Category Archives: Civil War

Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part Three)

The ‘Quarry Trench’ used during the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In this the third and final part of her article, Mrs. McDarment relates the story of a soldier who visited the Thoroughfare Gap battlefield years after the Civil War.

Some years after the war an old soldier came from California to visit the old battle ground. He said the hardest fighting he was in was in the Battle at Thoroughfare Gap, that his company in Ricket’s Division lost more men than in any other engagement; that with one volley from Longstreet’s men thirty of his men fell, killed and wounded. His own brother was killed at his side.
“The Confederates,” he said, “used a paper cartridge containing a round ball and three buck-shot. When Longstreet’s men rose and fired they were so near us that the round ball went through my brother’s forehead; one buck shot grazed one cheek, one the other and one pierced his chin. At first, I thought I would stay with my brother, but seeing that he had been instantly killed, and knowing that I would be captured, I retreated with the rest of the company. The next morning we sent a flag of truce and buried our dead.”
The breast-works thrown up by Longstreet’s men are still standing.
Some twelve or fourteen years after the war in walking over the crest of the mountain near the Gap, I saw something that looked like the handle of a cup sticking out of the ground. I pulled it up and found it was a silver cup. After cleaning it I found on it the following inscription, “Lieut. R. A. S. Freeman, Company A, Second Regiment, Volunteers.”
I found that the Surgeon of that Regiment was a Doctor Gregory of Alexandria Virginia. I wrote to him and he replied that he knew Lieutenant Freeman well, that he had come out of the war alive and was at his home at West Point , Georgia.
I wrote Lieutenant Freeman and received an interesting letter from him telling about the battle in Thoroughfare Gap. He was delighted to get his cup that had lain buried for so many years on the old battle field. He said he went into the fight with the cup fastened to his belt, and as there was a dent in the bottom he supposed a bullet had knocked it off. The cup may have intercepted the bullet and in that way saved his life.
Near the mill in The Gap there is a hole where stone had been quarried to build the mill. In this hole the Federals placed sharp-shooters who were picking off the Confederates above. When Longstreet made a rush through The Gap the men in this hole were killed and twenty-five dead soldiers were later taken out.

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Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part Two)

Modern View of Avenel, The Plains, VA.

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In this the second part of her article, Mrs. McDarment relates William Beverley’s reminiscences of the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap.

“When I was a small boy I went with my mother, who was a near relation of the Lees, to visit at Arlington, the old Lee home.  I knew the General when I was a student at The Virginia Military Institute.  I was at Lexington when he died and saw him laid in his last resting place.

I can remember incidents connected with the Second Battle of Manassas, fought in August, 1862.

Just after McClellan’s defeat on the peninsular, he was ordered to withdraw from the peninsular and go to the aid of General Pope who was in command of the Federal forces before Washington.  Lee, hearing McClellan was ordered to reinforce Pope, gave orders to Stonewall Jackson to make a forced march and strike out Pope’s army before McClellan could reach him.

Jackson, leaving Culpeper, made a rapid march to Marshall – then called Salem – from there via The Plains through Thoroughfare Gap, and was at Manassas capturing General Pope’s provision train before Pope knew that Jackson was within a hundred miles of him.

When General Pope, who had headquarters near Warrenton, Virginia, was informed that Jackson was at Manassas, he at first discredited the information but a second courier informed him that Jackson was at Manassas and had captured his (Pope’s) provision train.

Pope gave orders at once to General Ricket, who commanded a Pennsylvania Division to occupy Thoroughfare Gap and cut off Lee, who was following Jackson from Culpeper on the same route, through Marshall and The Plains.

On the night before the Second Battle of Manassas General Lee with his army had reached the Western entrance to Thoroughfare Gap, his army going into camp along Broad Run Creek and near the present Broad Run station.

General Lee and his staff spent that night at my old home “Avenel.”

Being anxious about Jackson, General Lee walked the floor until midnight when a courier arrived with a dispatch from Jackson assuring the General that Jackson was in no immediate danger and could hold out until Lee’s army could reach him.  This courier was Lieutenant Tom Turner who was reared at Kinlock, the old Turner home near Avenel and who was a nephew of Admiral Turner of the United States Navy. Lieutenant Turner knew every inch of the ground and reached Avenel from Manassas by making detour from Jackson through Hopewell Gap to Avenel to General Lee, and was later awarded a beautiful sword.

Early the next morning General Lee mounted his grey horse, “Traveller” and with his staff rode toward Thoroughfare Gap, and gave orders to General Longstreet to drive back the Federal forces and to take the Gap.

General Longstreet sent a regiment over the mountain North of the Gap, one South of it, and a body of troops along the road leading through it.

Ricket’s Divsion had a battery on a ridge a quarter of a mile from the East side of the Gap and shelled both sides of the Gap continuously in front of his advance. General Ricket’s Pennsylvanians were hard fighters and brave men. After hard fighting General Ricket was forced to retreat and was driven back in the direction of Washington.  General Lee then pushed rapidly forward, joining Jackson and inflicting a disastrous defeat on Pope’s army.

Next week: A soldier visits the Thoroughfare Gap Battlefield after the war.

Remembering the Mill: 1862 – 1926 (Part One)

1862-11-29

Thoroughfare Gap 1862

The following is an excerpt from a circa 1926 piece written by Mary Susannah Walker McDarment.  It was transcribed by her daughter, Sarah M. Turner in 1993.  In the article, Mrs. McDarment talks of the Mill as it appeared in the 1920’s and then goes on to record the Civil War recollections of William Beverley.

Following the old pike from Haymarket we come through the hardly visible old town of Thoroughfare to Beverly Mills.  The Mill is today in probably as good condition as the day it was built.  It is of stone five stories high with walls at least three feet thick and was built some time in the 1700’s for a plaster mill.  It is now used for flour mill and though modern machinery has been installed the old wheel turned by the water from Broad Run used except in time of emergency.  When things are scorching in summer one may enter and find it delightfully cool due to its thick stone walls.  The beams are “beams what am” and put together with big wooden pegs.  The mill is in Thoroughfare Gap and beautifully located.

Approaching Thoroughfare Gap from either direction I always want to stop and commune with old spirits there.  We all know of the terrible fighting at the two battles of Manassas but few know of the hard fought battle of Thoroughfare Gap.  A Federal soldier said that the hardest fighting he was in during the war was in the battle of The Gap.  Mr. William Beverley gave me the following account of the battle in The Gap as he remembers it. Mr. Beverley was about twelve years old at the time and lived in the old Beverley home, Avenel, a short distance from The Gap and he remembers many incidents of the Second Battle of Manassas.

Next week: William Beverley’s reminiscences of the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap.

How Chapman’s Mill Became Beverley’s Mill

An excerpt from Beverley (Chapman’s) Mill, Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia by Frances Lillian Jones.  Here Mrs. Jones describes how the Mill changed hands from the Chapman family to the Beverley’s in the years following the Civil War.  The Mill first went to auction in 1867, a notice for which is included below.

Alexandria Gazette 1867

Auction of the ‘Thoroughfare Mills’ as advertised in the Alexandria Gazette, October 26, 1867.

“There being no bidders, the property was not sold at public auction. Instead, in 1871, the Commissioners privately sold John Chapman’s mill and about 500 acres on the south side of the Manassas Gap Railroad to Robert Beverley and William Beverley for $13,350.108 At the same time, and perhaps because the sale of John Chapman’s property was not enough to pay Chapman’s debts, 60 acres of a tract of 735 acres on the north side of the railroad that belonged to the estate of George Chapman (d. 1854), and in which John Chapman had an interest, were carved out and also sold to Robert and William Beverley.

 

In 1878, Robert Beverley, having paid for the John Chapman property at Thoroughfare, requested of the then-Commissioner for the estate of John Chapman, Eppa Hutton, Jr., that a metes and bounds survey of the property Beverley had purchased be made. At the same time, Beverley asked for the deed to the property, made out to William Beverley, Jr. This would seem to confirm that William Beverley, Jr. received the mill as a gift from his grandfather.117

Shortly after acquiring the mill, and before the final payment was made and the deed for the property issued, the Beverleys, Robert and his son William, began to rebuild the mill, perhaps using some of the building materials–lumber and iron–they might have purchased from the sale of John Chapman’s estate.118 Repairing the damage that had been done to the mill during the Civil War and completing the work that John Chapman, in his rebuilding in 1858 had been unable to finish, the Beverleys began to operate the mill as a plaster mill, grinding limestone into fertilizer.”

Remembering The Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

Bud Hall Discusses the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

Bud Hall Discusses the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap

Mr. Bud Hall explains the complexity and importance of the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap, August 28, 1862.

At the time this video was made, a cell phone tower was proposed to be be built on the battlefield.  Through the combined efforts of TTMAC, the Civil War Preservation Trust and other preservation-minded organizations and individuals, the tower was diverted thus preserving the historic viewshed of this significant site.