Archive for the threats made against Southern Unionists Category

When a Confederate soldier came-a-courtin’ a Southern Unionist’s daughter

Posted in coercive activities in the secession vote, Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, Focuses on Southern Claims Commission applications, Southern Unionist refugees, threats made against Southern Unionists, Virginia Unionists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2011 by Robert Moore

While shuffling through some family history notes lately, I came across a story that I had forgotten about. A distant cousin (half first cousin, three times removed), George W. Hillyard, who served in the 12th Virginia Cavalry, and was a native of Winchester, Virginia, found time during the war to find romance with a young lady “down the road a ways”. Now, George “was a man of powerful build, a noted athlete in young manhood, and some notable exploits were credited to him”. When he started to court Miss Jemima Windle (seven years his junior), it didn’t set too well with her father, Samuel Windle.

Samuel was a native of Shenandoah County, and a farmer/merchant near Cedar Creek, but, more importantly, when it came to the war, he is said to have held firm to his Unionism.

So, the story goes…

When George W. Hillyard came to court his daughter, the prospective father-in-law denied him the privilege of the Windle home, and went so far as to secure assistance from some Union soldiers in removing the obnoxious suitor. George, seeing the party in blue coming, jumped through the window, taking the sash with him. Despite his hurried departure, when some distance away, he waited in ambush until the boys in blue came along. When George attacked, he proved the more capable fellow, ultimately drowning all of his pursuers in Cedar Creek.

That’s quite an interesting story, but… I couldn’t help but wonder if there was more info out there on “Papa” Windle. In fact, there is…

In the early 1870s, Samuel Windle prepared a Southern Loyalist claim, and left some interesting details about life, as he recalled them.

When reflecting on his loyalty, Windle informed the committee (in an interview and in the documentation):

At the beginning of the Rebellion I was for the Union and not for the Rebellion. I voted for the ordnance of secession. A man came to my house the night before the election and told me all that did not vote for the ordnance of secession would be tarred and feathered and drummed out. The security of my life required that I should vote for the ordnance. I was a Union man all the time.

Of course, it can’t hurt to let the committee know that a good Unionist has suffered at the hands of the Confederates either…

The Rebels took hay, corn, & goods from out my store, they robbed my house and took 150 dollars in Greenbacks from me. They threatened to burn my house on account of my being a Union man.

Then, of course, it’s important to let them know how one helped the Union army when it was around…

I went at the hour of midnight to give Gen. Milroy notice of the coming of Confederate forces. I gave him the information a few hours before the fight.

Even so, being a Southern Unionist didn’t guarantee safety from depredations at the hands of Union soldiers, as they came through the area… hence the root of the reasons behind why Samuel Windle made application to be reimbursed from losses incurred from their “visit”, in the fall of 1864. Samuel testified…

I was at home when my property was all taken – it was all the same Regiment that took my property – it was in command of a Col. Benjamin and belonged to Sheridan’s army. The Col. and a Capt. Bliss took breakfast with me the morning it was all taken and came upon my invitation – it was in the fall of 1864. – the regiment had encamped close to my house the night before. They were up the valley on the scout. Sheridan’s was in camp at Kernstown at the time. I think so. There was no others to take the property and was all taken that night and the next day and done while Col. Bliss was encamped there.

He also noted that, while hauling wood, Union soldiers took his saddle (worth $10) and horse, though the horse was later returned. Also claimed were, at least, 150 fence rails for camp fires, and 15 stands of bees, and all the honey, estimated at 300 lbs, to which the Union soldiers “made themselves welcome”.

Samuel’s son, James, backed his father’s story, adding the following…

I don’t know that there was any officer present. The sheep was in the Barn yard. The Hay in the Barn, the Potatoes in the patch. The saddle was taken from the horse in the road. The Corn was in the field. The rails enclosed the farm. The Honey was in the Hives. It was all removed by the soldiers. It was taken for the use of the U.S. Army. I saw it used by the army. A complaint was made to Captain Bliss who gave a receipt for the Sheep & Honey. The property was taken both night and day. Did not see the sheep taken but saw them using the mutton. They were the best sheep. Coats would [bring] five or six dollars a piece. I saw fifteen hundred pounds of hay taken. The hay was in the barn & I estimate the quantity from the bulk. It was worth 18 or 20 dollars a ton. I saw eight bushels of Potatoes taken from the ground. From the quantity of land I supposed there was eight bushels. They were worth about seventy five cents a bushel. I saw ten bushels of corn taken judged the quantity from the buck and supposed there was 10 bushels was worth about one dollar a bushel.

James also added that his father sent he and his two brothers into the Union lines “to keep us out of the Rebel service” and, that he [Samuel]…

…gave the Union men all the information he could and aided Rebel deserters to get into the Union lines. They threatened to burn his house and took his property on account of his being a Union man. I do not think the claimant could have staid here had the south gained her independence, and further deponent sayeth not.

Joseph W. Hodge also provided testimony on behalf of Samuel Windle. Having been conscripted in the summer of 1862, into the 11th Virginia Cavalry, Hodge deserted on December 20, 1862. Taking refuge in the homes of Southern Unionists in the Valley, by the summer of 1863, he finally made his way to Ohio. Taking advantage of Sheridan’s occupation of the Valley, in the fall of 1864, he returned home for a while, before returning to Ohio, where he remained until the close of the war.

I did not return until the fall of 1864, and was at Windles for a day or two when I left again for the North. I had come home to see my friends while the Union army was here, but I left again for feat that Sheridan would fall back and leave me in the hands of the rebels. I had a great many talks with the claimant about the war – in his conversations he always expressed strong Union sentiments.

Hodge also let the committee know that Windle’s three sons had been conscripted into the Confederate army. This is where things grow a little fuzzy… but only because all of what was being told… between Samuel Windle, James Windle, and Joseph Hodge… did not all neatly mesh.

In fact, as service records reveal, Windle’s three sons, Addison, James, and William, were all prewar militia, who were activated for Virginia’s service (and, thereby, the Confederacy’s service), in July 1861 (James was mustered-in with the 146th Virginia Militia, July 11, 1861, while Addison and William were mustered-in with the 136th Virginia Militia, July 21, 1861). Of course, as I’ve pointed out before, such service, in the militia, is not an indicator of loyalty to the Confederacy, as many considered themselves conscripts, under such activation, even before the Confederacy passed its first conscription act.

Ultimately, all three were excused or dismissed from militia service at various times prior to October 1861 (Addison and William, in September; and James in October).

From what I’m able to weed-out, (though I can’t tell when, exactly) it appears that Addison was the one who first took his father’s advice, and went to Ohio, to avoid further Confederate conscription. There he remained, until after the war.

James and William, on the other hand, appear to have taken their chances… and lost.

William was conscripted on December 8, 1863, and assigned to Co. E, 11th Virginia Cavalry, on March 9, 1864. He appears to have deserted not long after, finally taking refuge in Ohio. he returned to Winchester, in April 1865, where he received his parole from Federal forces.

James was conscripted as well, and, though not on the rolls of the 7th Virginia Cavalry (I suspect the term of service being so short explains why), having received a disabling wound at Jack’s Shop, received a discharge (at least according to his postwar application for a pension for his service to Virginia). Such a situation, of course, would have enabled James to remain on his father’s farm without further pursuit by Confederate conscript hunters… thereby giving him the opportunity to witness events in the fall of 1864… for which he gave testimony, as seen above.

Hodge, by the way, in his testimony, lent credence to Samuel Windle’s claim, that he sent his sons North (though, I must say, Samuel was a big vague as to the details, while he explained this to the commission). When Hodge fled the Valley, in June of 1863, he stated that he went to Ohio where “Mr Windle’s son was living”.

Of course, I have to wonder if the Claims Commission could see all that we are able to see, in records today, as they are available to us now. At this point, I’d be very confident in saying that Windle was, indeed, a loyal Southern Unionist. However, as in the case of several others I’ve seen, it’s often some fine detail that spoils the whole story. In fact, the Claims Commission found out that Windle sold 3,341 lbs of hay to the Confederacy, at Sharpsburg, Maryland, on December 20, 1862 (for a total of $141.50). But, really, it appears that this wasn’t the factor that brought them to their decision. Who knows… for all they knew, they may have considered such a sale made under duress.

Rather, it was that part about Samuel Windle having voted in favor of secession, that wrecked his claim (albeit, really, a rather small claim). The decision of the Commission, inevitably came down to this…

Claimant stated that he voted for the Ordinance of Secession. We regard a vote for the dissolution of the Union and the overthrow of the Government as inconsistent with local adherence to the Cause of the Union and the Government of the United States. We reject the claim.

… and there you have it. A Southern Unionist… I feel certain… but, not one who went to the point of defying secessionists who threatened him with violence, and perhaps his very life.

Oh yes… and about that romance between George Hillyard and Ann Jemima Windle… they still stuck it out, and were married. Ann died in 1878, while George went on to marry again. Still, in those 13 years after the war, between the end of the war and Ann’s death, one has to wonder just how those family holidays at the Windle house may have been… 🙂

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“The reign of terror in Loudoun, Va.”

Posted in coercive activities in the secession vote, Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, Southern Unionist refugees, threats made against Southern Unionists, Virginia Unionists with tags , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by Robert Moore

The following comes from the July 24, 1861 issue of Hagerstown, Maryland’s Herald of Freedom and Torch Light:

A gentleman from Waterford, Loudoun county, Virginia, of a party of twelve Union men who escaped across the Potomac on Sunday night and reached here yesterday, represents the reign of terror in that county as unprecedented. The Union men are largely in the majority, but are totally unarmed and defenceless, and were all to be drafted in the militia yesterday by order of Gov. Letcher, and sent to Manassas. The river is closely guarded by pickets to prevent their escape, and a party of fifty were driven back on Saturday.

The party with which our informant crossed came over an old abandoned ford below the Point of Rocks, the existence of which was not generally known, and were each armed with such weapons as they could procure, determined to resist to the death.

Immediately on crossing they were arrested by the Federal pickets, and marched to the camp, much to their gratification, assuring them that they were just where they wanted to be. The[y] were well received, and furnished with provisions, and made as comfortable as possible. Passes were then given them, and a portion proceeded to join friends in Washington, whiles others came to Baltimore.

The people of Loudoun are not allowed to know what is going on in the country except through Secession sources, all newspapers being vigorously excluded from them. They have been robbed of the produce of their farms, and many hundreds of them would have made their escape long since were it not for the daily hope they entertained of being relieved of their oppresions by the arrival of Federal troops.

The election on the Secession ordinance is represented to have been a farce. A regiment from South Carolina was in the county on that day and the members voted, whilst the Secessionists voted as they choosed. it would have been at the risk of life for the Union men generally to have turned out, though they brought up a few to vote to make it appear that that there was no restriction upon Union voters.

The drafting for the militia that was progressing embraced every one that was able arms, including members of the Society of Friends and those known to be devoted Union men. The “coercion” principle was being carried out by the anti-coercionists to its fullest extent.

A Virginia fugitive

Posted in brutality in conscription, Confederate conscription, Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, threats made against Southern Unionists, Virginia Unionists with tags , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Robert Moore

From the Hagerstown Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, October 23, 1861:

The Wail of a Virginia Fugitive from the Tyranny of Secession
Clearspring, Md., October 5, 1861

Messrs. Editors Baltimore American

Dare I be so presumptuous as to address you in regard to a few things with which I have been conversant? Know, then, I am one of those whom Secession denominates “traitors,” merely because I, being a Virginian, refused to think as Virginia’s tyrant master (Jeff. Davis) thinks, and act as he dictates. For this cause, I have been pursued by his minions and well-nigh was captured. Not satisfied with neutral sentiments – I being a Virginian, I could not take up arms against her – they sought to compel me to shoulder a musket and march to Winchester, to be drilled by militia officers as ignorant in the tactics as myself. having refused to go I was threatened with death, in consequence of which a band of four determined to escape to a free land. Accordingly, on Wednesday last we started for the mountains, the Valley being filled with Rebels, and by noon reached the summit of North Mountain, where we rested to drink some of the best water this earth can produce. – Resting here, with the beautiful valley spread out beneath us, and sheltered by the luxuriant canopy of the mountain oak, we dreamed as the ancient Greek:

“Our land was free once more.”

Yet, alas! the illusion, though bright and glorious, was transient as the dew, and we awoke to the knowledge that we were aliens from our own dear homes. Away in the distance we could see those homes seemingly reposing in peace, but between us roamed bands of drunken soldiers, whose acts of atrocity excelled the damning deeds of the midnight robber. Such men are invariably chosen to impress men there, as they are callous to all appeals of mercy, and gloat with fiendish exultation over the miseries of the Union army. They prowl around our dwellings in the midnight hour and bind and drag off our citizens as criminals. They enter our houses and demand food with an insulting authority, and if refused, plunder you of all they want. – They seek to take liberties with females and shoot down the father who dares to protect his household. They have taken nearly all the horses from our county (Berkeley) for the purpose of hauling stolen goods from our county-seat [Martinsburg], and threaten all who do not uphold them in their acts. In short, they have ruined our farmers, robbed our merchants, impressed our mechanics, insulted our females, and now, with an unparalleled impudence, they demand our strength to be wasted upon Secession altars. But to my story.

After having refreshed ourselves, we started through those mountain fastnesses on a direct line to the river, where we arrived after twelve hours of fatigue and constant walking. We came to the river at Cherry Run, but could not get over as those living there are tainted with secession. Two miles farther on we were refused again by a Secessionist constable, John S. Miller by name, who is there in the capacity of a spy and reporter for the Secessionists. Two miles beyond that we prevailed upon a Union man to take us over, and were soon landed upon the soil of Maryland. Oh! what thrilling sensations we felt when standing once more upon free soil! Proud and glorious Maryland, if ever happiness was envied it is now by the groaning thousands in Virginia who, like Moses upon the mount, dare look upon the promised land, yet dare not possess it. How strong the pulse beats when the lungs are fed on free air, and how sparkling does the eye become when gazing upon free things! We, the brothers of the sons and daughters of Maryland, suffer now in sight of kindred, and yet seemingly, beyond their reach. – All the luxuries of life are taken from us, and we are ever deprived of the comforts of a common life. salt is a rarity and very high, as one sack was sold for twenty-five dollars and another offered for forty dollars. Sugar can sometimes be had at thirty cents per lb., and coffee at sixty cents. Our farmers refuse to thresh their grain, for fear of its being taken, they swearing they will sooner burn it. Those in the habit of cultivating over one hundred acres in wheat annually, will not now cultivate thirty acres. They will not fatten their hogs, as they can get no salt to cure the meat. – And yet how long is this to continue? Berkeley county has proven her loyalty to the Government by a voice of eight hundred of her citizens, and yet she must suffer thus. Daily and hourly are prayers offered from her soil for the success of the Federal army, yet no Havelock is found to free another Lucknow.

Soldiers of Maryland, our citizens are willing to join you, so soon as you give them proofs of protection! In God’s name, come quickly and well. Not as the timid Patterson, who showed us the tempting fruits of freedom but would not give them; but as the victorious McClellan in Western Virginia – and we will wreathe your brows with laurel. And never, no never, as you value peace, happiness and prosperity, follow poor Virginia to the hell of Secession to find comforts and rights, lest you weep and groan beneath miseries worse than ours.

Clearspring, Md. M. [signed with only this initial]

James Morgan Valentine Testifies on Behalf of Newt Knight Before the U.S. Claims Commission

Posted in Disallowed Claims, Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, Mississippi Unionists, threats made against Southern Unionists with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by renegadesouth

By Victoria E. Bynum

The following post expands upon the story of James Morgan Valentine, Newt Knight’s 1st Lt. in Mississippi’s “Free State of Jones,” posted last week on Renegade South, http://www.renegadesouth.wordpress.com. Like Hiram Levi Sumrall of my earlier post on this site, Valentine testified in 1890 and 1895 on behalf of Newt Knight’s claim for compensation for members of the Knight Company. A summary of Newt’s claim, below, is followed by excerpts and analysis of Valentine’s depositions.

For thirty years, Newt Knight, Captain of Mississippi’s most notorious band of deserters, the Knight Company of Jones County, pursued compensation from the federal government for himself and his company. Newt initiated his first claim in 1870, before the Southern Claims Commission had been established (RG 233, Box 15, HR 1810). That claim had long ago died in committee when Congress passed the Bowman Act in 1883, followed by the Tucker Act of 1887, which allowed individuals to resubmit rejected or tabled claims. With lawyers now representing his case, Newt renewed his efforts to win pay for his “soldiers.” Newt’s two final claims, #8013 and #8464, were eventually merged into one.

On November 20, 1890, fifty-year old James Morgan Valentine appeared before the Jones County Chancery Court to lend support to Newt Knight’s claim. The first question posed to him by the government’s lawyers was whether Newt Knight had “commanded a company of men known as Union men,” and whether they were “equipped as soldiers during the war and what part did they act as such?” Valentine replied that he knew Newt Knight to be the captain of a company, “armed and equipped,” that “acted in opposition to the rebel forces.”

To further questions, Valentine answered that the Knight Company had operated in Jones, Smith, Jasper, and Covington counties from October 13, 1863 until September 5, 1865, and that he had been with them “all the time except about a month while I was in prison.” Here, Valentine was referring to his capture by Col. Robert Lowry’s Confederate forces during its raid on Jones County. In his 1895 deposition, he specified that he was captured on April 16, 1864 and sent to Shubuta, MS, where he was imprisoned until June of that year. (Information included on Newt Knight’s roster of 1870 corroborates this.)

When asked if he engaged in any battles as part of the Knight company, Valentine replied that he participated in three, those of Saul’s Battery (Sal’s Battery), Tallahala, near Ellisville, and Knight’s Mill, the battle in which he was wounded and captured by Col. Lowry’s forces.

When asked whether the Knight Company was ever mustered into the Union Army, Valentine replied unequivocally, “They were not.” Despite that fact, he believed all the men remained loyal to the Union throughout the war. He reiterated this testimony in his second deposition of January 29, 1895.

In 1895, Valentine also testified that despite the company’s failure to become an official unit of the Union Army, it nonetheless had collaborated directly with Union forces. His examples, however, which lawyers were quick to note, occurred in July 1865, shortly after the war had ended. Valentine recalled that Lt. H. T. Elliott of the U.S. Army had ordered Newt Knight and his men to “seize and hold in possession certain cloth and wool in the hands of one Amos Deason” (Deason was Jones County’s Confederate representative to the state legislature), that the Knight Company had also captured a “stand of arms in the court house,” and turned them over to Capt. A. R. M. Smith of the federal army post at Ellisville in Jones County, and that U.S. Gen’l William McMillan had once supplied the company with rations. (All of these actions are verified by documents submitted to the government in 1870 by Newt Knight.)

When government lawyers asked Valentine whether these interactions occurred “after the Confederate armies had all been disbanded and returned to their homes,” Valentine replied, “I could not tell you sir whether they were all disbanded or no.” When reminded that Generals Lee and Johnston had surrendered in May, 1865, Valentine reminded the lawyers that “there were Ku Klux in this country after the surrender that we had to contend with.”

Valentine’s uncertainty about whether the war was truly over in July, 1865, reflected ongoing battles over power throughout the South, including in Jones County. That very month, Newt Knight and his supporters petitioned provisional Governor William Sharkey to overturn Jones County’s 1864 elections on grounds that local Unionists had been denied the vote. Pro-Confederate citizens soon retaliated against several appointments and elections of Unionists to office by successfully petitioning the Mississippi State Legislature to change the name of Jones County to Davis County (in honor of Jefferson Davis). Valentine’s testimony reflected his memory that, for Newt Knight, and the Knight Company, battles over local political power remained fierce in the aftermath of the Civil War.

NOTE: Newt Knight’s long struggle with the U.S. Court of Claims, as well as Jones County’s Reconstruction and New South political struggles, are analyzed in my forthcoming book, Southern Communities at War: Essays on Civil War Era Dissent and it’s Legacies, scheduled for release by the University of North Carolina Press in spring, 2010).

Henry Flaugher, Civil War Unionist From Burnet County, Texas

Posted in Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, Texas Unionists, threats made against Southern Unionists with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by renegadesouth

Submitted by Victoria Bynum, Renegade South

The following is a story of Civil War Unionism and its persecution in the Hill Country of Texas. Its narrative and documentation was gathered and provided by Betty Zimmerman of Woodville, TX, whose husband is a descendant of the story’s main figure, Henry Flaugher (pronounced “Flour”). For this essay, I have compressed and rearranged her material, but the history of this murder was essentially written by Betty and members of the Flaugher family.

The story passed down in Flaugher family oral history is as follows: By fall of 1860, many southerners were expressing “feelings of hatred” toward former northerners who had moved South. Such a family was that of Henry Flaugher of Burnet County. Flaugher’s son-in-law, John T. Malone, and his daughter, Allie, were frightened enough by events to leave the state shortly before secession was achieved. Not long after they left, the Malones learned that a gruesome murder of some 36 men suspected of Unionism had taken place in their former home county, and that Henry Flaugher was among them. Twenty-five of the 36 men, according to the story, were hanged over the mouth of a saltpetre cave (there are many such caves in Burnet County), the ropes then cut so that the bodies dropped into the cave, seemingly out of sight forever.

Some two years later, the bodies were discovered by family members, perfectly preserved in the cave. Henry Flaugher was given a decent burial. His personal history, and the events leading to his gruesome murder, remind us that the Civil War ripped apart communities as well as a nation. Flaugher’s simple move from a free state to a slaveholding one, more than a decade before the war, set in motion events that led to his violent death.

Sometime around 1848, Henry Flaugher moved his family from Illinois to Burnet County, Texas, where he settled near present-day Marble Falls. His decision to move South, into a slaveholding state just as the nation’s sectional crisis was heating up, may not have been an easy one. Two of Henry’s grown children from the first of his two marriages did not make the move, but his sons, John and Adam, and daughters, Allie and Catherine (Kitty), plus his second wife Eliza and their six children, were soon transplanted to the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, where Henry bought 139 acres of land on the Colorado River, and commenced buying and selling stock.

Around 1856, Henry’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Allie, married widower John T. Malone, who lived nearby. Twenty-eight-year-old Malone, a master stonemason born in Ohio, was also a relative newcomer to Texas. John had lived in California and Missouri before making his way to Texas; in 1850, he mined for gold in El Dorado, CA. John, then, was well aware of heated national debates over whether slavery should be allowed to move into the western territories. That very year, California was admitted into the Union as a free state, following a bitter political battle between pro- and anti-slavery forces.

In 1860, as southern states moved toward secession, some of John T. Malone’s neighbors suspected that he and his father-in-law, Henry Flaugher, were not “sound” on the slavery issue. John was even accused in a court of law of having assisted slaves in escaping North. Although he was acquitted, threats and suspicions continued, causing him and Allie to flee Texas, first to Iowa, then to Washington Territory, by wagon train. It was late fall, and John left behind property, tools, and an uncollected payment on a stone mill he had built.

Allie’s father, Henry Flaugher, was expected to follow, but decided to wait until after his crop was in. The results of his fateful decision are seared in the memories of his descendants. One daughter and three granddaughters of Allie Flaugher Malone told essentially the same story: Henry Flaugher was taken prisoner by a group of men while fetching a bucket of water from the river. However, a letter written by Henry’s sister, Catherine Flaugher Wilson, on May 25, 1868, differs somewhat in details. Catherine claimed that Henry and a hired hand had gone into the timber woods for a load of wood. His wagon, she said, was found half loaded, but Henry was no where to be found. Family members later found the cave, with a gallows erected by the “REBELS,” and Henry’s body in the cave. While Catherine mentioned that some forty additional bodies were found in the cave, she did not claim they had been killed alongside her brother.

Catherine Flaugher Wilson’s 1868 description dovetails nicely with a story published in a 1941 issue of Frontier Times: “Disaster at Dead Man’s Hole,” by Walter Richter. Richter was writing the story of one Adolph Hoppe, but a secondary figure in this history was a “Mr. Flour,” surely the Henry Flaugher of this story. According to Richter, Hoppe and “Flour” were loading cedar posts in a wagon and had just started for home when they were halted by a ranger and a group of men. Accused of attending secret Union meetings, both men were “tried” on the spot, and “Mr. Flour”–but not Adolph Hoppe–was found “guilty” of Unionism. The ranger let Hoppe go, but left the man now believed to be Henry Flaugher in the hands of the vigilantes. For being in the company of a Unionist, however, Hoppe was pursued by the vigilantes as soon as the ranger went on his way. His body was recovered from the cave known as “Dead Man’s Hole” in 1866.

Although Hoppe rather than Flaugher was the subject of this essay, it seems clear that both men were murdered and dropped into the cave. The separate stories tell essentially the same story, and it is reasonable to assume the men met their fate together. What is not clear, however, is that 36 men were killed that same day. The story of Adolph Hoppe describes two men meeting their deaths at the hands of secessionist vigilantes. I suspect, and Betty Zimmerman concurs, that those 36 other dead men were probably victims of murders that took place throughout the Civil War, as pro- and anti-Confederates fought it out on Civil War home fronts. Like Catherine Wilson, Richter pointed out that many other bodies were found in the cave: “thousands of bones,” he reported, were brought up from “Dead Man’s Hole” in 1866.

My thanks to Betty Zimmerman for sharing this important Civil War story with us.

Note: Walter Richter’s article, “Disaster at Dead Man’s Hole,” is from Frontier Times Magazine, vol. 18, No. 6, March 1941.

A story about John M. Keyser

Posted in threats made against Southern Unionists, Virginia Unionists with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2008 by SouthernUnionists

In a letter to the newspaper (Page News & Courier, Luray, Virginia) in April 1927, local citizen Jacob H. Coffman wrote about the treatment of one local Unionist during the war.

For those Unionists who were unable to keep their sentiments to themselves, the consequence was most certainly intimidation from heavy-handed secessionists. John M. Keyser was one such man “who made no effort to conceal his sympathy for the North.” One evening, “three men called on him, took him to the top of the Blue Ridge at Milam Gap, stood him on a barrel with a rope around his neck and eased him down,” but supposedly “did not intend to kill him,” but rather to “scare him.” As the scribe of the story remembered, the “torture was enough to render him unable to read for three months. How he made his way home, I never heard, but I surely believe he never identified his captors.”

Keyser is listed in the 1860 Page County census as a fifty-three year old cabinet maker with no real estate. He remained in Page County in the years to come and became Justice of the Peace of the Marksville district and, as Coffman noted, “had his captors come before him they might have met with justice that might have seemed injustice to them. And so we have another case of the bottom rail on top.”

Leroy C. Gilbert of Rockbridge County, Virginia

Posted in Examples of acts against Southern Unionists, threats made against Southern Unionists, Virginia Unionists with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2008 by SouthernUnionists

Portions of the Southern Claims Commission Application for Leroy C. Gilbert. Deposition taken 16 July 1872.
 
Gilbert resided in Rockbridge County, Va., “ all the war on my farm, my farm contains 50 acres, 40 acres of it is cleared land. I did not leave the State during the war.”

Q5 – “I took the amnesty oath after the war at the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge Co., Va. I had nothing to be pardoned for.”

Q24 – “I never was arrested by either government.”

Q25 – “I had bacon taken by the Confederate authorities. I received no pay for it.”

Q26 – “I was threatened to be taken to Castle Thunder because I talked too much in favor of the United States.”

Q29 – “I had no chance to do any thing for the US Government.”

Q30 – “I had four sons, one half- brother in the Confederate army; names of my sons were John [C, 1st Va Cav], James [E, 52nd], Leroy [?] & Andrew [Co. E, 52nd); name of my half-brother was Ezekiel Gilbert [C, 1st Va Cav]. Two of my sons John [died at home on Broad Creek of disease 12/20/62]and James [died of wounds received at Gettysburg] were killed in the Confederate army; the other two, Leroy and Andrew are living in Rockbridge County, Va. My brother was killed [5/26/64, Kennon’s Farm] in the Confederate army. I furnished them with no military equipments money or clothing. They volunteered without my approbation.”

Q40 – “I sympathized with Union at the beginning of the war and not with the Rebellion. I neither voted for or against the ordinance of secession. I held to the stars and stripes during the whole war.”

Q41 – “From the beginning of the war to the end I desired to see the Government put down the rebellion…”

In support of Gilbert’s deposition, Eli Swartz testified…

I reside on the adjoining farm during the war. I saw him often, talked to him about the war very frequently. He was bitterly opposed to the war. I heard him say that if he could keep his sons out of the Confederate army he would do it. I think he was a Union man if there was one on the South. He was regarded as a Union man by his neighbors. I do not know how he voted upon the ordinance of secession or that he voted at all. I heard Capt. McClintock say that he ought to be watched, that he was a dangerous man to the South. I do not know that he owned any Confederate bonds do not think he did anything to support the credit of the C.S. Do not know that he gave any information to any U.S. officer. I think I have heard him say that if the South gained her independence he could not remain here.

Also in support of Gilbert’s deposition, William B. Miller testified…

I have known the claimant 30 years, I live very near him, I saw him often during the war. I conversed with him about the war frequently. I heard him say once that he wished all the Confederate officers were in Hell. I heard him say that he opposed the war that he would have his right arm cut off before he would vote for the ordinance of secession. I regarded him as a Union man, he was looked upon as a Union man by his neighbors (loyal). I heard that the Confederates had threatened to hang him because he was a Union man.