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The Most “Civil-Warred” Home – Unburned – in Jefferson County (2) by Jim Surkamp
Follow numbered images that summarize the script story as it progresses.
For more and references, go to civilwarscholars.com/?p=13624
Made possible with the generous support of American Public University System, providing an affordable, quality, online education. The video and post do not reflect any modern-day policies or positions of American Public University System, and their content is intended to encourage discussion and better understanding of the past. More apus.edu
Made possible with the generous support of American Public University System, providing an affordable, quality, online education. The video and post do not reflect any modern-day policies or positions of American Public University System, and their content is intended to encourage discussion and better understanding of the past. More . . .
Thomas and Mary Rutherford and their eight children – alongside the war’s flailing claws – had a flag made for Stonewall Jackson to take into battle in 1861 at First Manassas/Bull Run; entertained at dinner Federal General Nathaniel Banks with Stonewall’s returned flag precariously hidden away in an upstairs hearth; enjoyed Sam Sweeney’s banjo as he sat beside Gen J.E.B. Stuart who was visiting and sharing momentos with the family of his ride around Gen. McClellan’s army in October, 1862. They cared for wounded in late 1862, one who died and they buried. Daughter Mary dodged a bullet fired at her upstairs window, all while our callow narrator, Richard, nosed around town, saw things, and above all daily milked their two cows, that he often had to roam to find, bribing thankful Federal pickets with pie.
Then the most historic two hours at Rutherford House/Carriage Inn was the meeting of Federal Generals Grant and Sheridan (almost two years to the day after the terrible Antietam/Sharpsburg battle), having surrounded the Rutherford home with a huge security cordon, and used new information smuggled into them by an African-American named Thomas Laws – correctly convincing them the time was propitious to attack Confederate General Jubal Early on the Opequon Creek.
A lasting memory after the war was, for Richard, – one night sky’s hideous glow in all directions from the burning barns and, in some cases, homes torched as part of General Sheridan’s punitive campaign through the Valley, the one where his orders from Grant were curt and cruel – so that, to periphrase, a crow flying overhead would have to carry its own rations.
Part Two here is about events affecting the Rutherfords in 1862, 1863 and the second half of 1864.
1. September, 1862: A Gift of sweets to Stonewall before battle
2. Sept.-Oct., 1862: A wounded man dies, even though Richard tries.
3. Monday, October 6, 1862: Stonewall writes his thanks.
4. Tuesday, October 7, 1862: Ellen, and Ginny Rutherford likely go to the Ball at the Bower.
5. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart brings his banjo-man to the Rutherfords’.
6. October 16-17, 1862: The Rutherfords save a hospital attendant and a wounded Confederate officer at their home from arrest by Federals.
7. We only wonder what sorrow the next day might bring.
8. Sunday, October 18, 1863 – Sleeping Mary Rutherford gets a bullet through her window during a rout.
9. Young Robert W. Baylor, Jr. takes a mad, galloping gamble:
10.Sunday, July 17, 1864: General David Hunter’s order is carried out to burn the home of Andrew Hunter, his cousin, near the Rutherfords’.
11.Tuesday, November 29, 1864 – Young Robert Baylor is killed east of Charlestown.
On the Eve of the Battles of Antietam and Harper’s Ferry:
1. A Gift of sweets to Stonewall before battle
2_Gen. Jackson was pleased to accept some delectables
September 12-15, 1862, Harper’s Ferry and environs:
In position for attacking, surrounding and capturing Harper’s Ferry east of Halltown on Schoolhouse Ridge, Gen. Jackson was pleased to accept some delectables sent to him by Mrs. Rutherford, three miles to the west.
After the Antietam Battle, the Confederate Army moves into Virginia and along the Opequon, with Gen. Stuart at the home of the Dandridge family, called The Bower in Jefferson County. Gen. Jackson’s men, and briefly General Robert E. Lee, encamped to the west in the vicinity of Bunker Hill, Va. (now West Virginia).
2. Sept-Oct., 1862: A wounded man dies, even though Richard tries.
3_A wounded man dies, even though Richard tries
Thousands of wounded from the fighting filled homes across the County, including the Rutherfords in Charlestown. Richard Rutherford recalls what must have been a maturing experience helping a dying man – “Captain Keels” – from South Carolina.
A Captain Keels from South Carolina was brought to our home very badly wounded and lived but a day or two. My mother left him to me to look after, as she and my sister were caring for others who filled the house. She and others of the family came at times to see how I was getting on. On the second day, I think it was, I noticed a change to his breathing and so called my mother. She came in just as he breathed his last. We came out and closed the door and then I returned with two soldier nurses and prepared his body for burial. – Rutherford, p. 34. (Keels was buried with a short service by Rev. Dutton in Edge Hill cemetery, along with many others.-JS)
3. Monday, October 6, 1862 – Confederate General Stonewall Jackson writes his thanks to Mrs. Rutherford:
4_Your delicious present and kind note reached me
My dear Mrs. Rutherford,
Your delicious present and kind note reached me when I was near Halltown (September 14-15th-JS) and I much regret not being able to call and see you and return my thanks in person, but at this late day I beg you to accept them. And for your prayers my dear friend, and for the prayers of those who unite with you, I feel that I cannot be grateful enough — To them I attach a value which far outweighs this world all its earthly concerns. When I feel that God’s people are praying for me, I feel strong in my weakness, for I feel that God is with me.
I hope sometime to have the pleasure of again visiting your house meeting you yours. Please remember me very kindly to Mr. R and the family. Your much attached friend – T. J. Jackson
4. Tuesday, October 7, 1862: Ellen, and Ginny Rutherford likely go to the Ball at the Dandridge’s Bower:
5_Ellen, and Ginny Rutherford likely go to the Ball at the Dandridge’s Bower
Young women from Charlestown and Shepherdstown were invited to this grand ball and fetched by van. The following day Gen. Stuart was ordered to cross the Potomac above Williamsport with 1,200 or 1,500 cavalry (NOTE: 1800, in Stuart’s report.-JS), and endeavor to ascertain the position and designs of the enemy. – More. . . civilwarscholars.com/blog/#sthash.1I5FCEul.dpuf
Being friends of Gen. Stuart who arranged the event, 22-year-old Ellen and 18-year old Virginia (“Ginny”) Rutherford certainly were invited and it is hard to imagine anything that could keep them from going. (“Eighteen” was not too young for a woman to attend. 18-year-old Netta Edmonia Lee from Shepherdstown attended.-JS)
Cavalryman William Blackford also wrote of that memorable night:
Von Borcke and Brien were taken secretly upstairs for preparations under the the Dandridge’s care. Von Borcke was transformed into a blushing maiden weighing two hundred and fifty pounds and six feet, two and a half inches tall; a riding skirt of one of the girls, supplemented by numerous dainty underskirts and extended by enormous hoops according to the fashion then in vogue, hung in graceful folds to conceal the huge cavalry boots the huge damsel wore. Her naturally ample bosom palpitated under skillfully arranged pillows, and was gorgeously decorated with the Dandridge family jewelry and ribbons; while ‘a love of a bonnet,’ long braids of hair, and quantities of powder and rouge completed her toilet, and in her hand she flirted coquettishly with a fan of huge dimensions.
When there was an invited company and the parlors were all full, Von Borcke and Brien gave us another capital performance. When they made their appearance in the ballroom the surprise was complete. Both acted their parts to perfection. Paddy entertained the fair girl on his arm with loud and humorous remarks as they sauntered around the room, to which she replied with simpering affectation that was irresistibly ludicrous. No one had the faintest conception as to who they were, so perfect was the disguise. Before the company recovered from the surprise of their appearance the music struck up a lively waltz, and ’round and ’round the couple went, faster, and faster went the music, and faster and faster flew the strangers. It was not until in the fury of the whirling dance with hoop skirts flying horizontally, that twinkling amid the white drapery beneath, the well-known boots of Von Borcke betrayed the first suspicion of who the lady was. – Blackford, pp. 158-159.
5. Late October, 1862 – Gen. J.E.B. Stuart brings his banjo-man to the Rutherfords’.
6_Gen. J.E.B. Stuart brings his banjo-man
Rutherford recalled Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s visit to the Rutherford home after his cavalrymen entered Pennsylvania from the Bower via Williamsport, MD and rode around the entire Federal army commanded by Gen. George McClellan, returning safely to the Bower on October 14th:
Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, after his raid on Chambersburg, camped at The Bower, the home of the Dandridges, a few miles from Charlestown, to rest his command, and, as was his custom when near to us, he came to visit us. He told us many things about his trip around the Yankee army. While there (at the Rutherford home), he took from his pocket a large oak leaf, pinned it in a floral album on the table and wrote: “This leaf was plucked by me in the Blue Ridge Pass on my return from the raid around General McClellan’s army,” with the date and other comments.
Jeb Stuart often brought his aide, Sweeney, who was a famous banjo-picker, and used to sit on one side of the sofa with Sweeney on the other, telling him what to play. – Rutherford, p. 42.
6. October 16-17, 1862: The Rutherfords save a hospital attendant and a wounded Confederate officer at their home from arrest by Federals:
7_The Rutherfords save a hospital attendant and a wounded Confederate officer
Federal General Winfield Hancock’s official report and Richard Rutherford’s recollections both depict an artillery exchange east of Charlestown, eventually won by the Federals, that left one Confederate artillerist, Captain Benjamin H. Smith, badly wounded in the foot. He was carried to the Rutherford’s house with help from a soldier just called “Red.
8_The Union commander at Harper’s Ferry
Richard Rutherford wrote:
The Union commander at Harper’s Ferry finally sent out several very large scouting parties, in all some four or five thousand men – infantry, cavalry and artillery. One, I remember, was under General Hancock and another under General Geary. The Confederates in number resisted, and they clashed hard on the hill just below our house. We all had to take to the cellar, and stay there until nearly all day, as shells and balls were thick and fast. After the clash, my brother and I picked up six or seven shells that had fallen in the next yard, in line with, but a bit short of our house. – Rutherford, pp. 29-30.
Federal commander Winfield Hancock wrote of the same events in his report:
On the 16th instant, in obedience to instructions, I marched toward Charlestown, Va., with my division and 1,500 men of other divisions, under command of Col. H. Lee, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, and a force of cavalry, with a battery of four guns (horse artillery), Colonel Devin being in command thereof. . . . The advance of our column encountered the enemy’s pickets beyond Halltown, drove them in, and pursued until, when within short artillery range of the high ground this side of Charlestown, the enemy was found posted. He opened fire upon us with artillery. Our horse artillery battery, supported by Capt. M. A. Reno’s First Cavalry, then engaged the enemy, who opened fire from five guns, and deployed dismounted cavalry as skirmishers on their front and flanks. The town was at once taken possession of and the troops suitably disposed for defense. Toward evening our infantry advanced and occupied the heights surrounding the town, within artillery range. . . The command remained in Charlestown until about 2 pm. The next day (October 17th), when we received orders to return. . .
Richard Rutherford wrote of their wounded Captain and his care-giver:
In one of these battles Captain B. H. Smith (Benjamin H. Smith-JS), one of the Richmond Howitzer outfit, had his foot shot nearly off, and was brought into our house. As the Confederates were falling back, he was left with us. One of his men, by the name of “Red,” was left to nurse him. Dr. Mason and Dr. Cordell operated on his foot on our dining room table the same day, taking off a little more of his foot. “Red” was taking a basin of water into the operation for the doctors when the Yankees saw him on the porch and started to take him away. My mother rushed out and explained to them that the man was nursing his captain and they must not take him. One of them said: “But suppose he gets away?” My mother replied: “Then you can take me” – so they let him stay. Captain Smith and “Red” stayed with us until he was able to get around on crutches, when he returned to his home in Richmond. – Rutherford, pp. 29-30.
Federal General Hancock found a hundred officers like Captain Smith in Charlestown, but couldn’t arrest them all because many were badly wounded:
9_While in Charlestown I appointed Col. J. R. Brooke
While in Charlestown I appointed Col. J. R. Brooke, of the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, military governor, the better to preserve order. About 100 officers and soldiers of the Confederate Army were found in the town, consisting entirely, it is believed, of surgeons, hospital attendants, convalescents, and sick. Twenty-six were sent to the provost-marshal at Harper’s Ferry, and 38 wounded and unable to be removed, were paroled. Time did not permit the paroling of all who were severely wounded, as they were scattered throughout the town, requiring more time than we had for the purpose, to find them. – W. HANCOCK, Chapter XIX, Official Record, Series I, Part 2, Vol. 19. pp. 91-92. Cornell Digital Library – The Making of America. 19 July 2011. Web. 29 January 2014.
7. We only wonder what sorrow the next day might bring.
10_We only wonder what sorrow the next day might bring
No one who did not actually live in or around Charlestown can realize the trying times we suffered during the four years of war. We could only wonder what trouble and sorrow the next day might bring to some of us. Often when a battle was in progress, our people would gather on the hills outside of town where we could hear the roar of cannon, and often even volleys of musketry . . .Very often we could not locate exactly where (the heavy fighting was in progress), but in the next day or two some of our boys would come in wounded or bring home the dead. – Rutherford, p. 33.
11_We could get nothing in the way of clothing except gray cloth
We could get nothing in the way of clothing except gray cloth made by the factories in the county, so everyone dressed in gray. The ladies, dressed also in gray, made belts with pockets hanging to them under their skirts. When the cry went up: “Here come the Yankees,” my mother and sisters would run and fill these pockets with silverware and other valuables and what money my father might have at the time. They often carried this weight with them all day long, and at night would put the belts under their pillows. – Rutherford, p. 33.
12_My brother and I, almost every day, would go and get newspapers
My brother and I, almost every day, would go into the country to some farmer’s house along the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and get newspapers which the trainmen would throw off as the train passed. This was the only way we got newspapers for a long time. Richmond papers were at a premium and we only got them when some of our own boys came home and brought them along. No matter what we were doing, when the papers came all work would stop as we rushed to hear the latest news. – Rutherford, p. 41.
8. Sunday, October 18, 1863 – Sleeping Mary Rutherford gets a bullet through her window during a rout.
She (Mary Aisquith) narrowly escaped being shot on one occasion. General Imboden and his men shelled the courthouse in Charles Town and the Federal Col. B.L. Simpson, 9th Maryland Infantry Regiment had to surrender.
13_Sleeping Mary Rutherford gets a bullet through her window during a rout.
His (Simpson’s) officers fled before the enemy, leaving their men to shift for themselves. These officers ran down the railroad near our house. I was in bed at the time. All at once I heard something whizz over me and strike the wall on the other side of the room. A shot had been fired into the room.” – Mary Rutherford Aisquith, The Farmer’s Advocate, September 8, 1934.
Confederate Gen. John Imboden reports on shelling the Courthouse, capturing the soldiers of the 9th Maryland Infantry and their flight past the Rutherfords en route to Harper’s Ferry, who claimed they were being fired upon from homes, including the Rutherford’s:
14_I found the enemy occupying the court-house
I found the enemy occupying the court-house, jail, and some contiguous buildings in the heart of the town, all loop-holed for musketry, and the court-house yard inclosed by a heavy wall of oak timber. To my demand for a surrender Colonel Simpson requested an hour for consideration. I offered him five minutes, to which he replied, “Take us if you can.” I immediately opened on the buildings with artillery at less than 200 yards, and with half a dozen shells drove out the enemy into the streets, when he formed and fled toward Harpers Ferry. – J. IMBODEN (Commander of Confederate force), Chapter XLI, Official Record, Series I, Part 1, Volume 29, pp. 490-492.
Cornell Digital Library – The Making of America. 19 July 2011. Web. 29 January 2014.
9. Young Robert W. Baylor, Jr. takes a mad, galloping gamble:
15_Baylor drew his revolver and with a Rebel yell, he took after them.
Another time I saw R. W. Baylor, Jr., a cousin of mine . . . and though he did not belong to the army, and lived at home with his mother and younger members of his family, he always carried a revolver. He was on his way into town one day and had ridden down under the stone bridge (Evitt’s Run under Washington Street-JS) to give his horse some water. He saw five Yankees turn the corner from the Berryville Pike going to Harper’s Ferry. One was leading an extra horse and (Baylor) was only a block from them. Baylor drew his revolver and with a Rebel yell, he took after them. They bolted pell mell through the town with Tud (as we called him) after them. He caught the Yankee who was leading the extra horse on Hunter’s Hill and returned with the prisoner and two horses. He turned the man loose, but took the two horses home with him. With his own horse and the other two he put out a crop of wheat for the home folks – then took his horse and went off into the army. – Rutherford, p. 37.
10. Sunday, July 17, 1864: Federal General David Hunter’s order is carried out to burn the home of Andrew Hunter, his cousin, near the Rutherford’s. Andrew Hunter’s family took refuge at the Rutherfords:
16_Nothing was saved, but the clothes the family wore.
One Sunday morning, we were all at church, except my father, who had stayed home. Some ten or fifteen of Baylor’s boys had come into town, and as all seemed quiet and peaceful, some of them had ventured to attend church. The minister was in the midst of his sermon when we were startled by several shouts out in front. All made a rush to get the soldiers out first. A squad of Yankees had passed, shooting at some of our boys who were visiting at their homes, but who had fled at the first alarm of their picket. Those at church had their horses tied behind the church and so succeeded in getting away over the fence in the rear before the main body of the Yankees got as far as the church. One of our men, a friend of my father’s – Newton Sadler, had left his porch talking when the Yankees dashed by. My father put him up in the attic right under a slate roof, and as it was very warm weather, he almost roasted to death. My sister took him ice water often through the day, which enabled him to survive the imprisonment. These Yankees had orders from General Hunter to burn Mr. Andrew Hunter’s house. They were first cousins. Andrew Hunter was home, but they caught him and brought him to our house, where his daughters were; so now we were in a tight place with Mr. Hunter and Yankee officers downstairs and Nate Sadler hid up in the attic! – Rutherford, p. 38.
My mother talked with the officer in command (Captain William Franklin Martindale of the 1st New York Cavalry-JS) and tried to persuade them not to burn the Hunter house, but to give her time to go to Harper’s Ferry to see General Kelley, who was of no use. The men carried great armfuls of hay into each room and put it all to the match. The beautiful home was soon in flames. Nothing was saved, but the clothes the family wore. My mother and I, with the help of an old Irishman who lived with us, dragged the piano to the door and would have gotten it out had the soldiers not made us let it alone. When I saw that beautiful home in ruins, I thought no punishment was too great for General Hunter. – Rutherford, p. 39.
11. Tuesday, November 29, 1864 – Young Robert Baylor is killed east of Charlestown:
17_My brother Robert W. Baylor, Jr. and myself entered the door, several shots were fired by the inmates
Stealthily moving on, the sleeping camp was entered, and the occupants awoke to find themselves prisoners. There was sudden confusion and scampering among the enemy. Some twenty of their number, lodged in a stone house nearby, opened fire on us. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, we rushed upon the house, and, seizing the doors and windows, poured several volleys into the building. Just as George Creaton (Crayton), my brother Robert W. Baylor, Jr. (a boy of seventeen) and myself entered the door, several shots were fired by the inmates, one mortally injuring my brother and another severely injuring Creaton. After a few minutes the cry of surrender came from the group huddled together in the building, and the firing ceased. My brother and Creaton were removed to the house of Dr. Mason, who had been for years our family physician, and where I knew they would be well cared for. My brother died in a few hours, but Creaton rallied for a while and died soon after the close of the war. Baylor, pp. 265-266.
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