On August 23, 1862, Harper’s Weekly published the above engraving of Union troops burning the Virginia home of Edmund Ruffin under the guns of the naval ship USS Mahaska. A reporter described the scene:
A landing was effected by the two regiments at six o’clock [on July 31], and in short time after dense clouds of smoke were seen issuing from the houses of the secesh, which were about one mile from the banks of the [James] river. Ten houses—among others that of the Hon. Edmund Ruffin—were burned down by our troops. They landed under the protection of our gun-boats. Cheers rent the air as the fire was observed breaking out on the other side. When all was consumed our men returned.
After the United States Army and Navy decommissioned his house, Ruffin decommissioned himself in 1865. The Mahaska was decommissioned in 1868. For the Iowa connection (there should always be an Iowa connection), see here.
IMAGE: The United States Infantry Burning the House of the Rebel Ruffin Under the Guns of the United States Gun-Boat “Mahaska.” Sketched by an officer of the “Mahaska” (Harper’s Weekly, August 23, 1862)