Sunday night [July 3, 1864]
Soon after four o-clock this morning I was roused by the sound of bands, & I thought at first I would get up; but I felt that I must see the last of our soldiers as they left us for their grand invasion. I threw on my skirts, a shawl, & without stopping to wash my face, Lal & I ran down to Main St. We stayed two hours, saw Johnnie Mason & Dr. Dixon, told them to come to breakfast;
when I got home I was hurrying house-keeping arrangements, when I heard shouts on our street & found Genl. Early had brought his Corps by our house & they gave us their recognition in passing; several others stopped but at last we had a very nice breakfast; Johnnie & Dr. D. – Capt. Mann Page & Major Hutchinson were with us & we had a very pleasant party; some went this morning – some after dinner, Lewis & Johnnie amongst the latter;
went to the Hospital before church; how I wish it were possible to have our army without Hospitals; I dread having to begin there, knowing what is before me, our sick & wounded will be back here; would that there might be none of the latter. To church, where I was too stupefied to enjoy the services; went again this afternoon & had a quiet evening, all having gone except Bob & Charlie Davenport who came to tea; there are still a number of soldiers about town & it is thought Hill’s Corps will be here in a day or two. News came this evening, that McCausland took Martinsburgh last night, capturing 360 loaded wagons & immense stores.
Mary Greenhow Lee’s private journal, Winchester, Virginia; July 3, 1864.
(Source: The Civil War Journal of Mary Greenhow Lee, edited by Eloise C. Strader, 2011, page 376).
Early Moves North
In the Shenandoah Valley, the New Market Campaign had ended with a Union defeat, but it didn’t take long for another Union force to enter the valley. General David Hunter marched an army south to Staunton, then to the out of the southern part of the Valley to Lynchburg where Confederate forces turned him back. As Hunter retreated, the Valley opened for Confederate control again.
Confederate General Jubal Early took the “Army of the Valley,” mostly the Second Corps and other gathered units, and headed north. Sweeping down toward the Potomac River, Early passed through Winchester, the gateway city, and headed into Maryland. Generally called the “Washington Raid,” this operation did threaten Washington D.C. and majority disrupted the vital Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The campaign marked the last major Confederate military movement north of the Potomac River.
Winchester Hospitals – Again
By 1864, civilians knew that when an army passed through Winchester, Virginia, it meant several things. A new campaign was likely opening. Winchester would be a hospital town…again.
In the past major campaigns – Antietam, Gettysburg – had ended with Confederate wounded filling the town of Winchester. Skirmishes, smaller, battles, and lesser campaigns also brought sick who stayed behind at the crossroads city and ambulances of wounded to the local hospitals.
Mrs. Lee reflected that she did not mind the visitors and excitement brought by an army in town starting campaign, but she knew the dark side of the newest invasion would come soon. The Winchester hospitals would be filled again with the casualties of war.
Once again we find an example of civilians interacting closely with the military. This time – for Mrs. Lee – it was a positive day; she supported the southern cause and happily welcomed Confederate soldiers into her home for meals throughout the day.
This journal entry gives a civilian perspective on the newest Confederate campaign heading north and serves as a reminder that civilians were invested in the war. Those not in uniform – civilian men, women, children – chose sides, experience moments of success, apprehension, and difficulty. Civilians in war-zone towns, like Winchester, witnessed the range of events and emotion and have been traditionally viewed a sideline participants, but primary sources point to them doing more than standing on the doorstep and watching.
Mrs. Lee greets the troops, fixes breakfast for her military friends, visits with soldier acquaintances throughout the day, and knows that her duties in the hospital will resume with the army going on campaign in the north. She does not sit inside with the curtains drawn…