdrew from the front of Petersburg, in the vain effort to get away from Grant. On the retreat we took part in the fight at Sailor’s Creek, with but two commissioned company officers in the Tenth: Lieut. John H. Ralston, who was badly wounded and left in the hands of the enemy, and Lieut. J. G. H. Miller, now commanding the regiment.
On the morning of April 9 we had a skirmish with the enemy at Appomattox, driving them some distance, only to be withdrawn and to furl our banners, -- banners never again to be unfurled. But the Tenth did not surrender the
old battle flag, which was hidden under his coat by Lieut. J. G. H. Miller, (5) and which is still preserved in Rockingham by his family.
Lieut. Miller commanded the regiment at Appomattox, now reduced to 8 or 10 muskets. The writer had been put in command of the 10th, 23d, and 37th regiments. Here ended the military career of the noble Tenth Virginia. By April 15 we were home again to start life anew. (6)
We give below Gen. Jackson’s own occount [sic] of the battle of Cross Keys and Port Republic, June 8 and 9, 1862, as embodied in his report to the Department Headquarters.
We reached Harrisonburg at an early hour on the morning of the 5th, and, passing beyond that town, turned towards the east in the direction of Port Republic. On the 6th , General Ashby took position on the road between Harrisonburg and Port Republic, and received a spirited charge from a portion of the enemy’s cavalry, which resulted in the repulse of the enemy, and the capture of Colonel Wyndham and sixty-three others.
Apprehending that the Federals would make a more serious attack, Ashby called for an infantry support. The brigade of General Geo. H. Stewart was accordingly ordered forward. In a short time the fifty-eighth Virginia regiment became engaged with a Pennsylvania regiment called the Bucktails, when Colonel Johnson, of the First Maryland regiment, coming up in the hottest period of the fire, charged gallantly into its flank and drove the enemy, with heavy loss, from the field, capturing Lieutenant Colonel Kane, commanding. In this skirmish our infantry loss was seventeen (17) killed, fifty (50) wounded, and three missing. In this affair General Turner Ashby was killed. An official report is not an appropriate place for more than a passing notice of the distinguished dead; but the close relation which General Ashby bore to my command for most of the previous twelve months, will justify me in saying that as a partisan officer I never knew his superior. His daring was proverbial; his powers of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.
(5) Capt. Miller died at his home in Elkton, June 16, 1889. Upon the old flag he saved may still be read the names of the following battles: Manassas No. 1, McDowell, Winchester No. 1, Port Republic, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, Cedar Run, Manassas No. 2, Chantilly, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Winchester No. 2, Gettysburg.
(6) Complete muster rolls of the various Rockingham companies are given in the Appendix, as far as possible.
The main body of my command had now reached the vicinity of Port Republic. The village is situated in the angle formed by the junction of the North and South rivers, tributaries of he south fork of he Shenandoah. Over the larger and deeper of those two streams, the North river, there was a wooden bridge, connecting the town with the road leading to Harrisonburg. Over the South river there was a passable ford. The troops more immediately under my own eye were encamped on the high ground north of the village, about a mile from the river. General Ewell was some four miles distant, near the road leading from Harrisonburg to Port Republic. General Fremont had arrived with his forces in the vicinity of Harrisonburg, and General Shields was moving up the east side of the south fork of the Shenandoah; and was then at Conrad’s store, some fifteen miles below Port Republic, my position being about equi-distant from both hostile armies. To prevent a junction of the two Federal armies, I had caused the bridge over the south fork of the Shenandoah at Conrad’s store to be destroyed. Intelligence having been received that Gen. Shields was advancing further up the river, Captain Sipe, (7) with a small cavalry force, was sent down during the night of the 7th to verify the report and gain such other information respecting the enemy as he could. Captain G. W. Myers, of the cavalry, was subsequently directed to move with his company in the same direction for the purpose of supporting Captain Sipe, if necessary. The next morning Captain Myer’s company came rushing back in disgraceful disorder, announcing that the Federal forces were in close pursuit. Captain Chipley and his company of cavalry, which was in town, also shamefully fled. The brigades of Generals Taliaferro and Winder were soon under arms, and ordered to occupy positions immediately north of the bridge. By this time the Federal cavalry, accompanied by artillery, were in sight, and, after directing a few shots towards the bridge, they crossed South river, and dashing into the village, planted one of their pieces at the southern entrance of the bridge. In the meantime the batteries of Wooding, Poague and Carpenter were being placed in position, and General Taliaferro’s brigade having reached the vicinity of the bridge, was ordered to charge across, capture the piece, and occupy the town. Whilst one of Poague’s pieces was returning the fire of that of the enemy at the far end of the bridge, the thirty-seventh Virginia regiment, Colonel Fulkerson, after delivering its fire, gallantly charged over the bridge, captured the gun, and followed by the other regiments of the
(7) Emanuel Sipe, captain Co. H, 12th Va. Cavalry, later lieutenant-colonel, assigned to command of the 7th Va. Cavalry. He was born in Rockingham, July 5, 1830. Prior to the war he was lieutenant-colonel of the 116th Va. Militia; and both before and after the war was a prominent merchant and man of affairs. He died Sept. 23, 1901.
brigade, entered the town, and dispersed and drove back the Federal cavalry. Another piece of artillery, with which the Federals had advanced, was abandoned and subsequently fell into our hands.
About this time, a considerable body of infantry was seen advancing up the same road. Our batteries opened with marked effect upon the retreating cavalry and advancing infantry. In a short time the infantry followed the cavalry, falling back to Lewis’, three miles down the river, pursued for a mile by our batteries on the opposite bank, when the enemy disappeared in the wood around a bend in the road. This attack of General Shields had hardly been repulsed, before Ewell was seriously engaged with Fremont, moving on the opposite side of the river. The enemy pushed forward driving in the fifteenth Alabama, Colonel Canty, from their post on picket. This regiment made a gallant resistance, which so far checked the Federal advance as to afford General Ewell time for the choice of his position at leisure.
His ground was well selected, on a commanding ridge, a rivulet and large field of open ground in front, wood on both flanks, and his line intersected near its centre by the road leading to Port Republic. General Trimble’s brigade was posted on the right, somewhat in advance of his centre. The batteries of Courtnay, Lusk, Brockenbrough, and Raines in the centre, General Stewart’s brigade on the left, and General Elzey’s brigade in rear of the centre, and in position to strengthen either wing. Both wings were in the wood.
About ten o’clock, the enemy threw out his skirmishers, and shortly after posted his artillery opposite to our batteries. The artillery fire was kept up with great animation and spirit on both sides for several hours. In the meantime a brigade of Federal forces advanced under cover, upon the right, occupied by General Trimble, who reserved his fire until they reached the crest of the hill, in easy range of his musketry, when he poured a deadly fire from his whole front, under which they fell back. Observing a battery about being posted on the enemy’s left, half a mile in front, General Trimble, now supported by the thirteenth and twenty-fifth Virginia regiments, of Elzey’s brigade, pushed forward for the purpose of taking it, but found it withdrawn before he reached the spot, having, in the meantime, some spirited skirmishing with its infantry supports. General Trimble had now advanced more than a mile from his original position, while the Federal advance had fallen back to the ground occupied by them in the morning.
General Taylor, of the eighth brigade of Louisiana troops, having arrived from the vicinity of he bridge, at Port Republic, towards which he had moved in the morning, reported to General Ewell about two, P.M., and was placed in rear. Colonel Patton, with the forty-second and forty-eighth Virginia regiments, and first battalion of Virginia regulars, also joined, and, with the remainder of General Elzey’s brigade, was
added to the centre and left, then supposed to be threatened. General Ewell having been informed by Lieutenant Heinrichs, of the engineer corps, who had been sent out to reconnoitre, that the enemy was moving a large column on his left, did not advance at once; but subsequently ascertaining that no attack was designed by the force referred to, he advanced, drove in the enemy’s skirmishers and, when night closed, was in position on ground previously held by the enemy. During this fight Brigadier Generals Elzey and Stewart were wounded, and disabled from command.
This engagement with Fremont has generally been known as the battle of Cross Keys, in which our troops were commanded by General Ewell. I had remained at Port Republic during the principal part of the 8th, expecting a renewal of the attack. As no movement was made by General Shields to renew the action that day, I determined to take the initiative and attack him the following morning.
Accordingly, General Ewell was directed to move his position at an early hour, on the morning of the 9th, towards Port Republic, leaving General Trimble with his brigade, supported by Colonel Patton with the forty-second Virginia infantry and the first battalion of Virginia regulars, to hold Fremont in check, with instructions if hard pressed to retire across the North river, and burn the bridge in their rear. Soon after ten o’clock, General Trimble with the last of our forces had crossed the North river, and the bridge was destroyed. (8) In the meantime, before five in the morning, General Winder’s brigade was in Port Republic, and having crossed the South Fork, by a temporary wagon bridge, placed there for the purpose, was moving down the River road to attack the forces of General Shields. Advancing a mile and a half, he encountered the Federal pickets and drove them in.
The enemy had judiciously selected his position for defence. Upon a rising ground near the Lewis House, he had planted six guns which commanded the road from Port Republic, and swept the plateau for a considerable distance in front. As General Winder moved forward his brigade, a rapid and severe fire of shell was opened upon it. Capt. Poague, with two Parrott guns, was promptly placed in position on the left of the road to engage, and if possible to dislodge the Federal battery. Captain Carpenter was sent to the right to select a position for his battery, but finding it impracticable to drag it through the dense undergrowth, it was brought back, and part of it placed near Poague. The artillery fire was well sustained by our batteries, but found unequal to that of the enemy.
(8) The squad that burned the bridge was in charge of Courier Geo. H. Hulvey, a native of Rockingham, born at Cross Keys, April 19, 1844. He lost his left arm in the Wilderness, May 6, 1864. For the past 25 years or more he had been superintendent of schools for Rockingham County, and is one of the best known educators in the State.
In the meantime, Winder being now reinforced by the seventh Louisiana regiment, Colonel Hays, seeing no mode of silencing the Federal battery, or escaping its destructive missiles but by a rapid charge, and the capture of it, advanced with great boldness for some distance, but encountered such a heavy fire of artillery and small arms as greatly to disorganize his command, which fell back in disorder. The enemy advanced across the field, and, by a heavy musketry fire, forced back our infantry supports, in consequence of which our guns had to retire. The enemy’s advance was checked by a spirited attack upon their flank, by the fifty-eighth and fifty-fourth Virginia regiments, directed by General Ewell and led by Colonel Scott, although his command was afterwards driven back to the woods with severe loss. The batteries were all safely withdrawn except one of Captain Poague’s six-pounder guns, which was carried off by the enemy.
Whilst Winder’s command was in this critical condition, the gallant and successful attack of General Taylor on the Federal left and rear, directed attention from the front, and lead to a concentration of their force upon him. Moving to the right along the mountain acclivity, through a rough and tangled forest, and much disordered by the rapidity and obstructions of the march, Taylor emerged with his command from the wood, just as the loud cheers of the enemy had proclaimed their success in front; and although assailed by a superior force in front and flank, with their guns in position within point blank range, the charge was gallantly made, and the battery, consisting of six guns, fell into our hands. Three times was this battery lost and won in the desperate and determined efforts to capture and recover it. After holding the batteries for a short time, a fresh brigade of the enemy advancing upon his flank, made a vigorous and well conducted attack upon him, accompanied by a galling fire of canister from a piece suddenly brought into position, at a distance of about three hundred and fifty yards. Under this combined attack, Taylor fell back to the skirt of the wood, near which the captured battery was stationed, and from that point continued his fire upon the advancing enemy, who succeeded in recapturing one of the guns, which he carried off, leaving both caisson and limber. The enemy, now occupied with Taylor, halted his advance to the front. Winder made a renewed effort to rally his command, and succeeding, with the seventh Louisiana, under Major Penn, (the Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel having been carried from the field wounded,) and the fifth Virginia regiment, Col. Funk, he placed part of Poague’s battery in the position previously occupied by it, and again opened upon the enemy, who were moving against Taylor’s left flank, apparently to surround him in the wood. Chew’s battery now reported, and was placed in position, and did good service. Soon after, guns from the batteries of Brockenbough, Courtnay and Rains, were brought forward and placed in position. Whilst these
movements were in progress on the left and front, Colonel Scott, having rallied his command, led them under the orders of General Ewell, to the support of General Taylor, who, pushing forward with the reinforcements just received, and assisted by the well-directed fire of our artillery, forced the enemy to fall back, which was soon followed by his precipitate retreat, leaving many killed and wounded upon the field. General Taliaferro, who the previous day had occupied the town, was directed to continue to do so with part of his troops, and, with the remainder, to hold the elevated position on the north side of the river, for the purpose of co-operating, if necessary, with General Trimble, and prevent his being cut off from the main body of the army by the destruction of the bridge in his rear. But finding the resistance more obstinate than I anticipated, orders were sent to Taliaferro and Trimble to join the main body. Taliaferro came up in time to discharge an effective volley into the ranks of the wavering and retreating enemy. The pursuit was continued some five miles beyond the battle-field by Generals Taliaferro and Winder with their brigades and portions of the batteries of Wooding and Caskie. Colonel Munford, with cavalry and some artillery, advanced about three miles beyond the other troops. Our forces captured in the pursuit about four hundred and fifty (450) prisoners, some wagons, one piece of abandoned artillery, and about eight hundred muskets. Some two hundred and seventy-five (275) wounded were paroled in the hospitals near Port Republic.
Whilst the forces of Shields were in full retreat, and our troops in pursuit, Fremont appeared on the opposite bank of the south fork of the Shenandoah, with his army, and opened his artillery upon our ambulances, and parties engaged in the humane labors of attending to our dead and wounded, and the dead and wounded of the enemy. The next day, withdrawing his forces, he retreated down the Valley.
On the morning of the 12th, Munford entered Harrisonburg, where, in addition to wagons, medical stores and camp equipage, he captured some two hundred small arms. At that point there also fell into our hands about two hundred of Fremont’s men, many of them severely wounded on the 8th, and most of the others had been left behind as sick. The Federal surgeons attending them were released, and those under their care paroled.
The official reports of the casualties of the battle show a loss of sixteen (16) officers killed, sixty-seven (67) wounded, and two (2) missing; one hundred and seventeen (117) non-commissioned officers and privates killed, eight hundred and sixty-two (862) wounded, and thirty-two missing, making a total loss of one thousand and ninety-six (1,096) including skirmishers on the 6th; since evacuation of Winchester, one thousand one hundred and sixty-seven, (1,167;) also one piece of artillery. If we add to the prisoners captured on the 6th and 9th, those who were paroled at Harrisonburg, and in hospitals in the vicinity of Port Republic,
it will make the number of the enemy who fell into our possession about nine hundred and seventy-five, (975,) exclusive of his killed, and such of his wounded as he removed. The small arms taken on the 9th, and at Harrisonburg, numbered about one thousand (1,000.) We captured seven pieces of artillery, with their caissons and all of their limbers, except one. The conduct of the officers and men, during the action, merits the highest praise.
I forward, herewith, two maps, by Mr. J. Hotchkiss, one giving the route of the army during the retreat from Strasburg to Port Republic, and the other of the battle-field.
On the 12th, the troops recrossed South river, and encamped near Weyer’s Cave. For the purpose of rendering thanks to God for having crowned our arms with success, and to implore His continued favor, divine service was held in the army on the 14th.
The army remained near Weyer’s Cave until the 17th, when, in obedience to instructions from the commanding General of the Department, it moved towards Richmond.
I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
T. J. JACKSON,
The following letter, giving additional particulars relating to the battle of Cross Keys, was written in May, 1912, at Frankfort, Indiana, by Capt. William N. Jordan, a native of Rockingham, then nearly ninety-two years of age.
I was born in Mt. Crawford Christmas Day in the year 1820, and my mother died when I was nine days old. I was taken and raised by strangers in the neighborhood of Friedens Church, by a man named Martin Neir, and I staid with him until he died in 1844. Before I was seventeen years old I commenced driving his team of six horses in hauling produce to market, - Fredericksburg and Richmond were the markets at that time. After some time had passed Scottsville became a market for produce, and after a few years more Winchester became a market for the people of Rockingham.
I still remained on the place. On the 5th day October, 1847, about eight o’clock, we had a cyclone. It tore the barn clear away, and part of the house; and in a large orchard there was not one tree left standing. Wife and I and the girl were in the part of the house that was not torn down. In the part of which the roof was taken off were two boys; but none of us was hurt.
Then Martin Neir’s widow and I made sale of the land and property, and I bought me a home near the Cross Keys, and lived there until the Civil War commenced. I was assessor of that district in ‘59 and ‘60, and I was captain of the Cross Keys and Mt. Crawford cavalry. I had about
100 men in the company, and we were mustered into service of the Confederacy on the third day of June, 1861, and were in a number of battles. Among them was the fight at Cross Keys. We were on the left flank of Gen. Ewell’s army during the fight.
My farm was just outside of the line of battle. The Yankees broke open my corn crib and took corn to feed their horses, but did not disturb my family. This was on Sunday, and the next morning Gen. Jackson took us across the river and burnt the bridge; and the North River being high they could not follow us; and we went across South River, then down the river, and whipped Shield’s forces, and ran them away below the White Post; and on Monday night Fremont began to fall back.
They had made a hospital of a very large two-story house, and set it afire when they left. It was thought by the old people that lived close there that there was a large number of dead and wounded in the house at the time, for they heard some of them calling for help. And they left their dead lying all over the battlefield; and we had to make a big circuit to cross the river to get on the battlefield [of Cross Keys]. We did not get around there until Wednesday morning. Gen. Imboden, who was in command of the cavalry, detailed me and my company to gather up and bury the dead. At one place we buried 81 bodies, and at another 21. They were mostly foreigners, from the looks of them. It has been so long ago that I don’t remember how many we lost in that battle.
I had eight children of school age at that time, that I thought ought to be going to school. As there was no free school system then, I thought I would go to a state where they could get an education. So I sold out there and came to Indiana. My wife died January 21, 1911. We were married and lived together nearly sixty-six years. I am now staying with one of my daughters, and expect to stay here what few days may yet be allotted to me.
I voted for James K. Polk in 1844, for President, and I am still a Democrat. So good bye.
(Signed) Capt. Wm. N. Jordan.
In 1860 there were in Rockingham County 2387 slaves; in 1863, 2039: loss, 348. During the same time the number of horses was reduced from 7670 to 6656: loss, 1014; and the number of cattle from 21, 413 to 14,739: loss, 6674.(9) But when these statistics were gathered the worst was yet to come.
In the fall of 1864 Sheridan’s army was encamped about Harrisonburg and Dayton. One rainy evening Major John R. Meigs, of Sheridan’s staff, and two other Federals met three Confederate scouts near Dayton, and attempted to capture
(9) Rockingham Register, March 25, 1864.
or kill them, but in the fight Meigs himself was killed. It was reported to Sheridan that Meigs had been shot by a bushwhacker. To administer a gentle reproof to the community, Sheridan ordered that every house within five miles of the spot where Meigs fell should be burned. The work of burning began. A number of buildings in the vicinity were devoted to the torch. The people of Dayton were warned of the impending destruction, and moved out into the surrounding fields, where men, women, and children spent the chill October night as comfortably as they could, waiting to see their homes go up in flames. But sometime the next evening they were told the order to burn the town had been withdrawn, and were allowed to return to their houses.
I have heard several explanations as to why Dayton was not burned. One report has it that a Masonic apron was found by the burners in one of the houses nearby; another, that the many kindnesses extended to the Federals by the people of the community were remembered in the camps. Not long ago I learned that the Federal officer whose task it had been to carry out the order to burn was still living in Ohio, and I wrote to him asking for information. He is mayor of Clarington, Monroe County, Ohio. His letter follows.
Clarington, Ohio, March 16, 1912.
My Dear Sir:
Yours of the 11th recd. In reply will say that I was a main participant in that stirring and heart-rending event of Oct. 5th, 1864, at the town of Dayton, Va., where, at 5 o’clock P.M., by and order issued by our commander, Genl. P. H. Sheridan (order No. 89), I was ordered to take my regiment, the 116th O. V. I., and set the torch of destruction to every building in that beautiful town, for what some foolhardy citizen had done, or was supposed to have done - the killing of Major Meigs of Sheridan’s Staff.
Now the reason why the order of Genl. Sheridan was not carried out is, Genl. Thomas F. Wildes of my brigade, at one time colonel of the 116th O. V. I. (my regiment), who was a particularly ideal officer under Sheridan, and suited Sheridan on account of his bravery and fighting qualities, begged and prayed Sheridan to revoke the order, as my regiment, the 116th O. V. I., formerly Genl. T. F. Wildes’ regiment, was the regiment detailed by Sheridan to carry out his heart-rending order.
Gen. Wildes prevailed on Sheridan to revoke the order, and I got the order 5 minutes before we were to apply the torch to that beautiful and peaceful town.
When I announced the revoking of the order, there was louder cheering than there ever was when we made a bayonet charge.
I know every foot of ground in that country. I was only 17 years old then, and my heart fairly leaped for joy when the order was rescinded. Brigadier-Genl. Thomas F. Wildes, together with the regimental officers, are the ones who saved those towns, Dayton, Harrisonburg, and Mt. Crawford, from being burned down. We fought quite a hard battle at Piedmont on June 5th, under Genl. Hunter.
Yours very truly,
Col. S. Tschappat.
It was just a day or two after the incidents above recorded that Sheridan began his wide-spread retreat down the Valley, burning mills and barns, and driving off or killing horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs.
A vivid and realistic conception of the destruction wrought in Rockingham by the “burning” may be obtained by looking over the various items in the following letter, written by a gentleman living at the time in the vicinity of Timberville, and published in the Rockingham Register of March 24, 1865.
Near Timberville, Va., February 13, 1865.
Editors of the Register: - I hereby send you a list of losses sustained in this portion of Rockingham county, by Sheridan’s army. The prices fixed are those prevailing before the war.
David Cline, one barn, horse stable, 300 bushels of wheat, 34 tons of hay, 9 cattle, 30 sheep, loss about $2,600.
George Moffett, 1 barn, 20 tons of hay, cattle, farming utensils, &c., loss about $1600.
Jonas Early, 1 barn, 150 bushels of wheat, 10 tons of hay, house property, &c., loss $2000.
John Rife, 1 barn, wheat, hay, &c., loss $1000.
John W. Driver, 6 horses, 14 sheep, loss $800.
Widow Driver, 1 barn, horse stable, 200 bushels of wheat, 20 tons of hay, wagon, ploughs, &c., loss $2,500.
S. H. Myers, 1 barn, 325 bushels of wheat, 10 tons of hay, 7 cattle, and other property, $2500.
Thornton Thomas, 5 horses, 10 cattle, 30 sheep, loss $700.
George Lohr and Sons, 3 barns, 1000 bushels grain, 10 tons hay, 7 horses, 10 cattle, farming implements, &c., $5,900.
Philip Lowry, 1 stable, 1 horse, hay, &c., $400.
Jesse Bushong, 2 horses, 3 cows, $225.
A. Bushong, 1 horse, $100.
Albert Flemens, 1 barn, 2 cows, hay, &c., $700.
Matthias Minnick & Son, 1 barn, 225 bushels of wheat, 6 tons hay, 5 horses, 12 cattle, threshing machine, ploughs, &c., $2,000.
George Arehart, 1 barn, 160 bushels of wheat, 10 tons hay, 8 cattle, farming implements, $1,400.
Abram Arehart, 1 barn, horse stable, 200 bushels wheat, 12 tons hay, 11 cattle, sheep, hogs, &c., $2,000.
Jacob Arehart, 3 horses, 4 cattle, 11 sheep, $400.
Moses Tussing, 1 barn, 4 tons hay, 3 horses, 2 cows, $900.
David Bowman, 1 barn, 500 bushels wheat, 10 tons hay, 12 cattle, &c., $2,000.
William G. Thompson, 1 merchant mill, some grain, horse gears, cattle, etc., $4,000.
The above list comprises that portion of the 8th district, north of the Shenandoah River and east of the Timberville road. A number of other persons had small losses which are not mentioned in the above list.
The losses enumerated by Mr. Hoover foot up a total of $33,725. The district in which this loss was sustained is not over one-sixtieth of the productive portion of the county; therefore, if equivalent loss was suffered all over the county, the grand total would exceed $2,000,000 - estimated upon ante bellum prices. Estimated upon contemporary prices in Confederate money, the grand total would be over $20,000,000. A calculation of this sort will obviously justify the following statement found on page 1303 of Garner and Lodge’s history of the United States:
“The value of property destroyed in Rockingham County alone was estimated at $25,000,000; thousands of families were reduced to absolute want and on every hand the signs of desolation were pitiable in the extreme.”
In the summer of 1864, upon the advance of Hunter’s army up the Valley, a lot of the records of the county and of the circuit court were loaded on a wagon and hauled eastward, the aim being to take them through Brown’s Gap to a place of safety in or beyond the Blue Ridge. The wagon was
overtaken on the road between Port Republic and Mt. Vernon Furnace by some of Hunter’s men, and set afire. After the Federals left, some persons in the neighborhood put out the fire, using for the purpose, it is said, some green hay just cut in a nearby field. The records left at the courthouse were not injured, though the files of the Rockingham Register, in the office of that paper, were destroyed. The partly burned records of the county were collected and brought back to the county-seat, where many of them may still be seen. An effort has been made to restore them as fully as possible.
A war always stimulates home manufactures. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In Chapter XXI will be found a number of items showing some of the particular manufactures in Rockingham during the war, as well as during other periods. It is needless to say that a war also raises prices. Here are some illustrations from the case before us:
“Prices Reduced! Best fine salt at $9 to $9.25. Prime Super Flour $4.75. --Isaac Paul.”
Brown sugar 20 cents a pound.
Orleans molasses $1.00 a gallon.
Cash prices paid by Isaac Paul in August: Butter, 40c; cheese, 40c; lard, 25c; hard soap, 30c; bacon, 27-30c.
In October Isaac Paul was advertising tobacco at 60 cents a pound, and offering to pay the following prices; Wool, $1 to $1.25; flax seed, $1 to $1.25; butter, 40 to 50c; cheese, 40 to 50 c. ; lard, 25c; flour, $8 to $8.50; bacon, 35 to 40c.
In September-October salt was over $15 a sack.
In November ink was $1 a bottle; Isaac Paul was offering 75c for butter and cheese; J. N. Hill was offering to pay $1 a pound cash for 10,000 pounds of good roll butter.
In April flour was $20 a barrel at the mill; wheat was $4 a bushel; corn, $4; bacon, $1 a pound; hay, $1 a cwt.
In February the American Hotel in Harrisonburg was ad-
vertising board at $150 a month; supper, lodging, and breakfast for $10; board at $10 a day; single meals at $4. “Positively no credit.”
The same month D. A. Plecker was urging: “Buy your salt two years in advance when you can get it at 50 cts. per pound”; while Fishback & Long, at Montezuma, were offering “Also, a lot of Salt which we will sell at 60 cents by the sack.”
In May Isaac Paul had some salt at 45 cents.
In July $1000 was given or offered for a horse.
In December salt was 80 cents a pound.
In the Register of March 24 the following estray notice appeared: “A White Boar, supposed to be one and a half years old, left ear cut, appraised at $175.”
But the flowers still bloomed in Rockingham, though often broken in the strife. In the fall of 1861 the Female Seminary, located where the Main Street school in Harrisonburg now stands, J. Mark Wilson, principal, was turned into a hospital for wounded and sick Confederate soldiers. Early in 1864 there was a general hospital at Harrisonburg, Dr. A. R. Meem, surgeon in charge. More than 300 Confederate soldiers were buried in Woodbine Cemetery, where, every springtime, sweet flowers in fair hands are borne to mark the place.
In Chapter XVI other particulars are given that have application here.
In 1862 Rev. Daniel Thomas, a Dunker minister, sold 1000 gallons of cane molasses at $1 a gallon, Confederate money, to his poor friends and neighbors, when he was offered $2 a gallon in gold or silver, by speculators. At another time he sold several hundred gallons of flaxseed oil at great pecuniary loss, for benevolent reasons.
In the Register of April 24, 1863, appeared a fine tribute to the Rockingham farmers. It was shown that they were a sturdy, industrious class of loyal citizens, even in the midst of most aggravating circumstances. When their fields were devastated, their stock driven off, and their buildings burned
by the public enemy, and when their own fellow-countrymen in arms failed to respect their rights - riding down grain and grass in mere wantonness, burning fences, men and officers alike, and even threatening the protesting owners, the farmers of Rockingham County were still loyal, and strove with no less energy to raise supplies for their country at large as well as for their immediate families.
The following paragraphs appeared in the Register of February 5, 1864:
At a meeting of the Rockingham Medical Association, held in Harrisonburg, January 18th, 1864, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That we will practice at old rates, notwithstanding the present high prices of medicines, in all cases where our patrons will pay us in produce at old prices,
Resolved, That in every case where it is not convenient to pay in produce, we will receive a bond at old rates, payable after the war.
Resolved, That in every instance where it is desirable to pay us in money, we will regulate our charges in proportion to the prices of the produce of the country; except for our services to the poor and needy, and especially to families in service, or killed or disabled in the service.
Resolved, That all old open accounts standing upon our books shall be included in the above regulations.
The next meeting will be on the 3d Monday in February, at 10 o’clock.
Geo. K. Gilmer, Secretary.
This chapter must be concluded with another excerpt from the Rockingham Register, -- that paper true to its name. The following article appeared under date of March, 24, 1865:
Trotter’s Stage Line.
One of the “institutions” that has, so far, survived “the wreck of matter” caused by the Yankees in this beautiful Valley, is Trotter’s stage line. Notwithstanding the heavy losses of the enterprising proprietor caused by the enemy, he is still in motion, and his teams and his stages still run up and down the Valley as though nothing had occurred to molest them. A stage line requires unusual energy and industry in its proper management, and that is exactly what “Trotter’s line” (most
appropriate designation!) has. It required great skill and activity to save the stages and teams from the Yankees the last time they came up the Valley; but Trotter has the singular good fortune to have an agent at this end of the line, who may be safely trusted to take care of everything under his control. JOS. ANDREWS is as energetic as the proprietor of the stage line whose interests he so carefully protects and promotes. It is to the energy and industry of Mr. Andrews, (who, by the way, is “an old stager” himself,) that the Valley people are now indebted for the mail facilities and other very great accommodations resulting from the movements of a regular daily line of stages. These can hardly be properly estimated and appreciated. We almost felt as if we were cut off from the outside world and the rest of mankind until the arrival of Trotter’s stages disturbed the Sabbath-like stillness of our paralyzed village. With our stores closed, (the merchants fearing that the Yankees might soon come again,) and with our Post Office shut up as if we had entered upon an unending Sabbath, it was really a pleasant sight to us to see Trotter’s teams coming trotting in a week ago as gaily as if there never had been Yankees in the Valley, and as if forage and corn could still be had in abundance. It has, really, been a wonder with us, how the large number of teams have been kept up so well. It is all attributable to the tireless activity and industry of the chief director and agent, Mr. Andrews, who is known to all travellers in the Valley as one of the most accommodating stage agents to be met with. A stage line, under his management, is obliged to go ahead. If ever any stage line deserved encouragement and countenance Trotter’s Valley line assuredly does. In fact, we cannot see how the people could possibly do without it. (10)
(10) For the gift or loan of old papers and other source materials for the period covered by this chapter, I am under grateful obligation to Mrs. Cornelia S. Burkholder, of Harrisonburg, and to the following gentlemen: Joseph E. Shaver, Friedens; C. L. Denton, Pleasant Valley; Joe K. Ruebush, Dayton; A. E. Wyant, Elkton; W. H. Sipe, Bridgewater; Rev. C. W. Stinespring, Baltimore; and Q. G. Kaylor, Marshall Crawford, C. A. Hammer, and Capt. J. H. Dwyer; Harrisonburg, as well as to others whose names have already been given.