Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Picket War Around Lewinsville: October 14-15, 1861

Camp life might be dull, but Northern soldiers living in the Lewinsville area occasionally had a chance to engage the Rebels.  On October 16, 1861, the New York Times reported on a small engagement that took place on the previous two days between troops under General Winfield Scott Hancock and Confederate skirmishers.  According to the article, entitled "The Post of Danger at Lewinsville":
I was up to Lewinsville, this afternoon, or rather to the headquarters of Gen. HANCOCK, who occupies the post of danger and of honor, being on the extreme right of the main body on the other side of the Potomac. The rebel pickets were about two miles or two miles and a half from his post. Yesterday, they skirmished nearly all day, our folks at night being about fifteen head of cattle better off than they were in the morning, having captured them from the enemy. This morning the rebels put ten head more in the same field, evidently to decoy our boys in. They got more than a match, however, for our boys not only got the cattle, but drove back the rebels who were laying in ambush to catch them. Gen. HANCOCK campaigned it through Mexico, and was too old a soldier to be caught sending a boy to do a man's work. The skirmish was hot, but our men were in greater force than the rebels calculated. We did not have a man wounded.

"Deployed as Skirmishers," Harper's Weekly, July 20, 1861 (courtesy of
 The Times also reported on this small encounter:
Another party from Gen. HANCOCK'S Brigade also went out this morning [Oct. 15] to the house of Mrs. CHILDS, three miles off, where the rebels have been in the habit of concealing themselves and firing upon the pickets. Our party drove them away from the house, which they burned, together with eight stacks of grain and hay, from which the rebels had been feeding their horses.
No mention of whether Mrs. Childs was home at the time, or whether she actively welcomed the Confederate troops to use her property as a place to hide and fire shots at the nearby Yankee outpost.  In any event, her home and crops became another local casualty of Union occupation.

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