Page:A memoir of the last year of the War of Independence, in the Confederate States of America.djvu/55
MARCH DOWN THE VALLEY, AND OPERATIONS IN THE LOWER VALLEY AND MARYLAND.
At Lynchburg, I had received a telegram from General Lee, directing me, after disposing of Hunter, either to return to his army or carry out the original plan, as I might deem most expedient under the circumstances in which I found my- self. After the pursuit had ceased, I received another dispatch from him, submitting it to my judgment whether the condition of my troops would permit the expedition across the Potomac to be carried oat, and I determined to take the responsibility of continuing it. On the 23rd, the march was resumed and we reached Buchanan that night, where we struck again the route over which Hunter had advanced.* Ransom's cavalry moved
- The scenes on Hunter's route from Lynchburg had been truly heart-rending.
Houses had been burned, and helpless women and children left without shelter. The country had been stripped of provisions and many families left without a morsel to eat. Furniture and bedding had been cut to peices, and old men and women and children robbed of all the clothing they had except that on their backs. Ladies trunks had been rifled and their dresses torn to peices in mere wantonness. Even the negro girls had lost their little finery. We now had renewed evidences of the outrages committed by Hunter's orders in burning and plundering private houses. We saw the ruins of a number of bouses to which the torch had been applied by his orders. At Lexington he had burned the Military Institute, with all of its contents, including its library and scientific app;iratus; and Washington College had been plundered and the statue of Washington stolen. The residence of Ex-Uovernor Letcher at that place had been burned by orders, and but a few minutes given Mrs. Letcher and her family to leave the house. In the same county a moi;t excellent christian gentleman, a Mr. Creigh, had been hung, because, on a former occasion, he had killed a strag- gling and marauding Federal soldier while in the act of insulting and outraging the ladies of his family. These are but some of the outarges committed by Hunter or his orders, and 1 will not insult the memory of the ancient barbarians of the North by calling them " acts of Yandalism." If those old barbarians were savage and cruel, they at least had the manliness and daring of rude soldiers, with occasional traits of magnanimity. Hunter's deeds were those of a malignant and cowardly fanatic, who was better qualified to make war upon helpless women and children than upon armed soldiers. The time consumed in the perpretration of those deeds, was the salvation of Lynchburg, with its stores, foundries, and factories which were so necessary to our army at Eichmond.