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The destruction of Gov. Letcher's Dwelling

The following letter of Gov. Letcher was written with no view to publication, and in response to a private communication addressed him by the Mayor of this city. The passages omitted relate to personal matters:

Lexington, Va. July 5th, 1864.
Finding the Yankees would take the town, on Saturday (11th) I left home near midnight Friday night and went to Big Island, in Bedford, where I remained until Wednesday morning following, when heating the Vandals had left, I returned. I had previously heard that my house had been burned, with all its contents The threats made by the Yankees against me, for the past two years, satisfied me that they would destroy my house when they came to Lexington; but I always supposed they would allow the furniture and my family's clothing to be removed. In this, however, I was disappointed.

When the Yankees took possession of the town. Dr. Patton, medical director for Hunter's army and who halls from Marion county, Va. went to my house, told my wife he was unwell, and said he must have a room in the house. He took the room, supped and breakfasted, and, when breakfast was nearly over, remarked, in a manner half-jocular, half earnest, to lizzie, that it was the last meal she would take in the house. Shortly after, he left, without taking leave of any of the family, nor was he again seen by any of them.

The threats made by soldiers on Saturday evening, induced my wife to fear the house would he burned, and she expressed her fears in the hearing of Dr. Patton and Capt. Towns, of New York. Capt. Towns very promptly said, that I being a private citizen, and the house being private property, burning it would be an inexcusable outrage, and proposed at once to go to Hunter's headquarters and as certain. He went, and was directed by Hunter to assure my wife that the house would not be disturbed. The sequel shows that the sole object of this assurance was to quiet her apprehensions, and thus prevent anything from being removed. About half past 8 A. M. (Sunday,) Captain Berry and his provost guard rode up, and the officer called for my wife. She came to the door, when Berry informed her that he was ordered by Hunter to fire the house. She replied there must be some mistake, and asked for the order. He said it was verbal order. She then said to him, "Can it not be delayed until I can see Gen. Hunter" The order is peremptory, he replied, and you have five minutes in which to leave the house. She then asked leave to remove her mother's, sister's, her own and her children's clothing, which was insolently refused. Immediately thereafter camphene was poured on the parlor floor and ignited with a match. In the meantime, my daughter had gathered up an armful of clothing, and was going out, when he discovered her, ran forward and fired the clothing in her arms. He then poured camphene in the wardrobes, bureau drawers, and ignited the clothing — taking out my clothing, which he said he intended to take North.

Every house on my lot was burned save a small granary over my ice house. Not a particle of flour, meat, or anything edible was left, all having been carried off on Saturday.

My mother, now in her 78th year, lives on the lot adjoining my own, having with her one of her grandchildren and a servant. After my property had been fired, the fiends fired her stable, located about forty feet from her house, with no other view than to burn her out also. The house caught twice, and would have been consumed but for the untiring efforts of Capt Towns who made his men carry water and extinguish the flames. This Captain behaved like a gentleman towards my own and my mother's family.

Gens Averill, Crook Sullivan, and Duffee denounced the whole proceedings as an outrage, in violation of all the principles of civilized warfare, and stated that Hunter alone was responsible for these atrocities.

* * * *

I feel grateful to you and other kind friends in Richmond for their generous sympathy and kind tends of a home. There are no people on the earth who have been more uniformly kind than the good people of your city, and I assure you I appreciate their kindness, as does also my family. Accept our thanks for it * * So soon as I can visit Richmond I will do so perhaps this month.

I am truly and in hastes, your friend,
John Letcher Joseph Mayo, Esq, Richmond, Va.,

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Lexington, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
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Bedford County (Virginia, United States) (1)
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