The Fighting Chapmans

The Chapman-Ruffner House Marker

The Chapman-Ruffner House Marker

As was the case in most families, the Civil War impacted the Chapman’s in numerous ways. We might think first of the occupation of the Mill and the part it played during the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap, but the Chapman’s also had relatives on the front lines.  In nearby Page County, a Civil War Trails Marker memorializes the parts two Chapman family members played during the war.  Below is a transcript of the marker.

Immigrant Peter Ruffner built this house about 1739. Before the Civil War, William A. Chapman bought it, and three sons reared here later fought for the Confederacy. For their exploits as members of Col. John S. Mosby’s Rangers, two of them, Lt. Col. William Henry Chapman and Capt. Samuel Chapman, became known as the “Fighting Chapmans.”

After the war began, they and their brother Edmond Gaines Chapman served in the local Dixie Artillery. When it disbanded in October 1862, they dispersed to different units. Edmond served out the war in the Purcell Artillery, while his brothers eventually joined Mosby’s Rangers. Shortly after the fight at Miskel’s Farm in Loudoun County in the spring of 1863, Sam returned here to recuperate from wounds.

Of William Chapman’s leadership abilities, another Ranger’s mother later said, “It seemed to me he knew everything.” After Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Chapman offered the Rangers’ surrender to Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, but Mosby soon opted to disband them instead. Complimenting Mosby’s right-hand man, Hancock described Chapman as “important as Mosby.”

An ordained minister, Sam Chapman was known as Mosby’s “Fighting Parson” and was said to have “embraced combat as if it were an article of faith.” Mosby himself said that Sam was “the only man he ever saw who really enjoyed fighting, and who generally went into the fray with his hat in one hand and banging away with his revolver with the other.”

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