In the case of Mr. Nicholas Breeden, Rockingham County, Virginia
Nicholas Breeden, Roadside, Rockingham County Virginia
Southern Claims Commission
Property taken: 2 horses, saddle and bridle
INCLUDE claim (1)
Nicholas Breeden, husband of Lucinda Hensley (daughter of Mary Hensley; granddaughter of Mary Meadows Hensley)
Before the Commissioners of Claims
Act of Congress, March 3, 1871
Case of Nicholas Breeden
It is hereby certified, that on the 26th day of December, 1873, at Port Republic in the county of Rockingham and State of Virginia, personally came before me the following persons, viz:
Nicholas Breeden, Claimant
J. W. F. Samuels, Local Counsel, or Attorney
and George Dean
Wm D. Maiden, Claimant’s Witnesses,
for the purpose of a hearing in the above entitled cause.
Each and every deponent, previous to his or her examination, was properly and duly sworn or affirmed by me to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, concerning the matters under examination; and the testimony of each deponent was written out by me, or in my presence, and was given before me, and subsequently read over to said deponent, by whom it was also subscribed in my presence.
Witness my hand and seal this 26 day of December, 1873.
Isaac P. Baldwin
Special commissioner of the commissioners of Claim
Deposition of Claimant
In answer to the First General Interrogatory, the Deponent says:
My name in Nicholas Breeden, my age 60 years, my residence Rockingham County, in the State of Virginia, and my occupation a farmer; I am the claimant and have beneficial interest in the claim.
I lived during the whole period of the war on my own farm at Elk Run in Rockingham County, Virginia.
3&4 No. Sir
5 Yes sir. I rode to Harrisonburg 22 miles on purpose to take it when an opportunity was given after the war.
6 – 23 inclusive. No Sir.
24. Yes sir. I was arrested and held as a conscript and put upon my proof to show I was over age and not liable to do military duty, and did so after which I was released. I was never under arrest by the U. S. authorities.
25. Yes sir. My house was stripped of every garment the soldiers could wear. My bed, blankets – a lot of leather – about 25 years of cloth and other things. I was never paid for anything.
26. Yes sir. The rebels and secesh [secession] neighbors threatened to drive me and my family and others in the neighborhood who would not join them out of the county.
27. I was not personally molested but the secesh were down on me because I sent my sons north.
28&29 I was not able to give anything more than feed the soldiers. After the battle of Port Republic I kept 4 union soldiers who were disabled and wounded until they were able to travel and join their commands. I concealed them in a thicket during the day and took them to my house at night until able to go to their Regiments.
30. Yes. I think I had two nephews in the service. I did not aid either of them in any way. One of them came to see me once, and I told him he should get out of it that the rebels were sure to be whipped, and he managed to get detailed at some mechanic work.
31 to 39 inclusive. No Sir
40&41 I sympathized with the union heartily all the time. I thought the war was wrong and that it was designed to oppress the poor and make them fight to sustain slavery. I never owned a slave and never wanted to.
I was a union man always. I voted for the union candidates for the convention, but did not go to the polls when the vote was taken on secession. I would not vote for it and it was not safe to vote against it. When the state seceded I let her go and held for the union all the time and I did all I safely could do for the union cause.
On one occasion, some confederates were after conscripts in the neighborhood where I live and a lot of us union men banded together to drive the confederates away and I was one of the number. Two of my sons served in the Union Army.
44. I am a natural born citizen of the U. S. and have not passed through bankruptcy.
In answer to the interrogatories as to the property deponents says: I was present when the property was taken and witnessed the taking.
3 mares The two mares were taken from before my wagon while I was using them to have some apples by a company of cavalry belonging to the command of Gen. Sheridan in the fall of 1864 about the last of September. A portion of Gen. Sheridan’s army were camped on Cedar Hill at the time, about 6 miles from my place. The party taking my horses – or mares rather – had a number of men without horses, and the officer in command told me he wanted them for the men to ride, and they were rode away by two of his men towards Cedar Hill. The officer who took the horses told me if I would come to Cedar Hill I could get them back and I went there and was told by Capt. Moffett who was in command at Cedar Hill that he could not give them up himself, but that the General would do it if I could prove that I was a union man. And I was going to see the general the next day when I heard the warring of cannon towards Harrisonburg and delayed going a day or two when the army was gone. The mares were excellent heavy animals well broke and worth $150 each.
Items 1 & 2 The saddle and bridle were both taken at the same time and by the same party. The saddle was worth about $20 and the bridle was worth about $2.00.
And further deponent saith not.
Nicholas (his X mark) Breeden
being duly sworn deposeth as follows.
I am 38 years old, a farmer, live in Greene County near the top of Blue Ridge. I married the daughter of claimant before the war and in one sense may have a beneficial interest in this claims.
In the fall of 1864 I was at the house of the claimant and on the last day of September a party of Union cavalry passed his house while he was at work with his team of mares, and the officer in command halted the party and told Mr. Breeden he wanted his horses and ordered his men to take them. And they were taken together with a saddle and bridle and both were rode to Cedar Hill, and from there to Harrisonburg. I know they were rode there by some cavalrymen, because I went along with the party and saw them and followed on to Martinsburg and went to Ohio as a refugee where I stayed until the fall of 1864. I heard the officer taking the horse tell Mr. Breeden he thought he could get the horses back by going to some place and seeing some officer. I don’t now remember who.
The team was an excellent one. I have worked them some myself and knew the animals very well.
I considered the two worth about $150 each. I don’t know so well about the saddle and bridle. There were probably worth $18 or $20.
In answer to questions as to the Loyalty of claimant deponent says:
I have known Nicholas Breeden all my life. During the war I saw him often and know his sentiments well on the war question. He was a decided union man all through the war and done all he could in aid of union men trying to escape the rebel service. I have known him to carry baskets of provisions to the mountains many times to the union men concealed there, and I was in a company of union men who armed themselves for defense and took to the mountains and Nicholas Breeden was one of the company also who had his gun and used it on several occasions. He was a decided loyal man during the war and is still. And further deponent saith not.
being duly sworn deposeth as follows.
I am 32 years old, a farmer, live near Roadside in Rockingham County Virginia. I am not related to the claimant and have no interest in this claim.
I have known Mr. Breeden all my life, lived near him during the war, saw and conversed with him frequently during the war on war matters and such topics, and he uniformly expressed the strongest kind of union sentiments. He was an ardent supporter of the union cause and a true friend to union men under all circumstances. There was not time but that the interest of the U. S. Government would have been safe entrusted to him. I was a refugee after Sheridan came up the valley and know what loyalty costs in this county and I do not hesitate to say there was none more loyal to the cause of the Union than Nicholas Breeden. He sent three of his sons north.
In answer to interrogatories as to the property the deponent says: I was not present at the taking, but I saw the two mares in the service of the union forces on the last day of September 1864 at night at Cedar Hill in Rockingham County and on the days following. I saw them in the service of the union forces at Harrisonburg. They were in the cavalry service. I saw cavalry men riding them and I recollect one of the refugees asked the privilege of riding one of the animals but was told they could not be spared as they had not enough for themselves.
I had often seen the animals on Mr. Breeden’s place and recognized them soon as they were rode into camp at night at Cedar Hill. And I saw Mr. Breeden at the Camp on Cedar Hill the next day and expected him to accompany us to Harrisonburg, but there was a battle at Mt. Crawford about that time and troops were moving about so Mr. Breeden did not accompany us to Harrisonburg.
I knew the animals very well and should consider them work about $150 each.
And further deponent saith not.
Deposition of William D. Maiden
as to the Loyalty of Nicholas Breeden.
I am 45 years old, a mechanic and Justice of the Peace. I am not related to the claimant, and have no interest in this claim.
I have known Nicholas Breeden for 35 years, saw and conversed with him often during the war and I know him to have been an uncompromising union man and loyal to the United States. He lived in a community of union men near the Blue Ridge who armed themselves and had several skirmishes with the conscript officers. Mr. Breeden was one of the number and resisted in every way he could the operation of the conscription.
He was a true friend to the union cause and to union men and was known and spoken of as such by all who knew him. He has sworn never to support a rebel for any position and always act and votes with the loyal party.
There were several union men killed in his neighborhood by some Georgians sent here to hunt down union men and Mr. Breeden took their bodies, washed and dressed and buried them. I was once captured by the men of Harry Gilmore’s rebel cavalry, and while in their camp I saw the plunder brought in from the houses of the union men who had been murdered, seven in number, and I heard them talking about burning the property of them all and it would have been done only for the fear of retaliation. I heard them talk also about Nicholas Breeden as a very dangerous man and a traitor; and they held a caucus about burning him out. But the rebels living around there were afraid the mountain men would burn them out in retaliation and they concluded not to do it.
If there are any union me anywhere Nicholas Breeden was one and is to this day. And further deponent saith not.
Wm D. Maiden
*Many thanks to Jan Hensley for sharing this from her work, “Sallie’s Story: An Exploration Into the Lives of the Hensley, Maiden, Meadows, Gardner and Smith Families of Rockingham, Page and Albemarle Counties Virginia – Supplement” (2009).