Historical Information

Map & Photo Display at McGuire Home Winchester Virginia Civil War Living History

Historical Information Summary For

“The McGuire Home, Winchester, Virginia” Living History Group

The McGuire Family

Dr. Hugh McGuire, a native of Winchester, Virginia, was a prominent eye surgeon and he started Winchester Medical College; during the war he volunteered to help with the administration of a new hospital facility in Lexington, Virginia. Mrs. Ann Eliza Moss McGuire was a devoted wife, homemaker, and mother. She was an influential lady in her community and during the war she extended hospitality to Confederate officers, brought wounded into her home, and faced the difficulties of home front life. Mary Rebecca was the eldest daughter and she became ill with tuberculosis in the early spring of 1862, dying of the disease in January 1864. Margaretta, called Getty by the family, spent her time helping her mother, caring for her sister, writing to her brothers and friends, and doing what she could to support the war effort. Hunter was the medical director for the Confederate II Corps, friend of General Jackson, and innovative surgeon and leader. He established the principle that medical personal should be treated as non-combatants, experimented with battlefield evacuation, and after the war became a well-known civilian physician. Edward was in US Navy before the war; he joined the Confederate navy, serving on a blockade runner before is capture and imprisonment. After he was released from prison, Edward became a spy for the Confederacy and narrowly escaped hanging on one occasion. Hugh was a secretary for General Jackson before transferring to the 11th Virginia Cavalry; he married his sweetheart, Miss Sally Gallaher, in January 1865 and died of a mortal wound on May 8, 1865. William, the youngest son, was in his teens during the war. He attended school, but probably enlisted in 1864; he was captured and sent to prison in 1865, but returned home safely at the end of the war. Anna was the youngest child and very little information is known about her.

The McGuire Family is an example of a family that stayed together, stayed strong, and stayed productive and self-sacrificing through war and personal loss. They are an example of how a strong family unit can serve others and make a difference in their community, state, and nation.

General “Stonewall” Jackson

Born in 1824 and orphaned at a young age, Thomas Jonathan Jackson struggled through his childhood, but managed to obtain an appointment to West Point. He served gallantly in the Mexican War and in 1851 he became a professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia. Jackson’s first wife, Elinor Junkin Jackson, died leaving him heartbroken and clinging to his faith. Later he married Mary Anna Morrison. In 1861 Jackson entered the scene of war and played a crucial role in the victory at First Manassas (Bull Run), where he earned his sobriquet “Stonewall.” He fought the Valley Campaign in spring 1862 and earned his place among legends. Working with Lee, he helped secure the wave of Confederate victories. Jackson was wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville and died on May 10, 1863.

Yankee Occupation of Winchester, Spring 1863

General Milroy arrived in Winchester on January 1, 1863 and stayed until June 15, 1863; his occupation was the worst in Winchester history (and this was a town that was occupied 48 times by Union troops). Martial law, Milroy’s whims, picket lines, officers quartered in the homes, attempted starvation of Southern families, spies, homes searched, curfews, and petty rules were some of the measures that characterized Milory’s occupation. His harshness did not produce the desired effect and Southern families more determined to resist.

Winchester Liberated, June 1863

The II Battle of Winchester was fought June 13-15, 1863. General Milroy was driven out of Winchester on June by the Confederate II Corps now commanded by General Richard Ewell.  This battle and liberation of the town were part of General Lee’s invasion of the north – the Valley had to be secured as a quiet avenue where marching troops could hide from the Yankee cavalry as the Confederate army moved north.

General Richard S. Ewell

General Richard Ewell was a subordinate commander to General Jackson during the Valley Campaign of 1862. At that time he was a grumpy, quirky bachelor who used strong language and routinely pronounced that “Old Jack” was plumb crazy. General Ewell was wounded in the left leg and left the army to recuperate, find religious faith, and go courting. On May 26, 1863, he married Lizinka Campell Brown, a wealthy widow and his cousin. Three days earlier (May 23) Ewell had been promoted to lieutenant general and given the command of the II Corps. Returning to the army, Ewell was a changed man – he had found religious faith and many soldiers noticed that he seemed not as quarrelsome as the year before and his language was starting to moderate. With the liberation of Winchester, civilians and soldiers were convinced that General Ewell just might be the second “stonewall.” Slow reactions and military movements at Gettysburg quickly dispelled this theory.

Gettysburg’s Wounded In Winchester

About 6,800 Confederate wounded were left at Gettysburg. Approximately 6,000 more were transported back to Virginia in a 17 mile long ambulance wagon train. The wounded started arriving in Winchester on July 7. The commissary issued food to the civilians with orders to cook it for the wounded. The walking wounded wandered the town. Hospitals were established. Civilians accepted wounded into their homes. The injured who could walk went to Staunton, the rest stayed in Winchester until transportation could be arranged. Wounded and prisoners continued to filter through Winchester at least through July 18th. The II Corps marched through Winchester on July 23rd. The army was in the vicinity of Winchester until the beginning of August.

Winchester’s Autumn 1863

The cavalry of both sides and guerilla fighters moved through and around town. Miss Chase wrote about the Union cavalry “…as the cavalry coming so often and committing such depredations every time, there will be no safety in living here.” (Depredations included burning a few shops, demanding food, and being a general nuisance). Some days the town was occupied briefly by Union, and the next day the Confederates were back. It  was a time of great uncertainty in the military and domestic fields. Winter approached and the civilians worried about their food and fuel supply.

19th Century Cooking

The traditional meals of wholesome food in plentiful abundance were disrupted by the war. Food supply became limited and Southern women learned to make-do with what they had through substitution or extension. Soldiers often suffered from poor nutrition caused by the lack of fresh produce. The Union knew that without food the Confederacy could not survive and the Shenandoah Valley (known as the “Bread Basket”) was burned in 1864 to limit the food production.

19th Century Herbs and Medicine

Although some medicines were produced by apothecaries or druggists, the war severely limited the production of these supplies in the Confederacy. Doctors turned to home remedies and herbal medicines to replace the shortages. These natural medicines had been used for centuries and ladies of the home front knew what plants were likely to help sick or injured men.

Supplies For The Army From The Home Front

Ladies didn’t fight as soldiers, but they supported the war effort by sending supplies to the army and keeping up the soldiers’ moral. Clothing, food, bandages, and religious books were sent in large quantities to the troops through individual or group efforts. Without the support of the ladies on the home front, Confederate troops could not have remained in the field and been a successful fighting force.

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2 Responses to Historical Information

  1. Pingback: “Tea & Mystery in Winchester, Virginia” 2014 | Gazette665

  2. Pingback: Photos From Moorpark Civil War Re-enactment 2014 (Part 2) | Gazette665

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