Lexington had been shelled for three days by the advance guard of the battery, and terrific destruction marked the bursting shells and death dealing missiles, and though my father's house was a special aim of the cannon, it marvelously escaped being struck, but every building in the vicinity suffered for its supposed crime. Ex-Governor Letcher had been warned by an ante-bellum friend, a member of Hunter's brigade, to make his escape. A large reward had been offered for his capture, and dreadful threats had been made against him in consequence of his late position as chief officer of the Commonwealth. On the morning of June 12, 1864, before the family had arisen, a posse of soldiers, with one commissioned officer, rang the door-bell, and, with no other warning of any kind, delivered a verbal order from General Hunter, in General Grant's name, for the destruction of the place and without the removal of a single article, not even a change of clothing for its inmates. The order was to be executed in ten minutes. Even that small respite was not allowed, as the work of firing began at once, before the inmates could dress and leave the building. The only articles which had been removed were a portrait of my father and a bust of him, which it had been feared would be treated with indignity. These were cared for and restored afterwards by faithful colored friends. The silver was buried in the garden, as was a general custom at the time, it being property invariably seized by the soldiers. But the garden and grounds were bayonetted by the men and the silver was taken, although several valuable pieces were restored by the courtesy of officers. Inflammable fluid was poured over the carpets and fired while the house was filled with blue coats ransacking and appropriating all that they could conveniently carry off. My father's personal belongings were afterwards put up in camp to the highest bidder. His Odd-Fellows' regalia, the gift of the lodges of the State, was used for the ornament of a horse, which was led through the streets. A silk dress belonging to my sister served for a flag on the point of a bayonet, and many other jests of like character were perpetrated. Among the serious losses were my father's fine private and law libraries, with valuable marginal annotations; albums, containing the autographs of prominent men for a quarter of a century and longer; a portrait, considered the best one of General Sam Houston,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.