Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/288

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280 Southern Historical Society Papers.

people should save what they can. So long as the war lasts they must be prevented from raising another crop, both there and as high up the valley as we can control.

"U. S. GRANT, " General Commander."

General Sheridan, in conducting his part of this correspondence, sent to General Grant three letters dated respectively, August iQth, August 22d and September nth, purporting to give his progress in "exterminating" Mosby's men 'and one under date of September 29th, in regard to the devastation of the country. The letter reads as follows:

" September 29, 1864.

" Lieutenant-General Grant, Commanding, &c. .

"This morning I sent around Merrill's and Custer's divisions via Piedmont, to burn grain, &c., pursuant to your instructions.

" P. H. SHERIDAN,

4 ' Major- General. ' '

We remember well this "drive " that was made for Mosby's men. The two divisions of Federal cavalry were spread out and swept through our section like a drag net. Every foot of the territory known as " Mosby's Confederacy " was covered. The work of de- struction continued day and night. I watched it from a point on the Blue Ridge mountains, where I was bivouacking for the night, on my way to the Valley of Virginia with a few of our men. As far as the eye could see the whole country east of the mountains was lit up by the destroying flames, and the glare was reflected from the sky above. It was a sublime sight to the eye, but a sickening one to the heart. Our one battalion of cavalry was powerless to prevent these two divisions of the enemy from executing their orders.

But Sheridan had been ordered not only to hang our men and devastate our country, but to carry off our families and imprison them in Fort McHenry. He did not execute the order to imprison, and the records are silent as to the reason for this omission. It was not because they were not within his reach, for there was scarcely a family in all that section that did not have some member in Mosby's command. Our lieutenant-colonel had married in Fauquier, and many of the other officers, as well as men, had families within the condemned territory. Had Sheridan directed General Merritt and Custer to arrest them on that burning raid, the order could have