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Discover Western Prince William October 2018
Doug Horhota
eware of Nightmares
As we prepare to dress up as goblins, ghosts, witches and other things that
go bump in the night this Halloween, this month's column will regale you with
a few strange stories from our past.
As we are all quite aware, in addition to being the site of numerous battles,
the area around Prince William and Fauquier Counties took the lives of
thousands of soldiers from North and South during the Civil War. For every
soldier who died in combat, at least fi ve died of disease in the hospitals,
homes and camps anywhere the war occurred. The stories behind these
events are numerous and continue to reemerge occasionally today in fact
and fi ction.
In the days following the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run), Union soldiers
accused Confederate soldiers of bayoneting and executing wounded and
defenseless Federals, fi ring on fi eld hospitals, and mutilating the dead. Later
in the war, Confederates accused Union soldiers of similar outrages.
Col. Robert Shaw of the 2
Massachusetts Infantry wrote to
his mother about the rumors: "We heard today, from a citizen,
that after the battle of Bull Run, some northern skulls were sold
here in Winchester at $10 apiece; also that many offi cers had
spurs made of our men's bones. I don't know whether to believe
these things or not."
An English Combatant wrote on the subject in Battlefi elds
of the South from Bull Run to Fredericksburg: "Strangers
poured into Manassas daily to see the `sights' and carry off `relics.'
Uniforms, arms, buttons, caps and even skulls were seized with
avidity. These relic mongers might be seen hovering over the fi elds
like carrion crows, carrying off all kinds of trifl es."
Although the (Union) Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of
War, verifi ed the testimony of those who witnessed atrocities--and used that
testimony to rally northern troops--most claims were found to be false.
One story centers around Liberia Plantation.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 5 [S# 5]
MARCH 7-11, 1862.-- Union advance to Centreville and Manassas,
No. 8. -- Report of Col. James K. Simpson, Fourth New Jersey
I think it proper to state that when at Fairfax Court-House, on the
13th instant, with Assistant Adjutant-General Purdy and Assistant
Adjutant-General Wilson and other offi cers and a squadron of
dragoons, I visited the battle ground at Manassas of 21st July last,
and at the recent headquarters of the Confederate Army of the
Potomac, a building said to belong to a Mr. Weir, I found a large
number of offi cial documents, among them the original order of
General Beauregard, dated July 20, promulgating, "confi dentially,"
to the commanders of brigades his plan of battle for the next day.
Accompanying this was the order of General Joseph E. Johnston,
approving the plan, and directing it to be carried into execution. I
also found the original reports of Lieutenant Alexander, Engineer
Corps, general staff, giving a statement of the prisoners and
wounded and of the property found after the battle. The leaving
of these important documents, like the other property which I saw
scattered around, shows with what haste the rebels must have
retreated before our forces; but what discovers the perfect panic
which must have ensued is the fact, which I witnessed, of their
having left four dead bodies laid out in their hospital dead-house
ready for interment, but which they had forgotten or neglected to
Of course the stories about what haunts the community in the dark of
night doesn't always have to be about humans...
Southern Railway Company, Law Department, Washington D.C.,
June 13, 1913. To Mr. Richard Taliaferro, Manassas, Virginia. Dear
Sir: Referring to your claim for cow killed near Manassas, Virginia,
April 3
, 1913: I note that you and the Section Foreman agreed on a
valuation of $35 for this cow, which is all we are willing to pay under the
circumstances. If you are willing to accept this, kindly advise me and I
will arrange for the voucher to be sent you so that you will get it about
the fi rst of July. Yours very truly, L.M. Baumgardner, Claim Agent.
The $35 paid is about the equivalent of $750 today. Today, the railway will
no longer grant money in the case of accidents
on railroad tracks because
they are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fi ne,
not to mention risking their
lives. The only safe place
to cross is the designated
crossings, and only when
the safety bars are up. The
cow, unfortunately, did not
understand train safety.
Rumor has it that the cow
now roams the rails, back
and forth, back and
forth, trying to
warn others of the
The Manassas
M u s e u m
will host a
Cemetery Tour the evening of October 19
and a Spirits of
Liberia Program the evening of October 27
. More information
can be learned by contacting the museum directly at 703-257-
8453 or online at
Cost for the programs are $5.00 and $15.00 respectively.
Happy Halloween Everyone!!!!
Graffi ti inside Liberia Plantion from the
Civil War
The Cemetery at Liberia
Civil War Soldiers