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After the Luray-Carlisle, Blue-Gray Reunion of July and September 1881, the next largest Page County Confederate reunion to reach outside the county took place in October 1896. One of the veterans of this reunion, signing his letter to the Page News & Courier (Luray, Virginia) simply as “Crocket,” wrote of the details:

Dear Courier: – One of the most enjoyable and pleasant trips that it has ever been our privilege to ‘take in’ was that of the recent excursion from the famous Shenandoah Valley conveying ex-Confederate soldiers to Canton, Ohio. To give a graphic description of this memorable trip would fill your entire paper – ‘and then some,’ therefore, we shall endeavor to condense as much as possible. The morning of the 8th being as bright and serene as nature could make it, we in company

WITH 160 PAGE BOYS

left the grand little Page Valley and crossing the Massanutten were soon in the ‘bright Shenandoah Valley,’ making our way to the New Market depot, where we boarded the first section of the excursion train at 5:40 p.m. for Canton. The first section, containing 12 coaches, being densely crowded, many of us got off at Mt. Jackson to take the second section, composed of 10 coaches, which was about one hour behind the first section. That also being crowded, we waited for the third section, also containing ten coaches, which furnished ample accommodation for all. The third section left Mt. Jackson at 8:30, throwing us three hours late – but that added greatly to the enjoyment of the trip, as we passed through the principal part of the Alleghenies in the day time, which was a sight to behold, and one that time will never efface. The scenery was simply grand! The long train as it descended the mountain side at the

RATE OF 40 MILES

an hour was sometimes making a perfect U. We arrived at Canton on Friday, the 9th inst., at 5 p.m. We were met at the Valley depot by the ex-Confederates who had preceded us on the first two sections and several hundred Union veterans. A line was immediately formed, headed by the Union veterans. The famous Stonewall Band headed the ex-Confederates. Several other bands were also in the procession. Words fail to describe the scene along the route to

MAJ. McKINLEY’S HOME.

McKinleyHouseCantonca1896

Thousands of people line the way and cheer after cheer was given by the crowd. The scene was one continued ovation. Just before reaching Major McKinley’s home the Stonewall Band struck up ‘Dixie,’ at which the cheering was beyond any thing of the kind we had ever heard before. Upon arriving at the home of Maj. McKinley the large iron gates were thrown open, and the ex-Confederates occupied his beautiful lawn. Rev. A.P. Funkhouser, General John E. Roller and Capt. Warren S. Lurty, all of Rockingham county, spoke on behalf of the ex-Confederates. Maj. McKinley was then introduced by General Roller amid deafening cheers and shouts. His speech captivated every man who heard it. We have every reason to believe that Maj. McKinley is a devout Christian, as his countenance and expression plainly show, and is the ‘right man in the right place.’ We all had the pleasure as well as the honor, of shaking hands with the

NEXT PRESIDENT

of the United States. One could plainly tell that his heart was filled with joy as he grasped the hand of each Southerner. We then repaired to the Tabernacle where five long tables seating one hundred each, were laden with everything that heart could wish to refresh the inner man. We left Canton at midnight for Pittsburg, where we arrived at 11 o’clock Saturday morning, where we again met a hearty reception. Dinner was served to all in the big City Hall, after which a grand parade took place through the streets of Pittsburg, and Allegheny City. The streets were thronged with over

400,000 PEOPLE.

Bands played, men cheered and ladies waved their handkerchiefs. The women up in that country manifest great interest in McKinley’s election. They say it is meat and bread with them, and so it is with all of us! We left Pittsburg for home at 2:30 Saturday evening, each one m more than pleased with our trip, which will be remembered as long as time lasts. We never saw such hospitality; it reminded one of

A FAMILY REUNION.

We all desire to return our sincere thanks and gratitude to the ladies of Canton, Pittsburg and Allegheny City for their generous hospitality, and hope to repay the kindness extended to us by the Union veterans and their wives and daughters by adding to the list of Republican States the grand old State of Virginia, and with a free vote and fair count we’ll do it!”

CantonReunion

Readers/Users are welcome to navigate through what is available so far, and are encouraged to check back regularly to see what links/features have been added. 

As the result of taking a class in Augmented Reality (AR), as partial fulfillment of my course work in the PhD program of Writing and Rhetoric at George Mason University, I have created an AR feature for Tour 13 of Avenue of Armies: Civil War Sites and Stories of Luray and Page County, Virginia (you can see my reflection “paper” on this project, here)

This is the initial page of the web of mini-blog entries and pages I’ve created to augment both the physical published book and the key sites encountered on the tour. In addition to adding new means of accessibility to information already available in the book, I’ve also added new sites and information in which AR technology will play a minor role. There are sixteen “auras” (AR experiences) in the digital expansion of Tour 13. Seven auras are accessible from the actual historic sites, “in the field” (including two auras at the site of the Luray “Slave Auction Block); none are accessible from nine of the ten photos within the print version of the Tour 13 of the Avenue of Armies book (the Luray Inn aura will be created after I create the link to which it will lead); and one is accessible from within the Barbee Monument page in the digital tour. There will be more AR features in this project as it is further developed.

The AR features can only be accessed through the Aurasma Application used on Droid Smart Phones and/or tablets. In order to experience the AR features via smartphone or tablet, please access the Play Store icon on your device, and in the search block type “Aurasma”. Once you have downloaded the app, you need to subscribe to the “Avenue of Armies” auras (search “Avenue of Armies”).

Though additional sites and information is being provided through this digital expansion, there is no additional cost to the reader/tourist/consumer. Please note that in order to fully experience the tour, you must have a physical copy of Avenue of Armies. Content as it exists in the book will not be fully replicated on this site or in the AR features.

As listed in the published book, the key sites for Tour 13 include:

  1. Green Hill Cemetery (p. 127)
  2. Barbee Monument (p. 129)
  3. The 1918 Confederate Veterans’ Monument (p. 130)
  4. Luray Train Depot (p. 132)
  5. Inn Lawn Park (p. 134)

For a list of Civil War sites in each county, links are now available in the blogroll at the bottom of this page. Listings for Highland, Page, and Rockingham are complete. I still have a few markers left to document in Augusta, and several in the other counties. Nonetheless, the links are provided to see what has been included in the compilations so far. Berkeley and Jefferson counties are coming in the near future.

Note that when you click on the links, a list will open in another window. There is also a link (this link reads “Click to map all markers shown on this page”) on each of those compilation pages, near the top right, that you may click to see a map (via Google Maps) that will give you a better idea visually where all of the markers are in relation to each other (at least within the respective counties).

Not directly related, but indirectly related to Page County’s Civil War sites… the Civil War interpretive markers for Shenandoah County have now been compiled as a list in HMDb. They can be accessed through this link.

Just a quick note to show that this site has not faded…

I have been busy in the Historical Markers Database compiling data on marked interpreted Civil War sites in three counties (Page, Augusta, and Rockingham). So, in the case of Page, the list of sites is a virtual taste of what can be found in Avenue of Armies.  See this link to the interpreted Civil War sites in Page County. A map of all of the sites can also be found through this link. When you scroll over a site, click on it and the title of the marker can be seen. Click on the link and you will gain access to details about the marker.

If you are interested in Civil War interpretive markers in the other two counties to the south, just click on this link for Rockingham and this link for Augusta. More counties to come soon.

Stop #44 can be found on pages 73 & 74 in Avenue of Armies. Since writing the book, however, I located additional information about the action of June 30, 1862. I wrote the following in one of my columns from May 2008 (the “Heritage & Heraldry” column for the Page News & Courier). While the entry in the book was based largely on Union accounts of the action, the following is more from the perspective of the Confederate forces and civilians in Luray (mostly based on the recollections of Harry Gilmor found in his book, Four Years in the Saddle):

The morning hours of June 30 were relatively quiet around Luray. Residents were going about their daily routines, likely in appreciation of the heavy rainfall that they had received the night before. Yet, apart from the memory of the artillery-like rumblings of thunder overnight, the only obvious traces of war that morning were the tents of Harry Gilmor’s small body of cavalry in the meadow on the northern edge of town. Gilmor had rested peacefully the night before. The pickets deployed the previous evening in the direction of Rileyville were local men, cavalrymen of Capt. S.B. Coyner’s Co. D, 7th Virginia Cavalry.

However, just as the rumbling of thunder had interrupted an otherwise peaceful evening on the night before, a mad dash of pickets from the direction of Rileyville raised concern in both the soldiers and citizens alike. As word came that Federal troops – cavalry, infantry and artillery – were bearing down on the unsuspecting town, Gilmor was quick to order the wagons loaded and moved toward White House Ford. No sooner had the orders been issued than the first Union troopers appeared on the rise to the north of Luray.

Union cavalryman Horace Ide recalled that as his regiment advanced on the hill in pursuit of the pickets, the Green Mountain men noticed that the Confederates were “trying to save their wagons and finally … came to the right about and tried to charge us, but only a few men obeyed the order.” Though preparing to make a stand in the streets of Luray, some citizens, according to Gilmor, “begged” him to take the fight out of the town. Gilmor quickly agreed, moving most of his command in the direction of the Leaksville Road and leaving only a small rearguard in the town to screen the move. Despite its size, the rearguard laid-down a sharp fire, killing one trooper of the First Vermont Cavalry, before Union artillery rolled-up and forced Confederate rearguard to put to flight.

Catching site of the Confederate wagons again, the Union force seemed reinvigorated in the manner in which it readied to strike again. Determining that “there was no alternative but a hard fight or loss of the wagons, besides having my men cut to pieces in the Shenandoah River,” Gilmor prepared to fight once again. Immediately, he “wheeled the column and gave the command to charge.” As the Confederate horsemen lurched forward, the Union troopers soon gained momentum on their own mounts. “Both columns were at a charge,” wrote Gilmor, “and as we closed upon each other, I, being some distance ahead of the rest, happened to kill one of the first set of fours at a second shot.”

For a moment, Gilmor believed that the Union line began to pull back. However, he quickly discovered that another line of Union cavalry prepared to flank his line. “I was not to be caught in this trap, so I at once gave the order, “Flank out to the left and right.” The counter-move proved of little result. Gilmor recalled being caught-up in a brief exchange of fire, but soon deemed it necessary to retire. Instead of following the wagons to White House Ford, his command turned off in the direction of Columbia Ford “and scattered into the woods, checking them a good deal.”

Despite Gilmor’s boast of “checking them,” the Union command retired under orders not to move beyond Luray. Horace Ide [see his book, History of the First Vermont Cavalry] recalled, “we had already exceeded our orders, which were only to go to Luray, after coming into line and exchanging a few shots with them we returned.”

Though minor in comparison to the larger actions in the Valley, the Union push on Luray was an effort to determine the location of “Stonewall” Jackson’s command. Already engaged in the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, Jackson had left enough of a “ghost” of himself in the Valley to keep the Federals guessing about where his next tactical feat would be performed in the Shenandoah.

As for Luray, this encounter would be the first of a series of fights the town would bear witness to over a course of a few days. Shortly thereafter, Luray would be placed under Federal occupation. The town remained in the hands of the Federal army for over a month, until news arrived of the battle at Cedar Mountain, on August 9.

See more information and images on this page in The Historical Markers Database.

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion about Mosby Camp Road near Stanley. Some people say the name was given to the road because Mosby camped nearby. However, in all of the books written about the Rangers, not one indicates even the remote chance that Mosby’s Rangers (as a collective group) was ever in Page County. While it is true that there were several men from Page in Co. C of the 43rd Bttn. Va. Cav. (Mosby’s Rangers) and, because of this, it might seem possible that there may have been a small contingent of men from that company in the area, without any documentation whatsoever, even this is no more than speculation.

This past summer, the Luray Caverns Corp. purchased and relocated the Old Leaksville Brethren Church (aka Mt. Zion) site to a new site near the caverns (see the Page County Sites map on page 110 of the book). At this new site, the church will serve as part of a new Luray Caverns museum experience showcasing life in the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1800s.

Note that despite the claim made in a newspaper article (Page News & Courier) by a representative of the Luray Caverns, there is no record of the church having served as a barracks. The Civil War era graffiti inside the church is indicative of its being used, more than likely, as a picket post and simple stopping point for men on the march.

Incidentally, the different writings made on the walls by Union and Confederate soldiers can be found, as transcribed, on page 259 of Harry M. Strickler’s A Short History of Page County, Virginia. I took photos of some of these a few years ago, but the images are not very clear. If I can find them again, I will post them here.

Home recovering from a wound, Lt. George David Buswell, of Co. H, 33rd Virginia Infantry, wrote of life in Page County over the Christmas of ’64.

As early as Thursday, December 22, the lieutenant mentioned sleighing to school and that “the boys turned him out at noon.” A few days later, on Sunday, Christmas Day, Buswell wrote of drinking eggnogg and then moving on to a family member’s house where there was a “nice crowd present.” In the days that followed, dancing seemed to be the business of the day, every day, through New Year’s Eve. On December 26, Buswell, in a crowd of folks, and along with Lt. Oliver Hazard Perry Kite (also of the Page Grays and also recovering from a wound), headed for Mr. John Welfley’s where “they had a dance.” The following day there was another dance at Jack Kite’s. With a brief respite from the dance on December 28, the pleasant pastime resumed once again with yet another dance at Noah Kite’s place near Columbia Mills near Alma, followed by yet another on New Year’s Eve, at Leonard S. Printz’s House.

Regretfully, the old Shuler House (which was the old Welfley place) at Rinaca’s Corner is not the one that was standing in 1864, but rather a postwar residence. Likewise, the home of Noah Kite was washed away in the flood of 1870. I have yet to figure out the location of Jack Kite’s house and Leonard Printz’s houses, but when I do, will include them among the new Civil War era sites mentioned in this blog.

annieprintz2Site #42 (Augustus S. Modesitt House) is pictured on page 71 (and to the right in this post). Look also at the Luray Sites Map on page 107 for the exact location. According to the WPA records, this house was used by Gen. James Shields as a headquarters. However, I have also come across the mention of Shields using the old Amiss building, just a few blocks to the east, and also on Main Street. It may be that both residences were used, but the story that goes along with the Modesitt House may be indicative of its use during Shields’ southerly advance toward Port Republic in the earliest days of June 1862.

At one time during the war several Yankees were held prisoners in the Luray jail. These were taken out and shot by unknown persons. General Shields heard of this, and was most angry. He came to Luray and stopped at the first home, that happened to be of Mr. Modesitt. He was met at the door by Mrs. Modesitt, who invited him in and was most nice to him. She had the servants, who were more than willing, prepare a meal of the best for him, which he enjoyed very much.

This is definately a reference to the story of the murder of two local Unionists (not “Yankee soldiers”) by the name of Haines and Beylor. I’ll write more about that later in another post.

However, the story about Shields’ interaction with the Modesitt children seems a bit hard to believe, considering he was, at that time, advancing to strike Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic. Perhaps he stopped to see the children again on the return visit, after the defeat at Port Republic. Hard to say… nonetheless, the WPA report reflects 

While here, General Shields became attached to the children and would swing them in a large rope swing in the back yard. He was especially fond of Elizabeth, later the wife of D.S. Stover, and gave her a pair of cuff bars that she still has. Before he left he told Mrs. Modesitt that when he came to Luray his intention was to leave the town in ashes, for the outrage committed on the yankee prisoners, but after staying with him and talking to him and his family, he decided it was not the people of Luray who were responsible for the ill treatment of the men. 

The Amiss building (later named for the County Surveyor who lived there in the early 1900s) is pictured below.

amissbldg

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