After another march of 16 miles, this time in the rain—making their eleven day marching total more than 100 miles—the 13th camped near the Warrenton Springs resort, (probably the Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, above) southwest of Warrenton.
They surveyed the vengeful destruction Union Gen. John Pope’s army had left in the Second Battle of Manassas in its retreat northeast.
“The enemy has burned the magnificent hotel,” Minutemen of Attala Private Mike Hubbert wrote in his diary that evening, Aug. 31, 1862, “and done all other possible damage to this fine watering place.
“The Country [to here] from Orange C.H. looks like a desert. The enemy has destroyed everything they could and left numbers of Citizens homeless and pennyless.”
I’ve read some about the late summer ’62 campaign in Virginia. Although not as widely as the experts. What has always struck me is the similarity of descriptions of Culpeper, Orange, and Fauquier Counties. From both sides that is. Almost sound plagaristic! Just a sad example of the nature of open warfare in that age. I know both sides would point to the “enemy” as the culprit, but you’ve got to figure with all the men, horses, and cattle moving through, there would not be much left in those fields after a while. And how many fence lines became fuel for morning coffee? Most interesting, I’ve found, are accounts where the wells and spring-houses were locked up by the locals. Done to prevent either side from getting to the “good water.”
Thanks for the comment, Craig. I usually try to verify or, at least, find a second for, a diarist’s comment, insofar as that’s possible. This one was seconded by several others in the unit, though the modern country club that replaced the old resort only says it was burned, and not by whom. Part of Gallagher’s Reconciliation Cause, perhaps.
There certainly was enormous hatred on both sides, some of it deserved, though I always thought the Union’s burning of plantation homes in South Carolina and elsewhere was a war crime. Nowadays it certainly would be considered so. But I’m sure the locals got awfully tired of even Johnny Reb stealing their hogs and chickens. Not to mention their fence rails, though they were more likely burned to keep warm than to brew coffee.
“… war crime. Nowadays it certainly would be considered so. ”
Actually not. Like the word “Treason” we tend to misinterpret “war crime” beyond its legal definition. We might debate the morality of some actions there, but from a legal standpoint, Uncle Billy was in the clear!
I’m talking moral war crime, a soldier burning a civilian home to the ground on purpose. Such behavior in Vietnam in the 1960s-70s was widely condemned by soldiers and civilians alike.
I know you like to argument the fine points of this stuff, but in this case I ‘m not concerned what lawyers thought then or think now. The crime is clear to anyone with a conscience. And I wasn’t talking about Sherman’s march. The 79th New York Cameron Highlanders did it in South Carolina in late 1861.
There is no such thing as a “moral war crime.” Morality is something defined by society, culture, and circumstance. There are violations of morality, and there are war crimes. The two can be inclusive or exclusive. All depends on the particulars. Again, I’m not arguing the fine points but the facts. If you can cite what stated and recognized convention – in other words the laws governing warfare – in place at the time of the incident in question (1861), then by all means do so. Otherwise you are injecting your own moral objections onto the actions of people in another time and place. Anytime you mention “morality” in context of war, you have made the entire premise of the statement subjective.