Passing On

Over the last month the Slatesville community has lost two of its oldest and most distinguished residents. It is sad to see that generation fading away.

Nelson Terry died on December 19 at age 96, and Delly Eastwood died on January 10 at age 94.

Mr. Terry and Mr. Eastwood were my neighbors and I’ve known them both my entire life. They were fine men–honest, hardworking men who raised wonderful families imbued with the ethics and values they taught them.

James Nelson Terry was born in this community on April 14, 1921. His mother died when he was 16 months old, and he was taken in by his uncle and aunt, Charlie and Hattie Slate Terry, who raised him as their “adopted” son, along with their nine natural children. Like nearly everyone else in this community, the Terrys were farmers. Mr. Terry had a deep love of the land, and his farms repaid that love with abundant crops. He was a successful tobacco farmer and gardener, growing most of his family’s food. His wife Hattie Vaughn Terry worked alongside him on the farm and later worked a second-shift job at the mill (along with housekeeping and farming) to earn the money to send their daughters to college. Mrs. Terry died in February 2015, the couple having been married 67 years. In their retirement they visited all 50 states and lived to see their family grow and thrive. The family draped a burlap tobacco sack across Mr. Terry’s casket at his funeral.

William Delly Eastwood, Jr. was born in this community on September 10, 1923. Like Mr. Terry, Mr. Eastwood was a deacon, trustee and loyal member of Mt. Tabor Baptist Church. He too was a skilled farmer and, later in life, a realtor. He passed away just days before his 67th wedding anniversary. His wife Alice Dodson Eastwood survives him, along with his three children. I recall many pleasant days spent playing with their son, my boyhood friend, at their home. A mere half mile or so away, they were our closest neighbors.

Both Mr. Terry and Mr. Eastwood loved this community, and contributed much to it.

As this generation passes away, they leave us both a legacy and a responsibility.

May they rest in peace.


A Belated Happy Birthday


Pittsylvania County celebrated its 250th birthday in 2017.

Formed in 1767 when separated from Halifax County, the county was named in honor of William Pitt, a member of Parliament who was sympathetic to the concerns of the colonies.

It is home.

I am reminded of something Henry Hurt said to me recently. “Why do we love this place so much?” he asked. “It’s not better than other places. It’s not even that different from other places. We love it,” he said, “because it is our place.”

So happy belated birthday to this place, that is my place.

Colonial Williamsburg

Virginia’s colonial capital has been beautifully restored and maintained.

Visitors can see and tour the Governor’s Palace, where the colonial governors resided, as did Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, the first two Governors of post-independence Virginia.



Of course there are many other things to see and experience as well.



The original courthouse


The Capitol.


The House of Burgesses met here, inside the Capitol. It was here that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, upon which the federal Bill of Rights is based, was drafted.

A visitor today might even get to meet Mr. Jefferson.




Introduced by George Mason at the Virginia Convention in the Capitol in Williamsburg.

Unanimously adopted June 12, 1776

A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention, which rights do pertain to them, and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.

  1. THAT all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
  2. That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.
  3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety, and is most effectually secured against the danger of mal-administration; and that whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the publick weal.
  4. That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of publick services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge, to be hereditary.
  5. That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and, that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression, by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections, in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.
  6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for publick uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the publick good.
  7. That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.
  8. That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation, to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favour, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land, or the judgement of his peers.
  9. That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  10. That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offence is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive, and ought not to be granted.
  11. That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other, and ought to be held sacred.
  12. That the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotick governments.
  13. That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.
  14. That the people have a right to uniform government; and therefore, that no government separate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.
  15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
  16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.


Some Stories From Spotsylvania


The Spotsylvania battlefield is beautifully preserved, the peacefulness and serenity of the place belying the fact that in May 1864 it was the scene of what is often called the most horrific and brutal combat in American history.

Here are some stories of a few of the men who were there.

Despite the severe losses he had suffered in the Wilderness, General Grant decided not to retreat (as his predecessors had done), but rather to press on, relying his numerical superiority and what Abraham Lincoln called “the terrible arithmetic.” So he disengaged and began to march his army southeast, toward Spotsylvania Court House.

General Lee correctly guessed Grant’s plan, and raced to intercept him. But he had farther to travel, and on inferior roads, giving the Federals a decided advantage. To buy the time he needed, General Lee sent his cavalry to block the Spotsylvania Court House road.

The 5th Virginia Cavalry (commanded by General Tom Rosser) arrived first and drew up in a line of battle across the road, fighting desperately to hold back the Federal wave. Holding out for nearly a day, the regiment suffered badly and was in danger of being routed when Munford’s 2nd Virginia Cavalry arrived, charging the enemy and saving the day.

When the 5th was on the verge of collapse, Reuben Medina, a blacksmith who had been recruited from a Richmond machine shop, rallied some of the men, encouraging and inspiring them to hold on a little longer. Reuben had earned the respect of his comrades, who knew him to be a “brave man and a good scrapper.” In the fight he took a saber slash across the face that nearly severed his nose. But he and his colleagues held on.

The propitious arrival of Munford’s cavalry relieved Rosser’s embattled men, broke the Federal momentum, and gained the Confederate army more time as it hurried toward Spotsylvania. Among Munford’s troopers was Private Calhoun Clay. A son of Odin Clay of Campbell County, a long-serving Virginia legislator, Calhoun had enlisted along with his three brothers, Cyrus, Junius and DeWitt. The others would survive the war, but Calhoun was killed that day alongside the Spotsylvania Road.

With the benefit of the time the cavalry’s delaying action had bought them, the Confederate army began to arrive, immediately going to work building entrenchments and earthworks. Following the contours of the land, the line laid out by the engineers included a salient that came to known as “the Mule Shoe.”

The Federal commanders recognized the opportunity the salient presented them. Emory Upton, a brash young colonel from New York, devised a plan to break the Confederate line. He proposed to concentrate a large mass of men on a small area of the line, and to charge it without stopping to fire, counting on the sudden rush and numerical advantage to overwhelm the defenders. Conditions were nearly perfect for the assault and Upton’s predictions proved accurate. His men swarmed into the Confederate earthworks and threatened to break the entire line. Unfortunately for the Federals, the planned reinforcements and support never arrived, and Confederates hurried in from other parts of the line were able to drive Upton’s men away.

Private William Walker Ellington of the 45th North Carolina Infantry was among the men who were rushed in to meet Upton’s Charge. From Rockingham County, N.C., 18-year-old William had enlisted in Danville, Virginia just two months earlier. He was wounded in the battle and unable to return to duty until February 1865. Less than a month after his return he was captured at Hatcher’s Run and sent to Point Lookout prison.

William’s neighbor 19-year-old Lieut. Archer Watkins was acting commander of Company H of the 45th North Carolina that day. Like William, Lieut. Archer was also wounded (although whether on May 10 or May 12 is unclear). Archer recovered from his wound, returned to his company in September, survived the war, and went on to father at least 8 children.

Archer Watkins

Archer W. Watkins

Inspired by the success of Upton’s Charge, General Grant decided to repeat the tactic, but on a much larger scale. Two days later he would launch an entire Federal corps–20,000 men–at the tip of Mule Shoe salient.

The attack was launched at 4:30 a.m on May 12, in the foggy darkness and driving rain. The assault was predicated upon surprise, so the Federal troops advanced silently, under strict orders not to cheer or fire their weapons until they were inside the Confederate works.

Five hundred yards in advance of the Mule Shoe was a thin line of Confederate pickets and skirmishers, whose mission was to detect and delay any attack, and to alert the defenders in the main line. To prevent them from doing so, the Federal troops were instructed to rush the pickets, using only clubbed muskets and bayonets. In the pre-dawn rain, with near zero visibility, the skirmishers never saw them coming. A few made it back to the Confederate lines, but most were gobbled up and captured immediately.


At the center of the skirmish line was the 48th Virginia Infantry, composed of men from the mountains of western Virginia. Brothers John and James Henderson and their 19-year-old uncle Hiram Henderson, were serving in Company F and were among the men captured as the assault began. John and James were the illegitimate sons of Sarah Henderson, the daughter of a Scottish immigrant. Their uncle Hiram was also illegitimate, although under more curious circumstances. John was eventually exchanged, but James and Hiram spent the rest of the war in Elmira prison. James was known as “Greasy Jim,” which may help explain why he was never married.

Having bagged the Confederate pickets, the Federal wave surged toward the Mule Shoe as the defenders scrambled to meet them. The tip of the salient was the most vulnerable point in the Confederate line, so General Lee had packed it with artillery. Artillery massed at that point may well have broken the Federal assault that morning. But General Lee had made an uncharacteristic mistake the previous day. Believing that the Federals were withdrawing, he had ordered the artillery removed from the Mule Shoe. At the last minute frantic Confederate officers had been able to recall most of it, but the guns weren’t in position when the Federal troops swarmed into the works, and were almost all of them were captured before firing a shot.

Nor was the infantry able to stop the attack. When the men rose to deliver a volley into the attackers, they were dismayed to discover that the rain had dampened and ruined their ammunition. Instead of a devastating volley, they were answered with fizzles when they squeezed their triggers.

The famous Stonewall Brigade was annihilated. By the time the fighting ended, there were only about 200 men left, the rest having been killed, wounded or captured, and the brigade ceased to exist. John Hogston of Smyth County, a Private in the 4th Virginia Infantry, was one of the thousands of men captured in the Mule Shoe that day. Along with many of his Stonewall Brigade comrades, he would spend the rest of the war in Elmira Prison.

The 44th Virginia Infantry was positioned just to the right of the salient’s point, part of the brigade under the command of Col. William Witcher. Like the Stonewall Brigade, Witcher’s brigade was swept away in the assault. Sgt. William Guerrant was one of the many men taken prisoner.  He had been wounded the year before in the assault on Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg, where John Guerrant, his only brother, had been killed. Like John Hogston and thousands of others, William was sent to Elmira prison. He died there, of chronic diarrhea.

The Federals poured into the Mule Shoe, collapsing the Confederate lines. The situation was desperate and the stakes were high. If the Confederate lines broke, the Federals would be able to roll up their flanks and destroy the army.

To stave off the impending disaster, General Lee pulled men out of other parts of the line, sending them into the Mule Shoe in a desperate effort to plug the hole. A brutal, all-day hand-to-hand melee followed.

To prevent the Confederates from pulling reinforcements out of other parts of their line, General Grant had ordered simultaneous attacks on the right and the left of the Mule Shoe, in order to pin down the Confederates there. The attack on the right by General Warren never happened. On the left Burnside did attack, but was readily repulsed. Edward Thomas’ brigade of Georgians was instrumental in turning back the Federal attack. Calhoun Clay’s cousin William Thaxton of the 14th Georgia Infantry was shot in the face and captured during the attack. The gunshot fractured his jaw and left his face paralyzed and disfigured for the rest of his long life.


In the end, the Confederate lines held. General Grant would continue to probe and attack for a couple of more days, before concluding that would not be able to punch his way through. Instead, he moved again to the southeast. And again, the Army of Northern Virginia moved to block him.

Randolph’s Roanoke

The brilliant and fiery Congressman and statesman John Randolph (1773-1833) is usually referred to as “Randolph of Roanoke,” in part to distinguish him from others in his illustrious family. “Roanoke” refers not to the city of Roanoke, but rather to Randolph’s Charlotte County plantation.

Sadly, the homes that Randolph occupied at Roanoke are privately owned and not open to the public.


Beyond this locked gate…

It is fitting that despite his wealth Randolph kept modest houses–one a two-room home that he occupied in the winter (because it was easier to heat) and the other a slightly larger three-room frame house where he spent his summers.



I took the above photographs in the Charlotte County museum, which is in the old jail behind the courthouse designed by Thomas Jefferson.


The museum is always open. Visitors are simply asked to bolt the door when they leave.


Pittsylvania County in the Civil War

Jeffrey W. McClurken’s book Take Care of the Living: Reconstructing Confederate Veteran Families in Virginia, has lots of fascinating information about the county during the Civil War. Here are some of the things I found most interesting.

There were 2,453 “front line” Confederate troops from Pittsylvania County (out of 3,383 who served in all capacities). 79% of Pittsylvania County military age men served as front line troops (compared to 60% in the South as a whole).

Three-quarters of the county men who served were either killed, wounded, captured, died of disease or suffered a life-threatening illness. A full one fourth died in service. An astonishing 24% of county men who served (683 men) spent time in a Federal prison during the war. One hundred eight of them died in prison.

In 1860 the county’s population was 53% white. Even though the percentage of slaves in the population had been steadily decreasing statewide, it had remained level in Pittsylvania County.

There were 1,413 slaveholders in the county, 189 of whom (13.38%) owned 20 or more slaves.

About 35% of the front line soldiers (858) came from slave-holding families.

40% of Pittsylvania County households owned slaves, compared to 25% in the South as a whole.

65% of Pittsylvania County household heads were landowners.

Pittsylvania County’s contribution to the Confederate effort is especially noteworthy in light of its original opposition to secession.

In the 1860 Presidential election Constitutional Union candidate John Bell carried the county.

The county’s delegates to the Virginia Secession Convention (William T Sutherlin and William Treadway) were both anti-secession. Both voted against secession in the first vote and for secession in the second (post-Sumter) vote.

As happened across the so-called “Border South,” sentiment changed dramatically when the Lincoln administration ordered the states to supply soldiers for a Federal army to “suppress the rebellion” in the deep South.

After reports of Lincoln’s request for troops were confirmed, Sutherlin told the convention, “I have a Union constituency which elected me by a majority of one thousand, and I believe there are not ten Union men in the county today.”

Sukey Short

Nothing is more dramatic than a ghost.
T.S. Eliot

Sukey Short is our ghost, and she’s been around here a very long time.

I first heard her story when I was a boy. As it was told to me, Sukey was old and lived alone. She wasn’t a witch, but folks thought she was.  One cold winter evening her fire had gone out. Sukey went to the houses in the community asking for some coals so she could restart he fire, but because people were afraid of her, no one would open their door or give her any.

On her way home that night Sukey sat down on a stump to rest. Someone found her there the next morning. She had frozen to death.

After that she became what old timers called a “haint.” People sometimes saw her riding a horse in a moonlit pasture. Animals would spook when passing by the place she died. She was generally credited/blamed for mysterious and otherwise seemingly inexplicable occurrences.

Nowadays hardly anyone around here knows about Sukey and her story. But in our household we remember. When something spooky happens around here, we give a nod to Sukey Short.

One night when I was a boy I walked to my Grandma’s house. The shortcut I took to get there took me over the front porch of the then-abandoned and deteriorating old farmhouse on our place.


It looked a lot different then. Imagine the porch falling in, overgrown boxwoods in the yard, etc.

When I reached the old house I was struck by something odd. There was a white dress hanging on the balcony. I stopped and looked at it a while, wondering how it got out there. The balcony was dangerous at the time and we were strictly forbidden to go onto it.

A few minutes later, at my Grandma’s house, I asked her about the white dress. “There’s no dress hanging on that balcony,” she answered. I insisted that I’d just seen it, but she was firm that it wasn’t there. So when I returned home after my visit I was anxious to take another look. But, when I got there, to my surprise there was no dress.

Was it Sukey Short that I saw on the balcony that night?

Point of Honor


Point of Honor is a beautifully restored antebellum home in Lynchburg. It is open to the public and well worth a visit.


The view from the porch toward the river. 

The federal style home was designed and built by Dr. George Cabell, and was completed in 1815.

An accomplished businessman and planter, Dr. Cabell was Patrick Henry’s physician. The following is from Moses Tyler’s 1888 biography of Patrick Henry:

On the 6th of June, all other remedies having failed, Dr. Cabell proceeded to administer to him a dose of liquid mercury. Taking the vial in his hand, and looking at it for a moment, the dying man said:

“I suppose, doctor, this is your last resort?”

The doctor replied: “I am sorry to say, governor, that it is. Acute inflammation of the intestine has already taken place; and unless it is removed, mortification will ensue, if it has not already commenced, which I fear.”

“What will be the effect of this medicine?” said the old man.

“It will give you immediate relief, or”—the kind-hearted doctor could not finish the sentence. His patient took up the word: “You mean, doctor, that it will give relief, or will prove fatal immediately?”

The doctor answered: “You can only live a very short time without it, and it may possibly relieve you.” Then Patrick Henry said, “Excuse me, doctor, for a few minutes;” and drawing down over his eyes a silken cap which he usually wore, and still holding the vial in his hand, he prayed, in clear words, a simple childlike prayer, for his family, for his country, and for his own soul then in the presence of death. Afterward, in perfect calmness, he swallowed the medicine.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cabell, who greatly loved him, went out upon the lawn, and in his grief threw himself down upon the earth under one of the trees, weeping bitterly. Soon, when he had sufficiently mastered himself, the doctor came back to his patient, whom he found calmly watching the congealing of the blood under his finger-nails, and speaking words of love and peace to his family, who were weeping around his chair.

Among other things, he told them that he was thankful for that goodness of God, which, having blessed him through all his life, was then permitting him to die without any pain. Finally, fixing his eyes with much tenderness on his dear friend, Dr. Cabell, with whom he had formerly held many arguments respecting the Christian religion, he asked the doctor to observe how great a reality and benefit that religion was to a man about to die. And after Patrick Henry had spoken to his beloved physician these few words in praise of something which, having never failed him in all his life before, did not then fail him in his very last need of it, he continued to breathe very softly for some moments; after which they who were looking upon him saw that his life had departed.

The Holland-Duncan House


Tucked among trees that mercifully shield it from the ugly sprawl that has overwhelmed Moneta, the Holland-Duncan House stands as reminder of Hales Ford before the lake arrived.

Asa Holland inherited the land on which the home stands from his father Thomas Scott Holland in 1816. Sometime in the 1830’s he had the handsome brick home built.

Asa Holland

Asa Holland

Over his life Asa acquired and managed large farms in Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties, on which he raised (primarily) beef cattle, hay, seeds and tobacco. The community was then known as Hales Ford, and he served as its postmaster–Federal before and after the war, and Confederate during it. He operated a general store in Hales Ford in partnership with John Booth and another one in Germantown in partnership with his brother Smithson Holland.

At his death in 1879 Asa’s home was inherited by his daughter and eldest child Sallie Elizabeth. Sallie had married William Erastus “Ras” Duncan in 1853. Ten years her senior, Mr. Duncan had been her tutor when they met. A classical scholar educated at Columbian College (now part of George Washington University) and the University of Virginia, he taught at Hollins College (Sallie’s alma mater), and Allegheny College, where he served as President. During the war he was a Captain and Confederate Quartermaster.

The Duncans founded and operated the Hales Ford Classical and Mathematical School, a co-educational school at a time when they were quite unusual.  From 1876-1881 and 1886-1889, Ras Duncan was superintendent of schools in Franklin County.


I found this old picture here on our farm, but sadly I don’t know when it was taken and I can’t identify the people. Written on the reverse is “Old Holland Home, Franklin Co.”

Smith Mountain Lake was created in 1963 by damming the Roanoke River, flooding much of the land that once was owned by the Holland family. Over the past 20 years there has been another transformative flood–this one of real estate developers and builders of vacation homes. Other than the old Holland homeplace, there’s not much left that a 19th century Hales Ford resident would recognize today.

The Holland-Duncan house is on the National Register of Historic Places and these days is being used as a law office.



The Danville Artillery at Chancellorsville

Following Captain Wooding’s death from wounds received at the Battle of Fredericksburg, command of the battery had fallen to Captain Robert Rice, who had come to the battery when his old command, the Eight Star New Market Artillery, had been consolidated with the Danville Artillery.  Captain Rice was destined to be killed in the fighting around Petersburg in July 1864, but until then the men would be known as Rice’s Battery.

Rice’s Battery was inspected on February 15 and found to have 3 officers and 138 men present, one officer absent, four detached, eight AWOL and five absent sick.  The battery was equipped with two ten-pounder Parrotts, one three-inch rifle, and one Napoleon.   The battery’s ammunition and harnesses were good.  They had 61 horses in good condition and 20 in bad condition, two four-horse wagons and two two-horse wagons.

In March 1863, the battery became part of the artillery battalion commanded by Major David Gregg McIntosh, formerly captain of the South Carolina Pee Dee battery, assigned to the Second (Jackson’s) Corps.  Other batteries in the battalion were Hardaway’s Alabama battery, Lusk’s 2nd Rockbridge Artillery and Marmaduke Johnson’s Virginia Artillery.

On May 2, Rice’s Battery, with the rest of the battalion, moved in the rear of Stonewall Jackson’s famous flanking march column. Jackson launched his surprise attack late in the day, rolling up Howard’s Eleventh Corps.  Because the area was heavily wooded, and due to the lateness of the day, the battery saw no action that day.

The next morning, with General Stuart commanding the Corps in place of the wounded Jackson, the attack was renewed.  Early in the morning McIntosh’s battalion was held in reserve. Around 8 a.m. it advanced to the position Col. E. Porter Alexander was holding near Hazel Grove.

An ideal location for artillery, Hazel Grove had been occupied by Federal artillery the previous day. Fearing that the position had become too exposed, General Hooker ordered the guns to withdraw, handing the Confederate artillery perhaps the most favorable location it had during the entire war. “There has rarely been a more gratuitous gift of a battlefield,” Porter remarked.



The view from Hazel Grove, with Fairview in the distance


The view from Fairview, with Hazel Grove in the distance

The guns massed by Colonel Alexander at Hazel Grove (including Rice’s battery) fired with devastating effect not only on the Federal artillery now operating from Fairview, but also on the Federal infantry lines, and the forces concentrated at the Chancellor house. The shell that knocked General Hooker senseless as he was standing on the Chancellor porch (and in so doing possibly changed the outcome of the battle) was fired from Hazel Grove.

Within a couple of hours the Federal losses in men and horses had been so severe that they began to pull back from Fairview, further constricting their lines. Col. Alexander acted quickly, advancing guns to Fairview from where they could strike nearly every Federal position. From Fairview Rice’s Battery directed counter-battery fire at the federal guns around the Chancellor house. It was during this bombardment that the Chancellor house caught fire and burned to the ground.


The view from the Chancellor House toward Fairview


Attacked on all sides and being pounded by Confederate artillery, the Federals continued to pull back, abandoning the position around the Chancellor house and withdrawing to their last defensive line.  During the night of May 4 they retreated to the north side of the Rappahannock River, capping the Army of Northern Virginia’s greatest victory.

When Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, received a telegram detailing the events of the battle he is said to have exclaimed, “My God! It is horrible! Horrible! Think of it. 130,000 magnificent soldiers cut to pieces by less than 60,000 half-starved ragamuffins.”

There were only two casualties in the battery.  James Long, a 43-year-old farmer from Russell County was killed and Watson Anglea was again wounded (his third wound in less than nine months).  For his conspicuous gallantry in action, James W. Gosney, a 24-year-old carpenter, was promoted to corporal. He would end the war in a hospital and a Federal prison.

In a few weeks the batallion would be on its way to Pennsylvania.