Friday, 17 March, 1865

Another blustering day. Nan and I, with Martha, have been engaged this morning about some little important business. Willie and Riley were floating at the time. – – Tom transplanted some onion buttons. – – Bake had scalding done by Bettie. Patsy and Beck were hoeing behind the smokehouse for sugar cane, a little piece of ground to plant early, and I was in the garden and heard Patsy and Beck in stifled tones beckoning to me to come out of the garden, and O when I came, what was it to behold? Old Sheridan’s Army approaching the house from all points. The first came by the barn, broke open doors, filled bags with oats and came on to the house and entered it by different doors and commenced plundering. At the same time, others broke in the smoke house and fish house and stripped them of everything. Took every piece of bacon, all of two barrels beef, every shad and herring, except some two or three at the bottom of the barrels, my nice shad roe, all the flour and meal we had. Divided some of the things its true, but left a goodly portion of all. Then they entered the house and began their ravages. Then came the severest trial, but for our trusty servants I don’t know what might have been our fate. There was not a hole or corner from the basement to the rooms upstairs that was not ransacked and divested of everything valuable. some of my tea, dessert and table spoons I neglected to put out of sight, they got them all, as well as a good many knives and forks. Emptied two barrels molasses entirely, besides other smaller things. All my butter that was in plates and a three gallon jar filled last week of beautiful butter, as much lard as they could carry in every variety of tin. Milk pans and tin buckets, a two gallon strainer, a very large new cup I intended for Liv, some parts of my pyramid moulds and other things too numerous to mention. Eight skins of sausage, two moulds of souse, besides a head, all of my potatoes, a nice parcel of eating roots. Destroyed all my vinegar and broke the carboy, every bottle of wine for furnishing at Church, though I thought I had hid it very securely. All my preserves, a jar of mince meat and one of honey, and then took the jars and filled them with molasses and other things. Broke my two three gallon bowls, carboys and several other things, bottles innumerable, took and destroyed soap, candles and all of our oats, both for sales and seed, and as much corn as they wanted after feeding all my hogs. Tore up window curtains, towels, some of the servant’s clothes, to put up shad, herring &c. Filled pitchers with roe, molasses &c, two beautiful brown pitchers, a white one and three blue ones, tomato catsup, meat jelly, green tomato preserves, and various others things too numerous to mention. I cannot commit to speak of a large milk cooler of most superior coffee and several bottles of tea, loaf sugar, some of the cruets out of the casters filled with pepper, candles, two jars pickles, some of Bill’s clothes, a pair of nice uniform pants and shirts, collars, &c. Some of the most beautiful briskets and rounds of beef put up for summer use, besides some three or four tongues. We can’t tell the extent of our loss, but I feel thankful they did not burn the house, after some threats they made. Two barrels molasses.

6 thoughts on “Friday, 17 March, 1865”

    1. King William’s incursion of Union troops this time was part of the larger action well-described in Richard Nicholas’s recent book, Sheridan’s James River Campaign of 1865 through Central Virginia. The short answer is yes. Tomorrow will provide more details.

  1. This extant record presents the barbaric side of the “Yankee Cause”, one that ecould hardly be excused in any age for any conflict. It surly adds reason to the belief that all Northerners deserved the name “Damned Yankees”, at least those who failed the “communion” test on following celebrations of that feast, that of being forgiven for their sins, even such as these. Attrocities like this, unfortunately, were seen on both sides, I hate to say (as a 20-21st Century Southerner whose grandfather died at Gettysburg (very honorably if one who dies when a musket ball to the elbow drains him of his blood on the battlefield).
    A further look at the causes and precedings of the low level of military actions these firebrands of the north (Agents of the Devil that they were as seen here) were willing to commit for their Cause against the mostly genteel (I say without prejudice to that effect) South can be found at:
    “During this time, Sheridan’s force was reorganized and he was put in overall command of Grant’s cavalry. On February 28, Sheridan’s men broke camp, and the scouts were soon in a fight outside New Market with Maj. Gen. Thomas Rosser’s Confederate cavalry. Years later, Rowand remembered that ‘at New Market we went after General Rosser and his escort, and Campbell was so reckless at that fight I asked him if he thought he could whip the whole Southern Confederacy himself.’ Camp was made at Lacey Spring, just north of Harrisonburg, and the march was resumed in the rainy weather, with small groups of irregulars pestering the Union flanks. On March 1, the Federals passed through Harrisonburg, following the Valley Turnpike. The Rebels tried to use the swollen condition of the major watercourses to their advantage when Rosser’s few hundred cavalry attempted to obstruct and burn the bridge over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at Mount Crawford. The scouts aggressively engaged the Confederates and alerted the nearest brigade commander to the blocked bridge. Two Union cavalry regiments swam across the river, outflanked the dismounted opposition and drove them pell-mell toward Staunton, which the Federals occupied on March 2. Then Sheridan decided to change course and momentarily forgo capturing Lynchburg to go after the remnants of Early’s Army of the Valley at Waynesboro, 12 miles to the southeast. The Battle of Waynesboro was a Federal victory on the scale of Cedar Creek, and four scouts were sent north to Winchester so the news could be wired to Washington and to Grant at City Point, Va. Scout Michael Dunn led the detachment. Outside of Staunton, now reoccupied by the enemy, the scouts were recognized by some of Gilmor’s men, arrested and placed in jail. The intrepid quartet escaped that same night, captured four mounts and managed to reach Winchester in time for their report to reach City Point by March 5. Over the next few days, while several raids destroyed tracks and bridges leading to Charlottesville, an in-cident half a day’s ride west of Staunton involved the scouts attached to army headquarters. At Swoope’s Depot on the Virginia Central Railroad, Union Major Robert Douglass of the 1st Division reported he had been preceded by ‘a party of 15 men, clad in Rebel uniform’ known to be Federal scouts. Douglass subsequently heard from a local farmer that he ‘had been bribed…to spare his barn, containing a large amount of stores . . . . ‘ That questionable behavior, along with other similar acts committed by the scouts, led to the March 5 Field Order No. 2: ‘No division, brigade, or regimental commander in this command will be allowed to have men of their commands clothed in gray or Rebel uniform and acting as scouts. All such will be returned to duty with their regiments and must wear the uniforms of the U.S. Army. All scouts at these headquarters will, after today, have passes or papers, signed by the commanding general, to show that they are authorized to act in that capacity.’ Because the army was moving so quickly, however, that order was not immediately put into effect, and by March 10 Sheridan’s forces had reached Columbia, on the James River. The Yankee horsemen were worn and needed resupply, and the general realized he had to reach the supply base at White House Landing on the Pamunkey River before his men could press on with the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan sent four of Major Young’s headquarters scouts to travel in pairs and alert Grant. Rowand and Campbell were chosen to ride around the northern perimeter of Richmond, while James White and Dominick Fannon had the dangerous job of slipping into the enemy works at Petersburg, ‘deserting’ at their first opportunity, then making their way into the Union lines. Rowand remembered that he and Campbell ‘entered the enemy’s lines and passed within eight miles of Richmond…passing ourselves off for General Rosser’s scouts . . . . ‘ The pair made it close to the Chickahominy River before they were discovered and chased. Upon reaching the James River, Rowand swam his horse out to a small boat and let the beast swim back to shore while he got in the vessel, picked up Campbell and made for a point north of Harrison’s Landing. They beached their skiff and walked 10 miles through the swampy forests until they came upon the Union picket line. They were then taken to City Point, where their appearance caused a considerable stir. General Grant soon had the message and quickly made arrangements to have the requisite supplies sent to White House Landing. White and Fannon also survived their risky journey, but did not make it to City Point until some days later. On March 12 at Frederick’s Hall, 35 miles northwest of Richmond, scouts gave Sheridan extremely valuable intelligence about Rebel preparations being made to thwart his eastward advance. Using that knowledge, Sheridan was able to maneuver to miss his opponents and arrive at White House Landing on March 19, where his men remained for 10 days before joining the direct efforts to break Lee’s Petersburg lines. On March 27, the field order requiring the scouts attached to specified contingents to wear their regulation Federal uniforms was finally implemented, and around the same time some scouts were sent back to their units. Major Young had about 30 headquarters scouts at the time, and his men continued to wear Confederate uniforms in which they posed as men of the 9th Virginia Cavalry in Maj. Gen. W.H.F. ‘Rooney’ Lee’s division. Telegraph key sets were provided to a few select men, and all their genuine Union passes and counterfeit Rebel papers were reissued to suit their new work against Lee’s army. General Grant’s finishing strategy was for Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps to gain Five Forks, then cut the South Side Railroad beyond Lee’s right flank. Grant reasoned that once Lee caved in under the Union offensive, his next move would be west and then south. It was thought he would try to unite with General Joseph Johnston’s army in North Carolina via the Richmond & Danville Railroad.” – See more at:

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