Historical facts and context for Peggy's War come from a variety of sources. The author strives for accuracy in all historical representations. Please email him at [email protected] with comments, questions, and suggested corrections or clarifications. Any substantive changes to the endnotes will be marked in red on this website and incorporated into subsequent editions of the book.  

6      The Rawley Pike took on this name after its promoters formed a toll road company in 1870, according to Wayland (1912), p. 224. Before that, the thoroughfare was simply called the road to Rawley Springs or the “Rawley Road.” Today it is the old alignment of U.S. Highway 33 or “Old 33.”

6      Descriptions of Minnich and his store come from Hess (1979), p. 147, and Suter and Grove (1986), p. 79.

6      The impression of Minnich as “brickety” comes from Hess (1976), p. 250, although Hess spells the word differently.

6      Regarding Minnich’s controversial marriage to the bishop’s daughter, see Coffman (1964), p. 77.

6      The name “Dale Enterprise” originated when Minnich opened his store and post office in 1872.

7      For descriptions of the property taken from the Rhodes farm during General Philip Sheridan’s occupation of the Shenandoah Valley, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 692–713.

7      The description of Lizzie Minnich comes from the photograph on page 80 of Suter and Grove (1986).

8      For transcriptions of testimony supporting Peggy’s claim, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 707–712. Her “foster son” is John H. Bell, a young man who had grown up on the Rhodes farm.

8      “Do you swear to tell the truth …” These are the words that Baldwin used to swear in witnesses, according to Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 702.

8      The precise alternative wording (without swearing) is unknown, but Baldwin clearly gave Peggy the option of swearing or affirming that her testimony was true.

8      Baldwin’s questions come from Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 903–904. Peggy’s replies come from Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 702–703. Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

10    Baldwin’s notation regarding Peggy’s loyalty comes from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 712.

10    The reimbursement to Peggy includes the $519.25 allowed by the commission in 1875 plus $50 that the federal government had paid previously. See the summary chart in Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 712.



11    Descriptions of the Rhodes homestead are based on the author’s observations, oral history among Peggy’s descendants, the Lake (1885) Atlas of Rockingham County, and the 1871 diary of John S. Coffman, who lived on the farm from 1869 through 1873. Little is known about the two houses on the farm except their approximate locations and sizes. The main house accommodated nine or ten people in 1864. The tenant house was adequate for a family of three, but not five, according to Coffman (1964), p. 78.

12    The physical description of Henry is based on assumed family resemblance to his son, William H. Rhodes.

12    The physical description of Mary is based on the Burkholder family photograph on page 101 of Hess (1979). As with Henry and William, the assumption is that Peggy looked like her daughter, who was probably in her late thirties when the Burkholder family photograph was taken.

13    In the nineteenth century, Rockingham residents realized that Mole Hill was different from other hills. One explanation was that Mole Hill was evil or haunted. Other 19th century theories were not much better. Today, geologists believe Mole Hill is the remnant of a volcano.

13    Peggy left no record of her dreams, but another Mennonite woman, who was married to Peggy’s first cousin, had a prophetic barn-burning dream in March 1862, according to Hildebrand (1996), pp. 5–6.

14    The census of 1850 places John Bell in the Rhodes household, and he lived with the family until October 1864, according to Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 709. It is not known why Johnny was living apart from his mother, Sophia Getz Bell, who appears in other Rockingham County households in the censuses of 1850 and 1860.

15    Steiner (1903), p. 15, states that Heatwole taught night classes at a small schoolhouse (probably Walnut Grove) “for the benefit of the boys of the neighborhood.”

15    Mennonite Confession of Faith is an abbreviated name for the Confession of Faith of the Christians Known by the Name of Mennonites, which was translated from German to English by Joseph Funk in 1837.

16    All dialogue and specific actions in chapter one are imaginary but plausible and reasonable. For example, we know that in the late 1850s, farmers in the Shenandoah Valley invariably spent much time spreading manure in April, but we don’t know that Henry and Johnny were spreading manure on April 17, 1858. Unless otherwise noted, this approach applies to all chapters of this book.

16    Regarding the time-consuming task of loading and unloading manure, see Grove (2001), p. 7.

17    Henry’s parents married in 1808, but the actual month and day are unknown, according to Rodes (2023).

17    The idea of a ball of fire rolling down Mole Hill comes from Hess (1979), p. 109. On the same page, Hess discusses longstanding myths that Mole Hill is evil or haunted.



18    Characterizations of work on the Rhodes farm in all chapters of this book are based on the 1871 diary of John S. Coffman.

19    Several sources, including Weaver (1932), pp. 302–303, and Hess (1979), pp. 112–113, refer to Gabriel Heatwole Sr. as a Thomsonian doctor, an herbal physician who followed the methods set forth in Samuel Thomson’s New Guide to Health. Hess states that Doc began studying medicine around 1835, the year of the most recent edition of Thomson’s guide, which is the primary source for this chapter.

19    Based on the date of birth on Priscilla Rhodes’ tombstone in the Shank Cemetery, Peggy would have been pregnant in the fall of 1858.

21    Unless otherwise noted, genealogical connections throughout this book come from Brunk (1987) and Rodes (2023). Information from Brunk (1987) has been supplemented—and in some cases superseded—by tombstone inscriptions and first-hand accounts.

21    Descriptions of Doc and his enterprises come from Hess (1979), pp. 111–119, who quotes Heatwole (1882), p. 12, and other Heatwole family sources.

21    Joseph Heatwole first married Maria Rhodes, who died on March 6, 1852. Joseph then wed her younger sister, Lydia Rhodes, on September 6, 1852. Apparently, the requisite grieving period was exactly six months.

23    Doc “saw patients through a window that opened onto the porch.” Hess (1979), p. 118.

23    Medical discussions in chapters two and three are based on Thomson (1835).



29    Henry suffered from consumption (tuberculosis) for ten years, according to Hess (1979), p. 101.

30    Mottie’s formal name was Elizabeth Good Rhodes. The nickname “Mottie” was noted by Brunk (1943) p. 2, quoting Peggy’s daughter, Mary Rhodes Burkholder.

30    Descriptions of court day and the annual muster of 1859 are based on Hess (1976), pp. 243–244.

30    During World War I, German Street became Liberty Street. See Wayland (1949), p. 184.

30    “General Gilbert S. Meem reviewed …” Wayland (1949), p. 227.

30    Horst (1967), p. 27, put the prewar penalties for missing musters at “50 cents or 75 cents,” which Hartman (1937), p. 49, characterized as “not very heavy.”

31    Symptoms of tuberculous meningitis come from Schoeman (2009), p. 826.

31    Susan’s son, Jacob D. Weaver, died in 1852, soon after he turned two, according to Brunk (1987), p. 671. Jacob’s cause of death is unknown.

32    Doc’s contempt for the diagnosis of “dropsy in the head” is based on Thomson (1835), pp. 126–127. Doc’s treatment of Davy is inspired by the same source.

32    Davy died on May 27, 1859, according to his tombstone in the Shank Cemetery. The Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics lists the cause of death as “unknown,” but given his long-term exposure to consumption, tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is quite plausible. Robert Whytt (1768) gives the classic account of TBM in his Observations on the Dropsy in the Brain. He equates “dropsy in the brain” with hydrocephalus, which is a common complication of TBM.

33    Swartz lived and worked on the nearby farm owned by Peggy’s father, Abraham Heatwole, and her brother, Daniel Heatwole, according to the census of 1860.

34    Davy’s wake is inspired by Coffman (1964), pp. 64–65.

35    The description of the church comes from Brunk (1943), p. 2, quoting L. J. Heatwole’s centennial address of 1926, and from Brunk (1959), pp. 70–71.

35    This graveyard is currently called the Shank Cemetery or the Old Weavers Church Cemetery.

37    The church’s floor plan and seating customs come from Brunk (1943) p. 2, and from Brunk (1959) p. 303, quoting Peggy’s oldest daughter, Mary Rhodes Burkholder.

37    The names of preachers, deacons, deaconesses, and song leaders in 1860 come from Heatwole, Brunk, and Good (1910), pp. 6–10.

37    A photograph of a somewhat older Samuel Coffman appears in Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 626.

38    In the 1871 diary of John S. Coffman, the April 23 entry notes that his father, Sam Coffman, based a sermon on Psalm 103 for the funeral of a small child.

39    According to their adjacent tombstones in the Shank Cemetery, Priscilla was born two days after Davy died.

40    David Rhodes’ death notice appeared in the Rockingham Register on October 14, 1859, p. 2.



41    Henry may or may not have read the Rockingham Register, but Peggy’s second husband, Michael Shank, certainly did. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 537, testimony of Lydia Shank.

41    Grove (2001), p. 14, says young L. J. wore a straw hat made by his mother.

41    Fairview School House replaced Walnut Grove in 1859. See Rhodes (2018), pp. 1–2.

42    “There were 500 to 700 whites and blacks …” Rockingham Register, October 21, 1859, p. 2. This newspaper account, like many early reports of John Brown’s raid, contains errors and exaggerations. Throughout this book, direct quotes from the Rockingham Register are verbatim.

43    Doc’s explanation of nonresistance is paraphrased from Burkholder (1837), p. 312. The biblical reference is Matthew 5:44.

44    Doc’s long list of militia fines appears in Wayland (1930), pp. 132–140.

44    The ox-roast story comes from Hess (1979), p. 109. Other accounts say that celebrants roasted a steer on top of Mole Hill.

44    The Mexican War reference is inspired by Wright (1931), p. 20.

44    “Virginia would be the battlefield …” This quote is borrowed from Rodes and Wenger (2012), p. 815, testimony of Daniel Bowman.

45    Hartman (1937), pp. 47–48, says, “The people were more excited about [John Brown’s] raid than they were when the war really began. Children were afraid to go out of doors.”

45    “A large majority of the villains were killed …” Rockingham Register, October 28, 1859, p. 2.

46    Letters to and from Governor Wise ran in the Rockingham Register on November 11, 1859, p. 2.

46    “We are liable to be attacked at any moment …” Rockingham Register, December 2, 1859, p. 2.

47    “Our Country—Our Soldiery—Our Townswomen.” Ibid.

48    The origin of Mottie’s nickname is pure speculation.

48    There is no direct evidence that Sammy worked on the Rhodes farm, but he clearly spent multiple nights there in the spring of 1862. See Rhodes (1864), pp. 11–12. It was not uncommon for Henry’s nephews to work on the Rhodes farm, according to diary entries in Coffman (1871).

48    Sammy’s age comes from Rhodes (1864), p. 1. Clues regarding his personality come from his entire journal.

48    The newspaper’s endorsement of Douglas ran in the Rockingham Register on June 29, 1860, p. 2.

48    “Black Republicans …” The scornful term “Black Republicans” referred derisively to those Republicans who allegedly advocated abolition.

49    Governor Letcher’s endorsement of Douglas appeared in the Rockingham Register on September 7, 1860, p. 2.

49    D. M. Switzer’s attempt at humor ran in the Rockingham Register on September 28, 1860, p. 2.

50    “It’s Lincoln!” This exclamation is based on Coffman (1964), p. 24.



51    “REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTH …” Rockingham Register, November 16, 1860, p. 2.

51    Expressions of great loss at the death of Martin Burkholder are based on his obituary, which ran in the Rockingham Register on December 28, 1860. The final tribute was signed D**** H******, which probably stood for David Hartman.

52    “Federal troops had fled …” This ominous news from Charleston, S.C., ran in the Rockingham Register on January 4, 1861, p. 2.

52    The announcement of a state convention to consider secession appeared in the Rockingham Register on January 18, 1861, p. 2.

52    Several letters from convention candidates ran in the Rockingham Register on January 25, 1861, pp. 2–3.

52    “We are most happy to announce …” This uncharacteristic spurt of optimism appeared in the Rockingham Register on January 25, 1861, p. 2.

53    The results of the election ran in the Rockingham Register on February 8, 1861, p. 2.

53    “I’m not talking about preacher Sam Coffman …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 880, testimony of Christian Showalter.

53    The comment from John Tyler appeared in the Rockingham Register on February 15, 1861, p. 3.

54    “The Tunkers and Mennonites do not hold slaves …” Rockingham Register, February 15, 1861, p. 2.

54    The term “Dunkers” often was meant to include Mennonites as well, according to Horst (1967), p. 9.

54    See Horst (1967), p. 16: “The stress of the Dunkers on immersion as the only rightful mode of baptism could not be accepted by the Mennonites.”

54    Suzy joined the Mennonite Church in 1870, according to her obituary in the Herald of Truth, May 1873, vol. 10, no. 5, p. 87.

55    The letter from George Chrisman ran in the Rockingham Register on March 8, 1861, p. 1.

55    The lopsided vote against secession was noted by Horst (1967), p. 23.

55    “OPENING OF CIVIL WAR!” Rockingham Register, April 19, 1861, p. 2.

56    Lincoln called for 75,000 militia men, but the Register incorrectly reported 70,000. On the following day, Secretary of War Simon Cameron sent a communiqué to governors specifying each state’s quota.

57    See Hartman (1937), p. 48: “When Lincoln soon called for 75,000 men to whip the Southern states back into the Union and looked for Virginia to furnish her quota, Virginia rose up in rebellion.”

56    “My granddaddy and Abraham Lincoln’s great-granddaddy …” Lincoln’s great-grandfather, John Lincoln, moved from Pennsylvania to Linville Creek in 1768. He died in 1788, four years after Henry’s grandfather, Heinrich Roth, moved his family from Pennsylvania to the same area, according to Showalter (2000), p. 16.

57    The call for a new bishop appears on page 18 of Heatwole, Brunk, and Good (1910). The clarification on the use of slave labor is on page 20.

57    See Yoder (2015), p. 71, for similar wording used in a ministerial lot at Weavers Church in 1887.

57    Daniel S. Heatwole “pledged himself to unfalteringly stand with and by Bishop Coffman,” according to Brunk (1959), p. 317.

57    “TO THE POLLS!” Rockingham Register, May 17, 1861, p. 2.

58    “We have heard that some of our peaceful …” Ibid.

58    Algernon Gray’s alleged change of heart was reported by the Register on May 17, 1861, p. 2.

59    There is no direct evidence that anyone tried to influence Henry’s vote, but conversations similar to this imaginary one are well-documented in all six volumes of Rodes and Wenger (2003­–2012). Lineweaver was one of the few men near Weavers Church who was neither Mennonite nor Dunker. One of his sons, William T. Lineweaver, joined the Confederate army at age seventeen, but after the war, he married into the Wenger family and joined the Mennonite Church, according to his obituary in the Gospel Herald, June 22, 1933, vol. 26, no. 12, p. 255.

59    “Governor Letcher turned Lincoln down flat …” This quote is based on Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 44.

59    Lineweaver’s unified-front argument is paraphrased from Ayers (2003), p. 155, quoting Alexander H. H. Stuart, a prominent Unionist leader in Augusta County, who changed his position after Lincoln ordered Virginia to provide troops. Witnesses before the Southern Claims Commission quite often cite the unified-front argument as the reason why quite a few Mennonites and Dunkers voted for secession.

60    Peggy testified that Henry did not vote for secession and often spoke against it, according to Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703.

60    “Then you better change your mind …” This quote is paraphrased from attorney G. K. Gilmer, who was summarizing the threatening rhetoric that preceded the referendum on secession. See Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 70. For specific examples, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 369, testimony of Henry Early; pp. 443–444, testimony of Daniel Bowman; p. 659, testimony of David Hartman; and p. 813, testimony of John Brunk.

61    “You’re a damn Black Republican …” This quote is inspired by Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 839, testimony of Daniel J. Good.

61    “MAKE WAY FOR ROCKINGHAM!” Rockingham Register, May 24, 1861, p. 2.

61    The full name of Sammy’s older brother was Henry L. Rhodes. To avoid confusion, this book refers to him as H. L.

61    For a summary of conditions at the polls, see Rodes and Wenger (2005),
p. 18: “The fact that the vote was taken by voice rather than by written ballot magnified the fear and danger felt by loyalist voters.”

61    The description of how members of the Mount Crawford Cavalry voted comes from Rodes and Wenger (2003), pp. 70–71, testimony of S. E. Chamberlin, a special agent of the Southern Claims Commission.

61    “According to the newspaper, no one voted against secession at Mount Crawford …” See the Rockingham Register, May 24, 1861, p. 2, which provides a breakdown of voting by precinct.

62    The harassment of John Harrison at Mount Crawford is documented in Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 76, p. 108, p. 158, p. 172, p. 184, and p. 400. These pages include testimony from Sammy’s brother, Henry L. Rhodes.

62    “Reverend Perry preached ’em outta it …” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 288, testimony of Rev. William S. Perry.

62    “They still arrested him …” See Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 400, testimony of congressman John T. Harris, who said he “advised taking him (Harrison) before a magistrate and requiring him to give security for his good behavior, which he did, and this appeased public sentiment, and he was discharged and sent home.”



63    See Heatwole (1905), p. 207: “A few of the younger brethren went into the army with the first volunteers.”

64    Weaver (1932), pp. 302–303, notes that fourth-Sunday services at Weavers Church began at 10 a.m.

65    Timothy Funk was a son of Joseph Funk, who produced hymn books and provided musical instruction. Timothy led singing schools at Weavers Church on Saturdays. See Heatwole, Brunk, and Good (1910), p. 18.

65    The wording and tone of this message come from the “Notice to Conscripts” that appeared on the front page of the Rockingham Register on August 14, 1863. The content of this message is based on a letter dated June 24, 1861, from Lieutenant Colonel George Deas to General Joseph E. Johnston.

66    The Weavers Mennonite Church conscription story comes from accounts in Hartman (1937), p. 49, and in Coffman (1964), p. 26.

66    “The time of conflict for our people has arrived …” The quotes from Bishop Coffman are based on Coffman (1964), p. 26.

67    “Even as many of his Mennonite neighbors reported for duty …” Hartman (1937), p. 49.

67    Hartman (1937), p. 50, states that a time was appointed on July 4 “for a delegation from the South and one from the North to get together to see if they could not come to an agreement.”

67    Descriptions of the comet and its exploding debris come from Hartman (1937), p. 50, and from Funk (1900), p. 444, quoting the July 4, 1861, diary entry of Elder John Kline.

68    “Here’s a letter addressed ‘To the Tunkers, Mennonites, and others opposed to war.’” Rockingham Register, July 5, 1861, p. 2.

69    Michael Shank was the son of Jacob Shank, who ran a depot on the underground railroad near Weavers Church. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 530–537, for details of Michael Shank’s unceremonious removal. (Many years after the war, Michael Shank married Peggy.)

69    “The scouts carried him off in his shirt sleeves …” This quote comes from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 535, testimony of Daniel Bowman.

69    Regarding medical exemptions, see the Rockingham Register, July 12, 1861, p. 1. Also, see Rhodes (1864), p. 2.

70    “I guess you’re not too sick to make babies …” There is no evidence that conscription scouts insulted Henry, but they certainly harassed other Mennonite and Dunker men in western Rockingham. See Rodes and Wenger (2005).

71    Henry’s fake hemorrhage is imaginary, but it illustrates the fact that Mennonites in Rockingham County at the time of the Civil War were not completely nonresistant.



72    See Funk (1900), pp. 444–445, Kline’s diary entry for July 21, 1861: “A report of negroes breaking out and committing fearful outrages flew as on the wings of the wind. Women were frightened and men dismayed. It was, however, soon discovered to be false.”

72    “We’ll all be dead by morning …” Sammy’s quote is borrowed from Morgan (c1942), p. 2.

72    “They were compelled, because of the horrid stench …” Rockingham Register, August 2, 1861, p. 1.

73    “That’s only once …” Henry’s optimistic quote comes from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 704, Peggy’s testimony.

73    The fall furloughs are mentioned in Hartman (1937), p. 53, and in Heatwole (1905), p. 208.

73    Christian Good’s no-shoot story comes from Hartman (1937), p. 51, and from L. J. Heatwole’s letter to J. S. Hartzler dated December 11, 1918, and published in the Mennonite Historical Bulletin of June 1972. The story varies somewhat between these two sources.

74    Singing in the military camps comes from Heatwole (1905), p. 208, and from Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 59.

75    Brunk, Hartman, Good, and Shank ran active depots on the underground railroad in the Weavers Church area, according to their testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2005). John Wenger also concealed refugees but did not claim to operate a depot.

75    Regarding Wenger’s denomination, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 787.

75    An apple butter pig is apple butter baked inside a sleeve of pie dough.

76    Descriptions of Kline come from Langhorne (1886) and Funk (1900).

76    Hess (1979), p. 112, says that Doc purchased Samuel Thomson’s “home study course” around 1835, and Kline was so impressed he ordered one, too. “These two friends both became excellent herb doctors who frequently consulted one another on difficult cases.” Heatwole (1995), p. 51, states that Doc and Kline “often went off on herb gathering expeditions together.”

76    There is no doubt that Kline’s extensive travels through the mountains would have provided invaluable contacts and intelligence for establishing and maintaining the underground railroad. There is no direct evidence that Kline was the mastermind of the underground in Rockingham County, but he would have been well-qualified for the job.

77    “It has become my considered opinion that Dunkers and Mennonites must work together …” Based on Horst (1967), pp. 41–42 and 115, and on Rodes and Wenger (all six volumes), it seems clear that Mennonites and Dunkers worked well together to organize an underground railroad, but Funk (1900) makes no mention of such cooperation. It is possible that Funk intentionally excluded diary entries that documented Kline’s direct involvement. Funk may have done this to avoid rekindling animosity against Dunkers and Mennonites. This theory also might explain why Funk destroyed Kline’s diary after publishing selected excerpts in 1900.

77    “Many of the brethren have already expressed to me their determination to flee …” Funk (1900) p. 446, Kline’s diary entry for December 20, 1861.

77    “What I propose is an underground railroad …” Mennonites and Dunkers used the term “underground railroad” to describe their escape network, but there is little evidence that Mennonites and Dunkers used their network to help fugitive slaves. Colby (1928), pp. 584–585, says, “There was no regular Underground Railway [for fugitive slaves] among the Mennonites.”

77    On August 10, 1861, Confederate forces won the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri, according to the “Civil War Timeline” of the U.S. National Park Service.

78    “This here’s the perfect place for hidin’ draft dodgers and deserters.” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703, Peggy’s testimony.

78    Brunk testified that he hid fugitives in the church and at his house. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 812.

79    At some point during the war—perhaps even before the war—Peggy took charge of the Rhodes farm. The testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 702–712, always refers to Peggy acting alone. Henry is barely mentioned as “an invalid.” The testimony of Bishop Sam Coffman certainly suggests, however, that Henry approved of Peggy’s Unionist actions. “He was a sound Union man,” Coffman said, “and was in perfect accord with the acts of the claimant (Peggy), so far as I could learn and judge.”

80    “He was raccoon clever.” Later in life, Swartz designed a “grasshopper gate” that could be opened and closed from a buggy or horse by pulling a rope or lever. See Swope Family History Committee (1971), p. 22.

84    Southern voters elected Jefferson Davis on November 6, 1861.

84    Regarding troop movement through Harrisonburg, see the Rockingham Register, December 6, 1861, p. 2. The four regiments were quite likely the First Georgia, the Third Arkansas, the Twenty-Third Virginia, and the Thirty-Seventh Virginia. They marched from Monterey to Manassas in December 1861, according to Taylor (1975), p. 37.

85    Weather conditions in this chapter—and in all subsequent chapters—come from the journals and diaries of Samuel Rhodes, Jedediah Hotchkiss, Jacob Hildebrand, Henry Saint John Rinker, and John Kline.

85    The surge in underground activity in the winter of 1862 is based on Hartman (1937), p. 53.



87    The reporting date of March 14 comes from Hildebrand (1996), pp. 4–5, diary entry for March 14, 1862. “Today I have to report in Staunton and from there to Winchester.”

87    “It also struck my mind that maybe this was some trap …” This quote comes from Rhodes (1864), p. 2.

88    “He’s been drivin’ teams for the rebels …” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 273, testimony of Henry L. Rhodes.

88    “The Rhodes depot was overflowing with refugees …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703. Peggy testified that she hid “five or six together at a time and would stay sometimes several days waiting for the guides to take them through the mountains.” The assumption is that all depots near Weavers Church would have been busy on the evening of March 13, 1862, as seventy-plus refugees were preparing to flee.

89    Several accounts place Brunk and Rodgers in this refugee group, but there is no direct evidence that they, or Peter Blosser, were at the Rhodes depot on March 13.

89    Regarding young Peter Hartman’s role as a guide, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 663.

89    See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 109, quoting from an interview with Simeon Heatwole, one of Doc’s sons. Heatwole stated that the group “started from Samuel Beery’s near Crissman’s and went through Hopkins Gap.” Berry and Chrisman (slightly different spellings for both) appear near Hopkins Gap on the 1866 Map of Rockingham County by Hotchkiss.

90    The religious affiliations of the group come from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 108, quoting Simeon Heatwole, and from Zigler (1914), p. 105, quoting a 1906 letter from David M. Miller.

90    Blosser (1888), p. 135, claims the group was “under the guidance of Brother Daniel Suters,” and according to Emanuel Suter’s testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 829, Daniel Suter (Emanuel’s father) was among the seventy-plus men. Daniel Suter’s name, however, does not appear among the forty-five men who were recommended for exemptions in Richmond. One likely explanation for this omission is that Suter was too old for military duty and therefore did not need an exemption. Brunk (1959), p. 155, states that Joseph Heatwole, “was the leader of the apprehended group.” This could be true, or Brunk may have assumed that Heatwole was the leader because he was riding at the front of the group when it was captured.

91    “They spilled out onto a wagon road …” Given the timeline that emerges from first-hand accounts, the refugees traveled about thirty-five miles in roughly twenty hours to reach the farm where they spent the next night. This quick pace suggests that the seventy-plus men and thirty-plus horses took the most direct route possible using the best roads available after they crossed Little North Mountain.

91    Dovesville is now called Bergton.

91    The road that leads to the top of the Shenandoah Mountain is now called Overly Hollow Road.

92    On the west side of the Shenandoah Mountain, the road is now called Peru Hollow Road, but the alignment of that road has shifted since 1862.

93    “Welcome to Judy’s on the South Fork.” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 109, quoting Simeon Heatwole. Please note that Kline’s diary entries in Funk (1900) refer to “Judy’s on the South Fork” and “Nimrod Judy’s” interchangeably. This farm is currently run by George and David Judy, great-great-grandsons of Nimrod and Mary Ann Judy.

93    Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 61, note that Petersburg “at times was occupied by Union forces.”

94    Adam Ketterman was one Kline’s many friends in the mountains west of the Shenandoah. See Funk (1900), p. 400, Kline’s diary entry for October 8, 1857. There is no evidence that Ketterman advised the refugees, but they probably walked right past his home.

94    Crossing the swollen river would have been dangerous on March 15, but Brunk’s near-drowning experience is imaginary.

95    “You gotta take yer horses back over …” Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 66 and 109, quoting the first-hand accounts of Joseph A. Miller and Simeon Heatwole, respectively.

95    “A clamorous undertaking that entertained the townsfolk …” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 66, quoting Joseph Miller.

95    Stories of the group’s capture vary somewhat. For first-hand accounts, see Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 109, quoting Simeon Heatwole, and Zigler (1914), p. 104–105, quoting the 1906 letter from David Miller.

95    “Oh, brethren! Pray mightily unto God …” See Brunk (1959), p. 155.

96    “By my own word of honor, I have no right to bother you.” This quote is inspired by Hartman (1937), pp. 55–56.

96    “Don’t you dare feel sorry ...” Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 68 and 109, quoting the accounts of Joseph Miller and Simeon Heatwole, respectively.

96    “The damn Union rascals ought to be shot.” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2004), p. 329, testimony of John Geil.

96    The “disarming” story comes primarily from Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 68 and 109, quoting the accounts of Joseph Miller and Simeon Heatwole, respectively.

96    “That is very good, you can keep that kind of sword.” Ibid. 

97    The group spent the night at John Bond’s place on North Mill Creek, according to Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 69 and 109–110, quoting the accounts of Joseph Miller and Simeon Heatwole, respectively.

97    See the summary of Bond’s life in “Senate Concurrent Resolution 54,” introduced on March 1, 2016, to the West Virginia Legislature.

97    “Many people in this part of the county remain loyal ...” This quote is based on Taylor (1975), p. 4. Pendleton County was predominately Southern in sentiment, but “a minority of citizens concentrated in the county’s northwest corner remained loyal to the Union, banding together in military companies to protect their homes and farms from Confederate guerrillas and regulars.” Also, see West Virginia Legislature (2016) regarding Bond’s role in leading this Unionist home guard, which became known as “Swamp Dragons.”

98    The story of Blosser’s escape and return to the valley is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 598, quoting the second-hand account of Blosser’s son, Samuel H. Blosser. The younger Blosser’s journal is in the Eastern Mennonite University Archives.



100  On page 2 of Rhodes (1864), Sammy identified his starting point as “Pleasant Run near J. B. Mill.” Byerly’s Mill appears on Pleasant Run on the 1866 Map of Rockingham County by Hotchkiss.

100  Unless otherwise noted, Sammy’s travels in the western Rockingham mountains are based on his journal: Rhodes (1864), pp. 2–10.

100  Peter S. Heatwole was a grandson of Doc and the oldest son of Joseph Heatwole and his first wife, Maria Rhodes, who was Henry’s deceased sister. At this point, Sammy’s journal does not mention that Peter or H. L. are with him, but their presence becomes obvious on subsequent pages.

100  Henry L. Rhodes testified that his group was “one day behind the party of 70.” Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 273.

101  According to Horst (1980), p. 285, note 14, Dry River Road “paralleled the Dry River, via Rawley Springs, deep into the mountains.” Also, see the 1866 Map of Rockingham County by Hotchkiss.

101  “They arrived at the home of Henry May …” See Rhodes (1864), p. 3. Sammy does not name the occupant of this house, but May lived at the head of Dry River and was later arrested for assisting deserters, according to the Rockingham Register, October 9, 1863, p. 2. Another reasonable assumption is that Henry May was John H. May, who testified before the Southern Claims Commission that his brother-in-law, Martin Beery, was in the group of seventy-plus. See Rodes and Wenger (2004), p. 367.

101  “A rugged path north to the Pendleton Road …” See Rhodes (1864), p. 3. Sammy called this route the “Petersburg Road,” but it was more likely the Pendleton Road, which later became Little Dry River Road.

103  This pivotal moment of uncertainty is based on Rhodes (1864), p. 6.

103  “The rebels stopped for the night and took charge of some additional deserters …” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 69. Joseph Miller mentions these six or seven additional prisoners but provides no information about them.

104  The nighttime interrogations at Franklin is based on Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 69 and 110, quoting Joseph Miller and Simeon Heatwole, respectively.

104  “It’s against our faith and contrary to the Gospel to fight and kill our fellow man …” This quote is paraphrased from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 69. Joseph Miller did not identify any of the other five men who were questioned, but Brunk could have been one of them.

104  “Up North there’s a law that allows men who object to war …” This quote is inspired by Wright (1931), p. 124, who notes that President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton were both somewhat sympathetic toward conscientious objectors.

105  “I say you’re nothin’ but a bunch of horse thieves!” This quote is based on Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 110, quoting Simeon Heatwole: “There was an attempt made the next morning to frighten them that they might have an excuse, as was supposed, to capture their horses.”

105  Regarding the night spent at Monterey, see Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 69, quoting Miller. Also, see Blosser (1886), obituary of Joseph Heatwole, regarding the role of the Churchville Cavalry. Blosser states that the seventy-plus men were captured by the Churchville Cavalry, but this seems to conflict with other accounts of the group being captured by “parolees.” On March 25, 1862, the Staunton Spectator reported that the prisoners were “brought to this place ... under charge of some of the members of the Churchville Cavalry.” One possible explanation is that the parolees captured the men and turned them over to the Churchville Cavalry at some point.

105  “One of the Dunkers just kept going …” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 81 and p. 110. The escapee was David Sanger, the oldest brother of S. F. Sanger, who was Hays’ co-author.

105  “Gentlemen, I will trust to your honor tonight.” This quote and the story of the foiled escape plan come from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 70.

106  “The cavalry confined them to the courthouse and posted guards …” Waddell (1888), p. 293, diary entry for March 19, 1862.

106  “We lost our horses, but at least we have plenty to eat.” This quote is based on Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 70.

106  “Don’t tell them that they have to go to Richmond tomorrow …” Ibid.

106  Taking crackers with them onto the train. Ibid.

107  “Prisoners almost invariably asserted that the boxcars into which they were crowded were unclean cattle cars,” according to Coulter (1950), p. 471.

107  Trains at the time were capable of going about fifty miles per hour, according to the Rockingham Register, January 7, 1859, p. 1.

107  “Many of the boxcar brethren expected to die ...” Brunk (1959), p. 155.

108  The railroad from Staunton to Richmond passed through Rockfish Gap via the Blue Ridge Tunnel, which is not quite one mile long.

108  According to Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 70, the ride to Richmond lasted “all day and part of the night.” This length of time suggests that the train made several stops.

108  “Broad is the Road that Leads to Death.” There is no record of what hymns the prisoners sang, but these lyrics by Isaac Watts appear in both Mennonite and Dunker hymn books used at the time of the Civil War.

109  The train stations mentioned in this chapter were some of the larger ones between Staunton and Richmond, according to the Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Virginia Central Railroad Company, 1862, p. 35.

109  “They had to get away from Brock’s Gap ...” Sammy’s adventures in this section of chapter nine are based on Rhodes (1864), pp. 6–9.



112  “The larger group of refugees arrived in Richmond around midnight on March 20.” This date is based on the Staunton Spectator of March 25, 1862.

112  See the 1864 Map of Richmond by Adams. Based on this map and on Joseph Miller’s account, the group likely spent the night in the “machine shop” on the southwest corner of Cary Street and 17th Street.

112  “Gentlemen, this is the best we can do for you tonight.” This quote comes from Joseph Miller’s account in Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 70–71.

113  “Indeed, this would not be an easy night.” Ibid.

113  “Then the guards marched them two blocks east to Castle Thunder.” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 81. Other sources, such as Hartman (1937), have claimed that this group was held at nearby Libby Prison, but Horst (1967), pp. 52–53, asserts that far more evidence points to Castle Thunder.

113  “Looking down from a south-facing window, Brunk could see …” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 110, quoting Simeon Heatwole. Vintage photographs of the building show barred windows on both the second and third floors, but the higher floor would have provided the view of the canal and river that Heatwole describes.

113  The keepers of Castle Thunder became notorious for abusing political prisoners, but the Mennonites and Dunkers apparently were treated better than inmates held there later in the war. See Coulter (1950), p. 89.

113  “He thought his life would soon be over …” See the obituary for Gabriel D. Heatwole Jr. in the Gospel Herald, March 9, 1922, vol. 14, no. 49, p. 975.

114  “This was particularly painful for him …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 958, the medical exemption form for Gabriel D. Heatwole Jr.

114  Joseph Miller did not specify which twelve men were selected for questioning. See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 71.

114  “I am a habeas corpus commissioner …” Neely (1999), pp. 81–85.

115  “Now I am going to ask you a number of questions …” This quote is paraphrased from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 71, quoting Joseph Miller, who also gave examples of the questions.

116  Muster fines increased dramatically as expectations of war escalated. See Heatwole (1905), p. 207.

116  “They mustered me into the 146th Virginia ...” Horst (1967), p. 30, quoting the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers.

117  “I was furloughed for five months …” Ibid.

117  “Would you feed the enemy if he came to your home?” This question and answer are paraphrased from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 71.

118  “This book explains our beliefs better than I can …” See Burkholder (1837), pp. 295–313.

118  Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 111, mention Hopkins’ visit. Gray’s presence at Castle Thunder is assumed because of his well-known efforts to free the men.

119  “It won’t be easy, but this little book will help ...” Blosser (1888), p. 138, says the Mennonite Confession of Faith was “brought into court at Richmond by Algernon S. Gray.”

119  “Tell your families that you are safe, for now, …” This quote is based on Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 82. They note that “letters were allowed to pass in and out of prison.”

119  “Benjamin Byerly, an influential Dunker from Rockingham, visited the prisoners …” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 111.

119  Examples of Kline’s letters to Confederate officials appear in Horst (1967), pp. 65–84.

119  “Some of the legislators suggested that the men could work as teamsters …” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 71.

120  For a summary of the exemption act, see Zigler (1914), pp. 101–102.

120  “On March 28, Baxter issued a report to the war department …” See Horst (1967), p. 53. “Stonewall Brigade” was often used to refer to Jackson’s entire army rather than the original regiments that famously fought under his command at Manassas.

121  “The fact that two parolees captured all of you boys without a fight …” This quote comes from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 73. It’s not clear whether Gray’s comment referred to passage of the Virginia exemption law in March or passage of the Confederate conscription law in October, but the sentiment is the same.

121  “Baxter sent another report to the war department on March 31.” See “Report of S. S. Baxter,” Official Records, Series II, vol. 3, p. 385, quoted on page 54 of Horst (1967).

121  “All militia men will promptly report themselves and avoid the mortification of arrest …” Jackson’s order, dated March 31, 1862, was recorded in a notice signed by Lieutenant Colonel John R. Jones of the 33rd Regiment of Virginia Volunteers. This original document resides in the Eastern Mennonite University Archives.



122  Horst (1967), p. 58, states that Doc and Kline were “being closely watched.” Details of Doc’s arrest are imaginary but plausible.

123  “Doc was surprised to see his son-in-law, Hugh Brunk, among them.” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 109.

124  “They took our gold …” Staunton Spectator, March 25, 1862, p. 1.

124  “We spent a day or two at Mount Jackson …” Sanger and Hays (1907), pp. 61–65, quoting the first-hand account of J. M. Cline.

124  “The guards pushed Elder Kline into the room.” Funk (1900), p. 448, Kline’s diary entry for April 5, 1862.

124  For a biographical sketch of Joseph Beery, see Wenger (1905), pp. 24–25.

124  “I voted against secession and made no apologies ...” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 532, testimony of P. H. Showalter.

124  Doc Heatwole gave only a brief account of his imprisonment with Kline and Beery. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 442: “We were taken as the head Union men.”

124  “Men’s hearts are failing them for fear.” This quote is borrowed from Funk (1900), p. 440, Kline’s diary entry for April 21, 1861.

125  “He’s one of the few who voted against secession …” This quote is inspired by Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 573, quoting S. E. Chamberlin, a special agent of the Southern Claims Commission.

125  The location of the jury room within the courthouse is based on Funk (1900), pp. 448 and 452, quoting Kline’s diary entries for April 5 and 10, 1862, respectively. The description of the room is derived from the photograph of the courthouse that appears on page 230 of Hess (1976).

125  “Send up a dozen cakes …” This quote is based on Hess (1976), p. 244.

125  “On Sunday morning, Kline did what he could to lift the men’s spirits.” See Funk (1900), p. 448, quoting Kline’s diary entry for April 6, 1862.

126  “The Lord into His Garden Comes.” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 80. Sanger recalled his family singing this song on the night before his brother, David, left with the group of seventy-plus. See the Brethren Hymnal of 1901.

126  “We are in prison close confined.” Hartman (1937), p. 57, says that this song was composed by the prisoners in Richmond, but Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 156, say the verses were written by the young men at Mount Jackson, and the chorus was added by Kline at the Rockingham Courthouse. These four verses come from the arrangement given on pages 156–157 of Sanger and Hays (1907). The lyrics vary slightly from those that appear on pages 57–58 of Hartman (1937).

128  “Righteousness, Temperance, and the Judgment to Come.” See Funk (1900), pp. 448–452, for a more complete version of Kline’s sermon.

130  “The guards allowed some Dunker men to visit the prisoners …” Funk (1900), p. 452, Kline’s diary entry for April 7, 1862.

130  “These men are becoming sick.” Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 64, quoting the account of J. M. Cline.

130  “The guards are not providing enough wood ...” This quote is based on Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 129, quoting a biographical sketch of Kline written by Benjamin Funk.

130  “The rebel rags, however, were filled with nothing but enthusiasm for war.” Funk (1900), p. 452, Kline’s diary entries for April 8–9, 1862.

131  “They are so broken down by the sad state of the country …” This quote is based on Funk (1900), p. 452, Kline’s diary entry for April 9, 1862.

131  “The friendly guard allowed them to have visitors again.” See Funk (1900), p. 452, Kline’s diary entry for April 10. The assumption is that these Dunkers were the same ones who had visited Kline on April 7.

131  “Your dear wife carries sunshine with her wherever she goes.” Ibid.

131  “When it came time for Catherine to leave …” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 146, quoting from Hays’ interview of Catherine Showalter.

131  “Confederate soldiers marching north …” Funk (1900), p. 452, Kline’s diary entry for April 10, 1862. The assumption is that these soldiers were marching north to reinforce Jackson’s army at Rude’s Hill.

131  “An article that branded the prisoners as traitors …” See Zigler (1914), pp. 109–110: “On the 11th of April there appeared in the columns of the Register an article that displeased Elder Kline.” This issue of the Register could not be found, but the gist of the letter can be inferred from Kline’s response to it.

132  “I can see the bullet hole in the ceiling.” Sanger and Hays (1907) describe this attack on pages 64–65, quoting the account of J. M. Cline, but Funk (1900) makes no mention of this remarkable incident. It is impossible to know whether Kline failed to record it or whether Funk chose not to include it, but no diary entries appear for April 11 and 12, the days when this attack most likely occurred.



135  “Kline preached another sermon …” Funk (1900), p. 452.

135  “More food arrived ...” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 143, who quote a letter from Rebecca Bowman. Also, see Zigler (1914), p. 112.

135  “The guards released John and Joseph Cline …” Funk (1900), p. 453.

135  “It was Kline’s turn to be sick.” Ibid.

135  “Mr. Editor of the Register …” The Register never published Kline’s response, and Funk (1900) makes no mention of the letter, but a photocopy and transcription of the letter appear on pages 109–111 of Zigler (1914).

136  “Speak only in English or I will arrest you …” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 444, testimony of Daniel Bowman.

137  The release of prisoners at Judge Smith’s place is based on Zigler (1914), p. 108, quoting Daniel Miller. The assumption is that “the Judge Smith place” is Smithland, the mansion built by Daniel Smith, one of the first justices of Rockingham County.

137  The stop at Bethlehem Church comes from Zigler (1914), p. 109.

137  “The provost marshal authorized the guards to release the prisoners …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 442, Doc’s testimony: “We got released that time (underscore added) by the near approach of General Banks’ army.” The words “that time” are intriguing because they imply that Doc may have been arrested along with Kline and/or Beery on other occasions.

138  “I am an old man, and I do not want to die in prison.” This quote is paraphrased from Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 369. Given that Beery admitted taking the oath of allegiance “in order to effect my release,” it seems likely that his captors would have required his fellow prisoners to take the oath as well. Another courthouse prisoner, George S. Wine, denied taking the oath of allegiance. See Rodes and Wenger (2007), p. 1023. Wine said, “I was compelled upon being released to swear that I would not during the war give aid and comfort to the United States.” It is worth noting that Wine and the other younger prisoners were being held for dodging the draft, while Kline, Doc, and Beery were being held on the more serious charge of treason. Perhaps this distinction explains the conflict in testimony. The guards also may have singled out Beery because of his vote against secession.

138  The guards also released Kline on that day, but historians who have studied his life insist that he would not have sworn the oath of allegiance.

138  “The Mennonites and Dunkers of the valley …” See Horst (1967), p. 62: “The death sentence [for desertion] was carried out sufficiently often to impress the public.”

138  “We don’t have much of that …” Confederate currency was already losing value quickly in the spring of 1862. See Ashby (1914), p. 68.

139  “I have never seen people rise so generously to any cause.” This quote is based on Hartman (1937), p. 59.

139  Brunk (1959), p. 158, names Emanuel Suter as the person appointed to carry the funds to Richmond to pay the fines for the Mennonite prisoners.

139  “He heard someone tapping on the bedroom window …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 645, quoting the testimony of Daniel P. Good: “He made his escape and came back to my house, and gave a signal warning on my window.” The assumption throughout this book is that this signal was the same for all depots and safe houses in Rockingham.

139  “Henry Brunk, and I got Charles Rodgers with me.” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703. Peggy testified that Henry Brunk hid at the Rhodes depot “for nearly a year” and that “another man named Charles Rodgers, who was captured with the 70 and sent to Richmond, was put into the Rebel Army and he ran away and came and staid at our house several weeks.” It seems likely that Brunk and Rodgers both deserted on April 18, as Jackson’s army was retreating through Harrisonburg.

139  “Pap” is John Brunk, a cousin who helped raise Henry Brunk after his parents died, according to the journal of Samuel H. Brunk, which appears on pages 939–953 of Rodes and Wenger (2005).

140  The story of Brunk’s desertion comes from Erb (c1944), p. 19.

140  The names of the two Dunker emissaries to Richmond come from Zigler (1914), pp. 105 and 107.

140  “Two days ago, the Confederate Congress passed a conscription act …” See Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, Passed at the First Session of the First Congress; 1862, edited by James M. Matthews. Chapter 31: “An Act to Further Provide for the Public Defense,” April 16, 1862. Also see Horst (1967), p. 122, note 35. Horst speculates that the Richmond prisoners were released on April 14 (two days before the Confederate Congress passed this act), but that date seems highly unlikely in light of the 1906 letter from David Miller published in Zigler (1914). Based on Miller’s timeline, a much more likely release date is April 21.

141  “General Johnston called out Virginia militia ...” This quote is based on a letter from Lieutenant Colonel George Deas to General Joseph E. Johnston, dated June 24, 1861.

141  The conversation between Baxter and Byerly is imaginary, but it does provide a plausible explanation for why the fines and affidavits were not immediately accepted. According to Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 72, Baxter attributed the delay to “the press of business,” which was probably true in a general sense, but the conflict between the Virginia law and the Confederate law would have been obvious to Baxter.

141  For more information on the Rockingham Rebellion, see Chambers (1959), p. 483; Casler (1971), pp. 69–70 and 302–303; Also, see Hotchkiss (1973), pp. 17 and 21.

142  “The war department has decided …” This imaginary quote provides one possible explanation for why the prisoners were released despite the new Confederate conscription law. Another plausible explanation is simply delayed enforcement. See Zigler (1914), p. 113: “This (Confederate) act was passed April 16, 1862, and shortly after (underscore added) the return of the Brethren, it was being executed.”

142  “Each prisoner must take an oath …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 454, testimony of Joseph Heatwole. “I took some oath to get my release. I think it was, not to engage in war against the Confederate States. I am sure it was not the oath of allegiance.”

142  “Now you can all go home.” This quote comes from Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 111, testimony of Simeon Heatwole.

142  “Arriving on April 23 …” This homecoming date—which differs by one week from the timeline proposed by Horst (1967)—comes from Zigler (1914), quoting the 1906 letter from David Miller. “We started about five weeks before April 17, 1862,” the birthday of Miller’s son. “I was gone six weeks, and when I got back, the boy was a week old.”



144  “By the time the prisoners returned from Richmond, Banks’ army had taken control of Harrisonburg.” Chambers (1959), p. 480, states that Banks sent his advance guard into Harrisonburg on April 22.

145  Unless otherwise noted, Sammy’s adventures in chapter thirteen are based on Rhodes (1864), pp. 9–19.

145  Abraham D. Heatwole lived very close to Sammy’s family. Abraham was a first cousin to Peggy, whose father’s name was also Abraham Heatwole.

145  “H. L.’s gonna claim the religious exemption …” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 273.

146  “He arrived at Doc’s house at noon …” Rhodes (1864), p. 12. Sammy’s statement that Henry picked him up at Doc’s place on May 1, 1862, is the only documentation of Henry leaving the Rhodes farm during the war.

147  A. J. Bowers was Andrew Jackson Bowers. He was ordained by the Reformed Church in 1875, according to the “Acts and Proceedings of the Synod of the Potomac of the Reformed Church in the United States Convened in Convention, Winchester, Va., October 1875,” p. 13. Bowers’ identity becomes clear in Sammy’s letter home dated August 18, 1863.

147  “The federal troops had left …” Kellogg (1903), p. 55.

147  “Maybe we should just go back to Abram’s house.” See Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 167, testimony of Abraham D. Heatwole, who lists “Samuel Rodes” and “Jackson Bowers” among the men he hid. Bowers may or may not have helped Sammy dig the child’s grave.

149  “They’re probably looking for Union troops …” Ashby’s cavalry likely was scouting the western reaches of Rockingham for any sign that Frémont’s army was crossing the Shenandoah Mountain. See Hotchkiss (1973), p. 44, diary entry for May 10, 1862.

150  Daniel Showalter’s home appears on the Lake (1885) Atlas of Rockingham County near the top of page 34.

150  “They found Fifer at Trissels Mennonite Church …” See Brunk (1959), pp. 240–243, especially the map on page 243, which shows both the Jacob Fifer place and the Daniel Showalter place. Sammy probably was referring to Fifer in his journal when he mentioned “Phifer.”

150  “I think his pursuit of Banks was just a bluff.” See Vandiver (1957), p. 225: “Ashby’s advance toward Banks was in reality a screening move for the march of the main army.”

150  “One of his neighbors directed the refugees to Elder Kline …” Despite Sammy’s spelling of “Cline,” Horst (1980), p. 290, note 44, states that this helpful person was probably Elder John Kline.

151  “Hoover was an affable man in his mid-30s …” For Emanuel Hoover’s age and location, see Rodes and Wenger (2007), p. 788, and the Lake (1885) Atlas of Rockingham County.

151  “One of them was Bishop Coffman.” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 619. Coffman testified that he “went to Penna. in May 1862, because I had been threatened, stayed six weeks.” Sammy’s conversation with the bishop is imaginary, but it is highly likely that Coffman fled north with Bank’s army along with other Mennonites who had gathered in New Market on that day.

151  “I am exempt from the military …” This quote is inspired by Coffman (undated), who states that the bishop “received his exemption from all military duty” from the 145th Regimental Court on June 26, 1861.

151  “I started preaching directly against conscription.” On page 158, Brunk (1959) notes that Bishop Coffman took a firm stand “from the pulpit” against the April 1862 law.

151  Threats against Coffman are noted in Heatwole (1905), pp. 208–209, and in several other sources, but Coffman (undated) is the only source that mentions hanging. The most likely person to make a credible threat was Lieutenant Colonel John R. Jones.

152  Henry Saint John Rinker was a reverend in A. J.’s denomination and a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. He lived about twelve miles north of New Market on the Middle Road (Route 42). In his journal, Sammy refers to Rinker as “Revrant John Rinkerd ... a very rank Secesh.”

152  The description of Rinker’s family comes from Rinker (1999), p. 2.

152  Andrew Jackson Bowers matriculated at Franklin and Marshall in 1859, according to Harbaugh and Heilser (1888), p. 333. The reason for his return to Virginia is unknown, but the outbreak of war seems like a reasonable assumption. In a letter dated August 18, 1863, Sammy notes that “A. J. Bowers is in Lancaster yet going to school.” (Franklin and Marshall is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.)

152  “Among the first things I learned …” According to Franklin and Marshall’s website, Franklin College’s founding mission was “to preserve our present republican system of government,” and “to promote those improvements in the arts and sciences which alone render nations respectable, great and happy.”

153  “I can do that easier in Ohio …” On page 14 of Rhodes (1864), Sammy says his original destination was Ohio.



156  Grove (2001), p. 14, states that Confederate forces commandeered Weavers Church at some point. She offers no time frame and few details, but certainly Sammy saw a squad of Ashby’s cavalry about two miles west of the church on May 6. According to Avirett (1867), pp. 179–180, ten companies of Ashby’s cavalry went with Jackson to McDowell, while Ashby himself remained in Rockingham with his other charges.

156  For details of Jackson’s exploits near McDowell, see Chambers (1959), pp. 504–508, and Hotchkiss (1973), pp. 38–45.

156  Hildebrand (1996), p. 12, places the 52nd Virginia Infantry two miles west of Harrisonburg on May 19.

156  Regarding the federal armies of Banks, Frémont, and Shields closing in on Jackson, see Casler (1971), p. 305.

157  “Deluge after deluge drenched the valley …” Chambers (1959), p. 565, and Vandiver (1957), p. 269.

157  “I believe these men are hungrier than us …” See Hess (1979), p. 129. “In the Mole Hill community, they (soldiers in Frémont’s army) reportedly took food from Mrs. Rhodes’ children.” Also, see Coffman (undated). “Soldiers would arrive at mealtime and sit down and eat while they (Coffman family members) patiently waited.”

157  See Rauch and Thomson (1906), p. 11, for the story behind the caps worn by Pennsylvania’s Bucktail Brigade.

157  “Could I interest you in some fresh-baked bread?” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 708, testimony of Samuel Coffman: “I have been told by union soldiers that she (Peggy) baked bread for them.”

158  See Rauch and Thomson (1906), p. 373. Sergeant Jacob W. Huck was a member of Kane’s Bucktails (part of Frémont’s advance guard), and he was with them in Rockingham County. There is no evidence that Huck visited the Rhodes family, but it is possible.

158  According to Rodes (2023), Henry’s parents (Henry Rodes Sr. and Elizabeth “Mottie” Good) were born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the 1780s.

159  “By feeding me, you think you’re heaping hot coals on my head …” The biblical reference is Romans 12:20: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

160  The description of the skirmish at Dale Enterprise comes from Hess (1979), p. 129, and Grove (2001), pp. 14–15.

160  See Hess (1979), p. 130: “Little children at the Rhodes’ home just a mile away, hid under beds, others crouched in front of the fireplace for protection from volleys.”

160  Hess (1979), p. 129, puts this skirmish on June 5, one day before Kane’s Bucktails killed Turner Ashby. A better bet is June 6. Chambers (1959), p. 566, states that Frémont’s advance guard (which included Kane’s Bucktails) did not reach Harrisonburg until midday on June 6. Likewise, Rauch and Thompson (1906), pp. 152–153, say that Kane’s Bucktails arrived in Harrisonburg at 2 p.m. on June 6. One possible scenario is that some of Kane’s Bucktails were guarding Frémont’s western flank on June 6 when they encountered Confederate stragglers who were trying to return to the main body of Jackson’s army. See Casler (1971), pp. 81–82, for a first-hand account of small squads of Confederate stragglers in western Rockingham at that time.

160  “Loading wounded Confederate soldiers …” Hess (1979), p. 130.

161  “We’re gonna try to make it to John Wenger’s house.” This quote is based on Hess (1979), p. 130.

161  “On June 11, Rodgers left …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703. Peggy testified that Rodgers left with Frémont’s army, which departed from Harrisonburg on June 11–12, according to Chambers (1959), p. 588.

161  H. L. occasionally referred fugitives to the Rhodes depot, according to his testimony before the Southern Claims Commission, but there is no evidence that he did so immediately after the Battle of Cross Keys.

162  “If you carry a gun …” See Rodes and Wenger (2012), p. 583, quoting from the cross-examination of John W. Gaither, regarding John W. West hiding in the mountains to avoid conscription. Question: “Did he have his gun with him?” Answer: “No sir. If he had been caught with that, he would have been taken for a bush whacker.”

164  According to oral tradition in the Hartman family (often attributed to Peter S. Hartman), Mennonites in Rockingham “hid guns in the cave on the hill behind Weavers Church.” For the general location and description of this long-lost cave, see the Rockingham Register, February 15, 1901.



165  “We’re holding 2,000 prisoners of war on court square …” Rockingham Register, June 20, 1862, p. 1. The Register reported that between 2,500 and 3,000 prisoners of war were being held in the enclosure surrounding the courthouse and clerk’s office. The newspaper’s estimate seems somewhat exaggerated.

165  Regarding the behavior of Confederate foragers, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 704, Peggy’s testimony: “We were not personally threatened, but the rebels would come to our place and treat us very roughly, and carry off our property because we were union people.”

166  “Peggy always declined, but …” Ibid. Also, see Heatwole (1905), p. 212.

166  “The foragers increasingly took food …” See Sanger and Hays (1907), p. 83.

166  The meeting to discuss hiding valuables is imaginary, but Coffman’s hiding places are mentioned in Coffman (undated) and in Heatwole (1911), p. 444.

167  “This here wall needs plaster …” This quote is inspired by Erb (c1944), p. 18.

167  “Just remove the closet door …” See Heatwole (1998), p. 21. The account of hiding wheat in walls comes from the Stoneleigh House file at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society (Rocktown History). A similar story of converting a closet into a secret granary appears in Morgan (c1942), p. 3.

168  Amos Shiflett and the peter monkey story are imaginary, but men called “peter monkeys” did search for niter dirt under houses in Rockingham County during the Civil War. See Hartman (1937), p. 60. The term “peter monkey” comes from Whisonant (2001), p. 41.

168  See Whisonant (2001), pp. 36–41, for a good overview of saltpeter production in Virginia during the Civil War.

171  “Brunk had left John Albert’s bedside …” See Erb (c1944), p. 21. Erb does not reveal the cause of death, but diphtheria was the most common fatal illness among children in Rockingham County during the war, according to Kline’s diary and records from the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics.

171  Wenger’s height comes from Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 240.

172  Some accounts say Brunk attended the funeral “in disguise,” but no source suggests what type of disguise he may have employed. The Dunker ruse is merely a guess.

172  “The scouts searched …” See Erb (c1944), p. 21.

172  “As the mourners sang the last hymn …” Ibid.

173  “He flailed away at the wheat …” See Rinker (1999), p. 87: “Before the advent of threshing machines, small grain, such as wheat, oats, etc., was cut and stored in the barn. Then during the winter, the grain was flailed out by hand on the barn floor.”

173  References to Brunk’s willow-whip baskets are in Erb (c1944), p. 19.

173  The idea of refugees working covertly on Mennonite farms comes from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 469. Abram Swartz testified that “Coakley and Carrier shucked [corn] for him (John G. Heatwole) at night.”

174  Ayray’s inability to recognize Brunk comes from Heatwole (1948), pp. 3–4.



175  “Now she was concealing and trusting men she did not know.” Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703. Peggy’s testimony.

175  Peggy’s postmaster duties come from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 704.

176  “Peggy asked Mottie to watch the children …” Ibid.

176  This May 1863 letter could not be found, so the author reconstructed it based on a subsequent letter that Sammy wrote to his mother that referred to the May letter. It is likely that Sammy entrusted the May 1863 letter to Elder Kline, who moderated the annual meeting and likely brought the letter back to the valley in June. See Funk (1900), pp. 465–466. The wording of Sammy’s May letter is unknown, but in the subsequent letter, he repeated portions of the earlier letter. The remainder of the May letter’s reconstructed content is based on key events documented in Sammy’s journal from May 12, 1862, through May 24, 1863. The final paragraph mimics the closing of Sammy’s subsequent letter.

178  “Great, glorious, and overwhelming victory …” Rockingham Register, July 10 and 17, 1863, p. 2.

179  Regarding Manassas Heatwole’s desertion after Gettysburg, see Horst (1967), p. 31, quoting the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers. Also, see Heatwole’s obituary in the Herald of Truth, December 15, 1890: “He suffered himself to be driven from place to place … and from battle to battle, the last of which was the battle of Gettysburg.”

179  “If there is such a thing as hell on earth …” This quote is borrowed from Manassas Heatwole’s description of an earlier battle, possibly the Battle of Manassas. See Coffman (1964), p. 28.

179  It is likely that Heatwole deserted when Imboden’s wagon train arrived in Harrisonburg. See Imboden (1964) p. 7.

179  “General Imboden assumed command …” Duncan (1996), p. 108.

179  Imboden’s notice first appeared on page three of the August 7 issue of the Register. Then the newspaper moved it to the front page on August 14.

180  Regarding Kline’s arrests, Funk adds only that he was “taken before the military authorities.” Funk (1900), p. 467.

180  Governor Letcher’s proposed expansion of the conscription age range was reported in the New York Times on September 12, 1863, p. 1.

181  As noted previously, the assumption is that Henry May was John H. May, who was married to Joseph Beery’s niece, Anna, according to Wenger (1905), p. 49. May’s testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2004), p. 367, shows he had at least some knowledge of refugee movements. He was probably the man who assisted Sammy and H. L. near the headwaters of Dry River on March 15, 1862.

181  “I’m not as worried about Kline.” This quote is inspired by the report of Kline’s death in the Rockingham Register. The newspaper said that he “was passing frequently by permission of our authorities within the Yankee lines to preach and hold other religious services.”

181  Beery’s “reckless” actions come from his testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2003), pp. 370–371.

181  “ARRESTED—Joseph and Solomon Beery …” Rockingham Register, October 9, 1863, p. 2.

182  “The war department released the Beerys …” See Rodes and Wenger (2003), p. 370. Beery testified that he spent four weeks in Castle Thunder after he was arrested in October 1863. He was released on bail, and the war ended before he was tried.

182  “On December 7, President Jefferson Davis proposed removing all conscription exemptions …” Wright (1931) p. 111.

182  “By the end of the year, the Confederate Congress had abolished …” Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 67.

183  The conscription age range of seventeen to fifty comes from Wright (1931), p. 112.

184  “We have been informed …” Rockingham Register, March 4, 1864, p. 2.

184  “We have been assured …” Rockingham Register, March 11, 1864, p. 2.

184  One boy company was activated on April 3, 1864, according to Heatwole (2000), p. 13.

185  Given Henry’s rapidly failing health, it is quite possible that Johnny was detailed to work on the Rhodes farm, but there is no direct evidence to support this assumption. In his testimony before the Southern Claims Commission, Johnny only stated that he remained on the Rhodes farm until October 1864.



186  After Brunk left the Rhodes depot, he hid at the David Hartman depot and the Jacob Shank depot, according to Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 732, testimony of David Hartman.

186  “R. J. finally agreed to head for the mountains …” Unless otherwise noted, the events of this chapter are based on R. J. Heatwole’s first-hand accounts in Heatwole (1948), pp. 2–4, and Heatwole (1911), p. 445. Also, see Erb (c1944) for information about Brunk’s guardianship of R. J. and Susanna.

186  David Frank is sometimes mentioned among the group of seventy-plus as “David Funk.” See Horst (1967), p. 31, and his corresponding note 15 on page 118.

187  “Earlier in the war, desertion had been somewhat tolerated …” Horst (1967), pp. 21–22, says that some soldiers deserted three or four times. Casler (1971) makes similar assertions.

187  Regarding the increasingly severe consequences of desertion, see Ayers (2003), p. 359.

187  According to Heatwole (1948), p. 4, the group carried “letters to friends in the north,” but there is no direct evidence that the letters went through the Rhodes depot. This assumption, however, seems quite plausible given that 1) Peggy was a postmaster for the underground; 2) Brunk knew Peggy well; and 3) the Rhodes depot was on the way between Weavers Church and Rawley Springs.

188  The $20 amount comes from Zigler (1914), p. 103, but it is not obvious whether the refugees paid with Confederate currency or federal greenbacks.

190  It is clear from Heatwole (1948), p. 4, that the pilots turned back and Brunk took charge soon after the group entered West Virginia, but the haggling over payment is imaginary.

194  R. J. Heatwole does not say when the three black men joined the group, but his first mention of them comes soon after the rich widow expressed concern that her slaves might run away with Brunk’s group. Ibid.



199  “His forage masters ravaged several Mennonite farms …” Some claimants sought compensation from the Southern Claims Commission for property taken by Hunter’s army near Weavers Church in June 1864, but Peggy did not attribute any of her losses to Hunter’s foragers.

199  Pond (1959), p. 28, details Hunter’s destruction at Staunton, quoting Colonel Edwin Lee’s June 17 dispatch to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper.

199  Description of Hunter’s burning at Lexington comes from Duncan (1998), p. 223–227.

199  No one was ever convicted of Kline’s murder, but suspicion was cast on rogue members of the Linville, Virginia, home guard. According to Jerviss (2019), p. 3, the shots probably were fired by “an unspecified number (most likely two or three) of Confederate irregulars.”

199  “His Secesh neighbors suspected he was a Union spy …” Wayland (1957), p. 401. More specifically, a rebel soldier claimed that Kline was murdered “for traveling west carrying news and helping people to get out of the S. Confederacy,” according to an anonymous letter published in the Gospel Visitor, August 1, 1864, vol. 14, no. 8, p. 228.

199  The story that appeared on June 24 in the Rockingham Register could not be found, but the Gospel Visitor reprinted it on August 1.

200  “Hunter’s diversion to Lexington …” See Duncan (1998), p. 228, and Pond (1959), p. 31.

200  Duncan (1998), pp. 137–302, provides a good summary of Hunter’s costly campaign of 1864.

201  “The foregoing pages were written by your son …” Sammy’s letter and Peter S. Rhodes’ letter appear in Rodes and Wenger (2003), pp. 702–704.

203  Sammy died on April 26, 1864, in Hagerstown, Maryland, according to Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 71.

204  Peggy’s imaginary offer would have been generous. Six months later, wealthy families in Staunton were able to hire servants for the year “only for grain and at very high rates, men bringing 100 bush. of corn or wheat.” Hotchkiss (1973), p. 251, diary entry for January 2, 1865.

205  Priscilla’s “more violent” symptoms of tuberculous meningitis (TBM) are based on Peterson (1976), p. 447, quoting from James Copland’s 1859 Dictionary of Practical Medicine. According to the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, Priscilla died of “brain fever,” which was probably the same disease that killed Davy. (See notes for chapter three.) The role of the “town doctor” is imaginary.

206  “The preacher prayed for the destruction of his enemies …” This quote is based on Brunk (1937), pp. 7–8.

206  The assumption of very poor attendance at Priscilla’s funeral is based on Heatwole (1905), p. 212.

207  “On July 1, there was another urgent call …” See Shank (1864), pp. 82–83, and Steiner (1903), p. 17. Also, see Ashby (1914), p. 260, and Grove (2001), p. 20. These sources put the new upper age limit at sixty. Confederate conscription laws never exceeded age fifty, but it is possible that General Imboden took it upon himself to raise the upper limit to sixty because he was desperate.

207  Peggy’s brother, David Heatwole, was later named administrator of Henry’s estate. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 704–705. The assumption is that he also helped Henry write his will.

207  “All his property would go to …” Henry’s will made all of the provisions listed here, according to Peggy, but he never signed it. Ibid.

207  “Saved on Independence Day …” See Coffman (1964), p. 36, quoting the diary of John S. Coffman: “Thirty years ago this Fourth of July I was baptized in Muddy Creek. ... Those baptized at the same time were Peter Hartman, Abram Weaver, John Bell, and others.”

207  On page 702 of Rodes and Wenger (2005), Peggy testified that Henry’s date of death was July 8, 1864, but his tombstone in the Shank Cemetery says July 9, 1864.



209  “This will only make things worse.” This quote is inspired by Gallagher (2006), p. xii.

209  Regarding growing opposition to the war in the North, see Stackpole (1992), pp. 81–83.

209  “Grant put General Philip Sheridan in charge …” Gallagher (2006), p. xiii.

209  “Nothing should be left to invite the enemy to return.” Stackpole (1992), p. 141, quoting Grant’s orders to Sheridan.

209  The dangers of pride and “amusements indulged in by the young” are noted in Heatwole, Brunk, and Good (1910), p. 20.

210  “Nearly 250 Mennonites … came to the church to partake in the sacrament of holy communion.” Landis (1864), p. 81, and Hildebrand (1996), p. 51.

210  The agricultural bounty of the valley in August 1864 is based on Heatwole (1998), p. 2.

210  “The faces of the soldiers in Early’s vanquished army told the rest of the story.” Heatwole (1998), p. 21.

210  “Sheridan’s vanguard swept into town …” Ibid.

210  “Dogs barked all night …” Hartman (1937), p. 64.

211  “They saw Union troops streaming toward them …” Ibid.

211  “One of Sheridan’s quartermasters impressed Daniel Bowman’s grist mill …” Wildes (1884), p. 189.

211  “Another company of soldiers commandeered the church …” Brunk (1959), p. 162, and Heatwole (1998), p. 110.

211  Descriptions of property taken from the Rhodes farm come from the testimony of Peggy, Johnny, Mary, and their close neighbor, Abraham Swartz. See Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 697–712.

211  “The soldiers impressed the plow horse …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 710, Mary’s testimony.

211  “The officer gave Peggy receipts …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 705, Peggy’s testimony.

212  “Peggy begged to keep it …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 709, Johnny’s testimony. Also, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 788, testimony of John B. Wenger.

212  Abraham Swartz testified that these soldiers claimed to be from West Virginia, but other sources say that infantrymen foraging in the area were from the 116th Regiment of Ohio Infantry, which was attached to Custer’s cavalry and camped just north of Dayton.

212  “Please let me keep the milk cows!” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 706, Peggy’s testimony.

213  “Sheridan’s men had been setting fire to mills, barns …” See Lehman and Nolt (2007), p. 203, and Heatwole (1998), pp. 32–54.

213  “General George Custer moved his headquarters to Dayton …” Heatwole (1998), p. 56.

213  “Another squad of cavalry came to the house …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 710–711, Mary’s testimony.

213  Regarding the taking of saddles and bridles, see Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 709, Johnny’s testimony.

213  “Peggy and Mary watched helplessly …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 706 and 711, testimony of Peggy and Mary, respectively.

213  “One of the officers came to the house …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 706, Peggy’s testimony.

213  “The general plans to take refugees north …” This quote is based on Wayland (1930), p. 194, and Hartman (1937), p. 65.

214  “At first light on October 5, he left the Rhodes farm …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 709, Johnny’s testimony.

215  Brunk (1959), p. 165, names C. H. “Chris” Brunk as one of the six teenage boys who traveled together on Sheridan’s wagon train. He also names Samuel Brunk, which seems unlikely given his father’s testimony in Rodes and Wenger (2005), pp. 813–814.

215  “Last night the cavalry stole our entire rig …” Ibid.

215  One of the other two boys was likely Peggy’s nephew, Abraham D. Weaver. As previously noted, he was baptized on the same day as Johnny, Peter Hartman, and John Coffman. Also, see Hartman (1865): “I will let you know that J Bell A Weaver and I was were just redy to start in a half an hour [from Maryland to Ohio] when the man come that I hired too.”

215  Meigs was “greatly loved by Sheridan.” Wildes (1884), p. 190.

215  Sheridan (1888), vol. 2, p. 52, says: “I ordered all the houses within an area of five miles to be burned.” Some historians have stated that Sheridan issued this order on the morning of October 4, but Wildes (1884), p. 190, puts the time at 2 a.m. on October 5. This day-later timing matches Samuel H. Brunk’s first-hand account in Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 950.

216  See Hartman (1937), p. 66. The boys’ encounter with Sheridan probably occurred near the home of Abraham Byrd, who had been the Confederate provost marshal. His limestone house on East Market Street was later called “Stoneleigh.” See Wayland (1930), pp. 197–198.

216  “Who do you have there?” This quote comes from Hartman (1937), p. 66.

216  Description of Sheridan comes from Hartman (1937), p. 66, and the Mathew Brady photograph used to produce the engraving that appeared on the cover of Harper’s Weekly on October 8, 1864. Also, see Gallagher (2006), p. 4.

216  “The general asked them several questions …” See Hartman (1937), p. 66. The actual questions Sheridan asked and the answers the boys gave will probably never be known.

217  “Those who rest at home …” This quote is paraphrased from Sheridan (1888), vol. 1, p. 488. There is no evidence that Sheridan tried to justify his actions during his conversation with the boys, but their exchange likely did take place on the morning of October 5, just a few hours after the general gave the order to burn everything within five miles of where Meigs died.

218  “Take them down and put chains on them …” The exchange between Sheridan and the sentinel comes from Hartman (1937), p. 66.

218  “I am determined to teach a lesson to the abettors of this foul deed.” This quote is paraphrased from Sheridan (1888), vol. 2, p. 52.

218  “Since I came into this valley …” This quote is paraphrased from Kellogg (1903), p. 213, quoting Sheridan’s letter to Grant dated October 7, 1864.

218  The exchange regarding horses is based on Hartman (1937), p. 66.

219  “Four of the boys found their families’ horses …” See Hartman (1937), p. 68.

219  “Colonel Wildes has delayed your order …” This anecdote comes from Wildes (1884), pp. 189–191.



220  “They frantically searched houses from attic to cellar …” This description of looting and burning comes from Shank (1864), pp. 82–83.

221  The Reuben Swope house, about 800 yards to the south, was clearly visible from the Rhodes place. For an account of its destruction, see Swope Family History Committee (1971), pp. 15–16.

221  “We’ve come to burn your buildings.” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 705, Peggy’s testimony.

222  “I took the side of the Union …” This quote is paraphrased from Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 703, Peggy’s testimony.

222  “We have orders to burn everything …” This quote is based on Sheridan (1888), vol. 2, p. 52.

222  Regarding Sheridan’s order against burning the homes of widows, see Heatwole (1998), pp. 100 and 130.

223  Henry’s tombstone was stolen at some point, and it is plausible that some of Sheridan’s soldiers used it as a tabletop. This practice was not uncommon during Sheridan’s occupation of the valley. See “Buried Tombstone Uncovered,” Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, September 3, 1982. Albert L. Zigler unearthed Henry’s tombstone “while rebuilding the front porch of his mobile home off Va. 619 in the Fridleys Gap area,” which is several miles northeast of Harrisonburg, not far from the route of Sheridan’s wagon train.

224  “We will not burn your house, Mrs. Rhodes …” This quote is based on Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 705, Peggy’s testimony.

224  “The sergeant blew a whistle …” According to Heatwole (1998), p. 37, the leader of each burning party used a whistle to signal when it was time to go to the next farm. Morgan (c1942), p. 4, also mentions an officer blowing a whistle for this purpose.

224  “They burned Bishop Coffman’s barn …” Coffman (1964), p. 55.

224  The Union cavalry did burn Betsy Weaver’s home and outbuildings, according to Heatwole (1998), pp. 110–111, but the burning of her house may have been unintentional.

224  “They burned Daniel Bowman’s mill …” Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 351, affidavit of Annie Kerlin.

224  “Then they torched nearly all the barns …” See Grove (2001), p. 15, quoting L. J. Heatwole’s first-hand account written in 1884. Also, see Brunk (2005), p. 950.

225  “Most of them spent the night out in the open with fires raging …” Grove (2001), p. 15, quoting L. J. Heatwole’s 1884 account.



226  “John Coffman quickly stepped in to take Peter’s place.” This anecdote comes from Hartman (1937), p. 67.

227  “The infantrymen went first …” Heatwole (1998), p. 130.

227  “Sheridan’s cavalry divisions dragged one last harrow of destruction …” Heatwole (1998), p. 131.

227  “Hundreds of refugees lined the wayside …” Heatwole (1998), p. 211, quoting from Tomes (1948), pp. 492–493.

228  “The mountains to the east seemed close enough to touch …” Heatwole (1998), p. 202.

228  The story of six thirsty boys and two dead mules comes from Hartman (1937), p. 67.

229  “McNeill’s Rangers had burned the bridge …” See Landis (1864), p. 82. The assumption is that McNeill’s Rangers, who were active in the valley at the time, were the most likely suspects.

229  “Do you remember Chambersburg?” This quote and the distressed-mother story come from Heatwole (1998), pp. 199–200.

229  “They brought a man to the pike …” Hartman (1937), pp. 67–68.

229  “There are 10,000 head of cattle and sheep right behind us …” This quote is inspired by Heatwole (2005), p. 34.

230  “The boys saw one such woman chasing soldiers ...” This anecdote comes from Suter (1959), pp. 42–43. It is plausible that the boys witnessed this event because they were traveling with or near the Suter family.

230  “Sheridan’s men attempted to douse these unintended fires …” Kidd (1969), p. 400.

230  The location of the boys’ overnight stops between Harrisonburg and Martinsburg comes from Suter (1864), diary entries for October 6–10, 1864.

230  The dramatic account of Muhlenberg’s revolutionary call to arms is based on Muhlenberg (1848), p. 53.

231  This version of “I Would Not Live Always” comes from the Mennonite Hymnal of 1875. There is no record of what hymns the refugees sang, but “I Would Not Live Always,” was popular among valley singers at the time of the Civil War. According to Kieffer (1890), p. 72, the lyrics were written by John Peter Muhlenberg himself, but other sources attribute them to Muhlenberg’s grandnephew, William Augustus Muhlenberg.

231  “Sheridan’s adjutant had advised them to take turns guarding their horses at night …” See Hartman (1937), p. 68. Also, see Suter (1864), diary entry for October 7, 1864.

232  “Most of the infantrymen stayed behind on the south side of Cedar Creek …” See Sheridan (1888), vol. 2, p. 59.

232  “Union forces already had ruined everything …” See Pond (1959), p. 136. Earlier in the campaign, as Sheridan retreated from Cedar Creek to Winchester, he ordered General Alfred Torbert to burn the barns and crops as they withdrew.

232  “Cannon blasts reverberated through the valley …” See Sheridan (1888), vol. 2, pp. 57–58. This was the Battle of Tom’s Brook.



234  “The early morning light of October 7 revealed a dense blanket of smoke surrounding Mole Hill.” Grove (2001), p. 15, quoting L. J. Heatwole’s 1884 account.

234  “Three Mennonite men emerged from the timberline …” This anecdote is based on Heatwole (1998), p. 107.

234  “Peggy’s neighbors started sifting through the ashes …” Heatwole (1998), p. 224.

235  “Apples were plentiful.” Grove (2001), p. 9.

235  “Mary hurried to harvest these root vegetables …” Ibid.

236  “Peggy’s children went barefoot ...” Ashby (1914), p. 299.

236  “Another wave of deserters entered the underground …” See Hotchkiss (1973), p. 247, diary entry for December 9, 1864. Also, see Beringer et al. (1986), pp. 434–435.

237  The story of Rosser’s surprise attack comes from Wayland (1957), pp. 393–394, and from Hotchkiss (1973), pp. 248–249.

237  “Rosser’s depleted cavalry tried to make a stand …” Pond (1959), p. 252, and Wayland (1957), p. 395.

237  “Rebels fleeing across Afton Mountain …” See Hotchkiss (1973), pp. 259–260, diary entries for March 2–3, 1865.

237  “The Confederate army was offering pardons …” Rockingham Register, March 24, 1865, p. 1.

237  “General Robert E. Lee had evacuated Richmond …” Rockingham Register, April 7, 1865, p. 2.

238  “It was unavoidable, as our Army were out of provisions and ammunition.” Rockingham Register, April 14, 1865, p. 2.

238  “People in the valley seemed ready to accept …” Hotchkiss (1973), p. 267, diary entries for April 17–18, 1865.

238  “President Lincoln was assassinated …” Rockingham Register, April 28, 1865, p. 2.

239  “They say he was our best friend …” Ibid. Also, see Casler (1971), p. 284: “We were sorry, too, because we knew they would think that the South had something to do with it, and then we knew that it would have been better for the South if he had lived.”

239  “Peggy immediately carried the letter to the bishop …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 707. Bishop Coffman testified that he received letters from his son, John Coffman, via Peggy.

239  “Johnny Bell and Abram Weaver stayed in Maryland …” See Rodes and Wenger (2005), p. 709, Johnny’s testimony. Also, see Hartman (1865).

240  The letter from John Coffman is imaginary, but the content is based on his experiences in the North as documented in Hartman (1937), pp. 69–72, and in Coffman (1964), pp. 53–57.

241  “People around Mole Hill called them the singing carpenters …” See Steiner (1903), pp. 19–20, and Coffman (1964), pp. 61–62.

241  “Other nearby farms produced large crops of oats and rye …” Ashby (1914), p. 299.



242  “Henry Brunk reunited with his wife …” Erb (c1944), pp. 25–29.

242  “Susanna ‘Suzy’ Rhodes died of cancer in 1873 …” See her obituary in the Herald of Truth, May 1873, vol. 10, no. 5, p. 87.

242  “The Register reported his death as a suicide …” Bittinger (2009), p. 29.

242  Doc Heatwole’s cause of death comes from the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, R26-1875-3-20.

242  “Elizabeth ‘Mottie’ Rhodes, Henry’s mother ...” Brunk (1959), pp. 303–304.