Letter from Jonathan S. Braxton to T. O. Chestney (July 5, 1864)


In this letter to Major T. O. Chestney, dated July 5, 1864, Captain Jonathan S. Braxton, a Richmond County planter then working as an officer in eastern Virginia, wrote that as part of the Draper raid, Union troops had assaulted Sallie Broun George at Hutt’s Store in central Westmoreland County.


Richmond, Va., July 5, 1864.

Maj. T. O. Chestney, Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters:

Major: I have the honor to report that about the 13th of June last a regiment of negroes, commanded by Colonel Draper, of Massachusetts, arrived at Pope’s Creek, in Westmoreland County, Va., accompanied by about fifty regular U.S. Cavalry. They marched to Union Wharf, Richmond County, in divided commands, taking negroes, horses, cattle, bacon, wagons, farming utensils, &c., all of which were either carried away or burned. About the 14th ultimo, at a place called Hutt’s Store, near the center of Westmoreland County, some of the negro troops went to the house of Private George, of Ninth Virginia Cavalry, and committed a rape upon his wife, who had just been confined with a babe only six weeks old. She is now almost a maniac, and begs that some one will kill her. This atrocious crime can be verified by a number of witnesses who are personally cognizant of the fact. In Warsaw, Richmond County, the negro troops attempted to ravish white ladies, but were foiled by the assistance of the female slaves of the households. In the case of Mrs. Belfield, she escaped by flight to the woods. Many other instances could be mentioned of like atrocities if desired. The troops then went up to Layton’s, in Essex County, in their boats, landed and commenced destroying all kids of property, taking off negroes, horses, and cattle, after which they embarked at Tappahannock and went to Point Lookout. On their way down the river they deliberately shelled private residences, which were inhabited only by women and children, but fortunately no one was hurt and no house destroyed. On the 28th ultimo a gun-boat came up Kinsale Creek, in Westmoreland County, and made a reconnaissance of the wharf and landings, and departed without doing any damage.

It is proper that I should remark in conclusion that on the second day after the arrival of the negro troops in Richmond County, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis, of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, improvised a force of forty mounted men and a few infantry, composed of furloughed soldiers and citizens generally, and attacked the enemy in open field and drove them back, capturing two, wounding several others, among whom was the colonel, badly injured, and killing four negroes, the whole force having been driven under cover of their gun boats, which caused them to depart, thus preventing like desolations to other portions of this county. In order to repel similar raids, which are liable to be made upon this insulated section of our State, and to protect the honor of our mothers, wives, and daughters, I respectfully suggest that arms will be furnished for the use of every boy and old man in the several counties in the Northern Neck and in the adjoining counties drained by the Rappahannock, and that such of the citizens as have heretofore remained who may be liable to conscription be exempt from field service in the regular army, so as to be a nucleus of defense for the protection of that section of country:

Jno. S. Braxton,

Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.

APA Citation:
Braxton, Jonathan. Letter from Jonathan S. Braxton to T. O. Chestney (July 5, 1864). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Braxton, Jonathan. "Letter from Jonathan S. Braxton to T. O. Chestney (July 5, 1864)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 29 May. 2024
Last updated: 2021, January 28
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