Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wilmer McLean - Civil War Farmer

"When I first joined the Army of Northern Virginia in 1861, I found a connection of my family, Wilmer McLean, was living on a fine farm through which ran Bull Run, with a nice farm-house.  General Beauregard made his headquarters at this house during the first affair between the armies - the so-called Battle of Blackburn's Ford on July 18.  The first hostile shot which I ever saw fired was aimed at this house, and about the third or fourth shot went through its kitchen, where our servants were coooking dinner for the headquarters staff.

I had not seen or heard of McLean for years, when the day after the surrender, I met him at Appomattox Court-house, and asked with some surprise what he was doing there.  He replied, with much indignation 'What are you doing here?  Those armies tore my place on Bull Run all to pieces, and kept running over it backward and forward till no man could live there, so I just sold out and came here, two hundred miles away, hoping I should never see a soldier again.  And now, just look around you!  Not a fence-rail is left on the place, the last guns trampled down all my crops, and Lee surrenders to Grant in my house.

McLean was so indignant that I felt bound to apologize for our coming back, and to throw all the blame for it upon the gentlemen on the other side."
                                                                      General E. P. Alexander

Richard Springer, a well-known military artist, who now lives in Wisconsin, gave me this story in 1994.

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