More on Southern Unionist James Lee Gillespie
For those who might recall, it was sometime ago when I last wrote about Southern Unionist James Lee Gillespie. However, I’d like to share some additional information about Gillespie’s activities… or at least activities in which Confederates believed Gillespie was involved and even spearheaded.
In his book, Four Years in the Saddle (pages 32-33), Confederate cavalryman Harry Gilmor mentioned that Gen. John Robert Jones (see this HMDB entry for Woodbine Cemetery, under which Gen. Jones is mentioned), acting provost guard at Harrisonburg, directed Gilmor (between March and April 1862) to deal with Gillespie and efforts in which he was believed to be engaging. Since the name Gillespie is quite unique to the area, it seems certain that this reference was to James Lee Gillespie. Gilmor stated,
Jones sent me to break up a band, estimated at from two to five hundred, that had collected in the large gorges of the Blue Ridge, in the neighborhood of Swift Run Gap. They were headed by a man named Gillespie, and they had determined to resist the draft, and were armed principally with shot-guns and squirrel rifles. We had with us a company of militia infantry, but they were afraid to go into the mountains at all.
We had skirmishing for two or three days without doing any damage; for, when we attempted to charge, they took to the sides of the mountains, and the ground was too rugged to pursue them, and they could fire on us without being able to return to it.
I reported all of this to General [Thomas J. "Stonewall"] Jackson, who sent Colonel Jones in command of all, and advised him to bring up four companies of sharpshooters, and one or two pieces of artillery. This he did; and after driving them into Green [Greene] County across the mountains, I took prisoners, forty-eight in number, to Harrisonburg…
Nothing more was mentioned about Gillespie or the effort to root out the “resisters.” Yet, as we clearly know, Gillespie was not among the captives and found a home as an assistant surgeon in West Virginia regiments of the Union army.