On April 8, Stoneman and the Second and Third Brigades rested in Taylorsville, which was also called Patrick Court House. It was, a horseman wrote, “a fine section of the country. The houses are beautiful. Tobaco [sic] is so plentiful that all are smoking very fair cigars.” The Federals burned the jail, gathered horses and provisions, and captured some potential recruits of the Confederacy. They forced at least one prisoner to walk alongside the mounted column. Somehow he kept up with the column deep into North Carolina until he was finally sent to Camp Chase, Ohio. The man apparently replaced another captive, N.J. Agnew, who escaped into the darkness. A veteran of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, Agnew had just been exchanged after a long hiatus in a Yankee prison.
Many Patrick County residents lost possessions to the raiders. Among the victims was Hardin Reynolds, the county’s wealthiest planter. The Reynolds lived on an eight thousand acre estate called Rock Spring. One of Reynolds’s sons was the future tobacco tycoon, Richard Joshua Reynolds. Fifteen-year-old Dick saved the plantation’s horses by hiding them in the woods, but he could not prevent the raiders from looting Rock Spring. The cavalrymen also made off with some livestock, and Hardin’s slaves followed the raiders to freedom, rejoicing as they left. Among the odds and ends the troopers left behind was a rifle, which remains at the Reynolds Homestead today.
Frank Frankenberry was one of the beneficiaries of Taylorsville’s bounty. The signalman noted that “the place was almost deserted but we found plenty of forage and brandy.” He also amused himself by rummaging through some courthouse records, and even found a deed with Patrick Henry’s handwriting on it. “All is lovely and gay,” Frankenberry wrote. Other cavalrymen reflected on their journey through Virginia. Henry Birdsall of the 11th Michigan wrote, “We have had no fighting yet. I think it rather strange having been in a Rebel Country….”
To read what happened next, see Chris J. Hartley, Stoneman's Raid, 1865.
Excerpt from Stoneman's Raid, 1865, (c) Chris J. Hartley